Amelia Island

8 March 2014

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Lot 125

1953 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Fiesta Convertible

  • Chassis no. 539M26760

Sold for $181,500

170 bhp, 303.7 cu. in. overhead-valve Rocket V-8 engine, four-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission, independent coil-spring front suspension, live rear axle, and power-assisted four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 124 in.

  • Offered from the collection of Richard and Linda Kughn
  • Part of the 1953 General Motors Trifecta
  • Incredibly rare; one of few survivors of the 458 built
  • Formerly owned by Dennis Dow and Charles Cawley

One defining event of 1950s American car culture was GM’s traveling Motorama, a no-holds-barred display of dazzling technology and stunning styling. A series of dramatic styling exercises captivated the public, but most were not for sale. For 1953, the “General” made an exception, offering three of the previous year’s “dream cars” in limited-production numbers, for the lucky few who could afford the startling price tags and who had the influence to secure one.

Scarcest of these was the Oldsmobile Fiesta, a stunning design that pioneered several features at Oldsmobile, including a wraparound windshield, “spinner” wheel covers, and attractive two-tone paint schemes in exclusive colors. Each Fiesta came well equipped with leather upholstery, power steering, power brakes, power windows, and a power seat. It was the rarest of the 1953 GM Trifecta of dream cars. Only 458 were built, and survivors only rarely become available for sale.

The car offered here from the Kughn Collection was formerly owned by well-known collectors Dennis Dow and Charles Cawley. It was restored some time ago to very high-point condition, and it remains in very good overall condition, with a sparkling metallic finish in Cadet Blue over Acacia Blue, which is accented by a truly beautiful matching interior. Typical of a General Motors car of this period, it is full of wonderful Space Age details, including a steering wheel hub that proudly announces “Power Steering” and a rear-mounted Continental kit spare. The car shows only light wear throughout and records 80,169 miles, which may well be the actual mileage from new.

During Mr. and Mrs. Kughn’s ownership, this Fiesta has appeared at the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance and the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, both in 2009. It was also pictured and described in an article on Mr. Kughn and his collection, “The King of Classic Cars,” published in the August 20, 2009, edition of Forbes.

This Fiesta, presented in particularly beautiful colors, with a proud show history and ownership by noted enthusiasts, is a wonderful example of the car that, in their 1953 advertising, AC Spark Plug referred to as a “sportster,” making it the most stylish of Rockets.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 9... read more

David Swig

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David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. He is a life-long automobile enthusiast and ... read more

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Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

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Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Jonathan Sierakowski

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Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a Connecticut restoration shop as a teenager. He graduated with a... read more

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. He att... read more

Peter Wallman

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Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

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Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more