Villa d'Este

21 May 2011

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Lot 105

1938 Cadillac Sixteen Town Car by Fleetwood

  • Chassis no. 5270310
  • Engine no. 5270310

Sold for €134.400


Series 38-90. 185 bhp, 7,063 cc (431 cu. in.) L-head V-16 engine, three-speed manual gearbox, coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 3,619 mm (141.25")



- Offered from the Estate of John O’Quinn

- Very rare Fleetwood Town Car; one of only ten built

- Delivered new to Countess Rosaria de Larecchea de Schiffner in Paris

- Stored for many years at the Vatican

- Ex-Nicola Bulgari Collection



For years, automotive writers have struggled to find suitable superlatives with which to describe Cadillac’s majestic 16-cylinder motor cars – and for good reason. At a time when the competition offered eight cylinders, and a few were considering 12, Cadillac offered its 16-cylinder masterpiece.



The Cadillac Motor Car Company surprised the industry by introducing an all-new V-16 at the New York Auto Show in October 1937. Unlike its overhead-valve predecessor, the 16-cylinder motor of this new Series 90 model was of a monobloc L-head design, cast in a 135-degree vee. As before, the car sat at the very top of the model list with limited production and was intended for heads of state and very prominent personalities. Twelve body styles were catalogued, a full range including coupés, convertible coupés and sedans, and a full complement of five- and seven-passenger sedans and limousines.



Chassis no. 5270310 – Extraordinary Provenance



This new Series 90 had its best year in 1938, with 311 built. Most popular was the seven-passenger Imperial Sedan, with 95 sold and a further 17 built as Formal Sedans with division partition. This car, however, the Style 9053 Town Car with open chauffeur compartment, was built as a run of only ten cars, with an additional car built with a fastback contour.



Chassis 5270310 was ordered from the main Cadillac agency in Paris by Countess Rosaria de Larecchea de Schiffner, who was the Italian widow of German millionaire Baron Friedrich von Schiffner, a flying ace in World War I and evidently a close friend of the Red Baron.



Her imposing town car was completed in Antoinette Blue, a deep navy hue, and shipped to General Motors Near East S.A. in Alexandria, Egypt, in order to avoid delays at the European branch in Antwerp. From Alexandria it was shipped aboard the S.S. Excalibur to Naples. It was delivered to the widowed Countess in Paris, where she kept an apartment in the Hotel Ritz. She used it regularly to visit her daughters in Rome.



Upon the Countess’s passing in 1948, her daughters gifted the car to Francis Cardinal Spellman, a family friend, who visited them frequently on his trips to the Vatican. Two years earlier he had been elevated to position of Cardinal by His Holiness Pope Pius XII after previously serving as Archbishop of New York. A man of tremendous national and political influence, he became a close confidante of President Franklin Roosevelt, and ultimately, his 28-year tenure as New York’s Archbishop was and remains the longest one in history. His influence on the American political arena was evident throughout his life as he played a defining role in everything from McCarthyism to Lyndon Johnson’s Presidency and the Vietnam War.



Cardinal Spellman left the car at the Vatican in Rome, where it would have been parked next to the 1940 Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood “throne car” custom-built for Pope Pius XII. History does not record whether Pope Pius XII ever rode in the car, but the car did remain in the Vatican Collection for quite a long time.



In 1966, to make room for a more modern fleet, some of the older Vatican cars were sold, including the Countess’s Town Car. As confirmed by a signed document in the file, it was purchased by Nicola Bulgari, well-known collector and Vice Chairman of the family jewellery firm. In the mid-1970s, Bulgari sold the car to a French businessman, Noel Lambert, owner of a trucking company near Lyons. M. Lambert had built up a modest collection of Classic Era motor cars and opened a small private museum.



By the late 1980s, M. Lambert had closed his museum as he began to downsize his collection, and the car was eventually acquired by a Mr. Amman from Arrau, Switzerland. It returned to France briefly in the 1990s and was subsequently sold to Richard Beguhn in the United States. Noted car collector John O’Quinn finally acquired the car in 2006.



A highly original example, this Cadillac has been nicely preserved. The paint presents well, and there are no major flaws in the brightwork. The roof covering over the passenger compartment may also be original. The rear compartment is upholstered in brown cloth and shows no significant wear. There is a matching brown carpet on the floor, and jump seats fold up from the floor for the sixth and seventh passenger. The chauffeur sits on black leather, and the dashboard is clearly original with an odometer showing nearly 63,000 kilometres, just 12,000 of them reportedly covered in the last 45 years. The car has been in climate-controlled storage since its acquisition by the O’Quinn Collection.



America’s most powerful automobile engine in 1938, the Cadillac V-16 is also one of the most docile, being whisper-quiet at idle and having the smooth torque to propel the 2,430-kg car from 15 kilometres (ten miles) per hour to maximum speed in top gear. This car’s new owner should be able to motor silently and with considerable style. With its fascinating provenance that includes a European countess, Cardinal Spellman and the Vatican itself, the offering of such a unique Cadillac Sixteen is unlikely to be repeated.



As part of a large private collection, this car has seen limited exercise. RM strongly advises the successful bidder carry out a thorough service before driving the car on the open road.



ITALIANTEXT



Serie 38-90. 185 cv, 7.063 cc (431 cu. in.) motore 16 cilindri a V a valvole laterali, cambio manuale a tre marce, sospensioni anteriori a ruote indipendenti con ammortizzatori a molla, assale posteriore rigido con balestre semi-ellittiche, freni idraulici sulle quattro ruote. Passo: 3.619 mm (141.25")



- Dalla successione di John O’Quinn

- Rarissima Town Car di Fleetwood; una delle sole 10 costruite

- Primo proprietario la Contessa Rosaria de Larecchea de Schiffner di Parigi

- Rimasta per molti anni nella Città del Vaticano

- In passato nella collezione di Nicola Bulgari



Per anni, e a buona ragione, i giornalisti automobilistici si sono sforzati di cercare adeguati superlativi per descrivere la maestosità delle Cadillac 16 cilindri. In un'epoca nella quale i costruttori concorrenti offrivano vetture con motore 8 cilindri, e solo pochi con motore 12 cilindri, la Cadillac presentò il suo capolavoro a 16 cilindri.



La Cadillac Motor Car sorprese l'industria automobilistica presentando un motore V-16 completamente nuovo al Salone dell'Auto di New York nell'Ottobre 1937. Al contrario del suo predecessore con le valvole in testa, il motore 16 cilindri della nuova serie 90 aveva il basamento a V con un'apertura di 135° con valvole laterali. Come in precedenza, la vettura si poneva al top della gamma, una produzione limitata riservata a capi di stato e VIP. Ben 12 diversi tipi di carrozzeria erano a catalogo, una gamma completa che includeva coupé e convertibili, con berline e limousine, sia a cinque che a sette posti.



Il telaio n. 5270310 e la sua straordinaria provenienza



L'anno migliore per la nuova Serie 90 fu il 1938, quando se ne produssero 311. La versione più richiesta fu la berlina tipo Imperial, prodotta in 95 esemplari, con altri 17 esemplari nella versione Formale con divisorio. Invece, questa vettura, una Town Car stile n. 9053, con posto guida scoperto, venne costruita in soli 10 esemplari, oltre ad un altro esemplare con profilo posteriore fastback.



La 5270310 fu ordinata dalla concessionaria principale della Cadillac a Parigi per la Contessa Rosaria de Larecchea de Schiffner, la vedova italiana del miliardario tedesco Barone Friedrich von Schiffner, un famoso aviatore della Prima Guerra Mondiale, amico intimo del Barone Rosso.



L'imponente berlina modello Town fu finita in blu Antoinette, un blu molto scuro, e spedita via mare alla General Motors Near East S.A. di Alessandria d'Egitto, per evitare i ritardi della filiale europea di Anversa. Da Alessandria fu spedita a Napoli sulla motonave S.S. Excalibur, e infine consegnata alla Contessa presso l'Hotel Ritz di Parigi, dove teneva una suite a sua disposizione. La Contessa la usò regolarmente per i suoi viaggi a Roma per visitare le figlie.



Dopo la morte della Contessa nel 1948, le figlia regalarono la vettura al Cardinale Francis Spellman, un amico di famiglia, che le andava a visitare spesso durante i suoi viaggi alla Città del Vaticano. Questi era stato nominato Cardinale due anni prima da Sua Santità Papa Pio XII, ed in precedenza era stato l'Arcivescovo di New York. Uomo dalla grande influenza politica, era diventato uno stretto collaboratore del presidente Franklin Roosevelt, e, per finire, la sua permanenza per ben 28 anni all'Arcivescovado di New York è stata la più lunga di sempre. La sua influenza nell'arena politica americana è stata evidente per tutta la sua vita, avendo egli giocato un ruolo determinante in ogni periodo, dal maccartismo all'elezione a presidente di Lyndon Johnson alla guerra in Vietnam.



Il Cardinale Spellman lasciò la vettura nei garage della Città del Vaticano, ed era parcheggiata vicino alla Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood, del 1940, la vettura con trono papale appositamente costruita per Papa Pio XII. Non si sa se anche Papa Pio XII abbia viaggiato su questa vettura, ma essa rimase nella Città del Vaticano per un tempo piuttosto lungo.



Nel 1966, al fine di fare spazio per automobili più moderne, alcune delle più vecchie vetture del Vaticano furono vendute e fra queste anche la berlina Town della Contessa. Come è confermato da un documento sottoscritto inserito nel dossier, la vettura fu acquistata da Nicola Bulgari, noto collezionista e vice presidente dell'industria di gioielli di famiglia. A metà degli anni Settanta, Bulgari vendette la vettura al francese Noel Lambert, proprietario di una società di trasporti vicino Lione. Lambert aveva una modesta collezione di vetture classiche e aveva aperto un piccolo museo privato.



Verso la fine degli anni Ottanta, Lambert chiuse il museo e vendette parte della collezione. Questa vettura fu acquistata da un certo Amman di Arrau, in Svizzera. La vettura tornò poi per un breve periodo in Francia negli anni Novanta e fu quindi venduta all'americano Richard Beguhn. Il noto collezionista John O’Quinn la acquistò nel 2006.



In condizioni largamente originali, questa Cadillac è stata sempre ben tenuta. La verniciatura si presenta bene, e non ci sono grandi segni nelle cromature. Anche il rivestimento del tetto sopra la zona passeggeri dovrebbe essere originale. I posti dei passeggeri sono rivestiti in tessuto marrone, che non presenta un'usura significativa e che è ben coordinato con i tappetini, anch'essi marrone. Due sedili aggiuntivi che salgono dal pavimento sono a disposizione per gli eventuali sesto e settimo passeggero. Il posto guida é finito in pelle nera, e il cruscotto é chiaramente originale. Il contachilometri segna circa 63.000 km, dei quali solo 12.000 percorsi negli ultimi 45 anni. Fin dall'acquisto da parte della Collezione O'Quinn, la vettura è stata conservata in un locale climatizzato.



Il Cadillac V-16, il più potente motore d'automobile americano del 1938, è anche uno dei più docili: è silenziosissimo al minimo e ha una coppia uniforme capace di spingere i 2.430 kg della vettura da 15 km/h (circa 10 miglia) alla velocità massima nella marcia più alta. Il nuovo proprietario di questa vettura potrà muoversi silenziosamente e con stile. Con una così affascinante provenienza che comprende una contessa europea, il Cardinale Spellman e lo stesso Stato del Vaticano, l'offerta di una Cadillac Sedici così esclusiva è praticamente irripetibile.



Facente parte di una grande collezione privata, quest'auto e stata usata poco. RM consiglia fortemente all'offerente vincitore di fare una revisione accurata dell'auto prima di guidarla su strada aperta.

Addendum

Please note that this car is eligible for import into the UK at 5% VAT.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

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

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

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

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

csmyth@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

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

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

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

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

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

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

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

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

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

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

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

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

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

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

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

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

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

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

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

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

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

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

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

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

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

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

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

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

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