The Wayne Davis Collection
19 April 2008
1947 Cadillac Series 75 Seven-Passenger Imperial Sedan
To be auctioned on Saturday, April 19, 2008
Sold for $231,000
- Chassis no. 486049371
150 bhp, 346 cu. in. L-head V8 engine, four-speed Hydra-Matic transmission, independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 136"
The Cadillacs produced following World War II benefited from the company’s wartime experience producing defense materiel. When passenger car production resumed in October 1945, advertising boasted that cars were “Battle Powered” with “Victory” engines. Cadillac had built M5 tanks powered by two V8s with Hydra-Matic transmissions, one driving each track. In all, the division produced six types of tanks and gun carriers, some 12,000 fighting vehicles in all by the time hostilities ended in 1945. Of even greater benefit was the real world stress-testing of engines and transmissions in combat.
Although the 1946 Cadillac engines were of the same 346 cubic inch displacement as the prewar powerplants, and were rated at the same 150 horsepower, many internal parts had been re-engineered for greater strength and reliability as a result of the wartime experience. The Hydra-Matic had been beefed up as well.
Bodies, however, particularly on the top-of-the-line Series 75 Fleetwood cars, were carried over from 1942. Built on the same 136-inch wheelbase as the earlier cars, the Series 75 line offered fewer body styles than before, the five-passenger model with division partition having been dropped. The Formal Sedans with blank rear quarters and leather-covered roofs were eliminated as well. As before, Imperial sedans with the division window were offered in seven-passenger configuration. Nine-Passenger Business Sedans, both with and without division, were offered, primarily for funeral and livery markets.
These Series 75 bodies remained in production until 1949, by which time all-new bodies had been adopted for all other Cadillac series. Production was never great, the most popular style barely exceeding 1,000 cars, and only in 1947. Fewer than 900 seven-passenger sedans, of which this car is an example, were built that year. All Series 75 Cadillacs featured Hydra-Lectric window lifts. The Hydra-Matic transmission, while a very popular choice, was a $186 option. Like other 1947 Cadillacs, the Series 75 received a new five-bar grille, script logos on the front fenders and a new winged crest on the deck lid. Postwar inflation had boosted prices, now some $200 per car greater than in 1946, although the differential for 75s was less. The Seven Passenger Sedan sold for $4,517, about the same as the comparable model from rival Packard. For only the second time, however, Cadillac’s model year sales surged past Packard’s, reaching 61,926 units, the highest total ever.
Purchased in the basement of a Texas hotel from an arts group, this Cadillac Seven-Passenger Sedan has been the subject of a complete restoration and exterior upgrade. When found it was being used as a traveling sales vehicle, having been driven from New York to Fort Worth, the artists selling their work from the back of the car. Despite its checkered past, it was in good condition with original paint and appointments.
Mr. Davis embarked on a complete restoration – with a twist. In the late 1940s Maurice Schwartz, former partner in the coachbuilding firm Bohman & Schwartz, had built a number of wood-bodied Cadillacs for Hollywood luminaries and studios. Schwartz and partner Chris Bohman had worked at the Walter Murphy Company in Pasadena, California, during the Classic Era. When Murphy closed in 1932, Bohman and Schwartz formed their own company, building cars for the stars in small numbers, Duesenbergs for Clark Gable and candy heiress Ethel Mars, the Topper movie car and Rust Heinz’s Phantom Corsair among them. After World War II, even that limited custom business faded, but Schwartz continued fulfilling orders for special cars, often on Cadillac’s long-wheelbase commercial chassis. Among these were a fastback six-door woodie for cowboy star Gene Autry, a similar car with conventional trunk for one of the studios and a 1949 station wagon for President Miguel Aleman of Mexico. Some of these customs were also built on the normal 136-inch wheelbase Series 75 chassis.
This car is finished in Schwartz’s style, with mahogany panels outlined in maple. The wood is all new and is sanded and varnished to a high luster. The car was given a full restoration, with body off and completely refinished. The dark blue paint is gorgeous, and rubbed out to a mirror-like finish. All glass appears new and is flawless. The chrome has been replated, stainless items refurbished and all buffed to concours standards.
The interior is done in dark blue mohair with matching pile carpet, lavish wood trim and window moldings. The passenger compartment has forward-facing jump seats, comprising the seven-passenger configuration. The dashboard has been restored to correct woodgrain finish and all instruments have been restored and their bezels replated. The steering wheel appears new, and the horn ring and other interior brightwork have been refinished. All control knobs have been restored.
The trunk has been restored to perfection, fully lined with a tan burlap-type material. A new Firestone wide whitewall spare is mounted in its proper location, and the underside of the trunk lid is finished in body color.
Mechanically the car was given a nut-and-bolt restoration. The chassis frame is professionally finished in beautiful gloss black. Floor pans, which are factory undercoated, have been refinished over the undercoating in body color blue. The driveline components are painted in black, although not completely to concours quality. All mechanical systems, including brakes and suspension, have been completely rebuilt.
The original engine had a cracked block. The current engine came from a 1948 60 Special parts car, a rollover with only 22,000 miles. It has been completely rebuilt, along with the transmission. The complete engine compartment is detailed to concours standards, with new wiring harnesses, new ignition wires, tubing, hoses, and clamps. The engine is painted correct Cadillac green with gloss black ancillaries. Inner fenders are painted in gloss black.
Series 75 Cadillacs through 1948 are recognized as Full Classic by the Classic Car Club of America. This is an outstanding automobile with fabulous craftsmanship evident throughout the car. It is one of the top cars in the Wayne Davis collection.
AddendumPlease note that this vehicle is titled by the engine number 486049371.
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