Arizona

19 - 20 January 2012

Lot 115

1956 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Town Car Concept

To be auctioned on Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sold for $258,500

  • Chassis no. S02491
History is important to us, and all lots offered are fully researched. All corresponding information and accessories, from certificates to tool kits, stays with the lots we sell. All of this is held at our library on site, under the Access the Knowledge banner, so please visit us there or contact us before the auction if you require further information.


305 bhp, 365 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine, four-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 129.5"

• Offered from the Estate of John O’Quinn
• One-off Motorama and Paris Salon show car, unveiled at Waldorf=Astoria
• Completely restored and operational with V-8 powertrain for show use
• Saved from destruction and hidden until the 1980s
• A wonderful example of Cadillac and GM design and engineering leadership

The Eldorado Brougham was sometimes called Cadillac’s answer to the Ford Motor Company’s Continental Mark II, but in many ways General Motors’ product was more impressive. The Eldorado Brougham was not only more exotic and exclusive than the Mark II, it commanded a price nearly a third more than the Mark II’s $10,000 sticker.

Finally readied for production in 1957, the Brougham made the show circuit in 1956, including the travelling GM Motorama tour and the Paris Salon. Known in GM Styling as project XP-48, the four-door hardtop Brougham had a nearly forgotten sibling, the Eldorado Brougham Town Car, which debuted at the New York Motorama held at the Waldorf=Astoria.

Constructed of fiberglass, the Town Car was more concept car than prototype. Just 55.5 inches high, it had a half-roof over the passenger compartment, covered in black leather, an open chauffeur’s compartment, a different roofline and more understated body-side trim. Inside, the passenger compartment was trimmed in beige leather in a “biscuit and button” motif with gold trim; the chauffeur was surrounded by black Moroccan leather and chrome. The passenger compartment was lavishly equipped with twin compartments furnished with, among other items, a decanter and cups, a vanity case and a tissue dispenser, all in gold plate. The divider bulkhead had a sliding glass window, but for contacting the chauffeur without opening the window, a bulkhead-mounted telephone was provided, also in gold.

The 1956 Motorama tour was called the “Highway of Tomorrow,” and following New York it went to Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston. In October 1956 the Town Car was shown at the Paris Salon, where it drew much acclaim. At the end of the show season, of course, the Brougham entered production, and the Town Car retreated to the shadows. Eventually, like many other GM concepts and prototypes of the era, the Town Car concept was consigned to the storied Warhoops salvage yard outside Detroit in December 1959.

The staff at Warhoops, however, most of whom had endured the hardships of the Great Depression and the rationing of World War II, could not bear to destroy it, so the Town Car sat for years under a tarpaulin until discovered by renowned Chicago entrepreneur, collector and restorer Joe Bortz in 1989. Mr. Bortz has made a career of rescuing and collecting concept cars and prototypes, particularly those of GM’s Motorama era. However, Mr. Bortz did not restore it, and instead he sold it to J.C. Whitney owner Roy Warshawsky during the early 1990s. Mr. Warshawsky planned a total restoration but sadly passed away before he could complete the job. A subsequent owner was Dick Baruk of Detroit.

Ultimately, RM Auto Restoration completed the car’s restoration and rebirth to its former glory. One particularly complex aspect of the project was the installation of a proper 365-cubic inch V-8 engine from a 1956 Cadillac sedan donor car. The engine compartment was dressed up with such items as gold-plated valve covers, dual four-barrel carburetors and unique air cleaners. Had Cadillac brought their prototype to running condition in period, this is what it would have looked like. It should be noted, however, that RM did not build the car to be road- and highway-worthy. The intention of the modification was to allow the fortunate new owner to run and drive the car on the show field, as well as on and off the trailer. Naturally, no road or safety testing was ever done, by either GM or RM Auto Restoration, and consequently the car is not suitable for road use of any kind.

The restoration is now several years old, but it still presents extremely well. The gold trim is intact and vibrant. The steering wheel is unmarked, the dashboard equipped with the original Wonderbar signal-seeking radio, and air conditioning cools the car, front and rear. The passenger compartment has deep-pile Wilton carpeting to match the beige leather upholstery, all in excellent condition. The engine compartment is clean and well detailed.

A star in its day and hardly faded by time, this historic GM Motorama show car presents beautifully and carries a fascinating history. In an age where bulky stretch limousines are the norm, it is seductive, smart and sultry, just the right car in which to amaze onlookers at a concours event. Thankfully saved from destruction for future generations to appreciate, it remains an important part of Cadillac’s design and engineering leadership.

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

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

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+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

Alexander Weaver

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+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

Annette Abaci

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+49 (0) 40 441 95 737
Germany

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

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+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

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+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

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+1 954 566 2209
Florida, USA

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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+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

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+1 310 559 4575
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

jboxstrom@rmauctions.com

+1 818 703 2816
Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

mgirardo@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

rmyers@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

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

Vinnie Mandzak

vmandzak@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more