Joan Crawford’s Cadillac and More Classic American Cars

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Hailing back to the earliest days of motoring, automobiles have long fascinated America. Indeed, for much of the 20th century, the automobile served as an important, and often times transformative, part of American identity. Click ahead for ten American-made cars selected from RM Sotheby’s upcoming Arizona sale, each of which paints a distinct image of American culture and history. –Jake Auerbach

RM Sotheby’s: Arizona
18–19 January

Joan Crawford’s Cadillac and More Classic American Cars

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    1935 Auburn Eight Supercharged Speedster. Estimate $500,000–650,000.
    The Auburn Speedster is considered by many to be the only proper American sports car of the pre-war era. Its iconic boat-tail design was unlike anything else on the road, with a sporting elegance matched only by its supercharged eight-cylinder engine.  

    RM Sotheby’s: Arizona
    18–19 January
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    1937 Lincoln Model K Panel Brougham by Willoughby. Estimate $175,000–250,000.
    Formerly in the collection of Roy Washawsky, founder of J.C. Whitney, this car is one of just two Willoughby bodied Lincolns known to survive today. This car was the most expensive factory-catalogued Lincoln in 1937, and it features a host of options including “canework” decoration, meaning hand-applied narrow lines of paint that resembled wicker panelling. 

    RM Sotheby’s: Arizona
    18–19 January
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    1933 Cadillac V-16 Seven-Passenger Town Cabriolet by Fleetwood. Estimate $250,000–300,000.
    Perhaps the most famous and iconic of the 30 1933 Cadillac V-16s known, this leviathan Town Cabriolet is accompanied by a fascinating history that begins with its original owner, Hollywood legend Joan Crawford. Crawford ordered and took delivery of the car through Don Lee Cadillac of Los Angeles. She specified that the entire car, except for the wheels, be finished in black – a quite unusual, but decidedly elegant, colour scheme for the period.  

    RM Sotheby’s: Arizona
    18–19 January
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    1948 Tucker 48. Estimate $1,250,000–1,500,000.
    This Tucker , known simply as number 1029, is arguably the ultimate of the 47 examples known today: it was one of the famous Tuckers to undertake high-speed tests at Indianapolis Speedway in 1948, it served as Governor Winthrop Rockefeller’s daily driver from 1955 to 1959, and it was most notably Preston Tucker’s personal Tucker, driven regularly by his entire family for seven years.  

    RM Sotheby’s: Arizona
    18–19 January
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    1931 Studebaker President Eight Four Seasons Roadster. Estimate $150,000–200,000.
    One of 54 Four Seasons Roadsters known to survive, this car reflects little use since its comprehensive restoration in 2005. Finished in a subtle, but attractive pale grey body with darker grey fenders and running boards, it is accented by a red beltline, wire wheels and leather interior.  

    RM Sotheby’s: Arizona
    18–19 January
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    1907 Ford Model K Roadster. Estimate $175,000–275,000.
    Introduced at the New York Auto Show in January 1906 as a four-passenger tourer, the Model K featured a 112-in. wheelbase and weighed 2,400 lbs., making it the largest Ford yet. At $2,400, it was also the most expensive. Remarkably, this Model K roadster, one of only ten examples remaining, has been under the ownership of just two families in its 110 years. The current owner’s father purchased it in 1957 from the original owner’s heirs, in Gatesville, Texas. 

    RM Sotheby’s: Arizona
    18–19 January
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    1932 Packard Twin Six Individual Custom Convertible Sedan by Dietrich. Estimate $700,000–800,000.
    The Dietrich Individual Customs were the most prestigious Packards of the era. Built largely to individual tastes, as true “factory customs” are, these striking bodies were known for their lithe and sporty lines, which were created by the vee’d windshields, a beltline that curved away from the windshield, and an extraordinary long hoodline. They were tremendously expensive, particularly in 12-cylinder form, with a modified “Twin Six” developing 160 HP.  

    RM Sotheby’s: Arizona
    18–19 January
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    1953 Chevrolet Corvette. Estimate $275,000–350,000.
    The Corvette was introduced in the GM Motorama exhibit in the 1953 New York Auto Show at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan. The car was a project led by legendary GM design chief Harley Earl to capitalise on an emerging interest in sports and performance cars. Named after the quick and agile WWII navy boats, and called the “Dream Car,” it was an instant hit that generated enough interest to convince GM to manufacture a production version – though only 300 examples were built that first year. 

    RM Sotheby’s: Arizona
    18–19 January
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    1958 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. Estimate $225,000–275,000.
    New for 1957, the Eldorado Brougham was chock-full of first-ever features like quad headlights, signature stainless steel roof, suicide doors and Jet Age air suspension. Just 400 were built in 1957, and they sold for a staggering $13,074. This car retains the luxury accoutrements supplied by the factory when new, including a set of tumblers with magnetised bottoms, special lipstick and cologne and a rear armrest that included a pad, pencil and mirror.  

    RM Sotheby’s: Arizona
    18–19 January
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    1965 Shelby “Cobra Caravan” GT350 R. Estimate $1,000,000–1,200,000.
    In 1965, Shelby American packed up a rotating cast of six cars, including this award-winning GT350 R , and took them on a twelve-city tour they called the “Cobra Caravan,” held between mid-1965 and early 1966. Frustrated by the lack of attention and PR provided by Ford after winning the GT World Championship, the Caravan was Shelby’s very public way of making sure the country knew what they were capable of. 

    RM Sotheby’s: Arizona
    18–19 January
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