During WWII, automobile production ground to a halt and there were few chassis available to coachbuilders when the industry ramped back up at the end of the war. The luxury automobile producers that had remained in business were undertaking coachbuilding in-house instead of outsourcing to independent coachbuilders like Jacob Saoutchik, and Cadillac had cornered the American luxury car market.
However, there was still demand for European “show cars”, and with the debut of the Cadillac Series 62, famous French coachbuilder Jacques Saoutchik saw an opportunity to develop a custom concept car on the Cadillac base. The chassis size and large engine made it a perfect platform for the coachbuilder, plus it would expose his work to the more lucrative American market.
In 1948, two bare Series 62 chassis were built and sold to Saoutchik, upon which the coachbuilding master designed two show cars in his trademark avant-garde style with the help of his son Pierre.
Although Saoutchik is well known for his flamboyant designs, this 1948 Saoutchik two-door Cadillac convertible may be his most extravagant model. The convertible was designed with seating for four and featured a Three-Position, sweeping fenders in the iconic teardrop style and impressive chrome accents. Intricate details abound on this particular model, from the cane work flanking the side panels on the exterior to the luxury dual-tone interior.
Under the hood is a 346 DID L-Head V-8 engine, and other technical specs include a single 2-barrel carburetor, 4-speed hydra-matic automatic transmission, 4-wheel hydraulic drum brakes, independent front suspension with coil springs, and live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs.
One of only two custom Saoutchik Cadillacs ever built, the 1948 Cadillac Saoutchik Cabriolet convertible was shown at the Paris Auto Show before it arrived in California in 1950. While it has been reported that this car was owned by Hollywood star Delores Del Rio, this has not been confirmed.
Little is actually known about its history until it was acquired by prolific car collector Rick Carroll in the mid 1980’s. It was purchased from Carroll’s estate by Don Williams of Danville, California, after Carroll’s death in 1990, and sold two years later to Noel Thompson, who employed classic car restorer Mike Fennell to restore the car to its original condition. Following its restoration, the car earned AACA National First prize in 1993 and 1994.
It was purchased again in 2002 by an unnamed buyer and was exhibited at the Pebble Beach RetroAuto in 2009 and Concours d’Elegance in 2012. It was acquired by David Disiere at the 2016 Pebble Beach auction.
Stay tuned for more beautiful, classic automobiles as we feature cars from David’s collection over the coming weeks and months.