1949 Cadillac show car to appear at Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

Angelo Van Bogart |

As a Cadillac fan, I am happy to share news that the prototype 1949 Cadillac Coupe deVille show car, which has not been seen publicly for decades, will appear at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance this March. Read on for the details:

For the first time in 64 years the first Cadillac to wear the name “Coupe de Ville” will make a public appearance. The site for this historic re-debut is the 18th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance on March 10, 2013.

The first 1949 Cadillac Coupe deVille — a show car with many different features than the later production Coupe deVilles — will be shown at the Amelia Island Concours this March.

Charlie Wilson was the CEO of General Motors from 1946 through 1953 and President Eisenhower’s Secretary of Defense from 1953 through 1957. When Wilson left GM in 1953, the corporation gave him an extraordinary gift honoring his long service. What he got was the original Cadillac prototype Coupe De Ville by Fleetwood, the rarest of General Motors Transportation Unlimited Exhibition show cars. Just four different prototypes were built. Only one survives: “Engine Charlie’s” Coupe de Ville. Wilson drove it during his tenure as Secretary of Defense.

This first Coupe de Ville was a radical departure from Cadillac’s showroom offerings of the Forties. Powered by a new 331 cubic inch engine — GM’s first overhead valve V-8 — and mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission, the prototype Coupe de Ville took two months and $30,000 (1949-dollars) to build.

The de Ville featured GM’s first one piece curved windshield, and rode on a 133 inch wheelbase, seven inches longer than Cadillac’s production coupes. Inside was a two-way radio/telephone, power windows (even the vent windows were powered), power seats, chrome wheel arches and a three-piece rear window, lipstick holder, perfume atomizer, a back seat secretarial kit and leather seats and trim,  The de Ville was the star of GM’s 1949 Waldorf Astoria Transportation Unlimited show.

“I have many cars but the Coupe de Ville restoration has been the most exciting. This will be the first time in 64 years the oldest surviving Motorama Dream Car will be displayed publically,” said Steve Plunkett. “What’s interesting is Eagle Ottawa has been a supplier of leather to the Big Three for generations and 64 years later they’re supplying the project again.”

The 2013 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will be held March 8-10th on the 10th and 18th fairways of The Golf Club of Amelia Island at Summer Beach adjacent to The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.  The show’s Foundation has donated over $2 million to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc. and other charities on Florida’s First Coast since its inception in 1996.

About The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
Now in its second decade, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is among the top automotive events in the world.  Always held the second full weekend in March, “The Amelia” draws nearly 300  rare vehicles from collections around the world to The Golf Club of Amelia Island at Summer Beach and The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island for a celebration of the automobile like no other.  Since 1996, the show’s Foundation has donated over $2 million to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc. and other deserving charities on Florida’s First Coast.  The 17th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for March 8-10, 2013.  For more information, visit www.ameliaconcours.org or call 904-636-0027.

10 Responses to 1949 Cadillac show car to appear at Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

  1. Jim Michener says:

    this prototype is not near as good looking as what ended up being the 49 coupe De ville…

  2. Will Fox says:

    Actually, I think it might look better in some respects. The smaller, Fleetwood sedan-type rear window, the 7″ added in wheelbase, the unique quarter panel trim behind the doors all add a special elegance to this car. And since it hasnt been seen since `49 publicly, I for one am anxious to (at least) see photos of it once its displayed at Amelia Island. Being a huge Cadillac fan, this is one car I’ll love to see!

  3. Andre Crouse says:

    I’d like to hear more about where the car was in the interim, how Plunkett got it and so on. Stunning vehicle!

  4. Phil Guilhem says:

    In the Spring of 1968 my wife and I went south to look at some homes in La Jolla and then drove down to the shore where this vehicle was parked. My first thought was that it was something by Coachcraft modified to be a “sporty 60 Special” with 1950-53 roofline. I thought it was much cleaner and more elegant than the production 1949-53 coupes. In the same public beachfront parking lot that day was a mint 1949 or 1950 Chrysler Crown Imperial. Unfortunately, my AmEx card had never tutored my camera. My wife thought the Cad was “much cuter” than the black ’67 CDV she drove at the time.

  5. Andrew J. says:

    Angelo, you have great taste in automobiles. I like Caddy’s too. I had a ’63 Series 62 Coupe and the same model of a “67. Loved them both but the “63 had the edge due to its great style and the 4 speed Hydramatic. First gear would really get that baby moving. That was back in 1967, and I can still hear that engine roar as I got on the entrance ramp of I-84 in NY.

  6. Dee Reilly says:

    The fact that it has a 4 speed automatic and a two way radio/telephone is evidence enough that someone was thinking ahead of their time.I couldn’t imagine having power vent windows.But then,again I don’t think anybody can.And what exactly is a secretarial kit?

  7. from this photo it is hard to tell just how it looks, power vents were popular and the tranny had been developed and used in the oldsmobile a couple of years earlier. Lets get some real pictures.

  8. steven saperstein says:

    cannot tell from this view if the rear deck is shorter than what evolved on the production model. anybody know?

  9. Gaines Adcock says:

    My friend, Paul Craven, police chief from Laural, Ms., had one of these first ’49 overhead valve Cadillacs. It was the state of the art imporvements for Cadillac at the time. Our great trip was to Mobile, Al, to see the Statesmen Quartet performance. I have been a Cadillac lover ever since, including a ’31 Cadillac Convertible Victoria (one-off custom) by Glaser of Dresden, Germany. I was a member of the Cadillac La Salle and the Classic Car Clubs in the past. I am 83 years old and still enjoying all these cars from the past.

  10. Kenneth says:

    One thing that suprizes me is NO A/C Cadillac,Olds and Buick offered it as an option in 49. I wounder why it was left off this car with all it’s inovative fetures?

Leave a Reply