Hess & Eisenhardt Eisenhower 1955 Cadillac offered at auction

Angelo Van Bogart |

1955 Cadillac Series 75 Presidential Limousine from the Eisenhower White House to be auctioned in Auburn, Indiana, Sept. 1 – 4, 2011

Want a hardtop AND a sedan? If you’re a 1955 Cadillac fan and owner like I am, Auctions America has the answer: the 1955 Series 75 limousine built for the Eisenhower White House.

The car sports hardtop styling for the rear seat passenger, but a sedan configuration for the driver. It sounds like an odd mix, but it works for this famous car.

Cadillacs from the 1954-’56 have become known as “Cadill-Ikes” (there’s even a chapter of the Cadillac & LaSalle Club that goes by the name), and this one-off 1955 Cadillac built by Hess & Eisenhardt may be the ultimate “Cadill-Ike.”

While researching Cadillac history for my book, “Cadillac: 100 Years of Innovation,” I found a treasure trove of images of this car in the General Motors archives, which offer its next owner a level of provenance we all hope to get with our cars. To read more about this car, to be offered over Labor Day by Auctions America, read on:

Auburn, Ind. (August 26, 2011) –  After slumbering quietly in Europe for more than two decades, a historically significant 1955 Cadillac Series 75 Presidential Limousine from the Eisenhower White House has returned to America to cross the auction block at Auctions America by RM’s Auburn Fall sale in Indiana next week (September 1 – 4).

Custom built by Hess & Eisenhardt for the Eisenhower White House, the special order limousine, chassis 557555865, is one of approximately 1200 collector cars on offer at this year’s Auburn Fall Collector Car Weekend. The multi-day sale in Auburn, Indiana, will also present a select range of vintage motorcycles to cater for collectors of classic two wheelers.

Commissioned in 1955 for the First Lady, Mrs. Eisenhower’s use, as well as to serve as a formal and parade vehicle when needed, this important parade car was delivered straight from the factory in March 1955 to Hess & Eisenhardt, where it underwent a number of special modifications. These included the replacement of the rearmost part of the roof with a section and rear window from a Series 62 Coupe de Ville, resulting in a pillarless “hardtop” limo to allow an excellent viewpoint for press photographers, along with the addition of a sliding sunroof to allow the President and Mrs. Eisenhower to stand in full view of the public when desired. A grab rail was added inside the leading edge of the sunroof to ease the strain of standing in the moving car.

After completion, the car remained in the White House garage for the remainder of Eisenhower’s term before being reportedly sold to an American General. It was acquired by Olivier Delafon, a French collector of presidential automobiles and cars of state in 1988 before being purchased by its current owner in 2006. It is expected to fetch between $175,000 – $225,000 at next week’s auction.

“Presidential cars have long held a strong public fascination as they represent an important slice of American history,” says Donnie Gould President, Auctions America by RM. “Having spent an extended period in Europe, this particular example has remained largely under the collectors’ radar. Fresh to the market, we anticipate strong interest when it crosses the block next week.”

The Eisenhower Presidential Limousine will be joined by a series of other exciting celebrity cars at next week’s Auctions America sale, including the 1933 Cadillac V-12 Convertible Coupe from the Academy Award-winning film Seabiscuit;  a luxurious 1938 Packard V-12 Landaulet custom built for tobacco heiress Doris Duke; and a 1970 Cadillac Limousine customized for famous country singer, Johnny Paycheck.

In addition to the auction, the Auburn Fall Collector Car Weekend, September 1 – 4, will host one of the Midwest’s largest car corral and swap meets along with an exclusive Hot Rod & Custom Car seminar. For full event details, visit www.auctionsamerica.com.

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