Rare Duesenberg, Al Capone sedan head to RM’s St. John’s sale

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1933 Duesenberg Model SJ Convertible Victoria by Rollston. (© Darin Schabel Courtesy of RM Auctions)

• Sale acts as a prelude to the famed Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s
• Complete digital catalogue now available online at www.rmauctions.com

RM Auctions, the official auction house of the Concours d’Elegance of America, has secured a wonderful selection of classic automobiles for its St. John’s sale, July 28, in Plymouth, Mich.

Hosted on the beautiful grounds of the Inn at St. John’s, the single-day sale is a mainstay on the auction concours circuit and boasts a reputation for including exceptional American classics. The upcoming sale, featuring more than 70 quality collector cars, presents nearly a century of American and European automotive history.

“RM Auctions is delighted to continue our partnership with the Concours d’Elegance of America as we return to the Inn at St. John’s for our annual Michigan sale,” says Rob Myers, chairman and founder, RM Auctions. “A long-standing tradition for motoring enthusiasts, the exciting array of sought after collector cars offered at this year’s sale are enhanced within the context of Michigan’s rich automotive history, making this the ideal venue for American classics.”

Headlining the roster of American marques is an outstanding, period-supercharged 1930 Duesenberg SJ Convertible Victoria by Rollston, J272. One of just 16 examples bodied with convertible Victoria coachwork by Rollston, J272 was delivered new to famous band leader Paul Whiteman, of “Rhapsody in Blue” fame, in May 1930. Adding to the car’s impressive power and provenance is one of the rarest and most attractive bodies, the quarter window Victoria, from the highly regarded Rollston Company (Est. $850,000–$1,200,000). Another excellent example of Classic Era styling set for RM’s St. John’s podium is a 1930 Packard 745 Deluxe Eight Convertible Victoria, chassis 185625, one of only five verified authentic Waterhouse convertible Victorias known to exist on the 745 chassis (Est. $275,000–$375,000).

Also expected to garner strong interest from collectors is the 1928 Cadillac V-8 “Al Capone” Town Sedan, chassis 306449. Well-known in collector circles, new information including period documentation from newspapers, the IRS, and information from the family of the second known owner, further confirms its link to the notorious American gangster by establishing the critical timeline between Capone’s arrest, trial, and incarceration, as it relates to the car’s subsequent ownership. Widely considered one of the most historically significant prewar American cars, at first glance, the “Al Capone” Cadillac appears much like any other sedan, but the differences are cleverly hidden. It is liveried in green with black fenders to mirror the Cadillacs supplied to the Chicago police and city officials at the time and is also equipped with flashing lights, a regulation police siren, and the first known police-band radio receiver in a private automobile. Holding a special place in the history books as one of the earliest surviving “bulletproof” cars, it was fitted new with heavy glass measuring nearly an inch thick and completely lined with 3,000 pounds of steel armor plating. The bulletproof windows could be raised an extra couple inches to reveal a circular part large enough for the muzzle of a gun to go through, and the rear window was rigged to drop quickly, allowing occupants to fire upon would-be pursuers. The new research recently uncovered by RM includes an eyewitness to the car’s armor plating for Capone, which is shared in detail in the auction catalogue (Est. $300,000–$500,000).

Additional highlights at RM’s St. John’s sale include:

  • a 1933 Packard Twelve Convertible Coupe, possibly the last example produced (Est. $250,000–$325,000);
  • a virtually flawless, low mileage 2005 Ford GT, equipped with all factory-available options (Est. $175,000–$215,000);
  • one of just three known surviving 1930 Lincoln Model L Derham Convertible Sedans, displayed and purchased new at the 1930 New York Auto Show (Est. $140,000–$170,000);
  • a low mileage 1948 Chrysler Town & Country Sedan, coming out of 40 years of single ownership (Est. $100,000–$125,000); and
  • a rare 1912 Baker Electric Special Extension Coupe, benefiting from a comprehensive restoration (Est. $75,000–$125,000).

Lot 145: 1925 Ahrens-Fox N-S-4 Triple Combination Pumper. (©2012 Darin Schnabel Courtesy of RM Auctions)

Another featured attraction of the sale will be the presentation of 15 automobiles from the distinguished private collection of William Ruger Jr., all offered without reserve. Joining the previously announced group of American and European classics from the collection, the sale will also lift the gavel on two magnificently presented Ahrens-Fox Fire Trucks, considered the “Rolls-Royce” of fire trucks. The pair includes an outstanding 1925 Ahrens-Fox N-S-4 Triple Combination Pumper, chassis 1641, capable of pumping water at 1,100 gallons per minute and a 1930 Ahrens-Fox P-S-14 Hose & Equipment Truck, chassis 2311, featuring the largest six-cylinder Ahrens-Fox engine. They are expected to fetch between $175,000–$250,000 and $125,000–$190,000, respectively.

RM’s upcoming St. John’s sale acts as a prelude to the Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s, returning July 29. A longstanding summer tradition for collectors, the events combine to make for an exciting vintage car weekend for automotive enthusiasts.

Full event details, including the digital catalogue, are available online at www.rmauctions.com or by calling RM Auctions at +1 519 352 4575.

About The Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s

The Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s in Plymouth, Mich., on Sunday, July 29, 2012, is one of the most prestigious showings of classic, rare, and magnificent automobiles in the world. It will take place on the lush and historic grounds of The Inn at St. John’s, with numerous associated events on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday leading up to the grand presentation on Concours Sunday. In addition to the exhibit of more than 300 prestigious collector cars, the Concours will offer an automotive art exhibition, vintage car racing, a vintage car auction, Mode du Concours and associated social events all dedicated to the beauty and glory of the automobile.

A highlight of this year’s concours will be the display of the only known 1940 Graham Hollywood two-passenger convertible. See related story on the survivor.

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