Roy Rogers’ 1963 Pontiac Bonneville . (Photo from Christie’s)
Bidders proved that America still loves a cowboy, or at least his car. Roy Rogers’ 1963 (described by Christie’s as a 1964) Pontiac Bonneville went under the hammer today in New York City, selling for $254,500 (buyer’s premium included) on a pre-sale estimate of $100,000 – $150,000.
Christie’s auction house sold the car as well as other items from the former Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum, Branson, Mo., over the course of two days, July 14-15, at the Rockefeller Plaza.
The Bonneville started life as a stock Convertible, then customized by Nudie Cohen, the famed "Rodeo Tailor to the Stars." Nudie added his signature treatment to a number of Cadillacs and Bonnevilles — eventually creating a total of 18 Nudiemobiles. Roy Rogers’ vehicle is one of only nine that are known to exist today.
According to the Christie’s auction listing, Nudie removed all traces of the original interior material and carpeting, replacing it with exquisitely hand-tooled leather. Then came the application of hundreds of genuine collectible silver dollars, along with chrome-plated pistols, horseshoes, miniature horses and rifles.
Some of these items acted as functional replacements for interior and exterior door handles, switches and controls. Nudie worked out the mechanics of six-shooters to the point where the pull of a trigger on the gear shift works the gears, other pistols open the doors and two more pistols on chrome stands replace the front seat arm rest. Another pistol sounds the horn and two more open the doors from the outside. Two derringers are also employed replacing the emergency brake release and the other works the directional lights.
A silver saddle rides between the bucket seats, decorated with rhinestones and 150 silver dollars.
Externally, six-foot wide Texas longhorns adorn the front end of the vehicle, while natural-stocked rifles are mounted on the rear of the car, one on each fender and one mounted on the trunk lid along with the name ROY ROGERS.
Nudie gave the car to Rogers in the 1960s as a token of their friendship
The 1946 Willys CJ-2A Jeep, Nellybelle.
Also selling at the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans auction was the 1946 Willys CJ-2A Jeep nicknamed Nellybelle. The Jeep sold for $116,500 on a pre-sale estimate of $20,000-$30,000.
The Willy’s was owned by Roy Rogers, but was driven in the show by his comic sidekick, Pat Brady. On TV, Brady drove around Mineral City, the setting of the series, sweet talking to Nellybelle as if his verbal compliments could convince the recalcitrant jeep to get up and go.
For those interested in horsepower of a more original type, Roy Roger’s famous horse Trigger, mounted by a taxidermist after the horse’s death at Roger’s direction, was also sold for $266,500 on a pre-sale estimate of $100,000-200,000. The horse, posed rearing, was purchased by RFD-TV in Omaha, Neb.
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