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.
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.