1928 cadillac_al_capone_series_341a_02   The continuous history of this 1928 Cadillac V8 Town Sedan has been established since 1932. While the provenance of the “Al Capone” armored Cadillac has never been questioned, its origins were never confirmed beyond reasonable doubt until now. Thorough documentation begins with the purchase of this 1928 Cadillac by Harry LaBreque in May of 1933 from Patrick Moore. According to Moore’s daughter, her parents purchased the car from an agent in Chicago with whom they believed it had been placed by Capone. The Moores worked with a traveling carnival, where they exhibited the Cadillac. The ownership history after the purchase by LeBreque is well known and heavily documented, including its display at the Southland-On-Sea amusement park in England. It was restored in the late ’50s, when most of the heavy plating was removed but the other features, including the bulletproof glass and drop-down rear window, were retained. In 2008, Richard Capatran, then 93 years old, recalled that he had helped his father install armor plating on Al Capone’s Cadillac. The car was delivered new to the shop, and 3,000 pounds of asbestos-wrapped steel plate was installed along with inch-thick bulletproof glass and a rear window that dropped quickly to allow the occupants to fire on would-be pursuers. Upon seeing the Cadillac, Capatran stated, “This is without a doubt the same car that was worked on in my dad’s shop.”    

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1928 Cadillac “Al Capone” Series 341A
Years Produced:1928
Number Produced:20,001 (total 1928 Cadillac production)
Original List Price:$3,395
SCM Valuation:$300k–$340k
Tune Up Cost:$200
Distributor Caps:$75
Chassis Number Location:N/A
Engine Number Location:Plate on front of dash and right side of crankcase
Club Info:Classic Car Club of America, Cadillac and LaSalle Club
Alternatives:Capone’s 1930 V16 452 Imperial Sedan, 1930 Cadillac 452 Madame X
Investment Grade:C

This 1928 Cadillac V8 “Al Capone” Town Sedan, Lot 152, sold for $341,000, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s St. John’s sale on July 28, 2012.

Al Capone and “The Outfit” required special transportation as they managed their business — a business that was estimated to generate $100 million annually from liquor and prostitution. Expansion was at the expense of competitors, and rubbing them out was the method of choice.

Violence and retaliation continued through the late 1920s and culminated in the famed St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, in which seven of “Bugs” Moran’s boys were gunned down for hijacking The Outfits’ booze trucks.

The armored Cadillacs

In 1927, Capone reportedly survived an assassination attempt, and he wisely determined that his vehicles should receive additional protection. His brother-in-law was a Cadillac dealer, and at least two 1928 Cadillac Series 341As were purchased and given the full ballistic treatment.

They were fitted with bulletproof glass that was formed by gluing four sheets of glass together. They were further modified so they could be raised an extra couple of inches, allowing access to a circular hole large enough to accommodate the muzzle of a machine gun. They were fitted with 3,000 pounds of armor plating, and the rear window dropped down. Just the thing to support firing on enemies while remaining relatively safe inside.

The 1928 Cadillac 341A produced only 90 horsepower, and with the added weight of the armor plating and heavier glass, it was certainly lacking in performance. The Cadillac 341A was also used by the Chicago Police, so Capone had his painted in the same black and green colors and added lights and a siren. He also installed a police-band receiver, reportedly the first installed in a private vehicle.

Seizure and imprisonment

On October 7, 1931, Capone was convicted of tax evasion, and his attempted bribery of the jury was discovered by federal agent Eliot Ness. He was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment, and many of his assets were seized, including his newer Cadillac V16s and one of the less-valuable V8 341As. Another, this car, was sold to Harry LaBreque in 1933 by one of Capone’s agents in Chicago.

The 1928 Cadillac that was seized played an interesting role in later history. The day after Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was to give his Infamy Speech to Congress. However, the Secret Service did not have a bulletproof car to safely transport him, and one was needed, as we were now at war. An agent realized Capone’s armored Cadillac had been in the Treasury Department’s parking lot since it was seized, and it was quickly pressed into service. When the president was informed by a reporter where the car came from, he was reported to have said, “I hope Mr. Capone won’t mind.”

Capone as collectible

The 1928 Cadillac that Roosevelt used has disappeared, but our subject car has had an active life. In 2006, John O’Quinn bought the car for $621,500 at RM’s January Phoenix sale. After his death, his estate attempted to sell the car at RM’s Monterey 2010 sale, but declined a $355,000 bid.

At first, that Monterey bid seems like it was well off base considering what O’Quinn paid in 2006, but to put things in perspective, Bonhams offered a far more desirable 1930 Cadillac V16 at their August 2009 Quail Lodge sale in Carmel, CA. That car was also documented to have been owned by Capone and had received the full armor package as well. It sold for $309,500.

What does that mean for our subject car? Well, although the car has a great history tied to a notorious figure in American pop culture, a car like this is only worth what someone will pay for it. When John O’Quinn bought this car in 2006, he paid a considerable sum to own it, and finding another buyer willing to pay the same money wasn’t going to be easy.

With the V16 sale and the Monterey bid on this car both taken into account, I’d say the price paid here was market-correct. The new owner has a car with a great story, as well as one of the first armored cars ever built. That ought to keep him smiling all the way to the speakeasy.

(Introductory description courtesy of RM Auctions.)



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