Published January 24, 2013
The 2014 Cadillac ELR has been given the mildly ironic nickname "Coupe de Volt," in honor of its Chevy Volt-based underpinnings--and Cadillac's legendary Coupe de Ville. This March, the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance will feature the original prototype of the Cadillac Coupe de Ville by Fleetwood, a car that hasn't been shown to the public in 64 years.
Only four of the prototypes were built, each different, and this is the only surviving example.
Its history is unique, as well, as it was given as a gift by General Motors to former CEO Charlie Wilson upon his departure from GM to serve as President Eisenhower's Secretary of Defense in 1953. During his four-year stint as the defense secretary, Wilson droove the Coupe de Ville prototype.
The car itself is powered by a 331-cubic-inch overhead-valve V-8, the first to come from GM, paired to a four-speed automatic transmission. In 1949 dollars, the prototype cost $30,000 to build over its two-month construction process. In 2013 money, that's about $290,000.
The Coupe de Ville prototype also featured a one-piece curved windshield, another first for GM, a two-way radio/telephone, power windows, power seats, a lipstick holder, a perfume atomizer, and a back-seat secretarial kit for those on-the-road dictation sessions.
This stunning example of automotive history will make its first public re-appearance in nearly two-thirds of a century at the 18th annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance on the grounds of The Golf Club of Amelia Island, March 8-10, 2013. Cadillac's iconic 1959 Cyclone and 1953 Le Mans Roadster concepts will also be on display, along with the 2002 Cien concept.