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Classy feminine taste in RM Sotheby’s Pre-War Motorcars

Amongst a generous collection of high-quality American, British and Italian vehicles going to auction with RM Sotheby’s in Arizona, there are two stunning motorcars that have been owned by rather famous ladies of the pre-war era. Both vehicles carry an estimate of $250,000 - $300,000 and are due to go on sale at the Biltmore Resort & Spa on 18th & 19th January.

The first of these motorcars is a 1933 Cadillac V-16 Seven Passenger Town Cabriolet, the original owner of which was none other than Hollywood cinema legend Joan Crawford. Around the same time that Joan was listed as one of the ‘Top Ten Money Making Stars’ and working alongside the movie elite of Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, and Greta Garbo, she would also have taken delivery of this extremely elegant Cadillac. With impressive curves that sweep in beneath the spare wheel, a delicately meshed radiator grill and art deco features highlighted in sparkling chrome, this pre-war motorcar is simply breathtaking. Step inside and your eye will likely be drawn to the graceful cluster of dials, housed within satin-plated pewter, the finish of which was supposedly requested to prevent photographers from catching Joan’s reflection as she traveled.

Equally impressive is a 1938 Packard Twelve Landaulet that was ordered by Doris Duke, heiress to the American Tobacco Company fortune and renowned socialite and philanthropist. Custom-built by Rollston, New York’s most costly coachbuilder, this stunning motorcar possesses many special features including a one-piece windscreen, a highly ornate interior and cocktail bottles stored within the seating. A particularly charming addition is the centrally located dials facing the rear - the left dial showing the speed of the car while the right dial gives the time. Perfect if you like to keep an eye on your driver and when you shall be arriving at your next engagement! Following a complete restoration, this Packard won Best Pre-War Open Car at the Newport Concours d’Elegance in 2009. Chances are the ‘Richest Girl in the World’ would have been delighted as it was in this very area that she had a summer cottage, to which she traveled to with the Packard Twelve.

Although neither car can claim the highest estimate at RM Sotheby’s up-coming auction, both demonstrate an exceptional level of class and social history thanks to two very highly regarded ladies of the pre-war era.

Words by Gillian Carmoodie, images courtesy of RM Sotheby’s



#1 George Cassidy 2018-01-09 13:06
There was a large-scale model kit of the Crawford car offered by Bandai. Mat still be around.

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