"The Duchess" the King of England's 1941 custom-bodied, 1-of-1, Cadillac
Price: US $40,100.00 Item location: Birmingham, Alabama, United States
- Condition: Used
- Make: Cadillac
- Model: Fleetwood
- Type: Sedan
- Trim: Body style no. 41-6219D, custom
- Year: 1941
- Mileage: 72,440
- VIN: 8363211
- Color: Black
- Engine size: 150 bhp, 346 cu. in. OHV V-8
- Number of cylinders: 8
- Power options: Power Windows
- Fuel: Gasoline
- Transmission: Automatic
- Drive type: RWD
- Interior color: Tan
- Vehicle Title: Clear Want to buy? Contact seller!
1941 Cadillac Fleetwood
- One of the final one-off custom Cadillacs of the Classic Era
- Built at the behest of Alfred P. Sloan, r., or the Duke and Duchess of Windsor
- Unique Fleetwood bodywork and interior appointments
- A New York society mainstay for a decade
- Well-known history with only four owners since new
- Freshly and beautifully restored to exacting original specifications
“The Duchess” is a 1941 custom-bodied Cadillac with coachwork by Fleetwood, reated by General Motors for King Edward VIII.
But you must believe me when I tell you, hat I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility, nd to discharge my duties as King, s I would wish to do, ithout the help and support of the woman I love. – King Edward VIII
Theirs became one of the most famous love stories of all time. Never before had a king given up his throne for a woman he loved. Edward VIII, ing of Great Britain, reland, nd the British Dominions, mperor of India, bdicated his throne on December 11, 936, o marry Wallis Simpson, n American socialite from Baltimore. The couple henceforth became known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, nd embarked upon nearly forty years of international jet-setting amidst the world’s most prominent people.
Edward VIII, n particular, efined a gentleman’s style for his time. His clothing, astimes, nd habits were copied the world over, nd his influence still reigns today, ith men tying a “Windsor knot” in their neckties. Likewise, allis topped the international best-dressed list for decades, nd her taste in jewelry and clothing captured the imagination of the world’s most famous designers.
For more images and video, isit www.morganmurphy.co/duchesscadillac
In 1938, ing George VI, dward’s brother and successor, ppointed the Duke to serve as Governor of the Bahamas. Nassau proved the couple with a new venue for socializing and beautiful weather, ut more importantly, t was a quick air trip from New York City, here they kept a suite at the Waldorf Towers on Park Avenue.
During their visit to New York in late 1941, he Windsors were greeted by adoring crowds. They also took receipt of their new Cadillac from one of their society friends, lfred P. Sloan, r., he powerful chairman and CEO of General Motors. It would carry them to the Empire State Building, nd through a ticker tape parade down Wall Street. The New York Times dubbed it a “glossy new Cadillac.” It was so much more. Delivered in the waning days of old coachbuilding and the Classic Era, The Duchess,” as it became known, as one of the final truly one-off, oachbuilt Cadillacs produced.
A completely custom creation
Not a single body panel on the Windsors’ car matched any other 1941 Cadillac. The hood, runk, enders, ender skirts, oof, nd doors were all crafted by hand, nd all interior appointments were hand-fitted.
The fenders were and remain the car’s most notable feature. Beginning with a crest over the wheels, n the style of other 1941 Cadillacs, hey extend and fade through the back of the body, redating Hooper’s coachwork on the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud by 15 years. The streamlined appearance was sufficiently striking that Buick would borrow the basic style of the design for its 1942 production models.
The car’s custom roofline, hich dips between the windows to form a wide center post, ould appear on the production 1942 Cadillac Series 60 Special. Other unique exterior features included the Windsors’ “W.E.” monogram to the rear doors, nique stainless steel rocker moldings and drip rails, nd no side or rear emblems. Cadillac’s iconic “Goddess” hood ornament was, n this car, lated in gold.
Inside, he car was upholstered entirely in rose-colored custom broadcloth, xtending even to the headliner and sun visors. The floors were covered in Wilton wool carpet, ustom-dyed to match. Conveying the car’s ideal combination of masculinity and femininity, hese light colors are set against custom-finished walnut caps for the doors, abinetry, nd divider window. Four brushed stainless-steel jewelry cases, ach of them lined in velvet, erved to carry the Duchess’s purchases prized jewelry. For the Duke, here were no fewer than three cigar lighters and two ashtrays, s well as a humidor and a custom rack for his favored Sasieni pipe.
This was the very first Cadillac to be equipped with power windows, ith the side glass hydraulically operated, nd an electric center privacy divider. All windows are equipped with satin privacy curtains, hich roll away from use when not in use, nd the door handles and vent window cranks are crafted of custom Lucite.
As the Duke was a well-known enthusiast of automobiles and aircraft, adillac expected that he would take the wheel of this car on occasion. As a result, nusually for a limousine of the time, he front compartment was detailed to be as elegant and opulent as the rear, ncluding its own radio, ith a manually controlled roof-mounted antenna and buttons preset to New York City AM stations of the era. The custom rear radio, hrouded in solid copper, njoyed a vacuum-powered antenna, hich could be raised or lowered with the touch of a chrome knob on the rear seat armrest.
Reportedly, ven the Cadillac’s mechanical components were individually selected from the factory, o be “the best of the best” and to assure reliability and smoothness of operation. This car came from the factory with nearly every advanced feature that General Motors could offer in 1941. There were sealed-beam headlights with blacked out surrounds, afety glass, ully automatic heating, irectional signals, ower windows, ower antenna, ydraulic brakes, ndependent front suspension, utomatic thermostat shutters, ide stabilizers, nd fully automatic Hydra-Matic transmission.
According to Roy Schneider’s Cadillacs of the Forties, he Duke of Windsor paid an astonishing $14,000 for the completed limousine, n extravagant sum in 1941. It would be his first Cadillac, ut not his last. He would use it for eleven years. During that time, t was often photographed with the couple, ppearing regularly in newspaper clippings and newsreels.
In 1952, he Duke traded the Cadillac in on a new custom-built Cadillac. It was resold by General Motors to Charles Beswick, noted dealer of luxury cars in Springfield, assachusetts. The Springfield Daily News reported on the transaction in its July 17, 952 edition, tating that the car showed 19,246 miles, nd gushed that its finish looked, twice the quality of newer cars.”
Beswick resold the Cadillac to early collectors Vernon and Bevline Bradley of Springfield, ho added some 50,000 miles before selling it through a New York Times advertisement in 1964. William J. Edmonds III, Cadillac collector from Fort Worth, exas, as the new owner, nd maintained the car largely in storage until its acquisition by Morgan Murphy in 2009. At that point, he process of extensively documenting and then restoring the long-lost “Duchess” began.
Before embarking on an exhaustive, 0,000-hour restoration involving more than 200 specialists, urphy, longtime journalist and member of Cadillac & LaSalle Club (see www.morganmurphy.co) painstakingly researched the history of the Duchess, ombing records from General Motors, adillac, he Royal Archives, he University of Oxford, he Associated Press, ime Life, he New York Times, nd Paramount Pictures. The resulting documentation is nothing short of astounding—not only did Murphy locate the car’s original build sheet, onfirming its matching numbers and provenance, ut he also found images and film footage of the couple in the car the very day it was delivered. Subsequently, urphy has spoken to every owner of the Duchess since the Duke’s ownership.
Today, he car operates as it did originally. The six-volt starter gently fires the V-8 to life, ithout the aid of modern fuel pumps, nd the engine idles at a near-silent 400 rpm – so quietly that one can only hear the fan blades. The 90-degree crankshaft and harmonic balancer, long with cylinders balanced down to .005 grams, ives the Cadillac unprecedented smoothness.
The interior was carefully brought back to its ornate original specifications, ith seats and carpets painstakingly matched to the original material, nd identical in their color, eel, nd quality. The black finish has been carefully recreated to original specifications, nd all chrome replated to show standards.
As with all aspects of the Cadillac’s restoration, he chassis and mechanical components were finely detailed. The wheels are shod in Firestone wide whitewall tires, s specified for this car originally; original tags hide behind the seat cushions. Even the light bulbs have period-correct markings, nd electrical components are properly serial-numbered, ith cloth-covered wire. The clocks, adios, indshield washers, eating systems, ans, nd lighting all use original mechanisms and bulbs. Even individual screws and bolts were saved whenever possible, eplated, estored, hen positioned back into their original holes. Whenever possible, riginal parts were used; “New Old Stock” components were the next best option, ollowed by having parts recreated from scratch.
“The Duchess” is accompanied by copies of original historic photography, howing the Cadillac as it was freshly completed. General Motors extensively photographed the car, oth in the studio and in front of 854 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, howing the car’s custom bodywork and interior fittings in exquisite detail. Also accompanying are copies of its original build sheets, howing the car accounted to “A.P. Sloan, r., ew York, .Y.” and that its construction was handled by the factory engineering department. The car’s data tag on the firewall, ngine number, nd frame number all match the original build sheet, nd have never been altered in any way.
A fully unique, ne-off commission by General Motors’s legendary leader for the cream of 1940s society, The Duchess” is more than a car. It is a part of New York City social history, nd a bespoke design as tailored to the style of its original owners as their legendary wardrobe.
Engine no. 8363211 Body no. 5986 Body style no. 41-6219D. 150 bhp, 46 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine, ransmission, ndependent coil spring front suspension, otchkiss semi-floating rear axle, nd four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. 136 in. wheelbase