RM Sotheby’s, St Louis, Missouri 4-5 May
DAVE KINNEY’S CAR OF THE MONTH
Cadillac still uses the phrase ‘Standard of the World’ in much of its advertising. In 1908, the firm won the RAC’s Dewar Trophy, awarded in this case for parts interchangeability between different examples of the same model. The introduction of this was a defining moment in car production, although gun-makers had been doing it for a while. Three 1907 Cadillacs were taken from stock at London’s Anglo American Motors, dismantled and their parts mixed up. The cars were then reassembled and driven 2000 miles each. The only failure was a cotter pin, easily replaced. Along with their reliability, early Cadillacs were also known for their hearty motors.
This Cadillac is an earlier model, from 1903. Its black leather matches its body, and the brass lights, fittings and trim are in excellent shape. It’s a former Antique Automobile Club of America Grand National winner, and the catalogue description notes the lack of cracks to the body – a sign of a good restoration and storage with proper humidity. The overwhelming driver of prices for cars built before 1 January 1905 is the London to Brighton Run, held every November. The oldest cars get the earliest start times so, in theory, a 1903 car is worth a touch more than the same car built in 1904. The dramatic difference is in the cars built just after the date cut-off; their value is typically halved. The presale estimate on this car was $100,000-125,000, but this well-above-average 1903 Cadillac sold for $190,400 – a well-deserved premium.
Dave Kinney is an auction analyst, an expert on the US market scene and publishes the Hagerty Price Guide.