Arizona

18-19 January 2018

Offered from a Private Collection

1933 Cadillac V-16 Seven-Passenger Town Cabriolet by Fleetwood

  • Engine no. 5000045
  • Body no. 1

Without Reserve


  • Offered from a private collection
  • Delivered new to Hollywood legend Joan Crawford
  • Formerly of the Hillcrest Motor Company and Otis Chandler collections
  • The subject of numerous articles and basis for several collector models
  • One of the most famous and iconic Cadillac V-16s


I never go outside unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star. If you want to see the girl next door, go next door.
- Joan Crawford

In early spring of 1933, a tremendous machine arrived at Don Lee Cadillac of Los Angeles. It was a V-16 seven-passenger town cabriolet, the very first of three made that year, and its build sheet notes that it was finished in all-over black – a line of “BLACK,” right down the left side of the page – except for the wire wheels and their disc covers.

As is common with V-16s of this era, the second page of the build sheet has not survived, and so additional special requests for the car have been lost. Thus we may never know if the original owner, Joan Crawford, really did have all of the interior hardware plated in satin-finished pewter, so that a photographer could not catch her distorted reflection in celluloid. Nonetheless, it is the kind of legend the lady enjoyed spinning around herself.

After Crawford’s use of the car, it was purchased by John Quarty, an innovator in modern resort hotels, and continued its use chauffeuring celebrities, now at his San Marcos Resort near Chandler, Arizona. Finally retired, it made its way to Ohio, and there was acquired, via Tom Barrett, by the Hillcrest Motor Company in the early 1970s.

Located on Wilshire Boulevard in Hollywood, the Hillcrest Motor Company was the successor to Don Lee, the famed dealership that had sold the car to Ms. Crawford. Recognizing the opportunity to buy back the most famous car they ever sold, the dealership took it, and their employees restored it to original condition. Afterward it was placed in the small museum on the second floor of the Hillcrest Motor Company, and began its new life as a famous showpiece, featured in the September 1974 issue of Motor Trend, in Roy Schneider’s Sixteen-Cylinder Motorcars, and as the basis for several die-cast collector’s models, as well as in advertisements for The Broadway.

After the death of owner Willet H. Brown in 1993, the Hillcrest dealership was closed, and its company collection sold by Sotheby’s at the Petersen Automotive Museum in 1994. There the Crawford V-16 was acquired by Dr. Joseph Murphy of Pennsylvania. Dr. Murphy, in turn, sold the car to Otis Chandler, in whose famous Vintage Museum it was exhibited until joining the current owner’s stable in 2003.

The car is accompanied by a comprehensive history file, including copies of its various articles, a copy of the build sheet, and, importantly, numerous pieces of correspondence with Hillcrest employees, in which they confirm Crawford’s ownership and detail the restoration completed by some of the men who worked on the V-16 for her in 1933.

Cadillac V-16s of 1933 are rare in any form, with fewer than 30 known to exist; only two are seven-passenger town cabriolets, and only one of those is the iconic ex-Joan Crawford/Hillcrest Motor Company/Otis Chandler car – an automobile with decades of Hollywood heritage, documented, recorded, and known to enthusiasts far and wide. It could make even the girl next door look like a movie star.

Joan would approve.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more