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Lot 340: Cadillac Eldorado Brougham

Motorcycle and Motorcars, Bonhams & Butterfields (14 November 2009)

Cadillac's Eldorado Brougham is the superlative automobile of the Fifties, a coachbuilt luxury car hand crafted to the highest standards and outfitted with every luxury, appointment and accessory known to Detroit at the time. Flamboyantly but tastefully styled and extravagantly expensive at $13,074, the Eldorado Brougham expressed exclusivity in every line and feature.

No wonder only 400 were built in 1957 and just 304 in 1958.

This 1958 Eldorado Brougham was first owned by Frank Sinatra. Its third owner, former California Highway Patrol officer Neal Gann (badge #2520), recounts its history:

In early 1958 while on traffic patrol duties as a California Highway Patrolman.

I was coming onto outbound Interstate 10 at Towne Avenue in Pomona, California ... on a Friday afternoon late. I observed a 1958 Cadillac Brougham eastbound in moderate fast traffic; the car was passing using several lanes.... There was no license plate displayed, which was not unusual for those years ... temporary dealer plates ... frequently came off.

I executed a traffic stop near Ontario Airport. Upon approaching the drivers side I immediately recognized Mr. Sinatra, as I had been a fan since WWII. I advised as to why he was stopped and he said curtly, "You must have the wrong car Officer." I replied, "Mr. Sinatra, you don't see many Broughams at one time," This elicited a grin and a reply of "No, I guess not".

I asked for his drivers license and registration. He produced his billfold and had a difficult time finding his license among the many photos and miscellaneous papers. I noted that most of the photos were of Ava Gardner.... [after reflection] I considered as to how unfair [it was] to cite him just because he was a celebrity.

About this time, Mr. Sinatra got out and came back to my position and said "Could you hurry up with the ticket. I'm running late." I then told him ... that I was just warning him to slow down and display the registration. I could tell this caught him off guard. He replied with a few expletives and "This is the first time I ever got a break from this kind of situation. As soon as someone finds out you're a [expletive] celebrity they shove it to you." His whole attitude changed from ... indignant to friendly.... [W]e parted company and I about drooled over such a magnificent car.

Years went by and I had put this on the back burners of my memory. [Then m]y half brother, Matthew L. Post (Bill), [who] was an avid car collector and Chairman of the board of Le Cercle  Concours d'Elegance in Los Angeles called me and stated, "Years ago you told me about stopping Sinatra in that 58 Brougham! Well, I just bought it at auction." Bill owned the car and stored it in Hollywood Hills. One day he called me and stated "L'il brother, I'm going to give you the Brougham if you will drive and enjoy it." Thus I acquired the car and the documentation. The car was mine and the dream came true.

I entered the car in many car shows and it won Best of Show at the Cadillac Club International car show in Palm Springs, California.

Sid Craig acquired the ex-Frank Sinatra 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham directly from Neal Gann in 1999.

It is about as pure and unmolested as any automobile of such distinction and rarity is, complete with most if not all of its original accoutrements including the combination lady's vanity and cigarette case and magnetic shot glasses in its glove box. Finished today in a Cordovan Red (the body plate paint code is 116, Wimbledon Grey), the interior is magnificently upholstered and trimmed in grey cloth and white leather. Silver finished cast aluminum Sabre wheels with wide whitewall tires complement the brushed stainless steel roof and elaborate Eldorado rocker panel and fender molding trim.

A competent but not concours repaint shows some surface preparation flaws but otherwise complements the largely original and carefully maintained condition of the interior, chassis, chrome and engine compartment.

Eldorado Broughams are among the last individually coachbuilt automobiles from Detroit. Each was individually constructed and they are fabulously expensive to restore. Sidney Craig's ex-Frank Sinatra Brougham has been enthusiast owned from new (including, let it be restated, by Frank Sinatra) and has neither undergone nor needed a restoration.

There is no better, more representative, or more important example of the absolute high point of General Motors or Cadillac than this unique, ex-Frank Sinatra, 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham from Sidney Craig's select collection.

Neal Gann's story of encounter, pursuit and acquisition makes it peerless even among the select company of its counterparts and gives it history and provenance that is second-to-none.

Lot Details
Auction Motorcycle and Motorcars
Bonhams & Butterfields, Los Angeles
Lot Number340
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$105000
Hammer Price (inc premium)$122500
Condition rating0
Registration number
Chassis number58PO11421
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors