Between 1947 and 1949, MGM Studios ordered six Series 75 Cadillac chassis from Hillcrest Cadillac, the Beverly Hills dealer. Most had the standard 136-inch wheelbase, as used on the sedans and Imperial sedans, but at least one had the 163-inch wheelbase of the Business and Commercial cars, the latter being used for ambulances and other 'professional' vehicles. The chassis were dispatched to Maurice Schwartz for special, wood-framed bodies.
At first glance, this car, the final one of the six MGM orders, looks like an 'ordinary' Series 75 sedan or limousine. Closer scrutiny, however, reveals that the wood is more than a simple addition and that many of the contours differ from the Fleetwood-bodied production car as well. Schwartz clearly took the bare cowl-and-chassis and created a masterpiece from scratch.
Inspiration may have been taken from a six-door wood-bodied fastback limo that Schwartz constructed for cowboy star Gene Autry in 1947. While shorter than the Autry car and with different rear contour, it does have similar fenders and a hallmark roof rack. Like the other MGM cars, it was used for transportation of actors and support staff to and from location shoots. Some time in the 1950s, while on a trip to Big Bear Lake in the mountains near San Bernardino, it missed a turn and left the highway, rolling over and damaging the top. It was apparently simply abandoned and sat in the brush for a decade or more, its wood body deteriorating.
It was eventually purchased by Los Angeles collector Dennis Mitosinka. He transported it back to the city, with intentions of restoring it, as by now it was believed to be the only survivor of the 'MGM six'. Work had not progressed very far, however, by the time a consortium of five Sacramento men bought it in the early 1980s. Al Robbins, who headed the group, was a skilled craftsman with wood. Using much of the original body for patterns, he fashioned new ash framing and mahogany panels. With the assistance of a parts car, the metal body was repaired, the roof rack reconstructed and the car painted red, rather than the original black.
One by one, however, Robbins' partners dropped out, leaving Robbins with insufficient means to finish the job. In the late '80s, the car was purchased by John White's Ramshead Collection in Sacramento. The restoration was completed by technician Bob Doyle and others on the Ramshead staff. This involved repainting the dashboard in metallic beige and fitting a complete new interior of Bedford cord with alligator trim. Hogshead carpeting was used, and final touches included MGM logos on the interior of the doors.
The car was acquired by a prominent New England collector, from the Ramshead Collection in the mid-1990s. Since that time, it has been well maintained, the wood receiving the appropriate upkeep on a regular schedule. The metal portion was repainted from red to dark green. It was honored at the Meadow Brook concours a few years ago. In 2011 the car was offered for sale by RM Auctions.
Source: RM Auctions.
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