Back in the late 1930s and early 1940s, owning a grand automobile made a statement about who you were to the outside world. This Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75 Formal Sedan exuded charisma, power, and wealth. So which notable individual owned this handsome 1940 example found on Ebay? None other than Howard Hughes himself!
The black 1940 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75 Formal Sedan in question was formally part of the Art Astor Collection and is one of just 48 examples ever made. It is said to be in excellent condition with a recent service and plenty of original features such as a working Motorola AM radio, deployable jump seat, and a roll up partition window. It really is a fantastic looking machine with its well preserved coachwork that serves to turn back time.
Powering this luxury limo is a 346 cubic-inch V8 engine, that like the rest of the car, has been restored and is now in great order. From new it has covered just under 64,000 miles — low mileage for what is a 79 year-old vehicle.
One of the biggest lures for the elite to opt for a Fleetwood 75 was its 141-inch wheelbase. This great length allowed for plentiful space in the opulent rear quarters that hosted a sofa-like leather rear bench. A large C-pillar afforded high-profile occupants privacy in an era before tinted glass.
For those unfamiliar with Howard Hughes, he was effectively the real-life Tony Stark of his time. In fact, the Marvel character took a lot of inspiration from this once vibrant industrialist, movie producer, inventor, and aviator. He set a series of aviation records and also went on to own the Trans World Airlines in 1939. Hughes was then responsible for creating — what was up until recently — the worlds largest aircraft in the form of the ‘Spruce Goose’.
In a plot seemingly from a James Bond novel, he also helped the American secret services retrieve a sunken Russian nuclear submarine. Using a large surveying ship called the Glomar Explorer, and Hughes as a cover story, a giant claw lowered from the vessel to retrieve Soviet secrets. When the press caught wind of the salvage operation, the CIA developed what became known as the ‘Glomar Response’ with the phrase ‘we can neither confirm nor deny’ entering popular culture.
Howard Hughes died in 1976 after suffering for many years with what we today identify as extreme obsessive-compulsive disorder.
This beautiful Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75 Formal Sedan used by Hughes is a product of a recovering American economy after the Great Depression. It’s a slice of automotive history with a connection to one of the country’s greatest innovators. Its opening bid is $123,770 with a ‘buy it now’ figure of $129,900.
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