1939 Cadillac Model 75 Limousine
Peter Widener was born on November 13, 1834, to Johannes Widener and Sarah Fulmer. He was named after Peter Arrell Browne (1782–1860), a noted lawyer in 19th-century Philadelphia. As a merchant who supplied meat to the Union Army during the United States Civil War, Widener grew to prominence in Philadelphia and had become the City Treasurer by 1871. He became very successful in 1883 as a result of his investing in trolley cars and public transit systems, as a founding partner of Philadelphia Traction Company, which expanded to other major cities in the United States. He and his Philadelphia business partner, William L. Elkins, invested in public transit systems in other big cities with businessmen such as Charles Tyson Yerkes, the streetcar czar of Chicago. Widener used the great wealth accumulated from that business to become a founding organizer of U.S. Steel and the American Tobacco Company, as well as to acquire substantial holdings in Standard Oil. He is considered to have been among the 100 wealthiest Americans, having left an enormous fortune.
Peter's Son, Joseph Widener, the beneficiary of some of that great wealth used it to fund his keen interest in thoroughbred horse racing. Joseph was the founder of Hialeah Park in Florida, having involvement in the project from concept and then building the facility. He was also the head of New York's Belmont Park. His Philanthropic efforts did not go unrecognized, as he was the founding benefactor of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. This historical recap comes our way here at Classic Auto Mall by way of a consignment of a custom built 1939 Cadillac Model 75 Limousine which Widener had two built. Only 1 survives as the other one was demolished in an incident in Florida. This particular model was one of only 13 semi-custom formal open front town cars, and this particular car has a modified fenders to match the sloping lines of the rear of the car. So now it becomes 1 of 1!
2 Exact duplicates were built for Mr. Weidner by the Hermann C Brunn body company from Buffalo, New York. This company came up with the concept of the folding canopy over the chauffeur's compartment. They were also known for their use of only the best of materials which they would put into their coaches, mainly for Cadillac and Lincoln. Gorgeous curved aluminum body panels adorn this long car, and they are in immaculate condition, no dents or errors, and very minute faults if you look very closely. All curved lines from the pristine front grille which utilizes vertical and horizontal ribbed polished chrome to form the aerodynamic front, which is framed on the bottom by a very nice curved front bumper engraved with Cadillac script, in your grandmother's handwriting. Bullet style headlights flank this beautiful Art Nouveau style grille, and a long rounded hood that appears to go on forever. On either side are the front fenders with inserted covers for the dual spare tires. This leads us back to the chauffeur's compartment with that signature retracting convertible top. Going back even further, is the spacious passenger compartment which is framed by two sloping fenders, and red accented rear quarter panels, and extending the red paint around the curving trunk line. Wide white sidewalls adorn Cadillac logo wheel covers with no marks on them. A thin white pinstripe follows the curvature of the passenger compartment and adds a beautiful accentuation to the overall line.
The chauffeurs compartment has a simple but elegant leather split seat bench in unmarred black. A utilitarian black metal dash houses a speedometer, and a few controls, as well as a glovebox. The original white bakelite banjo style steering wheel, fronts this dash, and is in very good condition. Very clean white carpeting covers the floors. Slipping into the passenger compartment we are greeted by yards of luxurious gray felting on door panels, headliner and pillars. This fabric is accented by crotch grained walnut wood panels which surround the compartment. A plush tufted and buttoned bench seat stretches from door to door, and has thermostatic controls embedded in the left armrest, and a call button. Inserted above this puffy couch are dual vanity cabinets, also in walnut. One contains silver lipstick, perfume and compact containers, the other has inserts for what would be assumed to be liquor bottles. 2 foldable jump seats are at the divider, as well as a speedometer near the floor, just in case you are uncomfortable with the driver's speed.
Powered by a 346ci V8 in original condition nicely preserved with shiny parts, an oil bath air cleaner, and clean engine compartment.
Too large for our lift, but photos as we can take them of the undercarriage, shows no rust, all very clean, and well kept.
A limousine with some serious provenance, owned by one of the wealthiest members of a very successful Philadelphia family, and one of 2 custom shaped bodies, formed to the specifications of its to be owner Jonathan Widener. Sadly, its twin which resided in Florida was destroyed in 1950, for reasons unknown (Hurricane?) So now there is just one example. A truly beautiful car, wonderful lines in minty condition.