The Duchess: the world’s most stylish Cadillac


I love cars with a story, and I have a number of cars with stories that are attached to them. This is a ’41 Cadillac commissioned by King Edward. My name is Steve Plunkett, and this is the 1941 Cadillac called
“The Duchess.” In 1936, King Edward abdicated the throne to marry the twice-divorced American girl Wallis Simpson. They were pretty much ostracized from England, and they bounced around all over the world but for a while they lived in New York at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. And that’s when they commissioned this car to be built. Contacted Alfred Sloan of General Motors, and they basically custom-built a ’41 Cadillac custom limo for their use. They actually owned the car for about 11 years and they loved it so much they called it
“The Duchess.” No body panel is shared with any other ’41 Cadillac. In fact the styling is very much unique, that long, diagonal body line that goes down the side reminds you of Rolls-Royce, yet Rolls-Royce didn’t pick up that body style until 12 years later. The body is actually kind of on the plain side, on the outside, I think deliberately, to be a little bit low-key. It has less chrome and less flair to it than the production cars. Painted headlight rim, rather than a chrome rim, got a Buick antenna, that antenna with a
knob on the inside where you control it and it flips up. But this car is loaded with all kinds of custom features that were never seen on limos before. One of the first automatic transmissions, first car with power windows. It wasn’t even an option at the time, they actually created the devices to make
the power windows. But the inside is absolutely spectacular, it’s got the most beautiful step sills I’ve
ever seen on any car. Beautiful, wide chrome step sills. A humidor for pipe tobacco, power division
window, vanity mirrors in the console that is just
behind the front seat, four jewelry boxes, because she was into the
jewelry, and he was into the pipe-smoking. He did drive it, that’s why the front seat
is not leather, it’s all upholstered in the cloth, the broadcloth. Climate control—without the air conditioning, but thermostatically controlled
heating and cooling in the car, front and back, as a matter of fact. So it’s quite a gorgeous car. It was about a $400,000 US restoration, about $410,000, as a matter of fact. Whoever restored the engine did
an absolutely beautiful job. It’s balanced, and quiet,
and it runs absolutely beautifully. It’s a 346-cubic-inch flathead V-8 that’s coupled to the brand-new four-speed automatic transmission, which was just out that year for Cadillac. It runs so quietly, you can actually hear
the air passing through the fan as it’s idling. They were just about like rock stars the world over, and well-known all over the world. When they were living in New York, at the Waldorf, and they commissioned this car to be built, upon its arrival, the film footage is incredible, of it arriving with thousands of people, and the police holding people back and so on. They were actually well-loved here. So it’s really cool to see that car in amongst all that publicity and fanfare as it was arriving for
the first time at the Waldorf.

14 comments

They didn't just live 'for a while' in New York but each year 6 months in New York (in addition to Palm Beach stays) & 6 months in Paris. The car is beautiful, in good hands for safekeeping.

Edward and Wallis were known to be sexually adventurous. I wonder what sort of adventures happened in the back of this beautiful car

……yes, Americans at that time were impressed by anything and anyone affiliated with the House of Windsor…that is until it was recently revealed recently how utterly treasonous their sycophantic behavior with Goering, Goerbles and other senior members of Hitler's Reich was….all egged on principally by Wallis herself; to the extent that they were prepared to mount the throne as puppet royals after the expected German victory of the Battle of Britain. Never, and I mean NEVER mention either of their names to anyone remotely associated with HRH QEII; they despised Wallis; and acknowledge that David's abdication led to the premature death of his younger brother, Bertie (Geo. VI)….
Beautiful custom Fleetwood, though…

The car is ABSOLUTELY STUNNING. However those two TRAITORS, the Duke & Duchess of Windsor were FUCKING NAZI LOVERS and actually MET WITH HITLER to "see that he meant to menace or harm" to the rest of Europe. When in reality, Edward ACTUALLY CONSPIRED WITH HITLER to support him and to have him and his 3rd Reich UNDERMINE the British aristocracy to put HIM BACK ON THE THRONE, then he'd just hand over the entire U.K. to him. FILTHY SWINES.

It is pretty special. It doesn't really look like a limousine, it looks more like a Sixty Special, one with a divider window like a limo. But it's a one-off custom body through and through, designed by Harley Earl and executed by the Fleetwood body factory.

Looks like something Howard "Dutch" Darrin would have designed. Like his Packard Darrin. Both beautiful cars.

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