FEA­TURE:

Cana­dian col­lec­tor and his Cadil­lacs cel­e­brated at Cob­ble Beach.

Calgary Sun - Autonet - - NEWS - Alyn Ed­wArds driv­ing.cA

The grand ball­room of New York’s Wal­dorf As­to­ria Ho­tel was cho­sen by Gen­eral Mo­tors to un­veil the com­pany’s glam­our cars from the 1930s through the 1950s. Some of those amaz­ing his­toric au­to­mo­biles are now owned by Canada’s fore­most Cadil­lac col­lec­tor, Steve Plun­kett.

He chose the grand Wal­dorf As­to­ria theme for the de­sign of his 7,800-square-foot Fleet­wood Sa­lon show­room, which houses his most im­por­tant cars from that era. The stone­faced build­ing with a por­tico lead­ing to a grand en­trance is one of four large build­ings hous­ing his 86 clas­sic Gen­eral Mo­tors prod­ucts. Ap­prox­i­mately half of them are col­lectible Cadil­lacs.

The grand sa­lon pro­vides the dis­play area for some of the most sig­nif­i­cant Cadil­lacs in ex­is­tence. Fine wood­work, chan­de­liers, a pressed tin ceil­ing and im­pos­ing bal­conies line the show­room, which repli­cates an era of ele­gance and grace.

“I love au­to­mo­tive his­tory and all things me­chan­i­cal, and the 1930s is my favourite era for cars,” the 62-yearold col­lec­tor says while look­ing down a lineup of un­par­al­leled clas­sic Cadil­lacs. Seven of his best cars will be fea­tured at the­fifthannu­alCob­bleBeachCon­cours d’Ele­gance, Canada’s pre­mier clas­sic car event, on Septem­ber 15 and 16.

“Cadil­lac in­tro­duced more in­no­va­tions than any other make in the in­dus­try,” Plun­kett says. Ex­am­ples in­clude the elec­tric starter (1912), the V8 en­gine (1915), V16 engines (1930), the au­to­matic trans­mis­sion (1940), power win­dows (1941) and the over­head valve V8 en­gine (1949). Cadil­lac was truly the stan­dard of the world.

The 1941 Cadil­lac limou­sine, nick­named the Duchess, may be the most im­por­tant Cadil­lac ever built. The limou­sine was com­mis­sioned by the Duke of Wind­sor, who was King Ed­ward VII be­fore he ab­di­cated the throne to marry Amer­i­can so­cialite Wal­lis Simp­son.

“He was the rock star of his era,” Plun­kett says of the for­mer King of Eng­land who be­came the most pho­tographed per­son in the world and set global fashion trends.

The car was cus­tom made with no panel in­ter­change­able with pro­duc­tion Cadil­lacs. Fea­tures in­clude the in­dus­try’s first power-op­er­ated win­dow lifts, elec­tric di­vider win­dow, pol­ished wal­nut wood gar­nish mould­ings, front and rear ra­dios and clocks, a pipe rack, to­bacco hu­mi­dor, vel­vet-lined stain­less steel jew­elry cases and a con­cealed um­brella com­part­ment ac­cessed through the side of the driver’s seat.

The Duke of Wind­sor wanted to drive his $14,000 car, so the driver’s com­part­ment was as lux­u­ri­ous as the rose broad­cloth-up­hol­stered rear-pas­sen­ger area. The car was sold in 1952 and ended up stored in a Texas barn for 45 years be­fore be­ing com­pletely re­stored.

Steve Plun­kett added it to his col­lec­tion a year ago and the car will be dis­played along­side six of his other clas­sics on the 18th fair­way of the Cob­ble Beach Golf Re­sort on the shores of Ge­or­gian Bay out­side Owen Sound.

The peak of op­u­lence was rep­re­sented by the 4,076 V16-pow­ered Cadil­lac cars pro­duced in the 1930s. Steve Plun­kett has six V16 Cadil­lacs. The two most sig­nif­i­cant ex­am­ples are go­ing to Cob­ble Beach.

His cho­co­late brown and pewter 1930 V16 road­ster was pur­chased from the Im­pe­rial Palace Col­lec­tion in Las Ve­gas. His cus­tom 1934 V16 Vic­to­ria coupe con­vert­ible is the long­est pro­duc­tion car built up to that time. The orig­i­nal owner shipped the car to Paris twice for Euro­pean tours. It has been owned by many noted col­lec­tors, in­clud­ing Bar­rett-Jack­son Auc­tion founder Tom Bar­rett, be­fore Steve Plun­kett added it to his col­lec­tion.

His 1958 Cadil­lac El­do­rado Brougham with its unique stain­less steel roof was bought new by co­me­dian Bob Hope. It was Amer­ica’s most ex­pen­sive car at the time, cost­ing $14,000 — more than dou­ble the price of the more com­mon Cadil­lac sedans.

Other sig­nif­i­cant GM cars from the Steve Plun­kett Col­lec­tion to be dis­played at Cob­ble Beach in­clude a 1940 LaSalle con­vert­ible, 1953 Buick Sky­lark con­vert­ible and a 1958 Buick Cen­tury Ca­bellero sta­tion wagon.

Plun­kett is in­ter­na­tion­ally known for his an­nual Fleet­wood Coun­try CruiseIn, held every June on his 105-acre ru­ral es­tate out­side Lon­don, Ont. As Canada’s largest car show, this year’s event fea­tured 4,500 col­lec­tor cars and 9,500 spec­ta­tors. His an­nual shows have raised $1,532,000 for lo­cal char­i­ties.

“We want to hon­our Steve Plun­kett and rec­og­nize his many con­tri­bu­tions to the car hobby by fea­tur­ing his cars in the col­lec­tor class,” says Cob­ble Beach Con­cours d’Ele­gance founder and chair­man Rob McLeese. “With­out his help, I don’t think this we would have got­ten this thing off the ground five years ago. I had lost my nerve and then Steve Plun­kett showed up and gave me the nerve to start the con­cours event.”

McLeese says run­ning a world-class event is dif­fi­cult be­cause it is chal­leng­ing to find the best re­stored and most sig­nif­i­cant cars.

“Many of the best cars have gone to the U.S., but col­lec­tors like Steve Plun­kett have brought some of the most im­por­tant col­lec­tor cars to Canada and we want to rec­og­nize that in the up­com­ing show,” he says.

For Plun­kett, the Cob­ble Beach show is an op­por­tu­nity to dis­play some of his cars for the thou­sands of en­thu­si­asts who at­tend the show. He has had cars in each of the pre­vi­ous four events.

The Cob­ble Beach Con­cours d’Ele­gance at­tracts some of the best clas­sic ve­hi­cles in Canada, along with many U.S. own­ers now bring­ing their cars to the show.

Last year, Steve Plun­kett dis­played his Gen­eral Mo­tors pro­to­type — a 1949 Cadil­lac Coupe de Ville — which is the old­est sur­viv­ing GM Mo­torama car. In­tro­duced to the pub­lic at New York’s Wal­dorf As­to­ria Ho­tel in Jan­uary 1949, the rev­o­lu­tion­ary Coupe de Ville was the first car to fea­ture power vent win­dows and was the hit of the show. The Coupe de Ville started the two-door hard­top trend for the en­tire au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try.

A 314-foot tun­nel from the base­ment shop in Steve Plun­kett’s home leads to his 31-car garage, which show­cases later-era col­lectible Cadil­lacs. No­table is the 1975 Fleet­wood Brougham orig­i­nally owned by Johnny Cash. It is all black, of course. Also in all black is a tall-finned 1959 Cadil­lac El­do­rado con­vert­ible, rep­re­sent­ing the height of styling ex­cess.

The new­est ad­di­tion to the col­lec­tion is one of the 101 Cadil­lac El­do­rado Brougham’s cus­tom-bod­ied in Italy by Pin­in­fa­rina. Plun­kett plans a full con­cours restora­tion. Maybe it will be shown at next year’s Cob­ble Beach Con­cours d’Ele­gance.

For more in­for­ma­tion about this year’s event, go to www.cob­ble­beach­con­cours.com.

Alyn Ed­wArds/Driv­ing

A 1978 Cadil­lac El­do­rado pro­to­type with elec­tri­cally op­er­ated T-tops that never went into pro­duc­tion.

Alyn Ed­wArds/Driv­ing

The mag­nif­i­cent cus­tom-built 1934 Cadil­lac con­vert­ible owned by Steve Plun­kett with be dis­played at the Cob­ble Beach Con­cours d’Ele­gance in On­tario in Sept. 16 and 17.

Alyn Ed­wArds/Driv­ing

Steve Plun­kett with his 1958 Buick Cen­tury Ca­bellero - one of seven ve­hi­cles he will dis­play at the Cob­ble Beach Con­cours d’Ele­gance in On­tario on Sept. 16 and 17.

Alyn Ed­wArds/Driv­ing

Steve Plun­kett owns six ul­tra rare V16 Cadil­lac cars from the 1930s.

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