Only four of the prototypes were built, each different, and this is the only surviving example.
Its history is unique, as well, as it was given as a gift by General Motors to former CEO Charlie Wilson upon his departure from GM to serve as President Eisenhower's Secretary of Defense in 1953. During his four-year stint as the defense secretary, Wilson droove the Coupe de Ville prototype.
The car itself is powered by a 331-cubic-inch overhead-valve V-8, the first to come from GM, paired to a four-speed automatic transmission. In 1949 dollars, the prototype cost $30,000 to build over its two-month construction process. In 2013 money, that's about $290,000.
The Coupe de Ville prototype also featured a one-piece curved windshield, another first for GM, a two-way radio/telephone, power windows, power seats, a lipstick holder, a perfume atomizer, and a back-seat secretarial kit for those on-the-road dictation sessions.
This stunning example of automotive history will make its first public re-appearance in nearly two-thirds of a century at the 18th annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance on the grounds of The Golf Club of Amelia Island, March 8-10, 2013. Cadillac's iconic 1959 Cyclone and 1953 Le Mans Roadster concepts will also be on display, along with the 2002 Cien concept.
1949 Cadillac Coupe de Ville prototype