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6 December 2017

1948 Cadillac Series 62 Cabriolet by Saoutchik

  • Chassis no. 486237307
  • Engine no. 486237307

  • The ultimate example of French coachwork from the end of the Classic Era
  • One of two such examples produced; unique styling details
  • Built for New York furrier and socialite Louis Ritter
  • Fascinating known ownership history with well-known collectors


Ask any automotive enthusiast to imagine French coachwork, and his mind’s eye will paint liquid lines, elaborately curved and detailed in their colors, shape, and decorative “scallops” of chrome-plated brass. It is a vision fulfilled most elaborately by Carrosserie J. Saoutchik, one of France’s greatest coachbuilders, during the early postwar years of the late 1940s. Saoutchik’s final designs were show-stopping automobiles that were the road-going equivalents of the latest Parisian fashions. They were bold and dramatic, setting the curve–—literally—for design elsewhere in the world. Simply put, after Saoutchik—a true artist of the post-war era—nothing was ever quite the same.

One of the final Saoutchik designs was what can only be called a wild, beautiful cabriolet on a 1948 Cadillac Series 62 chassis. Like every other European shop in the post-war years, Saoutchik wanted American dollars, and what better way than presenting an American car at the 1948 Paris Salon. That it did not look American at all, aside from the dashboard and “sombrero” wheel covers, was beside the point. It was big, extravagant, and aimed right at the newly affluent Yankee.

Enter, right on cue, New York furrier Louis Ritter, who was, as recounted by famed Hollywood exotic car dealer Roger Barlow, “spending his money on custom-built cars while seeking a new life with a lovely new lady. Ritter had come to me because he wanted to have a special convertible built on a Cadillac chassis with a Hydra-Matic transmission so she could drive it. General Motors had refused to sell him one, saying they couldn’t provide their dealers with enough cars . . . we were able to help because of our good relations with Tommy Lee (heir to the Don Lee Cadillac empire in Los Angeles), so the desired chassis was soon on its way to Paris. It went to the atelier of J. Saoutchik, whose handsome sketches for me of proposed Jaguar and Talbot-Lago convertibles had so intrigued Ritter he decided to have Saoutchik execute the Cadillac chassis.”

Ritter traveled to Paris to monitor the completion of his Cadillac, just in time for the Salon where the first Saoutchik-bodied Cadillac would be on display. He was stunned at the sight of a creative high point of Saoutchik and French coachbuilding, which, even in its first days of life, was creating a furor over its audacious lines and beautiful execution. Ritter informed Saoutchik that his Cadillac should be much like the Paris Salon car, and indeed, the two would differ only in the curves at the bottom of their fenders. While he was at it, in typical free-spending fashion, he also owned a second Saoutchik-bodied car, a Talbot-Lago of nearly identical design.

Ritter took delivery of both cars in New York in December of 1949. On New Year’s Day 1950, the two Saoutchiks left Manhattan, with Mr. Barlow in the Talbot-Lago and his lovely wife in the Cadillac, in what can only be described as a cross-country road trip for the ages—during which, the Barlows noted, the Cadillac handled much better on icy roads than the Talbot.

According to Barlow, Ritter “played with his new toys a month or so in Beverly Hills and then gave them to us to sell, clearing his deck for the next efforts of the Paris builders.”

The Cadillac subsequently entered the ownership of Paul Kassoff, long rumored to have been a Ritter associate, and to this day the car bears Kassoff’s initials emblazoned on its radiator shell. From the 1950s until the 1980s it was the property of a family in New Jersey. It was then acquired by the late, great collector Rick Carroll, whose private shop restored it in its current dazzling black and violet color scheme around 1989. Subsequently it passed in 1994 to Jerome Sauls, then several years later to Melvin Olshansky. More recently part of a distinguished private collection, its restoration has been superbly maintained and is still in very fine overall condition.

Representing the glamorous swan song of a fabulous stylist and coachbuilder, the “Ritter Saoutchik” represents audacious French coachbuilding at its absolute peak. It is the vision of an era wrapped into one utterly dramatic automobile.


Please refer to for an updated catalogue description, with expanded history. Please also note that the title is in transit.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

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David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

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Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more