If he was alive toady, Alfonse “Scarface” Capone might be amused at how the word “gangster” has become an adjective. No car fits that description better than the mobster’s 1928 Cadillac 341A sedan, which will cross the block at an RM Auctions event July 28.
Befitting its famous owner, this Cadillac came with decidedly nonstandard features: according to RM, it is one of the oldest bulletproof cars in existence. The Caddy was built with inch-thick glass and nearly 3,000 pounds of armor plating.
The windows are so heavy that they need special spring mechanisms to move. The rear windows were designed to drop quickly, to make drive-bys that much easier; they also came equipped with circular cutouts for gun barrels.
The Cadillac isn’t just an armored assault vehicle; it’s also a fake police car. It has the full complement of flashing lights and sirens, as well as a police-band radio receiver, reportedly the first one installed in a private vehicle.
Capone needed the lights and sirens to scare people out of the way, because the Cadillac wasn’t exactly fast. The 341-cubic inch L-head V8 only made 90 horsepower, less than the 1.4-liter engine in a 2012 Fiat 500. With the weight of a Honda Civic coupe just in armor, this Caddy wasn’t going anywhere fast.
Don’t expect sports car-like handling either. New Cadillacs have magnetorheological shocks and massive disc brakes, but this 1928 model makes due with leaf springs and drum brakes.
In 1928, the V8 was actually one of Cadillac’s smaller engines. The company also sold a massive V16, which made 165 hp. GM’s luxury brand has definitely come a long way since then: today’s CTS-V has half the cylinders of the V16, but makes 556 horsepower.
Capone ruled Chicago’s criminal underworld during Prohibition, making a fortune off the sale of illegal alcohol. He was arrested and imprisoned for tax evasion in 1931, and reportedly left the car in the care of a Chicago Cadillac dealer.
Unlike Capone’s V16 Cadillacs, the older and less valuable V8 341A was apparently not seized by Federal agents, and instead trickled through a series of private owners. At some point, most of the armor plating was removed during a restoration, but new bulletproof glass was installed during a subsequent tune-up.
If you’re looking for a car with serious gangster provenance, get ready to empty your bank account. RM expects the Capone Cadillac to sell for $300,000 to $500,000. The auction takes place July 28 at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Michigan.