CC For Sale: Finding Othmar H. Ammann’s 1957 Cadillac, 65 Years Later


I was cruising Craigslist, and I found this nice 1957 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special for sale.  As I went through the seller’s many pictures, I saw something that really stood out–and I said to myself, “This demands further investigation . . . “

Amazingly, the seller still has the original invoice that came with the car when it was purchased new!  And I saw the name Othmar H. Amman–yes, the great Swiss-born suspension bridge designer and builder.  He was the man who designed the Verrazano Narrows Bridge (world’s longest suspension bridge) connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn, the George Washington Bridge, and many other highway bridges.


The George Washington Bridge from New Jersey, c. 1974 (Author’s own photograph)


According to the seller (Mel), Ammann had a tradition of driving a brand-new Cadillac as the first car to cross a new bridge once it was completed.  Could this have been one of those cars?

Bust of Othmar H. Amman (1879-1965)


Bridge builder Othmar Ammann, Zurich c. 1948.  I want the guy who designs the bridges I drive my car over to be this serious.




Original TV commercial:  “See how much lower the 1957 Cadillac is than last year’s model?  Ibby actually towers above this dream car!”  “Elegant new fabrics and richly grained leathers.  Go ahead, Ibby–touch them!   Oooo, yes!”


Mel says the fellow he bought the car from apparently didn’t know about its famous owner.  The invoice was in a stack of papers given to him at the time of the sale.

Argonaut Building, built 1909, Broadway and 57th Street, New York City. Originally a dealership for Peerless automobiles, this became a Cadillac and LaSalle dealership in 1935. No sign of a Cadillac dealer there today.  Ammann’s Cadillac was originally purchased here.


Othmar Ammann’s Cadillac is now located in Middletown in upstate New York, about 45 miles north of Ammann’s house in Boonton, New Jersey.  How the car made its way up there over the last 60+ years remains a mystery.

Speaking of Ammann’s house, here it is–272 Rockaway Street, just about a mile from my place.  It was built in 1870 and remains remarkably well-preserved to this day!  I assume this blue Fleetwood Sixty Special was parked in that driveway at one time.

This brings up another interesting point:  If your house is about 50 years old or older, there must have been many interesting Curbside Classics that once were parked in your driveway or garage–cars you never knew about, because in most cases that information is lost to time.  However, here we have one case where we can match up the car, the house, and the owner.  Where will the Cadillac go from here?