My Car Quest

December 13, 2018

The Big Mystery: One Two Seat Cadillac Is Missing

Hey it’s out there. I know it in my bones…

by Wallace Wyss –

I used to read a lot of mystery stories. The ones that fascinate me most are when they take place not in plush places like Beverly Hills but out in “flyover territory” where there’s nothing standing out, just blank scenery.

This is a real life history and tragedy.

I hope I have the chronology straight. Turns out Harley J. Earl, the man who started car design out on the path it continues today (renderings, then clay models, then finished cars) liked to build dream cars. Only unlike the other automakers (except for Virgil Exner at Chrysler) he drove them around and, egad, even gave them away to his buddies.

the-cadillac-le-mans-a-concept-car-shrouded-in-mystery

At one time, when Briggs Cunningham was readying Cadillac for the 24 Heures du Mans, Earl had four two seater Caddys built. Calling them the “LeMans” concept cars. They were shown at the Motorama, a traveling road show featuring leggy ladies, music, sort of an auto show with only GM cars.

The body was fiberglass a fairly new material in Detroit but already the Corvette was in production with a fiberglass body. The engine was a 331 cid V8 rated at 250 horses. Two of the four survive, one is lost and out there somewhere.

1953-Cadillac-Le-mans

Here’s the very cold trail:

-October 1953 Shown at a Tulsa, OK oil industry celebration

-November 1953 shipped to Greenlease-Moore Cadillac in Oklahoma City

Then never seen again. By today’s prices of construction, that would have been a million dollar prototype.

I’d say, well, things happen, many a slip twixt the cup and the lip except you type in Greenlease-Moore Cadillac into Google and you come up with three disquieting things:

1.) Nov. 8, 1953, the Cadillac disappears.

2.) Three months earlier, Bobby Greenlease, age 6, is kidnapped, tragically he was shot in the head and the kidnappers still extract $600,000 ransom from Mr. Greenlease who is unaware his son is already dead.

3.) Unknown date, 1954, Mr. Moore, Mr. Greenlease’s partner, locks himself in an upstairs bathroom and shoots himself.

So here we have a kidnapping (the kidnappers were caught and executed within three months of the kidnapping) a million dollar car missing and a suicide.

Sure the trail is cold. Damn cold. But I feel that somehow these three things are related. It is, simply, too much bad Karma to happen in one place at one time.

Cadillac LeMans two seater

It all sounds like a film noir movie that should have been made in-period by Orson Welles, maybe starring Jack Palance or Richard Widmark as the detective. Sort of like Kiss Me Deadly, which starred Widmark.

Somewhere in Oklahoma that Cadillac is still out there. As a retired barn finder, I know it…I can feel it in my bones….

Let us know what you think in the Comments. And please let us know if you know what happened to this Cadillac.

Wallace Wyss

Wallace Wyss

 
 
 
 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is writing a sequel to his novel FERRARI HUNTERS and looking for a literary agent tuned to cars. He can be reached at Photojournalistpro2Gmail.com

 
 
 
 

Summary
The Big Mystery: One Two Seat Cadillac Is Missing
Article Name
The Big Mystery: One Two Seat Cadillac Is Missing
Description
Sure the trail is cold. Damn cold. It is, simply, too much bad Karma to happen in one place at one time.
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Comments

  1. An incredibly sad turn of events, hard to believe that sort of thing was happening in 1953 more the sort of disturbing events you might expect in current times… but the fascination of a lost concept car is indeed the stuff of dreams. Wonder if a police investigation was ever done regarding the car? And if so would the OK City police department have any easy access to those files, and would they offer up any leads… mind you 65 year old leads may not be terribly helpful, still the stuff of dreams.

  2. Bob Wachtel says:

    What a fascinating tale. I wonder what happened to the other three two seaters? Well, at least we know where the “Spruce Goose” is.

  3. wallace wyss says:

    I forgot the one that Earl gave to Marie “The Body” MacDonald, subsequently customized by George Barris, burned up in a famous exhibit hall fire, So that leaves two, unless…

  4. Bob Wachtel says:

    You know Wallace, this story would make a great book and possibly a great movie afterwards. It’s got all the right ingredients if they’re all somehow connected. There’s an exotic, rare, specially constructed two seater Cadillac, a high profile kidnapping turned into murder and a suicide. What more does one need? I’m going to scan thru the internet and just see what I can find about this kidnapping for a start and see if there’s any book that ever came out on the kidnapping. What’s your view on this?

  5. Jeff Kennedy says:

    One of the LeMans is/was in the personal collection of a Los Angeles Cadillac dealer.

    • Bob Wachtel says:

      There is a book about this case. It’s title is “Zero at the Bone: The Playboy, the Prostitute and the murder of Bobby Greenlease” by John Heinenry. I’m trying to get it thru an inter-library loan so I haven’t read it yet. I really doubt if there will be anything in it about the rare two seater Cadillac.

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