Cadillac NART Zagato

In the late Sixties being Ferrari’s US distributor put Luigi Chinetti back in the driver’s seat which he had exited nearly twenty years before after his last Le Mans win. His North American Racing Team attracted the best drivers and had no trouble selling its used, and frequently race-winning, team cars to wealthy clients. From its headquarters in Greenwich, Connecticut the Chinetti organization enjoyed success and admiration.

However, even in these heady times, there was a cloud on the horizon: the certainty of more stringent auto emissions regulations. There also was an apparent reluctance on Ferrari’s part to acknowledge the superiority of mid-engine designs, or at least their attractiveness to potential buyers of high performance limited production automobiles. What part these factors played in the evolution of the 1970 Cadillac N.A.R.T. offered here is only conjecture, but work began in 1969 on an exciting and daringly different four-seat, mid-engined concept which became the 1970 Cadillac N.A.R.T.

Conceived by Luigi Chinetti, Jr., the Cadillac N.A.R.T. was designed to provide Chinetti’s clients with a luxurious, sophisticated, high performance four seat automobile that could be built in limited quantities at a reasonable cost. It was based upon the simple but ingenious concept of relocating the front wheel drive Cadillac Eldorado power train to behind the rear seats to create a mid-engined layout, then using other standard Cadillac assemblies for the front suspension. Carefully packaged and built in limited series by independent coachbuilders in Italy, all of whom were well known to the Chinetti family, it promised to deliver neck-snapping performance in a distinctive package.

Luigi Chinetti, Jr. worked with General Motors in the initial planning and, with GM’s guidance, employed an Art Center graduate to convert the layout and Chinetti’s concept drawings into full size elevations. Following the practice of a major automaker, a full size clay model was then made in GM’s studio. Zagato was chosen to build the prototype from the drawings and clay model. Chinetti provided a Cadillac Eldorado and other parts from which the finished car, offered here for the first time to the public, was constructed.

In addition to the Cadillac Eldorado powertrain, including the torsion bar suspension and disc brakes, the front suspension of the Cadillac N.A.R.T. is from a full size Cadillac, with the giant vented disc brakes needed to arrest a loaded six-passenger Cadillac. All the comfort and convenience features expected by buyers of Cadillacs, or of top of the line Ferraris for that matter, were provided including power steering, power brakes, power windows, climate control air conditioning and an AM-FM signal seeking stereo.

Source: RM Auctions

Be part of something big