Many of you are likely to have seen Paramount Picture’s 1939 image of Buck Jones with his custom Cadillac roadster in the lead photo of today’s feature. Up until now we have not paid any attention to it thinking it was a freak built for Hollywood and were unaware of its connection to cowboy actor Buck Jones even after seeing it when it was in Otis Chandler’s collection and museum in Los Angeles.
The AACA Library recently posted this photo from its collection along with the information it had sourced that identify it as being built in 1931 an a V-12 Cadillac chassis. Because of the nature of the internet there is a lot of misinformation about this car in cyberspace, and some sources have even identified it as a 1933 Packard. Others state that it was built by the Earl Automobile Works, but that is incorrect as the facility became the Don Lee Coach and Body Works after Lee brought out Jacob W. Earl in 1919.
- Earlier Buck Jones custom Packard on a movie set in 1927. Behind the cowl, the coachwork was styled like the speedsters of the 1908-’12 period with a large round gas tank positioned behind the seats. Photo courtesy of “The Making of Modern Michigan”.
A quick look at the custom’s cowl, windshield, door, rear quarter panel and golf bag compartment door show that the body shell was a modified 1928-’29 Cadillac roadster. It shared the distinctive styling that was a runaway hit when GM and Harley Earl first introduced his design for the new 1927 LaSalle.
Exactly when “Buck Jones Cadillac” was built is not known to us, but it was constructed on a V-12 chassis, first introduced for the 1931 model year. The special’s engine was fitted with a pair of Winfield carburetors. It was built in Southern California although exactly where is not known; there is a good chance it was done at the Don Lee Coach and Body Works in Los Angeles, a part of Don Lee Cadillac. Harley Earl has been credited by some with the design the coachwork.
If the custom was built in the early-1930s as reported, it was updated in the mid-1930s with features used on the Harley Earl designed 1934 Cadillac and LaSalle including the unique biplane styled bumpers. It was updated later in the late-1930s to the form as seen in the lead photo. The car is presently owned by Lee Munder and is undergoing restoration to its mid-1930s form. The unique “Buck Jones Cadillac” was on display at the 2015 Amelia Island Concours in a “Cars of the Cowboys” exhibit.
If any readers know the complete story of this car or can direct us to the souce of earlier photos of it, or other Buck Jones cars please let us know.
- Buck Jones behind the wheel of a stripped early stock car.
Jones was a lifelong car enthusiast, and it has been reported by Western Clippings that when he was young Buck worked as a test driver for race car driver Harry Stillman. The photo (above) shows him behind the wheel of an early 30 to 40 h.p. stripped-down stock car chassis. Stillman drove one of the two Oldsmobile Team cars in the 1910 Vanderbilt Cup Race.