In the early 1950s, a remarkable collaboration between two visionaries gave birth to a truly unique American sports car. Harry Birdsall, a talented commercial artist, and Joe Mascari, a prominent New York contractor, set out to create a luxurious two-seater vehicle that would capture the essence of the futuristic jet airplane designs that captivated the public’s imagination. With the help of renowned automobile designer Albrecht Goertz, they transformed a 1953 Cadillac chassis and running gear into a masterpiece called the Elegante. This article delves into the captivating story and exquisite craftsmanship behind the 1955 Cadillac Elegant Special Convertible Coupe by Motto.

The Birth of an Iconic Design

Harry Birdsall and Joe Mascari’s passion for innovation and luxury drove them to create something truly remarkable. They acquired a 1953 Series 62 convertible that had been damaged by fire at a Cadillac dealership in White Plains. Undeterred by the setback, they envisioned a vehicle that would combine the elegance of a convertible with the functionality of a retractable hardtop. They enlisted the expertise of Albrecht Goertz, who later became renowned for designing iconic cars such as the BMW 507 and the Datsun 240Z.

Collaboration and Inspiration

During the design process, Albrecht Goertz provided invaluable input, further enhancing the visionary project. Harry Birdsall also had a close relationship with Zora Arkus-Duntov, the brilliant mind behind the Corvette’s design. This collaboration ensured that the Elegante would embody both style and performance, captivating the hearts of discerning customers in the upscale market.

Exquisite Craftsmanship

To bring their vision to life, Birdsall and Mascari entrusted the fabrication of the Elegante to Carrozzeria Motto in Turin, Italy. The skilled craftsmen at Motto meticulously crafted the body, customizing every detail and mounting it on a 126-inch wheelbase chassis. They spared no effort in creating a masterpiece that would stand the test of time.

Luxurious Details

Every aspect of the Elegante exudes opulence and attention to detail. The quad headlights, windscreen frame, door handles, hood and trunk trim, and even the recessed license plate insert were painstakingly fabricated from bronze and then plated in 24-karat gold. The aluminum trim and hubcaps were treated with gold anodization, adding a touch of extravagance. The body was elegantly painted in an iridescent pearl white, while the interior was meticulously finished in deep red wine Italian leather. The combination of these luxurious materials and finishes left onlookers breathless, prompting one young lady to declare, “Why, it’s so beautiful it’s indecent!”

Preserving a Legacy

Following Harry Birdsall’s passing in 1960, ownership of the Elegante changed hands multiple times. However, the car remained a treasured relic, symbolizing the ingenuity and craftsmanship of its creators. In 1997, Birdsall’s son, ****, and his brother Bob successfully located the Elegante, despite it having suffered damage from Hurricane Andrew. **** dedicated 16 years to meticulously restoring the car to its former glory, showcasing his passion and commitment to preserving his father’s legacy. His efforts paid off when the Elegante won the prestigious People’s Choice award at the 2014 Amelia Island Concours, solidifying its status as an icon of automotive history.


The 1955 Cadillac Elegant Special Convertible Coupe by Motto stands as a testament to the visionary minds of Harry Birdsall and Joe Mascari, the design expertise of Albrecht Goertz, and the skilled craftsmanship of Carrozzeria Motto. Its timeless beauty and exquisite details continue to captivate automotive enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike. As a symbol of innovation and luxury, this remarkable car will forever hold a special place in the annals of automotive history, reminding us of the boundless possibilities when vision and craftsmanship intertwine.