Posted Jul 30, 2012 06:26 pm CDT
When a prominent Texas trial lawyer bought a 1928 armor-plated Cadillac once owned by gangster Al Capone, the history of the car was well-documented from 1931, after a tax-evasion conviction prompted its sale, to attorney John O’Quinn’s purchase of the vehicle for $621,500 at auction in 2006.
But early confirmation of Capone’s ownership of the vehicle was sketchier, until O’Quinn somehow heard about a Chicago native named Richard Capstran and tracked him down for some “bulletproof provenance,” as the Chicago Tribune puts it.
Now 93, Capstran had helped his father install the armor plating on Capone’s car when the V-8 Town Sedan was still new, a year or so after the gangster had reportedly survived an assassination attempt. Capstran’s dad’s shop did body and paint work, so his father assumed when Capone’s men brought the car in that they must want him to stripe it.
No, the gangster’s men said, they wanted armor plating. That wasn’t the kind of work his shop did, Capstran’s father said. It is now, he was told.
About 10 years old at the time, Capstran vividly recalled details of the car, including its police siren, modifications apparently made so machine guns and Tommy guns could be fired by those inside and his father’s showing him a piece of lead in the armor where it had been shot to test it.
“When O’Quinn flew me down to Houston to look at the car, it looked just like it did when it was parked in our shop,” Capstran said. “I pushed the button and the siren still worked. That one thing sure brought back my childhood.”
O’Quinn died in an auto accident in 2009, and his estate put the Capone car up at auction on Saturday. A GM Inside News post notes that the car sold for $310,000 at the low end of is presale estimated value of $300,000 to $500,000. A RM Auctions page on Facebook confirms the selling price.
ABAJournal.com: “Prominent Houston Lawyer John O’Quinn Dies in SUV Accident”
ABAJournal.com: “Attorney John O’Quinn’s Museum-Quality Cars to Be Auctioned to Pay Some $50M in Debts”