The Silver Dollar Pontiac

Filed in Pontiac Bonneville by on January 3, 2018 • views: 24

Nudie Cohn, the famed “Rodeo Tailor to the Stars,” first gained prominence in the early 1950s as the personal tailor for Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, making national headlines with the $10,000 gold lamé suit he created for Elvis Presley in 1957. From the 1950s to the 1980s, requests for Nudie’s work piled up from a multitude of top stars, ranging from Gene Autry to ZZ Top. By the early 1960s, Nudie added his signature treatment to a number of Cadillacs, and once Webb Pierce, one of Nashville’s most flamboyant stars, saw a 1962 Pontiac Bonneville customized by Nudie, he had to have one too. Orders flowed in, including from Audrey Williams, the widow of country music legend Hank Williams, who according to an accompanying letter, acquired the “Silver Dollar Car” at a cost of $22,000 as a promotional vehicle for her son Hank Jr. This indescribable vehicle is one of only nine “Nudiemobiles” that are known to exist today out of the original 18 built, of which each one was uniquely personalized with its own arsenal of non-functional but authentic armaments and chrome-plated embellishments.

Beginning with a stock 1964 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible, Nudie removed all traces of the original interior material and carpeting, replacing it with genuine hand-tooled leather. Then came the application of numerous genuine and highly collectible silver dollars dating from 1922 to 1934, along with chrome-plated pistols, horseshoes, miniature horses and rifles. Some of these items acted as functional replacements for interior and exterior door handles, switches and controls. Externally, the six-foot wide Texas longhorns on the front end of the vehicle leave an imposing first impression, while the rear of the car has a full Continental trunk treatment emblazoned with the name “Hank Jr.” in chrome letters on the wheel cover – yet another signature Nudie feature.

By the time that Audrey Williams had purchased the Pontiac, Hank Jr. was already a rising star who sang and performed on the soundtrack for the 1964 MGM film Your Cheatin’ Heart, Hank Sr.’s film biography. When the studio’s publicity people heard about Audrey Williams’ customized cowboy Bonneville, they decided to use the car to attract media attention for the movie. And attract it did, making many public appearances, with armed guards, at Hank Jr.’s concerts across the country; it even earned a guest spot on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show.

In 1968, the “Silver Dollar Pontiac” joined the Smoky Mountain Car Museum, where it was a cherished display piece and drew international fans until 2006, when it was acquired by the John O’Quinn Collection. Unrestored and remaining in time warp condition today, the unique Bonneville is offered complete with a copy of the original title confirming Audrey Williams as the original owner, along with a selection of photographs, newspaper clippings and original Pontiac documents. While the Bonneville was a museum piece for most of its existence, it was fully serviced and noted to run and drive very well before its prior sale in 2006. It had been used very sparingly since then but has saw limited parade use in 2009.

When John O’Quinn died in an automobile accident, the gem of a car went to RM Auctions, and was purchased by Kid Rock for $225,500 in March 2010. You may have seen the car in Kid Rocks “Born Free” video.

This car is a unique piece of country music history, and a treasure all its own.

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