1932 Cadillac Deluxe Tudor Limousine 8C "Last Emperor" Scale Model

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TrueScale Miniatures 1932 Cadillac Deluxe Tudor Limousine 8C "Last Emperor of China" diecast car
  • Year: 1932
  • Brand: TrueScale Miniatures
  • Make: Cadillac
  • Code: TSM124312
  • Model: Deluxe Tudor Limousine 8C "Last Emperor of Ch…
  • Scale: 1:43
  • Points to redeem: 1,000

A museum in the northeastern corner of the industrial city of Changchun, Jilin province, northeast China, includes the palace of the last emperor of China. Named emperor of all China as a small child, deposed shortly thereafter, reared in political isolation, Pu-Yi of the Manchu dynasty in 1934 became the Japanese empire's puppet emperor for their conquered part of China, termed Manchukuo, mostly Manchuria. At the end of World War II, Pu-Yi was captured by the Soviet Army and spent 5 years under house arrest and was eventually imprisoned in China, where he tended the prison vegetable garden. He was released in 1959 and lived in obscurity until his death in 1967.

Today the Changchun museum contains two automobiles dating from the years in which Pu-Yi resided there. Both are identified as Cadillacs. The older one is the 1:1 precursor of the model reviewed here, which True Scale terms a "1932 Cadillac Deluxe Tudor Limousine 8C." The model is 1:43 in scale, and reflects a good look of accuracy. Materials include die cast metal for the body, plastic for the undercarriage, latex black tires, and all bright work in a gold that is admirable in finish, including external door handles, lights, and even the cap on the gas tank. The burgundy red finish is impeccably applied. Separate windshield wipers are used. The interior as seen through nicely filled windows has the same gold accoutrements, including dash and door and window handles. There are no opening features. The undercarriage molds the front engine, rear drive, and twin exhausts. This is a die cast that is easy to appreciate for its construction detailing. The master of this model has been used in other scales, including Sun Star's 1:18 model and a 1:32 pullback. There's a review of the Sun Star version, dated as a 1934, elsewhere on this Legend Motors site.

In short, this 1:43 model by True Scale seems to be a very fine reconstruction in scale of the original, the older sedan at the Palace Museum. However, neither of those old cars seems to be a Cadillac of 1932 or 1934 vintage or any other year. A familiar and distinctive car, the newer is a modified 1941 Packard. The older is a less common Lincoln, most likely a 1933 model KB with some modifications. This large sedan is the 1:1 automobile used as the model for Sun Star's 1:18 and also for True Scale's 1:43. What True Scale has produced is, in my opinion, a Lincoln, not a Cadillac.

In my research, I found a variety of supporting information, the most convincing late in my search. That was Cadillac historian Yann Saunders, who wrote in his review for the Cadillac Data site of the Sun Star 1:18 model, "Not a Cadillac, this was most likely a 1933 Lincoln KB limousine, with a body by Judkins, Willoughby, or LeBaron. Note the similarity of the grill to the 1933-34 Ford Model 40. However, the Ford had only a 112 inch wheelbase and the Lincoln KB had 145." He goes on to write, "Nothing else about the car resembles a Cadillac other than the general limousine body shape. The skirted front and rear fenders are more reminiscent of a 1933 model than one from 1932. The front grille looks like it came off a Ford and the front bumpers off a Duesenberg." (For Mr. Saunders' full account see http://www.cadillacdatebase.org/Dbas_txt/photoys32.htm ) Careful comparison shows the 1934 Ford grill does have a striking similarity to the Lincoln, and ads and pictures of the 1933 Lincoln show the same distinctive bumper, if not in the gold used to modify the emperor's car.

In newspaper accounts of the March 1936 ceremony marking the investiture of Pu-Yi, some Hong Kong sources mentioned the "bullet proof Lincoln limousine" used by the monarch. I found no contemporary newspaper account mention of a Cadillac. The term "Cadillac" is used in the museum's web sites to describe both royal cars, suggesting "Cadillac" as a local generic term to identify an exclusive American automobile. Finally, such pictures as are available show a modified and elaborately decorated red and gold 1933 Lincoln KB, in a state of sad decline, outside under an awning. So far as I can find, the car in question has not been examined by Cadillac or Lincoln historians, and detailed photographs are not available. I found no information on the engine, even though the Lincoln originally had a V-12. The larger and more detailed Sun Star model has a simplified V-8.

In the decades since the 1930's, when Pu-Yi had his semblance of power in Japan's northern China, that region has undergone war, revolution, economic rebuilding, and societal changes of a magnitude beyond the ken of most humans. A small museum in a primarily industrial city rarely has the financial and social foundations that would lead to the preservation and recognition of recent artifacts. A culture where automobiles are reserved for the few does not often have the automobile historians who can aid and encourage such preservation and elaboration. I only hope that these automobiles can be preserved for a future generation to recognize their value. When the car is so old and uncommon that memories are not available, and when historical sources are not readily at hand, it seems to me that the responsibility for gathering correct information and identification resides with the company that chooses to reproduce and put into production a model of that automobile. Any company that assumes the marketing must accept the responsibilities for such accuracy. For the failure of True Scale to adequately identify and designate this model, I find this 1:43 scale model unacceptable and do not recommend its purchase.

-David Holcombe

  • Our Price: $70.00
  • In Stock

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