Roy's Bonneville, Christie's New York, July 14-15, 2010, Sale 2332, Lot 10
Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000
Nudie Cohen, 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 Bonnevilles -- eventually creating a total of 18 Nudiemobiles. This indescribable vehicle is one of only nine that are known to exist today, each one 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 exquisitely hand-tooled leather. Then came the application of hundreds of genuine collectible silver dollars, 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. Nudie worked out the mechanics of six-shooters to the point where the pull of a trigger on the gear shift works the gears, other pistols open the doors and two more pistols on chrome stands replace the front seat arm rest. Still another pistol sounds the horn and two more open the doors from the outside. Two derringers are also employed replacing the emergency brake release and the other works the directional lights. In all, Nudie has used 14 guns in Roy's western car. 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. Natural-stocked rifles are mounted on the rear of the car, one on each fender and one mounted on the trunk lid. The six-foot wide Texas longhorns on the front end of the vehicle leave an imposing first impression, while the trunk of the car is emblazoned with the name ROY ROGERS.
For an extra front-seat rider, Nudie has placed a fabulous silver saddle between the bucket seats, decorated with rhinestones and 150 silver dollars.
Nudie gave this car to Roy in the 1960s as a token of their friendship wanting Roy to know "how much he loved and respected him." Roy and Dale rode in their Nudiemobile in several parades over the years before it was returned to its permanent home at the museum.