Local/State

Rizzo's 1980 Cadillac to be auctioned off

Friday, September 24, 2010

The family of late Philadelphia mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo is thinking ahead and wondering who will take care of his statue once they're long gone.

They thought about establishing a long term fund and his son, Councilman Frank 'Franny' Rizzo Jr., thought what better way to fund it than to auction off his father's favorite car, a 1980 black Fleetwood Cadillac.

"It is brand new, I went through a lot of effort to keep this car because it was my father's," Rizzo, Jr. said.

Councilman Rizzo, Jr. and his family had bought Rizzo Sr. the car after he retired as mayor in 1979.

At the time, they paid $17,724 for it. The iconic figure kept the lock to the wheel covers in a Partagas cigar box wrapped in a cloth in the trunk so it wouldn't rattle. Plus, he kept an extra set of engine drive belts in an umbrella case in case he broke down.

"I think because he was a policeman, belts and suspenders, he was the kind of guy that always had a backup plan, always had a B-plan," Rizzo, Jr. said.

The car was used by the late mayor and police commissioner as a Sunday car to take his wife Carmella out to dinner or to visit an aunt. On the night he won the Republican mayoral primary over then former D.A. and now Supreme Court Justice Ron Castille, Franny drove him in from his Center City office to the hotel where his supporters had gathered where he made that famous speech about beating the Republican party machine which had thrown its support behind Castille.

"So many people are taking pictures with it, I think more than a 1980 Cadillac, it's because, with all due humility, it's because of whose this car was," Rizzo, Jr. said.

The car which has only 16,284 miles also has the car phone Rizzo was using at the time. At the last minute, Rizzo, Jr. noticed it still had a lot of private numbers for U.S. Presidents and other high level officials in the phone list and did the prudent thing and erased them.

The car is to be auctioned off Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at the Wildwood Convention Center.

"He loved this car and I figure it's 30th anniversary is a good time and the proceeds of the sale are going to the maintenance and perpetual care of my Dad's statue," Rizzo, Jr. said.

Franny hopes the car is bought by someone who takes as good as care of it as he has for the last 17 years since his father's death.

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wildwood, new jersey, local/state, dann cuellar
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