West Coast Classics are proud to present an exceptional example of this 1978 Stutz Blackhawk VI with 47K original miles in a most striking 'Silver' over Black leather color combination. The Stutz Blackhawk is an American ultra-luxury car manufactured from 1971 through 1987. The car has power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with an original 8 track cassette, tilt steering, bucket seats and console, tachometer and gauges, Connolly leather, power windows, power door locks, power seats etc. This 1978 Stutz Blackhawk VI is one of approximately 600 Blackhawks produced between 1971 and 1987 and is finished in 'Silver' color paint with a Black Connolly leather interior with Silver piping and the power is provided by a 403 ci General Motors V8 paired with a TH400 three-speed automatic transmission. Radially laced 16 chrome wire wheels feature winged knockoffs and are wrapped in whitewall tires. A matching spare is mounted in the trunk and protrudes through the rear bodywork. Braking is handled by front discs and rear drums. The trunk is lined with mink fur and houses wheel knock-off hammers, tools, and a jack.
This particular car was recently acquired from a collection and drives very well with no signs of any accidents or previous damage. The car reportedly has 47K miles and is a beautiful mostly all original surviving example with only very few imperfections, most obviously one small tear in the original Connolly Black leather of the drivers seat cushion (see photos below), which has been left original simply in an effort to preserve the cars rare originality and original handsome Connolly leather patina, but which could be very affordably reupholstered if so desired.
The Stutz Motor Company was revived in August 1968 by a New York banker named James O'Donnell who had joined forces with the legendary retired Chrysler stylist Virgil Exner who designed the new Blackhawk. Exner's design included a spare wheel that protruded through the decklid, a faux radiator shell-type chrome grille and freestanding headlamps. The new Blackhawk was prototyped by Ghia in Italy at an extraordinary cost of over $300K. To offer exclusivity and still permit easy servicing in the U.S. a General Motors platform and engine served as the base for the custom built Italian body. The Blackhawk debuted in January 1970 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Prices ranged from $22,500 to $75,000, an extraordinary amount for its day.
All early Blackhawks were coupes, but some very rare sedans were produced later. Convertible versions were called D'Italia and Bearcat. Stutz Blackhawks became the car of choice among elite entertainers of the day and by 1976 Stutz had sold 205 Blackhawks with about six a month being hand-built in Italy and shipped to the U.S. By April 1980 some 350 Blackhawks had been sold and by the time production ended in 1987 reportedly only 500-600 of these limited production cars had been manufactured.
With an extra heavy gauge steel body handmade at Carrozzeria Padane in Modena, Italy, and from 1972 at Carrozzeria Saturn in Cavallermaggiore, near Torino, Italy, and greater than 19 feet (5.79 meters) long, the production Blackhawk uses Pontiac Grand Prix running gear, Pontiac's 7.5L 455 c.i. V8 engine, and a GM TH400 three-speed automatic transmission. Its driveline being a RWD. With its engine tuned to produce 425 hp and 420 ft lbf, the 5000 lb Blackhawk can accelerate to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds with a 130 mph top speed, delivering eight miles per gallon. Later Blackhawks use Pontiac's 403 and 350. Also Ford, Chevrolet and Cadillac engines were used. The hand-built Blackhawk has 18 to 22 hand-rubbed lacquer paint coats that took six weeks to apply. Total production time for each vehicle was over 1500 man-hours. In 1980, the Blackhawk was redesigned for the Pontiac Bonneville chassis and 1985, the Oldsmobile Delta 88/Buick LeSabre Chassis.
Exner's design included a spare tire that protruded through the trunk lid and freestanding headlamps. The fuel filler cap is positioned inside the spare tire on the first models. The interior includes 24-carat gold plated trim and bird's eye maple or burled walnut and redwood, Connolly leather seats and dash, instrument markings in both English and Italian, fine wool or mink carpeting and headlining, a cigar lighter, and a liquor cabinet in the back. There is a clock in the steering wheel hub on some later models. Other special features include automatic headlamp controls with twilight sensor, cornering lamps, bilevel automatic air conditioning, Superlift air adjustable shock absorbers, Safe-T-Track limited slip differential, an electric sunroof, cruise control, central locking, a burglar alarm, non-functional exhaust side pipes, and a high-end Lear Jet AM/FM eight-track quadraphonic sound system. The first models rolled on special 17-inch Firestone LXX run-flat tires and rims. These were taken off the market however as they turned out to be unsafe.
The 1971 Blackhawk's factory price was $22,500; adjusted for inflation approximately $168K in 2022 dollars. In 1974 the factory price had increased to $35,000 (approx. $223K in 2022 dollars). A year later, in 1975, the factory price was $41,500 (approx. $237K in 2022 dollars). In 1976 a Blackhawk's base price was $47,500 (approx. $254K in 2022 dollars). And in 1981 the coupe sold for $84,500 (approx. $289K in 2022 dollars). The Stutz d'Italia was advertised as the most expensive car sold today at $129,500 at the same time as the Bearcat VI was offered for under half this at "only $64,165".
The very first Blackhawk sold was purchased by Elvis Presley on October 9, 1970, for $26,500. This was the second Blackhawk prototype, as built by Carrozzeria Padane (the first one, built by Ghia, was driven by James O'Donnell himself). Frank Sinatra had vied with Presley for the car. Sinatra was offered the second prototype on the condition that the distributor, Jules Meyers, could show the car at the L.A. auto show, and get publicity photos with Sinatra upon delivery. Sinatra declined, but Presley accepted and ended up with the car. Presley had it customized by George Barris after purchase. In January 1971, Presley had a mobile telephone installed for $1,467.50. In July 1971, a hired driver destroyed the car. Distributor Jules Meyers offered $1,000 for the wreck, but Presley declined and put the wrecked car in storage. It was only restored, with non-original parts, after his death and can now be seen at the Graceland museum. Presley bought at least three more Blackhawks and leased one other (he bought a black 1971 for himself and a white 1971 reportedly for his Las Vegas doctor and he leased a white 1972 and a black 1973, his favorite Blackhawk, which he purchased at the end of the lease; this 1973 car is also on display at Graceland. In November 2022 one of the cars sold for $297K.
Other famous owners included Dick Martin (1971), Lucille Ball (who got her 1971 Blackhawk as a gift from her husband Gary Morton with a dash plaque saying I Love Lucy - Gary), Sammy Davis Jr. (who owned two 1972, one for himself and one for his wife), Dean Martin (who owned three and crashed his 1972 Blackhawk with vanity plate DRUNKY), Robert Goulet (1972), Evel Knievel (1974), Wilson Pickett (1974), Luigi Colani (1974), Lou Brock (1974), Johnnie Taylor (1975), Johnny Cash (1975), Lenora "Doll" Carter (1976) Curt Jrgens (1977), Erik Estrada (1978), Larry Holmes (1982), as well as Jerry Lewis, Charley Pride, Liberace, Willie Nelson, Isaac Hayes, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Tom Jones, Billy Joel, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Al Pacino, Wayne Newton, Barry White, and H.B. Halicki. The Shah of Iran reportedly owned twelve of them. Stutz collector Ken Ramsey owns at least ten Blackhawks. Each car usually would include a dash plaque naming its original owner.
This is a rare opportunity own a mostly all original 1978 Stutz Blackhawk VI in this most striking of color combinations and with very few available anywhere else, a very collectible classic car for any serious collection.