A RARE 1935 Cadillac Series 40 convertible that was the automotive star of the 2011 film "The Artist" is headed to the auction block next month in Phoenix.
The car, driven in the Academy Award-winning film by its stars, Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, is thought by the auction company to have been bought new by the film comedian Harold Lloyd.
"We believe that Harold Lloyd was the original owner," Jennifer Sparks Bushman, the car's current owner, said in an e-mail. "We do not have a bill of sale, which would confirm it, but we are 90 percent certain it was his car."
Dating back to a series of owners starting in the early 1950s, Ms. Bushman said, the vehicle has been known as the Lloyd Cadillac.
Lloyd, who died in 1971, was ranked with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton in popularity and influence among silent film comedians; in some ways, his career, which fizzled in the transition from silent to talking pictures, was a model for that of the fictional George Valentin in "The Artist."
"We were contacted by the production company about renting the car for the movie 'The Artist,' and we supplied this car and one other one for the movie." It was just a coincidence that Lloyd's Cadillac ended up being Valentin's car in the movie, she added.
"My father bought the car in 1974," Ms. Bushman wrote, "and it has been in our family since then." Her father was Tommy Sparks, a pioneer of hot-rodding who co-founded Sparks & Bonney speed equipment. He was also a longtime classic car collector and restorer.
"Eight of his restorations were recipients of Best in Class honors at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Élégance, where he also served as a judge for many years," RM Auctions said in a description of the car's history prepared for the Jan. 18 auction. Sparks's shop was across the street from several movie studios, notably Paramount.
"My dad rented classic cars to the studios for a living," Ms. Bushman said, including "films such as 'The Sting,' 'Pearl Harbor,' 'Winds of War' and 'Tucker.' He made a career out of doing what he loved -- working with cars."
Sparks died in February 2011. "My sister and I inherited some cars," Ms. Bushman noted. "One of which is this 1935 Cadillac V12 Fleetwood Convertible Sedan."
The Cadillac, along with a 1935 Pierce-Arrow, delivered the film's stars to the Hollywood premiere in November 2011.
Ms. Bushman said she attended the movie with some apprehension.
"I wasn't sure I'd like it, but wanted to see it just to see our cars," she said. "I loved the story, and it was fun seeing the cars."
In "reel" life -- in the black-and-white film -- the Cadillac hit a tree; in real life, the maroon-and-tan Cadillac was not damaged.
"I was shocked at the crash scene in the film," she said. "Goes to show you what the movies can do, as the car was returned to us in perfect condition."
Technically speaking, though, the '35 Caddy was miscast for its role. The screen action depicts events that took place in 1927-1932.
This V-12 Cadillac, powered by a 368-cubic-inch engine producing 150 horsepower, was fitted with a five-passenger convertible sedan body by Fleetwood, a coachbuilder, and it came with a glass partition between the chauffeur and passenger. The base price was $4,995, RM's research determined.
It is possible, Ms. Bushman said, that the journey to the Arizona auction will be the Cadillac's first trip out of California. Besides Lloyd, who lived in Beverly Hills, three other Californians owned it before Sparks acquired it nearly 40 years ago.
The meticulously maintained car, which has just 16,131 miles on its odometer, received a minor restoration in the early 1980s. RM has assigned it a presale estimate of $85,000 to $115,000.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.