1930 Cadillac Series 37 (V16) Towncar by FleetwoodSOLD
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Estimate: $250,000-$350,000 US

Offered Without Reserve

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of $374,000

Model 452A. 175hp, 452 cu. in. overhead valve V16 engine, three-speed synchromesh manual transmission, leaf spring front axle and torque tube rear axle, four-wheel power assisted brakes, 5,600 lbs. Wheelbase: 148"

In 1930, Cadillac stunned the fine car market with the introduction of its breathtaking, $6,900, new sixteen cylinder models. The cars instantly catapulted Cadillac right to the top of the luxury class. The only other 16 cylinder engine had been built by Bugatti for aircraft production in 1915, and was a “U” shaped engine constructed by bolting two eight cylinder engines together. Thus, Cadillac’s V16 was the first true 16 cylinder engine designed from scratch as such.

For the next several years, Cadillac’s competitors scrambled to keep up. Among others, Pierce Arrow introduced its V12 in 1932, Marmon a V16 in late 1931, and Auburn a V12 in 1932. For most of these companies, the enormous cost of this development effort would combine with a shrinking Depression market for fine cars, creating financial pressures from which the majority of these companies would never recover.

Designed by Owen Nacker, Cadillac’s V16 was an engineering tour de force, incorporating several unique features. Its 45-degree cylinder bank angle and overhead valve design kept the engine narrow, while the external manifolding provided practical access. Cadillac’s V16 was the first engine compartment ever to be “styled”, with all the wiring hidden and plenty of gleaming polished aluminum, shining porcelain, and a pair of beautiful valve covers with brushed aluminum ridged surfaces featuring the Cadillac emblem.

The car also proudly sports 13-inch diameter main headlights that are in scale with this massive but elegant beauty. It also has eight-inch lower driving lights that turn with the front wheels (a first for the industry), chrome pilot fender lights and dual side mount 19-inch spoked wheels that set off the car dramatically.

In the face of a declining luxury market, Cadillac managed to survive, thanks in large part to the financial support of General Motors. Nevertheless, the cars were brilliantly designed, and while the failing market meant that the V16 was produced only in tiny numbers, the few that remain offer us a glimpse into one of the most exciting automotive eras of all time.

One of the most elegant body styles available was the example offered here, Style no. 4312, the Fleetwood Transformable Town Cabriolet, of which only 24 examples were made. These cars, although designated as a five-passenger vehicle, had a set of folding opera seats contained in the forward tonneau to accommodate another two passengers when necessary. The car’s close-coupled lines are well complemented by the more formal straight sill, a feature that made the body appear even more impressive.

What really sets this example apart from other cars of its era, including other Cadillac V16s, is the most highly prized and rare split “V” slanted windshield, which gives this model a rake uncommon to the era. Nearly all cars of the period, including the most expensive models were fitted with the standard one-piece vertical plate glass windshield. Like all other Fleetwood town cars, the open chauffeur’s compartment is upholstered in finely grained leather and all four doors opened from the front.

Upon completion of its comprehensive show quality restoration, the Cadillac received an invitation to participate at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1993, where it achieved a Second in Class distinction as well as the Most Elegant Closed Car award.

Following this inaugural showing, under ownership of Mr. McMullen the V16 was judged First in Class at both the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance and the Eyes on Design Automotive Experience at Greenfield Village. It was also campaigned at CCCA and AACA events where it earned its National Senior First and Junior, Senior and Premiere badges, respectively. Most recently, in the summer of 2006 the car was awarded Senior Emeritus status by the CCCA.

There is little doubt that the V16 Cadillac is one of the ultimate cars of the era. The exceptionally high standard of the restoration, combined with the elegance and rarity of the Transformable Town Cabriolet body style makes this one of the most attractive sixteen cylinder Cadillacs in existence today.

Reference Number 8657

as of 4/17/2007

Car 1930 Cadillac Series 37 (V16) Towncar by Fleetwood
VIN 700492 
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