The late 1930s were a time of major transition for America’s luxury auto makers. Those companies that survived the Great Depression now faced a drastically different market with fewer buyers opting for expensive coachbuilt bodies, and instead buying readily-built factory-supplied cars straight off the show floor. Both Cadillac and its chief rival Packard had seen the importance of junior ranges to offer their respective marque’s luxury and style at a more affordable price, with LaSalle introduced by GM in the late 1920s to fill the void between top range Buicks and entry level Cadillacs. But by the late 1930s, that price gap between LaSalle and the lowest price Series 70 had grown again, so a new model was introduced to serve as price-leader for Cadillac. The Series 60 debuted in 1936, and while it was a value leader, it was still a true Cadillac. Harley Earl penned a new body with a distinct tall and narrow grille, v-shaped windscreen and round, flowing fenders. Motivation came courtesy of Cadillac’s new and less expensive “monoblock” V8 engine displacing 322 cubic inches and producing 125 horsepower – which increased to 135 with when the engine was upgraded to 346 cubes the following year. The chassis featured GM’s Knee-Action independent front suspension as well as dual servo brakes. Built from 1936-1938, the original Series 60 was a fine driving motorcar, available in a variety of body styles and configurations. While it was designed as lower priced model for the prestigious marque, there was no doubt it was still very much a proper Cadillac, and with approximately 7,000 built (vs 31,000 Series 50 LaSalles) it remains relatively rare today.
This handsome 1937 Cadillac Series 60 wears an uncommon and elegant convertible coupe body by Fisher. 1937 models were refreshed by Harley Earl to wear a distinct die cast egg crate grille and complementary bright hood side vents with V8 logos. It is a fine looking automobile, and the presentation very good in Richelieu Maroon with a tan top, and bright red wheels adorned with wide whitewall tires. A good quality restoration is reflected in excellent panel fit, attractive and glossy paintwork, and proper detailing. This particular car was once part of famed California broadcaster Art Astor’s extensive collection of cars and automobilia. The Fisher convertible coupe body is very stylish and nicely detailed with rare amber Cadillac fog lamps, a beautiful Goddess mascot, as well as an unusual rear treatment that features both a rumble seat and an integrated trunk. Lacking sidemount spares, the look is clean, sleek and uncluttered, beautifully proportioned on the 124” wheelbase chassis.
The interior is trimmed in maroon leather on the seats and door cards, with a contrasting tan steel dash and tan carpets. Seats are in quite good condition, with just a few minor creases in the leather from light use, but otherwise remaining supple and attractive. The leather door and kick panels, as well as the carpets are also very good, showing little in the way of wear. Original instruments grace the painted steel dash and the original switchgear all appears in good order. The tan canvas top is presented in similarly fine condition, featuring a unique split glass rear window. Like the exterior, the cabin shows a quality restoration that has aged very well and seen only light use.
Cadillac’s Monoblock 346 cubic inch V8 engine is one of the greats of the era. It is relatively light, powerful and very flexible, making these Cadillacs some of the best driving machines of the late-pre-war period. Our example is no exception, with a good running V8 that presents very well in the engine bay. Some of the original-type porcelain coatings have been baked-off the manifolds, which is certainly not uncommon for a car that has seen use on the road. Despite this, the engine bay remains very attractive displaying mostly correct colors, finishes and details.
Overall, this car’s good quality restoration, while older, still presents well, making it a fine candidate for AACA or similar shows. Perhaps more so, this rare and attractive Cadillac Series 60 Convertible Coupe would be a wonderful machine to enjoy on tours and rallies, thanks to the powerful V8, fully synchronized transmission, and excellent handling from the independent front suspension. It is a stylish and attractive example of this immanently usable and very enjoyable pre-war Cadillac.
Aug 10, 2015