Cadillac’s venerable model 355 was heavily reworked for the 1934/35 model year. Starting from the ground up with an all new chassis that featured so-called “Knee Action” independent front suspension, the 355-D received a fresh new look thanks to totally reworked styling. The chassis was now fully concealed beneath the curvaceous new body and the car elegantly proportioned with a long hood and flowing, voluptuous fenders. This was clearly in response to Packard’s gorgeous 1934 models and evidence of automobile styling creeping ever closer to fully enveloped, streamlined bodies. In terms of the powertrain, the 355D was essentially the same as its predecessors, still powered by the smooth and powerful V8 engine that now produced 130hp at 3400 rpm. 1935 marked the last year for the long-running V8 engines that formed their roots back in 1927. A variety of body styles by Fisher and Fleetwood meant plenty of options for buyers and sales of the 355D were strong, with over 8,300 cars sold between 1934 and 1935.
The story of this fabulous Fleetwood-bodied Cadillac Town Sedan begins on November 12, 1934. This fine motorcar was originally invoiced to Alvan T. Fuller’s Cadillac Automobile Company of Boston, who acted as the primary distributor for both Packard and Cadillac automobiles. The build sheet is annotated with “ship after 1/2/35” and “SHOW CAR” indicating this was the actual car displayed at the 1935 Boston Auto Show. Incidentally, Alvan Fuller went on to serve as a congressman and eventually Governor of Massachusetts; no doubt thanks to the many highly connected clients he earned selling both Packards AND Cadillacs! Following the auto show, this Town Sedan is believed to have been returned to Cadillac. It was then sold on to its first owner in California. It remained there for the next four decades, eventually finding its way to well-known collector Owen Franklin Hoyt who retained it for many years. In more recent years, it made its way to New Jersey where, after finding its most recent keeper in 2013, it was treated to a thorough mechanical sorting with the goal of reliable road and touring use.
Originally finished in Cathedral Grey with Vincennes Red wheels, it was repainted in black some time ago, which suits the elegant lines of the Fleetwood body quite well. The paintwork is older and shows some signs of age and use, but it remains quite handsome with an honest appeal. Recent work has included re-chroming of the exterior brightwork which smartens up the appearance quite nicely. Aside from the respray in black, the body is highly original and shows excellent panel fit and alignment.
Being a Town Sedan body, the cabin is free of a passenger division, allowing for a more comfortable driving position with little sacrifice to passenger comfort in the rear. New carpets have been fitted as part of the refresh, however it is believed the grey whipcord upholstery is original, as it matches the detail on the build sheet. Upholstery condition is outstanding, particularly when considering it is over 80 years old. The interior chrome and polished brightwork appear to be original, displaying an inviting and dignified patina. The instrument faces wear fabulous art-deco markings and appear to be all original. The matching Jaeger clock is particularly interesting and a fantastic period touch.
With the idea of making a thoroughly capable tour car, the previous owner thoroughly vetted the running gear. New tires have been fitted on the black wire wheels, along with a newly fitted clutch, rebuilt brakes and a new exhaust system. Concurrently, the engine was given a top-end overhaul, with new valves and ancillaries such as water pump, starter, generator and carburetor being replaced or rebuilt. It now performs with the unmistakable solidity that comes from a car that has never been fully torn down and restored. Thanks to the efforts of the previous owners and the inherently wonderful-driving nature of the 355D, this rare and elegant Fleetwood-bodied Cadillac is a competent, reliable tour car for CCCA CARavans or any other adventures you may plan.
Aug 10, 2015