Upon the introduction of the stunning new Series 452 V16 at the New York Auto Show on January 4th 1930, Cadillac assumed the command of the hotly contested American luxury car marketplace. With this, the world’s first purpose-built V16 engine, Cadillac triggered a “cylinder war” among its competitors, but despite the best efforts from the likes of Packard, Marmon and Pierce-Arrow, Cadillac maintained a firm grip on its crown. The centerpiece of the new car was of course the Owen Nacker-designed 452 cubic-inch overhead valve 45-degree V16 that delivered its incredible 175 horsepower with unrivaled smoothness and panache. Not only was this a powerful engine, but it was also beautiful, with particular effort given to hiding the plumbing and wiring while and dressing the engine with black enamel and polished metal. Cadillac preferred not to publish performance figures for the Sixteen, rather letting the car speak for itself, which it did so quite handily. Many independent coachbuilders made their mark on this magnificent chassis, but most clients selected from the wide variety of custom-catalog bodies offered by in-house coachbuilders Fleetwood and Fisher; which today are no less elegant or desirable.
This striking 1930 Cadillac Series 452 is chassis number 700859, fitted from new with body Style 4375 from the Fleetwood catalog; a handsome and imposing Formal Inside-Drive Limousine with divider window and opera seats. Riding atop a 148-inch wheelbase and finished in an attractive black and silver livery, this wonderful Cadillac certainly makes a dramatic statement. A copy of the original build sheet indicates number 700859 was delivered new through Collins Bros. Co. of Portland, Oregon. Some gaps in the history remain, but from the mid-1970s, the Cadillac was kept as part of a collection for the better part of 25 years, and was restored to the current condition circa 1990 from what a very sound and original car. In 2001, 700859 joined a prominent Canadian collection, and the owner set about sorting the car mechanically to ensure a rewarding drive. It was shown at the 2002 Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance where it earned a Lion Award for its exceptional beauty and presentation. It eventually became part of the J. Taylor Auto Collection museum, where it was kept in fine order.
Today, this handsome formal Cadillac presents in attractive condition, with very good quality paintwork and detailing. The black fenders and upper surfaces are excellent, showing beautifully straight and properly aligned panels. The silver body sides and accents are also very good, with only a few minor touchups to be found upon close inspection. Fleetwood’s styling is quite elegant and graceful, a beautiful design that avoids staid or awkward lines that sometimes afflict formal body styles of the period. The black and silver livery is handsome, and the car’s painted silver wire wheels and wide-whitewall tires add a finely judged touch of class. At $6,525, this was a massively expensive car in its day, and is suitably accessorized to reflect its stature. Dual Trippe-Light driving lamps, dual chrome trumpet horns, Tilt-Ray headlamps, a Goddess radiator mascot, dual side mount spares with mirrors and a large painted trunk count among the adornments.
In mechanical terms, this Cadillac is in fine order, with a strong running V16 engine that shows well in the engine bay with a factory appropriate detailing and moderate patina from use since the restoration was completed. The chassis is equipped with four wheel, vacuum assisted mechanical drum brakes and hydraulic dampers to ensure smooth, safe handling that can keep pace with the power of the V16 engine. The undercarriage is tidy and clean, again showing some light use in the time since its restoration.
As appropriate for a formal limousine, the chauffeur’s compartment is upholstered in black leather which shows in very good condition today. An array of attractive original instruments is flanked by engine turned panels and beautiful wood trim runs across the top of the dash and doors. Rear passengers are treated to luxurious accommodations. Gray cloth upholstery, which is in excellent order, covers the door panels, seats and headlining. Dual, forward-facing “opera seats” fold from the floor to accommodate two additional passengers, and an umbrella holder is incorporated into the central division, placed curb-side, of course. Other amenities include a dome light, central folding arm rest, beautifully restored wood trim and a Fleetwood branded Jaeger 8-day clock.
With its handsome formal coachwork and high quality older restoration, this Cadillac V16 by Fleetwood is a very usable example of this iconic classic motorcar. As a recognized Full Classic and with its pleasingly mellowed restoration, it is ideally suited for CCCA CARavan touring and similar events, a practical and beautifully presented machine from the pinnacle of the American Classic Era.
Aug 10, 2015