The Cadillac 452 V16 was the biggest, quietest, most sophisticated, and most luxurious automobile during hte Classic Era. The development of the V16 engine was done in utomost secrecy. General Motors did all they could to keep it a clandestine affair, even went to great lengths to mask its activites. When placing orders and giving suppliers drawings they marked 'bus' and 'coach' to douce suspision.
As the 1920s came to a close, GM introduced their V16 engine on an unsuspecting world. Their goal had been ascertained; to construct a smooth and quiet engine that had adequate power and torque to carry the ever-increasing weight of the luxuriously trimmed coachwork. The engine was unveiled to the public at the New York Auto Salon in January of 1930. By early April, Cadillac had already shipped more than a thousand V16s. Over the next seven years a total of 3,878 examples were produced.
Production figures would have been higher had not the Great Depression dwindled the pool of potential buyers. Nevertheless, the V16 was still a triumph for General Motors, Fleetwood and the Art and Color Department. The styling had firmly established Harley Earl as the prominent GM designer. Over the next quarter century, Earl would ride on its success and became a dominant figure in the design of the American automobile.
This 1930 Cadillac 452A V16 Roadster has coachwork by Fleetwood. It has chassis number 700809 and matching engine number. It is a very original car with every numbered component, including the engine, chassis, steering box, front axle, bell housing, and generator, bear the numbers cataloged when it left the factory in March of 1930.
Since new, it was treated to a three-year professional body-off restoration that was completed in 1995. It has received its Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Primary, Senior and Premier awards. It scored a perfect 100 points on three separate occasions.
The vehicle's first owner was a Virginia resident and little documentation exists from its early days. It was found in a barn in upstate New York in the late 1980s and wore New Jersey registration tags from 1950. Jim Bradley purchased the car and commissioned the restoration.
When the car left the factory it had been fitted with dual side-mounted spares with body color metal covers, stainless spoke wire wheels, wind wings, chrome-plated vents, Cadillac script spotlights, Pilot Ray auxiliary driving lights, and an original Cadillac accessory trunk with a full set of fitted luggage. The color it wears today is original to its build sheet. The interior and chassis is red with the body painted in black.
In 2007 it was offered for sale at the Gooding & Company auction where it was estimated to sell for $550,000 - $650,000. Those estimates were proven nearly accurate as the lot was sold for $495,000 including buyer's premium.Also photographed at :
This Style 4302 Roadster was priced from $5,350 when new. It was sold new in Virginia and by the late 1980s, it was discovered in a barn in upstate New York, still wearing circa-1950 New Jersey tags. It was purchased by Jim Bradley, a noted collector from Oklahoma, who undertook the painstaking restoration process.
When Mr. Bradley had found the car, it was evident that the chassis was original and parts of the body were missing. Other parts had deteriorated over time. Bradley searched extensively until he located another correct, original Fleetwood-built Style 4302 roadster body, and he used original components from it to restore the car. The three-year body-off-frame restoration was completed in 1995, follow by the achievement of CCCA Primary, Senior and Premier awards, scoring a perfect 100 points all three times.
This car is very well equipped, including dual side-mounted spares with correct metal covers, stainless-spoke wire wheels, wind wings, Cadillac-scripted spotlights and Pilot Ray driving lights, as well as a correct and original Cadillac 'lo-boy' accessory trunk, complete with fitted luggage.
In 2007, just after receiving a complete service, the car entered a private collection. Since then it has been well cared for and received proper attention.
In 2010, this V16 Roadster was offered for sale at the Vintage Motor Cars of Meadow Brook event presented by RM Auctions. The car was estimated to sell for $375,000 - $475,000. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $440,000, including buyer's premium.
Perhaps nothing can convey the nostalgic feelings of America's golden age more so than the custom-ordered, custom-built cars of those days. Cadillac vaulted itself into a very special place amongst those nostalgic memories with its 1930 V16 Roadster.
Upon its debut in 1930 at the New York Auto Show, the V16 wowed the public and became Cadillac's top-of-the-line car until production ceased in 1940. Until Cadillac introduced its own V16, only Bugatti had a sixteen-cylinder luxury car. By introducing a sixteen cylinder car of its own, Cadillac entered a very special class.
Cadillac's V-16 was the first-ever production sixteen-cylinder engine in the United States. It was also the first engine that was ever styled in and of itself. The development of the large-cylinder engine was performed under a great deal of secrecy. GM even conjured up a campaign of disinformation in order to keep information of the engine from leaking to the public and competitors.
All too often, car manufacturers concentrate on styling the chassis and merely finding an engine to fit the design, or, the engine is the focus and less consideration is given to the chassis design. On Cadillac's V16 Roadster, all aspects of the car came under the critical eye of the design team. What the design team managed to create was a work of art inside and out.
Over a short period of time, construction of the V16 models was in full-swing with 2,000 models having been produced by June of 1930. Initially, the new car was offered in ten different body styles.
In June of 1930, Cadillac toured its V16 throughout Europe. In many cities, like Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt and Vienna, the car was honored. Despite its rave beginnings, sales of the car dropped off incredibly. Cadillac was about the only luxury car manufacturer to be able to make it through the depression era. This was because of its relationship with GM. The larger parent company helped to keep the smaller, luxury car division alive. However, because of the tough economic times, Cadillac figured it actually lost money on every V16 they ever built.
The car offered at the RM Auction was a Fleetwood body-styled Cadillac Roadster model and it was built from scratch that way by Cadillac during the V16's first year of production. As with the hard-top models, the company's roadster was a beautifully styled chassis.
The body shape of the chassis is an intriguing wedge-shape. The large sixteen-cylinder engine was designed at a forty-five degree cylinder bank angle. This meant the engine was rather narrow in its construction. This fit neatly in the long, narrow nose of the V16 Roadster. The nose of the car is dominated by the large, round headlights; chrome, bent bumper and the large rectangular-shaped grille that had been rounded at the bottom and designed at the top to blend into the lines of the engine cowling.
On the sides of the V16 were a series of small panels. Many, including the one at the auction this year, sport those small panel vents with a chrome-finish. These vents could be opened to further aid in engine cooling.
One of the V16's other memorable design features, was the placement of the spare tires along the side of the engine compartment, recessed into the fenders flowing down from over the front wheels into the running boards along either side of the doors. Attached to the top of those spare tires were the car's rear-view mirrors. Chassis number 700809 even has the wheel covers correct with that year's production.
The passenger compartment of Cadillac's Roadster was tailored beautifully, including two smaller, round lights on either side of the low, squared-off windscreen. The interior, itself, was simple, but plush. The model up for auction this year was finished in charcoal-colored leather. The passenger compartment of the V16 is dominated by the large, four-spoke steering wheel and central dashboard instrument display. 700809 featured finished metal work on either side of the instrument cluster. Just to the right of the large steering wheel is the long-arm gear lever for the three-speed selective manual synchromesh transmission.
The rear bodywork of the Roadster was designed to extend forward further until it reached the back of the two seats. Therefore, the bodywork flows back toward the rear of the car horizontal to the ground, and, then, falls off dramatically in a wonderful contoured arc. At the base of the bodywork is the platform-supported luggage trunk.
Discovered in a barn in upstate New York in the 1980s, chassis number 700809 was purchased by noted collector Jim Bradley of Oklahoma. When inspected by Bradley it was noted that it seemed the chassis had never before been taken apart.
Ever since being purchased by Bradley, the car has undergone restoration work of some kind. The chassis seemed in decent shape, but, the bodywork was badly deteriorated. Bradley searched and found another Fleetwood-built roadster body and used its components to replace and restore chassis 700809. This off-body restoration took three years and was completed in 1995. The car received a perfect score of 100 points in each the CCCA Primary, Senior and Premier awards.
After trading hands a couple of times, the car was purchased by John O'Quinn in 2007 and took its place among his collection of fine automobiles. In 2010, RM Auto Restoration went through the car's V16 engine and freshened it up. The rest of the car was detailed. The car was cleaned and polished. The chrome, as well as the brightwork and upholstery were cleaned and detailed.
The Fleetwood-bodied Cadillac V16 Roadster offered this year was a Model 452-A chassis and included the 175 bhp, 452 cubic inch, overhead-valve V-16 engine. The car had a solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs with hydraulic dampers for suspension. The rear axle was a ¾-floating axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs. Each of the car's brakes consisted of vacuum-assisted mechanical drums.
The Cadillac V16 Roadster remains one of the most memorable classic-era cars. Its V16 engine makes the car greatly desirable. The car's lines evokes memories of the golden era of car design and production. It seemed as though this car could lift the spirits of all to forget the reality of the happenings of those days and to be transported to a more wonderful and nostalgic time and place.
Sources: 'Buy: Featured Lots (Lot 271: 1930 Cadillac V16 Roadster)', (http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ11&CarID=r226#). RM Auctions Arizona. http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ11&CarID=r226#. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Cadillac V-16', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 19 November 2010, 18:28 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Cadillac_V-16&oldid=397718769 accessed 6 January 2011