1938 Cadillac Series 90

Vehicle Profiles

Imperial Sedan
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Chassis Num: 5270103

Cadillac unveiled their overhead valve V16 engine in 1930 which solidified the slogan, 'The Standard of the World.' When introduced it was a marvel; but by 1938 it had become too expensive to produce and far too bulky to remain in production. So Cadi....[continue reading]

Coachwork: Fleetwood

Chassis Num: 5270181

This Fleetwood bodied car was one of the first designed by Bill Mitchell at age 23, when he was promoted by Harley Earl to Chief Stylist for the Cadillac Division. ....[continue reading]

Imperial Sedan
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Chassis Num: 5270283

There were more than 50 body styles offered on the V16 with the majority being cataloged bodies created by Fleetwood. Many were variations on the basic designs. ....[continue reading]

Convertible Sedan
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Cadillac only produced a total of 315 V-16 vehicles in 1938. The convertible sedan cost an even $6000 and weighed 5350 pounds. Nicholas Dreystadt was the Cadillac General Manager that year.....[continue reading]

Fleetwood Fastback Limousine
Coachwork: Fleetwood

This one-off special-bodied V-16 limousine was created by GM Styling for the personal use of GM executive William Knudsen, then President of the Cadillac Division of General Motors. It shows styling cues from the new 60 Special model but is a unique....[continue reading]

Convertible Sedan
Coachwork: Fleetwood

For 1938 Cadillac introduced an all-new 135-degree V-16 engine and more contemporary styling. This is one of just 13 Fleetwood convertible sedans built on the 311 V-16s produced for 1938. This new series of V-16s shared both wheelbase (141.5 inches....[continue reading]

Convertible Coupe
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Chassis Num: 5270276
Engine Num: 5270276

This Cadillac Series 38-90 is one of only about 311 V16 Cadillacs for 1938. The car has an older restoration that was performed by Robert Aubin. It became part of the current collection in 2006 and has never been judged in competition.....[continue reading]

Presidential Convertible Parade Limousine
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Chassis Num: 5270075

The first six years of Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidential administration was focused on his New Deal recovery programs following the Great Depression. Halfway through his second of four presidential terms, his focus shifted to the increasing turmoi....[continue reading]

Convertible Coupe
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Engine Num: 5270250

The second-generation V-16 Cadillac engine was introduced for 1938. It featured a simple side-valve configuration, a more conventional design, and an unusual 135-degree bank angle. It offered comparable horsepower and torque while weighing 250 pounds....[continue reading]

7-Passenger Imperial Sedan
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Chassis Num: 5270245

The first series of Model 452 V-16 Cadillac's were built between 1930 and 1937 in steadily decreasing numbers with 50 examples built in 1937. General Motors considered closing it, but for 1938 they announced a new V-16. It was built of cast iron cons....[continue reading]

Convertible Coupe
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Chassis Num: 5270289
Engine Num: 5270289

Cadillac introduced an entirely new V16 for 1938. Despite being downsized to 431ci (7,066cc) and losing its overhead valves in favor of a 'flat head' configuration, the new short-stroke 135-degree motor was lighter and more powerful than its predeces....[continue reading]

Imperial Sedan by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 5270103 
Coupe by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 5270181 
Imperial Sedan by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 5270283 
Convertible Sedan by Fleetwood
Fleetwood Fastback Limousine by Fleetwood
Convertible Sedan by Fleetwood
Convertible Coupe by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 5270276 
Presidential Convertible Parade Limousine by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 5270075 
Convertible Coupe by Fleetwood
7-Passenger Imperial Sedan by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 5270245 
Convertible Coupe by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 5270289 


From 1930 through 1940 Cadillac produced a monsterous sixteen-cylinder engine. It was first displayed to the automotive community at the Detroit Opera House prior to the Detroit Auto Show. This was the largest number of cylinders to power an automobile of all time. The hood that housed the engine was intimidating, larger and longer than any other vehicle. Up to this point, there were only a few manufacturers that produced a twelve-cylinder engine, mechanical achievements in their own right. The introduction of the sixteen-cylinder engine was historical and seen as revolutionary at the time.

Up to the 1990's there have only been three manufacturers of a sixteen cylinder engine. The Bugatti Type 47 never made series production while the Marmon Corporation offering was short lived. In comparison, the Marmon built V-16 was more powerful. By using aluminum, the 491 cubic-inch engine with its overhead values weighed just over 900 pounds. The engine was formed by merging twin-eight cylinder engines in a 45-degree angle, giving the engine an impressive look and an astonishing 200 horsepower. The use of steel cylinder sleeves added to the longevity and durability of the engine. The V-16 engine earned Howard Marmon the Society of Automotive Engineers annual design award.

The Cadillac V-16 was the first and remained in production for eleven years.

A new sixteen-cylinder engine was introduced by Cadillac in 1938. This was not their first V16 enigne; their first had been designed by engineer, Owen Nacker of Marmon fame. It had an overhead valve design and mounted at a 45-degree to one another. Each back of the sixteen cylinders had their own exhaust and fuel system. The engine featured hydraulic valve adjusters that helped with the silent valve train operation. The exterior of the engine was equally as impressive, with all the wiring and hoses concealed under cover and finished in chrome, polished aluminum, porcelain and baked enamel. The result was a 452 cubic-inch engine that was nearly unmatched in the industry at the time.

A V12 version followed shortly after the introduction of the V16; it displaced 368 cubic-inches and was basically three-quarters of a V16. Both of these engines remained in production through 1937. The V12 did not resume production for 1938. A new engine was introduced in 1938 and that very different than its predecessors. It was an L-head design, cast in a 135-degree vee, and featured a monobloc design. The was easier and more economical to manfacutre and it weighed 250 pounds less, had 21 fewer cubic-inches, but developed the same power.

The V12 engine was used to power the Series 85 for 1937. The Series 75 and Series 85 were the same vehicle, with the exception of the powerplant. The Series 75 used a V8 engine. In 1938 the V12 was discontinued, and the V16 took its place. The sixteen-cylinder cars were shortened to a length similar to the Series 75, and the chassis and bodies were interchangeable.

There were twelve bodystyles available, including coupes, convertible coupes, and sedans, as well as the larger seven-passenger sedans and limousines. These larger vehicles were called Formal Sedans or Imperial sedans depending on whether they had a division partition.

The Series 90 experienced its best year in 1938 with 315 examples built. The five-passenger Touring Sedan was the most popular, with 41 sold.

In 1939, the front of the V8 Cadillacs were midly updated. The grille was raked back and the headlights were now mounted to the nose and flush with the top of the grille. Chrome moldings were added to the running boards and the fender ornamentaion was now fully chromed. The rear license plate was moved from the left fender to the trunk lid.

There were a total of 138 V16 cars produced in 1939. Few changes or modifications to the car followed for 1940. A total of 61 V16 cars were built this would be the final year for their production. A total of 4,400 examples were built over an eleven year period.

By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2008
Recent Vehicle Additions

Auburn Is 'The Amelia's' Honored Classic In 2018

Auburn s fabled boattail speedster is the car everyone pictures when the classic Indiana marque is mentioned Only in the Jazz Age lubricated by the social privations of the Eighteenth Amendment could...

Blue-Chip Collector Cars Revealed for Gooding & Company's Scottsdale Auctions

I The first Bugatti Type 55 Roadster ever built will be presented at Gooding Company s marquee this January I b SANTA MONICA Calif December 8 2017 b Gooding Company the auction house...

1952 Pegaso Z-102 BS 2.5 Cupula Coupe and 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Town Car Win Best of Show at the 21st Annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance

I More than 32 000 Enthusiasts Attended the World s Most Innovative Concours Weekend I I Jacksonville FL March 16 2016 I The 1952 Pegaso Z 102 Cupula Coupe and a 1930 Rolls Royce Phantom...


I Columbus OH I Tennessee s George Poteet and Nebraska s Ron Cizek collected the top two awards at the Goodguys 16th PPG Nationals in Columbus Ohio last weekend Under brilliant sunshine and in...


Woodcliff Lake NJ June 24th 2013 It isn t often that an automobile manufacturer gets to launch an entirely new vehicle segment but that s exactly what BMW did in 1999 when it introduced the world s...

Cadillac Monthly Sales Volume

February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
Additional Sales Volume Data

Cadillac Models

© 1998-2018. All rights reserved. The material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Vehicle information, history, and specifications from concept to production.

Follow ConceptCarz on Facebook  Follow ConceptCarz on Twitter RSS News Feed

© 1998-2018 Conceptcarz.com Reproduction or reuse prohibited without written consent.