1931 Cadillac 370A V12

Either poor timing or going 'all-in,' Cadillac unleashed an assault on the luxury car market at the dawn of the 1930s. The V8 remained the company's 'bread-and-butter' and offered in a staggering array of body styles. For 1930 Cadillac introduced an industry-first V16 production model, followed by the V-12 for 1931. No other company had more cylinders than Cadillac and no other automaker - on either side of the Atlantic - could lay claim to offering a full range of V-8, V-12, and V-16 model lines all at the same time.

The early 1930s was a time of desperation for the American car industry, as the world was plunged into the Great Depression. Cadillac was able to weather the storm with the help of a diverse lineup and the deep pockets of General Motors. This was not the case for other great manufacturers such as Marmon, Stutz, Pierce-Arrow, Duesenberg, or Peerless, who would all vanish before the decade came to a close.

For 1931, Cadillac offered no less than four different passenger car lines offered in every style and enough power to remain at the forefront of luxury. Along with engineering prowess, styling was equally important. General Motors' styling revolution had begun in 1927 with the hiring of Harley Earl and the establishment of the 'Art and Colour' Department, which soon redefined automotive design.

The Cadillac V-12 engine was renowned for the smooth-running and silent operation and was available in 140- and 143-inch wheelbase lengths. Internally designated Series 370-A, Cadillac's V-12 line was introduced in September 1930, initially priced from $3,795 for 1931. Ten body styles were catalogued from Fleetwood and Fisher, supplemented by a vast array of custom bodies ranging from formal to sporting. Interiors for all V-12s were fitted by Fleetwood's craftsmen.

The V-12 engine displaced over 6,000cc and offered 135 horsepower at 3,400 RPM. The engine bay was styled by Harley Earl's Art and Colour Section. Hydraulic valve silencers dampened the noise from its overhead-valve system by using oil pressure to automatically reset valve lash at zero. In the past, this had been problematic requiring frequent adjustment to prevent clacking. The V12 engine was backed by a three-speed manual gearbox that carried synchromesh on its upper two ratios. Ride comfort was ensured by the leaf springs and a three-quarter floating back axle housing a spiral bevel differential. Stopping power was provided by fifteen-inch vacuum servo-assisted drums.

The Fleetwood Metal Body Company
The Fleetwood Company began business in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, on April 1, 1909, and continued as an independent automobile body builder until acquired in 1925 by the Fisher Body Company, a division of General Motors. The Fisher brothers had sold out their body company to General Motors in 1925. The Fleetwood Company remained in Fleetwood, PA until 1931 at which time General Motors moved the operation to Detroit, relocating the construction operations to a former Fisher Body plant. Fleetwood's president and chief designer also moved from Pennsylvania to Detroit, and provided continuity for the company, while also working with members of Harley Earl's staff at GM's Art and Colour Department. Cadillac was able to promise delivery of the Fisher-Fleetwood catalogue customs within seven weeks. Full-customs took significantly longer to complete.

Prior to the acquisition by Fisher, the Fleetwood Metal Body Company had built a reputation as a builder of fine aluminum and wood automobile bodies. Their built-to-order bodies were highly sought-after by influential people on both sides of the border, some of whom were royalty from India and Japan, presidents of Poland and the United States, and well-known American movie icons.

The Cadillac acquisition of Fleetwood gave the company capital to expand and modernize, and it gave GM a source for high-quality coachwork. Fleetwood continued to build coachwork for non-GM customers, including many bodies for Chrysler.

Clients would purchase a chassis, such as Isotta Fraschini, Bentley, Mercedes, Rolls-Royce, or Fiat - or from American makers Duesenberg, Cadillac, Pierce-Arrow, Stutz, or Packard. The purchased chassis with wheels and engine were shipped to Fleetwood, PA while the customer would meet with one of the company's designers, typically in New York, to put the customer's needs, desires, and ideas on paper. Once accepted, the plans were sent to Fleetwood where the body would be created, mounted on the chassis, and finished in the upholstery, appointments, and colors selected by the client.

Under Fisher's direction, Fleetwood would eventually make production and semi-custom products carrying the celebrated Fleetwood name. Many Cadillac models would use the Fleetwood name for several decades that followed. Starting in 1927, the Fleetwood name was used for the top-of-the-line Cadillac.


by Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2020

Related Reading : Cadillac 370A History

The Detroit, MI based Cadillac Company offered three different and very distinct chassis and drive trains, a V8, V12 and the massive V16 in 1931. The series 355-A had eight cylinders, the 370-A had twelve-cylinders, and a continuation of the 1930 and 1931 series 452 and 452-A V-16. A total of 10,717 automobile were produced. Over 5725 370A vehicles were produced from 1930 to 1931. It was available....
Continue Reading >>

1931 Vehicle Profiles

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fisher Touring
Coachwork: Fisher
Designer: Harley Earl

Engine Num: 1004917

Henry M. Leland formed the Cadillac Automobile Company on August 22nd of 1902. When the Henry Ford Company faltered, Leland was brought in to evaluate the leftover assets. He persuaded Ford's remaining partners to continue the automobile business usi....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fleetwood Phaeton
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Chassis Num: 10/1/2034
Engine Num: 1004197

Cadillac's sixteen-cylinder vehicles were an engineering phenomenon and the pinnacle of luxury at the time. The V12 Cadillac's were positioned to contend with a very impressive field of cars such as the Pierce-Arrow, Packard, Lincoln and Chrysler. In....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fleetwood All-Weather Phaeton
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Designer: Harley Earl

The Cadillac V-12, and its sister engine the V-16, were the logical outgrowth of the popularity and technology of the well-built Cadillac V-8, and the necessity of more powerful mechanisms to move increasingly larger and heavier automobiles. Simply ....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fleetwood Roadster
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Engine Num: 1004534

This 1931 Cadillac V12 Roadster with coachwork by Fleetwood was offered for sale at the 2007 Christie's auction of 'Exceptional Motor Cars at the Monterey Jet Center.' It's twelve cylinder engine is aligned at a 45-degree angle and capable of produc....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fleetwood Roadster
Coachwork: Fleetwood

The Cadillac Series 370 had many similarities to its V-16 counterpart but was outfitted with a twelve cylinder engine. Most of the body-work was constructed by Fisher with Fleetwood providing the interior coachwork. ....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fleetwood Phaeton
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Chassis Num: 1001774

Most of the V-12 Cadillac's were bodied by Fisher in catalogue designs. They were more economical than the Fleetwood coachwork, which were now being built in Detroit rather than in the original Fleetwood factory in Pennsylvania. Discerning clients ....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fisher Coupe
Coachwork: Fisher
Designer: Harley Earl

This 1931 Cadillac Model 370A Roadster by Fisher is one of only about 85 examples that were produced. It was last titled in 1958 and has just completed a seven year restoration when it was put on display at the 2009 Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance.....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fisher Coupe
Coachwork: Fisher
Designer: Harley Earl

In October of 1930, Cadillac introduced its 370 series powered by a 368 cubic-inch V12 engine that offered 135 horsepower. The roadster bodystyle rested on a 140-inch wheelbase and had many similarities to the V16 cars built by Fisher and all interi....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fleetwood All-Weather Phaeton
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Designer: Harley Earl

Chassis Num: 1004245

This 1931 Cadillac V12 All Weather Phaeton 370A with coachwork by Fleetwood is powered by a 368 cubic-inch twelve cylinder engine that produces 135 horsepower. It sits atop a 140 inch wheelbase which is held in place with front and rear semi-elliptic....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fleetwood Sedan
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Designer: Harley Earl

This 1931 Cadillac Sport Phaeton is one of six surviving examples of the 128 produced. The Fleetwood body was designed by GM styling chief Harley Earl and Ernest Schebera, and sits on a 140-inch wheelbase. 1931 was the year that Cadillac introduced t....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fleetwood Convertible Coupe
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Designer: Harley Earl

The Cadillac's biggest selling point was precision manufacturing and reliability based on winning the British Dewar Trophy for the most important advancement of the year in the automobile industry. General Motors acquired the company in 1909. Cadilla....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fleetwood All-Weather Phaeton
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Designer: Harley Earl

Chassis Num: 1004792

Eleven months after the stock market crash of 1929, Cadillac introduced their new V-12 vehicle. This 370-A Phaeton was shipped on June 24th of 1931 as a 'chassis with powerplant' to Fleetwood Medal Body of Pennsylvania to be equipped with a phaeton b....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fisher Town Sedan
Coachwork: Fisher
Designer: Harley Earl

Engine Num: 4000698

This Cadillac V-12 Town Sedan with coachwork by Fisher was sold once part of the Imperial Palace Collection. It was sold in 1991, undergoing a full restoration some years later. The current owner purchased the car in May of 2004, after which he began....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fleetwood Convertible Coupe
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Designer: Harley Earl

Engine Num: 1003102

In 1930 Cadillac started a 'Cylinder Race' by introducing an overhead valve, 452 cubic-inch V-16 engine. Marmon followed suit with a V-16. In 1931 Cadillac introduced a V-12 resulting in its having a V-8, a V-12 and a V-16 engine. By 1932 several oth....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fleetwood Convertible Coupe
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Designer: Harley Earl

Engine Num: 1001934

The Fleetwood Metal Body Company was formed in 1909 in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania. It was created specially to build automoible bodies, rather than being an evolution of a carriage-building compnay. The company was particularly known for quality interio....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fleetwood Convertible Coupe
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Designer: Harley Earl

Engine Num: 1002411

This Cadillac V-12 Convertible Coupe by Fleetwood was supplied by New York distributor I.M. Uppercu to Bayers Auto Sales, of Long Island City, with financing drawn through the Corn Exchange Bank.....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fisher Sedan
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Designer: Harley Earl

Chassis Num: 103536
Engine Num: 1003203

The Cadillac V-12 and V-16 shared the same stroke size but the bore was larger on the sixteen cylinder engine. In many respects, the V12 and the V16 were the same. The V-12 had 30 less horsepower than its siblings and were priced roughly $2,500 lower....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fisher Touring
Coachwork: Fisher
Designer: Harley Earl

Engine Num: 1004710

Cadillac Series 370A V-12 Phaeton by Fisher with body style number 4760. The front and rear passenger compartments were similar in its lines to the Fleetwood Sport Phaeton body for the V-16 Cadillac but did not have the roll-up second windshield and ....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fleetwood Convertible Coupe
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Designer: Harley Earl

While the V-16 helped Cadillac grab headlines, the V-12 struck the fine balance of utilizing styling nearly identical to that of the V-16 while being a more affordable luxury model. As such, 5,733 examples of the 370-A found homes in 1931. Of ten bod....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fleetwood Convertible Coupe
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Designer: Harley Earl

The year 1931 is considered by many the apogee of Cadillacs of the Classic Era, with the introduction of a new V-12 series to fill the gap between V-8 and V-16. The Standard of the World was certainly an understatement among luxury marques with offer....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fleetwood Phaeton
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Chassis Num: 1001581

The Fleetwood Metal Body Company of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania was founded on April 1st of 1909. It was an independent automobile body builder until being acquired in 1925 by the Fisher Body Company, a division of General Motors. It remained in Fleetwoo....[continue reading]

1931 Cadillac 370A V12 vehicle information

Fleetwood Roadster
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Cadillac built some 5,725 V-12 370A series automobiles in 1930-31. The model was available as a 4-door limousine, a 4-door sedan, a 2-door tourer and this example of a 2-door roadster. The OHV 368 CID engines produced 135 HP, cruised effortlessly at ....[continue reading]

Fisher Touring by Fisher
 
Fleetwood Phaeton by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 10-2034 
Fleetwood All-Weather Phaeton by Fleetwood
 
Fleetwood Roadster by Fleetwood
 
Fleetwood Roadster by Fleetwood
 
Fleetwood Phaeton by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 1001774 
Fisher Coupe by Fisher
 
Fisher Coupe by Fisher
 
Fleetwood All-Weather Phaeton by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 1004245 
Fleetwood Sedan by Fleetwood
 
Fleetwood Convertible Coupe by Fleetwood
 
Fleetwood All-Weather Phaeton by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 1004792 
Fisher Town Sedan by Fisher
 
Fleetwood Convertible Coupe by Fleetwood
 
Fleetwood Convertible Coupe by Fleetwood
 
Fleetwood Convertible Coupe by Fleetwood
 
Fisher Sedan by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 103536 
Fisher Touring by Fisher
 
Fleetwood Convertible Coupe by Fleetwood
 
Fleetwood Convertible Coupe by Fleetwood
 
Fleetwood Phaeton by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 1001581 
Fleetwood Roadster by Fleetwood
 


Concepts by Cadillac

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Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

$72-$3,800
1931 370A V12
$5,855-$18,000
1931 Cadillac 370A V12 Price Range: $3,800 - $5,855

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Cadillac
1936Ford (930,778)Chevrolet (918,278)Plymouth (520,025)12,913
1935Ford (820,253)Chevrolet (548,215)Plymouth (350,884)
1934Ford (563,921)Chevrolet (551,191)Plymouth (321,171)
1933Chevrolet (486,261)Ford (334,969)Plymouth (298,557)6,655
1932Chevrolet (313,404)Ford (210,824)Plymouth (186,106)4,740
1931Chevrolet (619,554)Ford (615,455)Buick (138,965)16,813
1930Ford (1,140,710)Chevrolet (640,980)Buick (181,743)13,892
1929Ford (1,507,132)Chevrolet (1,328,605)Buick (196,104)18,103
1928Chevrolet (1,193,212)Ford (607,592)Willys Knight (231,360)20,001
1927Chevrolet (1,001,820)Ford (367,213)Buick (255,160)8,599
1926Ford (1,669,847)Chevrolet (547,724)Buick (266,753)27,771

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