1939 Cadillac Series 90

History

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

1939 Vehicle Profiles

1939 Cadillac Series 90 vehicle information

Convertible Sedan
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Chassis Num: 5290067
Engine Num: 5290067

There were only 50 examples of the Cadillac V16 sold in 1937. They were the same as the 1938 models except for a few detail changes. Spears on the hood and fender skirts were fully chromed. The year prior, in 1938, the engine added 90-degrees to t....[continue reading]

1939 Cadillac Series 90 vehicle information

Convertible Sedan
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Chassis Num: 5290710

This 1939 Cadillac V16 Fleetwood Convertible Sedan left the factory as a Series 75 Convertible Sedan. Since the Series 75 and Series 90 shared the same basic chassis and bodies, a conversion was possible. During the early 1990s, this car was transf....[continue reading]

1939 Cadillac Series 90 vehicle information

Sedan
Coachwork: Fleetwood

This car is equipped with the Cadillac 346 cubic-inch L-Head V8, which was used from 1937 thru 1948. The 1939 7519F is quite rare. Fleetwood built only 53 in that year. Henry DuPont owned one of the 53. The selling price was $3,353.....[continue reading]

1939 Cadillac Series 90 vehicle information

Convertible Coupe
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Chassis Num: 5290093

This car is body number 6 of 7, and is recorded as being originally shipped on June 9th of 1939 to Claude Nolan Cadillac of Jacksonville, Florida. The early ownership history was not recorded and its trail was lost until the 1990s, when it had found ....[continue reading]

1939 Cadillac Series 90 vehicle information

Sedan
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Chassis Num: 5290045

Near the close of 1929, Cadillac President Lawrence Fisher dispatched a letter to both his dealers and the motoring press on December 10th. The new 16-cylinder Cadillac was to be displayed at the New York International Automobile Show on January 4th,....[continue reading]

1939 Cadillac Series 90 vehicle information

Convertible Coupe
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Engine Num: 5290069

In 1939 Cadillac introduced its second-generation V-16 engine. Considerably more conventional in design, it features a simple side-valve configuration packed in a somewhat unusual 135-degree bank angle that is nearly horizontally opposed. It offers c....[continue reading]

Convertible Sedan by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 5290067 
Convertible Sedan by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 5290710 
Sedan by Fleetwood
 
Convertible Coupe by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 5290093 
Sedan by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 5290045 
Convertible Coupe by Fleetwood
 


Concepts by Cadillac



Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

$325-$5,235
1939 Cadillac Series 90
1939 Cadillac Series 90 Price Range: $5,235 - $7,300

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Cadillac
1942Chevrolet (254,885)Ford (160,432)Plymouth (152,427)16,511
1941Chevrolet (1,008,976)Ford (691,455)Plymouth (522,080)66,169
1940Chevrolet (764,616)Ford (541,896)Plymouth (430,208)12,984
1939Chevrolet (577,278)Ford (487,031)Plymouth (423,850)
1938Chevrolet (465,158)Ford (410,263)Plymouth (285,704)
1937Ford (942,005)Chevrolet (815,375)Plymouth (566,128)14,164
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)

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