19381940 Series 90 Sixteen

1939 Cadillac Series 90

1939 Cadillac Series 90 1939 Cadillac Series 90 1939 Cadillac Series 90 Convertible Sedan
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Chassis Num: 5290067
Engine Num: 5290067
Sold for $170,500 at 2009 Worldwide Auctioneers.
High bid of $185,000 at 2011 RM Sothebys. (did not sell)
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 the cylinders' included angle, going from the earlier narrow angle V16 with 45-degree between the cylinders to a nearly flat 135-degree vee. The result was a better balanced engine and a lower design giving stylists the opportunity for modern styling trends and better aerodynamics. While Cadillac's abandonment of overhead valves for an L-head configuration seemed a little unusual, the 135-degree V-16 shared many parts with Cadillac's V8 and was more economical to produce than its predecessor. The removal of the overhead valve gear and a short 3.75-inch stroke made up for some of the 135-degree V16's greater width and allowed the rear of the engine to extend under the firewall so it fitted in the same wheelbase chassis as the shorter V8.

The 38-90 sat on the same chassis as the Series 75 V8, a full 13-inch shorter than earlier Cadillac V-16s. This meant that the 1938 V16s had nearly a ton less mass to move than their predecessors and performance was markedly improved. The new V16 made 185 horsepower from its smaller 431 cubic-inch displacement, the same as the earlier narrow angle 452 cubic-inch V16.

The exterior designs owed much to a newer talent, Bill Mitchell, and reflected aerodynamic trends and elegant packaging. Cadillac offered the same twelve semi-custom body styles in the V16 that were available on the Series 75 V8. Most were practical closed and formal designs.

From 1938 through 1940, Cadillac produced just 514 V16 cars. Only 19 convertible coupes and the same number of convertible sedans (of which 11 had rollup glass divider windows) were built. This particular example is a 1939 Cadillac 39-90 V16 Convertible Touring Sedan. It has a large chrome plated die cast eggcrate grille flanked by headlights flared into the front fender catwalks. The hood sides had three longer tapered horizontal louvers with similar moldings on the front and rear fenders. There is a raked vee windshield with large wind wings.

This example is painted in dark green with saddle tan leather upholstery, tan carpets and kick panels, and a tan cloth top. There are dual side-mounted spares carried under hinged covers. The body color wheels have large hubcaps and wide whitewall tires.

In 2009, this 39-90 V16 Convertible Touring Sedan was offered for sale at the Houston Classic Auction in Seabrook, Texas, presented by Worldwide Auctioneers. The lot was estimated to sell for $125,000 - $175,000 and offered without reserve. As bidding came to a close, the lot had sold to a phone bidder for the sum of $155,000, plus buyer's premium.
By Daniel Vaughan | May 2009
1939 Cadillac Series 90 1939 Cadillac Series 90 1939 Cadillac Series 90 Convertible Sedan
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Chassis Num: 5290710
Sold for $170,500 at 2008 RM Sothebys.
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 transformed into a Series 90 by removing the V8 engine and replacing it with a V16 unit. The front sheet-metal was used from a 1939 Series 90 V16 Touring Sedan.

It is painted in a maroon color and has a tan canvas top. The interior is matching leather, and magenta carpet is fitted to the lining of the trunk and the floor. There are optional dual side-mount spare tires with the one-piece smooth steel covers, first introduced on the 1938 models.

In 2008 it was brought to the Automobiles of Amelia presented by RM Auctions where it was estimated to sell for $200,000-$250,000. The selling price fell just short of the estimate but the reserve was dropped and the car was sold. It found a new owner for the price of $170,500 including buyer's premium.
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2008
1939 Cadillac Series 90 1939 Cadillac Series 90 1939 Cadillac Series 90 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.

The car is a pleasure to drive with a light clutch, smooth shifting gearbox, and has lots of low-end torque. The cars fuel economy is not one of its strong suits.
1939 Cadillac Series 90 Convertible Coupe
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Chassis Num: 5290093
Sold for $330,000 at 2008 RM Sothebys.
Sold for $231,000 at 2010 Gooding & Company.
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 its way into the collection of Ed 'Carpet King' Weaver of Dalton, Georgia. When Mr. Weaver passed away in 1995, the Cadillac was sold at auction, alongside dozens of Duesenberg and other top-tier American classics.

A short time later, the car was given a show quality, bare-metal repaint in black, thought to be the original color. A new correct top piped in dark red leather, was fitted. The red upholstery is in great condition and the interior trim is correct for the 1939 model year.

The original body tag appears to have never been removed and is affixed to the firewall. The Convertible Coupe features the proper chrome flashing and there are many desirable accessories such as Trippe driving lights, radio, dash-mounted clock and a heater.

In 2010, this V-16 Cadillac was offered for sale at Gooding & Company Auction held in Amelia Island, Florida. The car was estimated to sell for $225,000 - $275,000. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $231,000, inclusive of buyer's premium.
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2010
1939 Cadillac Series 90 1939 Cadillac Series 90 1939 Cadillac Series 90 Sedan
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Chassis Num: 5290045
Sold for $44,000 at 2014 RM Sothebys.
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, 1930. The car was also to appear at the General Motors Salon in the Hotel Astor and on 57th Street, just off 5th Avenue, in the two-story building that housed the permanent Cadillac Salon of Uppercu Cadillac, a dealership under the leadership of one Inglis M. Uppercu.

The coachbuilder Fleetwood had a design office located on the second floor of the aforementioned Cadillac Salon. The office housed the senior design staff along with several draftsmen who completed the final drawings of bodies and components based on specifications given to them by both designers and engineers. Twenty-five percent of all V-16 Cadillacs would be delivered to New York City buyers in 1930 and 1931

With the Great Depression settling in, it was not long before Cadillac would realize that the V-16 was the wrong car for the wrong time. Nevertheless, it did ignite the cylinder wars and put Cadillac in the lead.

The V-16 was introduced in 1930, and a V-12 model followed for 1931. The Cadillac V-8 powered models continue to sell in steady numbers, helping Cadillac's bottom line during difficult economic times.

This example is a seven-passenger Sixteen Sedan, style number 39-9023, and has no Imperial division or divider window. It has rear jump seats in the passenger compartment and is one of one-hundred thirty-eight V-16s produced for 1939 and one of just eighteen touring sedans built that year. It has its original beige cloth interior in the front and back, and it shows just 72,000 miles from new. There is a black exterior, dual side-mount spare tires and white sidewall tires.

The car received its AACA First Junior at Hershey in 1970 and wears CCCA badge number 517, from when it was honored with a National First Prize in 1971.

The car wears an older restoration.
By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2014
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
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