In 1930, Cadillac stunned the automotive world with the introduction of its breathtaking new sixteen-cylinder models. Sales of the V8 and entry-level LaSalle models were strong in spite of economic hardships, and Cadillac was determined to show its competitors that it was, indeed the Standard of the World. Instantly, the V12 and especially the V16 models catapulted Cadillac to the top of the luxury class. An extraordinary array of coachwork options was available to satisfy the most discriminating buyer, and everything from the body to the engine bay was designed with beauty and elegance. The V12 and V16 engines shared many common components, but it was the V16 with its turbine like smoothness and unprecedented 175 horsepower output that grabbed the headlines.
Subtle changes were made for the 1932 models which included a longer wheelbase, new carburetors, a mechanical fuel pump, heavier axles and larger brakes. Also new for 1932 were adjustable shock absorbers operated from the dashboard to further tune the ride to satisfy passengers. All Cadillac transmissions were fitted with quiet operating helical-gear transmissions, eliminating the whine and crash of a straight-cut gearbox.
1932 marked the first time a series of Fisher bodies became available on the Sixteen. These included sedans, coupes, a roadster, a convertible coupe and three open phaetons. In fact, these were the only phaetons available on the Sixteen, and just six were built, a single standard phaeton with no division, two sport phaetons with a long rear cowl and passenger windshield, and three special phaetons with the short rear cowl. As for Fleetwood bodies, the range was curtailed somewhat. The 30 choices offered in 1930-31 had been reduced to 21, sedans, cabriolets, limousines and a single convertible coupe. The 1931 experience had no doubt tempered Cadillac’s expectations, and history validated the wisdom. At year’s end, just 296 Sixteens had been sold versus 1,709 V12s.
This V16 chassis began life wearing a formal sedan body which, when acquired by Bill Hatch of Chicago was in a rough state. The formal sedan body was beyond repair, so another body was sourced – this handsome Special Phaeton, which was originally fitted to V12 chassis 1301344, is nonetheless period appropriate and extremely handsome. The body, finished in light metallic blue with dark blue fenders and swage line, is a spectacular Fisher design that wears much of its original sheetmetal, thanks to a careful restoration. The paintwork remains in very good order, wearing the years since its restoration extremely well. The fit and finish are extremely nice, and the chrome is largely in very good order. It is lavishly detailed with a proper 1932 Cadillac Goddess mascot, chromed hood vents, twin long-trumpet horns, and dual sidemount spares with painted covers. It has been recently treated to a fresh set of blackwall tires that impart a magnificent sporty look when combined with the navy blue wheels and polished stainless spokes. This fine example is also a previous AACA National First Prize winner.
Like the exterior, the interior is fabulously detailed and very well presented, showing little use on the restoration. Blue leather on the seats appears virtually unworn, and the excellent carpeting and door panels are accented with exquisite woodwork on the dash, door caps and rear passenger fascia. The original AC speedometer reads 120 mph – which must have seemed astonishing in 1932. A Jaeger eight-day clock keeps time, and the instrumentation is replicated in the rear for passengers to keep an eye should the driver be having too much fun exploiting all of that power.
In spite of the fact that there are some years on the restoration, this Cadillac still looks remarkably fresh. The previous owner was a skilled mechanic who ensured it was maintained in excellent mechanical order and it remains ready to enjoy on the road. The engine compartment is clean and well detailed, with mainly correct finishes and fittings, with just a few areas showing signs of regular use. An AACA National First prize winner, it also runs and drives extremely well and should offer its next owner a thrilling and rewarding ownership experience.
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