By the middle of the 1920s, Cadillac firmly established its reputation as a leader in luxury, innovation, and quality. Cadillac’s founder Henry Leland was a pioneer in the American automobile industry. Inspired by what he learned from firearms manufacturing, he became the leading proponent of parts interchangeability. As head of Leland & Faulconer Engineering, Henry Leland advised Ransom E. Olds on these principals of standardized parts and assembly line production, thereby setting the stage for modern mass-manufacturing of automobiles.
Leland’s innovative spirit continued to inspire Cadillac, even after they joined General Motors as the company’s flagship marque. One of the most significant breakthroughs came with the development of the electric Self-Starter system and electric lights in 1912. It was the self-starter that was primarily responsible for cementing the internal combustion automobile’s dominance over electric and steam. Three years later, they introduced the world’s first mass-produced V8 engine. Scottish-born engineer D. McCall White designed the engine, which featured two cast iron cylinder blocks with integral heads mounted atop an aluminum-copper alloy crankcase. It was an ingenious design that utilized fork and blade connecting rods to provide clearance for opposing cylinders as well as dual water pumps when most cars made do with simple, inefficient thermo-siphoning cooling systems. The engine produced an impressive 70 horsepower and was a marvel of smooth running and linear power delivery.
1924 saw the introduction of the new Type V-63, and along with it, a host of refinements to the V8 engine and the chassis. The 90-degree, 314.5 cubic-inch V8 now featured a counter-balanced, cross-plane crankshaft to minimize vibration. This revolutionary new design, in conjunction with a lightened flywheel, gave the V-63 exceptional refinement. Such was its smooth and quiet nature that even Rolls-Royce of America took notice, the firm’s chief engineer stating that “the quartered-crank V8 would make obsolete all long crankshaft engines.” A new frame utilized additional bracing for strength and durability, and new axles with four-wheel mechanical brakes; a first for Cadillac. Eleven catalog body styles were available, ranging from $3,085 for the touring to $4,600 for the flagship limousine. The Type V-63 was a technical marvel of America’s golden age of motoring, and it was a tremendous success for Cadillac, selling 25,000 examples in its two-year production run. However, very few of these beautiful and imposing Cadillacs survive today.
This 1925 V-63 Phaeton is a rarely-seen example of Cadillac’s technological tour de force. According to factory records, this car left the factory on the 21st of May, 1924, destined for Munger Auto Co. of Dallas, Texas. Copies of the original ledger show the first owner was J.A. Russell, also of Dallas. This car remained in Texas for nearly all of its life, trading hands early on to Earnest McCanless, another local resident, who owned the car from the mid-1920s through 1942, when he sold it to Charles Gharis. In 1966, Gharis sold the Cadillac to Charles Matthews of Waxahachie, Texas who restored the big V-63 and enjoyed it for many years. In the 1970s, Matthews parked the Cadillac in his barn, and it remained there until after his passing. In 2010, the Campbell family (also of Texas) acquired the Cadillac from the Matthews estate and treated it to a high-quality cosmetic restoration including a new top, interior, and restored artillery wheels.
Following the restoration, the V-63 won a CCCA National First Prize, and the most recent owners have enjoyed it for touring and road events. It presents in a handsome color combination of maroon with black fenders, accented with bright polished nickel fittings. The quality of the paint is excellent, showing light signs of use in places while presenting with a pleasing glossy finish. Accessories include nickel-plated Broadlight drum headlamps, a Moto-Meter, rear-mounted trunk, and dual rear-mounted spare wheels. The trunk and spares accentuate the length, and allow for a clean, uncluttered profile, giving this phaeton a particularly sporting appeal. During the restoration, the top was restored and reupholstered with period-correct cobra-grain vinyl material. Included in the sale is a full set of matching side-curtains.
Black leather upholstery covers the seats and interior panels, with carpeting in the rear compartment and period-appropriate textured flooring up front for the driver. The soft trim is tidy and inviting, showing only slight creasing in the seating surfaces. Instruments and controls are in good condition, and the wood steering wheel wears a high-quality finish.
The powerful and refined V8 engine features authentic detailing overall, with some moderate patina on the painted finishes, appropriate with age and use. The engine mates to a 3-speed sliding-gear transmission, and this car features Cadillac’s four-wheel braking system. Like the engine, the undercarriage shows evidence of regular enjoyment on the road.
The V-63 is a very significant model in Cadillac’s rich history, as well as with the development of the V8 engine as a whole. This influential motorcar laid the foundation for the Series 341 and Series 355 that defined Cadillac throughout the next decade. This lovely example is suited to continual enjoyment on the road, where its power and technical sophistication are best appreciated.
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