When the V8-powered Type 51 arrived in 1915, Cadillac was already well-established as one of the crown jewels of the American motoring industry, confidently living up to their slogan “The Standard of the World.” Central to the new car was the revolutionary new V8 engine designed Scottish-born engineer D. McCall White. Notable as the first mass-produced V8, it 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 and dual water pumps when most cars used inefficient thermo-siphoning cooling systems. With an impressive 70 hp output, the V8 was universally lauded for its smooth running and linear power delivery. The Type 51 evolved through several generations, and was known as the Type 57 by 1918. The Type 57 featured numerous mechanical improvements and revised styling which kept it at the top of the increasingly competitive luxury automobile market. Cadillac offered range of standard “catalog” body styles, while outside coachbuilders were occasionally called upon to meet the specific needs of select clientele.
One such example to receive the custom touch is this incredible 1919 Type 57 clothed in one-off phaeton coachwork by Brewster & Company of New York. According to the factory build ledger, it was special-ordered through Cook & Stoddard Company of Washington, D.C. for Hon. Peter Gerry, a multi-millionaire Senator from Rhode Island. Senator Gerry was part of a wealthy trading family, whose roots reached to the foundation of America. He was a direct descendent of Elbridge Gerry, the fifth Vice President of the United States, under James Madison. The elder Gerry was one of the nation’s founding fathers, served on the Second Continental Congress, and signed both the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation. As governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry devised a scheme to redraw voting districts in his favor, resulting in an abstract map shaped like a salamander – which forever became known as the “Gerrymander.”
A closer look at the build sheet reveals Peter Gerry specified his new Cadillac be built on a massive 145-inch wheelbase chassis – a full twenty inches longer than the standard model. The unique Brewster coachwork features an elegant Victoria top over the rear compartment and an elaborate auxiliary top and side curtain arrangement for the driver. The crisp and angular “military” style fenders and custom radiator shell gave the Cadillac a particularly sporting appearance, especially with the top folded. The body was crafted to Brewster’s typical standard of excellence, brimming with superb detailing and fine craftsmanship. There is little doubt that Senator Gerry made quite a splash when he arrived at State events in his superlative one-off Cadillac.
By the early 1940s, the Cadillac was acquired by pioneering car collector Hans Hinrichs of St. Louis, Missouri. It was allegedly a highly original, solid, and complete car when he discovered it, and it remained in his family’s care for forty years. It was then sold to a fellow St. Louis collector and enthusiast, Mr. Fred Weber. Shortly after acquiring the car in, Mr. Weber commissioned a noted specialist to restore the Cadillac to its present condition. Subsequent owners included Trevor R. Roycroft of California, and James Cotter of Oklahoma, who continued caring for the car and maintaining it in excellent order. The previous owner carried on that legacy, and it continued to be enjoyed in events, most recently at the exclusive Elegance at Hershey Concours in 2019.
Presented in a striking red and black livery with discreet gold coach lines, the Cadillac is an appropriately imposing motorcar fit for a wealthy and powerful statesman. The restoration has aged remarkably gracefully and still appears fit for shows and concours events. Paint quality is excellent all around, and the dark red/black livery suits the car’s subtly sporting character. It rides on body-color artillery wheels with meaty black wall tires while the twin rear-mounted spares accentuate the Cadillac’s already impressive length. Period accessories include nickel-plated headlamps, Boyce Moto Meter, Delco Dayton horn, and folding “fat man” steering wheel. The Victoria top is fully functional, and the driver’s weather equipment accompanies the sale should the next owner wish to use the car on driving events.
The 314 cubic-inch V8 displays some moderate patina consistent with the age of the restoration and is authentically detailed with proper paint finishes and nickel plating. Rated for 77 horsepower when new, it runs well and sends its substantial power and torque through a three-speed sliding-gear transmission. It retains its original Delco self-starter/generator system as well as the factory-optional Kellogg tire pump system.
Beautifully presented today with a gently matured older restoration, this most unusual, historically fascinating, and wholly unique Cadillac will undoubtedly find a place of pride in any collection of outstanding motorcars.
Offers welcome and trades considered