1940 Cadillac V16 Convertible Coupe

Cadillac’s V16 range first appeared in 1930, and after initially strong sales, production had dwindled as the American economy struggled and such lavish motorcars were generally frowned upon by even the wealthiest of buyers. However, in spite of its costly nature, the V16 still served its role as a halo model for Cadillac, so it remained available throughout the decade. For the 1938 model year, Cadillac completely redesigned the car with an all-new engine and body design. Displacing 431 cubic inches, the new V16 was a more conventional design, with a simple side-valve configuration in a rather unusual 135-degree cylinder bank angle. The engine produced 185 horsepower (about 10 more than the old unit) and weighed a staggering 250 pounds less than the original V16. It was also significantly cheaper for Cadillac to produce, and therefore more profitable. As America was recovering from the Great Depression, this proved the right move for Cadillac and for buyers who wanted the prestige of the famous V16, yet in a slightly more affordable package.

Sixteen-cylinder Series 90 models rode on the same basic chassis and 141-inch wheelbase as the V8 Series 75, which allowed for sharing of bodies from the Fleetwood and Fisher catalog. Twelve catalog body styles were available for the 1938-1939 model years, all designed under the guidance of the masterful Bill Mitchell, protégé of Harley Earl. Of those bodies, one of the rarest and most expensive was Style Number 9067, the stunning Convertible Coupe by Fleetwood. The streamline era was taking full effect by 1938, with the front fenders and radiator grille becoming fully enveloped into one. Headlights were still separately mounted but were soon to be fully integrated into the fenders as well. Dual sidemount spares were still fitted, but concealed beneath painted steel covers. Stylistically, the 1938 Cadillac bridged the gap between the traditional classic era and the post-war streamlined style. The Convertible coupe in particular, has incredible presence; it is a large car, with its two-seat body style stretched dramatically over the 141-inch wheelbase chassis.

This grand and imposing Cadillac is one of just two 1940 Series 90 V16s fitted with Fleetwood’s Convertible Coupe body. The original build sheets indicate this car (engine number 5320030) was first delivered to Fitzhenry Cadillac of Worcester, Massachusetts. It has been part of a significant private collection since 2005 and is presented in outstanding condition. The deep black paintwork is beautifully finished and is complemented by excellent brightwork, a black canvas top, and a richly appointed brown leather cabin. Cadillac’s elegant goddess mascot sits proudly atop the radiator, while twin spare wheels tuck into the pontoon fenders and are fully encased in metal covers adorned with discreet V16 badges. Shortly after acquiring this Cadillac, the owner thoroughly serviced and detailed it to his exacting standards, ensuring it presented beautifully and ran flawlessly.

Since the initial restoration, the soft trim has been extremely well-maintained and is beautifully supple, showing an inviting character that encourages regular enjoyment. The instrument panel is finished in woodgrain-effect metal, which is beautifully done and in superb condition. Equipment includes a banjo steering wheel, heater, clock, and column-shifted 3-speed gearbox. While cataloged as a two-seat model, this example features the optional jump seats, accommodating two occasional passengers behind the front seat. There’s also a cavernous trunk with enough space to swallow about a month’s worth of luggage.

The L-Head V16 is a very different animal from the previous OHV version. Whereas the early models featured enameled valve covers and decorative shrouds to hide extraneous wiring and plumbing, there’s no such need on the second-generation V16. The unique 135-degree V-angle means the engine sits very low in the chassis and is largely hidden by the fenders and side panels. Two downdraft carburetors feed the individual banks, and twin oil-bath air cleaners dominate the engine bay. It has been maintained in top-running order, ensuring the car is up to the task of serious touring.

An approved CCCA Full Classic, this exceedingly rare and imposing Series 90 is an excellent candidate for CARavan touring or for simply wafting along your favorite roads, enjoying the effortless power and impeccable style of this beautiful Cadillac.


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Stock number 7751

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