1933 Cadillac V-16
One of 9 built, one of three known survivors. For sale by owner.
V-16 Fleetwoods were true customs – nearly 50 styles were offered, but only about 10 were built. This example is one of nine original V-16 All -Weather Phaetons built by Cadillac, and one of three that are known to have survived. According to the factory build sheet, the example offered here was ordered by the Providence, Rhode Island branch and subsequently taken to New York. It took Fleetwood 16 weeks to construct these behemoths, and at $8,000, it was the most expensive car in the Cadillac lineup (twice the price of the eight-cylinder all weather phaeton). For that sum, the new owner received, among other things, a personalized dash plaque giving his name and car number – #139 in this case.
V-16 #139 was purchased and remained in the resort town of Cape May, New Jersey, where it avoided the scrap drives of WWII and 1950s chop shops. The elegant motorcar reportedly sat in a barn with its hood sticking out into the elements (no doubt due to its locomotive-sized length). In the sixties, avid Cadillac collector Joseph Albanese tried to buy it from its owner, who refused to sell. Joe, taking pity on the car, draped the front of it with a tarp to prevent further damage from the elements. In 1979, according to registries from the Cadillac LaSalle Club, the car was in the collection of Gifford F. Oborne. Mr. Oborne owned, among his many multi-cylinder cars, six V-16s. In June 1989, this car was auctioned for $315,000, needing “total restoration” and showing a low, 52,725 miles (see catalogue images and pre-restoration photos below). The high bidder was noted collector and restorer, Fred W. Weber of St. Lewis, who bought and restored V-16 #139. In a 2016 interview, Mr. Weber reported, “We took it down to the bare frame. Took it apart completely. We followed the original car to the letter and it took my full-time shop about 10-11 months to restore. It emerged exactly as-built by Cadillac and true to the car's build sheet."
The beauty of Mr. Weber’s restoration was confirmed by a first place prize in Class E at the 1992 Pebble Beach Councours D’Elegance. Afterwards the Fleetwood was sold to Robert Pass (Passport Transport), Bret Hall, Garth Butcher (hockey players) and Bruce McCall (noted collector). In 1993, it was again sold to well-known collector and co-founder of Meadowbrook Concours, Bill Chorkey. Carmine Zeccardi of Englewood Cliffs, NJ purchased the car after Chorley’s death in 2001, adding it as the second 1993 Fleetwood V-16 convertible (he also owned No. 143). In 2004, noted collector Steve Plunkett of London, Ontario purchased the V-16 for $550,000 through RM Auctions and showcased it in his famous “Fleetwood Salon” with his other outstanding V-16 automobiles. In August 2016, No. 139 was sold to Morgan Murphy of Birmingham, Alabama.
Cadillac’s magnificent V16, introduced in 1930, vaulted past the competition from other luxury marques. The engine’s hydraulic valve lash compensation system made it as quiet as the side valve engines of the age. Its mechanical specifications and performance were unmatched, producing enormous torque nearly from idle. True to V-16 lore, this car will accelerate from a dead stop in top gear. The first use of the designer’s touch under the hood. With its gleaming black enameled valve covers contrasting with brushed aluminum ribbing and delicate cloisonné medallions, opening the hood on a V16 was an awe inspiring experience, and it remains so today.
This car, style 5579. carries its original 185 bhp, 452 cu. in. overhead valve sixteen-cylinder engine. Like all V-16s of 1933, it comes with a three-speed synchromesh transmission, four-wheel power-assisted brakes, leaf spring and solid axle front suspension and leaf spring live axle rear suspension with torque tube drive. The massive 149-inch wheelbase retains its original coachwork--the fabled All-Weather Phaeton body, which many have sought to copy or re-fabricate on on repurposed V-16 seven-passenger sedans. Unlike those however, #139, is one of the exceedingly rare, original all-weather phaetons built by Cadillac, as you can see here from the VIN stamping, engine unit number, and copy of the build sheet obtained from the General Motors Heritage Center. Along with this car's detailed ownership history, a buyer may be certain that this phaeton body and V-16 engine were mated by the factory and reflect the original build sheet.
Car #139 runs smoothly, starts easily, and shifts effortlessly. It is rattle free and in remarkable condition. Its restoration shows little wear, as these images show and the car has been shown at both Amelia and Pebble.
These blue-chip, first-generation V-16 all-weather phaetons are exceedingly rare and do not come up for sale often. Serious buyers call (205) 379-0929 for more information.