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1939 Cadillac V-16 Convertible Sedan Barn Find, 1 of 4 Produced


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I have a buddy who spent 65k getting is late V16 engine rebuilt a few years ago.   That is the sort of thing that would scare me here,  but very cool, no?

 

https://www.mecum.com/lots/FL0122-486243/1939-cadillac-v-16-convertible-sedan/

 

9,300 miles

Barn find

No. 3 of only 4 produced

Roll-up glass divider window,

New brakes and new fuel tank

Car previously owned by an Air Force Colonel who drove it to the space center in Cocoa Beach, Florida--stickers are still affixed

The first two cars built purportedly went to the White House and were used by President Roosevelt--documents provided

431 CI V-16 engine

 

image.png.916febea3a917a56a763ef4cbbbb7746.png

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Cool car. Just add 600k and you can take it to Pebble, but it won't win anything. Too messed with to be in preservation.........unless you give it a "make over" to untouched. 

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4 hours ago, edinmass said:

Cool car. Just add 600k and you can take it to Pebble, but it won't win anything. Too messed with to be in preservation.........unless you give it a "make over" to untouched. 

 

What do you see messed up besides the drivers compartment interior?   The original may be underneath.  If so, potential Pebble preservation car.

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Too far gone........usually a car such as this would have been hidden away, sold quietly with no photos posted, and show up much nicer than it is now........with additional paint, ect........but still "untouched" by the new owners definition. Whenever you see a preservation car, the only question is is it had restored or 75 percent restored. I have seen it several times in person. 

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I’ve gotten to drive one once, and it was a very nice car to drive for its era.  I think if you’re into those late 30s early 40s cars these are very interesting. But that $65,000 rebuild cost on a car you might be able to sell for $65,000 with a brand new engine sets me back on my heels.

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21 minutes ago, edinmass said:

 

That engine is more than 65k....lots of junk in it, and lots of details...........hell, you will spend 5 grand stitching it.

The 65K I quoted was with one of the top 3 or 4 shops in the US three years ago. I imagine prices have gone up a bit but it was a complete engine job.

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Most of the time they have a bunch of cracks. We did one with 67 inches of stitching by the time we were done. It's still fine 20 years later. There were lots of defective blocks new, and most had repairs done at the factory......

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Lots of interesting comments.  I am no longer, or not presently, in the CLC but when I was I purchased most of the Cadillac history books.  As such, I am really curious why Cadillac went to a V16 after that era was essentially exhausted.  

 

edinmass, I will never tire of your input as I learn a lot.  So, I am curious why this motor was such a dog?  "Lots of cheap parts in it"?  

 

I did read carefully the Kimes book section on the original Cadillac V16 from the early 30's.  It was well regarded as I recall, a strong competitor in that field.  

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1 hour ago, alsancle said:

Matt makes a good point. Very few of these are open cars. There are two or three of the business coupes. In fact I think there was an a in restored one for sale last year? The restored one sold for a bunch of money 5/6 years ago.

The convertible coupes, if real, can bring good money.  A collection  in Michigan paid $300k plus 20 years ago for one.  
 

And RM sold one for $600k about 10 years ago and a different one 3 years ago at the auburn auction for $200k.  
 

 

 

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1 minute ago, B Jake Moran said:

Lots of interesting comments.  I am no longer, or not presently, in the CLC but when I was I purchased most of the Cadillac history books.  As such, I am really curious why Cadillac went to a V16 after that era was essentially exhausted.  

 

edinmass, I will never tire of your input as I learn a lot.  So, I am curious why this motor was such a dog?  "Lots of cheap parts in it"?  

 

I did read carefully the Kimes book section on the original Cadillac V16 from the early 30's.  It was well regarded as I recall, a strong competitor in that field.  

The casting was weak —( poor) design.  They only made about 500 compared to 5000 1930-37 v16.  
 

The late 1930s style Cadillacs are not as desirable.  
 

It was a much cheaper motor to make with less parts and did not have an impressive look to it.  
 

 

add it all up and their desirability and peoples want to pour money into them is just not there.  

 

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8 minutes ago, B Jake Moran said:

I am looking at an as advertised 1938 series 75 V8 with a very similar grille.  Did they not change the 75 series front ends like they did the lesser Cadillac line up for 1939?  

1938-1940 Cadillac 75 (v8) and 90 (v16) are on the same chassis.  And the same bodies. The 1939-40 75 (v8) got an updated front end.  
 


 

 

 

Edited by Cadillac Fan (see edit history)
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All very strange.  Especially since the first V16 was a thing of beauty and OHV if I recall.  Seems like a step backward.  Now, the 346 flathead V8 engineering in my opinion was about Cadillac building a reliable power plant that could be placed in all of their cars for a long time and as it turned out, it went to 1948.   

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4 hours ago, B Jake Moran said:

All very strange.  Especially since the first V16 was a thing of beauty and OHV if I recall.  Seems like a step backward.  Now, the 346 flathead V8 engineering in my opinion was about Cadillac building a reliable power plant that could be placed in all of their cars for a long time and as it turned out, it went to 1948.   

as said earlier, it was designed to be less expensive, not more technically advanced

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The rational for developing and marketing the second-generation V-16 were primarily to continue to field a mutli-cylinder top-line series competitive with the Packard Twelve and Lincoln Twelve Model K.  The 1937 models were the last of the Cadillac OHV V-12 and first-generation OHV V-16 both which were superseded by engine technology advancements.  Those engines and cars had been developed under Lawrence Fisher and his all-out, cost-be-damned leadership.  While the V-12 had shared platforms with the V8, the Sixteens were unique cars sharing little with the other two.  For 1938-'40, the Series 90 L-Head Sixteen share chassis and bodies with the Series 75 V8 model-for-model.  This was another step in Nicholus Dreystadt's overall program to rationalize Cadillac with other GM lines and above all, make it a profitable division. 

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It’s interesting that the story I got on the late style V-16 was different than the above. I got it from a big wig at GM that the 135 degree V-16 was built for city busses. It worked out that after the war they headed in a different direction. The low profile of the 135 certainly makes sense for a bus/industrial applications. It’s a real pain in the ass, isn’t really much better than a V-8, and most people don’t use the late series V-16 to their best advantage and application...........a boat anchor.

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14 minutes ago, edinmass said:

It’s interesting that the story I got on the late style V-16 was different than the above. I got it from a big wig at GM that the 135 degree V-16 was built for city busses. It worked out that after the war they headed in a different direction. The low profile of the 135 certainly makes sense for a bus/industrial applications. It’s a real pain in the ass, isn’t really much better than a V-8, and most people don’t use the late series V-16 to their best advantage and application...........a boat anchor.

Ed:

Did GM ever actually apply these 135-degree V-16 engines to city bus or other commercial applications?  The maximum torque rating listed for 1940 was 324 @ 1700, up to the task of moving buses fast enough in heavy traffic.

Steve 

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I was told there were working prototypes, but with the war, everything was shut down. Post war, all bets were off with the new fuel being so cheap, overhead motors were the thing to do.

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It's interesting to see how technology is always improving, the newest V8 was probably better than the earlier V12/16 and better than this flathead 16. I remember when a 300 hp car was considered to be a big deal back in the 90's. The Corvette LT1, the Nissan 300 ZX twin turbo and the Mitsibishi twin turbo V6 all put out 300 hp. I had a Cadillac Seville STS with the 295 hp dohc 32 valve engine. Later the 4.6 Mustang GT had  300 horse. Than a new 3.7 V6 came out with 300 hp and finally a turbo four has the same output! My old 5.3 12 cylinder Jaguar was rated at only 285 hp. While Bentley (VW) still had W12 and 16s the popular engine configurations are now the turbo four and twin turbo V6. Jeez, The new Explorer has a 400 hp motor option. Better living through technology.

Edited by Rivguy
gotta step up my proofreading skills (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, Rivguy said:

I remember when a 300 hp car was considered to be a big deal back in the 90's. The Corvette LT1, the Nissan 300 ZX twin turbo and the Mitsibishi twin turbo V6 all put out 300 hp. I had a Cadillac Seville STS with the 295 hp dohc 32 valve engine. Later the 4.6 Mustang GT had  300 horse.

300 hp was a big deal back in the '50's. The Chrysler 300, for one, and then the Packard Caribbean came in at 310 (brake hp). In '61, the Corvette could be ordered with 360 hp, and a Chevy SS hardtop with the 409 was rated at 425 hp. Ford's 427 "Cammer"with a single 4barrel carb was rated at 616 hp and with two carbs, 654 hp!

Currently the U.S. car listed with the most hp is the Dodge Challenger Demon with 831.

The Greek Super car “Chaos” (@$14.4  million) by Spyros Panopoulos Automotive boasts 3064 hp, but it is an EV, not an ICE. 

A normal person would probably loose consciousness just entering the freeway!

image.jpeg.707b6c4069ebe41ac0c8bef0a18d56f3.jpeg

Edited by f.f.jones (see edit history)
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13 hours ago, Rivguy said:

It's interesting to see how technology is always improving, the newest V8 was probably better than the earlier V12/16 and better than this flathead 16. I remember when a 300 hp car was considered to be a big deal back in the 90's. The Corvette LT1, the Nissan 300 ZX twin turbo and the Mitsibishi twin turbo V6 all put out 300 hp. I had a Cadillac Seville STS with the 295 hp dohc 32 valve engine. Later the 4.6 Mustang GT had  300 horse. Than a new 3.7 V6 came out with 300 hp and finally a turbo four has the same output! My old 5.3 12 cylinder Jaguar was rated at only 285 hp. While Bentley (VW) still had W12 and 16s the popular engine configurations are now the turbo four and twin turbo V6. Jeez, The new Explorer has a 400 hp motor option. Better living through technology.

It keeps going up really.  Electric motors in normal production cars 5 years from now will be able to launch you 0-60 in about 4 seconds.  

 

I keep that in mind.  I love to go fast as much as the next guy but there is always something faster.  

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 12/17/2021 at 10:28 PM, 58L-Y8 said:

Did GM ever actually apply these 135-degree V-16 engines to city bus or other commercial applications? 

It's interesting to me how some cars become icons,

and others get little interest.  The big cars of the 1930's

are cooed over as "magnificent motorcars" and described

with all sorts of glowingly affectionate terms.  Yet people

in the 1930's didn't think so:  These cars were worth

less than 5% of their original cost.  They have more

sheet metal, longer wheelbases, and bigger engines than

less expensive cars, but so does a 1967 Buick Electra

or a 1974 Cadillac Eldorado.

 

Considering the quoted cost of rebuilding an engine,

I'd rather have the Eldorado and invest the rest of the money.

 

I agree these are worthy pieces of history, but so are the

others.  If people are impressed by extra size, they could

collect heavy trucks or interesting motor buses too!

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