Joe Werner

1940s cadillac top speed?

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I'm sure that depends on the year. '40-48 had the flathead engine. The '49 had the OHV engine. I also imagine body style would play a part due to wind resistance. Also Hydra-matic or manual transmission. Later Hydra-matics were probably better. Rear end ratio, too.

I own what would likely be one of the slower models, a '41 convertible sedan, because of all of that flapping canvas and a greater weight than the 61 series fastbacks.

In my younger days back in the early '50s I often pushed my '41 to the limit of the speedometer, 100MPH. What it was actually doing is anybody's guess, maybe more, maybe less than 100. However I will add that my car has a high speed rear and three speed transmission which will improve top speed, maybe enough to equal or beat a fast back coupe with Hydea-matic and standard rear. With the high speed rear, it takes forever to get really rolling from a stop.

But don't forget, Cadillacs of that era were designed for comfort and luxury more than speed. I don't think speed was ever stressed. I have a salesman's data book on the '41s somewhere and will see if top speed is mentioned there.

hvs

I just checked the data book. Lots of references to quality and comfort, but as I suspected, none about speed.

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It was published somewhere by Cadillac when the cars were new that the top speed was somewhere around 106 or 107 MPH. That was on a closed track under perfect conditions, and I don't remember what body style they used. I do remember the Buick Roadmaster was 1 or 2 MPH faster that the Cadillac. I don't remember where I read this originally, maybe an old Cad/LaSalle Club magazine from many years ago. The Hydramatic Cadillacs used a 3.36 rear axle ratio and the standard shift ones used a 3.77. What many people do today, including me, is if you have a standard shift car with the 3.77 ratio, find a hydramatic parts car & use that rear axle to lower your RPM's on the highway. It does make a noticeable difference.

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My '41 Buick Century sedanette with a 3.90 gear and 165 HP, widely rumored to be the fastest car built in America in 1941, was claimed by the factory to pull 108 MPH (or 112 MPH with the high-speed 3.60 gear). I don't know how credible that is, but it <span style="font-style: italic">is</span> a factory rating. The Cadillacs of the same vintage used the same transmission, bodies, frames, etc., though they were down 15 horsepower compared to the Buicks (but made more torque). I'd say that any number my car can pull can be matched by a Cadillac of the same vintage, so call it about 110 MPH flat-out on a perfect day under perfect conditions. Throw some radials on there and you might even get 1 or 2 more out of it! grin.gif

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Matt ~ Are you sure about the transmission. confused.gif I never drove a '41 Buick that shifted as smoothly or easily as my '41 Cadillac. Also the sound of a Buick transmission is quite different from a Cadillac. And Hollender indicates that they do not interchange in any way, shape or form.

As for bodies, only the basic shell was the same. I am not that up on the frames, but I have my doubts that they were the same. Similar maybe, but not the same. To be the SAME means IDENTICAL.

hvs

PS: Transmissions the same?? I never saw a Hydra-Matic Buick, but there were Dynaflow Cadillacs in 1956 as the result of a fire that destroyed the Hydra-Matic factory.

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I reserected an old Packard Cormorant magazine issue of 1992 in which there is an article comparing the 1947 Packard Super Clipper with a 1947 Cadillac Model 62. Not surprisingly the top speed bias is in favour of Packard . The article states that in 1950 Road and Track rated all domestic (US) cars for top speed and it concluded that the Packard Custom with the 356" engine and Ultramatic was the fastest car in the US with a top speed of 99MPH, The Lincoln V-8 second at 98 and the ohv Cadillac at 97. The Packard mag article does not state how the tests were conducted however or whether the Caddy had a Hydamatic. One author Jan Norbye in his book " The 100 Greatest American Cars' claims a top speed of the 356" engined Clipper at 110MPH.

The 356 Packard was engine rated at 165HP and 292 ft. lbs. of torque at 1800r.p.m. With overdrive and 4.09:1 effective gearing is down to 2.95:1. I would suspect that a 1940's L-head Cadillac at 150HP and without overdrive would not approach this speed. A 165HP engined Buick might I suppose. I personally have had my Packard up to 85mph and it doesn't seem at all stressed but with bias ply tires and a 57 year old car I have not had the temerity to test the car beyond this speed. I once owned a 1947 75 Series Imperial limousine Cadillac with hydramatic and it was not as fast as the Packard in my opinion but it was a lot heavier car also!

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I think that the 41 candidates have emerged - 127" wb Packard Super 8 w. OD vs. Buick Century. The Chrysler 8 has similar power, but with FluidDrive no chance.

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David ~ I am not taking any side in this. I would just like to offer the opinion that horespower alone does not determine top speed. Rear end ratios play a factor too, as well as at what RPM the HP is attained. Also I do not believe Cadillac offered an overdrive in it's standard shift models, so that point is irrelevent. They did offer a high speed rear.

Every manufacturer can give reasons why his vehicle is superior to the competition. My '41 Cadillac SALESMAN"S data book is full of comparisons to be used to try to influence the buyer. You should see what it says about Packard & Lincoln Zephyr. I imagine those makers has similar books for their salesmen as well.

I truly wonder how many Packard or Cadillac buyers in that era bought a car because it was the fastest thing on the road. That was a concept for the Ford boys.

hvs

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The year some Cadillacs had Dynaflow was 1953, not 1956 as you stated. Your reason was correct however, the Hydra-matic plant burned down.

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Well Joe, I do not know what the published top speed is (I believe the quoted 108 is right) but I had my 1947 sedan up to 102 recently on a long open road in a remote area. I changed the oil, checked all of the fittings and then took Dutch out for a romp. I am not sure it would be a good idea to keep it at that speed, but the engine handled it easily. The front end was a little weak though, so I brought it down to a more reasonable 65 mph.

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Sorry --- typo. My error. frown.gif At the same time I believe that Pontiac used Powerglide and Olds used Dynaflow as a substitute for Hydra-Matic and for the same reason, the fire. Does anyone know how long those substitutions continued?

hvs

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Howard, I wasn't trying to start a Packard vs Cadillac discussion (my mind was made up long ago which was the superior car)but was just giving some relevant data that I found. The fact is as you state few buyers of luxury cars were not generally interested in top speed numbers. The 356cid Packard developed more torque than either Cadillac or Buick at about 1800rpm so it would move a large heavy car rather effortlessly with it's 4.09:1 axle. Overdrive gives quiet highway cruising as well with 30% engine speed reduction. I think that smooth quiet acceleration and quiet highway operation was what impressed luxury car buyers of the era more than top speed. Advertising in the period would suggest that as well.

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Just for the record. Most speedometers were off 8 to 12 mph. at top speeds. The speed tests made, were corrected ones by using a wheel fastened to the rear bumper. So getting a reading of 102 to 110 not unusual in any make of car.Jack

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"<span style="font-weight: bold">Howard, I wasn't trying to start a Packard vs Cadillac discussion </span>"

I hate to bring this up, but I'll bet 'Ol PH would like to be involved in this! <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> I know, I know! I'm cutting my computer off. <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" /> Wayne

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> "<span style="font-weight: bold">Howard, I wasn't trying to start a Packard vs Cadillac discussion </span>"

I hate to bring this up, but I'll bet 'Ol PH would like to be involved in this! grin.gif I know, I know! I'm cutting my computer off. crazy.gif Wayne </div></div>

Wayne, IF 'ol PH were here he would only want to discuss which model of Packard was the best car. Lesser brand X cars would not be mentioned in the same sentence. smile.gif

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David ~ I agree with you completely. I like my '41 Cadillac and would prefer it to a '41 Clipper, which is what my father's best friend had back in '41. Those are the two cars compared in my salesman's data book along with the Lincoln Zephyr.

Now a large series Packard of '41 would be a different story. You can forget any '41 Lincoln including the Continental. I'm just not a Ford product person even though the Continental was beautiful, if impractical for a family.

This thread had a good opening question as it really got a good discussion going.

Howard

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Matt ~ Are you sure about the transmission. confused.gif I never drove a '41 Buick that shifted as smoothly or easily as my '41 Cadillac. Also the sound of a Buick transmission is quite different from a Cadillac. And Hollender indicates that they do not interchange in any way, shape or form.

As for bodies, only the basic shell was the same. I am not that up on the frames, but I have my doubts that they were the same. Similar maybe, but not the same. To be the SAME means IDENTICAL.

hvs

PS: Transmissions the same?? I never saw a Hydra-Matic Buick, but there were Dynaflow Cadillacs in 1956 as the result of a fire that destroyed the Hydra-Matic factory. </div></div>

You're probably right, Howard. I should probably have said the ratios in the transmissions were the same in top gear (1:1) so there wouldn't be any kind of gearing issues affecting the top speed (I'm talking manual transmissions--the HydraMatic probably had better rear axle ratios). The body shells were the same, at least on the Century and the series 61 Cadillacs, so different aerodynamics wouldn't be an issue. I was just trying to say that the cars were similar enough that the numbers posted for my Buick were probably valid for the Cadillacs as well.

Did GM really make two different frames for these cars, both running 126 inch wheelbases and wearing the same bodies? I guess the recent trend towards badge engineering really has gotten to me!

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">David ~ I agree with you completely. I like my '41 Cadillac and would prefer it to a '41 Clipper, which is what my father's best friend had back in '41. Those are the two cars compared in my salesman's data book along with the Lincoln Zephyr.

</div></div>

Yes Howard the 41 Clipper had the 127" wheel base with the 288CID engine but with the nine main bearing 356" it became quite a different car. I prefer my Super Clipper to my Cadillac 75 but being a division window car on a much longer wheel base it was quite a monster to drive. Chauffers weren't meant to be 6'2" tall I guess.

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Jack, you are absolutely correct. Up to 40, my speedo reads about 4 miles an hour short of the real speed. Then over 40 it goes to about 5 over. So when I did the test, the speedo read about 207 or so...I was really paying attention to the road. It was not unusual for cars of this era to go quite fast. My Father drove all over the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin hale adjusting in the early 1950s, and frequently drove the back roads at 95 in his 1948 Chrysler. Whether this was INSANE or not is up to you. I remember trips from Mankato to Columbia, Mo at 95 to 100 in our 1956 Plymouth (3 on the tree and V-8...whoosh). So I know people drove like that. Those big Chryslers were comfortable and powerful, even if the fluid drive was a terror in the sand and mud.

I have never driven or ridden in a '40s Packard, let alone a 50's version. So I cannot compare the two. But aside from my obvious proclivities, Cadillac produced a very well built, comfortable and powerful car for the very wealthy as well as the professional to enjoy. Personally I see neither as better or worse, just different. Each has its pros and cons, which is true of any marque. I am still hoping to ride in a nice Packard one day.

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Randall,,

The fastest I ever pushed my '48 New Yorker (323.5 cid straight-8 with Prestomatic Fluid Drive and 3.54 rear) was about 85 mph... shocked.gif

I chickened-out and backed-off the throttle because the front-end felt untrustworthy at that speed... wink.gif

I think the top speeds of pre-'50-'55 cars is primarily limited by stump-puller rears and relatively low-compression engines; plus the poorer breathing characteristics of L-head engines...

I would expect a ceiling of 90 to 100 mph for most pre-1955 cars...

Someday, I hope to be the man who owns a nice Senior Packard; but for now, I must content myself with "the MoPars that no one else wants"... tongue.gif

( Don't want to read that you won a "Darwin Award" trying to find the top speed of your '47 Caddy....)

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Matt ~ The convertible sedan frame was different from the series 62 4 door sedan of the same general configuration and wheelbase. This was because the conv. sedan required a stiffer and more cross braced frame due to the fact that there was nothing above the floor pan to hold the back and front of the car together.

hvs

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David ~ My father owned a '47 Cadillac 75 that had belonged to his father and mother, the last one of whom who passed away in 1953. By then it was a 6 year old used car that no one wanted so I kicked it around for a couple of years before entering the USAF. I found it to be a miserable car to drive and too large to be practical for daily use.

One of my last acts as a civilian was to sell the car for my father. It went to a man in Baltimore by the name of Edgar Allan Poe III. Doubtless no relation to the great author who died in Baltimore and is buried there, since I do not believe EAP had any children. Or at least none to speak of. grin.gif

hvs

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Matt ~ The convertible sedan frame was different from the series 62 4 door sedan of the same general configuration and wheelbase. This was because the conv. sedan required a stiffer and more cross braced frame due to the fact that there was nothing above the floor pan to hold the back and front of the car together.

hvs </div></div>

Of course the convertibles were different from the hardtops. I was just surprised that the 126" wheelbase Buick 2-door sedanette frame would be different from the 126" Cadillac 2-door sedanette frame. But after doing some research, it seems this is indeed the case, with the Buick having provisions for coil springs and a torque tube while the Caddy used leaf springs and an open drivetrain.

I guess that makes sense, since the '41 Buicks alone have about 6 different pieces of stainless trim between the trunk and gravel guard, depending on model. Why not just make one shape and size instead of a half-dozen?!? To us today, that sounds like madness! Different frames between product lines shouldn't be so surprising, I guess.

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I venture to say that there was no car out there, built before 1949 (Olds 88), that could/can/will outrun a 1941 Buick Century with dual carbs and the 320.3 cid, 165 hp engine. This includes a 1942 Buick Century. I might add that the 320 cid equipped Buicks were barred from the NASCAR circuits after thay outran all of the Fords in 1939 and 1940 at Daytona. That fact was published in the AACA magazine. What car won the first organized stock car race, held at Langhorne Speedway? Year? 1939. It was a 1939 Buick Century coupe driven by Mark Light of Reading, PA. Check the record books. I rest my case. Who else was in that race? Well, Henry Banks, Joey Chitwood and the winner of the 1950 Indianapolis race (whose name slips my mind), to name a few. Check issue #2 (or was it #3) of Special Interest Autos. <grin>

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Speaking of Cadillac frames, in 1941 they built 3100 Cadillac 62 series convertibles. After the first 1600 or so, the factory welded a large quarter inch thick steel plate about 8" by 12" to the bottom of the X in the frame to ad rigidity. The one we have is an early one & doesn't have the plate.

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