Joe Werner

1940s cadillac top speed?

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Hey Desoto:

Dont let anyone make fun of those little Chrysler product engines - they used them clear into the 60's. Tough little buggers - we had them in some of our fleet trucks - couldn't kill em no matter how rotten we were to them.

As I am sure you know, Chrysler Corp. early on adopted "insert" connecting rod bearings thru out the line - which explains why you could run em wide open all year long without breaking them. Assuming you have everything reasonably in balance, I dont think even a steady 55 mph would hurt anything, depending, of course, on what your rear axle ratio is.

I dont think you are going to have much of a chance winning any speeding trophies, but I have to admit, I truly ENVY the durability of those Chrysler Corp. engines of that era.

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4.1 rear and 6.50 x 16 tires...and this poor example is TIRED !

I hear "Blowby" from one cylinder puffing through the crankcase breather on hard pulls; sounds like a hit'n'miss engine.

But at 97,000 miles, it's still mostly just a "gas & oil" daily driver.

I have a spare engine that I'm readying to drop in; I'm very curious to see how bad things really are on the inside of my 228; a lot of guys on the P-15/D-24 website have remarked that their car "ran fine, but it smoked a bit", then discovered one or more piston rings broken in each cylinder when they pulled them down for rebuild...these engines seem to be capable of running far longer than "they should".

When I was in college (late 1980's), I had a '48 New Yorker straight-8 for my daily driver; that too had a tired engine, but it was a reliable ride, to be sure.

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Getting back to the initial poster's opening question, "1940s Cadillac top speed?" GM Proving Grounds' figures for 1941-47 Cadillac Series 62 were 96 mph. The range was slim, 96 mph with manual transmission and the optional 3.36:1 "economy" rear axle, which was standard on the Hydra-Matic cars. Frictional losses in the Hydra-Matic cars netted a top speed a few tenths of a mile an hour slower.

A factory publication on the 1941 Cadillacs issued to dealers admitted the '41 Buick Century/Roadmaster (Series 60 & 70 same wheelbase that year) was "....four miles an hour faster." That would put a new, stock, razor-tuned '41 Buick Century/Roadmaster with stock Compound Carburetion and the no-cost 3.6:1 "economy" rear axle instead of the stock 3.9 cog at an even 100 mph.

Top speed is the result of horsepower, overall final gearing and coefficient of drag; CD rating or "aerodynamics." It has nothing to do with the hood ornament, brand name, speedometer reading, marketing or what Uncle Bob recollects.

We've never seen factory, fifth-wheel or AAA-sanctioned, or reliably observed timed speeds (Autocar, Motor Trend, The Motor, etc.) for 1940-47 Packard Super-8 160 in either traditional body or the 1942-47 Clipper equivalent. However, we'd think that the 1942-47 Super-8 One-Sixty Clipper/Super Clipper would be slightly faster than the Compound Carburetor Buick. The Buick's listed equal hp came at 200 higher rpm, but the Clipper was a shade cleaner aerodynamically, including a more raked windshield (45 vs. 49 degrees), and an overall final drive of 2.95:1 in overdrive against 3.6, which is still fairly trucky.

Acceleration is the result of torque, gearing and weight. Packard torque was 292 ft. lbs. vs. 283 for the Cad, 274 for the Buick. The Packard weighed anywhere from 60 or so to 185 fewer pounds than the corresponding 1940-47 GMobiles, and had better gearing for acceleration from rest, as well as from a 5 mph rolling start, which is how acceleration was usually tested in the '40s.

The posters who typed "the '41 Buick was fastest ....claimed by the factory to top 108 mph, or 112 with the 3.60 gear" and that it was "....published somewhere by Cadillac....top speed somewhere around 106 or 107mph" are dreaming or confused. The best the respected, terribly precise magazine The Motor could extract from a supercharged '37 Cord 812 was 102 mph, and these had a dead minimum 170 hp, some later in the production year 180-185hp thanks to less blower inlet restriction. The Cord had much less frontal area than any of the aforementioned '40s cars and a final drive of 2.95:1. Ab Jenkins managed 108mph with a blown '37 Cord sedan at Bonneville, but that car may (there's still discussion) have been stroked.

Motor Trend fifth-wheeled the new 1951 Chrysler Saratoga, carefully broken in with the 180-hp hemi-V-8 at 108 mph. This engine put out its peak hp at 4,600 rpm. The best R-R could do with their new 1952 Bentley R-Type Continental, again, less frontal area than '40s GM or Packard, 158 hp at 4,200 rpm through a 3.08:1 final drive, was 116.7 mph. The buff books enthusiastically round this to 120mph, but endlessly repeating does not make it so, just as 96mph does not magically, wishfully become "around 100 mph."

So, let's enjoy our cars, but stick to facts. We have no idea what the poster was trying to get at by bringing up the '39 Langhorne, Pennsylvania stock car race on a dirt oval track. That's the province of acceleration and cornering, among other factors. Railroads used to test express steam locomotives in the '30s, with speeds to 110 and 120 mph, but it took eleven miles or more to get there.

The poster's original question was "top speed." By the way, when Jaguar tested their new XK-150S, they not only removed the rearview mirror, but the radio antenna---how many square inches of frontal area was that? [color:\\"black\\"]

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> The posters who typed "the '41 Buick was fastest ....claimed by the factory to top 108 mph, or 112 with the 3.60 gear" and that it was "....published somewhere by Cadillac....top speed somewhere around 106 or 107mph" are dreaming or confused. </div></div>

Good answers and the facts are always appreciated. And I agree with you on most points--it's really hard to know what's true and what's legend. However (and you knew there was one coming...) I am now holding in my hands an <span style="font-style: italic">original</span> (not reprinted, not photocopied, not Internet-based) <span style="font-weight: bold"><span style="font-style: italic">1941 Buick Master Salesman's Fact Book. </span></span>It lists the following:

Fuel Economy:

At 70 MPH:

Special (single carb): 13.5 MPG (OK, I'll admit this seems suspect compared to the other models)

Super (dual carbs): 15.0 MPG

Century/Roadmaster (dual carbs): 14.3 MPG (yow!)

Power used:

at 20 MPH: Super (9% used) / Century & Roadmaster (8% used)

at 50 MPH: 19.0% / 16.5%

at 80 MPH: 49.0% / 38.5%

And (drum roll please...) <span style="font-style: italic"><span style="font-weight: bold">Top Speed:</span></span>

Special (single carb): 87 MPH (4.4 rear gear) / 91 MPH (3.9 rear gear optional)

Super (dual carbs): 96 MPH (4.4 rear gear) / 99 MPH (3.9 rear gear optional)

Century/Roadmaster: 108 MPH (3.9 rear gear) / 110 MPH (3.6 rear gear optional)

Now whether these are accurate numbers is anybody's guess. Like I said earlier, I'm as curious as anybody as to the true top speed, so I'll run mine until it stops pulling as soon as it's back together. However, it'll have some tricks inside it; but <span style="font-style: italic">if,</span> with tricks, it only pulls 105 MPH, then we'll know the numbers in 1941 were wildly optimistic (and vice versa--perhaps it'll go 120! <span style="font-style: italic">Ha!</span>)

It's all academic, I guess, but now I'm REALLY curious.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">"salesman's fact book" may be an oxymoron </div></div>

Yeah, that part with the fuel economy numbers kind of gave me that impression, too. They are, after all, <span style="font-style: italic">car salesmen.</span> (No offense intended to those who share this profession!) But at least I'm not the only one drinking the 1941 Buick Kool-Aid...

At least the paint chips and upholstery samples in the back of the book are authentic!

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Matt ~ I have the '41 Cadillac "Salesman's Data Book" and view it with the same skepticism. smirk.gif

hvs

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I don't know if the speedometer was anywhere near accurate, but I was with my Dad in 1948 when I actually witnessed the speedometer needle of his 1939 Buick Special bouncing between 100 and 105 mph. Of course, last week I also witnessed the speedometer needle on my 1939 Buick Special bouncing between 75 and 80 and the guy in the DeSoto following me told me later I never got over 55 mph. <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> So who knows?

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Hmmm,

Unless Mr. De Soto was one of those early Hemi models, he would've been hard pressed to keep-up at "75-80 mph"... wink.gif

Strictly crunching numbers, my '41 De Soto, with 6.50 x 16 tires (29.13" outside diameter) and a 4.1 :1 rear end, at max engine output of 105 hp @ 3,600 rpm should be moving at 76 mph. blush.gif

I have had it up to that speed briefly; don't know what it's "ultimate limit" would be...

I've noticed "bouncy" speedo needles in a lot of my older vehicles... I think that is a product of stiff/sticky lube (or rust) in the speedo cable...

When I get my front end overhauled, my R-7 overdrive installed, and a fresh engine under the hood and broken-in, perhaps I'll "put it to the wood" and see what we get...

cool.gif

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Let's hear it for "achievements" ! crazy.gif

Around 1960 or so, my uncle managed to roll my Grandad's'52 Plymouth Cranbrook...don't know how fast he was going...

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For Dynaflash:

Regarding excessive oil consumption on a '52 Plymouth after going 90 mph.

Dynaflash - I disagree...I dont think it would hurt the engine on a '52 Plymouth at all if it went 90 mph. Simple reason. Given the wind resistance of that body, the gearing, and the low power, NO way you could get a stock one to go that fast unless you shipped it UPS or Fed Ex. Typical shipping regs. require that the gasoline tank be drained. So.......there you are.

Seriously, running wide open, assuming reasonable oil changes, shouldn't hurt those tough Chrysler Corp. six's one bit. Those were DAMN tough engines, serving well in all kinds of applications, not just cars, were they were run hard year after year.

Given the outrageously optimistic speedometer errrors typical of that era, I am not surprised you saw 90 mph on the speedomter. As for your actual top speed, again, depending on the "final drive" diff. gear ratio on that particular car, I would venture a guess that you were actually doing somewhere between 78 asnd 85 mph ( that is....IF the wind was right !).

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OK, one last follow-up and this one has some real credentials. Fellow board reader Cliff Herold sent me the attached photo of an actual test data sheet from the Milford Proving Grounds circa 1941. It pretty much corroborates the speed figures in the "Fact" book, particularly the Century and Roadmaster numbers which are exactly as quoted. It also includes acceleration figures, as requested earlier.

Just another log on the fire? <span style="font-style: italic">You decide.</span>

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Seriously, running wide open, assuming reasonable oil changes, shouldn't hurt those tough Chrysler Corp. six's one bit. Those were DAMN tough engines, serving well in all kinds of applications, not just cars, were they were run hard year after year. </div></div>

Right on. I had one in my 1957 Seabird mahogany launch in the 1970's and that poor little Buchanan marine engine (actually a Chrysler 6) was under a load the whole time propelling the boat which must have weight 3tons. Burned a bit of oil but always started and ran fine.

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Matt, this sounds like a really interested piece of literature. I wanted to bring this fun thread back to the top anyway, for a couple of reasons. One is, I just told Buick historian and writer Terry Dunham he should read it, so I wanted him to be able to find it <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />. But also, reference my high school 1952 Plymouth Belvedere hardtop. Fellows I won't argue the feats and faults of the Chrysler/Plymouth Six Cylinder engine with you, but two things remain undisputably true ... well three actually. FIRST, yes I did change the oil regularly until it began changing it it's own self <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> and SECOND, yes I really did hold it to the floor for 8 miles between Fredericksburg, VA and King George, VA in 1957 while the speedometer read 90 mph, after which it did, (and this is my THIRD undeniable truth), use a quart of oil every 30 miles <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> It was a cute little old car though <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

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Earl, If you held the pedal to the floor on that same road today and didn't get "over" 90 miles per hour, you would probably get run over by the commuters. <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> Wayne

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My father bought a used 1947 Chrysler New Yorker Club Coupe w/fluid drive in 1947. I think it was 1949 when we were on a trip to the West coast and happened be traveling past the salt flats and Dad decided to see how fast the Chrysler would go. He took it through the traps at 115.2 mph with the trunk full of luggage. Back then you did not even need a helmet, you just paid your money and hit the gas. I know my dad was disappointed by how slow the car was because the pre-WW2 New Yorkers would easily top 120 (on the other hand, Chrysler claimed the post war ones topped out at 88). I do know that 47 Chrysler with over 200,000 miles on it (used by me as a patrol car) could still outrun my dad's 1951 baby Cadillac Coupe even after it had the 1957 Caddy V8 & Hydramatic installed but the hopped up Caddy had immensely quicker pickup. That much maligned fluid drive was definitely the sturdiest automatic on the market back in the 40s and 50s but if something did go wrong you couldn't find anyone to work on it. Our 47 New Yorker was finally sold out of the family with over 400,000 miles on it without ever having had the transmission worked on.

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January 1951 at the Daytona Beach Speed Trials the fastest stock car was a 1951 Chrysler New Yorker 4 door sedan with hemi head V8, 180HP engine and Fluid Drive. Top speed, 100.13MPH electrically timed both ways on a course surveyed by Florida state highway department surveyers.

This was not down hill, with a tail wind, on an uncorrected speedo, or on an oval speed track where you can get a boost by coming down off the banked turns. It was certified stock and independently timed before witnesses, a newly introduced model off the local dealer's showroom floor with 400 miles on it.

It was the first certified stock car to officially exceed 100 MPH in the speed trials since the prewar supercharged Cord V8.

Most powerful cars of the forties would top out around 90. Some might do a little better depending on model. None would break 100 MPH "for real".

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)

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As for those who claim their prewar car goes over 100 MPH how can you tell? What car of that vintage has a speedo that reads over 100? The more expensive forties cars I have seen, have a speedo that only goes up to 100. Cheaper cars were clocked for 80 or 90.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)

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January 1951 at the Daytona Beach Speed Trials the fastest stock car was a 1951 Chrysler New Yorker 4 door sedan with hemi head V8, 180HP engine and Fluid Drive. Top speed, 100.13MPH electrically timed both ways on a course surveyed by Florida state highway department surveyers.

This was not down hill, with a tail wind, on an uncorrected speedo, or on an oval speed track where you can get a boost by coming down off the banked turns. It was certified stock and independently timed before witnesses, a newly introduced model off the local dealer's showroom floor with 400 miles on it.

It was the first certified stock car to officially exceed 100 MPH in the speed trials since the prewar supercharged Cord V8.

Most powerful cars of the forties would top out around 90. Some might do a little better depending on model. None would break 100 MPH "for real".

So, Rusty, I gather that you are saying that the folks operating the Bonneville Speed Trials do not know how to set up their traps nor how to interpret the readouts. Or are you trying to say that the salt flats are actually a hill.These are the same people at roughly the same place that timed a 57 Chrysler at 171+ 2 way (one run had been in excess of 186 but they had to redo it because a piece of chrome blew off). By the way, my reference to the prewar New Yorkers came from a Highway Patrolman friend of the family complaining that none of their cruisers could come close to catching a New Yorker and that one could easily outrun their spotter plane.

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Packard Blue's preceding comments on page # 49, page two of this thread sum the situation well, as does

Gearboy's post # 53 this page, and Rusty O'Toole's, post #69.

We should remember there was fierce intramural rivalry between Cadillac and Buick during 1941, when we read some of the figures Matt quotes ( thank you) from the '41 Buick Salesman's Book. When Buick offered a line of Brunn-bodied Series 90 Limiteds, Cadillac finally raised enough fuss for GM's execs to reign in Flint.

Getting back to the poor fellow who asked a simple question three pages ago before all this armchair testosterone was unleashed, Maurice Hendry and others unearthed GM Proving Ground figures of various 1941-47 Series 62 Cadillacs with the optional "economy" 3.31:1 rear axle in place of the standard 3.77:1 coming in at 96 and a few tenths of a mph. The

same cars with HydraMatic, which of course came standard with the 3.31 rear cog, were a few tenths of a mile an hour slower due to losses in the automatic transmission, as Gearboy mentions. The sedans were about half an mile an hour faster than the convertibles as airflow over their steel tops was smoother than over canvas. But all this is hair-splitting.

So, in answer to Imported_Joe Werner's question, 96 mph.

Edited by Water Jacket (see edit history)

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i took my '41 cad up to 70 and scared the cr@p out of me when i encountered a rut...time for fixing the front end.

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One minor correction Water Jacket - the economy axle ratio in the 1940's Cadillac's was 3.36, not 3.31. The standard shift cars came standard with the 3.77, the hydramatic cars came with the 3.36. But what many folks do today is put a 3.36 in the standard shift cars in order to lower engine rpm's.

Edited by K8096 (see edit history)

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