Joe Werner

1940s cadillac top speed?

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By the way I am willing to accept that a prewar Buick Century would top 100 especially the compound carburetor 1941 model. Also the supercharged Cord, certain models of Duesenberg, perhaps a Stutz or 2. But such speeds were way beyond the ordinary car of the time.

I suppose it would be possible for a 16 cylinder Cadillac coupe to do likewise but that would be a very unusual Cadillac indeed.

Remember the original question was how fast would a Cadillac of the forties go? No model, year or body style specified. I would say the typical V8 Cadillac sedan or coupe would top out at 92 to 96 MPH and hold that speed all day, as serene as the smile on the Mona Lisa.

A genuine 100MPH was a lot harder to achieve at that time than people of today would think. I don't mean on an uncorrected speedometer, in one direction with no allowance for wind and grade. People don't realize that air resistance, and therefore horsepower required, goes up as the square of speed. In other words to get from 50 to 100 MPH does not require double the power, it requires 4 times the power. Once you get up to 90 to 95 that last 5 or 10 MPH is awfully hard to come by.

I would like to see a timing done by an independent expert preferably in some kind of official setting before I take it for gospel.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)

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A Chrysler Airflow model CU coupe set the following records at Bonneville in 1934, racing driver Harry Hartz behind the wheel:

AVERAGE SPEED TOTAL MILE RUN

95.70 MPH.......................1

90.04 MPH....................500

84.43 MPH..................2026.40(For a 24 hour run)

So far as I know this is the only time a flathead Chrysler was timed in this way, officially certified by independent experts (in this case the AAA contest board).

This was with a 299 cu in 122HP flathead straight eight, certified stock but no doubt prepared by Chrysler engineering to give of its best.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)

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I just found this thread. In 1965 my brother ordered a new Chevrolet pckup with a 283 V8, 3-speed overdrive transmission and 4.11 rearend. He thought it would be a class winner at the drag strip but could never compete against the Ford pickups running V8's. He soon gave up the drag game and traded the pickup to me. The speedometer, probably because of the low-speed rearend, was wildly optimistic. It was a minimum of 10 mph fast at 60mph and I was never happy that it was actually faster out of O.D. than in it.

Since this thread was so deeply involved in racing I'm going to cite some Indy 500 winners but first I want to state that Henry Banks was involved in AAA which sanctioned Indy, Ted Linquist never won at Indy, and although Bill France was sponsoring races at Daytona as early as 1947, there were only six NASCAR races run in 1949 and Red Byron won the first championship with 2 wins.

Indy winners: '46--George Robson, '47 & '48--Mauri Rose, '49--Bill Holland, '50--Johnnie Parsons, '51--Lee Wallard, '52--Troy Ruttman,'53 & '54--Bill Vukovich, '55--Bob Sweikert, '56--Pat Flaherty, '57 Sam Hanks, '58--Jimmy Bryan, '59--Roger Ward. I'm probably boring half of you so I'll stop with that.

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The 41 Buick Century of 41 was faster yjan the 42 to 51 models because the dual 2 barrel carbs were not offered after the war.  It would have been too embarassing for GM to have a straight eight that was faster than the Rocket 88 49 Olds V8

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10 minutes ago, Oldtimer 11 said:

 It would have been too embarassing for GM to have a straight eight that was faster than the Rocket 88 49 Olds V8

That was the problem GM had with the Typhoon and the Syclone.  Both ran faster than the Corvette, but the small truck S-series had the only chassis that could handle the torque.

 

Craig

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5 hours ago, Oldtimer 11 said:

The 41 Buick Century of 41 was faster yjan the 42 to 51 models because the dual 2 barrel carbs were not offered after the war.  It would have been too embarassing for GM to have a straight eight that was faster than the Rocket 88 49 Olds V8

 

 No straight eight Centuries built postwar.  

 

  Ben

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Were a number of European cars in the 30's that could top 100, most with very low frontal area.

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54 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

Since many of these posts are now 15 years old, here's the proving ground paperwork:

 

1960338933_Testtrackfigures2.thumb.jpg.6

Cool Buick chart Matt !  

 

I was thinking S.C. would be Stomberg carburetor and C.C. would be Carter Carburetor

 

Sidenote:  Next post suggests:  could it be single carb vs compound carb, which is I think how Buick referred to the dual carb set up?

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)

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12 minutes ago, bryankazmer said:

could it be single carb vs compound carb, which is I think how Buick referred to the dual carb set up?

 

This makes sense to me. Its comparing 40 to 41 probly to show compound carbs was better.

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27 minutes ago, billorn said:

 

This makes sense to me. Its comparing 40 to 41 probly to show compound carbs was better.

Except when Idling. Terrible fuel distribution with compound carburetion at Idle. Same with 2X4 on Buick and Chevrolet V-8. Pontiac's with 2X4's didn't have that problem because both carbs had a idle circuit.

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45 minutes ago, bryankazmer said:

could it be single carb vs compound carb, which is I think how Buick referred to the dual carb set up?

Could be !  Cadillac alternated between the Stromberg and Carter - not sure the exact locig as my 60 Special was Stomberg with Automatic Trans. and my Convertible was Carter with Automatic Trans. 

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The chart is definitely referencing single carb (s.c.) versus compound carb (c.c.). They were extolling the fact that the compound carbs not only improved performance, but also fuel economy. I'm a little suspicious of a Limited being able to hit 102 MPH, but I've had mine to an indicated 80 without issues, so maybe there's another 20% in there...

 

47 minutes ago, Pfeil said:

Except when Idling. Terrible fuel distribution with compound carburetion at Idle. Same with 2X4 on Buick and Chevrolet V-8. Pontiac's with 2X4's didn't have that problem because both carbs had a idle circuit.

 

I disagree. Compound carburetion got a bad rep, mostly because of the simultaneous switch to a 10mm spark plug AND the switch from a road draft tube to a primitive type of PCV where crankcase vapors were sucked back into the air cleaner.  The plugs tended to foul because of it, and most people blamed the carburetors as not delivering fuel properly. However, the solution, per a factory TSB, was to block-off the PCV tube and replace the oil filler cap with a vented version and to drill out the spark plug holes for larger plugs--not modifying the carburetors. Properly set up, dual carb Buicks idle quite well. Both of mine are buttery smooth and the '41 Roadmaster I currently have in my inventory also idles quite well once it's off the choke and runs so smoothly and quietly that you have to shift by speed because you can't feel or hear the engine.

 

I will say that dual carb Buicks with Carters tend to idle notably smoother but the Strombergs are easier to tune. Performance is probably equal. I have Strombergs on my cars and prefer them--the Roadmaster with Carters is so smooth and quiet, but my Limited running synchronous (rather than progressive) Strombergs makes such wonderful sounds...

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Looks like the top speed was the dual carb and a 3.6. Lower gears seem to be rpm limited.

 

I've had dual quads on both Pontiac and Chevrolet engines. Usually got over 20 mpg on the road. Best (22 mpg @ 70) was Duals on a 305 with cam and mild porting pushing a 3.07 through a Muncie.  Had progressive linkage with idle circuits' on both but below about 50% ran mainly on rear carb primaries. 700 rpm idle. Jetted way down from stock. (rear primaries were in almost the same location as a two barrel.

 

When running in F/S I was limited to a single 2 bbl. Chev had a very interesting 1 3/8 2bbl for a 454 trailer towing package that with a little tweaking would pull to 6k on a stock appearing 305. Was close to 500 cfm.

 

Got 25 road  mpg out of a 67 Camaro 'vert with 327 and a Rochester FI but that was before catalysts.

 

Bottom line for any engine seeking top speed you need to gear for max torque at or a little below the desired top end. Making any engine breath better will usually raise the torque peak. Does not matter when the engine was built if the bottom end can take it.

Edited by padgett (see edit history)

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On 5/19/2012 at 12:18 PM, Rusty_OToole said:

horsepower required, goes up as the square of speed. 

 

.............. As the CUBE of the speed.

 

1 hour ago, padgett said:

 for any engine seeking top speed you need to gear for max torque at or a little below the desired top end.

 

............... You need to gear for max HORSEPOWER....................

 

Horsepower is an expression of work. Work is a function of time, (e.g. miles per HOUR).Torque is an expression of moment, (e.g. ft/lbs). 

             

                   "Annie Had A Baby, (Can't Work No More)"   -   Hank Ballard, (And the Midnighters)

.                         Cadillac Carl, all torqued out, (Can't hardly work no more).    -   Cadillac Carl 

 

 

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Torque will get you there. HP is just a function of torque and gears. Robt E. Lee had 15 hp at 44 rpm. Whole bunch of torques.

 

ps F_d\, =\, \tfrac12\, \rho\, u^2\, c_d\, A

Edited by padgett (see edit history)

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9 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

The chart is definitely referencing single carb (s.c.) versus compound carb (c.c.). They were extolling the fact that the compound carbs not only improved performance, but also fuel economy. I'm a little suspicious of a Limited being able to hit 102 MPH, but I've had mine to an indicated 80 without issues, so maybe there's another 20% in there...

 

 

I disagree. Compound carburetion got a bad rep, mostly because of the simultaneous switch to a 10mm spark plug AND the switch from a road draft tube to a primitive type of PCV where crankcase vapors were sucked back into the air cleaner.  The plugs tended to foul because of it, and most people blamed the carburetors as not delivering fuel properly. However, the solution, per a factory TSB, was to block-off the PCV tube and replace the oil filler cap with a vented version and to drill out the spark plug holes for larger plugs--not modifying the carburetors. Properly set up, dual carb Buicks idle quite well. Both of mine are buttery smooth and the '41 Roadmaster I currently have in my inventory also idles quite well once it's off the choke and runs so smoothly and quietly that you have to shift by speed because you can't feel or hear the engine.

 

I will say that dual carb Buicks with Carters tend to idle notably smoother but the Strombergs are easier to tune. Performance is probably equal. I have Strombergs on my cars and prefer them--the Roadmaster with Carters is so smooth and quiet, but my Limited running synchronous (rather than progressive) Strombergs makes such wonderful sounds...

 

You might not disagree if I drilled and welded in provisions for eight O2 sensors on each exhaust port to measure the CO/HC. Of course we old timers could also tell by the readings of the spark plugs. Even with one carburetor on a straight eight you can see the difference in spark plug readings from the two outside plugs from the two inside ones.

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6 hours ago, padgett said:

 

 

ps F_d\, =\, \tfrac12\, \rho\, u^2\, c_d\, A

 

Sorry, not familiar with most of the terms in the equation. Please define.    Thanks,   -   CC 

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All the large Buicks of 41 had an optional compound carb setup avai;able , not just the Century.  It was the carb option that I was refering to not be available after the war.   For the poster who said a lot of 1930s European cars would top 100mph. I would like to say tjat there were a lot of 30s and even some 20s American cars that would do it. That changed when they stopped when they stopped making Duesenbergs, Marmons, Auburns,Cords, Pierce Arrows. and I imagine a lot of 12 cylinder Packards and 12 and 16 cylinder Caddies plus other cars I have forgotten or don't know about.  I learned to drive on a 41 Century with compound carbs, I don't know what had been done to it but in 51 and 52 when we had it , It idled smoothe as silk and was still on of the faster cars on the road.  There is nothing inherently more powerful about a V8 than a straight eight and the straight eight always has better balance and less vibration.

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Agree on the inherent balance.  A straight eight is more susceptible to crankshaft whip, but the better ones had 9 main bearings to address it.  I think the difficult issue is getting uniform flow to all cylinders.  Hence Buick's duals and some aftermarket set ups.

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On 5/18/2012 at 4:47 AM, ralphk said:

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.

Are you saying the old flathead 323 cu in 135HP straight eight New Yorker, was faster than the new 331cu in, 180HP  Hemi V8? If so, Chrysler sure wasted a lot of money developing the new engine.

I don't remember mentioning Bonneville, or the 57 Chrysler. I don't doubt that a 57 Chrysler 300 with a 400HP+  hemi head 392 cu in V8 made 171MPH on the Bonneville Salt Flats. What this has to do with a pre 1950 Cadillac, or a 51 Chrysler is beyond me.  Besides the vast difference in cars and engines there is a big difference in air resistance between sea level and Bonneville - 4119 feet elevation. And possibly a difference in rolling resistance between wet sand and salt. I know top speed on the sand is about 10% lower than on a hard top road. Also, the Daytona Speed Trials were for strictly stock cars while Bonneville is for hot rodders and hop ups are not only accepted, they are encouraged.

 

My point was that a GENUINE 100MPH, independently timed, for a CERTIFIED stock, unmodified car, would be very rare for any pre 1950 model.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)

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In the mid 1990's three of us were heading east on the stretch of RT 490 approaching the entrance to the New York State Thruway. I was driving at 75 MPH. Up ahead on the shoulder of the road was a van with the back doors open and the spare leaning against the side. I pointed at it and said "Check this out, Ed". As we drove past we saw the radar setup and two troopers in the back, gun pointing out.

On to Syracuse unmolested, we must have been doing between 65 and 72.

 

That was with Ed Allen's '41 Model 62 that he had owned since 1964. We turned 40,000 that day.

 

Ed in red and me. Trivia note: Model 62 with running boards and horn button (no horn ring), purchased new by an economics professor at the University of Rochester.

 

In Walter Miller's parking lot.

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