Of all the custom coachbuilders who built on Cadillac chassis, none is more closely linked to the marque than Fleetwood. While today the name is associated with the top model of Cadillac, in the past it represented the design and construction of bespoke bodies. Its origins go back nearly as far as the history of General Motors, which acquired Fleetwood more than three quarters of a century ago.
Auburn Fall | Lot 4146
1931 Cadillac V-12
$368,500 USD | Sold
| Auburn, Indiana
3 September 2016
- 368-cid, 135-hp V-12 engine
- Three-speed manual transmission
- High-quality Sherry Classic Auto restoration
- CCCA 100 point winner
- Reported as one of 362 Fleetwood 370-A V-12 Style #4735's from 1931
- Expertly detailed & serviced by Brian Joseph
- Many desirable Classic-era features
- Expertly and beautifully presented
The Fleetwood Metal Body Company was formed in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, and came into being in 1909. The company was not the result of an evolution of a carriage-building company, but rather, it was created specifically to build automobile bodies. Fleetwood was particularly known for quality interior woodwork.
In 1925 the Fisher brothers, who had sold out their body company to General Motors, bought Fleetwood outright. This gave Fleetwood capital to expand and modernize, and it gave GM a ready source for high-quality coachwork. Some work continued for non-GM customers, including many bodies for Chrysler. In 1930 the Fishers moved Fleetwood to Detroit and closed the Pennsylvania operations, relocating the construction operations to a former Fisher Body plant. From this time on, work was focused on GM, particularly Cadillac. Fleetwood’s president and chief designer had moved with them from Pennsylvania, and he provided continuity, even while also working with members of Harley Earl’s staff at GM’s Art and Colour Department. Cadillac promised delivery of their Fisher-Fleetwood catalog customs within seven weeks, and while full-customs were also available, they took significantly longer to complete.
On October 25, 1930, the Cadillac V-12 Model 370 was introduced. The V-12 engine was reported as being identical to the V-16 except for having four less cylinders. It measured 368-cid and was rated at 135-hp. The V-12 engine was offered for two different wheelbases, with 143-inches for the seven-passenger models and 140-inches for the five-passenger cars, like this exceptional example. The price of the new V-12’s ranged from $3,795 to $4,895, with the Style number 4735 Convertible Coupe listed at $4,045.
The Fleetwood interiors were well known for their team of craftsmen executing warm environments that provided generous upholstery material options, which Fleetwood alone could furnish. Fleetwood designed the hardware, lighting equipment and such things as vanity cases; all noticeably rich in quality and character. The V-12 instrument panel was also slightly different from the V-8. The center panel was damascened with engine-turned panels on both sides and lovely wood details that carry to the upper doors.
For 32 years this particular car was a prominent part of one of the Midwest’s finest collections of classic cars, which is owned by a long-time CCCA member. It was acquired in New York, where its life had begun, in 1982. After two decades of ownership, the owner elected to have the Cadillac restored by Harry Sherry, of Sherry Classic Autos in Warsaw, Ontario, a shop which is well known and highly regarded for its fine quality of work, painstaking attention to detail, and for often investing as many as 8,000 to 10,000 hours to achieve such astonishing quality. More recently, following the retirement of Mr. Sherry, the car was updated and detailed by respected restorer Brian Joseph, whose work included the installation of Cadillac-specific nuts and bolts. It is no surprise that the owner recalls showing the car three times in CCCA competition since the completion of its restoration, where the car scored 100 points every time and reached Premier status, and is evidenced by the CCCA badge declaring such on the right cowl.
The body is finished in two shades of crimson and comes with a tastefully understated tan leather interior and Burbank cloth top. Tasteful gold-toned pinstripes add to the elegance. Other equipment includes wire wheels with body-colored rims and hubs with chromed spokes, Bedford Famous Coach wide whitewall tires, a Goddess hood ornament, dual horns, dual pedestal mirrors strapped to the dual sidemounts with leather covers, a luggage rack with trunk and a radiator stoneguard.
Other features include a top-hinged vented windshield, “golf bag” door that allows easy access to the rumbleseat footwell, suicide door hinging, chromed exhaust tips and attractive, yet effective, hood side louvers
According to author James J. Schild in “Fleetwood: The Company and the Coachcraft” there were 362 similar Fleetwood 370-A V-12 Style #4735 Cadillac Convertible Coupes built in 1931. In every way, this car looks the spectacular part of a sportsman’s automobile, and it is the perfect car for driving enjoyment. No matter where your favorite road may take you; this will be a most pleasing motorcar to make the journey with you. It is ready for continued concours and CCCA Grand Classic showings or for simply being admired and enjoyed in one’s garage.