- Desirable Fleetwood-style roadster
- Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) National First winner
- Superb quality restoration
On 4 January 1930, New Yorkers were treated to an engineering tour de force. At the opening of the National Automobile Show at the Grand Central Palace, Cadillac unveiled the world’s first production V-16 automobile engine. The late historian Griffith Borgeson explained it elegantly: “It really made history and it made Cadillac, beyond all discussion, the absolute world leader in motoring magnificence . . . . It was the super engine that set the whole exercise apart.”
The creative genius behind this powerplant was Owen Nacker, an industry veteran who had worked on Howard Marmon’s long-simmering V-16 project. His first project for Cadillac was the LaSalle V-8 in 1927; shortly thereafter, he was working on Cadillac’s own V-16. Nacker flouted a lot of Cadillac tradition. The new engine was designed with overhead valves, which the division had never used. Overhead valves were noisy, but Nacker adopted a new hydraulic lifter setup developed by GM engineering that effectively provided zero-lash operation. With overhead valves, the exhaust manifolds could now move to the outside, important because the narrow 45-degree vee left little room for manifold clutter.
There were plenty of bodies from which to choose. The catalogue listed 54 types, from roadster to town car, most of them from Fleetwood. Some were built in Fleetwood’s original facility in Pennsylvania, while others at the new Detroit, Michigan, plant.
Ordered on 14 May 1930 by Burke Cadillac Company of Indianapolis, engine no. 701673 was built as Style 4375S, a seven-passenger sedan. Though its early history is not known, as presented here, it bears an attractive roadster body constructed by Dave Long of Bozeman, Montana, for cinematographer-turned-classic-car-restorer Al Giddings. Completed in 2015, it promptly took an AACA National First, medallion W31260, and subsequently received Senior status.
The stunning black-and-red paint was done by Nathan Fall of Bozeman, the black body moldings striped in red by Mike Tello of Butte, Montana. The black leather interior came from Oklahoma upholsterer Dan Kirkpatrick. The immense 148-in. wheelbase allows a very capacious rumble seat, complete with comfortable arm rests and ample foot room. There is a golf bag door on the right side for convenience in loading sporting goods or small packages, while larger luggage is accommodated in an attractive rack-mounted trunk at the rear.
Authentic Cadillac spotlights are fitted to both sides of the windshield, and Pilot Ray driving lights illuminate roads whether straight or twisty. The dual side-mount spares are shod with steel covers, and the chrome wire wheels are mounted with Firestone Heavy Duty wide whitewalls.
The V-16 is one of Cadillac’s most coveted models, and this car is an excellent example of one of the most desirable body styles and presents a rare opportunity to acquire one.