1935 Cadillac V-16 Imperial Convertible Sedan by Fleetwood
Sold For $472,500Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.
RM | Sotheby's - ARIZONA 16 - 17 JANUARY 2020 - The John D. Groendyke Collection
- Offered from the collection of John D. Groendyke
- Formerly owned by Dick Gold, Dr. Barbara Atwood, and the Andrews Collection
- Pebble Beach class-winning restoration by the renowned Steve Babinsky
- Complete engine rebuild in 2016 by Brian Joseph’s Classic & Exotic Service
- Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic
This car was one of six Imperial convertible sedans built on the Cadillac V-16 chassis in 1935, a year that saw a total production of only fifty V-16 chassis. Its original build sheet clearly identifies body number 86, the number present on the original firewall tag today, to the style number 5880 Imperial convertible sedan, though the build sheet misidentifies it as a “Conv. Coupe.” The build sheet also identifies the car’s original chassis and engine number as 5100143, while the original frame of the car has been verified as being stamped “143.”
The build sheet records the car as having been delivered through the Hoosier Cadillac Company of Indianapolis, “Tag – E.B. Lilly.” “Tag,” in the Cadillac parlance of the era, meant to hold the car for a specific customer. Further history is documented in the November/December 1963 issue of The Self-Starter, beginning with a U.S. Army captain who sold it to a used car dealer in St. Paul, Minnesota, in the 1950s. It seems to have remained in the Twin Cities, passing to Dexter Buell, John Morgan, a Mrs. Norval, and finally in 1957 to Alden O. Johnson, recorded as its owner in the Self-Starter article. According to a roster of extant V-16s prepared by historian Stan Squires in the early 1970s, the car was still with Mr. Johnson.
The Cadillac was eventually acquired in the late 1970s by longtime Classic Car Club of America member and past president Richard Gold. It was one of several Cadillacs sold by Dick Gold to Tom Barrett, who in turn passed the car to Dr. Barbara Atwood, the best-known female collector of her generation. Dr. Atwood was never one to leave a stone unturned in her prized collection; she elected to have her preferred restorer, Steve Babinsky, restore the largely original car, with the goal of judging at Pebble Beach.
Known for his award-winning work on a variety of marques including a recent Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance, Mr. Babinsky restored the car expertly, rebuilding the running boards and replacing wood body framing as necessary. The paint was precisely matched to the factory-correct color of Diana Cream, and the interior was upholstered in brown leather, which was specially ordered to match the factory material, as was the brown carpeting. As an Imperial model, the car has a limousine-style interior, with a division window twixt the driver and passengers. The fully restored instrument panel holds an authentic Master radio, as listed on the build sheet, with its power being supplied by a Cadillac “B” Eliminator that is located under the hood.
Its superb condition allowed for the restoration to be completed in time for the 1991 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it received First in Class, a testament to the restorer’s talent. It continued to be regularly shown by Dr. Atwood for two years, achieving the AACA Chocolate Town Trophy and Grand National honors, then was exhibited in her collection until being sold from her estate in 2009 to the Andrews Collection, after which it was subsequently acquired by the Groendyke Collection in 2015.
The engine in the car, no. 5100043, was presumably installed many years ago and was replaced with a unit rebuilt by the noted Classic & Exotic Service, with a correct V-16 block, new rods, pistons, and insert bearings, as well as the crankcase cover no. 5100043. Owing to the expert work of the rebuilder and the exceptional maintenance of its current caretakers, today the Cadillac runs and drives very strongly. Its fine older restoration would require only further detailing for continued show appearances. It is accompanied by the block and ancillary components of the earlier motor, as well as a copy of its build sheet and a small file of invoices for the engine rebuild.
There are few Cadillacs that have the tremendous power and presence of an original V-16, especially one from the later years of production. With so few built, even fewer surviving, and only a handful being original convertible models, offered here is a superb example that has always been well-maintained, and in the hands of renowned enthusiasts, no less.