16 - 17 January 2020
Lot 119

1931 Cadillac V-16 Seven-Passenger Imperial Sedan by Fleetwood

The John D. Groendyke Collection


$72,800 USD | Sold

United States | Phoenix, Arizona



Engine No.
Body No.
  • Offered from the collection of John D. Groendyke
  • Known as “Blue Boy”; among the finest original, unrestored V-16s known
  • Remarkable preservation, with fewer than 22,000 miles
  • Known ownership history since new
  • Documented by a copy of its original build sheet
  • Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic

This impressive Imperial sedan was reportedly special-ordered by United States Representative for Illinois, Ira C. Copley, via A.C. Berthold. Congressman Copley specified the car in Black with Bimini Blue moldings, dual side-mounted spares with metal covers, Goddess radiator mascot, radio, and Kelch hot air heater. Reportedly, the livery was in honor of the colors of Yale University, Congressman Copley’s alma mater.

The Cadillac was acquired from the Copley estate around 1960 by the local milkman. He sold the car to Elmer Franzen, after which it passed to Ray Deboer, back to Franzen, and finally to well-known V-16 enthusiast and restorer “Cadillac Jim” Pearson of Kansas City in 1966. Pearson drove the car some 500 miles home without trouble and kept it for the next twenty years. He then sold the car to Bud Tinney, from whom it was acquired by Glen Wiglesworth. In 1992 it was sold from the Wiglesworth collection to the Armacost family of Missouri, from whom it was acquired for the John D. Groendyke Collection in 2014.

At the time of cataloguing, “Blue Boy” had recorded 21,903 actual miles, and its owner believes it likely the most original, best-preserved early V-16 extant. It has been thoroughly mechanically sorted to run and drive well, including work to the radiator, but its cosmetics remain untouched, with the paint having a consistent and charming patina. The interior is remarkable, with its original woodwork in fine condition, and the upholstery still solid and intact. In its fantastic original condition, it has been a major draw wherever it is shown, including at the 2015 Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s, where it received a special award, The Way It Was, as the most original car exhibited.

Nineteen thirty-one V-16s are very rare compared to the 1930 models. “Blue Boy” stands apart, as a superbly maintained, very original, and extremely low-mileage example, lovingly kept by its handful of owners. It is a fabulous reference to “how they were built,” showing authentic Cadillac build quality in every nut and bolt.