Hershey | Lot 185

1931 Cadillac V-16 All-Weather Phaeton by Fleetwood

$129,250 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania

7 October 2021

Engine No.
Body No.
US Title
  • “Old Red,” formerly owned for 70 years by Al and Paul Schinnerer
  • Fascinating, well-known history documented by V-16 historian Christopher Cummings
  • Retains original coachwork and engine, as documented by its build sheet
  • Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic

According to noted V-16 historian Christopher Cummings in his book, Cadillac V-16s Lost and Found, this Cadillac V-16 All-Weather Phaeton had been originally sold in Chicago, equipped as it is today with engine number 701495 and body number 98. How it found its way west to California is not known, but in the 1940s it was owned by Northrup Aircraft test pilot John W. Meyer, who used it to tow gliders for the development of the XB-49 “flying wing.” After Meyer was involved in an aircraft accident, he lost track of the V-16, which was stolen, wrecked by the thief, and finally abandoned in a farmer’s field in Long Beach—where it was discovered by Al Schinnerer and his fraternity brothers in 1949.

The trio bought the 35,000-mile car for $175, replaced its missing wheels and tires, repaired the brakes, and, with the brio typical of youth, drove it home to Los Angeles. Schinnerer took his brother, Paul, for a ride in the Cadillac, commenting with a hot-rodder’s bravado that it “could beat any stock Ford,” and delighting in demonstrating its ability to do burnouts. It was, shall we say, a different time, but the Cadillac took it well, and Paul Schinnerer was impressed enough that he bought the car in 1950 for the same $175 his brother’s trio had paid. He would own the Cadillac for 70 years, as one of the first genuine V-16 enthusiasts on the West Coast, and in fact at the vanguard of the Southern California “car culture” community, appreciating his car before even the CCCA or Cadillac-LaSalle Club existed to support his efforts of returning it to life. In fact, he was one of the co-founders of the Southern California Region of the CLC, only two years after the founding of the national Club.

“Restoration” would proceed, off-and-on, until 1960, with the car Paul dubbed “Old Red” receiving new parts and work as time and money permitted. It is believed that during this work frame number 7-1007 and a replacement front axle from parts cars supplanted the originals, correcting damage from the earlier accident. Following completion of Old Red’s renovation in the original Viceroy Maroon and Deromandel Maroon, it continued to be enjoyed, regularly appearing at Southern California events, and still being driven and savored on local roads.

Unsurprisingly it also drew the attention of the film studios, making several cameo appearances, as well. In one parade it chauffeured none other than Jack Northrup, whose company had once employed it for testing purposes “way back when.” Eventually Old Red became, almost certainly, the best-known V-16 in Southern California—and certainly the most well-used and loved. At one point the original engine was exchanged with that of the other car in the Schinnerer stable, the Sport Phaeton also offered today; this switch has been reversed and the Cadillac now retains its original engine.

Presented today very much as Paul Schinnerer finally parted with it, the car remains in older restored condition, less its top fabric, but still shows evidence of its longtime good care. It certainly has potential to be restored anew, for modern audiences—but it would perhaps be more in the spirit of the car to simply sort it out further, run it, and enjoy it (top absent!) on the open road, maintaining the Schinnerer tradition—one that has now existed longer than many of today’s “collector cars” or their owners have been alive.

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