1931 Cadillac V-12 Model 370A Sport Phaeton
Coachwork by Fleetwood
Chassis no. 1004968
As the 1920s came to a close, several American automakers had multi-cylinder models under development. There was the Marmon Sixteen (1931), Packard Twin Six (1932), Pierce-Arrow Models 51 and 53 (1932), the Lincoln KB (1932) and the still-born Peerless 16 (1931). And then there was Cadillac, which had the resources to tackle both a 12 and a 16. First came the mighty 452 and series V-16 of 1930. The following year those twin banks of eight cylinders were followed by the Model 370 V-12.
Ernest Seaholm was the head of Cadillacs engineering department and the man responsible for the splendid V-12 and V-16 engines. That twelve was featured overhead valves and a 45 degree V. A cast iron cylinder block topped the aluminum crankcase. Displacing 368 cubic inches, brake horsepower was rated at 135. That power came on incredibly smoothly and the engine generated prodigious torque, which made it ideal for carrying heavy formal bodywork.
Available in both 134 and 140 inch wheelbases, the chassis used solid axles front and rear and used vacuum-assisted mechanically actuated drum brakes at all corners. The numbers of choices to clothe this chassis were many. Fisher offered four choices of coachwork for the 134 inch wheelbase, while the GM subsidiary listed no fewer than nine options for the lengthier chassis. Another 22 choices of coachwork came from fellow-GM subsidiary Fleetwood.
This particular 140 inch chassis was fitted with an unusual dual-cowl sport phaeton body by Fleetwood. The unique features of this lovely car include a folding front windshield called an Export Windshield and a rear windshield that rolls down into the cowl.
Kept in Bar Harbor by the original owner and used only in the summer months, by 1962 it was in Tuxedo Park, New York and for sale by a man believed to be the second owner. At the time it was all black, with stainless steel spoke wheels, its original tools, wind wings, Pilot Ray lights and metal tire covers. The new owner was a senior Cadillac employee who took the car back home to Detroit.
Back in Michigan, the new owner took full advantage of his contacts at Cadillac to pull out the stops for the restoration. Ed Hahn, former head trimmer for Brunn coachworks, was engaged to trim the interior with leather special ordered through GM supplier, Eagle Hides. The same man who painted all the GM show cars also sprayed the V-12 phaeton in an original Cadillac paint scheme (Sport Color) specified by Cadillac chief stylist and collector David Holls. The paint alone took a year and a half, while the chrome plating cost $1,500a huge amount in the 1960s. This Cadillac was finished off with a rear-mounted low-boy trunk, complete weather equipment including side curtains and a drivers side spot light.
When the restoration was complete, the owner showed it at a Classic Car Club of America event in Michigan. In that first event, the Caddy scored 99 points, which it followed with a perfect 100 point score and a Senior Class Award. In the late 1970s the Cadillac was traded for a college education. Several owners enjoyed the magnificent dual-cowl phaeton until 1995 when the vendor acquired it.
Still wearing that striking Sport Color livery, the body is finished in tan with brown fenders set off nicely by tan leather upholstery. Although the restoration is now well over 30 years old, this magnificent Cadillac has been well-maintained and freshened where necessary. A spare V-12 motor is available - please see a member of the Bonhams team for details.
Eligible for any Classic Car Club event anywhere, this Cadillac is unique and spectacular.