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1938 CADILLAC V16 SERIES 90 LIMO
The Cadillac V16 first stunned audiences at the New York Auto Show in 1930. . As the 1930's wore on, such lavish motorcars were frowned upon by even the wealthiest of buyers who preferred discretion. Despite the dire economic conditions, the V16 soldiered on as GM’s halo model.
For the 1938 model year, Cadillac completely redesigned the car with an all-new engine and body design. Displacing 431 cubic inches, the new V16 was a more conventional design based on that of the V8, with a simple side-valve configuration and unusually wide 135-degree cylinder bank angle. The engine produced 185 horsepower
Cadillac’s new V16 Series 90 rode on a 141-inch wheelbase. Twelve catalog body styles were available for the 1938-1939 model years, designed under the guidance of the masterful Bill Mitchell; the young protégé of Harley Earl. 1938 saw a dramatic shift in design as the influence of the streamline era became more prominent.
We are pleased to offer this outstanding 1938 Cadillac Series 90 V16, wearing the elegant and imposing Imperial Limousine body with division window, style number 9033 from the Fleetwood Catalog. It is one of just 95 built, equipped from new with numerous interesting options and features. The factory build sheet shows this car was specified with dual heaters, footrests in the rear, radio, special upholstery, and opening rear quarter lights. This unique Cadillac was delivered through John D. Wendell Cadillac of Albany, New York and is believed to have been purchased new by Herbert Lehman, who served as New York’s Governor from 1933-1942. Later, one of the owners of this car was Gene Kahn of Coupeville, Washington who was responsible for the concours-quality nut-and-bolt restoration. The car was sound, complete and rust-free, yet the project consumed six years, costing Mr. Kahn more than $160,000 USD.
The quality of the restoration is remarkable, looking resplendent in gorgeous black paint, concours quality bright work and exquisite detailing of the fittings and trim. Fleetwood’s body is a formal yet wonderfully elegant design with an integrated trunk and dual side-mount spares. Accessories include dual Trippe lite driving lamps and a beautiful goddess mascot that also cleverly doubles as the handle for the hood locking mechanism. In an underneath trunk compartment is all the original jack parts and factory roll up tool kit with all the tools fully restored. (what a find to have these pieces still with the car.
Factory records show the interior was ordered with several unique touches. The gray broadcloth upholstery was faithfully reproduced using the original interior as a pattern. Rear occupants ride on an opulent wool-upholstered rear bench, and a pair of opera seats fold out of the floor, upholstered in complementary tan cloth. Beautiful detailing includes a functioning intercom for driver and passenger, working clock in the division panel, and beautifully refinished wood trim. Up front, the driver rides on black leather. The factory-fitted radio has been restored, and the dash is exquisitely refinished in wood-graining and tan paint on steel panels.
Detailing under the hood is up to the same standards set by the rest of the car. The overall presentation is strong with plumbing and wiring true to original, and correct fittings and hardware used throughout the engine bay. Powerful and incredibly smooth, the V16 engine is completely rebuilt and runs beautifully. It is a delight to drive.
This is an impressive example of the rare and highly exclusive Fleetwood Imperial Sedan. Restored to a standard rarely seen on these cars, it has been maintained and is beautiful in all respects. It is a CCCA Full Classic, Few cars in history have matched the Cadillac Sixteen’s stature and prestige, which is faithfully represented through this car’s impeccable, high-quality restoration.
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