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Vehicle to be offered for Auction sale WITHOUT RESERVE and SOLD to the highest bidder January 27th – 31st, 2016 at Russo and Steele’s 16th Annual Scottsdale Arizona Auction. Please contact us for more information.
This majestic Cadillac V-16 is one of only 18 examples originally produced of the Fleetwood-bodied Series 39-90, Style 39-9023 7-Passenger Sedan for 1939. Priced from $5,375 when new, or about nine times the cost of an average new car sold that year, it was a highly luxurious and powerful car for the era’s rich and famous, complete with a pair of rear jump seats which fold neatly into the back of the front seat when not in use. This is car Number 17 and according to the Cadillac and LaSalle Club, Inc., it is one of only two of these beautiful vehicles they have registered in the world today, with the other example located in England.
A beautiful and fresh restoration of this extremely rare V-16 was just completed during late August and the Consignor reports it even has an interesting connection with famed entertainer and noted ‘car guy” Jay Leno. As related by the Consignor, the previous owner of the Cadillac was in contact with Jay, urging him to buy this very rare piece of American automotive artwork. Jay advised that he already had a number of projects to complete and while the timing was not good for him to purchase the car, he persuaded the Cadillac’s then-owner to donate the vehicle to McPherson College in Kansas, home of the widely renowned automobile restoration program of which Jay serves on the Advisory Board. While visiting McPherson College for a tour of the College and the restoration program, the Consignor caught a glimpse of the Cadillac there, immediately recognizing the rare V-16 emblem on the radiator grille. After many conversations and negotiations with Brian Martin of McPherson College, he finally acquired this historic and incredibly rare beauty.
The restoration was completed by Lauer & Martling of Wichita, Kansas. Among the many wonderful highlights, the truly stunning interior compartment was expertly restored by Bernice Martling and retrimmed in beige and chestnut, with complete attention paid to the identical stitchwork applied to the doors, seats, and footrest. Its many amenities, including the silk privacy curtains and ornate pearlescent lighting, provide the luxurious ambience of a 1930s-era movie theater and hidden jump seats provided additional accommodations for two. It should be noted that when not restoring classic-car interiors, Bernice builds the luxurious and demanding interiors for the multi-million-dollar business jets manufactured by Cessna in Wichita. Easily equal to the work performed by the era’s best custom coach builders, this V-16’s interior by Fleetwood stands among the best and most opulent ever offered. The exterior paintwork was performed by Tony Deese in Wichita, with the fenders, quarter panels, hood, trunk, and twin spare-tire carriers all painted off the body and then reattached. Brand new glass was custom-cut by Lewis Street Glass of Wichita. The very special and rare V-16 motor was gone through by Earl Lauer, who also supervised the vehicle’s reassembly. Capping off the restoration, the vehicle’s tasteful Art Deco-inspired bright trim was beautifully re-chromed.
As stated by the Consignor, “Riding in the car is an experience I will never forget. You can sense what it was like to be in a car like this Fleetwood-bodied Cadillac V-16 back in 1939. Pure luxury and pure Americana with this nearly one-of-a-kind automobile!” While never entered into a judged concours event yet, this V-16 was nonetheless displayed post-restoration at the BlackTop Nationals. Needless to say, the impressive V-16 was a huge hit! Equally ready for display at a fine museum of true automotive masterpieces or in a discerning collector’s very special private collection, this V-16 stands tall as a wonderful reminder of Cadillac’s undeniable leadership of America’s prewar luxury-car market. Freshly restored and beautiful, it represents one of the high-water marks of 20th Century engineering and stylistic artistry with sheer class. This rare car belongs as a centerpiece in a museum or as the star of a very special personal collection. Chauffeur not included!