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Lot 121

1933 Cadillac Sixteen Seven-Passenger Limousine by Fleetwood

  • Chassis no. 5000066
  • Body no. 18

Sold for $159,500


Series 452-C. 165 bhp, 452 cu. in. overhead valve V-16 engine with three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel vacuum-assisted mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 149"



- Rare original car with fewer than 30,000 miles

- Pebble Beach showing in 2003



Historians still puzzle over Cadillac’s decision to build a sixteen-cylinder car. The company was well established as a quality builder of V-8s, and aside from Marmon, which was not a serious foe, other American luxury manufacturers, particularly Cadillac’s viable competitors Packard, Lincoln and Pierce-Arrow, were content with twelves. One motivation seems to have been the desire to build the finest motor car in the world. The company’s own advertising attempted to explain it thus: “The story of the V-16’s ascendency is an interesting one. In the first place, this car had its inception in the avowed determination of the General Motors Corporation to produce the world’s finest motor car. And while the creation and development of this super car was entrusted to Cadillac, there was made available for the purpose every facility that General Motors itself possessed. No restriction of any nature was permitted to interfere with, or in any way hinder, the realization of the fundamental purpose – to produce the finest medium of personal transportation on earth.”



The brochure handed out at its 1930 introduction explained further: “The Cadillac V-type eight-cylinder engine raised performance standards as no other automotive power plant ever did, and there is, even now, no pressing need for finer, more capable, or more luxurious cars than the present Cadillacs and LaSalles. Yet, there are sold in this country, every year, fairly considerable numbers of automobiles, foreign and domestic, at prices two or three times those of Cadillac and LaSalle.” In other words, there was an upper-crust market to be tapped, and Cadillac wished to exploit it. The late historian Griffith Borgeson put it down to the same ambition that led E.L. Cord to build the Duesenberg Model J. He also espoused the view that since road building was taking place at an unprecedented pace, there was a desire for a car that would cruise effortlessly on the new highways, in effect an American gran turismo car.



Subtle changes were made for 1932: a longer wheelbase, new carburetors, a mechanical fuel pump, heavier axles and larger brakes. A vacuum-operated automatic clutch was introduced along with free-wheeling. Also new were adjustable shock absorbers operated from the dashboard. Silent helical gears were now used in all Cadillac transmissions. Technical changes for 1933 were modest: smaller wheels and other minor updates. It was the styling for which the ’33s would forever be known. Many collectors consider this design, with its triple cone horns, four blade bumpers, available stainless body and fender trim and many other details taken together, to be an Art Deco masterpiece.



This car is a rare survivor in near-original condition. Built for a Mrs. H.A. Springle, it was delivered through General Motors Products of Canada on May 25, 1933. The paint, chrome and interior are all extremely original, and the car is accompanied by a copy of the build sheet, confirming its original configuration and body style of “Fleetwood Custom Limousine.” Showing just 29,500 miles, it made a dramatic appearance at Pebble Beach in 2003.



Fleetwood built just 32 of this body style on the V-16 chassis in 1933, of which this is number 18. In fact, the whole V-16 experience was on the wane. The Cadillac Sixteen had a strong start in the market, particularly in view of its inauspicious timing. Sales in 1930 and 1931 totaled 3,251 cars. But most of these, 2,887, came in the 1930 model year. Just 364 were produced in 1931 and a further 300 in 1932. At year’s end in 1933, just 126 Sixteens had been sold. Such low production, combined with the exceptional styling attributed to 1933 only, makes the 1933 models in all their forms perhaps the most sought after of all the V-16s.

Addendum

Please note that this car is not Chassis No. 5000066. It is in fact, Engine No. 5000066. Cadillacs during this period were registered by their engine numbers, and chassis numbers were not listed or easily visible. The build sheet for this original Cadillac is available for inspection in the auction office.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more