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Lot 626
1931 Cadillac Series 452 V-16 Special Dual Cowl Phaeton


Selling on Saturday Evening

Coachwork by Fleetwood

CHASSIS NO: 702677

• A benchmark for all V-16 motorcars
• Original chassis, engine, and Fleetwood body
• Only known V-16 Phaeton built with a dual cowl
• Denoted as a "Double Cowl" handwritten on its buildsheet
• One of the last three restorations by legendary Harrah’s Automobile Collection Workshop
• Extensive history including excerpts from the Harrah book and multiple articles; recognized by V-16 authorities
• Formerly a participant in the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours; first as an original car and later after restoration
• Previous ownership includes John Mozart and celebrated SEMA Hall of Famer, Robert Larivee


1931 Cadillac Series 452 V-16 Special Build Sheet.pdf

Style 4260, 452 cid 45-degree OHV V-16 engine, three-speed manual transmission, front and rear semi-elliptic leaf springs with hydraulic dampers, four-wheel vacuum-assisted mechanical brakes; wheelbase: 148”

This singular 1931 V-16 Cadillac, Series 452, Special Dual Cowl Phaeton by Fleetwood is one of the most exciting Cadillac V16s extant. The celebrated V-16, pioneered by Cadillac, powering an open, four-door phaeton with a special-order dual cowl is a true unicorn. This is the quintessential luxury automobile of the pre-war era. The desirable, folding dual cowl feature was not even a standard catalog option, making it one of three known examples ever ordered. What this car represents is a benchmark for all Cadillac V-16s ever produced and a pinnacle of the classic era. This future concours darling represents a scarce opportunity to own the ultimate in Cadillac luxury and history.

The 1930s was quite a Golden Era for Cadillac. 1930 rang in the new year to Cadillacs that had never been so beautiful, and the American luxury marque unveiled the world’s first production V-16 engine. One of the most powerful and quiet engines the world had seen, the ‘Cadillac Sixteen’ was expensive, exclusive, and continues to be among the most desirable Cadillacs ever envisioned. The phaetons were even more so; only 85 of the open-top, four-door tourers were built by Fleetwood on the V-16 chassis, a mere 31 in 1931. Of the three dual cowls ordered, 702677 body number 25, is the only known to exist. According to its original build sheet, a copy of which is present, dated April 30, 1930, “double cowl” is handwritten in the special equipment box. It was also ordered with dual fender-mounted spare wire wheels, which it still retains. A four-month custom order, it was delivered new to San Francisco by legendary distributor, Don Lee Cadillac, on August 30, 1930.

Following delivery to its original owner, the rare Sixteen didn’t surface again until it appeared quite unexpectedly in a National Automotive Magazine ad in the mid-‘50s. Evidently, an engine shop was stuck with the car and an unpaid bill. The rare V-16 dual cowl was purchased by a man from Opportunity, Washington. And what an opportunity. It then went to Ray and Dorothy Radford of Portland, who lovingly cared for this fantastic automobile and toured it often. They loved and kept the car for over twenty years then finally sold it to celebrated SEMA Hall of Famer, Robert Larivee of Pontiac, Michigan. Larivee’s ownership was well-documented through his article for CCCA Michigan’s Torque Magazine in which he weaves the narrative of his time with this incredible Sixteen. He displayed the car at Brucker’s Movie World Cars of the Stars Museum and then showed it as a preservation example at the 1981 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. When he decided to restore his Dual Cowl Phaeton, he looked to Harrah’s Automobile Collection Workshop. Forty years later, a non-collection Harrah’s restoration still carries serious cache. Significantly, this was one of the last three non-collection cars Harrah ever restored and the process was well-documented and photographed. No expense was spared in the $115,000 restoration, a staggering sum for the time. Midway through the restoration, Larivee opted to show at the 1983 Pebble Beach Concours where it scored 97 points and 3rd in class even though restoration was then incomplete. When the Sixteen was finished, it garnered 99.5 points and a Best in Show at the 1985 Grand Classic in Hudson, Ohio. Larivee’s account of his special car importantly documents provenance, restoration, and an unforgettable narrative penned by a legend in his own right. The car has been cited by multiple V-16 historians including Sonny Elliot, Jeff Pearson, Alan Merkel, and Willie Meffert and it was featured, along with a full cutaway, by David Kimble in an article for Automobile Quarterly (Vol 23, No.1). Larivee finally parted with the car, and it passed through the collections of John Mozart, Paul Quinn of Boston, and another owner before coming into the possession of our consignor, a connoisseur of some of the finest V16s in the world.

Today, chassis 702677 presents beautifully with its striking color combination and a presence like no other V-16 Cadillac. More recently, the car has enjoyed a mechanical refresh at the hands of noted V-16 authorities, Jeff Pearson and Sonny Elliot of Kansas City. While servicing the car, they confirmed that in addition to the chassis, engine and body matching, the transmission, front axle, rear axle, steering unit and generator all match to the build sheet. Remarkably, even the crankcase matches, making this dual cowl as good as it gets, as it is totally numbers matching; perhaps the most completely numbers matching V-16 in existence. It was further sent to Dan Kirkpatrick in Tulsa for a complete new interior, done in beautiful chocolate brown, along with a new black Haartz cloth top and side curtains. It's now looking as rakish as ever in its new black canvas top and blackwall tires, wrapped inside classic wire wheels. In addition to the matching, dual-mounted spares, the body sports a fabulous, bronze and chrome luggage rack, a magnificent chrome radiator stone guard complete with V-16 crest, and the flying goddess hood ornament. 702677 recently completed a vintage car tour proving its current mechanical prowess and usability.

Original equipment includes Pilot-Ray steering lights, dual Klaxon horns, dual taillights, fanned, dual exhaust tips, pedestal mirrors mounted to the spares, and has an elegant, curved coach door sill that is not found on lesser V-16 bodies. The cockpit reveals luscious chocolate leather with matching leather side pockets in the passenger cabin. The classic engine-turned dash features upholstery-matching bakelite knobs and striking original instrumentation. Last, but not least, the dual cowl is a work of truly beautiful engineering. As opposed to a crank-down windscreen, this custom folding windshield boasts a strikingly jaunty angle and is complete with nuanced wind wings.

V-16 Roadsters and Phaetons have become readily available and are certainly desirable. This truly unique "double cowl" is the rarest and most important of the V-16s and this example, chassis 702677, with its unequaled history, pedigree and limited roster of important caretakers, make it the benchmark of all V-16s. Along with the Model J Duesenberg and custom bodied Packard Twelves, this singular, specially ordered V-16 Dual Cowl, with its aggressive stance, represents a pinnacle of the classic era and stands ready for serious consideration by the finest collectors of important pre-war motorcars.

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