1931 CADILLAC V12 ROADSTER
COACHWORK BY FLEETWOOD
Engine No. 1004534
Red with beige interior leather and gray carpeting
Engine: 45 degree V12, overhead valve, 368ci, 135bhp at 6,500rpm; Gearbox: three speed manual; Suspension: semi-elliptic leaf springs with hydraulic dampers front and rear; Brakes: four wheel drum. Left hand drive.
As the 1920s drew to a close, General Motors, under Alfred P. Sloan, was in control of the widely diverse American automobile market. The roaring Twenties was a time of opulence and excess for many and although America's rich and famous were looking to Packard and Duesenberg to fulfil their needs, the Cadillac division remained a seemingly unchallenged namesake in the automotive industry. This position was maintained by continually innovating and producing designs that, without fault, exhibited timeless elegance and styling individuality. Whether it was the sporting look of a V8 roadster or the powerful magnificence of a V16 sport phaeton, all of the Cadillac models exemplified their slogan, 'The Standard of the World.'
By 1931 Cadillac had reached the pinnacle of automotive styling. The 1931 model line offered four separate passenger car choices powered by eight, twelve or sixteen cylinder engines. Despite the overall lower automotive sales brought on by the pandemic mood set by the Depression, Cadillac managed to run its competitors into the ground, staking outright claim on the bulk of luxury car sales in America. There were a total of twelve body styles available and they included customer specified designs carried out by the prestigious American coachbuilders, Fleetwood and Fisher. General Motors employed an Art and Color styling department led by one of the most famous automotive designers, Harley J. Earl. Earl and his staff worked their magic on all of the 1931 Cadillac lines and the results were impressive.
This is a benchmark example of the well proportioned, elegant and sporting V12 Roadster by Fleetwood, a model which in 1931 would have cost $3,945, and featured a rumble seat and side access door to the rear bodywork. The car is well-equipped with a number of features that were options on these cars including: a period goddess mascot, directional following auxiliary lights, spare tires with cover and rear view mirror to each running board and set into the fenders, a feature which combined with the fitting of the luggage rack would have been an additional $130 or more when new. Similarly the rear trunk, which presently houses the side curtains for when the top is up would have been an extra $100-180, and the wind-wings another $25-47.50.
The car presents very well today and has clearly undergone a comprehensive restoration at some time prior to its arrival in this collection some 20 years ago, then one imagines had very little use to preserve that condition.
Presently lacking keys, Christie's has been unable to run this car at the time of writing, however it is still anticipated that this may be possible prior to the sale. In any regard, it is still strongly advised that owing to the period that the car has been displayed for without use that a thorough re-commissioning be undertaken, prior to the car's road use.