29 August 1999
THE JEAN REESE OSHEI CADILLAC
1931 CADILLAC V12 MODEL 370-A SPORT PHAETON V-12
COACHWORK BY FLEETWOOD
Chassis No. 1003855RSilver with blue leather interior
Engine: V-12, 368ci. giving 135bhp at 3,400rpm; Gearbox: three speed manual; Suspension: semi-elliptic springs front and rear; Brakes: four wheel drum. Left hand drive.
Although the US was engulfed in the Great Depression and the public had a desire not to flaunt what little wealth they had managed to keep, Cadillac brought out an absolutely splendid line of cars. They were able to produce such cars with endless financial backing from GM. One of these cars, unveiled at the National Automobile Show in January of 1930, was the world's first production V-16 automobile. The Cadillac V-16 and V-12 engines were designed by the long time head of the engineering division, Ernest Seaholm.
Seaholm had brought many innovations to Cadillac's engineering and the V-16 was just one of them. Another of Seaholm's developments was the hydraulically silenced overhead valve which made driving a pleasure. The twin cylinder blocks were at a 45 degree angle, each having its own updraft carburetor system. The V-16 proved very expensive and in October 1930, Cadillac announced the much cheaper V-12 which basically used the same engine as the V-16 with four fewer cylinders. The cars were also not quite so huge and were built on the same 140 inch chassis (sometimes 143 inch) used for the eight-cylinder models, as opposed to the 148 inch used on the Sixteen. While not as fast as the V-16, its engine had a reputation for smooth and even power. Top speed was about 85mph with the standard rear axle ratio, and the car would cruise all day at 70mph. 5,725 Series 370-A V-12s were sold and obviously proved that there was a following for those that found eight cylinders too few and sixteen too many or too expensive. The V-12 also proved in smoothness, reliability and aesthetics to be a major rival to the 12 cylinder Packards.
The car on offer here is undoubtedly one of the most distinguished Cadillac V-12 Sport Phaetons in existence. This Fleetwood bodied Sport Phaeton was delivered new to noted car collector and enthusiast Jean Reese Oshei. As an avid car collector Mr. Oshei's stable of automobiles included some of world's finest examples from his Mercer Raceabout to his Jaguar SS100. Mr. Oshei ordered the Cadillac with several very distinct features that would later lend itself to the tasteful, overall look of the car. As specified on the original order sheet for this car, the Cadillac was outfitted with a stylish chromed hood and attractive chromed wheel discs fitted over the standard wire wheels as well as the larger, more desirable V-16 headlamps. Additionally, a small integrated trunk was was built into the body at the rear of the car below the convertible top. For longer distance touring the folding, rear mounted trunk rack provided space enough for a larger trunk. Triple horns were cleverly mounted between the side mount spares and the hood panels keeping the car's overall appearence quite clean. The Oshei Cadillac is perhaps one of the earliest cars to have a modern windsheild wiper fitted as well.
This very individual Cadillac has benefited from from only very cosmetic work while perserving much of its original items and trim. Though the car is now finished in silver it would appear from its build sheet that the car's original color was Aurora Red and was most likely changed early on in its life. The cosmetic retoration was highly sympathetic and as a result the car has a very original and proper feel about it. All of the special order items however are believed to be original and not remanufactured in later years. This Full Classic is reported by its current owner to be in very fit running condition and a supurb driver.
The Oshei Cadillac has also had the distinction of being a part of several important collections through the years, present owner's included. The Oshei Cadillac is a highly individual example and with its interesting history would undoubtedly be very suitable for CCCA events and CARavans.
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Please note that during a test drive we have noticed the car occasionally pops out of second gear.
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