1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Fleetwood
Offered by Auctions America | Auburn, Indiana | September 2, 2017
Photo – Auctions America
Does this Duesenberg look a little like a… Cadillac? If you think so, there’s a good reason: this car was bodied by Fleetwood, as in the Fleetwood Metal Body Company. Founded in 1909, Fleetwood built bodies for many companies in its early days. But in 1925 it was acquired by Fisher and it became part of General Motors in 1931. A lot of Cadillacs bodied after 1931 wore Fleetwood bodies much like this one.
In fact, this is the second Fleetwood body that this car wore. The original owner swapped out the first body for this one, which he lifted from a Cadillac V-16. It wasn’t the only thing he changed, this chassis is currently on its third engine, J-417. The 265 horsepower, 6.9-liter straight-eight that originally powered this chassis racked up 200,000 miles before being replaced. A second engine came and went as well. This car was used and enjoyed and didn’t find its second owner until the late 1950s.
Since then it has had a few other owners and was restored about 30 years ago. It’s a unique Model J with known history from new (the first owner ordered the car from Fred Duesenberg on the New York Auto Show stand in 1929). It should bring between $950,000-$1,200,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
1924 Mercedes 24/100/140 Custom Sport Touring by Fleetwood
Offered by Dragone Auctions | Westport, Connecticut | October 17, 2015
Photo – Dragone Auctions
The 24/100/140 was the “big” Mercedes. Introduced in 1924, it was on sale for only two short years before the merger of Daimler and Benz – and the creation of Mercedes-Benz. The post-merger car was known as the Mercedes-Benz Type 630 through 1929. It was the long, fast, and heavy Mercedes – one of the peaks of 1920s German motoring.
The engine is a 6.2-liter straight-six that made 99 horsepower – but with the “Kompressor” (supercharger) engaged, power jumped up to 138. Strangely, this big German touring car doesn’t carry a European body. Instead, the new chassis and engine combo was shipped to Mercedes of North America in New York City. The new owner sent it to Fleetwood in Pennsylvania who was operating in its final year of independence in its founding city before being acquired and moved to Detroit.
The car was discovered in the 1970s and restored. Then it was hidden again. When it was pulled out of the garage recently, it showed that it had been well preserved since that restoration over 40 years ago. It’s been awakened and is ready to run. Only 377 of these were built after the Benz merger, so the number beforehand is likely much lower. This one should bring between $1,200,000-$1,400,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
1934 Cadillac V-16 Series 452-D Convertible Sedan by Fleetwood
Offered by Bonhams | Ebeltoft, Denmark | September 26, 2015
Photo – Bonhams
With the top up, these big Cadillac Convertible Sedans seem a little boring. While certainly not ordinary, their four-door appearance belies that true beauty under that hood. With the top down they are magnificent. Can’t you just picture FDR riding around in the back?
The V-16 Cadillac was introduced in late 1929 for the 1930 model year. It’s one of the greatest American automobiles ever built. The engine is quiet, powerful and silky smooth. It was the first V-16 American automobile to go into production. The 452 refers to the cubic inches of displacement offered by this 7.4-liter V-16 that makes 185 horsepower.
The original V-16s were sort of boxy, but by 1932 they were redesigned to be sleeker and this 1934 Series 452-D looks quite Art Deco and windswept. It’s amazing how quickly automotive design matured between 1929 and 1934.
This car was bought new by a stockbroker in New York. It was specially ordered and the body was built by Fleetwood, which by this time was part of General Motors. In 1949, the engine was removed from this car and put in a race car. Luckily the chassis and body were kept and eventually reunited with the power unit a little over five years ago. The current owner acquired it in 2012. This huge car is one of not very many – by the mid-1930s, V-16 Cadillac production was down to about 50 or less per year, making this very rare. It should sell in the neighborhood of $450,000-$600,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
1931 LaSalle Series 345A Seven-Passenger Touring by Fleetwood
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Plymouth, Michigan | July 25, 2015
Photo – RM Sotheby’s
When Alfred P. Sloan took over at General Motors, he instituted many things that would transform the industry. One such initiative was the companion marque program, where each existing GM make (sans Chevrolet) would be allotted a secondary marque to fill price gaps between other makes. Cadillac’s companion make was LaSalle.
LaSalle’s were essentially “baby Cadillacs” and they were not a commercial success. But they did have a profound impact on GM. While the cars were built by Cadillac, their styling was no longer done in the engineering department. Instead, Harley Earl and his gang were given their own department. All LaSalle’s were eight-cylinder cars. This Series 345A features a 5.8-liter V-8 making 95 horsepower.
The body is actually by Fleetwood – it was one of five body styles offered by LaSalle in 1931 that were built by Cadillac’s in-house coachbuilder (of the 12 total body styles they offered that year). It cost $2,345 in 1931. This is an actual Fleetwood Seven-Passenger Touring body, but it likely did not come on this chassis originally.
LaSalle was phased out after 1940 and while the marque isn’t exceptionally rare today, this is easily the best-looking LaSalle I’ve ever seen. This is thought to be one of less than 12 of this style to survive. It is fresh off restoration and should sell for between $80,000-$100,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
1932 Cadillac V-16 Series 452B Madame X Imperial Sedan by Fleetwood
Offered by Gooding & Company | Amelia Island, Florida | March 7, 2014
Photo – Gooding & Company
You’re looking at what some consider Cadillac’s crowning achievement. At the dawn of the Depression, many car makers were introducing new ultra-luxury cars. Duesenberg, Marmon, Cadillac and more all had new big-engined cars available. Cadillac brought out the V-16 in 1930. The first generation (through 1937) cars all used 7.4-lilter (452 cubic inch) V-16 engines. And they were all built-to-order.
Horsepower is rated at 165 and you could get the car in a variety of bodystyles – more than 70 in fact. This particular car was featured on Cadillac’s stand at the 1933 Chicago Auto Show and was bought off that stand by its first owner. The original owner’s family gifted the car to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum and the current owner acquired it in 2011.
Between 1930 and 1940, 4,076 Cadillac V-16s were built – over 75% of which were built in 1931 alone. Only 300 were made in 1932. Only four “Madame X Imperial Sedans” were built. It was one of the most expensive and exclusive versions you could get and it cost around $7,000 when new. Fleetwood, which was part of GM in 1932, built the gorgeous body.
This car should sell for between $200,000-$240,000 – which seems like a steal (convertibles are more desirable). You can read more here and see more from Gooding here.