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      Car History: Car History Year 1930
    Posted on Sunday, September 26 @ 22:46:02 UTC by Cars
      Cars By just about any standards, the outlook in 1930 was bleak for the manufacturers of prestige automobiles. After the stock market collapse, demand for luxury cars had evaporated and many fine marques disappeared. Even though more people held on to their assets during the Depression than is usually suggested, it wouldn't have been acceptable to flaunt good fortune by driving around in a fancy car. So, of those that could actually afford to spend upwards of five thousand dollars on a car, few were willing to take the risk.

    Into this atmosphere, came the most fabulous Cadillacs of all time - the Series 452 V16 range. It had a masterpiece of engineering, a 452 cu.in. sixteen cylinder overhead valve unit developing 165bhp and 320 foot pounds of torque. Arranged in a narrow Vee of 45°, with cast iron blocks attached to an aluminum alloy crankcase, the engine was the creation of Cadillac engineer Owen Nacker, and featured a completely unique system of hydraulically rotated eccentric bushings in the rocker arms, to help silence the valve train mechanism. No expense was spared to make it look impressive and the V16 engine bay was treated to extra plating and polishing. An uncluttered look was achieved by hiding the wiring and plumbing where possible. With smooth power rather than brute acceleration, Cadillac described the performance as "flexible and instantly responsive." Top speed was 90mph, and cruising at 70mph could be enjoyed at length, although a return of eight miles to the gallon may have been hard to tolerate in 1930 - even if gas was only 15 cents a gallon. The car was built to majestic proportions, based on an enormous 148 inch wheelbase chassis (8 inches longer than the standard V8 models), and there were more than fifty body styles to chose from. Most of the V16 bodies were built to order by Fleetwood following the designs of Harley Earl, and advertised by Cadillac as "Catalog Customs" but there were full custom models that came from the other famous coachbuilders of the day, and even a few bodies from GM's volume supplier Fisher. With such a plethora of styles and sources, it is no wonder that keeping track of all the variations that were constructed has proved to be a difficult task. One style name that frequently crops up in reference books is the "Madame X" - but opinions differ as to exactly what features this mode! had. Even those buyers who ordered from the standard Fleetwood range could opt for their own modifications, and the degree of personalization probably means that every one of the three thousand or so V16 Cadillacs sold in 1930 was unique. One only has to look at the eight choices of windshield design that were available - flat vertical, sloping at five different angles, and the vertical Vee - with swing-out or crank-up options, to appreciate the selection facing the well-heeled buyer. Had Cadillac been an independent company, and not insulated from the economy by General Motors, it is hard to believe it wouldn't have suffered the same fate as all the other manufacturers who were producing luxurious automobiles in small quantities. The V16 wouldn't survive very long, but it set a new standard of excellence that few would equal. That would matter little to the millions of unemployed who were hoping that president Herbert Hoover's measures of tariff controls and emergency job and relief programs would restore the situation, but things were destined to get worse before they got better. Other manfuacturers, both at home and abroad, could only marvel at the jewel-like perfection of the V16. Cadillac's main domestic rivals: Packard, Fierce-Arrow and Lincoln, took a couple of years to rise to the challenge and then offered mere V12s. Marmon fielded a V16, which approached the Cadillac's sophistication and matched its performance; the Duesenberg Model J was a performance contender as well. In Europe, neither Rolls-Royce nor Bentley could match the Cadillac. Rolls-Royce were forced to concede that their engine was no longer the quietest in the world and W.O.Bentley himself remarked that the word "automobile" was scarcely adequate to describe the Cadillac V16. Specification CADILLAC SERIES 454 V16 Engine 45 degree V16 - Nickel iron block on silicon/aluminum crankcase Displacement 452 cu. ins Bore and stroke 3.0 x 4.0 ins. Horsepower 175-185 Body styles Numerous via Cadillac and Custom built No. of seats 2-7 Weight (lbs) < c. 6,000 Ibs Price < c. $10,000 Produced 3,251 in 1930-31     Specification CADILLAC SERIES V12 Engine 45 degree V12 - Cast iron block on aluminum crankcase Displacement 368 cu. ins Bore and stroke 3 1/8 x 4 .0ins. Horsepower 135 Body styles Roadster; coupe; sedan; town car; phaeton etc.,mainly by Fisher & Fleetwood No. of seats 2-7 Weight (lbs) < c. 5,500 Ibs Price < c. $5,000 Produced 5,700     Specification BUICK MARQUETTE Engine Cast iron - 6 cylinders in line Displacement 212.8 cu. ins Bore and stroke 3 1/8 x 4 5/8ins. Horsepower 67.5 Body styles Sport roadster; Phaeton; Business coupe; Rumble-seat coupe; 2 door sedan;4 door sedan No. of seats 2-5 Weight (lbs) 2,640 lbs - 2,925 lbs Price $990-$1,060 Produced 35,000  
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