The Cadillac of Cadillacs

In the late 1920s, most auto manufacturers had shifted production to multi-cylinder internal combustion engines. As such, Cadillac needed to keep up with the Joneses and began working on a V-12 and V-16 model. Even at that time, it didn’t take long, and by 1931 Cadillac began selling the Cadillac Series 370 V-12. Surprisingly, Cadillac offered the V-12 with the same bodywork as the V-16, despite the fact that it featured a shorter wheelbase. This left the V-12 model looking so similar to the V-16 model that the only easy way to tell a V-12 from a V-16 (unless they were parked next to each other) was to look for the V-12 Badge.

The Series 370 Phaeton that you see here was manufactured for the 1931 model year, making it one of the early 370s, also known as the 370A. As you can see, the car featured a classy design with a drop top and side-mounted spare tires. The hood was long, but not nearly as long as that of the V-16, which happened to be about four inches longer. The V-12 model was actually a huge seller for Cadillac, with a total of 5,733 examples sold in 1931 alone. That’s a whole heap more than the 363 examples of the V-16 model sold in the same year.

The model you see here was professionally restored back in the late 1990s and has only been driven 169 miles since resto completion. It will be going under the hammer during Monterey Car Week at the Mecum Auction and is expected to grab anywhere between $210,000 and $250,000 on the stand. Before that happens, let’s take a better look at this beautiful 370 Series and talk a little more about it.

Read our full review on the 1931 Cadillac Series 370 Phaeton below

Exterior

1931 Cadillac Series 370 Phaeton High Resolution Exterior
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1931 Cadillac Series 370 Phaeton High Resolution Exterior
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1931 Cadillac Series 370 Phaeton High Resolution Exterior
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When someone says the phrase “It’s the Cadillac of…,” this is the type of Cadillac that they are talking about. Just look at how elegant it is. The two-tone maroon and cream paint scheme sets the body off nicely. And, who can hate on those gorgeous fender flares and side rails that gracefully embrace each side of the vehicle? This specific model wears two badges: CCCA Senior Premier Car No. 2062 and Cadillac-Lasalle Club Senior Award No. 418.

It wouldn’t be a classic Cadillac without the whitewall tires

Highlights of the body include the Cadillac accessory metal trunk to go with the side curtains and top boot. These models were available with wooden or wire wheels – this one has the wire upgrade. It wouldn’t be a classic Cadillac without the whitewall tires. Up front, you’ll find the Dual pilot ray driving lights to go with the dual horns. The latter were actually smaller than those of the V-16 models and is one of the few differences between the two. The side mounted spare wheels were pretty common in the 30s, and actually add a bit of flare to the overall look of the vehicle. To round out this elegant vehicle, the front end features a radiator stone guard and the Goddess radiator mascot.

This example was restored back in the late 1990s, but there is no word as to how much restoration was actually completed. Clearly, the last decade has been a good one for it, with the exterior in pristine shape and the chrome shining as well as it did the day it rolled out of the factory.

Interior

1931 Cadillac Series 370 Phaeton High Resolution Interior
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Inside, the metal portions of the cockpit feature the same maroon finish as the exterior with the door jams finished in the same cream color. As you can see, the carpet is also maroon in color and is in great shape for a model of this age. Even being restored in the 90s, this cabin is at least 16 years old, but looking at the carpeting, you would never know. In the center of the dash, you’ll find the instrument cluster that is outlined in chrome with a silver backing. As you can see, the gauge cluster is rather simplistic.

Inside, the metal portions of the cockpit feature the same maroon finish as the exterior with the door jams finished in the same cream color

You’ve got the spark and choke knobs located on at the bottom, with the key slot positioned between the two larger gauges. The left gauge is a function clock while the right gauge is the speedo and odometer. As you can see, the odo has been rolled back to zero with the restoration and currently displays 169, which is the mileage accumulated between the restoration and now.

The doors and seats are trimmed out with a dullish maroon leather. Despite the low mileage since restoration, the seats actually look someone broken in. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but with just 169 on the clock over the last 16 years or more, I expected the leather to be a little tighter than what is shown in the images here. Even still, this model is just as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside, and is worthy of display in any man’s prized collection.

Drivetrain

1931 Cadillac Series 370 Phaeton High Resolution Drivetrain
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Under that long hood, you’ll find engine No. 1004917 – a 6.0-liter, 368 cubic-inch, V-12 that delivers 135 horsepower and 3,400 rpm and 284 pound-feet of torque at 1,200 rpm. Sure it’s nothing compared to the standard of V-10s and V-12s of today, but back then this engine was actually applauded for its smooth operation and ability to rev rather high for engines during the era. This V-12 was backed by a three-speed Synchromesh transmission that sends power to the rear wheels.

The engine itself was made from cast iron and featured dual Cadillac carburetors

The engine itself was made from cast iron and featured dual Cadillac carburetors. It had a 3.125-inch stroke and a 4.0-inch bore. Despite being significantly smaller and featuring four fewer cylinders than Cadillacs V-16 engine at the time, it actually featured a lot of the same tooling and components as its larger brother. This helped to keep production costs low, and made for a rather reliable and smooth engine. To put it simply, the only things that were really changed from the V-16 was the bore and stroke, distributor, camshaft, intake and exhaust systems, and the crankshaft was reconfigured – obviously necessary changes to drop the four extra cylinders. All told, the engine itself is a piece of excellent engineering and a true masterpiece of its time.

Prices

1931 Cadillac Series 370 Phaeton High Resolution Exterior
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Back in 1931, the 370 Series started out at $3,795, about $2,000 cheaper than the V-16 models. When you take that kind of pricing into consideration, it helps to explain why the V-12 was so much more successful that the V-16s. To help put things into perspective, $3,795 is equivalent to $60,180 today. To expand on that a little more, in today’s money, you would pay nearly $32,000 more if you wanted the V-16 model. Needless to say, this Cadillac model was reserved for the upper class, as the average wage back in 1931 was about $1,850 per year while the average new car would set you back just $640 – making this Cadillac nearly six times more expensive than your average people hauler back then.

As this beauty rolls onto the stage later this month in Monterey, it is expected to pull a sum between $210,000 and $250,000. That’s a pretty sizable increase in value from the 1930s, even when you take into account inflation over the years.

Competition

When the 370 Series hit showrooms, there weren’t all that many multi-cylinder vehicles on the road. There were models from manufacturers like Franklin, Horch, Packard, and Tatra. More recognizable names include brands like Lagonda, Maybach, Rolls-Royce, and even Lincoln – some names you surely recognize as major brands that still exist today. Of those, the most recognizable models that the 370 Series V-12 competed against include the Rolls-Royce Phantom III and the Lincoln K-Series, two models that featured similar coachwork bodies and powerful-for-the-time V-12 engines.

Conclusion

1931 Cadillac Series 370 Phaeton High Resolution Exterior
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When I came across this 370 Series that was heading for auction, I just had to do a review on it. It’s one of my favorites from the 1930s and, if you’ve ever heard one of these old school Cadillac V-12 running, you know just how special it really is. Obviously, an example that was still in all-original condition would be ideal, but finding something like that these days would be practically impossible. Be that as it may, this is a fine example that was obviously restored by an experienced professional, and with just 169 miles logged then, it’s in immaculate shape. I bet the original owner of this beauty didn’t think it would look this well more than 80 years after the day it was purchased. I’ll be sure to update this review with the official selling price once this puppy goes under the hammer, so check back soon for updates!

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    • * Leather could be in better condition
    • * I can’t have it

Source: Mecum

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