[last update: 05.26.2020]


The 1937 Cadillac
V16 Roadster


Willy Hartmann
of Lausanne, Switzerland


Go to the V16 index page


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(résumé en français en bas de page)


** This is the up-to-date story as from December 2018 **


Cadillac launched their first 16-cylinder models in 1929; over 4,000 units thereof were sold over the next 10 years (production ended in 1940 with the “40-90” version). In 1937  they built only 50 units of their type “37-90” V16; two were convertible coupes (Fleetwood style 5775); two more in the form of bare chassis to be sold to independent coachbuilders. The incredible 2-pass. roadster described in these pages was built on one of these. The VIN is #5030328, identifying it as the twenty-eighth out of the mere fifty V16 units built that year.

The bare chassis was ordered from Detroit through the Edelweiss Garage being the local Cadillac dealer in Morges, beside Lausanne, Switzerland by Philippe Barraud, son of William Barraud and nephew of William’s brother, Maurice, both wealthy Swiss industrialist who had “built” their fortune in red bricks and roofing tiles.

The copy of the original Cadillac Motor Car Co. build sheet shows that one “1937-90 Chassis” with motor #5030328 and convertible frame (with sedan springs) was shipped by ocean freight from GM Export in Detroit to GM Belgium, in Antwerp, thence by rail  to GM Switzerland, in Bienne.



“Rough” microfiche copy from GM Archives, courtesy Jim Patterson and RM


Philippe had a local Swiss coachbuilder, Willy Hartmann of Lausanne, create and build for him a custom 2-pass roadster on the V16 chassis. He used the car intermittently between 1937 and the early 60s. His enjoyment of the car was interrupted for 5-6 years owing to WW2 (a conflagration that spared Switzerland, a “neutral country”).

Abandoned by its owner in the mid-sixties, the car was “discovered” 31 years later, in derelict condition, in a field some 10 miles from my former home near Geneva, Switzerland. That was in the summer of 1968. It was acquired in April the following year by the 2nd owner, Mr. Jean-Jacques Belet of Lausanne, for just CHF4000 (the equivalent at that time of approximately $925).

To my knowledge, the car has changed hands 10 times since then. Restored four times (the last time in 2017-18) and probably owing in a large part to a “tampered” dash-mounted coachbuilder’s nameplate (added around 1985), the value of the Hartmann roadster has soared out of all normal proportions. The actual price paid by the current owner has not been disclosed but may be estimated to be around “a few million” dollars.


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Left: 1st restoration by J.-J. Belet, Lausanne
Center: 2nd restoration by André Lecoq, Paris
Right: 3rd restoration by the Tom Barrett organisation


As I said above, the Hartmann car was sold in the late sixties for just under $1,000.  Since then I have seen it advertised from just under a million dollars ($950,000) in 1985 to a staggering $3,500,000, around 1989!

According to my records, Ken Behring of the Blackhawk collection in California effectively acquired the car in 1990, from the Tom Barrett organization of Scottsdale, Arizona, for a “mere” $1.4 million ...

The car remained a part of the Blackhawk Museum collection for an estimated 15-20 years, changing owners twice (?) thereafter. 

Based on information at hand, the owners have included (in chronological order) Philippe Barraud, Switzerland (1937-1969), Jean-Jacques Belet, Switzerland (1969-70), Patrice De Witte, France (1970-1982), Michel Payet, France (1982-1985),  André Lecoq, France (1985), auto collector-dealer P.A. Parviz, UK (1985), another auto collector-dealer Tom Barrett, USA (1986-90), Blackhawk Museum, USA (1990-???), “Uknown” owner (???-???), Jim Patterson, USA (current owner since 2015).



In Search of a Car - In Search of a Dream

In August 1937, near Lausanne, in Switzerland, a young man was snapped beside the car of which he had just taken delivery. It was a “monumental”, special-bodied 1937 Cadillac V16 roadster with a custom body by a relatively unknown Swiss coachbuilder by the name of Willy Hartmann of Lausanne.



Philippe Barraud, his new car, his Jack Daniel dog “Lila”, in Bussigny, Switzerland, August 1937;
 on the body sill (near “Lila” ’s head) you can just make out the coach-builder's metal nameplate

(all sepia photos: © 1937, Paul Lüthard, aka “Bouboule”, Lausanne, Switzerland)


The youthful owner’s name was Philippe Barraud. He was a dashing and wealthy young playboy in the thirties. In his youth, he had as many cars as he could care for. One of the nicest he bought (before he got the V16) was a 1934 La Salle cabriolet (convertible coupe) with  custom-made body by the Swiss coachbuilders, Reinbolt & Christé. Sadly, it was destroyed in a head-on collision in the center of Lausanne.

Many photos in this 2018 update were provided most kindly by
Ms. Roxane Benoît-Barraud, daughter of the car’s 1st owner


For Philippe, money was no object. But there were other young men from wealthy families that lived along the fashionable Swiss Riviera that stretches between Lausanne and Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva (aka “Lac Léman”).  What kind of car could Philippe possibly buy that would put to shame all their fancy Delahayes, Delages, Talbot-Lagos and other flashy French sports cars?


The Influence of Erdmann & Rossi

Streamlined designs, like the one drawn by Hartmann in 1937, were uncommon at the time. Two among the first to be noticed were German; both were on show at the Barcelona (Spain) and Berlin (Germany) Motor Shows in 1935; they were on the stand of Erdmann and Rossi (Germany), a custom coachbuilder of some renown. The first one was an Opel the other a 2.9-liter Mercedes; both were highly streamlined 2-pass. convertibles featuring novel, fully-enclosed fenders front and rear. 

Later that year the German company was commissioned to build an almost identical Mercedes 500K (order #2698 of 5 December 1935, engine #123705) for no less a client than King Ghazi of Iraq who had seen the smaller Mercedes in Barcelona.

I was privileged to see that incredible machine and even to photograph it in 1983 through the dusty showroom windows of a small, heavily-guarded (even if apparently derelict) private auto museum in Baghdad’s Fawzah park; this was shortly after a border war had broken out between Iraq and Iran. I was on a mission at the time for UN-ITU (International Telecommunication Union). The car was painted cream with dark green accents. I suspected it was part of the private collection “appropriated” by Saddam Hussain (of ill repute) in the late seventies.


The Mercedes 500K by Erdmann & Rossi n 1935


(Left) the same car in Baghdad in 1983 and (right) after its return to Germany for restoration in 1986
Photos: © Yann Saunders (left) and “TommyK” (right)

The car was later in the temporary possession of the late King Hussein of Jordan; there had been a swap between the Ghazi Mercedes 500K, owned by Saddam, and a “Grosser Mercedes 770” owned at the time by the King of Jordan. The Ghazi car was fully restored in 1986 at the Mercedes works in Stuttgart; it was repainted the original silver-grey color. Interestingly, the Mercedes engineers seized the opportunity of having the Ghazi car at their disposal to create a full-sized replica of it.



This is the full-scale replica; impossible to tell the difference

The fully restored original car was somehow returned to Baghdad by King Hussein after 1986. There, it survived the “Shock & Awe” campaign launched by the USA against Saddam Hussain in March 2003. It was found later in the rubble of one of Saddam’s palaces and after peace was restored; it may been regularly at various events in the Iraqi capital. By the way, I would estimate the cost of building the “replica” (in Germany) to be in the $2-3 million range. As for the original … priceless!


Enjoying the sun by the Tigris river in Baghdad,
some years after “Shock & Awe”



...and that of Figoni & Falaschi

In the footsteps of Germany’s Erdmann & Rossi, France’s “Italian"" duo, Figoni & Falaschi, also were among early exponents of fully enclosed fenders. A good example is their prize-winning design on the Delahaye Type 135M roadster shown at the 1936 Paris Salon (it was acquired at the show by millionaire Aly Khan. Another Delahaye, the 12-cyl.  Type 165 shown at the 1937 Paris Salon, featured the same boomerang motif on the enclosed fenders as had been seen two years earlier on the German cars.


Artist’s rendering of the 1936 Paris Salon Delahaye 135M roadster



1936 Paris Salon Delahaye 135M


Giuseppe (Figoni), an Italian emigrant – who changed his name to Joseph after he settled in France – had entered into partnership with another Italian, Ovidio Falaschi, in 1935. Their Delahaye 135MS roadster built for the Paris Salon of October 1936, was based on a drawing by automobile artiste Geo Ham born George Hamel in 1900; he had acquired early fame as an artist by drawing catalog illustrations for a small airplane builder and, subsequently, many action-filled scenes from Paris' Montlhéry automobile race track. The F&F Delahaye Type 135M brought the pair early renown. Norte that there had been some legal wrangling about the rights to the design until it was agreed – following a court case won by Ham – that all 11 cars, including the Paris Salon show car, would carry two body plates: that of F&F and that of Geo Ham. It has been frequently rumored – and you can readily see why – that Hartmann was greatly inspired by the Geo Ham/F&F design.  

In those days, everyone seemed to be copying everyone else. The great Harley Earl himself is said to have borrowed heavily from European marques such as the Hispano-Suiza and Isotta-Fraschini when he created the beautiful LaSalle in 1927. Hartmann was no exception. His design for the 1937 Cadillac V16 could be considered as an upsized version of the F&F  Delahaye Type 135.

Yes, in those days, what would result today in a lawsuit alleging infringement of copyright, was fair game. There were no ill feelings on either side. In fact, the Franco-Italian duo pulled a similar fast one on Hartmann, two years later, by borrowing from him for another of their creations on the Type 135M Delahaye chassis, the broad body stripe which the Swiss coach-builder had used on the Cadillac V16.


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F&F borrowed Hartmann's curved "V" body stripe on this
Delahaye 135M convertible coupe they built in 1939-40


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The Czech coachbuilder, Sodomka, mounted this streamlined
coupe body on the Aero 50 chassis; look at those fender skirts!


First Owner (1937)

One day in the latter part of 1936 Philippe had visited the Edelweiss Garage, on Avenue de Morges, in Lausanne. This was the showroom of the local Cadillac dealer.  There he picked up the latest Fleetwood sales portfolio. Two V16 models were illustrated: a sober limousine, Fleetwood style #5875, and a dashing convertible sedan, Fleetwood style #5880. Both were built on the longest ever production Cadillac chassis, with an incredible 154-inch wheelbase.

Now here was a car of imposing proportions! Philippe could readily imagine how puny a Delahaye or a Hispano-Suiza would look parked next to it! He inquired of the Cadillac dealer if it might be possible to order only the chassis and then to have a body of his own choice built on it. He was told this would pose no problem whatsoever.

Philippe could have chosen any one of a dozen independent and popular coachbuilders of the time (Franay, Million-Guiet, Vizcaya, Letourneur and Marchand, Van den Plas or even Figoni & Falaschi). But like all young men he was impatient. He had to have his new toy quickly. And he had to have it built close to home so he could supervise the work and keep a close check every day on the progress being made.

There were a number of independent coachbuilders in Switzerland in the late thirties, including well-known names like Graber, Ramseier, Langenthal, Worblaufen, but there was only one in the immediate vicinity of the Barraud home in Bussigny, above Morges. His name was Willy Hartmann. His workshop was located only a few miles away, in the Laborde area of Lausanne. Willy had earned a reputation “customizing” stock pre-WW2 European models like the Opel and Ballot. In 1932, he had built also a prize-winning convertible on an Isotta-Fraschini chassis for the Countess of Varax.  All in all he built around fifty car bodies between 1928 and 1939; after that he worked only on specialty vehicles for the Swiss armed forces. When I spoke to him in 1987, Willy said that he had burned most of his records after WW2 “to make room for more projects”.

So Philippe went to Hartmann and asked the young customizer if he would design and build for him something really exceptional and glamorous on the Cadillac V16 chassis. Hartmann drew a few sketches. Philippe immediately set his heart on a streamlined roadster proposal featuring fully enclosed fenders front and rear. It was a huge car with the grace of a French-built machine but MUCH larger and with a motor to match: SIXTEEN cylinders instead of only SIX.




Artist’s impressions of a youthful Willy Hartmann from a Lausanne museum;
the RH image (1985), is from another artist and features Hartmann and his creation;
in the background, Lausanne’s cathedral dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries




Hartmann Dresses a Cadillac

Philippe’s V16 chassis arrived in Lausanne in April 1937 by rail from the GM facilities in Antwerp, Belgium. Work on the roadster body began immediately. It was completed in the Fall.

Phillipe called on the services of a local photographer, Paul Lüthard (aka “Bouboule” on account of his short, chubby build). Paul’s specialty was to document sports clubs and military parades. He took a half-dozen photos of the V16 roadster, which may be seen above and below. Unfortunately, he omitted to take any of the interior so that a number of coachbuilders who tackled much later the restoration of the car had to rely on experience and artistic intuition to do justice to Willy Hartmann’s creation.


“Bouboule” ’s dramatic view of the car’s front ensemble

The basic Cadillac components used were the chassis, engine and firewall. Hartmann retained also the banjo steering wheel (used on Cadillac models that year for the first time), the dash instrumentation and the V16 emblem which he mounted at the top, RH side of the modified radiator grille. The glove compartment was deleted and the instruments were relocated from the left of the dashboard to the center.  The positions of the clock and speedometer were reversed so as to place the speedometer closer to the driver.  The radio was moved to the LH side of the instrument board and placed directly in front of the driver. The ash-receiver, with its winged-emblem on the lid, was omitted also to make room for the rear-view mirror. The triangular Cadillac badge located between the radio knobs on stock 1937 Cadillac models was redesigned and moved to the far right of the panel. It carried the Cadillac crest at the top and the words “Carrosserie Hartmann, Lausanne, Cadillac” below. In shape and size, this dash plaque is identical to the one used on Cadillac and LaSalle models of the same period.

Other changes to the dash panel included the ignition switch being moved from its regular position in the center of the panel, below the radio, to the left of it, thus locating it closer to the driver. Some knobs and controls (like the cat's eye lighter and map light) located on either side of the ignition key on stock Cadillac models of 1934-1937, were moved to right and left of the instrument board. A turn-signal indicator switch was added on the left of the dash.

I have found no early (1937) photos of the modified dash; the earliest ones are those I took at the home of the third owner, Patrice De Witte, in the fall of 1973. I assume the dash configuration at that time was the same as adopted by Willy Hartmann in 1937.

Just like the Figoni & Falaschi Delahaye built for the 1936 Paris show, the V16 the V16 roadster was painted off-white with a broad, contrasting  orange stripe. The fully-enclosed fender skirts, front and rear, featured an ornate and raised panel painted the same color as the body stripe.



 ¾ front view of the HUGE roadster



¾ rear view; here, you can almost make out the shape and the extremely modest
dimensions of the two-bar rear bumper, in the style favored by Figoni & Falaschi


Unfortunately, as I have mentioned, no photos (color or B&W) exist of the 1937 Cadillac V16 roadster with the Hartmann body. To give you an idea of what it actually looked like, back in the day, I am showing (below) a couple of color pics of a 1:43 scale model of the car, built from the original sepia photos (above) in 2016 by my good friend Vlad Soroklat of the Ukraine.



These are the original colors selected for the car by Philippe in 1937;
his choice may have been inspired by the 1936 Paris salon Delahaye


First Registration: 1937

The Cadillac was presented to the Swiss licensing authorities for inspection on 25 August 1937. There was some doubt as to whether it could be registered as a private automobile owing to its sheer size. It was some 22 feet long! It took some convincing on the part of both the owner and the coachbuilder to have the authorities agree that the Cadillac was in fact a passenger car and NOT a truck.

Finally the car was issued the certificate of conformity and got its first set of license plates (tags) #VD2264.


This is a 1:43 scalemodel of the front of the original car


Extract from the original insurance certificate for the V16


Later that same afternoon, Philippe first drove his new “toy” to all the fashionable haunts around Lausanne. Naturally, the car caused quite a stir.


Early Photos

The earliest photos of the Hartmann car (shown above) were taken in the Fall of 1937 near the Barraud home, Les Noisetiers, in Bussigny-sur-Morges, above Lausanne. Sadly, Bouboule passed away in the seventies. Mr. Baumgartner, his successor in Pully, near Lausanne, tells me that his daughter disposed of all her father’s belongings (including the contents of the photographic studio), shortly after his death. Hence, all the original photos and negatives were either lost or destroyed. The copies I was able to acquire belong to Daniel Zufferey of San Pedro, California, nephew of the late Philippe Barraud; in the 70s, I was graciously given copies of Daniel’s originals by Alain Berrabah, a mutual friend.              

Philippe used the car regularly for the next two years until war broke out in Europe, in September 1939. Thereafter, and late into the forties, it became increasingly difficult, even when one had plenty of money, to find gasoline in Switzerland for a thirsty, sixteen-cylinder automobile. And so the huge Cadillac roadster was laid up for the next almost ten years.

In the Spring of 1949 a young man’s fancy turned again to thoughts of ... a huge Cadillac roadster, lying under inches of dust in the family coach-house. Philippe took the car out into the sunshine. It looked shoddy from the years of neglect and was covered in a thick coating of dust. He decided to have the car repainted. He retained the original color for the body but changed the color of the broad, lateral stripe and the fender skirt panels from bright orange to a more subdued pale-blue. 


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Again, in the absence of color photos of the actual car, in 1949, this is a good guess as to what
the car may have looked like after the first repaint and new registration; thanks again to EMC
in Ukraine for this 2nd version of a very beautiful sixteen-cylinder convertible roadster


Repaint #2

There is no record of the car having been seen in the street in this cream & pale blue configuration so we will not dwell on it. What we do know is that the car was repainted a second time, in 1949, and was registered anew in Switzerland. This time, Philippe chose a triple shade of brown: light caramel for the upper body, milk-chocolate for the upper part of the fenders and dark chocolate for the wide lateral stripe and lower fender skirts. According to copies of related documents in my possession, the car was licensed again from April 21, 1949; the new tags were:  VD19044.

There are three known B&W photos of the car in its new “brown” garb. All three are quite small. The first was provided, kindly, by Roxane Benoît-Barraud, daughter of Philippe, when Gita and I visited her apartment in Renens (Lausanne) in 2012.  It shows a person (female, unidentified) in the passenger seat, peering from the side of the window.



This photo was provided kindly by Roxane Benoît-Barraud, daughter of the first owner
(I am hoping someone will recognize that narrow mountain road and the hotel in the background)


The 2nd photo of the Hartmann V16 on a Swiss mountain road (right)
was found in a coffee-table book by Ferdinand Hediger

A similar B&W photo was taken in the same place and (I assume) at the same time. The latter is from the book on Swiss coachbuilders, by Ferdinand Hediger, that I discovered in the collection of André Chabloz of Mont-sur-Lausanne when Gita and I visited him in 2017 André is the person who first restored the car after he extracted it from the undergrowth on the property of Marcel Blaser, in Vinzel, above Lausanne[1].

The V16 had been plagued with overheating problems and so Philippe decided to accept the suggestions of a mechanic friend and to have two additional vent doors installed horizontally on either side of the grille shroud.


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These two pics are from the 80s; you can see the new hood
vent in the closed position (left) and open position (right)


The V16 was later involved in a major collision (where, when?) and suffered considerable frontal damage. The specially cast tear-drop inner road lights were destroyed in the collision; these were replaced with new, off-the-shelf, bullet-shaped headlamps from a smaller, European car (Citroën, I think), mounted on specially-fabricated brackets on either side of the grille housing; they were painted dark brown to match the body stripe and lower fender color. New, diamond-sectional bumpers were installed in front (double) and rear (single); parts from the original twin bumperettes were used as additional impact guards.

Other than those three B&W photos, I have no photographic record of the V16 having been used between 1949 and 1968. Philippe probably used the Cadillac only sporadically over the next 10 years. Many new, more modern and probably equally exotic automobiles probably had taken its place at the Barraud home.


The Car Goes into Storage (again)

I figure Philippe stopped using the car altogether in the late fifties or early sixties. According to him (I was able to speak to him in 1987), the car had suffered further frontal damage (date and place unknown) to the “new” bumpers; he decided to put off any further repairs to a more opportune time; he put the V16 into covered storage in the Eichenberger warehouses in Ouchy, on the Lausanne waterfront.

The V16 lay idle in Ouchy for an undetermined number of years. Then, owing to preparations being made for the EXPO SUISSE (the Swiss National Exhibition of 1964), Philippe was asked one day, in late 1963, to move the Cadillac out of the warehouse where it was taking up precious storage space needed for exhibition props.

The Cadillac was now in a state of disrepair and also had begun to show signs of its age. Philippe realized also that the storage bills he was having to pay each month were completely out of proportion with the (assumed) market value of the car at that time. He decided to hold on to it but to place it in the care of a mechanic friend by the name of Marcel Blaser who ran an auto workshop and used-car lot in the village of Gilly, in the Jura foothills, about 10 miles from the Barraud home … and from our home near Geneva at the time!

By that time the replacement road lights had disappeared, although the support stanchions still remained in position.


Second Owner (1969)

News of the presence of the strange-looking roadster soon got around and Mr. Blaser started to be harassed by many callers, amateur photographers and just plain inquisitive passers-by who wanted to know everything there was to know about the huge and exceptional roadster.

One of them was Mr. Jean-Jacques Belet, a member of the VCCR (the Veteran Car Club of Romandy, i.e. French-speaking Switzerland). He inquired of Marcel Blaser if the old Cadillac might be for sale.

On that score, I have another interesting anecdote about the 3-tone “brown” V16 when it sat in the field in Vinzel in the 60s. My “old” friend (who is much younger than me) and Cadillac buff like myself, Christian Vaney, had mentioned the V16, back in 1972, when it was already in the hands of the 3rd owner, Patrice de Witte, of Mâcon, in France[2]. Chris said that his late Dad and a long-time friend of his named Georges Blanc both sold cars and trucks; both were also in business with Marcel Blaser. Blanc is 92 at this writing (2017) and resides in Mont Pelerin, above Lausanne; he had known the V16 since he was a teen and had seen it a number of times in the Lausanne area, starting already in 1937 (it is certainly a car that would be difficult to miss). Blanc and Vaney (Sr.) had offered Blaser CHF500 (under $200 at the time) for the “remains” of the V16, as and where it lay. Their plan (before Belet arrived and snatched up the car for 9 times what the pair had offered), was to sell the “wreck” for scrap metal but to keep the chassis, drive-train and motor, restore it and mount it in  a fast speedster body they envisaged!

Chris recalled having played in the car while his Dad and Mr. Blanc were discussing purchasing the “wreck”. Unfortunately, neither he nor Mr. Blanc can remember what the car’s interior looked like. Such a Pity.



The “distraught” V16 roadster in Blaser's yard in Vinzel (note in this photo the new styled
road lights and bumpers that use parts from the original bumperettes as impact guards)

(Both photos: © 1968 and courtesy J.-J. Belet)


Some 15 years later, while Gita and I were walking the dog, after a tasty meal of Malakoffs (delicious, lightly breaded, deep fried cheese balls) in Vinzel, we chanced upon the very spot where the Hartmann V16 had lain, sadly neglected, for five years. The farmhouse in the background gave the place away.


The replacement headlights now are gone but the stanchions remain;
amazingly, the ornate “V16” grille medallion always escaped the
nimble-fingers of the many car buffs who must have eyed it with envy!

Check out the farmhouse in the background; it is still there;
the V16 was ensconced in the undergrowth on the left of the photo


After some History, now some Geography


Map of the 3 villages mentioned in the story


Aerial view of the village of Vinzel and the surrounding countryside

The “red dots” mark the places where the car’s “Swiss history” unfolded:
1) The village of Bussigny, near Lausanne, once home to the V16
2) The village of Vinzel where the car was “left out in the rain” after 1964
3) Our former home in Chambésy, near Geneva, where I wrote this story

Chatting with some of the local village folk, in 1972, I was able to glean more information about Marcel Blaser (who, they said, had died in the early 70s), as well as about Mr. Belet, whom I learned had bought the car from Blaser in 1969. 


The V16 is Saved

Back in the summer of 1968, when Mr. Belet realized that the car was a Cadillac and that furthermore it was powered by an engine with 16 cylinders, he recognized immediately that despite its poor condition (it had lain outside for a few years with a damaged canvas top), it was definitely a collector’s item worth buying and attempting to restore. He made inquiries about the possibility of finding the spare parts that might be needed for its restoration then returned to Gilly in early 1969 to talk business with Mr. Blaser.

How could the latter possibly refuse Belet's offer of CHF4000 (around $925 at the time) for what he (Blaser) considered to be just another old, used car in very poor condition. So, the car changed hands on February 4, 1969. Mr. Blaser handed Mr. Belet a scribbled receipt in exchange for four, crisp, new, one-thousand-franc bills (the highest denomination among Swiss bank notes).


The scribbled receipt


Although he was not the rightful owner, Blaser was convinced that Philippe Barraud would be pleased to learn that the Cadillac had been sold and that it had commanded such a “high” price!

It turned out, nevertheless, that Philippe was very upset that the car had been sold without his prior consent. So upset was he, in fact, that he filed suit against both the seller (Blaser) and the buyer (Belet). In the ensuing legal battle, both parties claimed they had acted in good faith. The car was old and in visibly poor condition. The owner had neglected it for years. Mr. Belet had made what Blaser considered to be a very reasonable offer for the broken-down car and so he (Blaser) had not hesitated to sell it.

When I talked with Mr. Belet in 1987, he showed me copies of correspondence exchanged with Mr. Barraud’s lawyer. The latter contended it was common knowledge that his client had no intention of (ever) selling the Cadillac. He had been approached often but had refused consistently all offers ever made for the car.

The case went to court. I have a copy of the subpoena issued to Mr. Belet, requiring him to appear at the Courthouse in Rolle, Switzerland, on October 16, 1969. The judge found that there were no reasonable grounds for prosecution. The case was dismissed and Mr. Belet was allowed to keep the car.

Philippe’s nephew later confided in me that Philippe kept a loaded Beretta automatic at his home and declared he would use it against the “thief” if ever he ran into him in the street. Luckily, “never the twain did meet” (Kipling).

A thing to remember about “old American cars”: they were cheap, in Europe, up to the late sixties; they had not yet acquired “collector status”. No rational-minded motorist would have wished, ever, to own (even less BUY) one ... except Cadillac-crazy me, perhaps. I remember buying my first car, at Xmas 1966, when I was already  26 years old. It cost then just under $390! It was a beautiful, running 1956 Cadillac Sedan de Ville, formerly owned by a Swiss banker. Remember that gorgeous 1956 ad: The Xmas they'll never forget? Certainly, it was a Xmas I have never forgotten!




First Major Restoration

Belet told me how difficult it had been for his apprentice, a then young André Chabloz, to retrieve the Cadillac from the undergrowth that had engulfed it. A jungle of wild shrubs and bramble bushes held the V16 a prisoner in their prickly grasp.

Jean-Jacques B. owned a Mitsubishi franchise and body repair shop in Mont-sur-Lausanne; he had Chabloz start on restoring the “wreck” almost immediately. Unfortunately, neither Belet nor Chabloz had any documents or photos of the V16 when it was new; Philippe was so infuriated about losing the court case, and the car, that he would never have given the new owner any information about it, so the restoration work had to proceed by sheer guesswork. Belet did not know, for example, that Barraud had damaged severely the car’s front ensemble; the latter had been unable to stand up to frequent “bashing” against various stationary obstacles (or other vehicles) which must have been almost invisible beyond the car's very long hood.

He had been forced to replace the original flimsy bumpers with stronger, diamond-section steel bars, welded into shape and resembling the French, Batain-type. The debris from the original bumpers were even used as over-riders for the new front units; these over-riders too had been destroyed long before restoration work began in 1969. Indeed, Philippe must have given even the new, stronger bumpers a rough time with his own particular style of driving (and not braking), as witnessed by the condition of his former 1934 custom-built LaSalle convertible (photo).


Philippe’s nephew, Daniel Zufferey, has among his papers
a copy of the police report relating to this accident


Not only had the original front, double-bumpers (or bumperettes) been destroyed after a rather more severe collision, but also the tear-drop road lights mounted inboard of the huge front fenders had been smashed and put out of commission for good. Philippe realized it would have been very costly to have Hartmann manufacture a new pair of to match the unique tear-drop units cast specially for the Cadillac, back in 1937; he simply had them replaced with a pair of bullet-shaped headlights off a smaller, European car (possibly a Citroën).


Bumper over-riders were fashioned from the original bumperettes


During this initial restoration/repair work, the grille too was dismantled and repaired. It was given an entirely new look, similar to Cadillac’s later, popular “egg-crate” grille designs. The V16 medallion was repositioned on the left of the grille, and much lower down.


Non-Original Front Ensemble

By 1968, there was little left also of the original front clip. The original grille had consisted of three horizontal and thirty-one vertical bars. For the next almost 50 years, the V16 medallion remained in the new position in which it had been placed after the major repairs done to the car in the mid-sixties. The resulting front ensemble lost much of the finesse of Hartmann’s original design.

Also missing were the Hartmann nameplates, located originally on the sill plate below each door. These may have disappeared when Philippe had the Cadillac repainted the first or second time (brass replacements were fashioned in 2017).



The first major restoration was completed by the second owner, J.-J. Belet, in the spring of 1970. Round, red reflectors were added above the rear bumper to conform to new Swiss safety regulations. Also removed were the stanchions above the left and right tail lights; the one on the left had carried the car's rear license plate while that on the right bore the acronym CH, which is the country code/acronym) for Switzerland from the Latin, Confaederatio Helvetica, i.e. the Helvetic (or “Swiss”) Confederation.


Belet00.jpg (7930 bytes)

Nearing completion in 1970, the V16 seen here is still missing the front grille;

also, the original, enclosed “tear-drop” fender moldings are not painted the color of the stripe


Belet03.jpg (7200 bytes)   Belet02.jpg (21980 bytes)

Outing of the VCCR (Veteran Car Club of French-Speaking Switzerland), 7/1970 
(all 3 Photos: © 1970, courtesy J.-J. Belet)


Mr. Belet pointed out to me, in 1987, the poor workmanship that had gone into building this otherwise exceptional automobile. Only when the body was removed from the frame during restoration did he discover what kind of a “Mickey-Mouse” job Hartmann had done of building it.

Between 1970 and 1972, Mr. Belet used the car only sporadically for outings of the Veteran Car Club in Lausanne, including one outing to Zürich (about 200 miles off the “auroroute”, the Swiss Interstate). Photos of the restored car were taken during one of these outings by Mr. G.N. Georgano, Head Librarian of the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, England; two of them appeared much later in the readers’ column of Special Interest Autos No 2 (February, 1982); incidentally, the Cadillac was described there – in error – as a 1935 model!


The 2 photos taken by Mr. Georgano in Switzerland

Third Owner (1971)

On the occasion one such meeting, Patrice de Witte had turned up at the wheel of a superb Hispano-Suiza (or was it a Delage?). Each of the two auto enthusiasts had fallen for the car of the other. By the day's end, the pair had agreed to exchange their cars; no money changed hands. The trade took place in the early summer of 1972; the Cadillac was driven the 100 or so miles from Lausanne, in Switzerland, to Mâcon, in France, by André Chabloz, the young mechanic who had restored it.

Patrice, a fellow collector of antique and classic cars, a resident of Mâcon in the Saône valley, was a Frenchman and would-be châtelain  (i.e. the owner  of  an  estate  and castle in France). I use the expression “would-be châtelain” because – as I found out later  from Patrice’s niece, Florence, in 2018 –  the estate and castle were in fact owned by her grandmother, then by her “good” son, then by Florence herself. She described Patrice as a waster, in French a bon à rien) [3].


This PC of  Château Montvaillant is from the teens


Patrice’s (?) stately home, like most French stately homes in the 50s, was neglected owing to the high cost of repairing and restoring them. The Château de Montvaillant, as it is called, is located some 20 miles west of Mâcon, in France’s Saône valley, in a village by the name of Clermain near Brandon. There, on the grounds of the estate, in various hangars, garages and other storage premises in the vicinity of the château (which had belonged to his mother before she bequeathed it to her “good” son), Patrice kept an interesting collection of British classic and French antique vehicles.

Inside this WW2 “Nissen” shelter, were 3 brass-era French antiques, this 1937 Cadillac
   V16 roadster and a 30’s Rolls Royce town car; the latter was used to pull the Cadillac out



Picking up the Trail

It was about this time that I picked up the trail of the car through both Eddy Strebel, an acquaintance and journalist for the Swiss weekly Automobil Revue, and Christian Vaney, a young admirer of Cadillac automobiles who had not hesitated to ride his “moped” (a 15-mph motor-bicycle) 100 miles just to have a closer look at this fantastic car!

I made the trip to Mâcon/Clermain in the fall of 1973, much more comfortably in my then VW Variant station-wagon. Needless to say, during this initial visit, I photographed the Cadillac from every possible angle.




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     Mine01d.jpg (7335 bytes)      



Two rare views of the Hartmann roadster with the “shower top” partly installed
(Mâcon, 1974 - © 1974, Ron VanGelderen)



News of the Special V16 Leaks to the USA

The snap-shots I took in Mâcon [above], and a short article about this V16, were published later in the Self-Starter, monthly newsletter of the Cadillac-LaSalle Club, Inc. (February, 1974). They were reprinted, later, in Torque, the magazine of the Michigan Region Classic Car Club of America (July-August, 1974), and a third time in Antique Automobile, the magazine of the Antique Automobile Club of America (March-April, 1975). Two of my pictures were used also in Roy Schneider's authoritative book, Sixteen-Cylinder Motor Cars.

The story and pictures of the Hartmann car aroused considerable interest in the United States. As a result, I made many new friends among Cadillac enthusiasts in America. Some of them flew specially to Switzerland just to have a closer look at the rare V16. Among them were the late Ron Van Gelderen, twice President of the Cadillac-LaSalle Club, Inc., the late Jack Tallman, then a well-known Cadillac dealer and collector of Decatur, IL, one of the founder members of the CLC (he visited with his wife Marilyn and two daughters, Jill & Joy, in the summer of 1974), and the late Ray and Dorothy Radford of the Classic Car Club of America (I assume they both have passed away, as they were in their early 60s in 1974).


Straight from the Source

Much of the story material in these pages was still missing in 1973. At that time, I was sure that both Philippe Barraud (the first owner) and Willy Hartmann (the coach-builder) had passed away many years earlier. I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, to find out, in mid-1987, that both gentlemen were still alive and in good health. I was fortunate to be able to talk to both of them and to obtain from the source, so to speak, the real facts about this exceptional roadster and to dispel once and for all the various myths that surround it.

When asked what the special V16 roadster had cost, neither Philippe nor Willy could remember exact prices although both of them put forward from memory the approximate figures of CHF30,000 for the bare chassis and motor (around $6000 in the late thirties) and CHF12,000 francs more for the body (circa $2400); that’s about $150,000 in today’s dollars ... “only” about 40% more than a new 2018 Escalade today!


History of fully-enclosed fenders

Olley Ray Courtney's 1934 motorcycle with fully-enclosed front wheel probably was the first streamlined vehicle with that styling feature. The flowing bodywork was shaped entirely from steel, using a power hammer.

So far as I know, the first 4-wheeled automobile to adopt such fenders was the special roadster shown at the was built in 1936 on the chassis of a (1935) 500K (540K?) model from 1934 that was first shown during the Automobile & Motorcycle Exhibition held in Berlin that year.

German Auto Show in Berlin, in March 1935. was built in 1936 on the chassis of a (1935) 500K (540K?) model from 1934 that was first shown during the Automobile & Motorcycle Exhibition held in Berlin that year.

was built in 1936 on the chassis of a (1935) 500K (540K?) model from 1934 that was first shown during the Automobile & Motorcycle Exhibition held in Berlin that year.

It is said that the (authentic) base car mentioned by Mercedes-Benz Passion was built in 1936 on the chassis of a (1935) 500K (540K?) model from 1934 that was first shown during the Automobile & Motorcycle Exhibition held in Berlin that year.

It is said that the (authentic) base car mentioned by Mercedes-Benz Passion was built in 1936 on the chassis of a (1935) 500K (540K?) model from 1934 that was first shown during the Automobile & Motorcycle Exhibition held in Berlin that year.

At the same venue were shown also a 6-cyl Opel and a Mercedes-Benz 540K Sports Cabriolet, both sporting custom coachwork by the German firm of Erdmann & Rossi.

Examples (old and new) of fully enclosed fender styles


Was Hartmann First?

Willy Hartmann had gained recognition four years earlier with a prize-winning phaeton design on an Isotta-Fraschini chassis. So, despite the fact that the Delahaye was on display at the Paris Salon, in October 1936, two or three months before work was begun on the 1937 Cadillac V16, Hartmann insisted that the likeness between the two cars is pure coincidence. If anyone could claim to have been wronged in the deal, Georges Hamel (aka “Geo Ham”) of Paris is that person.  Nevertheless, in my opinion, considering that the phaeton body which Hartmann designed in 1932 for the Countess of Varax, is an almost identical replica of a 1929 French proposal for the Voisin 12-cylinder model, I think Hartmann might well have been a habitual “borrower” of designs from the competition!  Many of these designs and design proposals were published in a trade magazine of the time called La Carrosserie Française, which was readily available to anyone closely or indirectly connected with the building of automobile bodies.

Here is a typical example of a borrowed design: (left) Hartmann’s creation: a 1932 Hispano Suiza;
(right) a catalog design for a Voisin phaeton, from France’s “La Carrosserie Automobile”


The Figoni & Falaschi Myth

It has been said that Hartmann “borrowed” his design from Figoni & Falaschi, in Paris. Mr. Hartmann denied this vigorously. He claimed that both he and other European coachbuilders like Erdmann and Rossi in Germany had been working on fully-enclosed fender designs like this already for a couple of years. He agreed, nevertheless, that there was a marked likeness between his design for the Cadillac and the F&F Delahaye designed by French artist, Geo Ham, for the Paris Salon, in 1936. The Hispano Suiza in the preceding two photos are typical “copy-cat” designs of the period.

Fig&FalA.jpg (13947 bytes)
The drawing by Geo Ham based on which F&F created their custom Delahaye


The striking resemblance between the Hartmann Cadillac and the Figoni & Falaschi  Delahaye was one of the reasons why a rumor spread in the mid-eighties that, in fact, the car had got a genuine body by the Italo-French coach-builders. That story was blown up and propagated by the popular French monthly car magazine, Nitro, which added (to compound the myth) that the car had been commissioned by South-American Bolivian tin magnate, Simon Patiño of Bolivia. In a classified ad published by Tom Barrett III, in April 1987, the latter mis-information was compounded, deformed and re-cast as the incomprehensible “Betino Tin Magnet” (i.e. “Patiño the tin magnate”).

I have to admit that I was indirectly “involved” in the Patiño myth that began in 1982-83. Six years earlier, in October, 1977, a young Graziella Ortiz, daughter of George Ortiz and grand-daughter of said Simon Patiño, was kidnapped in Geneva. That drama caused quite a stir in the Swiss and French press. One uninformed French journalist got some of the story wrong when he asserted, in Nitro (and I did nothing to contradict him; he was just a lazy journalist who did not stop to check his facts), that the Hartmann car had been commissioned by Graziella’s grandpa, the Bolivian tin magnate. It is quite possible the rumor began during the Swiss/German “Veedol Star Parade” in 1982. Anyway, it made for a good (and lasting, but erroneous) tale, leastways a more exciting one than that of an unknown (at the time) Swiss coach-builder named Willy Hartmann!

Barrett's many ads published from 1985 through 1989 frequently (and deliberately?) misrepresented the car and mis-spelled the F&F names; rarely was the (then unknown) coach-builder, Willy Hartmann, ever mentioned.  Barrett ads, of which I am posting some here, include these spelling mistakes (and untruths): (a) Fagoni-Flaschi designed(b) Figoni & Falaschi body(c) body by Figoni & Falaschi(d) design by Fagoni/Falaschi(e) body by Hartmann, design by Fagoni/Falaschi (this last statement being somewhat closer to the truth).

By comparison, the “ph...ph... phony and ff...ff... flashy” Delahaye was just a fraction of the size of the Cadillac and has RH steering, where the Cadillac has LH steering. Also the belt-line of the Delahaye roadster dips considerably, just aft of the doors (a bit like the 1953 Cadillac Eldorado), whereas the belt-line on the Hartmann V16 is perfectly straight. Furthermore, the forward edge of the rear fenders on the Delahaye were fitted with a courtesy light, for the convenience of occupants entering or alighting from the car at night, whereas there are none on the Cadillac.

On the other hand, the design of the fully-enclosed fenders front and rear, as well as the dorsal fin running down the center of the tapering rear section is a perfect match on both cars.


Hartmann Production

The Swiss coachbuilder estimated, in 1987, that he had customized or built from scratch a total of approximately fifty automobile bodies in the eleven years from the time he set up shop in 1928, up to September 1939, when WWII broke out in Europe. He told me, when I spoke to him in 1987, that he had burned most of his records (!!!) in the Fall of 1939 to make room for new business needs at the outbreak of the war, when he had been commissioned by the Swiss government to build special vehicles for the army.


Hartmann V16 Handling

In the mid-seventies, while the car was owned by Patrice de Witte, I was able to drive it on “his” estate. At that time, it had severe distributor problems. By comparison with some other V16s in which Gita and I were honored to be driven during our regular visits to the USA, this one sounded and handled like a truck! Considering the prices quoted for the car in the eighties – and the estimated current (2018) valuation of the car – I sincerely hope that both the ride and handling have been improved!


Fourth Owner (1977)

In February 1977, Mr. de Witte – who passed away shortly thereafter – sold the V16 to another French collector, Mr. Michel Payet of Lyons, in France. He it was who added the tall flag-staffs at the outer ends of the front bumpers, to fill the holes left there when the original, acorn-shaped, orange turn-signal indicators were removed during the Belet restoration. Mr. Payet said these tall markers helped him to gauge the outer limits of the huge automobile while steering it through city traffic.

The fourth owner was discreet about the price he had paid for the car; he admitted only that it had cost him about the same price as a good, second-hand Mercedes-Benz ( ... call it $20,000, OK?).




This is how the Hartmann car looked when Michel Payet got it from 
Pat De Witte, shortly before the latter's death in the late seventies.
The LH photo is an interesting bird's-eye view with Michel at the wheel 
(Photos: © and courtesy M. Payet)


The two, long flag-staffs were fitted by Michel to help him
gauge the car's width while driving France's narrow roads 


The Veedol Star Parade

The V16 was loaned by Michel Payet to the organizers of the Auto-show der Superlative and Veedol Starparade that toured major cities in West Germany between May and October 1982. That event had been organized by Swiss businessman, Prosper du Bois-Reymond in partnership with Roman Weyl, a German car collector. On that occasion, the 1937 Cadillac had shared the limelight with the following other “super-cars” (inter alia):

·        1927 Rolls Royce Phantom (formerly owned by silent-screen star, Greta Garbo)

·        1935 Auburn Speedster

·        1936 V-12 Maybach Zeppelin

·        1941 Chrysler (Indianapolis Pace-Car)

·        1949 Talbot Lago roadster (with body by Saoutchik, Paris)

·        1955 T-Bird roadster (former owner: Marilyn Monroe)

·        1956 “Psychedelic” Bentley (former owners: The Beatles)

Mr. Payet reported that before the show went on the road, the organizers invested a few thousand French francs in minor mechanical repairs and some cosmetic work to the car. A full report on the German show appeared both in a color brochure published by Veedol and in Classic and Special Interest Cars, in the summer of 1982.

Unfortunately, the show appears to have been mismanaged and many of the private collectors who had loaned their beautiful cars found that they were required to bear a part or all of the cost of having them shipped back home. So it was for Mr. Payet and the Cadillac V16!



The Hartmann car on show in Berlin, in May 1982; the 
sign in the background reads “Pininfarina, Michaelangelo 

of the Automobile”; equally apt, perhaps, would have been: 
Willy Hartmann, Rubens of the Automobile



Retro-Lyon, 1983

From December 9-12, 1983, the V16 was exhibited again at Retro-Lyon, a now popular annual event in Lyons, the provincial capital of France. A report on the 1983 meet was published in the French monthly magazine Nitro (equivalent to America's Hot Rod). As I mentioned before, it was Nitro that propagated the myth about the car having been designed by Figoni & Falaschi and built for South-American tin millionaire, Simon Patiño, whose son-in-law was a long-time resident of Geneva. and whose daughter had been abducted there in 1977[4].


All the fun of the fair serves as a
fitting backdrop to a rare automobile


, Paris, 1985

The Cadillac was seen next in public in Paris, from February 8-17, 1985 at the annual Rétromobile show. At that show, whether by accident or design, it stood next to a 1938 Talbot-Lago roadster with a genuine body by Figoni & Falaschi (blue car below). You will see in the photos, below, that the car still carried the two long flag staffs installed by Michel Payet. In France's Automobile Magazine for March 1985 there was a cutting in which the alleged “Patiño” connection was reiterated; the writer mentioned:  ... unique cars that are rarely ever seen, like that impressive 1937 Cadillac convertible coupe with a 16-cylinder engine and body by Hartman (with only one 'n') for a demanding client, Mr. Patiño, the “King of tin”




“Rétromobile 1985” was quite an event! At far right you can barely catch
a glimpse of the blue 1938 Talbot (above) coachbuilt by Figoni & Falaschi


Left: in three of these photos are plainly visible the two, long flag-staffs that were fitted by 
Michel Payet; the upholstery was restored by Jean-Jacques Belet, in 1970; in a later
restoration (Lecoq, Paris), the original biscuit and button design was changed to 3” piping



This ad was published by Michel Payet in Hemmings (issue # unknown, but circa 1985)

Fifth Owner (1985) - 2nd Major Restoration [5] 

The car was on show in Paris, in 1985, during the Rétromobile show.  At that time it was in the hands of famed Parisian auto restorer, André Lecoq. I have not been able to determine if Lecoq had bought the car from Mr. Payet, or whether the latter had commissioned Lecoq simply to restore the car. Let’s assume he had bought it! 

Plan of the 1985 Rétromobile show in Paris; an arrow points to the Lecoq stand



Sixth Owner (1985)

According to Don Williams of the Imperial Palace collection, Las Vegas, and the Blackhawk Museum Collection in Danville, CA, he (Don Williams) made Lecoq an offer for the car; a gentleman's contract was entered into with a simple handshake. When Don came back, later, to discuss arrangements for shipping the V16 back to the USA, Lecoq sheepishly acknowledged that he had accepted a higher offer from a wealthy Iranian-American businessman, a Mr. P.A. Parviz, a resident of London, England (Mr. Payet would not divulge the price paid by Mr. Parviz, the fifth owner; he said, nevertheless, that it was equivalent to the cost of “three or four” new Mercedes-Benz models - my estimate, at that time: $150,000).

Extract from Pebble Beach report, 1985 (?); it is said that
Parviz acquired also in Paris the “Clark Gable” 1935 Duesenberg;
it was sold (once again) during the 2018 Pebble Beach event


Lecoq informed me, by letter that he had worked on the car for eight months. While he was adamant to quote any definitive figures, I assume that labor charges alone must have amounted to close to 400'000 French francs (approximately $65'000 at that time). Mechanical work, he said, had been limited to checking out the various components (engine, transmission, etc.), adjusting the brakes and completely rewiring the car. The Lecoq workshops put a lot of effort into upgrading the body and interior. The body was completely stripped down and new metal welded into the spots where rust had taken over; it was then re-sprayed with a nitro-cellulose lacquer.

At this time, a non-original metal panel, complete with central fin to match the existing fin on the rear body, was fashioned to cover the top boot when the car was used in the open convertible mode; press studs were installed to hold the soft top in place when in use. The original Chevrolet truck tail-lights were replaced with more streamlined, chrome-plated “bullet” tail-lights, similar to the kind used on the Cadillac V16 models of 1932 and 1933. The (Swiss mandatory) circular, red reflectors were removed also during this second restoration. A final touch was the delicate, cream-colored pinstriping carefully applied by hand around the fenders, the body stripe and each individual hood vent.

The Lecoq workshops also replaced the light tan upholstery (installed in 1969-70) by an unnamed professional upholsterer) with new, black leather. Seat and seat-back were fashioned in 3-inch, tufted piping that (in the absence of any period photos) had been replaced in 1969-70 with a design featuring large biscuits and buttons as well as  large map pockets on the inner door panels. These were deleted and the panels were dressed with a sun-burst design (a popular trade-mark of Paris’ Jacques Saoutchik in the thirties) in shiny black leather.

Mr. Lecoq removed also the unsightly radio antenna from the RH side of the cowl, as well as the radio itself. The instrument panel was restored and finished in black lacquer in lieu of the original cream color. A large “St. Christopher” medallion (the patron saint of travelers) was placed in front of the driver, in place of the radio.   Simultaneously, some knobs and switches were replaced and the windshield wiper motor housings were chrome-plated. It is possible also that Lecoq added the “tear-drop” tail-lights currently seen on the car (1989-90) and that resemble those of the regular 1932 Cadillac models.

The most unseemly part of the second major restoration was, in my opinion, the  (excessive) chrome-plating of the lower, raised panels on the front and rear fender covers. Although European coach-builders such as Figoni & Falaschi, as well as Jacques Saoutchik, often used such extensive expanses of chrome-plating on their more lavish Salon creations in the thirties, in my opinion, its gleaming presence on this huge American automobile looks completely out of place.

It is most unfortunate that neither Belet nor Lecoq had access to the original, early photos of the car nor any contact with either Willy Hartmann, the designer, or Philippe Barraud, the first owner.  As a result, the front ensemble, lateral design and interior of the restored car now differ quite radically from the original car.




Lecoq’s new “black & white” paint job … and lots of chrome; his high-quality restoration work
included a redesigned cockpit including the design of the seat, seat-back and inner door panels



Intricate detailing included painstakingly pinstriping by hand
the various body moldings and hood vent openings


There has been already so much myth, inaccuracy and hype surrounding this car that I would not be surprised if I saw it advertised for sale again, in a few years time, for $n-million dollars and described as a V16 Cadillac “… designed by Figoni et Falaschi, with an interior by Jacques Saoutchik of Paris and custom-tuned engine by Hartmann of Lausanne, Switzerland ... a fabulous car with the elegance of French master coachbuilders and the precision of a Swiss watch!”

Later, after the two restorations we have seen described in these last few pages, I believe it has come time to quote from an old proverb we all know: “Many cooks spoil the broth”. Indeed, too many well-intentioned (?) persons in the world of car collecting got a hold of the V16 and – in my opinion – “spoiled the broth” … in a deliberate attempt to pass off the Hartmann car as a creation by Figoni & Falaschi


The V16 Roadster Goes “Back Home”

In September, 1985, the V16 roadster returned to its native America, following almost a half century spent in the olde worlde (35 years in Switzerland and 15 years in France).

In January, 1986 it was offered for sale at the annual Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. There, it was labeled as the V16 roadster by “Von Hartmann”.  I assume that name was copied from the Veedol Star Parade program, written in German; in that language, “von” simply means “by” or “of”; in other words, this was not the “Von Hartmann” roadster but simply the “roadster by Hartmann”. Yes, the folks at Barrett seem to have a problem with foreign names and phrases!

Auction results published in February 1986 show that the car was bid up to $475'000, which, in my opinion, was about $200’000 more than its intrinsic worth at that time. It did not find a buyer; presumably the owner's reserve was much higher.

Later that same year the V16 was shown at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elégance where it is said to have been greatly admired (unfortunately, I have not found a photo of the car at that venue). There was a brief report on that event in Old Cars Weekly for September 18, 1986 (no luck finding that issue either). At that time, the owner of the car was still identified as Mr. P.A. Parviz of London. Perhaps he had a lay-away arrangement with Mr. Barrett.


Seventh Owner-Speculator (1986) ... and a lot of hype

Although I have found no record of the transaction, I assume that Mr. Parviz eventually sold the car in late 1985 or early 1986 to well-known collector-auctioneer, Thomas Barrett III. I caught a glimpse of it in mid-1987, in a magazine called The Duesenberg Experience; on page 20 was a picture of the new owner, standing among what was described in the caption as a part of his vast car collection. Clearly visible in the background, on the right of the photo, was the huge Cadillac V16 roadster in its latest incongruous garb.

v637hmny.jpg (5915 bytes)
Tom Barrett III with two cars in his collection;
Left, a 1934 La Salle; right, the Hartmann V16


Considering the number and wording of the various ads run in the specialized press immediately after the last-but-one owner acquired the car, in my opinion he bought it merely for speculation, probably hoping to cash in on the much-bandied Figoni-Falaschi myth.


87-88-BarrettAds1.jpg   87-88-BarrettAds2.jpg   87-88-BarrettAds2a.jpg

87-88-BarrettAds3.jpg   89-BarrettAds2.jpg

Above, right, following the repaint to “fire-engine” red,
 in 1989-90, the selling price suddenly

Somewhere in this series of ads was the one captioned immediately above
that advertised the V16 correctly as having a “body by Hartmann”;
was it the “truth” that caused the asking price to reach $3,500,000?  
Unfortunately, I misplaced the image(s) published with that ad


Precision and correct spelling were not among “TWB”’s forte
This large spread appeared in the UK’s “Thoroughbred and Classic  Cars for January, 1990

The Myth is perpetuated – (un)truth in advertising

As may be seen, above, the car was regularly advertised for sale in the mid- to late eighties, by Thomas W. Barrett III, in various hobby publications, but principally in Hemmings Motor News; it was described variously (and often untruthfully) as:

·        1937 Cadillac V16 Fagoni-Flaschi (sic) designed 2 passenger roadster (wrong spelling of Figoni & Falaschi as well as untruthful assertion that they designed the car).


·        1935 Cadillac V16 Roadster (wrong year), body by Hartmann (correct!), design by Fagoni/Falaschi (again a mere assumption and half the name is spelled incorrectly).


·        1937 Cadillac V16 two-place roadster with a one-of-a-kind body by Figoni & Falaschi (untruthful assertion but correct spelling of the F&F names). Built for Betino Tin Magnet [6] (this, again, is a 100% false assertion since we know – and BJ knew very well – that the car was effectively built by Willy Hartmann of Lausanne   for Philippe Barraud, the son of a wealthy roofing tile manufacturer in Switzerland).  Stored in Switzerland for most of its life (the word “stored” here is incongruous considering that the car lay in an open field for almost three years); 155-inch wheelbase (in fact, 154 inches). Largest Cadillac V16 ever built, 21 feet long. Price $1,250,000 (this ad appeared in Hemmings in April, 1987).


·        1937 Cadillac V16 Roadster, Figoni & Falaschi body (once again am “untruth” but correct spelling of the coachbuilders' names), 22-feet long (one foot longer than the last time!), one of a kind, price $1,000,000 (note how the price was knocked down by a quarter-million dollars in the previous six-month period; this ad appeared on 2 pages in Hemmings for October, 1987)].


·        1937 Cadillac V16, Figoni and Falaschi body (again a false assertion). Newly restored (what had been done meantime?). Price $2,500,000 (this ad appeared in Hemmings in April, 1989; the car appeared a dark color in this B&W ad, so I'm assuming this was after it had been repainted “prize-winning red”; are we to believe that the “new restoration” work cost all of $1.5 million dollars?)


·        1937 Cadillac V16 two-door convertible, body by Hartmann (at last, the truth). Price $3,500,000  (this ad was part of a 3-page spread by Barrett-Jackson; unfortunately, two of the photo captions were reversed and a Mercedes 600 Pullman limousine from the 60s appeared in place of the V16; however, because the seller assumed that nobody in the USA ever heard of Willy Hartmann, he added that the V16 was built on a “...design by Fagoni/Falaschi” (a further “fabrication” and incorrect spelling of Figoni this time). Nonetheless, that “designer label” was enough, it seems, to justify a price hike of a further million dollars over the previous ad!


·        1935 Cadillac V16 Roadster (wrong year again), body by Hartmann (correct), design by Fagoni/Falaschi (more untruths and mis-spelling of Figoni; the latter ad was
  published in Thoroughbred & Classic Cars in January, 1990.



In this view, you can make out the raised “teardrop” shapes on 
 the lower front and rear fenders that have been chrome plated (!)


Despite all these attractive (and deceptive) ads, the car did not sell. Potential buyers presumably were baffled by the corrupted rendering of the myth about the car having been built for Simon Patiño, the Bolivian “King of Tin”, a tall story that had been spread, initially, by France's Nitro magazine and, later, in the well-known French auto magazine l'Automobile for March 1985.

The repeated, untruthful assertions about the car having a “...one-of-a-kind body by Figoni & Falaschi” was, in my opinion, a deliberate attempt by the seller to artificially boost the roadster's (potential) value as a rare collectible automobile; indeed, in the 80s, in the USA, nobody had ever heard of a coachbuilder named “Willy Hartmann”; on the other hand, collector cars with authentic F&F bodies were selling in the 80s for high six and low seven figures. 

On October 22, 1987, I took it on myself to write to the Barrett-Jackson organization in Arizona to try to have corrected the myths (outright lies?) that were being propagated about the car in the specialized press. I provided ample documentary and photographic evidence (1) that the Hartmann V16 did NOT have a body by Figoni & Falaschi and (2) that it had NOT been built for the Bolivian magnate, Patiño.

My letter was never acknowledged. The folks at Barrett-Jackson were not about to publish the TRUE facts about the car ...and thus potentially diminish its “worth” on the collector market.

In a magazine article (Auto Gallery, September 1987), Dennis Adler, the well-known and respected auto-columnist, wrote about the car what he believed was factual information … up to that time, i.e. that the Hartmann car had been built for a wealthy South-American tin magnate. In October of 1986, he said, South American industrialist Carlos (actually Simon) Patiño was visiting the Paris Auto Salon, saw the Figoni et Falaschi Delahaye, and decided to have one like it ... so Patiño took his V16 to Switzerland (why Switzerland, of all places), and there commissioned the (relatively unknown) coachbuilding firm of Hartmann to copy (replicate) the 1936 Figoni Delahaye.  A good story … albeit a wee bit off the mark!





These photos appeared in “Auto” for September 1987)


Interestingly, Mr. Adler mentioned in his article that on January 23, 1988 the Hartmann car had been sold at auction, in Phoenix (Scottsdale?), Arizona, to Ken E. Behring of the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, CA, for a reported $750,000 ... a far cry from the $3,500,000 ticket that Tom Barrett put on the car the next year!

A Swiss friend, collector and V16 owner who attended the Scottsdale venue in 1988 said that the Cadillac had found no buyer; he does not recall the amount of the high bid.

No other ads that I know of appeared for the Hartmann car in 1988. 

A little more than a year later, in April 1989, new ads began to appear for the car. Again, it was stated untruthfully (despite my letter of admonition to Tom Barrett) that it had a “... Figoni & Falaschi body”. The car was said to have been newly restored; it was now a dark “color” on the B&W ad.

I don't know if the V16 was on the block, in Scottsdale, in January, 1989; I suspect it may have been undergoing further “restoration” at that time, including being repainted “collector car red” to further enhance its marketability.

In Auto-Week for January 1990, it was said that during the (BJ) weekend auction of 18-21 January, 1990 the Hartmann V16 had been sold (for the 2nd time?) to Ken Behring of the Blackhawk Auto Museum in California, this time for $1,400,000. If this were true then, as I had surmised, there had been “no sale” at Scottsdale, in 1988, but possibly only a high bid.  Indeed, it was reported that same week in Old Cars Weekly (January 4, 1990) that the car was part of Tom Barrett’s private collection

So, there is definitely more to the story than meets the eye! Another press cutting, reporting on the auction, said: “... a 1937 V16 Harman-bodied Cadillac roadster went for $1.4 million”. In the body of the article it was stated: “... next in line was a 1937 Cadillac V16, Hartmann-bodied roadster, which went for $1.4 million”.



In the British monthly Thoroughbred and Classic Cars for January 1990, there was a two-page spread about the 1990 edition of the annual classic car auction at Scottsdale, Arizona. The text accompanying a photo of the Hartmann car read correctly (apart from the year of the car) “... 1935 Cadillac V16 Roadster, body by Hartmann”.

Although I had sent the owner documentary proof of the car’s Swiss “ancestry”, the false Figoni et Falaschi appellation continued to appear in all sales advertisements.


Eighth Owner (1991) and Third Restoration/Facelift

Presumably owing to the early unsuccessful attempts to sell the car (in the period from 1987 to 1989), BJ decided to “re-vamp” the Cadillac in the hope of further enhancing its marketability. During that third restoration, in 1989, which – in my opinion – was totally unnecessary, the original gas-filler cap was recessed below the rear deck, access being now through a flush-mounted, hinged panel. The convertible top studs were removed to accentuate the smooth curves of the rear body. The car was repainted for the fourth time in its history; the color chosen was “fire-engine” red (vermilion). No doubt the owner wanted to cash in on the old adage about red cars always winning the first prize ... or, in this case, fetching the highest selling price! That repaint destroyed the delicate pinstriping that had been meticulously and painstakingly applied by André Lecoq's team in 1985.

Old Cars Weekly for January 4, 1990 published this photo of the “newly restored” Hartmann car, stating it was to be featured at the upcoming Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, on “Jan. 18-21”. The weekly journal added, The stunning Hartman(one ‘n’)-bodied vehicle is part of Tom Barrett’s private collection.



The image on the left was published in a couple of press releases in 1990;
the one on the right was taken around the same time, in the BJ compound

On a humorous note, I read in Autoweek for February 19, 1990 that The old rascal himself (they said it; not I), auction founder Tom Barrett, parted with his outrageous '37 red “Cadillac” roadster, which bears no resemblance to any Cadillac or, for that matter, to anything ever made. The work of Hartman (again with only one 'n') of Zurich (actually, Lausanne, a town mostly unheard of in the USA in 1990) in those zany days before World War II, this car makes the Auburn Boat-tail look toadish (one sold for $210,000). A while back, one of Barrett's numerous lady friends, in a gay moment, drove another of his cars into the garaged '37, adding $145,000 to the evening's expenses.  Ah, well, Tom got $1.4 million from the Blackhawk boys (Ken Behring and Don Williams). “I love that car, but I was glad to see it go because I had such sad times with it,” he said.




After the 1989 “face-lift”, the Hartmann car went on display, on an elevated dais,
in Ken Behring's Blackhawk Museum Danville, California

The V16 found an ideal “exhibition spot”, on an elevated dais, in the Blackhawk Museum; there it was to spend the next approximately 25 years (1992 to 2017) … until it changed hands, circa 2013, and became effectively the property of well-known Kentucky classic-car collector, Jim Patterson. 

But let’s not jump the gun.


Back to Europe (Paris and Geneva), February and March 1991

At great expense, one might imagine, the Museum folks in Danville, CA, took the Hartmann car back to Europe, six years after it had returned to the USA and had begun to be “transformed” into something that must have made Willy Hartmann turn over in his grave!

The last time the Hartmann car had attended Paris’ now renowned, annual  Rétromobile show was in February 1985, when it was exhibited on the Lecoq stand (#405) after its restoration from “cream & brown” to “black, white and chrome” by André Lecoq’s team.

A few weeks later, in March 1991, I was able to get close to the car, in Geneva, during the annual Salon de l’Automobile that ran from March 7 to 17, 1991. The newly-painted-red car was exhibited, along with others, under the banner Barclay Fascination Cars (Barclay is a brand of cigarettes actively promoted and sold in Switzerland at the time).



On the stand at “Rétromobile”, in Paris, in February 1991
(these 4 photos © and courtesy Harry Wohlgroth)  

1991 Geneva Motor Show special exhibit




New Millennium History

On a trip to California, in 1999, where Gita and I attended the annual Cadillac-LaSalle Club, Inc. “Grand National” meet, the organizers had included a visit to the renowned Blackhawk Auto Museum in Danville, located some 45 miles NE of San Jose. 

Thanks to an introduction by a member of the CLC of Northern California and owing to the generous courtesy of the museum staff, I was allowed to clamber up onto the dais on which the Hartmann car was displayed, to photograph “up close” the coachbuilder's plate mounted on the right of the instrument panel. 

My worst fears were confirmed.  Someone had taken the extreme liberty of tampering with the original plate by adding (in French!) these new letters across the top of the triangular badge: “DESSIN ORIGINAL FIGONI FALASCHI” (i.e. “Original Design by Figoni Falaschi”).





Why would the seller of a car, with a known history of its origin, deliberately and fraudulently misrepresent it to potential buyers?  In my opinion, this 1973 extract from Milestone Car, the magazine of the Milestone Car Society of America, provides a plausible explanation:

The supply of Figoni et Falaschi designs available to the collector is strictly limited today, and those that have survived and occasionally come up for sale bring prices that rank with the cream of the classics ... 

One can easily understand why the seller(s) preferred to see the car associated with a renowned French coach-builder rather than with a (then) unknown Swiss artisan!

On the “fake” plate (lower image, far right, below), note the black (in lieu of white) merlettes (the “legless birds” on Cadillac’s recognized coat-of-arms since 1906 (https://www.newcadillacdatabase.org/static/CDB/Dbas_txt/Coatarms.htm), as well as the wider spacing between the Cadillac crest and the lower inscription; note also the different print used. In addition, only the word Cadillac is italicized on the “fake” plate, whereas on the original the word LAUSANNE also was in italics.

We are dealing here with the original Hartmann plate that was on the car when it left the coachbuilder’s shop in the fall of 1937. After years of use (and abuse), the same plate was restored correctly in 2018 and is currently back on the dash.

Good work by the RM team.


In 2018, my brother, Alain, drew this “flow chart” showing how the V16’s nameplate evolved


The Autoweek story, 1997

Nina Padgett, writing in Autoweek for March 17, 1997 (and obviously quoting almost verbatim the story of the Hartmann Cadillac published jointly by the late Ron Van Gelderen and myself in the glossy, annual, Cadillac Self Starter magazine for 1990) repeated the same mistake I had made when I inverted the words “front” and “rear” when referring to the position of the door hinges on the car; in fact, the doors of the Hartmann car are hinged at the front, whereas those on the regular Cadillac V16 convertible coupe are hinged at the rear. 

Nina's story differs slightly from my own in that she asserts that P.A. Parviz, the fifth owner, shipped the car to the USA before Lecoq was able to complete the second restoration.  We assume Parviz was hoping for a quick sale, but two years passed before the V16 was acquired by Tom Barrett. Nina said Barrett completed (?) the restoration begun by Lecoq in 1985; he (BJ) had the car painted red. In fact, the “red” repaint was done quite a few years after Lecoq finished the (2nd) major restoration when the car was repainted “black and white”. Nina asserted also (remember, she was writing in 1997) that the car was displayed “on loan” at the Blackhawk Museum, suggesting the car was still owned at the time by Tom Barrett.



In my opinion (yes, I know, I do tend to repeat myself … to avoid possible “legal repercussions”) the last-but-one restoration of this fascinating car (i.e. the “fire-engine” red monster) is an insult to both Willy Hartmann, the creator, and to André Lecoq, France's finest classic car restorer (now retired).

Who knows who or what to believe?

On a later trip to Las Vegas, where Gita and I were attending yet another annual Cadillac-LaSalle Club, Inc. “Grand National” meet (this time from June 17 to 21, 2009), a visit to the renowned Imperial Palace auto collection was included among the planned activities.  Gita and I had visited the exhibition once before, many years earlier; it is a revolving exhibition, where many of the cars on display are for sale. I noted that the quality of the cars on display was not what we had seen the last time; even the hotel itself was looking a bit decrepit. In fact, since that visit (2009), I believe all the better classics have been sold at auction.  

“Anyhoo …”, while touring the show, I noticed on the wall of the exhibit's “office” area a photo of the Hartmann car in its latest, gawdy garb. I said to Gita, pointing to the photo, “There’s the Hartmann V16”.

From the back office appeared a young man who had overheard my comment to Gita. We got chatting; he was surprised, he said, that I had named the red car correctly as the “Hartmann roadster”. He introduced himself as Rob Williams, son of Don, the museum owner; soon we were joined by Don himself; Don said he was familiar with my “Cadillac Database” and had studied with great interest the pages in it devoted to the Hartmann car; he was keen to correct some of my earlier “facts” about the car; he said, for example, that André Lecoq actually had reneged on a gentleman's agreement to sell him (Don) the “Swiss” car; Lecoq effectively had broken his word and accepted a higher offer from another buyer, the Iranian-American collector from London, P.A. Parviz. The latter subsequently had sold the car to Tom Barrett;  Don ultimately had bought the car from Tom, some five years later (1990-91?). I was surprised when Don asserted blandly that the “modified” F&F nameplate on the dash had been put there by Barrett himself

In March-April 2010, commenting on some photos that were featured on Yahoo's “Flickr” image galleries, photographer and auto buff Wayne Craig of Lodi, California, one of a number of docents at the Blackhawk Museum, said that a great deal of controversy arose when Figone (sic) and Falaschi sued Mr. Hartman (my emphasis and one ‘n’ again) over his design that heavily resembled a F&F design. The coachbuilder’s plate that currently rests on the dash board is the result of that settlement (?) and now indicates (that) both coachbuilders influenced the design

Mr. Craig was referring to the legal wrangling that had opposed F&F to French automobile artist, George Hamel (aka “Geo Ham”) in the mid-thirties; it related to an F&F design for a 1935 Delahaye Type 135M roadster with fully enclosed front and rear fenders, shown at the Paris Salon the following year. The coachbuilder’s plate that currently rests on the dash board, according to Mr. Craig, was a modified version of the Hartmann original (again my emphasis).

As Don Williams pointed out, the modification to the builder’s plate was done circa 1985-86 by Tom Barrett himself … banking on the F&F label to “boost” the cars market value.

The truth is that eleven of the mentioned 135M Delahaye roadsters were built from 1936 to 1939 (being the start of WW2). All were based on the Hamel design. He sued F&F (NOT Hartmann) after the 1936 Paris Auto Show and won the case.  The resulting court decree required that all 11 F&F cars carry two name badges, the “triangular” F&F badge on the body sill, below the doors and a rectangular brass one, just behind the doors that reads (in French) Creation Figoni-Falaschi-Geo Ham, modèle déposé No. 7 (i.e. Figoni-Falaschi-Geo Ham creation, registered design #7). A fine example of this double badging may be seen on 1937 M135 chassis #48667 that was sold at Amelia Island in 2014 for … $6.6 million!  

Whatever the case, by the time Barrett bought the car, in 1985-86, both Figoni and Falaschi would have been in their late 80s or early 90s; in addition, had there been any reason to file a suit against Willy Hartmann, the complainant would have been Geo Ham and NOT F&F. Ham died in June 1972, more than 10 years before Barrett acquired the Hartmann car … and decided he faced a legal obligation to include F&F (but not Geo Ham) on the dash badge. Like I said, had there been any reason to file a suit, the defendant would have been Willy Hartmann in 1937, not Tom Barrett half a century later!  

(I have found no badge for Geo Ham)


Ninth (possible) Owner

In April 2014 I heard from a reliable (?) source during the annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elégance that the Hartmann V16, although still on show at the Blackhawk Museum in California, had been acquired (already some time earlier) by Korean billionaire, Lee Kun-Hee, former chairman of the Samsung Group. The press reported that he had resigned his position after being charged with tax evasion and breach of trust, although the latter charges were subsequently dropped[7].

So far as I know, that “rumor” is not shared by the new owner, Jim Patterson of Louisville, Kentucky. He acquired the car circa 2013. In 2017-18 he had the folks at RM (Rob Meyers) in Canada bring it back to its original 1937 configuration. The “new” car was unveiled at Pebble Beach in August 2018. Gita and I were there, guests of Jim and RM.

At the show, I spoke with Don McLellan, the “genius” who “recreated” the original (1937) version of the car. He had among his “papers” – many of which I supplied to Jim in 2016 – a list of all previous owners. From a quick “over the shoulder” glance at that list I could NOT see the name Lee Kun-Hee or Samsung among them; there was, however, definitely a 6th owner between the Blackhawk Museum and Mr. Patterson. I am hoping to discover who that person is/was.

Viewed simply as an objet d'art, the Hartmann V16 has exceptional appeal. Place it side by side with a comparable roadster built by F&F on a Delage, Delahaye or Talbot chassis and you'll see what I mean!

If I may express a (new) personal opinion from the one I had a few years ago, for a car of these gigantic proportions and on a scale of one to ten, the Hartmann car
as it stands today gets a 9 in my book. In comparison, the corresponding factory-built 1937 V16 convertible, style #5835 below, deserves only an 8.

(Left) line drawing of Fleetwood style #5785 convertible coupe for 1937 (only two were built);
(Right) photo of the Hartmann roadster at Pebble Beach, August 2018 (only one was built)


Changes from the original configuration in 1937
through the penultimate restoration (red) in 1989-90






HartFrClp.jpg (22851 bytes)

Fine-ribbed vertical grille, matching tear-drop running lights,
“paired bumperettes”, V16 emblem top RH of grille, “Acorn” shaped
 turn-signal lamps at bumper ends


Egg-crate grille, missing tear-drop running lights, full-width “Batain”-type,
diamond-section hexagonal bumpers; V16 emblem on LH side of grille;
turn signal lamps deleted



Modrr3.jpg (49273 bytes)

(In 1970) cloth tonneau
cover, visible fuel filler cap


RearMod2.JPG (15905 bytes)

Metal tonneau cover with “fin”



ModRear2.jpg (6368 bytes)  
“Acorn” turn-signal indicator lamps mounted under 1936 Chevy tail-lights; and license
tag holders mounted above tail-lights, single, flat-blade rear bumper bar



Modrr3a.jpg (16734 bytes)

In 1990, Cadillac styled 1932 tail lights; no rear license-plate holder,
no country-plate holder, French “Batain”- type, diamond-section rear bumper bar


1970 restoration: “Biscuit & button” seat,
seat back and door panel design;
body-colored dash


ModDash2.jpg (34538 bytes)

1985 restoration: 3" piping on seats, “sunburst” design on door panels;
black dash, instruments moved around



Changes from the 3rd to the final restoration (2017-18)





HartFrClp.jpg (22851 bytes)

Fine-ribbed vertical grille, matching tear-drop running lights, “paired bumperettes”,
V16 emblem at top RH of grille, “Acorn” turn-signal lamps at bumper ends

Back to the original
Hartmann front ensemble


Modrr3.jpg (49273 bytes)

(In 1970) Central fin, cloth tonneau
cover, visible fuel filler cap



Back to the (almost) original
Hartmann rear ensemble[8]



ModRear2.jpg (6368 bytes) 

“Acorn” turn-signal indicator lamps mounted under 1936 Chevy tail-lights; country plate and
license tag holders mounted above tail-lights, flat-blade rear bumper bar



Return to the correct rear ensemble:  correct tail-light model, license plate holder
on the left, oval country code holder on the right, “acorn” turn-signal lamps below
the tail-lights, single flat-bar bumper



1970 restoration (no original photos were available): “Biscuit & button” seat, seat back
and door panel design, large pockets on the doors; instrument panel in body-color



ModDash2.jpg (34538 bytes)

1985 restoration: 3" piping on seats, “sunburst” design on door panels;
black dash, instruments moved around



2017-18 “reconstruction”: red leather upholstery and trim, 3" piping on seats
and door panels, dash back to cream, restored dash-panel nameplate



Recreation of the original
Coachbuilder’s nameplate
on the body sills


Tenth Owner (2013)

The car found a new (10th?) owner, circa 2013 in the person of well-known classic-car collector Jim Patterson of Louisville, KY. We will be writing more about Jim and the V16 as we get to the end of this “saga”.


So, what is the Hartmann Car REALLY worth?

Contrary to my initial comments on this topic, in a much earlier version of the “Hartmann” story published in the “Cadillac Database”, a holding of the Museum & Research Center of the Cadillac and LaSalle club, USA, I tend to agree that if the car did have a genuine body by France's Figoni & Falaschi team, it might have been worth $6-7 million in the late 90s … which is “only” $6.9 million more than what the second owner paid for it in 1969!

However, because Willy Hartmann built so very few custom jobs (the coachbuilder himself estimated, in 1987, that number to be “about 50 units in all” (50 voitures en tout et pour tout), it eclipses today, and by far, the rarity factor of F&F creations.

The fact that the car’s body was built in Switzerland – a country with a reputation for precision manufacturing – on one of only TWO 1937 bare Cadillac V16 chassis out of a total production of 50 units, by an artisan coachbuilder whose entire production over a “lifetime” does not exceed the 50 V16 Cadillacs offered to the wealthiest car buyers in the world by the Cadillac Motor Car Company, in 1937, makes its value “inestimable”, in my eyes.

Given also that the car was literally “dragged out of the bushes” in the late sixties, badly restored on three different occasions (1970, 1985, 1990) over a period of 20 years and finally brought back meticulously to its correct 1937 configuration in 2018 makes the car all the more valuable on the classic car scene.

This unique V16 roadster has been rebuilt and restored to its former splendor, with its original front and rear ensembles copied from the authentic 1937 photos I gave the new owner in 2016 (and despite the absence of original prints of the interior) the car recently unveiled by Jim Patterson at Pebble Beach in August 2018 is probably worth much more now than any F&F custom job. Considering market trends in the last 5 years, I would rate the Hartmann V16 conservatively at $12 million.

Considering the auction results I witnessed during the last RM classic car auction in Monterey (August 2018), it would not surprise me a bit if the car was bid at a future auction for over $10,000,000!

It deserves a place in the Automobile Hall of Fame. I love it and hate it too! This once fire-engine-red mammoth (now back to a more sedate and more original color scheme since 2018) is also something of a white elephant.

I think it is probably the most enormous, outrageous and utterly preposterous two-passenger car ever built and ever to carry the distinguished coat of arms of Sieur Antoine de la Mothe CADILLAC!


The Barraud brick & tile factory at the turn of last century


And now some photos from Pebble Beach, 2018



On the field



Driving tour to Big Sur and back



Crowds mill around in Carmel




Pebble Beach docents give their opinion … and prepare to award prizes


The V16 is awarded “Best of Class”


Lining up for “Best of Show”…


… but didn’t quite make it, despite POSITIVE public opinion!


Don McLellan (right), who brought the car back to its 1937 configuration;
I’m on the right, congratulating Don on a job more than well done



A younger brother of mine, Alain, lives in Switzerland’s Canton of Vaud that shares a border with the neighboring Canton of Geneva (Switzerland is made up of a Confederation numbering 24 “Cantons”; these equate with America’s “States”).

At my request, in the fall of 2013, Alain began searching the local phone directories in his area, looking for names and numbers of persons who share the family name “Barraud”; he came up with a dozen or so matches.  Among them was a couple from Renens (which lies a mile or so north of Lausanne) whose name is Benoît-Barraud.

I phoned the number and spoke to a lady; I explained briefly the purpose of my call, which was to try to find information about one “Philippe Barraud”, formerly of Bussigny near Lausanne who had been a manufacturer of roofing tiles. She exclaimed enthusiastically that her name was Roxane Benoît, maiden name Barraud; she was the daughter of Philippe Barraud whose father and uncle were former manufacturers of tiles in the township of Eclépens, near Lausanne. Philippe was her late father, she said; he had passed away on January 19, 1993 at the age of 81.



Philippe Barraud’s obituary, published
by his daughter, Roxane, in 1993


I told Roxane I had had the opportunity to speak with her Dad some 6 years earlier. Long story short, she invited Gita and me to visit her and her husband in Renens, near Lausanne. At that time, we were visiting family and friends in Geneva, as we do regularly, every year since emigrating to the USA in 1997.

I first asked Roxane if she remembered her father’s car; she did not; she was too young, she said. In addition, her father had divorced and she had been brought up by her Mom. She said Philippe had owned MANY cars but she could not recall the specific one I mentioned. I showed her old and new photos of the V16 roadster from my collection; they did not ring any bell.

Then she brought out “the” family photo album, replete with ordinary snaps of people and places around Lausanne; it was marked “Album de Photographies de la Famille, Bussigny, 1921-1944” (Family photo album, Bussigny – a village near Lausanne – 1921 to 1944).  


The mailing card that came with the package
containing the “Barraud”  family album from 1944


Her husband, Guiclaude, flipped carefully through the 2-dozen pages; I had him pause when suddenly I noticed a B&W pic of what appeared to be a 1934 Cadillac-LaSalle that had suffered extensive and severe damage in the front. On closer examination I recognized the unmistakable grille (or rather the remains thereof) of a 1934 LaSalle convertible coupe; it was a custom job, based on the standard 1934 LaSalle convertible coupe. Further research, in 2017, revealed the car was a custom job by Switzerland’s Reinbolt & Christe! Philippe obviously liked to own “special interest” cars.



Top image: regular 1934 La Salle convertible coupe
Below (left) the custom LaSalle in better days
Below (right) the same car after a head-on collision


Guiclaude flipped through a few more pages.  Then I was “blown away”! There it was, the Cadillac V16 roaster by Hartmann. It was a small, B&W photo of the car, taken on a mountain road, probably somewhere in Switzerland, perhaps even close to the Barraud home. The front passenger window was all the way down and a lady, smiling broadly, was leaning out of the passenger window. Roxane did not remember the car nor the identity of the lady.

She confided in me that her dad had the (unenviable) reputation of being a “ladies man”. She knew little of her father’s business but recalled that he had made some bad investments in the 60s and 70s that had finally consumed the greater part of his former wealth.



Philippe in company with a lady friend, later identified as his 1st wife, Maud Zufferey  (year unknown)



Philippe Barraud, dapper businessman, circa 1953



Philippe with his pretty daughter, Roxane, circa 1953


Roxane Barraud and I in her Renens apartment, September 2013


Four years later, on a further annual trip to our former home, Gita and I were once again in Switzerland, researching the Hartmann V16 on behalf of its new owner, Jim Patterson.

We were able to find again the address and phone number of Alain Berrabah, the Swiss friend who had first provided me with copies of the original photos of the rare car, rom 1937. We made an appointment to meet him at his home near Lausanne to chat about “old times” and “old cars”. Alain’s main interest is in sports and racing cars, rather than in the classics, which I favor. He showed us his VAST collection of documents and photos which, I admit, puts to shame my own modest collection of car literature and photos.

I asked Alain about the 1937 Hartmann pics. He said he had got them in the 70s from a sports-car collector friend, Daniel Zufferey, from San Pedro, in California. I was astounded when he informed me that Daniel was in fact Philippe Barraud’s nephew.



Daniel Z. (left) and Alain B. (right); two car buffs with a common interest in the Hartmann V16


Alain took time to show us around the Bussigny neighborhood, looking (unfortunately in vain) for Philippe Barraud’s old family homestead.  We soon found out that the stately homes that used to dot the landscape around Lausanne in the 20s and 30s had been razed after WW2 and gradually replaced with (much more profitable) apartment buildings.

It’s called “progress”!

While in Geneva, I had tried to locate again Jean-Jacques Belet with whom I had exchanged letters in the 70s. He is the person who had been fortunate to be able to acquire the V16 from Marcel Blaser the “remains” of the V16 where it sat, in a field.

Through the current secretary of the VCCR I discovered that J.-J. Belet had passed away a few years earlier; nonetheless, I was able to get in touch with another gentleman, André Chabloz of Mont-sur-Lausanne, who he had been apprenticed to Belet in the 60s. André is a master mechanic and a restorer of exceptional automobiles; he owns the Garage des Roches in Mont-sur-Lausanne and is the current TOYOTA dealer there.

Gita and I made an appointment to meet him. He told us he remembered the car well; he had retrieved it himself from the prickly undergrowth where it was “held captive” in Vinzel, near the Blaser home. Belet had entrusted André to recover, rebuild, restore and make drivable again the huge roadster.


André Chabloz and I reminiscing in Mont-sur-Lausanne
over the time we both spent on the Hartmann V16

André brought out this book (left) by Swiss automotive writer, Ferdinand Hediger; inside were a couple of old B&W
photos of the Hartmann car, as well as the large fold-out (right), being probably the most well-known of all the
post-WW2 pics of the Hartmann V16, © Michel Zumbrunn, 1986


The RH photo was taken in the same spot at the same time as the one on the left; I guess that’s Philippe at the wheel;
note the double horizontal grill bars, half-way down; when/why where these added? The license tag
is the 2nd one issued to Philippe

The third B&W photo of the “brown” V16 was found in the same book by Ferdinand Hediger. There is no indication where or when the snap was taken but I suspect it was the same year the first two, above. Two unidentified ladies are seated; the younger (?) of the two is in the driver’s seat, the older (?) person is on the passenger side.



The 3-tone “brown” V16 on an outing in the 50s
(this repaint is believed to have been done in 1949)


Unfortunately, to guide André in this arduous task neither he nor Belet had any access to information or photos about the original car … which is why there were so many marked differences between the original front ensemble in 1937 and the one that was restored in 1970-71.



(Left) the original front ensemble in 1937; (right) the Belet restoration in 1973


André remembers meeting the 3rd owner, Patrice de Witte, in Lausanne, on the occasion of a meeting of the VCCR. The latter had brought a French sports car (a Delage, I believe) to the show. The two (Belet and de Witte) had compared each other’s car at length and finally agreed to make a swap: the Delage for the Cadillac. The deal was concluded and André later drove the V16 the 100 miles to Mâcon.

André has still on file many photos taken during the time he spent working on the car. Unfortunately, there are none of the original interior (to show upholstery material, color and pattern). Neither he (nor others familiar with the “wreck” in the late 60s) could remember how it looked when he had retrieved it from the undergrowth around Blaser’s property in Vinzel. He recalled that Belet simply had asked a local upholstery shop to “copy” the interior as best he could.

Among the photos André showed me were a few taken at a car show around  Lausanne in 1971. I already had seen most of them, save for a couple of them in a coffee-table book by well-known auto historian, Ferdinand Hediger; in that book were two more snapshots of the Hartmann car that were new to me; one of them appeared to have been taken in the same place and at the same time as the one on the mountain road, above. The other obviously had been taken the same day, at the same time, in the same location (that I have not yet been able to identify).

It would be interesting to know the provenance of these two “new” snapshots. Gita took pics of them with her portable phone, so the quality is poor.


Some Barraud Family History

I was able to acquire from Daniel Z. (above), nephew of the car’s first owner, some more information and a few more interesting photos. His uncle Philippe was the son of William BARRAUD. Daniel’s father (deceased not long ago) was William’s brother. Daniel had two other uncles: Georges and Charly; he remembers also two aunts: Maud (Philippe’s 1st wife), and Denise (Maud’s sister). Denise is the sole survivor (in 2017) of that generation.

Daniel confirmed he was the son of Maurice Barraud (1877-1958) who, with his brother William (1860-1946), had built, co-founded and co-owned the company Curchod-Barraud & Co., of the Tuilerie d’Eclépens (the Eclépens Tile Factory). It was located close to the railway line in Lausanne (to facilitate distribution of tiles all over Switzerland) as also to a large open mine of red clay in the vicinity.

By 1892, demand for roofing tiles far exceeded the brothers’ production capacity and so they had built the new factory to be known as Tuilleries Barraud (the Barraud Tile Factory), formerly located in Bussigny, close to Morges.


38-Made-up-Tuileries Barraud.jpg

The Barraud roofing-tile factory in Eclépens, near Lausanne;
(my brother, Alain – always the joker – PhotoShopped the V16 into the picture)


Daniel’s aunt Maud, Philippe’s sister-in-law, was Godmother to both Daniel’s late Dad and to Daniel himself. Denise, Maud’s sister is (in 2018) the sole survivor of her generation.


This is Daniel’s Aunt Denise, visiting her nephew, in Switzerland, in 2013;
unfortunately, she too has few memories of the car nor any photos of it


According to Roxane and Daniel, it would appear that Philippe never had a real job; he “played at banking”, with the Barraud family fortune; his offices were located in the Tour Bel-Air, an early high-rise building in Lausanne’s Bel-Air area.

Daniel was hoping to get from his aunt Denise some photos of the old Barraud home, Les Noisetiers, in Bussigny (these may still turn up). He was sad that his Dad (Maurice) had passed on just a year earlier; he (Daniel) had already asked his Dad many questions about his uncle; Maurice knew many people (family and friends) as well as much information about Philippe and his many cars; for example, Daniel had among his private papers a copy of the detailed police report, with photos, involving the LaSalle accident). Daniel’s aunt Maud had partly raised her niece, Roxane.

Daniel admitted he had been “spoiled” often by his aunt Maud and uncle Philippe. They had showered him with expensive gifts in his childhood and adolescence; they had brought him many souvenirs from their frequent travels abroad. Aunt Maud had given him (inter alia) a jet-ski for his 8th birthday! He recalled also that “uncle Philippe” had given him a full-sized Riva speed boat (!), at a time when he was much too young to operate it; his uncle had mentioned this to his brother-in law (Philippe), whose (bizarre) reaction had been to set the boat on fire, right in the harbor at Ouchy!

Among the photos I got from Roxane, Daniel was able to identify the lady with “flapper” head gear on Philippe’s right arm; she is Maud, Daniel’s late Godmother and Philippe’s 1st wife. Daniel believes that one of the persons mentioned in the obit (above) could be his uncle’s 2nd wife, affectionately known as “Minouche”.



A smiling Philippe enjoying the afternoon
sunshine near Roxane’s home, circa 1990



In 2015, Daniel Z. visited his uncle’s car in the Blackhawk Museum


The Hartmann roadster is currently (2018) in good hands, as you have seen.  It looks just as it would have looked in 1937.

In 2017 and 2018 it got the final “make-over” that brought the ageing car back to its original (1937) configuration when Philippe Barraud took delivery of it in August 1937.

This time, the experts at RM, in Canada, had access to all the 1937 photos and related documents from my personal collection and that of Philippe Barraud’s own nephew, Daniel Zufferey, of San Pedro, California. Back in the 70s he had made copies available to his Swiss buddy, Alain Berrabah who, in turn, had provided me with a full set.

Philippe had bought the new V16 roadster in 1937 as a bare chassis with only the frame, motor, transmission, firewall and instrument panel. He had local coachbuilder, Willy Hartmann, create for the car a unique roadster body with fully enclosed fenders.

The finished car made its first public appearance in August 1937. Looking as it did on that late summer’s day in 1937, the V16 made its second public appearance, 80 years later, in August 2018, at Pebble Beach in California!




I should like to extend particular thanks to the following individuals without whose enlightened help all the pieces I was able to assemble of the Hartmann “puzzle” could not have fallen into place:

Mr. Willy Hartmann (deceased), proud “progenitor” of this extraordinary automobile.  He admitted, when I spoke to him in 1987, that even in his wildest dreams, he never could have imagined all the adventures that were to befall the car that had once been merely a drawing on a sketch pad for a prospective client.

Mr. Philippe Barraud (deceased), the first owner of the car. Despite his age and failing health (he was 75 years old when I spoke to him 1987), this fine old gentleman was kind enough to answer my questions about the wonderful automobile that had been his favorite “toy”, fifty years beforehand.

Mr. Jean-Jacques Belet (deceased), second owner of the car who was able to dig up some early photos for me and to fill in missing details for the period from 1968 through 1972.

Mr. André Chabloz of Mont-sur-Lausanne, who was apprenticed to Mr. Belet in the 60s. He did the first restoration on the car in the early 60s.

Mr. Patrice de Witte (deceased) and his charming wife, Florence, who welcomed me often in their home in Clermain-Montvaillant near Mâcon, allowed me to play with their incredible toy and generally entertained the many Cadillac buffs I brought from near and far to see this incredible V16.

Mr. Michel Payet, who acquired the V16 from Mr. de Witte shortly before the latter passed away, and who told me the story from where he had picked up the threads.

Mr. André Lecoq, France's premier automobile restorer who did the best job he could to restore the V16 in 1985, in the absence of any original designs or early photos of the car.

Mr. Alain Berrabah, a Swiss Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg fan-and-friend-nevertheless who, despite his young age probably knew more about the history of the Hartmann V16 than the rest of us put together; Alain it was who supplied many of the early (1937) photos for this story.

Mr. Christian Vaney, a long-time friend and Cadillac buff who had seen the huge car before me and whetted my appetite for more facts and photos.

Mr. Georges Blanc, a long-time friend of Cristian’s father; both men bought and sold pre-owned cars; both were familiar with the V16 (Blanc since the 40s and Vaney since the mid-60s); both had offered to buy the “wreck” from Blaser to use the motor ro power an open speedster body.

Mr. Eddy Strebel of Switzerland's Automobil Revue who tipped me off to the car's location in France, in 1972.

Mr. Don Williams of the “Imperial Palace Collection”, Las Vegas, NV, who filled in a few blanks between the time the car was in André Lecoq's restoration shop in Paris and when it joined Thomas Barrett's collection in Phoenix, Arizona, them Don’s own Museum in Danville, California. 

Ms. Roxane Guiclaude-Barraud, daughter of Philippe Barraud from his first marriage; Roxane, whom I met by chance in 2013, was kind enough to let me pore through the family photo album from 1944 and allowed me to use some of them to illustrate this history of the car.

Mr. Daniel Zufferey of San Pedro, California, nephew of Philippe Barraud; Daniel owns (and graciously loaned) the original B&W 1937 photos by the late Paul Lüthard of Lausanne that were so useful and helpful to Jim Patterson and RM (Rob Meyers) to “rebuild” the car (in 2017-18) to its correct 1937 configuration.


And now, for the serious toy collector

If you are looking for a souvenir of the “1937 Cadillac-Hartmann V16 convertible” (in miniature), below is a trio of 1:43 scale replicas built in very limited numbers (fewer than 100 each) and built in the Ukraine by my friend Vlad Soroklat from photos I sent him of the original car as it looked in 1937. These are expensive but highly detailed replicas, in the three versions of the car (original in cream & orange, repaint #1 in cream & pale blue, repaint #4 in “fire-engine” red). I asked Vlad, after the show in PB, in August 2018, if he might consider offering collectors a 4th version of the model in its “2018 Pebble Beach” configuration.  He declined.


   THartRed1.jpg (21433 bytes)


There are a couple of cheaper 1:43 Scale Models of the Hartmann car, made in Hong Kong by TSM  (“TruScale Miniatures”):



The base plate (left) identifies the model wrongly as a “1934 Cadillac V16”


Some details are wrong (e.g. the “Goddess is too big and the angle is wrong)
 or they are missing (e.g. the rear “acorn” turn-signal lights)



If you prefer “big boy” toys, here is a pair in “huge” 1:8 scale; I have one of them. They were honed, in the 80s, out of a solid billet of exotic Iroko wood by a skilled artisan in Yamoussoukro, the administrative capital of the Ivory Coast) in former French West Africa. They are beautifully “crude” but realistic replicas. Each one “weighs a ton”!


Early work in progress with only very basic hand tools



(Left) Billets of various exotic African woods to be carved (mostly as statues and such)
(Right) The artisan and his basic tools, working from photos and measurements I supplied
(Center) The finished model, a “man cave must” and “mantlepiece marvel”


(Finally) a mysterious document!

One has to wonder if Philippe – or his fabulous V16 roadster – ever traveled to the USA between 1937 (when the bare V16 chassis was shipped to Switzerland, via Belgium) and 1985 (when a “wrongly” restored version of it returned to the USA).

The surviving members of the Barraud family have no recollection of the car ever leaving Europe, from the time Philippe registered it in 1937 and when it was acquired in Paris, almost a half century later, by Iranian businessman, P.A. Parviz of London who sold it in 1985 to the late Tom Barrett in Scottsdale, Arizona.  And yet …

… among the many documents in my possession is one that was given to me by Jonathan Sierakowski, an auto historian like myself who worked temporarily for RM. The source of that document is not known to him; it is a copy of a “Registration Renewal Stub” issued (apparently) in Buffalo, NY, in January 1955, to one “James Lockhart” [9], residing (?) at the time in a rural area of that city; the address shown on the stub is “Rural Free Delivery box #1” in (rural) Buffalo. The vehicle to which the stub refers is a 1937 Cadillac convertible with a 16-cylinder engine, model number “90”, serial number 5130328 and weighing5000 lbs. Those letters and numbers identify precisely the Hartmann V16 convertible, formerly the property of Philippe Barraud in Switzerland!

Is there a plausible explanation here, or is this just another “fake”, like the dash plate on the Hartmann car that once was “tampered with” by Tom Barrett (says Don Williams of the Blackhawk Museum) to make it appear that the car was a genuine creation by French coachbuilders, Figoni & Falaschi?


(Left) the mysterious “Registration Renewal Stub” from 1955, showing precisely
the year, make and serial number of the Barraud-Hartmann V16;
(Right) for the sake of, an authentic “Registration Renewal Stub” from the State of New York




 The Hartmann V16 roadster is currently (2018) 
in the Patterson collection, Louisville, KY.



© 1996-2020, Yann Saunders, DLM Group, and the Cadillac & LaSalle Club Museum and Research Center Inc.

[1]  We shall read about André and Marcel as we proceed with the story.

[2] We will read about the successive owners as we proceed

[3] Originally a stronghold in the Middle Ages, a castle was erected in the mid-19th century on the early foundations; the De Witte family has its roots in Holland.

[4] Another abduction case that defrayed the Geneva press, in 1983, was that of Joséphine Dard, then aged 13, youngest daughter of (comedic) crime-writer, the late Frédéric Dard, my favorite French author

[5] This paragraph was slightly amended in June, 2009, following a chat, in Las Vegas, with Don Williams
   who was then the owner since 1991

[6] It took me a while to figure that one was all about; I imagine many viewers who also saw the ad must have
  done some head-scratching; finally it dawned in me: what the copywriter meant was: “Patiño, the tin magnate”.  

[7] There were rumors that a member of Kun-Hee’s extended family (“Lisette Lee”, aka “Lisette Morita”) had been arrested at Ohio’s Port Columbus International airport in June 2010 for trafficking “tons” of marijuana. Known as the “Pot Princess of Beverly Hills”, she claimed to be an heiress to the Samsung fortune. Her father was Yoshi Morita, a wealthy casino operator who – it is also claimed – sent her as much as $100,000 a month for “expenses”! Her Korean birth mother is alleged to be the grand-daughter of Samsung’s founder, Lee Byung-Chul, father of Lee Kun Hee.

[8] The metal tonneau cover fashioned by André Lecoq, in Paris, was retained for a neater finish in the “open car” mode

[9]  Despite my research I have not been able to find this person or anything about him or the physical location of a dwelling corresponding to “RFD # 1” in Buffalo, New York.  Most researchers with whom I have spoken consider the document to be a fake; its purpose escapes them … and me! Your opinions all are welcome.