[ last update: 03.21.2010 ]

The (new) Cadillac Database©

The Cadillac V16


Part 5
The Second Generation Sixteens
1938 - 1940


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or go back to the "V-16" index page


Unless otherwise specified all photos and illustrations are from Yann Saunders'
collection of Cadillac photos, advertisements and product catalogs,
reproduced courtesy of the Cadillac Motor Car Division and the Cadillac-LaSalle Club



v63919b.jpg (9634 bytes)
This artist's view of the 1938 V16 imperial for 7 passengers (left)
was used in an all-model 1938 Cadillac ad published in late 1937

38v16pho.jpg (16584 bytes)
Factory photo of the same model (Fleetwood style 9019)




v639d.jpg (7616 bytes)    v638detl.JPG (13742 bytes)    V638GRL.JPG (8514 bytes)     v638grl2.jpg (7518 bytes)
Front clip (details) of Sixteens from 1938-1940

v639grl.jpg (21712 bytes)      v639-rr.jpg (21409 bytes)



The new sixteens were advertised in Country Life and the Sportsman in November 1937.  There were no pictures; words were all that was needed to capture the attention of potential buyers, already aware of the high quality of top-end Cadillac models.  The new cars made their debut in New York, October 27, 1937.

Cadillac historian, Bill Tite, had an article on the sixteens of 1938 through 1940 in the Self-Starter, magazine of the Cadillac-LaSalle Club, Inc., in February of 1963, on pp. 10-14.

In the three-year period from 1938 to 1940, Cadillac built fewer V-16s than they did the equally rare 1953 Eldorado (498 units of the former as against 532 units of the latter).  At least one example of each of these V-16 body style has survived; space permitting, photos of surviving cars will be included here later.

As a matter of interest, the last of the grand V16s left the factory on December 7, 1940, one year exactly before Pearl Harbor ...and ten years exactly before my wife, Gita, was born!  This car was delivered to a Wisconsin dealer in Green Bay.

Production records are complete and were thoroughly researched by CLC member Carl Steig in the mid-sixties.  The table below has been compiled from his data.   The cars are listed in ascending order of rarity (averaged over the three years).   The most numerous styles to be sold come first; the rarest ones are last.

A Database user asked me in 2005 for the physical dimensions of the new engine.  Should it be of interest to any other users, here they are 

Length -  45 7/8"
Height - 18"
Width - 23 3/8"
Crate Volume - 11.1 cu.ft volume
Weight - 1050 lbs incl. clutch and controls plus all accessories

[source: Sixteen Cylinder Motorcars by Roy Schneider, p.240 ]



crst_lit.jpg (4580 bytes)
Theme of a 1938  magazine ad




Description 1938 1939 1940 Total
9033 Imperial for seven passengers 95 60 20 175
9023 Sedan for seven passengers 65 18 9 92
9019 Sedan for five passengers 43 13 4 60
9033F Formal sedan [imperial] for 7 passengers1 17 8 5 30
9039 Town sedan for 5 passengers 20 2 1 23
9029 Convertible sedan for five passengers 13 4 2 19
9057 Coupe for two passengers (with opera seats) 11 6 2 19
9067 Convertible coupe for two passengers 10 7 2 19
9053 Town car for seven passengers 10 5 2 17
9057B Coupe for five passengers 8 5 1 14
9059 Formal sedan for five passengers 8 4 2 14
9019F Imperial for five passengers (with division) 5 2 0 7
9006 Two of these special jobs were commissioned by the White House as security cars; it was a convertible sedan for seven passengers 2 0 0 2
9053 Special town car for seven passengers2 1 0 0 1
  Total V-16 cars (second generation) 308 134 50 492
  Bare chassis/engine combination3 3 2 1 6
  Engines not assigned to any cars [test?] 4 2 10 16
  Grand Total (135º degree V16 engines) 315 138 61 514

1 Sultry blonde bombshell and actress Mae West was among the first to buy this particular formal body style

2 Although not identified separately in factory literature or production statistics, in my opinion this car is so different as to warrant a separate entry.  In fact it is as different as is the Knudsen car, job #9002 (see photo below).

3 At the foot of this page are shown two custom bodies by Derham of Rosemont, that are reported to have been built on the 1940 Cadillac V16 chassis; from the table above, only one 1940 chassis was released to independent coach builders;  are we to assume that one of the cars listed was a conversion job on an existing 1940 chassis?

Of the bare chassis/engine combinations mentioned in the previous table, the next table lists those identified as having received special Fleetwood coach work.



9002 Four-door fastback sedan  built on chassis/engine #5270306 at the end of the 1938  model year for GM Vice-President William "Bunkie" Knudsen. 1
(?) A second special job, also on a 148" wheel base chassis, with 1938 V16 chassis/engine # >>>>>>> carried a similar "job" number. It was built for GM Chairman Alfred P. Sloan. Nothing is known of its special features, although I believe the build sheet is available in the factory archives 1


The body shell for the various sixteen-cylinder Cadillac models remained basically unchanged for the three years 1938, 1939 and 1940.  Although twelve different Fleetwood styles are listed as having been built on the V16 chassis for 1938 to 1940 [i.e. excluding the two custom-built White House cars and the Knudsen car all built in 1938], there were only seven basic body shells and all of  these were shared with cars in the "75" series. 

For example, Fleetwood styles #9019, 9019F, 9023 and 9033 all look alike from the outside; all are four-door, six-window styles.  Identical also in outward appearance are styles #9033F and 9059; these are the formal styles with leather covered roofs and blank rear quarters. Styles #9057 and 9057B basically are the same too; these are the coupes for 2 and 5 passengers; viewed from the rear, however, style #9057 has a one-piece back light whereas style #9057B has a split rear window.

Interiors of the sixteens for the period 1938-1940 were basically identical in comfort and luxury to the cars in the Series 75.  There were only very slight trim variations, including on the door panels.



Look-alike styles and individual styles

V63919.jpg (8315 bytes)
This body shell was shared by Fleetwood styles #9019, 9019F, 9023 and 9033

  V63959.jpg (8385 bytes)
This body shell was shared by Fleetwood styles #9033F and 9059

V63957b.jpg (8526 bytes)
This body shell was shared by Fleetwood styles #9057 and 9057B
[the back lights (rear windows) were the only outward difference]

V63929.jpg (8207 bytes)
Convertible sedan style #9029 was unique

V63939.jpg (8535 bytes)
Town sedan style #9039 was unique

V63953.jpg (7878 bytes)
Town car style #9053 was unique

V63967.jpg (8340 bytes)
Convertible coupe style #9067 was unique



v640det3.jpg (8281 bytes)     3840V6mo.jpg (5691 bytes)
The power plant of the
second generation



It is relatively easy to distinguish at a glance between the 1938 models and those for 1939 and 1940;  indeed, the fender spears on the 1938 cars have both paint and chrome (the paint being the same color as the body), whereas those for 1939 and 1940 are fully chrome-plated:


V638dif4.jpg (3672 bytes)


V638dif5.jpg (3907 bytes)
1939 and 1940


Differences between the 1939 and 1940 models are not so obvious.   Ron Van Gelderen, a long-time friend and twice President of the Cadillac-LaSalle Club, Inc., researched   in depth the sixteens of 1938 to 1940, long before I became interested in these cars.  Most of the drawings below were done by him. He listed the following main differences:


V638ligh.jpg (5269 bytes)
1938                                     1939                                    1940




v6spare.jpg (5355 bytes)    v638spears.JPG (6016 bytes)
Side-mount, tail-light and painted "spears"
on the 1938 Sixteens



One sure way to differentiate between the three model years is to look at the instrument board.  These are illustrated below (the same panels were used also in Cadillac V8 and V12 models for those years):

Instrument Panels

V638dif1.jpg (10894 bytes)    5270133b.jpg (6628 bytes)


V638dif3.jpg (9124 bytes)

v640dash.jpg (23822 bytes)


V638dif2.jpg (9520 bytes)

V6_40Dash1.jpg (14459 bytes)    v6_40dash2.jpg (10147 bytes)


Other not-so-obvious differences may be noticed upon a closer observation of the cars of these three model years:

Other differences


V638bmpr.jpg (2820 bytes)
1938 front bumper impact bar
[note side "molding"]


V638licn.jpg (2019 bytes)
1938 license bracket
[on LH side tail-light]

V638trhn.jpg (1223 bytes)
1938 trunk handle
and lock assembly

V639bmpr.jpg (2381 bytes)
1939/40 front bumper
impact bar
[no visible molding]


V639licn.jpg (2257 bytes)
1939/40 combined license
bracket and trunk handle


V639v16.jpg (3023 bytes)
1939/40 sidemount



v640det4.jpg (7699 bytes)     v640det2.jpg (6535 bytes)     v640detl.jpg (5699 bytes)
1940 Vee-sixteen: some body details including front bumper decorative bars (left)
sealed-beam headlights and chrome-topped sidelights (center) and tire cover badge (right)



Shown below are the body styles built on the sixteen-cylinder chassis. The majority of the illustrations are from the luxurious Fleetwood color catalog entitled "The New Cadillac Sixteen", describing the V-16 line-up for 1938.  Until production ended in 1940, these cars remained basically unchanged, but for the minor trim variations mentioned above.

The 1938 catalog did not include color plates for all the models, since some of them were identical in outward appearance (see line drawings, above) .  For the fun of it, I have added the "missing" plates by modifying or otherwise coloring an existing digital image of a similar model.

Once again, the cars are listed in ascending order of rarity, the most numerous model types coming first:



V6389033.jpg (7799 bytes)
The imperial for seven passengers, Fleetwood style 9033
Outwardly, the car looks just like styles 9019, 9019F and 9023
95 units were built in 1938, 60 in 1939 and 20 in 1940


V69033i.jpg (6212 bytes)
On the inside, a folding foot rest and wide auxiliary seats
[not shown in this view]



V638901f.jpg (6580 bytes)
The sedan for seven passengers, Fleetwood style 9023
Again outward similar to  styles 9019 and 9019F

65 units were built in 1938, 18 in 1939 and 9 in 1940


V69023i.jpg (6654 bytes)
No partition, but   folding footrest and broad,
comfortable, auxiliary seating for two adults



V6389019.jpg (6852 bytes)
The  sedan for five passengers, Fleetwood style 9019
43 were built in 1938, 13 in 1939 and only 4 in 1940


V69019i.jpg (6062 bytes)
No partition or auxiliary seating
were provided in this model.


9019_38a.jpg (11290 bytes)     V6dg9019.jpg (6708 bytes)




V638903f.jpg (7376 bytes)
The formal sedan for seven passengers, Fleetwood style 9033F
Leather roof covering, enclosed rear quarters and  partition
17 units were built in 1938, 8 in 1939 and 5 in 1940


V69033fi.jpg (5776 bytes)
Plush interior features broad auxiliary seats
with the double-throw seat backs


v640fmal.jpg (7822 bytes)




V6389039.jpg (8205 bytes)
The town sedan for five passengers, Fleetwood style 9039
Plain metal roof, no jump seats and no partition
20 units were built in 1938, only 2 in 1939 and 1 in 1940


V69039i.jpg (6524 bytes)
Plush interior again, but less leg room than
in other 5-7 passenger models


v6dg9029.jpg (9009 bytes)




V6389029.jpg (7744 bytes)
The convertible sedan for five passengers, Fleetwood style 9029
13 units were built in 1938, 4 in 1939 and only 2 in 1940


V69029i.jpg (6201 bytes)
The spacious rear compartment is
trimmed in real leather



V6389057.jpg (7202 bytes)
The coupe for two passengers, Fleetwood style 9057
11 units were built in 1938, 6 in 1939 and only 2 in 1940


V69057bi.jpg (6609 bytes)
Small, folding rear seats could
accommodate two small adults


v6dg9057.jpg (7714 bytes)




v638_57B.jpg (17868 bytes)
The coupe for two passengers, Fleetwood style 9057B
8 units were built in 1938, 5 in 1939 and only 1 in 1940


38V85pin.jpg (11654 bytes)
Narrow bench seat in the rear could
accommodate a couple of adults
[ Shown: Series 75 coupe, fromV8 catalog for 1938 ]


Sorry for the fuzzy image - I promose it won't happen again ... until next time!




V6389067.jpg (6875 bytes)
The convertible for two passengers, Fleetwood style 9067
10 units were built in 1938, 7 in 1939 and only 2 in 1940


V69067i.jpg (6287 bytes)
Small, folding rear seats could
accommodate two small adults



V6389053.JPG (7784 bytes)
The town car for seven passengers, Fleetwood style 9053
(definitely a long-time favorite of mine)
11 units were built in 1938, 5 in 1939 and only 2 in 1940


V6kate2.JPG (6684 bytes)
Folding foot rest and broad auxiliary seating
for two adults [jump seats not shown]


9053_38a.jpg (8257 bytes)     V6kate1.JPG (9265 bytes)




V6389059.jpg (7475 bytes)
The formal sedan for five passengers, Fleetwood style 9059
Leather roof covering, enclosed rear quarters and opera seats
8 units were built in 1938, 4 in 1939 and only 2 in 1940


V69059i.jpg (6286 bytes)
No division in this car but two opera seats
(the left one faces right, the right one faces rear)



V6389023.jpg (8394 bytes)
The imperial for five passengers, Fleetwood style 9019F
This is the same car in outward appearance as style 9019

only 5 were built in 1938 and 2 in 1939 (there were none in 1940)


V69019fi.jpg (5919 bytes)
There is a partition and glass between front and rear seats
[lower RH "square" is an image overlap]




Fleetwood Job #9006
V6389006.jpg (6716 bytes)
This is special  job of which two were built as White House security cars.  
Both have survived; they were re-engined with flat-head V8 motors after
WW2, then again with the OHV engine which were available for the
200,000 mile engine swap [this account was published in the Self -Starter
and was recounted to me in June 1999 by V16 aficionado Russell Shepherd].  
In this instance, the drawings are my own,  based on the Fleetwood artist's
view of style #9029, below [for more pics of these two cars, click here]



V6dg9006.jpg (8322 bytes)




V638905x.jpg (7630 bytes)
This special, fast-back town car ( style 9053?) was built in 1938.  It is known to have
survived.   The drawing is my own. Any complementary information on this model
would be much appreciated; thanks.




Job #9002
V6389002.jpg (6976 bytes)

Special fastback sedan on 1938 V-16 chassis
for GM President William "Bunkie" Knudsen
The drawing is my own, based on Fleetwood style #9059.
[ for more pics of this special model, click here ]




3840V6mo.jpg (5691 bytes)
The new, 135º V16 engine



Custom body styles built


1938 - Franay


v638fnay.jpg (14561 bytes)
We owe this elegant town landaulet to Paris' coach builder, Franay;
regrettably, information on this superb car is scant; we have only this
poor photo, possibly taken at a Concours d'Elégance in  1939
...just before the outbreak of WW2 in Europe


1938 - [two missing chassis]


Your guess is as good as mine.  These may   have been the two special Fleetwood town cars
(one for Alfred P. Sloan, the other for Bill Knudsen, the latter being included above).
If any user can shed light on these two missing sixteens, I shall be glad to update this page




Lee, Don (USA) is reported to have installed  a landaulet body by Willoughby [design #798]
on a bare 1938 Cadillac V-16 chassis for a Mrs. McDonald [possibly Marie McDonald, the renowned
singer/actress, wife of Harry Karl the shoe magnate]; I can't recall source of this info nor ensure its veracity



1939 - Derham (1)


V640DPNT.jpg (13323 bytes)    V640dpn2.jpg (8411 bytes)
The drawing at the right  (again my own) and the  photo on the right depict  custom town car also  designed and built by
Derham of Rosemont on one of the two 1939 V16 chassis released that year to independent coach builders.  That excessive
rear overhang probably was to accommodate a large travel trunk (as I have shown in the line drawing, left = this was not an
uncommon arrangement in the thirties; Nordberg of Sweden built a similar touring landaulet on a 1938 Series "75"  for his
country's King Gustaf V). This Durham town car was commissioned by Mrs. H.B. Du Pont of Wilmington, DE [presumably
of the Du Pont de Nemours chemicals group].  It is known to have been used well into the sixties.



1939 - Derham (2)


v640drh5.jpg (7745 bytes)    V640drh4.jpg (12181 bytes)
Only two bare V16 chassis/engine combinations were released to independent coach builders in 1939.  It appears that both went
to the Derham shops in Rosemont, PA.  Both received custom town car bodies (like the previous car shown here).  This second
example was  built for a Mrs. David Haas who, at the time, was a full-time resident of  New York's Waldorf -Astoria Hotel



1940 - Derham


V640drh3.jpg (8008 bytes)

    Dr40drh.jpg (10110 bytes)     v640drh2.jpg (8297 bytes)
The drawing (my own) and the two photos below it depict a custom coupe designed and built by Derham of Rosemont on the 1940
V16 chassis.  It has survived and is currently [1999] in the collection of Jack Nethercutt [Merle Norman cosmetic products]



Trivia:  Russell "Rusty" Shepherd, a V16 aficionado wrote this [in 1999]:  Again, I really enjoy this site and am especially looking forward to the V16 section.  I wish you could see the pictures I was sent of a 1938 V16 7-pass sedan. They had painted it chili-pepper red and the interior was a combination of the original taupe broadcloth and red crushed velour. When the lady who was selling it for the owner called to see what I thought, I told her I had seen that color on a beautifully-restored convertible coupe, so I guess it was available, but I could not imagine anyone ordering a formal car in that color.  She said, 'well it was maroon, but he had it repainted in that color.'   I then mentioned the two-tone, two-fabric interior. She said it was like that when he bought it and he thought it came that way from the factory. I assured her it did not. She said the engine had been overhauled in 1996, but the air cleaners (about all you can see from the top in that very low, very wide engine) had rust on them. I told her thanks for sending them, and saved $38,000.00! Thanks again for your efforts. Rusty.

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© 1996, Yann Saunders and the Cadillac-LaSalle Club, Inc.
[ Background image: V16 grille, current 1938 through 1940 ]