[last update: 05.26.2020]

The Cadillac V16

Series 452-452A
1930-1931

Part 1f (iv)
Fleetwood's Unique
Job #3991
on the
V-16 chassis

 

 

 v6a3991.JPG (9084 bytes)
This illustration is from the 1929 book of
Fleetwood designs for the 1930 models

 

 

The luxurious Cadillac-LaSalle color portfolio for 1930 [above] entitled Fleetwood Coachwork  is described in the issue of Automobile Topics for August 31, 1929, as true art in printed salesmanship; [a] portfolio of ultra-smart body styles [that] represents vast expenditures in securing color effects which while thoroughly distinctive, never oversteps the bounds of good taste, and which while thoroughly modern, yet are   executed against a background of old-world tradition wholly in keeping with Fleetwood coachcraft.

That portfolio was the latest creation of Herbert J.C. Henderson, manager of promotion and sales of the Fisher Body Corp.   In addition to an introductory folder with a reproduction, on the cover, of the portrait in oils of Henry Fleetwood of Penwortham by Sir Godfrey Kneller, and two pages of general text, it comprises thirteen 4-page folders (ten on Cadillac and three on La Salle), each comprising a cover page with an Art Deco illustration down the LH side and the name of the model at lower, right (e.g. Cadillac Fleetbourne); on the inside cover (top) is a pastel-colored view of the model in profile and, below it, a descriptive text. The LH column of the third page describes the car's special features and the RH column includes a small upholstery swatch and up to three small, line drawings, including a side elevation and a plan view of the seating arrangements. 

This is a truly sensational automotive literature item in the Art Deco style.

The thirteen folders describe:

  Fleetwood name and description of body style

Style #s

1 Fleetwind a closed car with a fixed, so-called "sport top" covered in Burbank cloth --
1a (Fleetwind)  Sedanette Cabriolet this one has enclosed (blank) rear quarters 3982
1b (Fleetwind) Sedanette this one features a window in the rear quarters1 39811
2 Fleetcrest Transformable Cabriolet (town car) for 7 passengers 3925
3 Fleetdale sedan for 7 passengers 3975
3975C
3975S
3975SC
4

Fleetmont Transformable Cabriolet (town car) for 7 passenger

3920
5 Fleetway all-weather phaeton for 4 passengers, with partition and division glass and Burbank convertible top 3980
6 Fleetdene Imperial Sedan (limousine) for 5 passengers plus opera seats for two more occasional passengers 3930
3930C
3930S
3930SC
7 Fleetwick Transformable Cabriolet (town car) for 5 passengers with opera seats for two more occasional passengers 3912
8 Fleetmere  Imperial Sedan (limousine) for 5 passengers plus opera seats for two more occasional passengers 3955
3955C
3955S
3955SC
9 Fleetbourne Transformable Brougham (town car) for 7 passengers 3991
10 Fleetdowns roadster for 2 passengers, with rumble seat for 2 occasional passengers 3902
11a [Fleetwind] La Salle Fleetwind Sedanette for 4 passengers (similar to the Cadillac version, above) 4081
11b [Fleetwind] La Salle Sedanette Cabriolet  for 4 passengers (similar to the Cadillac version, above) 4082
12a Fleetshire  La Salle phaeton for 4 passengers 4060
12b Fleetcliff  La Salle roadster 4002
12c Fleetlands   La Salle open touring car for 7 passengers (i.e. with occasional seating for two) 4057
13 Fleetway  La Salle all-weather phaeton for 4 passengers 4080

  1 One of these was installed also on the V-16 chassis for 1930-31

 

 

Fleetwood Product Portfolio
( 1930 )

 

li30fwd.jpg (3582 bytes)

 LI30FW2.JPG (2394 bytes)
[ Cover detail, Fleetwood name ]

3991D.JPG (46611 bytes)
This is the 3-page folder for the Fleetwood Fleetbourne brougham; at far left is the cover page with an Art Deco illustration of a fancy landscape and fountain; in the center is a side view of the car, with a descriptive text below it [reproduced below]; at the right is a textual description of the car's special features, with corresponding B&W illustrations including a side elevation, a plan view of the seating arrangements, a sample smoking set; there is even a  small,genuine upholstery swatch (in this case doeskin, suede broadcloth)

 

 

 

Fleetwood  Fleetbourne   town car
[ style #3991 ]

 

30fbourn.JPG (17276 bytes)
"Fleetbourne" town brougham for 7 passengers, style #3991;
metal roof (no leather covering); weight 5,320 lbs, list price $5,145

fbouri.jpg (15849 bytes)    fboursd.jpg (19564 bytes)
Left:  the seating plan; the folding auxiliary seats could easily accommodate 3 adults

Right: driver's canopy cover in place


The preceding illustrations are excerpted from the luxurious portfolio of Fleetwood models for 1930

 

 

 

Fleetwood had this to say about its Fleetbourne transformable Brougham model:

Engaging beauty of line complements road worthiness in this gracious-windowed brougham, designed for distinguished service on the Avenue and for debonair transportation to and from one's estate.

Primarily the Fleetbourne is of a character in keeping with the amenities of a fashionable countryside where handsome homes and gardens entertain the eye en passant. Indeed, the charms of well-ordered landscaping would seem to have been contrived for the added enjoyment of one who rides in such a car -- which is itself a proud enhancement to any setting.

If the outlook be unrewarding, due to bad weather, one may the more appreciate the satisfying elegance of the interior fittings; every detail a factor in the harmonious ensemble -- from   luxurious upholstery to well-chosen hardware and minor appointments -- bespeaking fastidious tasks.

SPECIAL FEATURES

The illustration at right shows driving seat enclosed for stormy weather -- a transformation which can be effected in a few moments, by means of a reenforced [reinforced?] leather roof curtain. The windows are skillfully concealed.

The delightful roominess of the interior is indicated in the seating diagram, but the extent of comfort afforded is beyond depiction -- it must be experienced! The folding seats, which face forward, are high-backed and spring-upholstered. Extra wide and set close together, these chairs form a settee which will accommodate three persons.  The upholstery throughout is in an exclusive doeskin suede broadcloth (such as the attached sample), with leather piping. Infinite colour variety for individual and discriminating selection is provided in a number of colours of cloth and the several hundred tints and shades in finishing colours.

The dome light is also a ventilator.  Other choice fitments include a French walnut vanity, with imported eight-day clock, hand mirror, leather cigarette case and two ash receivers; a smoking case, with cordless lighter and a second pair of ash receivers, also a modish umbrella.   All fittings are chromium finished, assuring a permanent, untarnishable brightness.   Fleetbourne may be ordered with a rear quarter made collapsable [collapsible?]. For fair weather a few moments' adjustment drops the rear in a compact, orderly arrangement.

The Fleetbourne is wired for radio.

fbourn_c.JPG (4820 bytes)
"Cabriolet" version of the Fleetbourne brougham

       

 

 

3991drg.JPG (32418 bytes)
The preceding line drawing is a montage of my own, based on the line drawing for Fleetwood
style #4391, included in an envelope of such drawings that came with the 1930 catalog of V-16 models

 

3991B.JPG (12279 bytes)    3991B2.JPG (18165 bytes)
The factory original publicity shot at left (with close-up at right)
shows the Fleetwood Fleetbourne in its regular V-8 garb

 

 

 

Acquired in 2004 by Clark Rittersbach of Platinum Classic Motorcars, Rochester, NY, the car featured on these pages was formerly owned by a Mr. Wiglesworth.  It appears identical to a town car owned at one time by operatic singer, the late Ernestine Schumann-Heink.

This is one of only two bodies designed by Fleetwood for the V-8 chassis that was adapted to fit the longer wheelbase of the V-16 chassis. When he bought it, Mr. Rittersbach's car was all original, albeit in need of restoration, with a mere 35K miles showing on the odometer. The car was reported to have sold at auction for $150,000 in just three days.

Later, the car was up for auction again by the Worldwide Group (lot #20 at their venue in May, 2008). It was still in the original unrestored state. It changed hands.

In March 2009, I was contacted by the discerning new owner; he wrote:

My name is Cedric Kellman; last May my wife purchased through an auction, a 1930 V-16 "Transformable Limousine Brougham", Engine #700298, with a stamping in the right front floorboard that reads as follows: 'Fleetwood Body Corp. 3991 Body 6 -  4391'. I have attached photos indicating such, and would appreciate hearing back from you. I read on your Database page that there was a "Special 7-passenger Towncar" (assumed standard V-8 body modified to receive the V-16 engine [1 only]).

We believe, as does Chris Cummings [a V-16 owner-enthusiast and expert] that our car is indeed, the very same car referred to in your Database.  My wife Nancy has done extensive research on previous ownership that points directly to Dr. John R. Brinkley of Milford, Kansas [the so-called "goat gland doctor"] as the  original owner, purchasing the car in 1931.

Messrs. Kellman and Cummings both are correct. Fleetwood did indeed mount this V-8 design on the V-16 chassis. Described in the 1930 product brochure (above) as a "Transformable Limousine Brougham" [what we call today an "open front town car"], it was given the name Fleetbourne and the style #39912

This is a standard Fleetwood 7-passenger town car design for a wheelbase of 140" (= 355.5cms), with an o.a. length of 211" (= 536cms) and an o.a. width of 74¾" (= 190cms).  The designation "transformable" comes from the removable portion of roof over the driver's compartment. The car features rear opening doors, a painted metal roof, ¼-windows, two extra-wide auxiliary seats without arm rests that are partly concealed when folded against front partition, a solid bronze "V"-type slanting windshield in fully chromium finished or black-painted frame, ventilators on either side of cowl, plus one on top, a dome light combined with a roof ventilator, two inner courtesy lights on the blank quarters located on either side of the rear seat, two outside step lights for the safety of rear compartment occupants; the front door windows, rear door windows and division glass all drop flush with the moldings; the rear ¼-windows are only partly lowerable; the driver's roof curtain and steel side supports are carried under the driver's seat when not in use. 

In addition to the fittings and fitments listed in the folder (above) I believe there were also a mirror and cigarette case, a telephone in a slash pocket on the RH rear quarter panel, above the arm rest, two carpet-covered foot cushions, a robe strap, a folding arm rest in the center of the rear seat back, silk curtains on all windows in the rear compartment, including the glass division and a silk umbrella nested at the RH side of the division cabinet. A radio was optional at extra cost.

In June 2009 I received a further communication from the new owner who said:

Hello Yann, my name is Cedric Kellman, and not long ago I wrote you saying that we are the owners of  the 1930 towncar with body #3991, that was placed on the V-16 chassis [1 only] ...Actually the car is owned by my wife Nancy.  It was just last week I was on your Database when I noticed the update from the letter I wrote you, thank you.

I also saw under the heading of salon car shows & exhibits, that the San Francisco show held at the Palace Hotel from 2-22 through 3-1, 1930, possibly had a quarter-window town car (#3991?) on display. Well, in looking at the build sheet, it states that the "Transformable Limousine Brougham" left the factory on 2-25-30 bound for Chicago. It was diverted from Chicago to Minneapolis on 4-29-30, then shipped back to Chicago on 3-31-31 [that's almost one year later]. Is it safe to assume these depression years resulted in many of the new Cadillacs (and others) from selling until the following year and sometimes later? Also, is there a possibility that while the town car was in Minneapolis, it was used as the distributor’s “Salon” car for display, or could it possibly have been a later entry on the circuit with the new V-16s that were showcased at other auto show exhibits on the west coast?

I replied: 

The town car exhibited at San Francisco could have been any of these Fleetwood styles [all with quarter windows]:  3289-A, 3991 [your car], 4212-C, 4220, 4220-B, 4275-C, 4291, 4320 or 4391. I don't have a photo of the car at the show so it would be guesswork if I had to pick one of the above models.

I believe that a rather UNIQUE Sixteen with a body designed by Fleetwood for the V-8 chassis probably is worth a lot more than one with a "regular" body designed by Fleetwood specifically for the new V-16 chassis.

I will now hand over to the current owner who has thoroughly researched the history of his car and provided the factual information below:

On January 4th 1930, the New York Auto Show took place. It was then that Cadillac unveiled to the public and the automotive world its innovative and revolutionary power plant, “The V-16”. Kept secret since 1926, and known only as, "coach" or "bus" to Cadillac's engineers and top brass, this would forever define Cadillac's position in the automotive world. The New York Auto Show was such a success, that public demand behooved Cadillac to rush into production their now famous "Super Star,” that would be made available in many styles, models, and personal tastes for the discriminating. 

The car we present here is one of the aforementioned V-16s that went into early production at Cadillac's "Fleetwood Plant" in January 1930. Due to the rising popularity and growing demand for the V-16, production moved swiftly to fulfill the wishes and desires of the automobile buying public. Clamour such as this, is where our story of #3991 begins.

According to the Cadillac Database and its founder, Yann Saunders, it is documented through factory records that Cadillac DID indeed mount on the V-16 chassis a Fleetwood body [job #3991], originally intended as a “Fleetbourne” V-8,  140” wheel base town car. Therefore, #3991 was born into the V-16 family and was very similar in design to Fleetwood's own style #4391, “Transformable Limousine Brougham”.

In trying to piece together the puzzle as to the occurrences and whereabouts of #3991 prior to its purchase in 1931, I will concern myself to the build sheet, and start from there. Although the reprint is rather smeared and difficult to read, the important information is clear enough. The data is printed on letterhead paper exclusively for V-16 models only.  It reads as follows:

Style #4391; Fltd. Trans. Limo. Brougham; Engine No. 700298.

Nowhere on the build sheet is body #3991 referenced. What is legible and visible, is the stamping  in the right front floorboard that reads: 


Fleetwood Body Corp
3991 Body 6
4391

 

4391fac.jpg (47094 bytes)

 

 

Note the resemblance between Fleetwood style #4391 [right] and style #3991, which is the topic of this page

 

 

The build sheet clearly states that #3991 was charged to a Chicago branch distributor (name unknown) by the Cadillac Motor Car Co. on February 21st 1930, then shipped out on February 25th, 1930. It is believed that #3991 was used as the distributor’s “Salon” model to promote, and stimulate sales in a now, very depressed economy. It is a known fact that certain distributors were independently owned, therefore creating a network of dealers who would work for the common good of the company, (Cadillac) to promote, and advertise their company’s new line.

Such is the case with #3991, when, on April 29th 1930, the town car was diverted from Chicago to Northwest Cadillac-LaSalle in Minneapolis.The Chicago branch was clearly the location billed by Cadillac according to the original build sheet, thus concluding that the Chicago distributor also had ownership affiliation with its Minneapolis counterpart. Therefore, to conclude  that if  #3991 was at any time adorned with a sale price, it seems a certainty the car would have remained in Chicago for that purpose.

Henceforth, was #3991 in the possession of Northwest Cadillac-LaSalle, lending itself for exhibition there for the next eleven months, or at some point in time, could #3991 have been diverted again to be a late entry at the car shows and exhibits on the west coast? Perhaps the answer will never be known, so for now, we will just leave it where it lies. In conclusion to the story leading up to the initial purchase of #3991, it does indicate on a separate order sheet, that Northwest Cadillac-LaSalle diverted this chauffeur-driven limousine back to Chicago on March 31st 1931.

It is now April 1931, with the new Cadillac line already well into its calendar year, and still, sales being at an all time low. There can be no doubt that prices have now been reduced to move out remaining inventory from the previous year, especially with the bigger, more expensive models, (limousine broughams ranging in price from $7150-$9700). It remains uncertain just when #3991 left Chicago to be united with its new owner, Dr. John R. Brinkley of Milford, KS.

What may be stated as fact, is that Dr. Brinkley, while campaigning for Governor of Kansas, told voters in a radio address dated February 1932;

“You bought Governor Woodring a twelve cylinder Cadillac, Dr. Brinkley paid with his own money for his sixteen cylinder Cadillac”. “I will be driving the same car out of here tonight that I will drive when you send me to Topeka”. The reference made to “sixteen cylinder Cadillac” appears to point directly to “3991” as the car used on his campaign trail in 1932. 

To ascertain just how important a transcript of this address from early 1932 means to the credibility of Dr. Brinkley ordering his “sixteen-cylinder”, chauffeur-driven limousine for his political campaigning, is immeasurable!  This now fits squarely within the realm of “3991” being originally purchased sometime in 1931. To further exemplify Dr. Brinkley’s persona, lends itself and illustrates perfectly his arrogance, flaunting his wealth to one up his opponent with a “sixteen-cylinder motorcar” sporting large quarter windows with silk shades, a division window separating the chauffeur from passengers seated in the rear, and a built-in microphone with intercom. One can just picture this combination doctor/politician, traveling through small towns and tiny communities of rural Kansas, taking center stage in such an impressive automobile. Despite all the hoopla and Brinkley ballyhoo, he still lost the election3a and 3b. 

There is speculation from previous Kansas ownership, that #3991 was ordered through Greenlease Cadillac Motor Car Co. at 2929 McGee Street, Kansas City. Established in 1908, and having the distinction of selling the very first Cadillac in Kansas City, their territory covered a wide range west of the Mississippi.  

Although it was first believed that #3991 was a former holding of the Greenlease family due to the name implied, and the apple green color of the car, it was not. An excerpt from his authoritative book, Pope Brock’s “Charlatan,” tells that on at least two occasions, Dr. Brinkley had the exterior of the mansion in (Del Rio, Texas) repainted, first red, then apple green-and his Cadillacs repainted to match.   

Many articles written in medical journals, magazines, and newspapers throughout the years, and still today, look upon Dr. Brinkley as the high priest of mumbo jumbo, who through radio had a vast audience of listeners trusting and believing his every word, from his philosophy of medicine, to religion. Yet in a time much different than ours, when communication came out of a radio and not a television, a computer, or a cell phone, there is something sweet and innocent about those families gathered around the radio after dinner, listening to one of the many programs coming over the airways.

 

It is only fitting that this particular chauffeur-driven limousine should survive, AND IT HAS! Although the style #4391 bodies later produced (30 units in all) were identical to this one, there is nothing quite like being separated from all the others. This ONE OF A KIND V-16 will be restored back to its build sheet specifications altering in no way from its originality when it left the factory on February 25, 1930.

My wife purchased #3991 in 2008, five years after it was first auctioned through Bonham’s by the family of its third owner, Jasper Wiglesworth of Shawnee, Kansas. Mr.Wiglesworth stored the car in the family museum for many years along with other desirable automobiles that also were auctioned upon his death in 2003.  We later discovered through the Wiglesworth family that Mr. Paul Berry purchased the car through the Brinkley’s family chauffeur in March, 1945, to which we have the original Kansas title, dated March 23, 1945. The car is presently under restoration.
______________________________________________________
2     Further reading in the Cadillac Database:  Fleetwood styling codes (1930 style #3991, weighing 5305 lbs and costing $4145
      the latter car appears also in the 1930 Book of Fleetwood, 9.16.1929, on p.43)

3a Check out this link for more on Dr. John Brinkley: http://roadscourageous.com
3b
  There is also a rather sensationalized article from a May, 2008 publication of Newsweek Magazine:   http://www.newsweek.com/id/105556 

 

 

4391b.jpg (11019 bytes)    4391a.jpg (9460 bytes)
[ These images: © 2008, The Worldwide Group ]

V643916c.jpg (10786 bytes)    V643916e.jpg (6475 bytes)    4391c.jpg (6594 bytes)
Almost complete but in a slightly dilapidated sate, it sold in Oct.  2004 for a reported $115,000

    V643916d.jpg (11594 bytes)    v643916a.jpg (7493 bytes)    V643916b.jpg (4380 bytes)
This survivor, formerly from the Wiglesworth Automotive Collection, was sold at auction in October, 2004;
seemingly it had been acquired just two weeks earlier, also at auction,  for "just" $92,000
[ Info and photos: © and courtesy of Cadillac enthusiast, Johan Boltendal from Holland ]

4391xx.jpg (26973 bytes)    700298plate.jpg (25823 bytes)
This unique car survived and is owned at this time [2009]
by Nancy Kellman to whom we owe the preceding two photos

 

 


©
1996-2020, Yann Saunders, DLM Group, and the Cadillac & LaSalle Club Museum and Research Center Inc.
[ Background image: full side-view of V-16 Fleetwood Job #3991, from Rick Kellman's collection ]