2022 | Pebble Beach Auctions
1930 Cadillac Series 452 V-16 Roadster
Coachwork by Fleetwood
$1,500,000 - $2,000,000
Exquisite, Concours-Winning Restoration in Accordance with Factory Build Record
Extremely Rare Rear-Mounted Spare Example
One of Approximately 10 Original Roadsters Known to Exist
Previous Owners Include S. Prestley Blake, Briggs S. Cunningham and Mark J. Smith
Among the Most Important, Admired, and Desirable of All American Classics
452 CID OHV V-16 Engine
Twin Updraft Single-Throat Carburetors
175 BHP at 3,400 RPM
3-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Vacuum-Assisted Mechanical Drum Brakes
Front Beam Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs
Rear Live Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs
Floyd E. Becker, Roseland, New Jersey (acquired new via Motor Car Co. in 1931)
Harry Travis, New Jersey (acquired from the above in 1948)
S. Prestley Blake, Longmeadow, Massachusetts (acquired circa mid-1950s)
Briggs S. Cunningham (acquired from the above in 1959)
Miles Collier, Naples, Florida (acquired from the above in 1986)
Mark Smith, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (acquired via Dick Barbour in 1987)
Robert and Brigitte Thayer, Atlanta, Georgia (acquired circa 1999)
Private Collection, Ohio (acquired from the above in 2016)
Current Owner (acquired from the above)
CCCA Grand Classic, Michigan, July 2001
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, August 2001 (Third in Class)
Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, 2002 (First in Class)
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, 2012 (Second in Class)
The Greenbrier Concours d’Elegance, West Virginia, 2021 (Sam Snead Award, Best Country Club Car)
After being in highly secretive development since 1926, Cadillac’s legendary V-16 model was launched in January 1930 at the New York International Automobile Show and achieved a level of success that surprised even GM’s Cadillac Motor Division. The cars were lauded by the public and the press alike for their performance and modern Harley Earl designs, costing more than 10 typical American family cars combined. Over the next four months alone, more than 1,000 V-16s were built. As a result, this newest phase of American manufacturers’ “cylinder war” was over before it began.
The model, named the 452 for its prodigious engine displacement, was available in 10 standard body styles, with dozens of additional variations available by special order. Each V-16 was built to its customer’s precise specifications down to the smallest detail, and dealers were required to collect and submit feedback from owners to the Cadillac factory for continual refinement of their flagship product.
The magnificent V-16 Roadster, Type 4302, 2/4-place presented here was ordered new by Floyd E. Becker, a successful New Jersey-based dairy farmer, and this V-16 is presented today as it was ordered by him, in a sporting, yet purposeful configuration. Mr. Becker placed his order with the Motor Car Co. of Inglis M. Uppercu in Newark, New Jersey, and specified his Roadster in the single shade of Cannon Smoke Gray, accented by simple Aztec Red striping.
Special-order, demountable 20" wooden wheels, in place of the standard 19" units, were painted to match. Additionally, Mr. Becker believed that changing a flat would be made easier if the spares were carried at the rear rather than held in side-mounted fender wells. The result of this one change dramatically enhanced the Roadster’s design, allowing the sweep of the fenders to better define the sides of the car. The dark brown leather of the interior, with specially proportioned seat cushions to better accommodate Mr. Becker’s stature, provides the perfect accent to the dark gray exterior. Taken as a whole, this V-16 is absolutely spectacular.
Mr. Becker retained the V-16 Roadster for 17 years before selling it to a longtime employee in 1948. It was later acquired by early classic car enthusiast and pioneering collector S. Prestley Blake, co-founder of the ubiquitous Friendly’s restaurants. Mr. Blake performed a light refurbishment, refinishing the exterior in a black and copper paint scheme, and then traded the Cadillac to famed sportsman and collector Briggs S. Cunningham in 1959. The Cadillac became a permanent part of Mr. Cunningham’s world-class collection prior to his relocation from the East Coast to Costa Mesa, California. When The Cunningham Museum closed at the end of 1986, the V-16, along with the balance of the collection, was sold to classic car historian and preservationist Miles Collier of Naples, Florida. As it was not in keeping with the competition focus of the Florida museum, the Cadillac was soon sold, via racing legend Dick Barbour, to admired Classic Era historian Mark Smith of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who kept it for several years.
In about 1999, collector Robert Thayer of Atlanta, who had been searching for an outstanding example of a Type 4302 V-16 Roadster for years, acquired the Becker V-16 and immediately retained RM Auto Restorations Inc. to restore it to national concours standards. A written account of the work on file describes the remarkable originality that the Cadillac still retained at that time, including all its body panels, chassis hardware, and the coachwork’s wooden structural underpinnings. When complete, the V-16 emerged as it appeared when new, including its elegant original colors, rare 20" artillery-style wheels, individually numbered leaf-spring covers, special door pockets that appear on the accompanying factory build sheet, and even the brass-engraved calling card of the Uppercu Cadillac dealership, which remains affixed to the end of the fuel tank. Over the next several years, the Thayers were awarded several well-deserved trophies on numerous show fields with their sparkling Cadillac V-16, including class awards at Pebble Beach and Amelia Island, and several judged CCCA events.
In 2016, the Thayers sold the V-16, and it joined a noted Midwestern collection of American classics before being acquired by the consignor, a longtime classic car driving event veteran and enthusiast of the finest automobiles across several genres. Close inspection reveals the knowledgeable, tour-ready care it has received in the years since its restoration was completed. Simply stunning from stem to stern, it is a testament not only to the quality of the restoration, but to the integrity of the car itself.
Unquestionably one of the most important automobiles of the Classic Era, the big Roadster will naturally become the centerpiece of most any collection, and its next caretaker will have the pleasure of experiencing it not only on display, but also in command of its magnificent 16-cylinder engine on the road.
*Please note that this vehicle is titled 1931 and by its engine number.