Lot 443: 1932 Cadillac 452-B V-16 Imperial Limousine
Body no. 38
Herbert Hoover and the Cadillac V-16 have much in common. Neither was to blame for The Great Depression, each was profoundly affected by it, and both are, perhaps unjustly, indelibly identified with it. It is ironic, then, and perhaps fitting that Hoover bought a Cadillac V-16 not long before he left the office of President of the United States.
The Cadillac V-16 was the work of Owen Nacker, Cadillac�s engine designer who had previously done work for Marmon, then already working on a V-16. It was an overhead-valve design, in a narrow, 45-degree vee with side-by-side connecting rods, Cadillac having abandoned fork-and-blade some years before. A hefty alloy crankcase supported five main bearings, and nickel-iron cylinders extended into the crankcase, topped by cast iron cylinder heads. Each bank was essentially a separate engine, with its own fuel and exhaust systems. Displacing 452 cubic inches, it produced 175 bhp at 3,400 rpm, 50 more than rival Packard�s high performance Speedster. Introduced in January 1930, it was followed by a similar V-12 just six months later. V-16 sales were initially satisfying (3,251 in 1930), but as The Depression deepened they inevitably fell off. Total 1932 output was a mere 300 cars.
Herbert Clark Hoover was President Warren Harding�s Secretary of Commerce. When Harding�s successor, Calvin Coolidge, declined to run for re-election in 1928, Hoover was chosen as the Republican nominee and was elected in a landslide vote over challenger Al Smith. Hoover�s presidency, however, fell victim to the stock market crash of October 1929 and The Depression that followed. Although not keen to run again in 1932, he did so, but lost the election decisively to Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In the final months of his presidency, Hoover purchased a 1932 Cadillac V-16 Imperial Limousine. A Fleetwood-bodied car of Style 5175, it was Hoover�s own, not an official White House vehicle. After Roosevelt�s inauguration, the Hoovers left Washington for New York City, but within a few months returned to their home state of California, where they took up residence in Palo Alto. Like many U.S. presidents, Hoover liked driving, and enjoyed lengthy journeys, particularly in the American West. Unfettered by Secret Service protection, not granted to former presidents until the 1960s, he would gad about to his heart�s content, often unrecognized.
It is hard to imagine him using the Cadillac for these journeys � he probably took one of Mrs. Hoover�s Fords instead � but there�s no doubt he enjoyed the Cadillac well into his retirement. In 1942, his insurance policy on the car, which listed his occupation as 'retired,' cost him a full $78.70 for $300,000 of liability coverage and actual cash value in the event of collision or loss. It was wartime, so careful records were kept of the car�s six tires, including their serial numbers. When Herbert Hoover finally decided to let go of the Cadillac, he sold it to a friend, Gordon Garland.
Gordon Hickman Garland served in the California State Assembly from 1937 to 1942, the final two years as its Speaker. In later years he was appointed as California�s Motor Vehicle Director. Garland and his wife kept the car for many years, although it eventually was taken out of service.
The car is totally unrestored, but well preserved, with the patina of a storied past adding to its attractiveness. Showing just over 2,000 miles, the car is in good overall condition but has not been used for many years. The interior shows no wear, though there are signs of aging in the fabric-upholstered passenger compartment. The chauffeur�s compartment is upholstered in well-preserved leather. Exterior paint is in good condition, but all plated trim shows signs of weathering, and some of the cast parts are pitted. The car has a division window, seating for seven (two on jump seats) and sports an appropriate eagle-and-shield hood mascot from its career with America�s head of state. A lesser-known artifact of American history, it will present a new owner with enviable choices for conservation, preservation or restoration. Cadillac sold 49 V-16 Imperial Limousines in 1932, but only one of them to an American president.
Collectors' Motorcars and Automobilia|
Bonhams & Butterfields, Quail Lodge Resort & Golf Club, Carmel, California
|Hammer Price (inc premium)||$87750|
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