TheV16 (series 452 and 452-A) is one of the most desirable Caddies today for a number of reasons, but most of all because of the shape, style, and obvious quality.
Although full-custom bodies were built by Fleetwood, Murphy, Waterhouse, Saoutchik, Vanden Plas, Pinin Farina, and others; most were “catalog customs” by Fleetwood. A few cars had Fisher bodies. Only about one fifth were open or convertible. Two-thirds were five or seven passenger sedans or Imperials. The rest were Coupes or Town Cars.
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1930 Cadillac V-16
More than 50 body styles were offered, but the list consists of only a few basic shells with several variations each: metal or leather quarters, with or without quarter windows, fixed or collapsible (Landau) quarters, with or without Imperial division, straight or coach sill, plain or recessed hood/cowl, etc.
With few exceptions, the “41” styles had plain hood and straight sill, the “42” styles had plain hood and coach sill, and the “43” styles had recessed hood/cowl and straight sill.
Windshield treatment varied from vertical Vee to 22 degree sloping as follows:
Vertical Vee swing-out (Penna.)
7 degree flat swing-out
4212, 4220, 4225, 4264, 4291
7 degree V-type swing-out
4312, 4320, 4325, 4376, 4380, 4391
7 degree flat crank-up (V-V)
4330, 4355, 4361, 4375, 4381
16 degree flat swing-out, folding
18 degree flat crank-up (V-V) “Madame X”
4130, 4155, 4161, 4175, 4276, 4476
21 degree flat swing-out
22 degree flat, divided
The sobriquet “Madame X” (with an “e”) is not prominent, if it appears at all, in Cadillac promotional literature. Perhaps the only place Cadillac printed it is in body styling listings found in various parts lists, as early as March, 1930. The term is associated with job/style numbers 4130, 4155, 4161, 4175, in plain, -S, -C, or -SC variations. In later parts lists, job number 4476 is listed as having a “Madame X” windshield.
“Madame X” refers to a large 1884 “portrait by John Singer Sargent of a young socialite named Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau. She was an American expatriate who married a French banker. She became notorious in Parisian high society for her beauty and rumored infidelities.” The painting was risqué for its time because of the plunging (i.e., revealing) neckline. The term as used on the Cadillac was applied to the “41” series bodies built in Detroit because it had an 18 degree flat, crank-up (V-V) windshield which “revealed” the occupants of the car. Possibly the term was used for this car because it was as big and bold as the painting of Madame X which was 2083mm tall and 1092mm wide. [Thanks Tom Kelly for the initial reference to the painting and your quote.]
It is unlikely that the Pennsylvania version with vertical Vee swing-out windshields were thought of as “Madame X” bodies. Job/style number 4276, being style 4476 with coach sill, also has a “Madame X” windshield.
Chrome plated window reveals were used on “41” bodies but were not unique to those styles. Although early body specs listed chrome plated reveals, July 1930 body specs listed painted reveals on “41” bodies. Painted window reveals on “Madame X” bodies are probably as rare as the “standard” rear-mounted spare tire.
In simplest terms, 1930-31 Fleetwood four door bodies with 18 degree windshield, mounted on Cadillac V-16 chassis are “Madame X”; and two Coupe body styles have the “Madame X” windshield.
Body details unique to the V-16 or introduced with the V-16 and seen on the full 1931 line include: Single bar bumpers, dual horns, concave monogram bar, radiator screen. 330mm Guide “Tiltray” headlights, dual rear lights matching the headlights, triple molding on dust shield panels of straight sill styles, five doors in the hood, single matching door in the side of the cowl, and none, one, or two rectangular vent doors in the top of the cowl. Most bodies with recessed hood/cowl had one triangular door in the top of the cowl.
Similar to 353 except for five-point engine mount on V-16
Vacuum assist operated on manifold vacuum, not vacuum pump
Specially balanced white wall tires
7.00 – 19 early (7.50 – 19 mid-model)
Rear engine support at tail of transmission.
Heavier clutch linings (chassis unit 7-2991 and later used thinner lining of V-8).
Rear axle shafts same as on 353 except made of special steel.
Optional 3.47:1 final drive ratio dropped mid-model.
45 degree overhead V-16, Cast Nickel Iron blocks on Silicon/Aluminum crankcase
Bore and Stroke
76.2mm x 101.6mm
5.35:1 early std., 5:11 std., 4.98:1 opt.
175-185 @ 3400 rpm
Push rod/rocker arm with hydraulic rotary eccentric silencer in rocker arm
Extra effort and expense went into a polished, plated, enameled. uncluttered engine compartment. Wiring was concealed and covers were used on engine and dash to hide plumbing and controls.
Twin coils were mounted in recesses in the radiator top tank. Spark plug wires came out the rear of the double deck distributor cap and disappeared under the cover inside the Vee. The narrow (45 degree) Vee allowed for outboard mounting of manifolds and dual carburetors. Intake pipes from higher in the engine compartment were added at engine number 702502 to eliminate the problem of road splash entering the carburetors. Fuel feed was by dual vacuum tanks operated by vacuum pump. By May, 1930, the chrome plated vacuum tanks were superseded by painted units. The dual exhaust system ended in fan-shaped tail pipe tips.
To silence the overhead valve system, hydraulically rotated eccentric bushings were used in the rocker arms. The early use of a different head thickness for various compression ratios was replaced by the use of a single head with gaskets of different thickness. Right and left heads and blocks were interchangeable. One row of head studs went through the block to the crankcase, the second row sealed in the block.
Engine lubrication was full pressure from oil pump on rear main bearing cap. At engine unit number 7-1038, the oil level indicator was moved from rear of right hand cylinder block to left side of crankcase. The belt driven fan was mounted on ball bearings, lubricated by grease fitting, not engine oil pressure. Crankshaft thrust was taken by center main. A harmonic balancer was mounted on front end of crankshaft. A single chain to drive camshaft and generator was provided with automatic adjuster incorporated in an idler acting on the outside of the chain. A thermostat was used to close the crankcase ventilation intake at higher engine temperatures.
The double outlet water pump on the right side of the engine was driven by an extension shaft from the rear of the generator. A cooling system condenser tank was used once again.
The engine, transmission assembly was mounted at the four corners of the engine plus a dual mount at the rear of the transmission. The front mounts were supported by diagonal members in the frame.
3 forward, 1 reverse
Left hand drive with center controls (right hand optional)
Shaft with torque tube
3/4 floating rear axle
Spiral bevel drive
4.39:1 std (3.47:1, 4.07:1, 4.75:1 opt)
Vacuum assisted mechanical brakes on four wheels
Wood artillery (wire, disc, demountable wood were optional)
I. D. DATA
Serial numbers were not used on the 452/452-A series.
Engine numbers were stamped on crankcase right hand side, on the generator drive chain housing.