Cadillac Models & History 1939



Click to supersize
1939 Cadillac Sixty-One Special

Althoughthe economy experienced a gradual increase from 1936 to 1937, it took a slight dive in 1938. However, the economy bounced back in 1939, which meant higher sales throughout the industry. Pointed fronts reappeared on most of this year’s GM cars, and the Sixty-Special was no exception.

Cadillac’s new ensemble was a three-element affair consisting of a slightly raked, prow-shaped vertical radiator flanked by grilles in the “catwalk” area between the front fenders and the main nose section. Above the catwalks were headlamps repositioned higher and closer to the central grille.

The Series 60 was replaced by the 3200mm-wheelbase Series 61, offering the same body types and many of the Sixty-Special’s appearance features. Common to all 1939 Cadillacs were a

  • redesigned dashboard,
  • newly optional vacuum-operated radio antenna,
  • rubber rear fender protectors,
  • and something called “Controlled-Action Ride,” a reference to a higher rear axle rotation center claimed to enhance ride comfort.


Click to supersize
1939 Cadillac Sixty-Special

Aside from this, the Sixty-Special was largely unchanged, presumably on the grounds that it didn’t pay to fool around with a winner. The policy paid off, and once again it was Cadillac’s single best-selling model line. However, the series was expanded for ’39 with two variations of the basic four-door: a sunroof sedan with a sliding section above the front seat area, and a limousine-like Imperial Sedan with division window as well as the sunroof.

A gorgeous Sixty-Special coupe had been built as a one-off for GM president William S. Knudsen and four convertible sedans were built experimentally for the use of other high-level executives, but neither model reached production. Chairman Sloan may have hinted at the rationale for only one basic body style when he noted that the Sixty-Special was “well received in the market and demonstrated the dollars-and-cents value of styling, for customers were ready to take smaller trade-ins [dollar amounts] on old cars to acquire it.”


Click to supersize
1939 Cadillac

Cadillac had settled on the 5.678 Liter version of the monobloc V-8 for all its eight-cylinder models except LaSalle beginning in 1937. Rated at 135 horsepower at 3400 rpm, the 5.678 Liter had five more horses than the 1935 V-8 and 10 more than the one-year-only 5295mm monobloc. The Sixty-Special arrived weighing only some 105 kg more than a comparable 1938 Series 60 sedan, so its power-to-weight ratio was less than 14 kg per horsepower, quite good for the period. By contrast, that year’s Packard Super Eight — which, incidentally, cost $700 more than the Special — carried nearly 16 kg per horsepower.


Click to supersize
1939 Cadillac Sixty-One

For 1939, Series 61 replaced Series 60 and 65 of 1938. All V-8’s had new grille styling; similar in appearance but different in detail dimensions on each series. The pointed center grille and the functional side grilles were diecast, with fine-pitch bars. A single diecast louver was positioned to the rear of each hood side panel. Headlights were once again attached to the radiator casing.

Sixty Special, now bodied by Fleetwood, was offered with optional Sunshine Turret Top or center division. These options were also available on the Series 61 Sedan. Series 61 was available with or without running boards; had concealed door hinges except for the lower front hinge; and had chrome reveals on all windows.


Click to supersize
1939 Cadillac Sixty-One

Chassis changes included:

  • Tube and fin radiator core
  • Sea shell horns under the plugs
  • Cross-link steering on Series 61
  • Slotted disc wheels on Series 60S and 61


Serial numbers were located on the left frame side bar, opposite the steering gear.
Starting: Same as engine number.
Ending: Same as engine number.
Engine numbers were on the crankcase, just behind the left cylinder block, parallel to the dash.
Series 39-60S Series 39-61 Series 39-75
Starting Engine Number 6290001 8290001 3290001
Ending Engine Number 6295513 8295913 3292069


Series 39-60S, 127 in. Wheelbase
Style Number Style Seating Price Weight Production
39-6019S Special Sedan 5 $2195 1868 kg 5,135
39-6019S Special Sedan, CKD 5 $2195 1868 kg 84
39-6019S-A Sunroof Special Sedan 5 $2245 225
39-6019S-AF Special Imperial Sedan, Sunroof 5 55
39-60 Chassis 7


Fisher Series 39-61, 128 in. Wheelbase
Style Number Style Seating Price Weight Production
39-6119 Sedan 5 $1765 1714 kg 3955
39-6119 Sedan, CKD 5 $1765 1714 kg 96
39-6119-A Sedan, sunroof 5 $1805 43
39-6119-F Imperial Sedan 5 30
39-6127 Coupe 2 $1695 1675 kg 1023
39-6129 Convertible Sedan 5 $2265 1732 kg 140
39-6167 Convertible Coupe 2 $1855 1711 kg 350
39-61 Commercial Chassis 237


Fleetwood Series 39-75, 141 in. Wheelbase
Style Number Style Seating Price Weight Production
39-7519 Sedan 5 $3100 2175 kg 543
39-7519-F Imperial Sedan 5 $3265 2202 kg 53
39-7523 Sedan 7 $3325 2211 kg 412
39-7523-L Business Transformable Sedan 8 $3215 2211 kg 33
39-7529 Convertible Sedan 5 $4065 2286 kg 36
39-7533 Imperial Sedan 7 $3475 2284 kg 638
39-7533 Imperial Sedan, CKD 7 $3475 2284 kg 60
39-7533-F Formal Sedan 7 $4115 2284 kg 44
39-7533-L Business Transformable Imperial 8 $3370 2284 kg 2
39-7539 Town Sedan 5 $3750 2191 kg 51
39-7553 Town Car 7 $5245 2316 kg 13
39-7557 Coupe 2 $3395 2089 kg 36
39-7557-B Coupe 5 $3495 2134 kg 23
39-7559 Formal Sedan 5 $4115 2175 kg 53
39-7567 Convertible Coupe 2 $3495 2125 kg 27
39-75 Chassis 13
39-75 Commercial Chassis 28


Type Ninety degree – L-Head
Cylinders Eight Cylinders
Block Cast iron block (blocks cast enbloc with crankcase)
Bore & Stroke 88.9mm x 114.3mm
Displacement 5.678 Liters
Model 60S Compression Ratio 6.25:1
Model 61 Compression Ratio 6.25:1
Model 75 Compression Ratio 6.70:1
Brake Horsepower 135 hp (140 hp on 75) @ 3400 rpm
Power 101 kW (101 kW on 75) @ 3400 rpm
SAE/Taxable Horsepower 39.20
Main bearings Three
Valve lifters Hydraulic
Carburetor Stromberg AAV-26.


Model Wheelbase Overall length Front Tread Rear Tread Tires
Series 39-60S 3226mm 5442mm 1473mm 1549mm 7.00 x 16
Series 39-61 3200mm 5264mm 1473mm 1499mm 7.00 x 16
Series 39-75 3581mm 5718mm 1537mm 1588mm 7.50 x 16
Series 39-61
Commercial Chassis
4121mm 6185mm 7.00 x 16
Series 39-75
Commercial Chassis
4099mm 6233mm 7.50 x 16


Transmission Selective synchro manual transmission.
Speeds 3 Forward, 1 Reverse
Controls Left Hand Drive; gearshift on column; handbrake at left (rhd opt)
Clutch Single disc clutch
Drive Shaft drive, Hotchkiss
Axle Semifloating rear axle
Gears Hypoid gears
Overall Ratio
  • 60S & 61 = 3.92:1
  • 75 = 4.58:1
Brakes Hydraulic brakes on four wheels
Wheels Slotted disc wheels
Wheel size 16 in.



Click to supersize
1939 Cadillac

Radio $69.50
Heater $31.50
Seat covers $8.25 per seat
Spotlight $18.50
Windshield washer $5.75
Automatic battery filler $7.50
Fog lights $14.50/pair



Click to supersize
1939 Cadillac

1939 Cadillac Notes

  • Introduced October, 1938
  • Series 60S model year sales: 5513
  • Series 61 model year sales: 5913
  • Series 75 model year sales: 2069
  • V-16 model year sales and production: 138.
  • Nicholas Dreystadt was general manager
  • Ernest W. Seaholm was chief engineer
  • William Mitchell was chief designer (Cadillac Studio)
  • Don E. Ahrens was general sales manager

1939 Automotive Notes

  • William S. Knudsen was president of GM
  • Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. was chairman of the board at GM
  • Powell Crosley, Jr. introduces the Bantam Crosley
  • Ford introduces the Mercury
  • Studebaker introduces the Champion
  • Last year for Packard’s V-12
  • Ford finally adopts hydraulic brakes
  • Chevrolet introduces a vacuum-operated gearshift
  • Chrysler introduces Windsor, New Yorker, and Saratoga
  • Chrysler moves headlights into the fenders
  • Chrysler introduces a fluid-coupling powertrain (Fluid Drive) for Imperial
  • Chrysler develops the “Super-finish” method of mirror-finishing engine or chassis parts with no scratches deeper than 0.0000254mm (one-millionth of an inch), which helps cut friction
  • Pontiac introduces “Duflex” rear springs with smaller auxiliary leaf springs
  • Packard builds marine engines for U.S. Navy PT boats
  • White builds Army scout cars
  • Top model year production for 1939
Series 40 Special175,568
Series 60 Century23,890
Series 80 Roadmaster6,489
Series 90 Limited1,787
Series 615,974
Series 60 Special5,506
Series 752,065
Series 90136
American Bantam Model 62 (wb 75 in)1,229