Award Winner: 1935 Cadillac Town Cabriolet V-12

This is about as far away from a bread-and-butter classic Cadillac offering as it’s possible to get. Located here on eBay, near Portland, Oregon, it’s a senior trophy winner, a 1935 370-D Cadillac V-12 seven-passenger leather-back town cabriolet by Fleetwood. It won Pebble Beach three times and has a long list of awards from shows around the country. Multiple show winners in Concours condition don’t usually sell for a song, but by September 29 this one had bid only to $50,000, obviously far below the reserve. Classics.com shows an average sale price for V-12 Cadillacs between 1931 and 1935 of $138,157. And this is a very special car, far better than average. It was ordered in January of 1935 by wealthy industrialist Julian Leigh Perkins of Springfield, Massachusetts.

It seems Perkins’ wife, Mae, had been in several auto accidents and he wanted her to get chauffeured. A live-in “man” was hired. The car served the family well, but with 35,000 miles on the odometer at the start of World War II it went into gas-rationing-mandated storage in an aircraft hangar. It remained there until Mae Perkins died at 95 in 1967. It took until 1973 before a Los Angeles contractor, Jack Frank, bought it, with four flat tires, out of the warehouse.

The Cadillac, now in California, went to the legendary Santa Monica restoration shop Hill and Vaughn (featuring race driver Phil Hill) as one of that company’s first five projects. The work went on for three years, and the car was comprehensively restored, including a V-12 rebuild. The work was done in time for the 1977 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it was First in Class, Most Elegant, and runner-up for Best in Show. Class wins also happened at Pebble in 1993 and 2014. Sixty more shows followed, with the most recent being a 2013 First in Class at the LeMay Museum Concours in Tacoma Washington. It’s a Classic Car Club of America senior car.

In 2004 the Cadillac was bought by a close friend of the Frank family, who’d been there when the Hill and Vaughn restoration wrapped up in 1977. It’s reportedly still a car that would score in the high 90s at any Concours d’Elegance. The odometer shows 43,10 miles.

The rear upholstery is still soft, and the original carpeting and headliner are in place. The rear hardware was gold plated by Fleetwood, and all that’s there too. The original intercom is still in place, and still not hooked up (by order of Mr. Perkins, who didn’t want his wife bothering the chauffeur). The black paint looks good, all the glass is intact, as is the front-seat leather. Even the rubber seals are supple. A secret compartment still holds the chauffeur’s umbrella. The V-12 starts right up, and the three-speed manual shifts smoothly. The vacuum-assisted brakes work as intended. All the gauges work, too.

The vendor asserts the car could not be duplicated for less than $250,000, which may be true—though it doesn’t mean it will bring that much in today’s market for 1930s cars. Only eight of the 370-D Fleetwood leather-back V-12 town cabriolets were built for 1935, and this is apparently the single example extant. Another may lurk somewhere undiscovered, the vendor says. The car comes with copious amounts of original literature, as well as piles of trophies and a gallon of Hill and Vaughn touch-up paint. The vendor: “If you are looking for a truly one-of-a-kind Full Classic Cadillac with an impeccable restoration and 40+ year major show-winning history, this is the one. It is ready to return to the show circuit and garner more trophies for the new owner, or just be enjoyed as a rolling work of art.” It’s hard to argue with any of that. It’s a top-drawer show car, and ready to go.

Comments

  1. CVPanther Member

    What a stately, noble lady with an impressive lineage.
    You just don’t see cars like this very often, not even on the internet.
    Amazing find and write-up, Jim.

    It doesn’t seem to be bringing the expected money but I refuse to go the to common Barnfinds mantra of “Nobody wants these anymore”.
    This is a very special car which needs a very special owner, so it could take years to find the right buyer. And that was as true when it left the factory as it is now.
    I do hope someone can give it a worthy home.

    Like 23
  2. Robert Pittman

    Isn’t a car with an open air chauffeur’s seat called a Brougham?

    Like 3
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Town Cabriolet was Cadillac’s name for this body, but most people referred to them as a ‘Town car’. Emphasis on the word car [or automobile].

      Merriam-Webster and other dictionaries define a Brougham ONLY as a horse-drawn carriage with the driver’s area open, and the passenger area covered.

      So yeah, it’s a Brougham, and it isn’t!

      Like 3
  3. MikeH

    It’s hard to believe that a 60s muscle car, with a huge engine stuffed into a Stone Age chassis with terrible build quality, might sell for more than this elegant lady.

    Like 12
    • bone

      Supply and demand

      Like 1
  4. George Birth

    Millionaires special !!!!!!

    Like 2
  5. Robert Hagedorn Member

    I don’t understand the purpose of that uncomfortable looking single seat that completely blocks the ultra comfortable looking rear seat. It makes the back section look weird.

    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Robert,

      There are actually 2 folding seats. The other one on the far side is in it’s folded position. Known as ‘occasional seats’ or ‘jump seats’ they were meant to be stowed away unless needed, when 4 people might enjoy riding in the back area. The riders in the jump seats would get in last and get out first, then the chauffeur would fold them away, allowing the rear seat passengers to alight elegantly.

      Uncomfortable? Yes, some versions were terribly uncomfortable, while more than a few designs were reasonably enjoyable for short rides. In talking with more than a few retired chauffeurs who worked for private families with similar cars, I discovered that those folding seats were often used by the children of the parents who rode in the back seat, and who cared about how the kids felt back then?

      I’ve owned probably around 30 various Packard, Cadillac, Rolls-Royce and Vanden Plas Princess limousines, and those who have ridden in the jump seats say the Vanden Plas versions are the most comfortable. The worst: I had a 1935 Rolls-Royce 20/25 James Young limousine with 2 tiny jump seats that when unfolded, the seat backs were up against the doors, and the 2 people sat facing each other. The original owner had specified this arrangement so the 4 occupants could talk face to face [sort of!] They were damn near impossible to get in and out of in an elegant manner!

      Like 4

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