Cadillac 452D 5780 Convertible Sedan with devider by Fleetwood

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452D 5780 Convertible Sedan with devider by Fleetwood





The 16 cylinder Cadillac (Model 452-D - Series 60) was virtually the same as 1934, except for new bumper. Designation changed to Series 60.

Following the previous Fleetwood system V-16's would be 58- or 60- styles. This system was followed in promotional literature, in the 1934 Master Parts List, and in early factory records. However, since the bodies were identical for all these series, Fleetwood stamped all body plates 57- or 60-. Master Parts Lists after 1934 used only 57- and 60- style numbers for 1934-35 Fleetwood bodies. Starting in 1936 V16's retained the 57- system. However, 60- styles were no longer offered.


Of all the custom coachbuilders who built on Cadillac chassis, none is more closely linked to the marque than Fleetwood. While today the name is associated with the top model of Cadillac, in the past it represented the design and construction of bespoke bodies. Its origins go back nearly as far as the history of General Motors, which acquired Fleetwood more than three quarters of a century ago.

The Fleetwood Metal Body Company was formed in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, and came into being in 1909. The company was not the result of an evolution of a carriage-building company, but rather, it was created specifically to build automobile bodies. Fleetwood was particularly known for quality interior woodwork.

In 1925 the Fisher brothers, who had sold out their body company to General Motors, bought Fleetwood outright. This gave Fleetwood capital to expand and modernize, and it gave GM a ready source for high-quality coachwork. Some work continued for non-GM customers, including many bodies for Chrysler. In 1930 the Fishers moved Fleetwood to Detroit and closed the Pennsylvania operations, relocating the construction operations to a former Fisher Body plant. From this time on, work was focused on GM, particularly Cadillac. Fleetwood’s president and chief designer had moved with them from Pennsylvania, and he provided continuity, even while also working with members of Harley Earl’s staff at GM’s Art and Colour Department. Cadillac promised delivery of their Fisher-Fleetwood catalogue customs within seven weeks, and while full-customs were also available, they took significantly longer to complete
unlike most builders of fine cars, Cadillac discouraged custom body builders, preferring to direct the business to Fleetwood, the company’s in-house coachbuilder. Only a very few chassis were made available for other builders, so most were forced to buy complete cars, remove the factory body and install their own designs. That, in fact, is what Saoutchik, the extravagant Parisian coachbuilder, did with this outstanding Cabriolet Berline design. Established in 1906, Saoutchik’s work was exceptional, respected for its workmanship and the quality of its fittings and finishes. The art and style of his work, frequently daring and outrageous, were patronised by the wealthiest of Parisians and exhibited at the world’s most exclusive concours events.

Although technically closed, the body’s clever design allows most of the advantages of both open and closed bodies. With the sunroof retracted, the centre pillars are removable, like a convertible sedan, creating an almost completely open body. And yet, by simply sliding the sunroof closed, installing the pillars and rolling up the windows, the car offers all the advantages of a closed body.

Production of the original V-16 continued under various model names through 1937. The body was redesigned in 1933 as the model 452C. Innovations included Fisher no draft individually controlled ventilation (I.C.V. or vent windows).

For 1934, the body was redesigned again and denoted as 452D, and as 452E in 1935. The V-16 now featured the Fisher Turret Top all-steel roof, though the cars were still built by Fleetwood. This same basic design would remain virtually unchanged through 1937. With a wheelbase of 154.0 inches (3,912 mm) and a curb weight of up to 6,600 pounds (3,000 kg) these are perhaps the largest standard production cars ever produced in the United States. Combined production for the 1934 and 1935 model years was 150. It was redesignated the Series 90 in 1936 as Cadillac reorganized their model names. Fifty-two units were sold that year, with nearly half ordered as limousines. Hydraulic brakes were added for 1937, the last year of production. Fifty vehicles were produced.

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