1932 Cadillac Convertible Coupe: True glamor

Staff reports
Farm Forum

After retiring from a career in the military, Jim George returned to the farm where he had grown up. With a patience that seems inherent in farmers, he thought long and hard before finally deciding to get an antique car.

“I’m a GM man,” says George, narrowing his choice to old General Motors vehicles. After looking at thousands of pictures of antique cars, he decided he couldn’t go wrong with anything from the 1932 model year.

“I just like the looks of 1932 cars,” says George. His dream car had to be a convertible coupe. And if the top didn’t go down, he didn’t want it.

After more than a year of chasing down disappointments, George found a 1932 Cadillac convertible coupe for sale in Canada. He was told the car’s history, which began in Los Angeles, where it reportedly was purchased by a movie studio. The studio owned the car 29 years. From 1961 to 1998 an Ohio antique automobile collector owned the 17-foot-long Cadillac before selling it to the Canadian dealer.

After examining pictures of the Cadillac convertible coupe and hearing it described over the telephone, George engaged in several months of negotiations. The agreement was that the Cadillac would be trucked to Virginia, and if the vehicle was as advertised, then there would be a purchase.

George watched as the green Cadillac was unloaded off the truck and the 353-cubic-inch, 115-horsepower V-8 engine was fired up. The motor was silky smooth, running virtually in silence. A 6-volt battery in a compartment behind the right side mount provided the juice to start the car, while a 2-inch updraft carburetor fed fuel to the big engine. George carefully drove the Cadillac over his grease pit, where he examined the parts of the car not normally visible. “The prettiest part of the car,” he said, “is the underneath part of it.”

The 4,675-pound Cadillac came equipped with dual side-mounted spare tires with metal shrouds, a chrome-plated goddess radiator cap ornament and a pair of Trippe lights. After the inspection George said, “I found the car better than advertised in some ways and not as good in others.” By and large the old Cadillac was satisfactory, so he bought it.

George changed all of the fluids, including those in the 30-gallon gasoline tank and the 26-quart cooling system and put 8 quarts of oil in the crankcase. The Cadillac rides on a 134-inch wheelbase supported by 7.00×17-inch white sidewall tires mounted on yellow wire wheels with 40 spokes each.

A number of firsts occurred on the 1932 Cadillac. The instrument cluster was moved from the center of the dashboard to the left in front of the driver. To make the gauges more visible, Cadillac dropped one of the four spokes in the steering wheel.

The two large instruments anchoring either end of the instrument cluster are the clock, at left, and the 110-mph speedometer on the right. To the left of the centrally located temperature gauge are the gasoline gauge, top, and the ride regulator, bottom. To the right of the temperature gauge are the ampere meter, top, and oil pressure gauge, bottom.

Above the walnut dashboard each wiper has its own control. Sprouting from the floor is not only the gearshift lever, but the hand brake as well. In the center of the dashboard in a vertical progression are from the top: lighter, throttle, choke and ignition. After the ignition switch is turned on, the starter is pressed with the driver’s right toe as the accelerator is operated with the heel.

A pair of gracefully curved landau bars stand ready to help lower the convertible fabric top. The rear window is glass, and the fabric panel holding it is secured by seven snaps. While driving with the top raised, George can leave the rear window panel open to ease communication with any rumble seat passengers.

Very few Cadillacs like this one were built. When new it carried a base price of $2,945.

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