- - Thursday, July 12, 2012

Jim Cross was simply doing a friend a favor early last year when he agreed to accompany him to New Jersey one weekend.

An antique car aficionado there was selling his collection and the friend had his eye on a 1941 Buick. Upon arrival Mr. Cross and his friend gave the Buick a physical examination and found it to be in good health.

With that transaction completed, the collector invited Mr. Cross to see the rest of his antique cars.

I’m a car guy,’ Mr. Cross acknowledges. ‘What could I do?’

Touring the cars was merely interesting until he saw the 17-foot-long black-over-silver-over-black 1933 Cadillac seven-passenger sedan resting on 40-spoke red wire wheels.

I saw the 1933 Cadillac and fell in love with it,’ Mr. Cross says. Learning that it was also for sale he said, ‘I’d better call my wife.’

Edna Cross was as excited about the car as was her husband just from hearing his description. They made arrangements to return to New Jersey the following Wednesday with the agreement that they would buy the Cadillac if it met with her approval.

Wednesday found Mr. and Mrs. Cross in New Jersey to inspect the Cadillac. ‘It was drop-dead gorgeous,’ she says. Into the trailer they just happened to bring along went the 5,105-pound car and they towed their new old Cadillac to their home outside Haymarket.

Records show that in the depths of the Great Depression in 1933 Cadillac sold a total of 6,655 cars. The Cross Cadillac had a base price when new of $3,045.

With the Cadillac at home Mr. Cross had time to thoroughly inspect the car. He discovered that it had been driven sparingly in the past few years. The rebuilt 353-cubic-inch V-8 engine still delivers 115 horsepower with the updraft carburetor feeding fuel to the engine and the dark-green porcelainized exhaust manifold carrying away the waste product.

Years of inactivity caused leaks in the water pump, fuel pump and exhaust manifold, mostly in the gaskets.

One by one Mr. Cross addressed the problems until he came to the mechanical braking system. ‘It must have at least 50 grease fittings,’ he says. Grease had solidified within the fittings. Mr. Cross spent weeks drilling out the old solidified grease or soaking it in solvent so it could be removed and replaced with fresh lubricant.

Even now, with the brakes working perfectly, Mr. Cross says the task of stopping nearly 3 tons of car and passengers puts the system to the test.

Mr. Cross says a major selling point in 1933 was the ‘no draft’ ventilation system. In addition to the cowl ventilator and the pivoted wing vent windows in the front doors, the Cadillac also featured pivoted wing vents in the rear side-quarter windows.

A pair of jump seats in the rear passenger compartment enable the Cadillac to easily seat seven. The front of the Cadillac is awash in chrome from the optional herring hood ornament atop the tall chrome radiator shell. A pair of chrome-plated trumpet horns are suspended below the chrome headlight buckets. Immediately above the chrome bumper is a pair of Trippe lights.

Six horizontal doors on either side of the long engine hood, each with a chrome handle, help release the heat generated by the big engine. A small chrome parking light perches atop each front fender.

A 7.50x17-inch spare tire is nestled inside each of the two metal shrouds of the side mounts. ‘The detail work on the back of the side mirrors is incredible,’ Mr. Cross says admiringly.

At the other end of the Cadillac is the trunk rack, which can be folded down to provide a platform on which luggage - or a trunk - can be secured.

Under and behind that rack is the 30-gallon gasoline tank. On each rear fender is a ‘blue dot’ taillight that was installed at the factory.

Inside the sumptuous Cadillac are polished wooden window frames and plush upholstery.

Near the driver’s knee, the hand brake and gear shift lever seemingly grown from the floorboards of the Fisher body.

From behind the three-spoke steering wheel the speedometer in the polished instrument panel stands ready to record speeds up to 100 mph.

In creature comforts nothing has been overlooked and Mrs. Cross stands by her first impression of the luxurious Cadillac.

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