- The Washington Times - Friday, May 17, 2002

The first Cadillac to have a V-16 engine was a 1930 model, with the last V-16 engine being installed in a 1940 model.

From start to finish, a total of 4,403 V-16 Cadillacs were produced. Up until 1938 the V-16 engines had 452 cubic inches of displacement. A new "L-head" 431-cubic-inch engine with the two banks of eights cylinders, each set at a 135-degree angle, was introduced in the 1938 models. The new, smaller engine had 1,627 parts, less than half of the 3,273 parts of its predecessor yet was just as powerful.

The most popular popular being a relative term when discussing 16-cylinder automobiles V-16 Cadillac that year was the model 9033, a seven-passenger, Imperial Touring Sedan with an adjustable glass partition separating the front-seat occupants from those in the rear. Of the 315 V-16 Cadillacs sold in 1938, a total of 95 were model 9033 Cadillacs.

Intended to be chauffeur-driven, these cars had a speaker mounted in the headliner above the driver to relay commands from the owner in the rear seat through a hand-held microphone. When not is use, the stainless steel michrophone is parked in a slot in the upholstery specifically created for that purpose.

One of those 65 Cadillacs, serial number 5270269, with the new engine, new body style, new instrument panel and a first-time column gear shift, was ordered by Lammot duPont. The car carried a base price of $5,420, approximately a dollar a pound.

The oxblood maroon Cadillac with black fenders was delivered to the Delaware Motor Sales Company in Wilmington on April 13, 1938.

An acquaintance of the duPont family in Belair, Md., eventually became the second owner of the low-mileage, well-cared-for Cadillac.

As the 20th century was nearing the end, George Boxley decided to fulfill a long-term dream of owning a V-16 Cadillac.

From the time when he was a teen-ager delivering Western Union telegrams on a bicycle in Washington, Mr. Boxley was hooked on V-16 Cadillacs. For years he had wanted a V-16 open car, but he discovered that when the top goes down the price goes up. Consequently, he gave up on that part of his dream.

For at least five years Mr. Boxley searched for a Cadillac built in any of the eleven years of V-16 production.

He traveled to all 48 of the contiguous states investigating likely V-16 prospects.

"The cars weren't bad," Mr. Boxley says. However, he found them too good, too bad, too rusty, too incorrect, too pricey or too something.

That's when he decided he wanted a car with pedigree and that decision lead him to the duPont Cadillac.

"A V-16 is a special car," Mr. Boxley explains." When you have one, you know what you have."

In July, 2001, Mr. Boxley, now retired from the moving and storage business, went to see the duPont Cadillac, which had been restored to original specifications when it was about 30 years old.

When the owner opened the garage door and Mr. Boxley first saw the car, the deed was done. From that point on, the only question was what the price would be.

The excellent paint was dulled by oxidation, the 30-year-old tires were weather-checked and both water pumps were acknowledged as being on their last legs.

"It was an immaculate original," Mr. Boxley reports after a thorough inspection. He arrived about 1 p.m. and after six hours of discussion with the second owner, gave him a sizable deposit. The deal was settled with a shake of the hand.

"I'll be back in a month or so to get it," Mr. Boxley told the seller.

The day he selected to get the car was September 11. As Mr. Boxley was driving to Belair with a trailer, he was listening to the day's terrible events unfolding over the truck radio.

At that point there was nothing to do but follow through with the plan.With the 141-inch wheelbase car at home on its 7.50x16-inch tires, he had time to assess his treasure.

Besides the goodies that came with such a car, the only options were a radio and a two-door heater. Mr. duPont opted for the heater and decided to pass on the radio. Beneath the feet of the right rear passenger is a heat duct.

The dual downdraft Carter carburetors were in fine working condition, as was the distributor and the fuel pumps. The Cadillac V-16 was really just two straight-eights side by side.

With that fact in mind, only the water pumps were suspect and they were a conceded shortcoming.

Seated behind the three-spoke banjo steering wheel, the driver sees a 110 mph speedometer. "I think she'll do 95," Mr. Boxley surmises. In the dashboard is an electric clock and an odometer that now reads 55,537 miles.

Mr. Boxley promptly replaced the 30-year-old tires and then turned his attention to applying rubbing compound twice onto the painted parts of the car.

After compounding, he applied a cleaner and waxed the car twice.

Was it worth the effort?

What do your eyes tell you?

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