Cadillac in 1930 was divided into two series cars, the 8 cylinder engine series 353, and the later in the year 1930-1931 series 452 V16 engine. America was just moving into “The Great Depression” when these amazing cars made their debut in September 1929.
The series 353 was a continuation of the 1929 series 341-B model, and few basic changes were made. Two body plants were available, in the Fisher Body (known as the “Fisher Custom”) now offered only 7 closed body options including a convertible model. The Fleetwood body plant (“Fleetwood Special Custom”) offered 11 body styles with many, many, variations.
New for 1930 was a wider, larger radiator, and bigger headlights (13.2″ overall width). The tread width was increased from 56.88″ to 59.96″ up front an from 58.92″ to 60.44″ in the rear, giving a wider, more stable stance on the road. Two wheelbase sizes were used at either 140 or 152 inches.
The whole car was powered by a 353 cid V8 cylinder engine giving ample power to move the 353 series. Serial numbers weren’t used on these cars, and tracking of the car production was by engine numbers which started numbers at 500001 and ended at 511005.
The series 452 shared many of the aspects of with series 353 with the exception of the enormous 452 cid V16 engine. The fleetwood plant offered catalog 54 semi-custom body designs for the body of the 452. Purchasers of the 452 had a wide array of options to choose from to make their Cadillac a a unique roller. Other plants offered fully custom bodies from Murphy, Waterhouse, Saoutchik, Vanden Plas, Pinin Farina and others. The majority of the 452 bodies were the Fleetwood design.
Brakes for the 452 were vacuum assist utilizing engine vacuum. Huge 16-1/2 brake drums stopped the car, with a hand pull emergency rear brake for the driver. The wheels on the 452 were 19″ wooded artillery style with wide white wall tires, with optional wire wheels available. Overall wheelbase was 148 inches and shared the tread width specifications with then series 353 as above.
The V16 was 45 degree overhead valve engine, producing 175-185HP @3400 rpm. Valvetrain was a pushrod/rocker arm with hydraulic rotary eccentric silencer in the rocker arm. Carburetion came from a float feed, auxiliary air control caburater manufactured by Cadillac under C.F. Johnson patents. Final drive ratios 3.47:1 allowed the 452 to glide along at speed with low rpms.
Prices for the 353 and 452 were high, between $5,000-$10,000 depending on how custom the car was designed. Compare that to a Ford Model A Roadster of the same year was $435, and it can be seen this was a car for only the very wealthy. A gutsy move by Cadillac in a time when depression was crippling the USA financially.
Huge prices for pristine models today can sell as low as $125,000 to high prices nearing $800,000. Still a car for the very, very wealthy So many variations exist of these cars that when you see them, they all look unique as if they were built one of, and the details available are beyond the scope of this article. For more information search Google to find some great sites that go into extreme depth on these beautiful depression era survivors.