[ last update: 05.03.2013 ]
The Cadillac V-16
The European Tour Cars
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or go back to the V-16 index page
(en bas de page se trouve un résumé en français)
In June of 1930, the Cadillac Motor Car Division of GM sent a half-dozen of the most representative sixteen-cylinder models to Europe, on a promotional tour.
There was initially some debate as to which sixteens were part of the tour. In his excellent book Sixteen Cylinder Motor Cars, my friend Roy Schneider mentions a first group of Fleetwood-bodied Sixteens that traveled the U.S. auto show, salon, and dealer showroom circuit; these included a close-coupled sedan (style #4330-S), an all-weather phaeton (style #4380), a "sport" or "special" phaeton (style #4260), a town car with special cane work on the lower rear quarters - one of only three built this way (style #4264-B) - and a convertible coupe (style #4235), among others. Roy said also that six "Sixteens" were sent to Europe, in June; he did not identify these. From what I learned later, after consulting some old issues of "General Motors World" magazine from 1930, it appears that only FIVE cars made the trip. These are illustrated below. A sixth V-16 appears in a photo taken during the tour, in Germany; it was probably supplied to the tour by the GM dealer in that country, Eduard Winter of General Motors G.m.b.H.
The five "European Tour" V-16s
Fleetwood Style #4175 Madame X limousine
[ cropped factory photo ]
Fleetwood Style #4235 Convertible Coupe
[ cropped factory photo ]
Fleetwood Style #4260 Special Phaeton
[ cropped factory photo ]
Fleetwood Style #4264-B Town Brougham, with canework on rear body
[ cropped factory photo ]
Fleetwood Style #4330-S Close-Coupled Sedan
[ cropped factory photo ]
A sixth car, like this one (Fleetwood Style #4376 Stationary Coupe),
was shown at one or more tour destinations (in Germany, e.g.); I assume
it was supplied by the GM dealer there; it was NOT part of the Caravan
Shipping dates and destinations
There was debate as to the actual shipping date from New York. According to "GM Motor World", issue for June 1930 (that was probably typeset in April or May 1930), the cars were scheduled to leave New York aboard the S/S "Deutschland" on June 12, 1930. One known factory record sheet [I have not actually seen it] indicates that the special phaeton (Style #4260) was shipped from the factory on June 11, 1930, bound for Copenhagen; that information ties in with historian Alan Markel's findings. Writing in the seventies, Alan said the cars had been shipped first to Copenhagen, in Denmark. On the other hand, in the definitive book on Fleetwood coachwork published in 2001, author James Schild asserts that the tour had begun in Paris, on June 21, 1930. To further complicate the issue, and according to this Swedish web site I visited in early 2012, the FIVE cars are reported to have disembarked in Oslo, Norway, on June 30, 1930 [nine days after Paris?], before then proceeding by road to Stockholm, Sweden.
Later research conducted in Sweden by my friends Anders Läck, Anne, and Jan Ströman revealed that the cars were boxed and had been shipped aboard the Danish (DFDS) steamship, S/S "United States" (in those days, DFDS carried freight to and from Copenhagen to both USA and France). The cars were offloaded at the Copenhagen wharf on June 25, 1930 and moved (by truck?) to the GM factory premises in the south harbor (in 1923, GM's first European assembly plant was established in Copenhagen under the name General Motors International A/S; it was to build Chevrolet cars for sale in Scandinavian countries, the Baltics, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary and Russia; the first GM vehicle assembled outside the U.S. and Canada was a Chevrolet utility truck; it came off the Copenhagen assembly line on January 7, 1924).
Of special note is that throughout the tour (with the exception of Germany) all the cars carried French "tourist" license tags with the suffix "XB". That suffix is a sure indication that these temporary tags were issued in France's Seine inférieure region; they could only have been issued in Le Havre or possibly in Rouen (the district capital of Seine inférieure). It was my initial guess that the cars had been offloaded at Le Havre (which is one of the larger, French, merchant sea ports on the Channel, offering access from the North Atlantic to the North Sea and the Baltic Sea in the east) and had travelled to Denmark, by road, via Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Further investigation by Anders, Anne and Jan suggests that the cars may simply have stopped at Le Havre to offload merchandise there and to pick up the French license tags issued Seine inférieure at the request of General Motors (France) in Paris. A second possbility is that the French tags were issued ahead of time and delivered by mail to General Motors International A/S.
The five cars were so titled when they toured in Sweden (and presumably also in Norway, Denmark, France and Spain, as may be seen from a number of the tour photos). Other photos show that the cars also wore German tags, while in Germany, but reverted again, later, to the initial French tags. The French tags are in numerical sequence, except for one of them; as I have no photo of a French tag on the Fleetwood hardtop coupe, style #4376, that was seen briefly in Germany, I wonder if the missing tag could have been assigned initially to that car before General Motors G.m.b.H, decided to assign German tags to all the cars while they toured Germany. No other country's tags are visible in any of the tour photos. Here are the French tag numbers:
#2145XB (on Fleetwood style #4260, body #2, dual-windshield special phaeton
#2146XB (on Fleetwood style #4330 town sedan)
#2148XB (on Fleetwood style #4175 Madame X limousine)
#2149XB (on Fleetwood style #4264B town brougham with cane work)
#2150XB (on Fleetwood style #4235 convertible coupe)
The (supposed) Tour Itinerary
Assuming the cars left the factory, in Detroit, on June 11 (as is suggested by Alan Merkel's and Jim Schild's records), and allowing for the Atlantic crossing, this means that the cars could have reached a European port of disembarkation on June 20-21. We now know for sure that they disembarked in Copenhagen, Denmark, on June 26 although Jim Schild reported them in Paris 5 days earlier, on June 21. This begs the question: what went on between June 21 and 26?
Anders initially mentioned a possible scenario to which I could agree:
1. The direct sea passage from Le Havre to Oslo.
2. The "rounadabout" route, first by road from Le Havre to Paris, then Antwerp and finally Copenhagen. The latter route actually made sense as it would have taken the caravan through Paris where Jim Schild said the tour had begun. Furthermore, GM had (and still has) assembly facilities in Antwerp for cars crated and knocked down in Detroit for shipment to Europe. If we look at the map, this route would effectively have given the cars about a week in which to visit the French, Belgian and Danish capitals.
But ... we know now that the actual travel route was New York - Le Havre (temporary stop) - Copenhagen, by ocean and sea.
Thanks to Anders, I obtained in March and April 2012 some Swedish auto club magazines all containing useful historical information about the Tour. My knowledge of Swedish does not extend beyond a few words gleaned in an Ikea furniture catalog; fortunately, however, Gita and I were able to spend an evening with Anders and Anne, who were driving north to Pennsylvania following their visit (and ours) to the 2012 Amelia Island Concours d'Elégance. They were able to provide further information on the dates and places of the tour. Anders confirmed that the Tour had definitely begun in Copenhagen. He said that on Thursday evening June 26 the cars where shown in the Palmehaven (a huge glass hall known as the "Garden of Palms") of the Hotel d'Angleterre (established in 1755, that hotel is an icon and a Copenhagen landmark celebrated for its elegance, luxury and style).
On Friday June 27 the cars where shown by General Motors International A/S, and on Saturday June 28 they were shown by the Danish Cadillac dealer, F. Bülow & Co. (Anders was able to provide a photo from the collection of Danish enthusiast, Uffe Mortensen, taken in front of those showrooms). That same evening the cars traveled by road, a mere 28 miles, to Helsingör [or "Elsinore", where Shakespeare's "Hamlet" contemplated suicide]; there they boarded the ferry to Helsingborg, in Sweden (just 2 miles and 20 minutes away). From there they traveled again by road to Oslo, in Norway, via Halmstad and Gothenburg in Sweden. The total mileage for the trips from Copenhagen to Oslo was 577 kilometers (360 miles).
On Sunday June 29 and Monday June 30 the cars were in Oslo. To date, however, I have seen no record of any showing or exhibition of the V-16 models in the Norwegian capital. Starting on Tuesday July 1, the cars proceeded by road to Stockholm. At that time, a notice was posted indicaring that the cars would later be visiting all the main cities in Europe, except those in Poland and in the Balkans. The latter information was obtained from my friend Anders Wald, a member of the Swedish Cadillac Club; he had got the information from the library in Copenhagen. It was confirmed later by the other Anders (Läck), Anne and Jan when they looked at records held in the former Hans Osterman archives in Stockholm (Osterman was the Cadillac dealer in that city); those records confirm that the V-16 Caravan traveled by road from Copenhagen to Oslo and then to Stockholm.
The tour dates and locations, in Sweden, are fully documented; they point to the fact that the cars did not stay long Norway. Anders consulted Sweden's central library, the Kungliga Biblioteket or "Royal Library" where he noted that the caravan of FIVE cars had driven from Oslo to Stockholm on July 1, via Karlstad and Örebro, reaching Stockholm that same evening. He noted in Dagens Nyheter [the Daily News?] for July 2, a short article and a photo of five of the tour cars posing in front of Sweden's Grand Hotel. The article reported that the caravan had effectively started out from Oslo on the morning of July 1. It was said that the cars would be in the Marble Halls [Hans Osterman's renowned Cadillac showrooms in Stockholm] for two days.
Sure enough, on Wednesday and Thursday July 2 and 3 the cars were effectively on display in those showrooms. One photo taken at the time shows that King Gustaf V of Sweden even paid a visit there on that occasion ... but he did not buy one of the big, new V-16, cars even though he was a keen admirer of Cadillac and LaSalle automobiles. He had one already; he had bought it some time before the start of the tour.
[ September 7, 1930 ]
This "Google Earth" view of Stockholm's Grand Hotel (at left) and the Royal Automobile Club (KAK - in the center)
were submitted kindly by a friend and confirmed Cadillac collector, Jerry Jansson of Sweden
In company with Jan Ströman, the Swedish auto historian, Anders & Anne made a number of trips to the Hans Osterman archives at the end of April 2012. They came way with a detailed map of the Swedish leg of the tour as well as some interesting correspondence from 1930 about the tour organisation. In one private letter from Hans Osterman, the latter mentions that the cars had covered already 500 miles in the USA (that is the estimated distance by road from Detroit to New York) and then 1600 km (1000 miles) to Stockholm.
On Friday morning July 4 - while America celebrated Independence Day - the "Sixteens" left the Swedish capital city and embarked on a tour of some of the major Swedish cities and towns. The caravan was split into two groups: the Madame X limousine and the 2-pass. convertible coupe (cars 2148XB and 2150XB) took the northern route, via Örebro and Jönköping, while the special phaeton, the town sedan and the luxurious town brougham (cars 2145XB, 2146XB and 2149XB) followed the southern route, both heading from Stockholm to Malmö ... a further almost 500-mile trip.
Anders noted also in the Swedish weekly magazine HVAR 8 DAG [#28, of July 13, 1930 - p.435]: ... after that [the caravan would travel] to the major cities in all European countries and thereafter the tour will dissolve in San Sebastian. We shall see, later, that San Sebastian was NOT the final tour destination.
Swedish auto historian, Jan Ströman, got the same information from the same magazines and subsequently reported his findings in Autohistorica, Sweden's premier historic automobile club magazine. Jan mentioned to Anders that GM Nordiska (agent for all of Scandinavia) used to issue a monthly magazine called General Motors Runor; the issues from 1928 to 1932 are on file in Stockholm's Royal Library; Anders and Anne checked out the place and got confirmation of the information now included here. Jan also mentioned to Anders another monthly magazine issued by General Motors in Detroit; he had a few issues of it from 1928 but no later. Jan strongly recommended that we seek out any issues of said magazine for the period from 1929 to 1931; he thought that some of them might include references to the "V-16 European Tour".
Indeed, Jan! When I visited the GM Heritage Center in Warren, MI, in May 2012, I was able to consult three issues of that magazine (those for June, August and November, 1930); all three make references to the Tour. I have put out some additional "feelers" to try to locate further relevant issues of that magazine; I suspect that the issues for May, July, September and December 1930 may reveal further interesting facts.
Anders and Anne continued their search of the archives in Stockholm's Royal library. They found also an article from Svenska Dagbladet [Swedish Daily?] , for July 1930 where it was said that the Tour would drive through Sweden and then to most parts of Europe - again ending in San Sebastian, Spain. They found also an advertisement from the Göteborg Morgonpost [Gothenburg's Morning Post] referring to a showing of the cars in that city.
Thanks to my Swedish buddy, Jerry Jansson, here is the translation:
A procession of five 16-cylinder Cadillac automobiles will be arriving in Gothenburg on July 5, 1930
and a demonstration will take place in the Mässhallen [showroom] from 9.30 am until 12.30 in the afternoon.
No-one should neglect this opportunity to view these new carriages by Cadillac,
the World's premier automobile
The HJ WALLIN Automobile Company, Gothenburg,
General Motors authorised dealer
Jerry Jansson came to the rescue once again; he said that Bilistisk is a word seldom used in Swedish; the prefix, bil, means car (i.e. automobile); the suffix, istisk has the same
meaning as the Anglo-Saxon suffix, istic which means pertaining (or relating) to ...; so it would not be wrong, I guess, to translate the headline as: Exhibition of Luxury Cars
The caption below the [removed] image reads:
Four of the five sixteen-cylinder Cadillacs that reached Stockholm this Tuesday evening and are now on show by Hans Osterman Co.Ltd.
Some words or letters are missing from the caption, on the right; nevertheless, Anne was able to give me this translation:
A procession of five CADILLAC 16-cylinder automobiles will come to Stockholm's Grand Hotel
on Tuesday 1st July between 5 and 6 p.m.; a demonstration of the cars will follow, in our
exhibition hall, on 2nd and 3rd July. The caravan of cars will then proceed on its journey south and
west, on 4th and 5th July, according to the program shown on the attached map.
No one should neglect this opportunity to see CADILLAC’S latest creation,
the World's premier automobile
While the publicity made around the "Sixteens" is flattering, to say the least (and we should not expect less from the new "Standard of the World", it was ascertained from Hans Osterman's correspondence (discovered in the firm's archives) that he was actually quite disappointed at how Mr. Henderson [the tour organizer from Detroit] and his party had done their job. He reflected that they had not acted in a very professional manner. In addition, there is a letter (cropped copy below) from Mr. Osterman to the Paris office of GM Export Corp., another to Alfred P. Sloan, as well as the latter's reply, indicating that Mr. Osterman was NOT particularly impressed with the quality, style and reliability of the five V-16 cars he got for the tour:
- "It was discovered that the ignition was altogether wrong ..."
- "I think it is a disgrace that cars as expensive as this should be in an iuferior shape after such a short drive ..."
- "These cars do not nearly live up to the distinction which you wish to give them ..."
- "The 7-passenger Imperial Sedan could not seat 7 people comfortably ... it was crowded ... [there is] no more space than in any ordinary, medium-priced car."
That could be one of the reasons why so little information seems to have been published, about the tour, subsequently, in the other European countries that were visited.
Letter by Hans Osterman to
GM Motors Export Co., on 9th July 1930,
following the Swedish leg of the European Tour
Letters exchanged between Hans Osterman and
GM President, Alfred P. Sloan, following
the Swedish European Tour program
[ July 21, 1930 ]
Letter from Hans Osterman
to GM President, Alfred P. Sloan
Broadway, New York
[ August 13, 1930 ]
Reply from Alfred P. Sloan
to Hans Osterman
Two of the Cadillac cars owned
at the time by HM King Gustaf
Custom stretched 1930 landaulet by
Alexis Kellner, Berlin
[ Photos: Fred Summers, CLC ]
This is the regular V-16 limousine by Fleetwood - Style #4375, acquired by the King in June 1930 (before the European Tour began)
Thanks to CLC member, Dirk Van Dorst (coordinator of the club's activities in Europe) and to Paul Ayres (club Vice-President for International Affiliates), I was able to get copies of these press releases from both Holland and what was then the Dutch East Indies. My knowledge of Dutch is limited so please forgive any gross mistakes in my own translations. If anyone wants to take on the longer piece (first image, below) please let me know.
I believe the title of this piece is: THE CADILLAC "SIXTEEN-CYLINDER" CARAVAN; it appears to be sub-titled:
"A tour along Holland’s highways" and was published in the Limburger Courrier (a provincial newspaper from the southern
part of Holland) on August 4, 1930 by K. Weyerhorst; the opening line reads: "We have received this from Utrecht";
the next one begins: "It is a sensational feeling to ride in a sixteen-cylinder car for the first time." The Caravan is mentioned
in passing but the text centers on past and present Cadillac automobile production with references to V-16 performance and styling
(Left) This excerpt from News of the Day is from Batavia (Dutch East Indies); it is dated July 29, 1930; my own translation reads: The international Cadillac Caravan comprising five deluxe models in the new V-16 Cadillac range were shipped on 12 June aboard the SS Deutschland with the objective of doing a tour of Europe this summer. The Caravan will visit eight countries and left Copenhagen on 24 June, to end the trip in Madrid [???] on September 8. In the intervening period the following towns will be visited [the actual itinerary and the dates of the visits are not clearly defined]: Stockholm, Berlin, Cologne, Dresden, Nuremberg, Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Antwerp, Brussels, Paris, Basel, Zurich, Berne, Geneva, Aix-les-Bains, Nice, Toulouse, Biarritz and San Sebastian
(Right) This clipping is from De Indische Courant (the Indies daily?) from Soerabia, also in the Dutch East Indies);
it is dated November 10, 1930; my own translation reads: “Beau Geste” - The Cadillac V-16 Caravan that
recently made a trip through Europe, visited the picturesque small town of Cadillac in the South of France, where
a wreath was laid on the War Memorial in honor of Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, founder of Detroit, Michigan.
The image below (and the enlargement next to it) is from the book Cadillac Eldorado by James W. Howell and Jeanna Swanson Howell. The text that accompanies the image reads (in part): This picture shows one of several (V16 models) that made an introductory tour through Europe beginning in the summer of 1930. The trip included a visit to the ancestral home of the Cadillac family in France [author's note: there never was such a "Cadillac" family in France]. It seems that the tour visited San Sebastian (on the Spanish border with south-western France) on August 27 and 28 en route back to France.
I believe the car in the LH photo is a Cadillac from the early 20s (it is NOT a V16 model);
it appears also to carry license tags from Madrid, in Spain; the text
on the billboard beside the car (enlargement at right) reads:
See the Grand Caravan
of Marvellous Cadillac Cars
European Tour From
Stockholm to San Sebastian to Paris
In San Sebastian
27 and 28 August
The next stop after Cadillac was obviously Bordeaux, just 20 miles north, where we know that another photo shoot was staged. From Bordeaux, the cars then continued north to La Baule, a seaside town and spa that boasts the longest beach in France [BTW, it may not interest you to know that on a warm summer's evening, in August 1938, my parents conceived me on a sandy beach near Préfailles, which is actually about 35 miles south of La Baule ... and Préfailles is not surpringly where I would like my ashes to be spread on a sandy beach on an ebbing tide!].
The next stop after La Baule we know for sure was Angers, 185 miles east of Paris, through France's immensely popular "Château" region in the Loire valley. I tend to think that no "Tour" of Europe, and especially of France, would have been complete without a leisurely drive through the Loire valley as well as a visit to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
In August 2005 I had a contact with Bruno Amiot, a researcher from Angers' town council; he recalled that the caravan had stopped there in September 1930, as evidenced by two cuttings he kindly sent me from the local newspaper, Le Petit Courrier. He included two period photos (one is shown below). The press cuttings show that the cars had come from La Baule, where they probably spent a couple of days on September 6-7, and would be on display in Angers on September 8-9. An advertisement in the local press mentions that from 4 p.m. on September 8 until noon on September 9 the "Sixteens" would be on display at the local GM/Cadillac dealer, Laudreau & Co., at the Central Garage.
Cuttings from Angers' daily Le Petit Courrier
[ September 7, 1930 ]
The text on the LH ad reads: We have learned that the caravan of sixteen-cylinder
Cadillac cars currently on a grand tour of Europe will stop in Angers, coming
from La Baule, on Monday, September 8, staying until Tuesday 9 at noon, in the
Central Garage, Laudrau & Co., 7 Place du Pelican in Angers. We are convinced these
cars will enjoy a great success among the curious public who for the first time will be able
to inspect and to see in operation a mass-produced (?) sixteen-cylinder motor car.
From this time-frame, we may readily establish that the cars were on the road from San Sebastian in Spain, on August 28-29, headed to La Baule in France, on September 6-7; that means the cars spent 8-9 days in SW France visiting the town of Cadillac, inter alia. At that time, the V-16 caravan had been in Europe already for some three months and probably was ready to head back home. In my opinion, the last stop was Paris, France, although I have seen only one report (from one of the the Dutch press cuttings, above) where the caravan is mentioned as having visited the "City of Lights", either on arrival in Europe in mid-June or on its final journey in mid-September.
Appel aux amateurs français :
Allons, les chercheurs parisiens, quelqu'un doit bien se souvenir avoir vu passer dans Paris, en été 1930
(et notamment en photos), un cortège de CINQ magnifiques Cadillac V-16) ! On sait que l'une d'elles
fut acquise - après le pèriple d'environ 3 mois à travers l'Europe - par le carrossier bien connu, Jacques Saoutchik.
Cadillac V-16 European Tour - 1930
This is the itinerary I determined, based on many known facts, press cuttings and original photos;
I have included some assumed links but no arrows to indicate the real or presumed direction(s) of travel;
let's wait to find another tour report, perhaps in General Motors World for July or September 1930
The Actual Tour Itinerary
We know from the Dutch cuttings (above) supplied kindly by Dirk Van Dorst, that the international Cadillac Caravan cars were shipped from USA on June 12, 1930, aboard the SS Deutschland. It left Copenhagen on June 24, that is TWELVE days after the Atlantic crossing began. In the magazine General Motors World for June 1930, the tentative Tour itinerary was to have been: Paris (June 23-27) - suggesting that the Atlantic crossing would take 11 days. There were to be stops in Belgium (June 30 - July 5), Holland (July 7-10), then a direct run through Germany to Copenhagen (July 14-16), Stockholm (July 21-25), Berlin (July 28-31), then another run through Germany to Munich (August 8), Switzerland (August 10-15) and San Sebastian [the presumed last stop?] (on August 25).
That is NOT how it happened. In fact, in General Motors World for November 1930, the tour is said to have ended (as I suspected) in Paris, France, on September 9, 1930. The full itinerary is not yet known for sure, but here are some actual and presumed dates, towns and countries in chronological order. I anticipate that the missing dates and places may be included in General Motors World for July and/or September 1930. The tour began (as stated earlier) in Copenhagen, Denmark (June 26-28), so the dates mentioned in the June 1930 edition of General Motors World were mistaken. We have seen how the Caravan of cars reached Copenhagen on June 26, having left Paris (in theory) on June 23; it seems that in fact they made a simple stop at Le Havre (to pick up their individual license tags?).
The tour of the Scandinavian countries seems to be the most historically accurate: Copenhagen, Denmark (June 26-28), followed by Oslo, Norway, by ferry and road (June 29-30), then Stockholm and other cities in Sweden (July 1-5); in one newspaper cutting that Anders found it was said that there had been no time to exhibit the cars in Malmö, after the tour through Sweden, and so the Caravan had just time to continue due south directly to Trelleborg and there catch the ferry across the Baltic Sea to Sassnitz, on Ruden island (or peninsula), in Germany.
Berlin was the next stop, as were other cities in Germany (circa July 6 to August 10). Zürich and other cities in Switzerland followed (circa August 10-15), then Madrid and other cities in Spain (circa August 16 to 28), and finally Bordeaux, Cadillac and other cities in France with Paris being the last stop (circa August 29 to September 9).
Your guess is as good as mine as to the precise order in which the caravan effectively advanced through continental Europe after leaving Sweden and entering Germany. Based on available photos (most of them undated), the Dutch clippings from Dirk Van Dorst and the photo from Spain in the book Cadillac Eldorado (mentioned above), the countries towns and cities visited after Scandinavia) appear to have included - in alphabetical order - Austria (Vienna - the capital city, where the cars apparently won prizes), France (Aix-les-Bains, Angers, Biarritz, Bordeaux, Cadillac, La Baule, Le Perthus, Nice, Toulouse ... and most certainly other towns and cities too), Holland (Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht), (Germany (Berlin, Cologne, Dresden, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Münich, Nüremberg, Stuttgart and Wiesbaden), Spain (Madrid and San Sebastian where, according to two mistaken Swedish sources, the caravan was "dissolved") and Switzerland (Basel, Berne, Geneva, Lausanne - spelled "Lussan" in one report, Lucerne and Zürich).
Considering that the V-16s passed through Le Perthus - on the French/Spanish border - and are presumed to have visited Madrid and known to have been in San Sebastian on August 27 and 28, the most logical itinerary after Le Perthus, in France, would have been Barcelona, Lerida, Saragossa, Madrid, Burgos and San Sebastian. It seems also relatively easy to ascertain that, after Madrid and San Sebastian, the caravan steered north from Hendaye, up the Gironde valley and France's Atlantic seaboard, visiting en route the market town of Cadillac which, other than its name, bears no relation whatsoever to the founder of Detroit. Self-styled "Sieur" [sire] Antoine de la Mothe-Cadillac was just a local Gascon adventurer, a commoner born Antoine Laumet who set sail for the New World in 1683 and founded the (then) town of Detroit in 1701. Of course, he is more well known in history as Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac [for more facts about the (ig)noble origins of said "Mr. Cadillac", check out these pages of the Cadillac Database].
There still remains this unanswered question: what route did the caravan follow from Geneva (in Switzerland) to Madrid and San Sebastian in Spain.
Based on the latest summary I got from my friend Anders Läck from Sweden (January 2012), the official (?) tour began in Copenhagen and ended in Paris. It took the cars from Denmark to Sweden, to Norway, back to Sweden, then to
Germany, to Holland, to Belgium, to France again, to Switzerland, to France a third time, to Spain and finally back to France (Paris). Nine countries were visited; there were 11 Border Crossings and 44 cities were visited. The cars traveled 10,709 kilometers (6,693 miles) from start to finish.
What we are now missing are some more pictures and articles from Germany and Switzerland. Surely there has to be some more information, somewhere, perhaps in GMs own archives from that time.
(in assumed chronological order)
There are no known photos available, but I am confident we will learn
one day that the Caravan stopped in Antwerp on or around June 24-25, 1930
We have been unable to establish where or when the Caravan entered Holland;
we know from Dutch press cuttings that the cities and towns of Amsterdam,
The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht were visited
It is my guess, looking at the map of Europe, that the cars probably drove through
northern Germany (to Cologne and Hamburg) en route to Copenhagen in Denmark
Fleetwood style #4175
The Fleetwood Madame X limousine
The location is said to be the Altes Museum in Berlin but I am pretty sure the
steps in the background are in front of Cologne cathedral (se next photo); in addition
the car has French license tags whereas in Germany they wore oval German tags
Fleetwood style #4235
The convertible coupe, with an illegible German license tag
The steps in the background lead up to the
magnificent cathedral at Cologne
Copenhagen is shown to have been the European destination for at least one
of the V-16s (style #4260 special phaeton) that shipped from NY on 11th June 1930;
I assume that ALL FIVE cars had the same European destination]
Copenhagen's prestigious Hotel d'Angleterre
Fleetwood style #4235 conv. coupe in the lobby of the
Hotel d'Angleterre in Copenhagen
The Hotel d'Angleterre, decorated with fine oriental rugs
From L to R: Fleetwood V-16 models #4330-S, #4260 and #4264-B
[ Photo: © and courtesy Uffe Mortensen, Denmark ]
There are no known photos of the cars in Oslo, nor on route
from Oslo to Stockholm on 30th June and 1st July 1930]
[ first part - the Swedish capital, Stockholm ]
Five V-16s are pictured here; they are parked outside Stockholm's Grand Hotel, with the #4264-B town brougham leading the way
[ Photo (and detail): Autohistorica 3/71, courtesy <www.massingnickel.se> ]
Outside the Royal Swedish Automobile Club HQ in Stockholm
[ Photo: Autohistorica 3/71, courtesy <www.massingnickel.se> ]
I thought, initially, that these cars were photographed in front of Stockholm's National Museum entrance;
however, Rickard Johansson Wolrath, Editor of Sweden's Classic Motor Magasin wrote (Feb. 2002)
to say that, in fact, the photo was taken in front of the Swedish Royal Automobile Club
(the KAK, Kungliga Automobil Klubben) since the Swedish leg of the caravan actually started from there.
The KAK building was (and still is) located next door to the National Museum in Stockholm (it is probably
the museum that may be seen in the background; since that photo was taken, the entrance has been rebuilt
From L to R: Mr T. Hendersson [a Swede?] in charge of the Cadillac V-16 European Tour,
Hans Osterman, director of the Marble Halls showroom, HM King Gustaf of Sweden
and Mr. Steenstrup, the showroom supervisor [inset: Hans Osterman]
The photo shows clearly that the car(s) carried French "tourist" tags while they were touring in Sweden
[ Photos: Autohistorica 3/71, courtesy <www.massingnickel.se> ]
[second part - other Tour destinations]
There are no known photos of the cars on route from Stockholm
to Malmö and Helsingborg in the period from 4th to 22-23rd July
The cars are presumed to have left Scandinavia around July 22-23, embarking in Trelleborg at the southern tip of Sweden and disembarking the same day in Sassnitz, on Ruden island in Germany after a sea voyage of 60-70 miles south across the Baltic; there are no known photos of the cars in Berlin, the logical destination after Sassnitz
Fleetwood style #4376
The Fleetwood hardtop coupe (rarely seen elsewhere on the trip)
This photo [and detail on the right] probably was taken in Dresden, Germany
Fleetwood style #4260 special phaeton, in Dresden, Germany
Fleetwood style #4175
The Madame X limousine
This photo appears to have been taken in Dresden again;
similar oriental-style rugs were spread around also in
Nüremberg a few days later
Fleetwood style #4264-B
The "razor-edged" town brougham
This is a showroom in Nüremberg; the oval license tag on the phaeton you can
see in the background suggests or confirms the cars wore German tags in Germany
Fleetwood style #4330-S
The sedan for five passengers
Does anyone recognize the HUGE monument
in the background? Is it even in Germany?
There are no known photos of the cars in Austria, nor en route from Vienna, through Münich, to Zürich, in Switzerland, circa mid-August, 1930]
Again, there are no known photos of the cars in Switzerland, nor en route from Geneva to the Spanish border at Le Perthus
According to the press currings I have seen, these French cities and towns were visited, probably starting in late August, 1930: Aix-les-Bains, Angers, Biarritz, Bordeaux, Cadillac, La Baule, Le Perthus, Nice, Paris and Toulouse.
Apparently only one known photo was shot on the (assumed) stretch from Switzerland to Spain, and again at the border town of Le Perthus, around the end of August, 1930.
The "Caravan" of five cars somehere in France
From L to R: Fleetwood styles 4330-S, 4260, 4175, 4264-B and 4335
En route from Geneva to the Spanish border
Far right, Fleetwood style #4235
the convertible coupe; it carried license tag #2150-XB
In France, on arrival at Le Perthus, at the foot of the Pyrenees (before entering
Spain?); the order has changed slightly from the previous photo
style #4260 is in the pole position, followed by styles #4330-S, #4175, #4264-B and #4235;
I wonder if the drivers stopped for a quick drink of the local wine at Casamayor [the "big house"]?
Fleetwood style #4264-B
The town brougham, with cane work applied to the rear quarters;
it carried license tag #2149-XB
Fleetwood style #4175
the Madame X limousine;
it carried license tag #2148-XB
Nearing the Spanish customs at Le Perthus
Once again, I have seen no photos of the V-16 "Caravan" as it proceeded to
Madrid and San Sebastian, circa late August, 1930]
We know for sure that the Caravan stopped in the towns of Cadillac, Bordeaux, La Baule and Angers
Fleetwood style #4260
the special phaeton
it carried license tag #2145-XB
Posing before St. John-the-Baptist Cathedral
in the town of Cadillac, France
Fleetwood styles #4235 and #4260
the convertible coupe and the special phaeton;
the latter carried license tag #2145-XB
Initially I thought this photo was taken in Paris; thanks to Bruno Amiot of Angers, France,
I know now that it was taken in Bordeaux, in front of the Girondins monument (that tall
column and fountain) that stands on Quinconces Square; owing to an optical illusion
caused by the camera lens and the angle at which the photo was taken, the #4260 phaeton
in the foreground actually looks smaller than the #4235 convertible coupe behind it? ]
The five V-16s in Angers
Thank you Bruno Amiot, a local resident, who provided also an old photo of the same bridge taken early last century; he added: this view of Angers is taken from the Basse-Chaîne stone bridge: in the background you can see the beautiful homes on Quai Ligny (now destroyed) that stood below the castle;
on the bridge paving you can see the old tramway rails
Fleetwood style #4260
the special phaeton again
The order appears to be the same as in Le Perthus; leading the group of five
is style #4260, followed by styles #4330-S, #4175, #4264-B and #4235
There are no known photos available for the time when
the caravan remained in Paris in September 1930
What became of the Tour Cars?
We know that one of the tour cars (Fleetwood's special phaeton style #4260) remained in the French capital after the promotional tour. It was acquired by French master-coachbuilder, Jacques Saoutchik who removed the body and replaced it with a special, sliding-roof sedan (photo below). By the way, that original Fleetwood special phaeton body was subsequently mounted on V-16 chassis #701554 and returned to the USA where it still survives.
"Before" (left) and "After" (right) photos of Jacques Saoutchik's
sliding-roof sedan conversion of Fleetwood style #4260 special phaeton;
this car is believed to be currently (2013) in Finland
Two more cars were acquired (after the tour?) by a pair of wealthy Swiss businessmen. The Fleetwood style #4235 went to a new owner in Basel, while the demonstrator-car (Fleetwood style #4330S) found a new home in Geneva, Switzerland; according to the report in "General Motors World" for November 1930, that car was acquired by a gentleman who had made his fortune in America and who returned to Switzerland after retiring from business.
Left: Style #4235 went to Basel
Right: Style #4330S went to Geneva
There is a remote possibility that a fourth car (Fleetwood style #4264B town brougham) also remained in Europe; I have a poor photo of one very similar to it, with a custom body by Bronckhorst of the Netherlands; that car features quarter windows and a body extended a few inches to accommodate twin, forward-facing, full width auxiliary seats. It is a shame that such a great "classic" should have apparently disappeared; it may well be that it was seized by the Nazis as a war trophy during their occupation of Holland.
Above: the tour car, Town Brougham, style #4264B
Below: possibly the same tour car after some modifications in Holland
This is the interior of a Fleetwood style #4264B town brougham;
you can tell from the photo below (left) that the body has been
stretched a few inches and that quarter windows have been added
Bronckhorst of The Netherlands may have converted Fleetwood's
style #4264-B town brougham for 5 passengers to this 7-pass. version
[ Photos: Auto-Carrosserie No. 92, France, circa 1930-31 ]
As I have mentioned above, the #4260 special phaeton chassis remained in France where it got a custom body by Jacques Saoutchik. The Fleetwood body was ultimately recovered and put on another V-16 chassis [Fisher order #2587, which the factory build sheet lists in error as an "all-weather phaeton"]. I saw this car at a Barrett-Jackson auction in January, 1998. It was gray-mauve with matching leather trim and trunk. It carries the engine that was first used in the European Tour car; the latter was re-bodied by Jacques Saoutchik of Paris, circa 1930-31. This is CLC Senior car #141 and is owned (2002) by Steven Nanini of Tucson, AZ.
Notes about specific cars sent on the Tour
A closer scrutiny of factory build sheets [by someone who has access to them] might reveal all the chassis/engine numbers of the actual cars that were sent on the tour. One has to assume they were specially pulled from inventory and marked for shipment abroad.
It is believed that Fleetwood style #4260 was built on chassis #700004; it was the third V-16 to come off the line. It is listed in the factory build sheet (erroneously) as an "all-weather phaeton" whereas it is definitely Fleetwood's dual windshield "special phaeton". Interestingly, the original body (that you will see in some of the photos below was eventually removed and a custom-built convertible sedan designed by Jacques Saoutchik of France was put on the chassis. The original Fleetwood special phaeton body was later put on another used V-16 chassis; that car it was recovered many years later and found its way back to the USA in the mid-to-late-eighties or early nineties. It was completely restored there, to the highest standards, by respected restorer Fran Roxas of Alsip, Illinois for Fred Weber of St. Louis, MS.
In order to complete the story of the 1930 Cadillac V-16 European Tour, we are looking for articles and photos that may have been published at the time, in any of the countries that we know to have been included in the tour itinerary. At this writing, Sweden has been the most proliferous in supplying the kind of information we need. France comes second, but with only two small cuttings from a regional newspaper, and a few photos taken near the Spanish border. In Holland and the Dutch East Indies, three press cuttings were found, thanks to Dirk Van Dorst.
Surely there are more! ... unless GM President Sloan decided to keep comments to a minimum, owing to the bad press he had got from Hans Osterman, via the GM Export office in Paris.
Does anyone have issues of this corporate magazine for 1930-31?
( this issue is dated February, 1929 ): we are looking specifically
for the issue dated July and September 1930
Tour Car Trivia
Trivia 1: It is worth noting that England's Motor Sport for November, 1962, recalled (p.894) that "several" V-16s were seen in Cologne in 1930. The writer did not question why the cars had not come to Britain that summer. It seems strange, in my opinion, that England was not on the initial itinerary. But perhaps a visit to that country was not considered essential at the time, considering that the company was planning to show a couple of sixteens at the Olympia show in London that coming Fall (October, 1930).
Trivia 2: Interestingly, in all the photos I have seen that were taken during the tour (some of them are shown above), you can see that none of these cars seems to have a Goddess hood ornament. In addition all but one of them have regular, black-wall tires. The convertible coupe has the optional, chrome-plated hood louvers, as does also the phaeton with secondary windshield.
Trivia 3: A reported seventy orders were taken during the European tour. This number corresponds to the recorded export sales of the V-16. Of these, fourteen units went to Antwerp, in Belgium, twelve to Madrid, in Spain, eleven to Berlin, in Germany (of which one style 4325C town car landaulet, licensed #1A75825), seven to Mexico City, in Mexico (were the orders taken in Europe???), six to Paris, in France (of which at least one style 4130 and one 4330 - possibly the tour car - or 4375 with French tourist registration No. 2017XB), five to Stockholm, in Sweden, four to Copenhagen, in Denmark, only two to London, in England [possibly because the caravan did not stop there, two to Buenos Aires, in Argentina (engine #701530 was one of these; it is currently in Spain, mounted in a custom-bodied V-16 racer), two to Havana, in Cuba (one was a style 4391 Town Car Brougham, the other may have been a style 4175 Imperial), one to Bombay, in India (a style 4260 sport phaeton with RHD, for the Maharajah of Tikari), one to Manila, in the Philippines, one to Honolulu, in Hawaii (Hawaii did not become a State of the Union until 21st August 1959, one to Moscow, in the former USSR and one to Port Elisabeth, in South Africa (a RHD style 4380 all-weather phaeton). One additional unit (Fleetwood style #4291) went to the Royal Thai household in Bangkok, Thailand. This unit appears to have been a domestic purchase that was subsequently exported and, therefore, is not included in the official export total.
Trivia 4: It is reported that on July 12, 1930, a new convertible V-16 reportedly owned by Baroness Von Rosenberg was entered in and took first prize in a Concours d'Elegance, staged in Vienna, Austria. One of the European Tour destinations was Vienna. Could the Baroness have attended the show, with her own car?
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