Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Lord K's Garage #117: Cadillac V16 Hartmann Cabriolet

This 1937 Cadillac is probably the most extreme cabriolet ever built.

Wealthy playboy Phillipe Barraud personally commissioned this design through local Cadillac dealer in Lausanne, Switzerland on one of the finest chassis that America had on offer.

Phillipe chose the Cadillac V16 for its monstrous 452 cu engine and robust chassis that could support any coachwork that adorned it. Cadillac shipped a bare chassis, one of only two that year, around the world to Switzerland and there it was bodied in Lausanne by Willy Hartmann. Barraud wanted to body the chassis in his own home town so he could personally suprvise the work.

Photo by mvonraesfeld @ Flickr

The final result was stunning. Stretching 22 feet in length Hartmann created a sweeping cabriolet that was almost too dubious to drive on regular roads. The design was accented in chrome and definitely mimicked the French masters Figoni et Falaschi which pioneered the trend from a painting by Géo Ham. It was orginally painted off-white with and orange body stripe and fender skirts.

Photo by durasoul @ Flickr

Details included a new dashboard with center mounted gauges and a redeigned triangular Cadillac logo with the script ''Carrosserie Hartmann, Lausanne, Cadillac''.

After two year's war broke out and the Cadillac was stored for ten years. It was then brought back to life and Phillipe had it repainted white over pale blue to use it over the next ten years. It was again repainted light over dark brown after a crash which destoyed the front end and its lights. New bullet lights were fitted to replace the small dirivng lights that did little for the grace of the design. Additionally a full width bumper was constructed.

Photo by durasoul @ Flickr

It was found in a field in 1968 and was sold for only $925 USD. Thought to be a Figoni et Falaschi roadster, it traded hands several times and went through four restorations. The third of which was by Andre Lecoq of Paris who extensively modified it by fashioning a new panel to conseal the roof when folded down, a new interior, new bumpers and new chrome accents along the fender line. In 1990 it was sold at the Barrett-Jackson as a 'Figoni et Falaschi' auction for 1.4 million.

Photo by mvonraesfeld @ Flickr

By the time the Hartman V16 reached the Blackhawk Collection where it can currently seen at the museum, it was painted resale red and the original Willy Hartmann plaque on the dashboard was replaced with a fake Figoni et Falaschi unit. Most of the chrome, especially on sides were fabricated and a new recessed grill was fitted. While more elegant, the cabriolet has lost many of its original design traits.

Photo by Jack_Snell @ Flickr

Story by Supercars.net

Headline photo by lexybeast @ Flickr

Additional (and highly enlightening) reading: The Swiss Roadster

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Comment by Alex Bolado on December 19, 2011 at 3:47pm

That's crazy!

Comment by Pilsner Panther on December 18, 2011 at 9:05pm

I've been a good boy this year, but Santa probably still won't bring me one.

Comment by John L. Sands on December 16, 2011 at 10:45pm


Comment by lord_k on December 16, 2011 at 3:46pm

John, you can get the latter, complete with a trailer.

Comment by John L. Sands on December 16, 2011 at 3:37pm

What a beast. I haven't wanted a car like this since I saw the original topper Buick.

Comment by lord_k on December 16, 2011 at 8:56am

There's only one, alas.

Comment by Cap'n Tony on December 16, 2011 at 8:23am

Gorgeous! I'll take three, thank you.

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