Cadillac ushered in 1915 with the first American mass-produced V-8 engine. Designed by D. McCall White, a Scottish-born engineer, the L-head engine used two cast-iron blocks with integral heads, mounted on an aluminum-copper-alloy crankcase. With the banks of cylinders directly opposite one another, it used Leland’s preferred fork-and-blade connecting rods. Introduced in the 1915 Type 51, it carried forward to the Type 57. Nineteen-twenty brought a new Type 59, with modest mechanical improvements, among them an exhaust-heated intake header.
Body contours changed somewhat, and closed cars were very much in the majority. Open styles numbered just three: roadster, phaeton, and seven-passenger touring. Among the closed styles was the Victoria, a four-passenger roomy coupe. Access to the two-person rear seat was gained by folding the front passenger seat forward. For 1921 the same styles were carried over with virtually no changes. Production suffered, however, as the company consolidated operations to a new plant on Clark Avenue in Detroit. Just 11,300 cars were made in the calendar year.
This Type 59 Victoria was shipped to Neel Cadillac, the Philadelphia dealer, on 3 October 1920 and delivered to the customer, D.M. Groome, of Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, on 2 April 1921. It was purchased by the Merrick Auto Museum in 1997 from Irving Kramer of West Bloomfield, Michigan. The recipient of a 770-hour restoration, it is burgundy with black fenders and upper body. Upholstered in tan pleated cloth, it has roller shades on the rear and side windows. Twelve-spoke varnished-wood artillery wheels carry 34 × 4½ blackwall tires on 23-inch demountable rims. The radiator cap carries a Cadillac crest MotoMeter, and the dashboard has a pull-out electric cigarette lighter.
Based on precision and prestige, Cadillac assumed the mantle as “The Standard of the World.” This car is an excellent example of just that.