"If you haven't done your homework in the research department and you inadvertently put a 1928 Cadillac valence panel stowage panel locking device on your 1929 Cadillac, you would be wrong to assume that they were the same."
While Mike was displaying his previous red 1929 Cadillac Dual Cowl Phaeton at GM Day, a member of the public was looking at the top of the engine cylinder heads and remarked to Mike about the HC high compression cast into the heads.
The admirer told Mike, "I know where there is another one of these". "What, Cadillac?" said Mike. "Yes," said the admirer. "It's in the back yard somewhere up in South Grafton, I know another man who knows exactly where it is."
The usual detective work ensued which culminated at the final resting place of said Cadillac in a backyard in South Grafton. Mike was told that the Cadillac had received the "utility treatment" complete with trees growing up between headlight bar and front bumper, and another up through the middle of the chassis. It had been used in its later life to deliver farm produce and then parked beside the house.
Sometime later the house changed hands and the new owners were able to jump into the Cadillac, start it up and drive it down the yard to get clear of the house. This must have been a long time ago because two fairly sizable trees had grown up through it and the car had sunk into the ground. Before the car could be freed from its final resting place, the present owners had to lie down on the ground with a chain saw and cut the trees off at ground level.
This still wasn't enough to extricate the car, as a tow vehicle, plus a system of placing a high post under the tow cable to get some vertical lift to get the wheels up out of the ground, became necessary.
Finally the new acquisition was loaded onto a "U" haul car trailer for the trip back to its new home in Sydney.
Now the usual period when reality hits home when it comes time to start the restoration... "What have I taken on? I must be mad or totally insane, don't worry, ignore the total job and divide the project up into sections and then concentrate on them in order of priority as each section is completed." That's how I do it and I assume so do others who are confronted by a complete basket case.
Mike restored the rolling chassis at home, with the odd trip here and there to the metal strippers and engine reconditioners etc.
Peter Lamb, then at Wyong, built the new dual cowl phaeton body for the car while Stan Brown did the metal panel work for Peter Lamb.
Mike had to make locks, door handles and all those trinkets that go missing over the years from samples, usually begged, borrowed (or etc) to get a pattern to copy from in order to keep it as authentic as possible. The tremendous amount of research done in this department is mind boggling.
Because there were some changes made between one year's model to the next (however subtle they may have been), this can be a cause of concern if your standards are high and just don't want egg on your face at the end of the project.
To get the information right beforehand, literature has to be sourced, sales brochures, factory catalogues, parts books, owner's hand books etc all making the project harder and longer -especially harder on a 1929 car in the present day.
After getting the new body from Peter Lamb, Mike primed and undercoated the car at home, then transported it to Rushcutters Bay Smash Repairs for the final paint in baked enamel to the original factory colours of Hawthorn green body and platinum silver guards and valances, as in the sales brochures.
Dubbo Chrome Platers did all the bright work and as everyone knows, it is just as much a credit to Mike that such a high level of chrome plating was achieved as it is to the platers, as Mike won't take second best standards, as appears to be the case with a lot of local chrome platers.
Upholstery was carried out by Bruce Gibbs of Wyong, in Connelly hide leather, carpets, touring hood and luggage trunk. Materials were imported by Mike personally, and handed over to Bruce. The tourer hood material is of the rubber laminated type called "double duck silver" for good waterproof qualities. Tourer trunk is covered in the same hood material.
Seat frames were also manufactured by Bruce Gibbs. This all lends to the good old adage, that if you can't get missing parts, well make it!
The car is fitted with the optional buffalo wire wheels which look very sporty on any body style of the twenties and early thirties but especially on the dual cowl phaeton body style No. 1183B factory designation. White wall lester tyres are fitted to these wheels, supplied by Allan McKinnon from Antique Tyres in Melbourne.
These factory designed phaetons such as the standard tourer 1183 type and 1183B for dual cowl phaeton were designed by Cadillac's relatively newly acquired stylist, Harley Earl who was seconded from Don Lee Custom Body Builders of L.A.
Harley Earl was the designer of the new 1927 LaSalle which started to get cars selling again. Previously not enough importance had been placed on customer desires for a well styled car, ie they were drab and plain with all the importance focussing on engineering and comfort, rather than aesthetics.
For Cadillac, 1929 was a major year for change over the previous year's model. It was the first car ever in the world to be mass produced with a synchromesh gearbox, making gear changing a lot easier. Even the English only got synchromesh gearbox for the first time on the 1932 Vauxhall VX that I, the writer, own which was four years hence.
1929 was also the first year of chrome plating for Cadillac and a lot of other makers, being a lot more durable, brighter and easier to keep polished. It was also the first year for internal brake shoes as opposed to a full brake band internally. Another first for the fixed body tourers was the adjustable front seat to take care of people driving with long or short legs, a major plus as any driver would attest to (still no front seat adjust on Imperials). Other "firsts" included the first year for hydraulic double acting shock absorbers, the first year for safety glass as well as electric wipers.
Following are some of the 1929 specifications:
90o V8 3 5/16" x 4 15/16" bore of stroke
341 cu in. Horsepower rated @ 35.1, BHP 90 @ 3,000 RPM
Torque 208 lbs/ft (net)
Pressure feed to piston pins (drilled holes)
Three main Brg crank
Silent chain camshaft drive and roller cam followers
Ignition: Cadillac-delco high tension, twin point four lobed dissy cam
2 pole delco generators driven by chain from crankshaft
6 pole starter motor as opposed to the standard 4 pole
Carburettor: Cadillac designed and made, automatic thermostatic mixture control
Vacuum feed system: Vacuum intake manifold assisted by vacuum created by vacuum pump
Positive feed under all conditions
Transmission: Twin disc driven dry clutch plates
Three speeds forward and reverse
Chrome-nickel steel gears and shafts
Faces of gear teeth ground on special grinding machines for silent operation
Copper/aluminium alloy crankcase separate to cylinder blocks
Lubrication: Full pressure lubrication from gear pump
Float oil level indicator (no dip stick)
Radiator/cooling system: Thermostatically controlled radiator shutters with vertically balanced shutter blades
Six bladed fan positively lubricated ie oil bath in hub of fan with internal gears rotating about a fixed gear on fan shaft bringing oil up to from bearings (Buicks are fitted with this as well)
Rear engine mounts: Rubber insulated as in 1928 but larger portions of rubber
Torque tube complete seal assembly
Fully floating rear axles (vehicle load taken on axle banjo housing instead of axle direct ie car can be wheeled down the road without its axle halves)
Wheels: Wheels and tyre size 700 x 20"