Restored 1951 Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood Limousine

Cadillac was the number one luxury American automaker in 1951. In 1951 the Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75 would represent the fourth generation of that model.

1951 cadillac limousine

1951 Cadillac Limousine

Out of a total production of Cadillac's in 1951, GM made only 1,090 of the Series 75 Sedan, 1,085 units of the Series 75 Fleetwood Limousine that accommodated 7-8 people and the Fleetwood Series 75 business Sedan of which only 30 vehicles were produced. In addition to this a total of 2,960 commercial chassis were produced. Some of these you would have seen as ambulances and hearses.

Fleetwood Coach Building

Fleetwood Pennsylvania at one time went by the names of Greentown and Coxville. Much of Pennsylvania was settled by German immigrants and many were quite skilled in the European trades of coach building and cabinet making.

1951 Cadillac Fleetwood

1951 Cadillac Fleetwood grille

tIt was in this town that the Fleetwood Metal Body Company, makers of strictly high end custom automobile bodies was established. The way their business worked was that the chassis of a luxury automobile such as a Packard, Pierce Arrow or Cadillac was sent to them accompanied by complete instructions as to the kind of body desired.

Many notable names were initially drawn to the Fleetwood coach builders. These included Andrew Carnegie, the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers who had all been owners of Fleetwood built automobiles.

General Motors determined that if their Cadillac brand was to grow going forward what was required was low cost, yet high quality custom coachwork that could be in-house. In 1925 Fisher Body, which had a majority of it's stock purchased by GM in 1919, purchased all of Fleetwood for $650,000. A year later GM purchased all of the remaining Fisher Body stock. In 1926 a lot of expansion was underway in Fleetwood Pennsylvania including the addition of factory buildings. To satisfy the projected demand for Fleetwood bodies, Fisher Body started construction of a new Detroit plant in 1929 for the exclusive use of Fleetwood.

1951 cadillac fleetwood limousine

A rear view of the 1951 Cadillac Fleetwood Limousine

Between 1929 and 1937, all Cadillac salesmen were issued a 70 page handbook called “The Book of Fleetwood”, which included picture and details of current model year styles, options, prices and color combinations as well as details of Fleetwood body construction.

From its beginning in 1941, until the line was discontinued at the end of the 1984 model year, Cadillac’s Series 75 limousines had Fleetwood badging and were assigned as Fleetwood 75 Limousines in all Cadillac advertising.

The 1951 Design.

Harley Earl's design team was responsible for the new 1950's Cadillac Series 75 look.The 1950's Cadillacs were known to have quite a bit of chrome laden glitter.

Styling in 1951 was not changed to any significant extent from 1950 although the 1950's styling itself was all new. It's important to note that the 1950 model had a new grille, one piece windshield and an overall lower look. For 1951 there were some trim changes and a very minor facelift and that was pretty much the extent.

1951 cadillac limousine interior

Interior and dashboard of the 1951 Cadillac Fleetwood Limousine

You'll find that jumpseats were used in the Fleetwood Series 75's for both the sedan and limousine models. Other changes included a new combination grille and impact guards, a wider, more massive "V" set lower on the hood, chrome headlight rims, a wider, lower interior rear-view mirror, slim rear quarter panels to minimize blind spots.

Cadillac liked to tout that the Series 75 limousine was built for an exacting clientele and provided the ultimate in comfort. The car was designed to satisfy the most discriminating.

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An excellent photo archive book on the Cadillac Series 75 is Cadillac Fleetwood Seventy-Five Series Limousines 1937-1987 Photo Archive by Thomas A. McPherson and Walter McCall.

Another is Elvis and His 1955 Cadillac Limo by author Chris Osborne.

1951 Cadillac Fleetwood Limousine Specifications

The 1951 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75 came with a 160 horse power 331 cubic inch overhead valve V8 engine.

Transmission was either a three speed manual synchromesh or a 4 speed Hydra-Matic.

Brakes on this model were four wheel disc.

The wheelbase on the 51 Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood came in at 146.75 inches. The car's overall length was an impressive 236.25 inches. Width was 80.125 inches and height 64.063 inches.

Options for the 1951 Cadillac line included chrome hubcaps, heater and ventilation, a radio and antenna, white sidewall tires and power windows. The power windows were standard on all Series 75 models.

dashboard 1951 cadillac fleetwood limo

Another dashboard shot of the 1951 Cadillac Fleetwood Limo

The 1950's Cadillac Limousine Collector's Market

Finding a Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood Limousine for sale might not be your toughest task. What you most likely will find is that they will come in a wide range of conditions and mileage.

As of this writing we find a 1950 model with an asking price of $35,000 to $40,000. You might also find a 1951 Cadillac limousine body shell to use as a project car for as low as $1,000.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)


1964 Sunbeam Tiger 260 Cubic Inch V-8

The automobile featured in this article is the 1964 Sunbeam Tiger Series I. The Series I models were built with a Ford 260 cubic inch V-8 engine.

sunbeam tiger

1964 Sunbeam Tiger

The Sunbeam Tiger was built from 1964 through 1967. The Series II Tiger model was built during the last model year and came equipped with a Ford 289 cubic inch V-8. Both the Series I and Series II were high performance versions of the popular Sunbeam Alpine.

The Sunbeam Marquee

The marquee Sunbeam goes back a long ways. Not unlike many of the very early automakers, the Sunbeam name was associated with bicycles before venturing into automotive production. As time went on the British company was involved with more than bicycles and cars. They produced motorcycles and and during World War One, aircraft engines trucks and ambulances.

1964 sunbeam tiger

Front view of the Sunbeam Tiger

Changes of Ownership

The original company goes back to 1877 with a bicycle factory. The first automobile with the Sunbeam name appeared in 1901. In 1905 the Sunbeam Motorcar Company Ltd was established as a separate entity from the other businesses of John Marston. Marston continued on with the bicycles and motorcycles.

After the war in 1919 Sunbeam merged with Talbot-Darracq to form Sunbeam-Talbot which was generally referred to as STD Motors. This arrangement lasted until the middle of the Great Depression in 1935 when the company went into receivership. STD was then purchased by the Rootes Group.

By the early 1960's the company was in financial trouble again and after some failed mergers the Chrysler Corporation in 1964 purchased thirty percent of the company. This made sense for Chrysler since they were attempting to enter the European market. As it turned out the merger with Chrysler eroded the Sunbeam brand and the last Sunbeam models were produced between 1967 and 1976.

Many said that Chrysler tried to make the Sunbeam a Chrysler car and the Sunbeam brand took a hit. Another factor was that Chrysler was said to have a problem with a Ford V-8 sitting in one of their cars. The problem was that no Chrysler V-8 would fit the tight confines of the Alpine’s engine compartment. This marked the last days of the Sunbeam Tiger.

sunbeam tiger mark 1

Sunbeam Tiger with Ford 260 Cubic inch V-8

The Involvement of Carroll Shelby

The man who put a Ford V-8 into an AC Cobra was also to have a hand in what Sunbeam produced with their Tiger model.

Carroll Shelby powered up the AC Cobra by fitting a Ford V-8 onto the AC chassis which he imported to the U.S. Sunbeam appeared to be quite curious about what Shelby was doing since the AC and the Sunbeam Alpine were similar cars.

The Shelby Cobra of 1962 was the inspiration for the Sunbeam Tiger. While the Sunbeam Alpine was doing well in America, the company desired a car with more power to appeal to the younger American market. After test drives of two prototypes put together by Shelby, the Rootes Group hired Carroll Shelby, the originator of the Shelby Cobra, to design their Sunbeam Tiger based on the Alpine. Shelby took out the Alpine's four cylinder engine and put in a small block Ford V-8. Production of this new model began for the 1964 model year.

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1964 Sunbeam Tiger Series I Specifications

As mentioned above the Sunbeam Tiger Series I was built with a Ford 260 cubic inch V-8 engine producing 164 horsepower. It was a high performance version of the Sunbeam Alpine and could do Zero to 60 in 7.8 seconds. Top speed was claimed to be 117 MPH.

sunbeam tiger carroll shelby

Rear view of the Sunbeam Tiger

Transmission per Carroll Shelby was a four speed manual.

Front suspension included independent coil springs with rear suspension consisting of a live axle and semi-eliptic leaf springs.

Brakes on the Sunbeam Tiger were front wheel disc and rear wheel drum.

Dimensions for the Sunbeam Tiger include a wheelbase of 84.0 inches, an overall length of 156.0 inches, a width of 60.5 inches and a height of 51.5 inches. The car's curb weight was 2,564 lbs.

Only 7,085 Sunbeam Tiger Series I vehicles were produced.

A Sought After Collector Car

When Sunbeam Tiger production ended in 1967 there were only 7,085 built. This in a large way made this V-8 classic British sports car a popular collector car today. It's also the car seen on the old television show "Get Smart".

sunbeam tiger sports car

Another rear view of the Sunbeam Tiger

Asking prices for the Sunbeam Tiger as of this writing might begin in the $35,000 range and head significantly up from there. Originality is a key determinant since some of these sports cars have had engine modifications. A fully restored original Tiger model with no rust will have a higher asking price.

Original unmodified cars are getting rarer and rarer every year. It's actually easier to modify an automobile than to keep it in it's original condition and as a result more collectors it seems put more value on originality.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)

A Vintage and Rare 1935 Rolls Royce Phantom II

The Rolls-Royce Phantom II was the last of the great six cylinder automobiles whose entire development had been managed by F. Henry Royce himself. The company's West Wittering design team put the design to paper per Royce's specifications. The Rolls-Royce Phantom II was the third and last of the Rolls Royce 40/50 hp models and it received high acclaim. The automobile was known to ride smoothly, accelerate fast and be comfortable to drive.

1935 rolls royce phantom II

1935 Rools Royce Phantom II

A Radical Design for the Phantom II

There were reasons for the unveiling of the Phantom II just four years after the Phantom I.  The main reason was increased competition from other manufacturers like Buick and Sunbeam. Royce was well aware that his current chassis was out of date. The gearbox, springs and frame had not been seriously modified since 1912. It was also said that the people at Buick were so impressed with the Rolls Royce Phantom I that they simply copied it.

The radical design changes for this automobile, compared to the Phantom I it replaced, took the Rolls Royce company into the new decade. When the Phantom II was launched in 1929 it impressed and exceeded in every area of design excellence and fine manufacturing technique even that of the the legendary Silver Ghost. Many have said that the Phantom II is the best automobile Rolls Royce ever built.

rolls royce phantom II

Rolls Royce Phantom II

For one thing, the engine and gearbox were in unit construction. The rear springs were now underslung, replacing the previously used cantilever suspension allowing to mount most elegant bodies of lower overall appearance. The front axle for instance had been designed to provide the best stability in braking at speed.

As a more sporty version to be fitted with particularly light coachwork the Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental showed itself to be quite different from the base model. The shorter Continental model had a 144.0 inch wheelbase.  The Phantom II Continental had a lower steering column and special springs. This was the luxury automobile for high end buyers who wished to drive themselves rather than employing a chauffeur.

The Phantom  II featured a much improved and impressive front and rear suspension as compared to the Phantom I it replaced. Production lasted over five years with 1402 Phantom II's produced.

rolls royce phantom II interior

Phantom II dashboard

Choose Your Own Coach Builder

The Phantom II's were built by the Rolls Royce factory in Derby England as rolling chassis. The owner would then have the coach work done by a coachbuilder of his own choice. There were several to choose from. Park Ward, Brewster and Company and Thrupp and Maberly were just a few who did much work with the Phantom II's. Brewster and Company did most of the work on Phantom II's headed for the U.S. with left hand drive.

1935 Rolls Royce Phantom II Specifications

The engine for the 1935 Rolls Royce Phantom II was a redesigned 7.7 liter six cylinder inline producing 120 horsepower. Top speed was claimed to be 92 MPH. The Phantom III model followed in 1936 with it's impressive twelve cylinder engine.

Transmission was a four speed manual. Synchromesh was added on gears 3 and 4 in 1932 and on gear 2 in 1935.

The car's wheelbase was 150.0 inches (The Phantom II Continental model was given a 144.0 inch wheelbase).  It's overall length was 220.0 inches and it's width was 60.0 inches. Curb weight was in the range of 6,000 lbs.

rolls royce phantom two interior windshield

Rear windshield on the Phantom II

Brakes were four wheel drums.

Front and rear suspension for the Phantom II was beam-axle and the rear had semi-elliptic leaf springs.

Total Phantom II production from 1930 through 1935 were 1,402 vehicles. In addition to this there were 278 Phantom II Continental's built.

An interesting side note is that the first Phantom II produced was put through a 10,000 mile road test. The road test put the vehicle under many different types of terrain and various speeds.

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An excellent Kindle book on the Rolls Royce Phantom automobiles is The Rolls-Royce Phantom II and Phantom III (Complete Classics) by authors Steve Stuckey and Nick Whitaker.

rolls royce phantom II photos

The wide whitewall side spare on the Phantom II

A Rare Collector Automobile

With well under 2,000 vehicles produced over it's entire model run, the Rolls Royce Phanton II automobiles are rare collector cars. Models from specific coach builders of the era are even more rare.

Vintage Rolls Royce automobiles are coveted for their good looks, solid engineering and reliability. Along with that is the legendary Rolls Royce prestige. Some would say that the Rolls Royce brand is the most famous of all time. Rolls Royce automobiles were known to have transported royals to and from functions. What goes with this of course is a very expensive price tag that takes a good deal of wealth to add one to a collection.

Whenever an auction occurs involving either a Phantom I or Phantom II you can expect a high price. A 1929 Rolls Royce Phantom I went on the market for just under $200,000. A original and finely restored 1931 Phantom II was listed at $217,000. A 1934 Rolls Royce Phantom II Continental sold for over $500,000.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)