A unique automotive specimen will arrive in Forest Grove Sunday, July 16: a 1930 Cadillac 353 Town Sedan with a custom Fisher body and V8 engine, of which only 880 were ever produced and few are known to exist today.
The gleaming black rarity will add to the collective sparkle of classic cars at the 45th Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance at Pacific University — and will mark the first time the car has shown in the Pacific Northwest.
The 1930 Cadillac is part of The Northwest Vintage Car and Motorcycle Museum's collection in Brooks. A volunteer-run nonprofit, the museum strives to preserve pieces of American history while educating and inspiring the public, especially youth — the group's teen mentoring program, Speedster, teaches teens in the Salem-Keizer School District to build classic roadsters.
Earlier this year the museum received a hefty donation from the collection of auto restorer Jack Hunley's daughter — three classic cars including the 1930 Caddy.
"It's an old restoration but it looks like it just came off the showroom floor," said Don Petersen, a volunteer at the museum. "It's quite an automobile."
Despite its rarity, Petersen said the V8 Cadillac is worth about $88,000 — less than half as much as its V16 counterparts.
In early 1930 Cadillac introduced the first V16 (16 cylinder) engine in America, producing just 3,250 V16-powered cars, compared to 11,000 V8-powered models. The new engines could propel a two-ton car to over 80 miles per hour.
"It was a major automotive accomplishment that was met with great fanfare in shows here and all over the world," said Andy Ottolia, museum docent and classic car expert.
"The engine was a masterpiece of smoothness, quality and aesthetics."
In general, Cadillacs were a much rarer, more expensive vehicle compared to the Ford Model A, 1.15 million of which were sold in 1930, said Ottolia.
At the time it was built, the V8 Caddy — including all its bells and whistles — was worth nearly $4,000, Petersen said, 10 times the price of a Ford Model A or the average price of a new home in the post-Depression era. Because of its expensive price tag during a period of economic hardship for the country, very few of the cars were ever built.
"Production was very low on classic cars … people had no money right after the Depression," said Ottolia. "Only around 1,200 heavy-bodied Cadillacs were built in 1930."
Hunley restored the car in a three-year process during the early 1990s.
After the restoration was complete the car won many awards, including the Antique Automobile Club of America National Class Champion in 1994.
Eventually Hunley passed away, leaving his classic car collection to his daughters, Christina Trollinger and Pat Boyd, who donated the cars to the Oregon museum 20 years later.
The passage of time took a toll on the Cadillac's engine, and the car remained in the garage for the last decade.
Now, however, the museum finally has it running, and it will make a break for its Forest Grove debut this weekend.
Under the guidance of Petersen, mechanics Rick Simmons and Bob Farewell spent over 100 hours recomissioning the car after its 20-year slumber, including a carburetor rebuild.
"We had it on our floor but it was just a stationery item," said Ottolia. "The way we have it on display now, it's a feature car and you can drive them. It's quite a thing to see."
The Cadillac weighs nearly two tons and is powered by a flathead V8 engine with 95 horsepower, good for eight miles per gallon — a far cry from that of contemporary autos.
According to Petersen, the car is a perfect specimen of the luxury vehicles of America's past, pointing to its early version of adaptive headlights that turn with the steering wheel.
Both Ottolia and Petersen are excited to see the interest the car will bring to the museum and to Concours.
"Cadillac was the top luxury brand in the 1930s and this car showcases the quality of American workmanship and the design of the classic era," said Ottolia.
If you go
For those who've never attended a Concours d'Elegance car show — and even for those who have — here's the skinny on how to do this Sunday in Forest Grove up right.
Concours' 45th year, featuring the theme "100 Years Of Lincoln," will celebrate classic Lincoln automobiles. A sub-theme, "Celebrating Mini: Over 50 Years of Fun," will be apparent on the Forest Grove campus of Pacific University as well.
With shining samples of vintage autos gracing grassy knolls between Pacific Avenue to the south, University Avenue to the north, College Way to the west and Cedar Street to the east, Concours won't keep car buffs wanting.
Visitors can peruse row upon row of gleaming autos, talk to their owners, listen to music and grab some food. Here's a brief schedule:
• 8:30 a.m. — Gates open
• 9 a.m. — Car judging begins
• 11 a.m. — Jacob Miller and the Bridge City Crooners perform
• Noon — Judging complete
• 1:30 p.m. — Awards presentation
• 4 p.m. — Best In Show trophy presentation
• 4:30 p.m. — Concours concludes
More information about the July 16 event is available at www.forestgroveconcours.org.