1939 Cadillac 60 Special - $37,900
     
  • Overview & History
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Factory records suggest that only 225 60 Special sedans were built with the Sunshine Turret Top sunroof, which actually works quite well and makes the interior feel bright and airy.

If you’re a fan of pre-war cars and can afford just one, there’s a very good argument to be made for the Cadillac 60 Special. It was a ground-breaking design when it debuted in 1938, introducing “clear view” windows with narrow frames, deleting running boards, and introducing a whole new class of vehicle: the owner-driven personal luxury car. Cadillac’s flathead V8 remains one of the most tractable and reliable machines of the era and with superlative road manners, great brakes, light steering, and modern performance there aren’t many better choices. Best of all, they tend to be quite affordable, including this wonderful 1939 Cadillac 60 Special with an ultra-rare factory sunroof.

This 60 Special wears a CCCA Premier Senior First Prize badge, suggesting that the restoration was extremely expensive and very well done. That was maybe 15 years ago and the car has been used for touring events since then, and it has mellowed into a comfortable high-speed tour car with a unique look. The color, which appears to be similar to Long Key Green, was not on the color chart but rather a custom job, as denoted on the trim tag by “SO” indicating “special order.” It was originally a two-tone combination, with a very light green roof, but sometime in early 2013, the top was painted to match the rest of the bodywork, giving it a monochromatic look. Factory records suggest that only 225 60 Special sedans were built with the Sunshine Turret Top sunroof, which actually works quite well and makes the interior feel bright and airy. Dual sidemounts add to the imposing look of the 1939 Cadillac, and when you add the factory AM radio and a set of fog lights, you could consider this 60S “loaded.” Finish quality is quite good, although there’s evidence of use. It shines up nicely, and the result is a striking car that will stand out anywhere it goes. You also get some very nice chrome, including both bumpers and a grille with surprisingly few pits and no cracks, surprising for a ’39. Tiny fins on the taillights hint at those to come after the war and Cadillac’s familiar three-pane rear window makes this car identifiable from any angle.

We strongly suspect that the green leather interior is original. It is in excellent condition, but not nice enough to be only 15 years old, yet there are no splits or tears and only slight scuffing on the piping at the driver’s back. The big plastic steering wheel and dash were obviously restored and all the gauges are fully operational save for the temperature gauge, which has been supplanted by a modern gauge under the dash. The original AM radio powers up but does not make sound although that may just be a function of the antenna, and as is typical, the clock is offline. On the plus side, the interior lights, gauge lights, and heater/defroster unit are all fully operational. We suspect the 13,217 miles shown on the odometer are since the restoration was completed, and that seems about right given the car’s overall condition. The back seat is spacious and comfortable with a fold-down armrest, and again, the leather upholstery is in excellent condition. The sunroof slides open and closed, but you’ll need a little practice to be able to latch it every time—don’t worry, it’s easy. There’s also a fully upholstered trunk that’s surprisingly spacious thanks to the spare tire moving into the front fender wells.

The 346 cubic inch V8 remains as smooth and torquey here as in any other pre-war Cadillac. It starts easily every time, and there’s an auxiliary electric fuel pump to assist after periods of inactivity. It’s correctly dressed in corporate olive green engine enamel with a large oil bath air cleaner on top of the Stromberg carburetor. The manifolds were obviously porcelainized at some point, but as with all cars that have been driven significantly, it has started to degrade. It doesn’t affect how it works, and this one idles so smoothly and quietly that you might think it has stalled. There’s effortless power available just off idle, so you won’t need to do much shifting around town and these are reliable 60 MPH cruisers that consume miles of highway without complaint.

Underneath, you’ll find a nicely detailed chassis that uses the bright green bodywork and floors as a backdrop. The 3-speed manual transmission shifts easily and clutch action is light—in fact, all control efforts are remarkably easy, including the steering and brakes. 3.92 gears were standard, which helps explain the awesome tractability, but the smooth engine never seems too busy on the highway. Ride is Cadillac supple with great suspension control that will surprise you in an 80-year-old car and the manual drum brakes are plenty powerful for the car’s performance. A new exhaust system with two mufflers emits little more than a distant burble and as I mentioned, it’s nearly silent at idle. The massive wooden rocker sills that are the foundation of the 60 Special bodywork remain in excellent condition with no rot or deterioration, and even the tool tray at the back of the trunk is intact and undamaged suggesting a car that has lived in a warm climate. Color-matched steel wheels wear correct hubcaps and trim rings, along with a set of 7.00-16 wide whitewall tires.

Extras include a reproduction owner’s manual, shop manual, and jack assembly.

The 60 Special is a “special” car. They offer high style, fantastic performance, and the cachet of Full Classic status, all at a reasonable price. This one features an unusual color combination, that wonderful sunroof, and a quality restoration that has mellowed into an excellent tour vehicle. If you like driving and are looking for a car that does everything well, look no further than this wonderful Cadillac. Call today!

Vehicle: 1939 Cadillac 60 Special
Price: $37,900
Stock Number: 116070
Mileage: 13,214
VIN: 6295396
Engine: 346 cubic inch V8
Transmission: 3-speed manual
Gear Ratio: 3.92
Wheelbase: 127 inches
Wheels: 16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
Tires: 7.00-16 wide whitewall
Exterior Color: Long Key Green
Interior Color: Green leather
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