1931 Cadillac 355-A Town Sedan - $49,900
     
  • Overview & History
  • Specifications
  • Image Gallery
This car has been fitted with a Borg-Warner overdrive unit that neatly integrates into the factory torque tube and provides a 30% overdrive so it cruises at 65 MPH with ease.

It has long been my argument that Cadillacs of the 1930s were the highest-quality cars you could buy. They were built by the biggest company with the most money and the smartest engineers, all with the goal to build the best car in the world. By the time this 1931 Town Sedan was built, both the V12 and the V16 were on the market, overshadowing the “entry level” Series 355 V8 cars, which were built by the same guys to the same high standards. Today, that quality is evident throughout and the V8 Cadillacs offer bulletproof reliability, great road manners, and affordable pricing in today’s market. If you’re looking for a reliable tour car that still offers high style, this Cadillac is a fantastic choice.

Restored twice in its 90-year lifetime, this Cadillac wears an AACA National First Prize badge from 1963, when it was first refinished. It spent almost 50 years with the same owner, who purchased it shortly after that award was presented and enjoyed it for decades, freshening it along the way. The two-tone black and gray finish is quite correct and gives the Town Sedan an appropriately elegant appearance that isn’t too stodgy or conservative. The paint on the car today was probably applied in the ‘80s and remains in very good condition, although it is no longer in show condition. Red accents are a wonderful touch and dual sidemounts give this car the same presence as its larger siblings. All the chrome was surely refinished in the ‘80s as well and is holding up very well, with sharp details on the castings and very few signs of age. The Town Sedan’s close-coupled bodywork was one of the first traditional “three box” designs like modern cars, with a cleverly integrated trunk out back. In addition, there’s a trunk rack for additional storage (this car includes a complete second trunk for touring). Other accessories include a radiator guard, single Pilot Ray up front, and metal sidemount covers. It’s an extremely handsome car.

The comfortable interior is all-new, a $10,000 restoration finished in summer 2020. Attractive gray Bedford cord and wool broadcloth upholstery and fresh carpets give it a very authentic look. 1931 was the first year Cadillac got serious about interior styling, with the gauges now clustered in a single instrument panel instead of across the dashboard and there’s a lovely Art-Deco applique that works wonderfully with the highly stylized gauges. Woodgrained details add a bit of warmth and the giant steering wheel makes this big car easy to manage. Standard controls include headlight and throttle levers on the steering wheel hub, along with the usual spark and choke knobs on the dashboard itself. You may also note the large knob just to the left of the steering column as well as the trigger-like device on the shifter—both for the operation of the Borg-Warner overdrive unit mounted amidships. For touring, this car also includes aftermarket turn signals that utilize the fender lights and taillights for visibility, and in 1931, the windshield wipers were electric, so they’re reliable. The back seat is spacious and just as beautifully trimmed and the doors feature restored knobs and handles that sparkle against the fresh broadcloth. There are few cars better outfitted for vintage touring than this Cadillac.

Cadillac’s familiar flathead V8 engine was revised for 1931, now displacing 353 cubic inches and making 95 horsepower. New engine mounts similar to those used on the V16 made it even smoother than before and the intake was now fitted with a silencer/air filter assembly. Cosmetic covers on the park plugs help give the V8 a familial resemblance to the OHV V12 and V16 and the exhaust manifolds were porcealainized in gloss black. Rebuilt during the ‘80s restoration, it starts and runs superbly and has been a reliable tour car for decades, never failing to finish a drive. It remains almost completely stock under the hood, including the ultra-rare bakelite distributor cap—the only notable modification is an electric fuel pump in place of the original vacuum tank. It works rather well, insuring fast starts and practically eliminating vapor lock. The engine bay is tidy, albeit not detailed for show any longer, but all the critical parts are there, including the rare carburetor cover and aluminum cooling fan. If you like to drive, this Cadillac is a wonderful choice.

That driving experience is enhanced by Cadillac’s industry-changing synchromesh 3-speed manual transmission, which shifts as easily as any modern gearbox. Clutch action is light and there’s enough torque to make most downshifts unnecessary. This car has also been fitted with a Borg-Warner overdrive unit that neatly integrates into the factory torque tube and provides a 30% overdrive so it cruises at 65 MPH with ease. Better yet, the overdrive is 100% mechanical, so there are no electrical issues, no solenoids to fail, and no control switches to add complexity. Simply accelerate to 30 MPH in high gear, push in the knob on the instrument panel to engage free-wheeling, and pull the trigger on the shifter to activate the overdrive. Since it’s mechanical, the system is disengaged simply by depressing the clutch. A fantastic upgrade that completely transforms the driving experience—it’s always relaxed and cruises effortlessly. The suspension is remarkably supple, abetted by the long 134-inch wheelbase and leaf springs that were wrapped in metal gaiters for the first time in 1931, ensuring a quiet, smooth ride. The exhaust has a great V8 sound that’s still Cadillac-appropriate and the 4-wheel brakes are massive and effective. Six red wire wheels were refinished a few years ago and fitted with 7.00-18 Firestone wide whitewall tires.

Extras include the aforementioned spare trunk, jack assembly, a lot of freshly re-chromed handles and knobs, service records, and more.

Early ‘30s Cadillacs are wonderful cars, and this car’s overdrive transforms it into a legitimate high-speed cruiser that can run with the big boys. An extremely high-quality restoration that has aged appropriately and has been properly maintained makes this car versatile, welcome at shows but at home on the road. Reliability is excellent and it’s remarkably easy to drive given its size and weight. It also offers a known history dating back nearly 60 years. Just a fantastic all-around Full Classic that is ready to enjoy immediately. Call now!

Harwood Motors always recommends and welcomes personal or professional inspections of any car in our inventory prior to purchase.

Vehicle: 1931 Cadillac 355-A Town Sedan
Price: $49,900
Stock Number: 117125
Mileage: 61,976
VIN: 806220
Engine: 353 cubic inch V8
Transmission: 3-speed manual + overdrive
Gear Ratio: 4.09
Wheelbase: 134 inches
Wheels: 18-inch wire wheels
Tires: 700-18 Firestone wide whitewall
Exterior Color: Gray and Black
Interior Color: Gray Bedford cord
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