THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1939 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 owned by Jim Barnes
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
If you were super-rich or a dignitary in pre-World War II America and wanted a car to match your status, a Fleetwood 75 convertible sedan was the way to go. These were mammoth open cars, stretching almost 12 feet from axle to axle, weighing nearly 5,000 lbs. and carrying five to eight people in extreme comfort. And they were rare. “There were only 36 made and there are only 14 left in the world,” Barnes says of his ride. “This car led the Rose Bowl parade for about 20 years and then it somehow came east. Someone put the jump seats in the back, and it was painted blue and the interior was changed to tan. There are three sets of seatbelts in the back because one of the owners had triplet girls.”
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
WHERE HE FOUND IT
He bought it from a Florida owner through a well-known auctioneer, who knew that Barnes had 13 grandchildren and liked to transport them in large classic cars.
“I basically repaired it,” says Barnes. “It had been repainted and the upholstery was good. I put the wood trim back on, had the glass fixed and it was ready to go.” He also installed a new convertible top at McCoys Upholstery, his Queens restoration shop.
TIPS FOR OWNERS
“If I was going to get into the hobby as a brand-new person,” he advises, “I would start with a Model A (Ford). There are plenty of them, the parts are available, there’s a big club and they’re lots of fun. Then, you can move up to the classics. They’re bigger, they’re heavier and they’re much more expensive,” although he says the Cadillac is “easy to maintain.”
He puts the value somewhere north of $100,000.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“I particularly have lots of fun with this car because I have tons of grandchildren,” says Barnes. “I’m not a ‘do not touch’ person. I’d rather drive the cars. And I pile them all in and we go to games – football, soccer and lacrosse. With lacrosse, I’m not too happy with the sticks, but we put them in the trunk.”