The first featured cars at RM Sotheby’s 2020 Arizona auction are pretty big: seven Cadillac V-16 variants from the collection of renowned enthusiast John D. Groendyke. That’s 112 cylinders of pre-war luxury, at no reserve.
The RM auction is scheduled for January 16–17 at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.
Groendyke, of Enid, Oklahoma, has been a passionate collector since the early 1990s. According to RM, during the last 10 years he built a collection of the most significant Cadillac V-16 body styles and model years—17 in total. Groendyke’s cars have won numerous awards on the concours circuit, including honors at Pebble Beach, Amelia Island, and Concours of America.
“Mr. Groendyke is a gentleman collector known for his well-maintained cars,” RM wrote in a press release. “He has collected the best available examples and spares no expense to ensure they function the way they’re meant to, often driving his cars and using them on tours as much as on the show field… He has thoroughly enjoyed his collection of Cadillac V-16s and is now ready to pass along a portion of it to other enthusiastic collectors.”
The V-16 was Cadillac’s most exotic engine, an engineering tour de force at a time when four- and six-cylinder engines were the norm and V-8s were exclusive to luxury automobiles. Packard was all but untouchable with its Twin Six V-12, until Cadillac unveiled its V-16 in 1930.
The huge 16-cylinder power plant is essentially two engines sharing a crankcase and crankshaft. Displacing 7.4 liters overall, the V-16 mustered 165 horsepower. It was not only a technical masterpiece; it was a visual one too, with a sleek, uncluttered design. Cadillacs of the time had a 148-inch wheelbase, which grew to 154 inches by 1934, and buyers had a seemingly endless list of body styles to choose from—54, in fact.
These seven, all bodied by Fleetwood, will be offered at RM Sotheby’s Arizona auction.
This exceptional example is restored in striking two-tone colors and is a fully matching-numbers car with its original chassis, engine, axles, and coachwork. The Sport Phaeton was owned for three decades by CCCA member Walden J. Schmitz, who purchased it from the estate of its original owner in the early 1960s. Schmitz restored the car and took it to CCCA meets into the early 1970s, after which he put it on display in his living room. It was sold from his estate in 1998. The car is believed to have had four owners during its nine decades of existence.
One of only six built, this well-maintained Series 452-D sedan was restored by Steve Babinsky years ago while in the ownership of Dr. Barbara Atwood. Still stunning in its factory-correct color of Diana Cream, the sedan sold for $605,000 at RM’s Fort Worth auction in 2015.
Formerly a part of the Fred Weber and Aaron Weiss collections, the Phaeton (engine #5000082) has been restored with a correct Fleetwood body. A similar model (engine #5000116), which was also owned by Groendyke, sold for $506,000 at Gooding’s 2012 Amelia Island Auction.
One of only 50 built and the sole survivor in this style, this beautiful 1936 Town Sedan is sporting a well-preserved 30-year-old restoration by Fran Roxas. Formerly a part of the William Ruger Jr. Collection, it sold for $247,000 at RM’s St. John’s (Michigan) Auction in 2012.
Splendid in red, the drop-top is a very rare second-generation V-16, one of only seven built. It was formerly in the long-term ownership of Bob Hannay, who once described the convertible coupe as “remarkably smooth. It’s just a quiet, big, lovely hunk of iron.”
Among the finest original, unrestored V-16s, this beautifully preserved Imperial Sedan has known history from new. The survivor car was formerly owned by noted restorer “Cadillac Jim” Pearson. Even if you’re not prepared to bid, you’ll want to spend some time looking at the auction photos of this survivor.
The V-16 under the hood may have been the same engine as 1930–31 Cadillacs had, but the fresh and sporty ’32 Sedan by Fleetwood features a lengthened hood, lower rooflines, curvaceous fenders, and more streamlined headlamp shells. Looking grand in its original color of Viceroy Maroon, the luxurious sedan has class written all over it. The buyer might even want to hire a driver. The car sold for $220,000 at RM’s Hershey auction in 2016.