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The House of Cadillac:
Chateau Bradbury, December 1, 2002
by Tom Hall

     The current owner of Chateau Bradbury, Scot Anderson, is one of us at heart. He took something that was in danger of decaying beyond the point of no return and saved it. In this case, what he saved is a big, fine house which was built just before World War One. The restoration could easily have been a season of This Old House. (See www.chateaubradbury.com and click on “history”.)
     Our event was at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend. The Cadillac family that came together at Chateau Bradbury spanned 60 years, but as is typical of family gatherings, some family members commanded more attention than others. Much of the doting was over the two V-12 and two V-16 cars which were the focal points of the display. They looked perfectly at home in front of the large house.
     Ralph Miller and his son, Ralph, were kind enough to bring his 1931 V-12 convertible coupe. Mr. Miller used to be in the auto salvage business and saved this car from ruin. The car originally had a front seat for a short man and that has been replaced, but virtually everything else has been restored, including the original two-tone color scheme of dark gray and khaki. This car made its Southern California Region début at this event.
     Behind this sporty member of the family was the grande dame. Jack and Carol Frank had their 1935 V-12 town car transported to Chateau Bradbury for our enjoyment. It had been at the Grand National in August and is the subject of an in-depth article in the Self-Starter Annual for 1977. The driver’s umbrella is still in its sleeve in the front compartment. Although some of the car has had restoration work, a little gold plating on some of the

hardware is about all that has been replaced in the rear compartment.
 
     This car was made for a woman. Thus, the rear compartment has a hidden vanity. Perhaps madam was strict; the radio was kept under lock and key.
     Paul and Mary Schinnerer brought the favorite uncle of the Cadillac family, their 1930 V-16 All-Weather Phaeton, with a La Salle escort driven by Jeff Denhart. This V-16 is a double rescue story. Paul first rescued the wreck from the desert, then had to rescue it again from an interloper who made off with it after he had bought it. Paul was able to track it down, prove that he had title, take delivery, and then begin a lengthy restoration.
     This car has a magic radio; what comes out of it is from the early thirties. And, Paul dressed for the period as well.
     What might be called the black sheep of the family due to its underrated blackwall tires, Robert Robin’s V-16 seven-passenger sedan was originally purchased by a doctor. The doctor bought it at the opulent showroom on Van Ness in San Francisco. It is one of just 52 V-16s made for 1940. Although the car does not stop on a dime, Robert says he enjoys driving it.
     One of the most remarkable things about the display of V-12s and V-16s at Chateau Bradbury was its balance. Both types of V-16 engines were represented; the four bodies were of varied styles; even the colors were not too redundant.
     After the guided tours of the four cars, we had show-and-tell on the patio. Rick Miller, a son of the man who brought the V-12 convertible coupe, told us a little about the literature business.

He has found that auto literature is cleaner and usually easier to store than antique auto parts, and his best customers have a general love of antique cars and buy paper dealing with various makes.
     Herb Deeks is a plastic modeler and die-cast model collector. He has been known to buy a die-cast model and modify it with parts from other models. He likes the Pyro 1/32nd scale 1909 Model 30 for a kit of a very early Cadillac.
     At a tender age, Jim Powers won a Fisher Body Craftsman Guild Award in 1952. His entry was prescient, with the vertical windshield posts that were used on GM’s 1953-6 production cars. In his first career, he helped to design the 1961 Thunderbird, Mustang and mid-sixties Continentals. A big collector of models, he mentioned that certain promotional models, even if warped, can now fetch $300 to $500 if everything else about them is mint.
     Roy Schneider talked briefly about Cadillac books which have been published in recent years. One of his own on V-16 cars is long out of print and fought over on eBay.
     It is unlikely that bartenders Gay Mitchell and Diane Cholakian, chef Ed Cholakian, Angie Musson or Gary Falasco got to see much of the cars because they were busy preparing the food and drinks. Tom Musson later remarked on the healthy appetites of our membership. Fortunately, it was possible to have an extended cocktail hour, and dinner was served from about 5:15.
     This was an unusual event for our region, and would be difficult to reproduce in the near future. In that respect, it was the perfect end to the Cadillac Centennial year.

 


The Millers arrive in a 1931 Cadillac V-12 convertible coupe.


Paul Schinnerer dressed in a style of 1930 to go with his V-16.


To the manor born. It is easy to see why Jack and Carol Frank’s 1935 V-12 town car has taken top honors in the CLC and elsewhere.
Courtesy Michael Dubos

Robert Robin’s V-16 is a 1940 model but was made with a 1939 chassis; for 1940, Cadillac was simply using up the V-16 chassis it had on hand. This car was ordered without a radio or sidemounts.

These could just as easily be the guests’ cars at a garden party in 1947.

Mr. and Mrs. Frank by their 1935 town car.
Paul Cox’s 1956 Eldorado Biarritz

John Farrar’s 1958 Eldorado Brougham was sent to France when new. It was apparently ordered with certain brightwork deleted.

Angie Musson, Ed Cholakian and a guest.
Courtesy of Michael Dubos.

 

 
 
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