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
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
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
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.