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Cadillac Index

1939 Cadillac Sixty-Special

Although the economy experienced a gradual increase from 1936 to 1937, it took a slight dive in 1938. However, the economy bounced back in 1939, which meant higher sales throughout the industry. Pointed fronts reappeared on most of this year's GM cars, and the Sixty-Special was no exception.

Cadillac's new ensemble was a three-element affair consisting of a slightly raked, prow-shaped vertical radiator flanked by grilles in the "catwalk" area between the front fenders and the main nose section. Above the catwalks were headlamps repositioned higher and closer to the central grille.

The Series 60 was replaced by the 126-inch-wheelbase Series 61, offering the same body types and many of the Sixty-Special's appearance features. Common to all 1939 Cadillacs were a

Aside from this, the Sixty-Special was largely unchanged, presumably on the grounds that it didn't pay to fool around with a winner. The policy paid off, and once again it was Cadillac's single best-selling model line. However, the series was expanded for '39 with two variations of the basic four-door: a sunroof sedan with a sliding section above the front seat area, and a limousine-like Imperial Sedan with division window as well as the sunroof.

A gorgeous Sixty-Special coupe had been built as a one-off for GM president William S. Knudsen and four convertible sedans were built experimentally for the use of other high-level execs, but neither model reached production. Chairman Sloan may have hinted at the rationale for only one basic body style when he noted that the Sixty-Special was "well received in the market and demonstrated the dollars-and-cents value of styling, for customers were ready to take smaller trade-ins [dollar amounts] on old cars to acquire it."


Cadillac had settled on the 346-cid version of the monobloc V-8 for all its eight-cylinder models except LaSalle beginning in 1937. Rated at 135 horsepower at 3400 rpm, the 346 had five more horses than the 1935 V-8 and 10 more than the one-year-only 322-cid monobloc. The Sixty-Special arrived weighing only some 230 pounds more than a comparable 1938 Series 60 sedan, so its power-to-weight ratio was less than 31 pounds per horsepower, quite good for the period. By contrast, that year's Packard Super Eight -- which, incidentally, cost $700 more than the Special -- carried nearly 35 pounds per horsepower.

For 1939, Series 61 replaced Series 60 and 65 of 1938. All V-8's had new grille styling; similar in appearance but different in detail dimensions on each series. The pointed center grille and the functional side grilles were diecast, with fine-pitch bars. A single diecast louver was positoned to the rear of each hood side panel. Headlights were once again attached to the radiator casing.

Sixty Special, now bodied by Fleetwood, was offered with optional Sunshine Turret Top or center division. These options were also available on the Series 61 Sedan. Series 61 was available with or without running boards; had concealed door hinges except for the lower front hinge; and had chrome reveals on all windows.

Chassis changes included:


Series 39-60S, 127 in. Wheelbase
Style NumberStyleSeatingPriceWeight
39-6019SSpecial Sedan521954110
39-6019S-ASpecial Sedan (STT)52245 
39-6019S-FSpecial Sedan (Div)5  

Fisher Series 39-61, 128 in. Wheelbase
Style NumberStyleSeatingPriceWeight
39-6167Convertible Coupe218553765
39-6129Convertible Sedan522653810
39-6119Transformable Sedan517653770
39-6119-ATransformable Sedan (STT)51805 
39-6119-FTransformable Sedan (Div)5  

Fleetwood series 39-75, 141 in. Wheelbase Business Cars
Style NumberStyleSeatingPriceWeight
39-7523-LBusiness Transformable Sedan832154865
39-7533-LBusiness Transformable Imperial833705025

Fleetwood Series 39-75, 141 in. Wheelbase
Style NumberStyleSeatingPriceWeight
39-7567Convertible Coupe234954675
39-7519-FImperial Sedan 532654845
39-7559Formal Sedan 541154785
39-7539Town Sedan 537504820
39-7529Convertible Sedan 540655030
39-7533Imperial Sedan 734755025
39-7533-FFormal Sedan 741155025
39-7553Town Car752455095



ModelWheelbaseOverall lengthFront TreadRear TreadTires
Series 39-60S127 in.214-1/4 in.58 in./61 in.7.00 x 16
Series 39-61126 in.207-1/4 in.58 in.59 in.7.00 x 16
Series 39-75141 in.225-1/8 in.601/2 in.62-1/2 in.7.50 x 16
Series 39-61 Commercial Chassis162-1 in.243-1/2 in. - 7.00 x 16
Series 39-75 Commercial Chassis161-3/8 in.245-3/8 in. - 7.50 x 16




NEXT: History of the 1939 Cadillac 16-cylinder
NEXT: History of the 1940 Cadillac

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Caddy Index

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