Cadillac V-16

Historians still puzzle over Cadillac’s decision to build a sixteen-cylinder car. The company was well established as a quality builder of V-8s, and aside from Marmon, which was not a serious foe, other American luxury manufacturers, particularly Cadillac’s viable competitors Packard, Lincoln and Pierce-Arrow, were content with twelves. One motivation seems to have been the desire to build the finest motor car in the world. The company’s own advertising attempted to explain it thus: “The story of the V-16’s ascendency is an interesting one. In the first place, this car had its inception in the avowed determination of the General Motors Corporation to produce the world’s finest motor car. And while the creation and development of this super car was entrusted to Cadillac, there was made available for the purpose every facility that General Motors itself possessed. No restriction of any nature was permitted to interfere with, or in any way hinder, the realization of the fundamental purpose – to produce the finest medium of personal transportation on earth.”

Subtle changes were made for 1932: a longer wheelbase, new carburetors, a mechanical fuel pump, heavier axles and larger brakes. A vacuum-operated automatic clutch was introduced along with free-wheeling. Also new were adjustable shock absorbers operated from the dashboard. Silent helical gears were now used in all Cadillac transmissions. Technical changes for 1933 were modest: smaller wheels and other minor updates. It was the styling for which the ’33s would forever be known. Many collectors consider this design, with its triple cone horns, four blade bumpers, available stainless body and fender trim and many other details taken together, to be an Art Deco masterpiece.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in July of 2011 at The Inn at St. John's, Plymouth, Michigan.

165 bhp, 452 cu. in. overhead valve V-16 engine with three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel vacuum-assisted mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 149".

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel

Gallery: Cadillac V-16