Back in 2003 Cadillac came out with the Cadillac Sixteen, a concept car equipped with a huge 13.6L V16 meant to showcase Cadillac’s new-found mojo and to gauge the public’s reaction to the brand’s direction. The timing wasn’t right just yet, but in recent years we’ve had the Ciel and the Elmiraj leading up to the recently announced production CT6. Alas, none of them have a V16.
In another time, a V16 Cadillac was the right idea. Anxious to take the American luxury lead from Packard, Cadillac was the first American manufacturer to develop a sixteen-cylinder car. The 165-horsepower 452ci motor wasn’t high on power (compared to, let’s say, a Duesenberg), but it wasn’t short of smoothness. Offered with 10 body styles by Fleetwood and Fisher (plus others if you wanted an outside coach builder to handle the design), a V16 Cadillac was a true bespoke vehicle available in just about any color and any manner of personalization − all for a $6500 starting price. That’s about ten times more expensive than a Chevrolet.
While the time was right for Cadillac, the timing was for America was wrong due to the stock market crash of 1929. Initial V16 sales were quite good at over 3,000 through 1931, but afterwards sales fell drastically and, by swan-song 1940, production was in double digits.
The above 1931 Cadillac V16 is a permanent fixture of the GM Heritage Center.