Considered by experts as the Holy Grail of Cadillac V-16 automobiles, the 1931 Sports Phaeton was at the time of its introduction a phenomenon. An aurora of majesty continues to surround this vehicle as it is difficult to find another motor car that surpasses its distinctive style, design and monstrous sixteen cylinder engine.
The sport phaeton is easily identifiable by its unique retractable dual windshield and rear fascia that features both a chronometer and speedometer.
From 1931 through 1940 Cadillac produced sixteen-cylinder engines. The 1931 was first displayed to the automotive community at the Detroit Opera House prior to the Detroit Auto Show. This was the largest number of cylinders to power an automobile of all time. The hood that housed the engine was intimidating, larger and longer than any other vehicle. Up to this point, there were only a few manufacturers that produced a twelve-cylinder engine, mechanical achievements in their own right. The introduction of the sixteen-cylinder engine was historical and seen as revolutionary at the time.
Up to the 1990's there have only been three manufacturers of a sixteen cylinder engine. The Bugatti Type 47 never made series production while the Marmon Corporation offering was short lived. In comparison, the Marmon built V-16 was more powerful. By using aluminum, the 491 cubic-inch engine with its overhead values weighed just over 900 pounds. The engine was formed by merging twin-eight cylinder engines in a 45-degree angle, giving the engine an impressive look and an astonishing 200 horsepower. The use of steel cylinder sleeves added to the longevity and durability of the engine. The V-16 engine earned Howard Marmon the Society of Automotive Engineers annual design award.
Only 20 percent of the total V-16 production of approximately 4,397 was bodied in open or convertible form, the example here being one of just 86 sport phaetons built.
The 6,200 pound car was no challenge for the colossal V-16 engine. It had the capacity to reach speeds of up to 100 mph, with a synchromesh transmission and vacuum assisted brakes. The V-16 engines achieved 8 miles to the gallon. This 1931 Cadillac had a base price of $6,500.00.