“There is no power plant in any motor car so smooth, so quiet, so flexible.” Cadillac’s bold attempt to “out-cylinder” the competition commenced in January 1930 with the introduction of its magnificent 452cu (7.4 litre) V-16 overhead valve engine. The Cadillac V16 was the world’s first production sixteen cylinder passenger car, beating the rival Marmon by ten months.
Conceived in the Roaring Twenties, these Leviathans made little sense in the post-Wall Street Crash Depression years of the 1930’s, although Cadillac was able to sell in excess of 15,000 of them before the decade’s end. Harley Earl and his team used the opportunity afforded by the new V16 chassis to create some of the most sublimely beautiful automobile bodies of the period. More than 50 body styles were offered, the vast majority being “catalogue customs” by Fleetwood.
Body details unique to the V-16 or introduced with the V-16 and seen on the full 1931 line include: Single bar bumpers, dual horns, concave monogram bar, radiator screen. 13 inch Guide "Tiltray" headlights, dual rear lights matching the headlights, triple molding on dust shield panels of straight sill styles, five doors in the hood, single matching door in the side of the cowl.
Only 20 percent of the total V16 production of approximately 4,380 was bodied in open or convertible form, the example here being one of just 250 all-weather phaetons built.
The 5,690 pound car was no challenge for the colossal V6 engine. It had the capacity to reach speeds of up to 100 mph, with a synchromesh transmission and vacuum assisted brakes. This 1931 Cadillac had a base price of $7,350.