History of the V-16 Engine
A V16 engine is a v engine with 16 cylinders. Engines of this number of cylinders are uncommon in automotive use.
A V16 engine is perfectly balanced regardless of the V angle without requiring counter-rotating balancing shafts which are necessary on large Straight-4 or counterweighted crankshaft like the 90° V8. In addition angles of 45° and 135° vees are optimal solutions, for even-firing and non-split crankshaft journals.
V16s have been used in certain, very few, luxury and high-performance automobiles, mostly for their smoothness (low vibration), since it is easy to make a V8 or V12 as large and powerful as desired in an automotive application.
The Cadillac V-16 was Cadillac's top-of-the-line car from its January 1930 launch until production ceased in 1940 as the war in Europe killed sales. All were finished to custom order, and the car was built in very small numbers; only 4076 cars were constructed in the eleven years the model was offered. The majority of these were built in the single year of 1930, before the Great Depression really took hold.
Cadillac v16 Hartmann Cabriolet
This was the first V16 powered car to reach production status in the United States. In 1926, Cadillac began the development of a new, "multi-cylinder" car. A customer requirement was seen for a car powered by an engine simultaneously more powerful and smoother than any hitherto available. Development proceeded in great secrecy over the next few years; a number of prototype cars were built and tested as the new engine was developed, while at the same time Cadillac chief Lawrence Fisher and GM's stylist Harley Earl toured Europe in search of inspiration from Europe's finest coachbuilders.
Cadillac 452 V-16 Engine
Unlike many builders of luxury cars, who sold bare chassis to be clothed by outside coachbuilding firms, General Motors had purchased the coachbuilders Fleetwood and Fisher Body to keep all the business in-house. Bare Cadillac chassis could be purchased if a buyer insisted, but the intention was that few would do so.
It was not until after the stock market crash of 1929 that Cadillac announced to the world the availability of the costliest Cadillac yet, the new V-16. The new vehicle was first displayed at New York's automobile show on January 4, 1930.