Image credits: © Cadillac. GM Corp.

1934 Cadillac 452D V16 news, pictures, specifications, and information
Convertible Coupe (Modified V Windshield)
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Designer: Harley Earl
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 hurt sales. All were finished to custom order, an the model was built in very small numbers; only 4,076 cars were constructed in the eleven years the model was offered. The majority of these were built in the single years of 1930, before the Great Depression really took hold. This was the first V-16 powered car to reach production status in the United States.

The 1934 catalog listed 52 Cadillac V16 body styles, yet only 56 were produced.

This one and only example of outstanding American coachwork by Fleetwood is the graceful 1934 Victoria Styled Convertible Coupe. Long, sleek and perfectly proportioned in every detail, these Cadillacs were the largest cars produced in the U.S. at that time. The 21-foot 6-inch vehicle rides on a 154 inch wheelbase, is powered by the V16 engine producing 185 horsepower, coupled to a three-speed synchromesh transmission and weighs 6,100 pounds. Other

This Cadillac features telescopic bumpers, bumper guards, wheel shields, Delco master radio and a V-16 185 horsepower engine with a 3-speed synchromesh transmission (a Cadillac invention in 1927).

The original owner shipped this Cadillac to Paris, France several times on extended trips. This car also holds the honor of being the centerfold of the GM book, 'The First 75 Years of Transportation Products.'
Convertible Sedan w/Divider (Modified V Windshield)
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Designer: Harley Earl
Engine Num: 5100038
Sold for $825,000 at 2013 RM Sothebys.
The Cadillac 452D was designed by the legendary Harley Earl and was first debuted at the 1933 Chicago World Fair. It was powered by a V-16 engine placed in the front and powering the rear wheels. Large 15 inch mechanical drum brakes were placed on al  [Read More...]
Aerodynamic Coupe (Modified V Windshield)
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Designer: Harley Earl
Chassis Num: 5100034
Sold for $616,000 at 2007 Gooding & Company.
Depending on coachwork, the 452 Cadillac's could reach a top speed of 100 mph. They had massive amounts of torque, smooth acceleration and quiet ride. This large engine was used to carry the equally large coachwork, resting on a platform that measu  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | May 2008
Convertible Coupe (Modified V Windshield)
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Designer: Harley Earl
Only 56 Cadillac V16s were built during 1934 and this is one of the most unique and unusual. The 154-inch wheelbase offered what has to be the most substantial underpinning for a two-passenger coupe, but the result is a car that exudes an almost sin  [Read More...]
Convertible Sedan w/Divider (Modified V Windshield)
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Designer: Harley Earl
Designed for the Edgewater Beach Hotel Auto Show, Chicago Il, this automobile was purchased from the floor of the General Motors Rotunda at the 1933-1934 Chicago World's Fair. Originally owned by the Williams family, of Western and Southern Life Ins  [Read More...]
Custom Roadster
In 1934, Fleetwood Coachbuilders, by then a division of Cadillac, published its 'Annual Book of Fleetwood' in which were featured three custom designs that could be built on a 16-cylinder chassis by special order. This was an attempt to bolster very   [Read More...]
Carrozzeria, Italian meaning coachbuilder, is an individual or company that bodies carriages or automobiles. The name in German is Karosserie. These skills were needed during the early part of the 1900's to fabricate enclosures for rolling chassis. The materials used were mostly wooden or metal. As the evolution of automobile production evolved, manufacturers brought the design and development in-house, making individual coachbuilders a dying breed.

Unibody construction has mostly eliminated the need for coachbuilders. Many coachbuilders were purchased or merged by the automobile manufacturers. Others became highly specialized and worked on a contract basis, mostly for high priced, luxury automobiles.

Fleetwood Metal Body was a coachbuilder during the early 1900s. The name is from Fleetwood, Pennsylvania the birthplace of the company. They specialized in the production of wood and metal bodies. They were large and luxurious and often purchased by the rich and famous. Fleetwood was purchased by Fisher Body in 1925 and integrated into General Motors in 1931.

The luxury segment of General Motors was Cadillac, so it was only natural that Fleetwood would aide in the design and creation of bodies for the Cadillac marque. In 1927 the name appeared on Cadillac's representing their top of the line vehicles. In 1946 Cadillac offered an upscale version of its Series 60, dubbed the Series 60 Special Fleetwood. The name was later used on the Series 70 and Sixty Special models through 1976. The name continued to appear on Cadillac vehicles as late as 1996.
By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2012
Convertible Sedan w/Divider (Modified V Windshield)
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Designer: Harley Earl
Engine Num: 5100040
Sold for $550,000 at 2012 Gooding & Company.
Mr. Thomas H.W. Stonborough placed an order for a new 1934 Cadillac V-16 through the New York Cadillac agency. Specified with Fleetwood style number 5780, the V-16 was completed as a five-passenger convertible sedan with a Vee'd windscreen and divide  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2012
Henry Martin Leland and his son Wilfred were partly responsible with making Cadillac one of the finest of all American Automobiles. Henry was renowned for his precision engineering and for standardizing manufacturing. He helped make Cadillac into one of the finest of all American Automobiles. Later, he founded Lincoln. Even after the Leland's departed from Cadillac, the marque remained a top-of-the-line figure.

Cadillac did not rely on four- or six-cylinder power. Every one of the company's cars was fitted with a V engine of 8, 12 or 16 cylinders. They were smooth and powerful.

During the late 1920s, the cylinder race was in full force. Cadillac's engineer Owen Knacker was tasked with developing a V16 engine that would keep Cadillac at the fore-front of the race. Their hopes were to displace Packard at the top of the luxury car market.

From 1930 through 1940 Cadillac produced a monsterous sixteen-cylinder engine. It 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.

The Cadillac V-16 was the first and remained in production for eleven years.

A new sixteen-cylinder engine was introduced by Cadillac in 1938. This was not their first V16 enigne; their first had been designed by engineer, Owen Nacker of Marmon fame. It had an overhead valve design and mounted at a 45-degree to one another. Each back of the sixteen cylinders had their own exhaust and fuel system. The engine featured hydraulic valve adjusters that helped with the silent valve train operation. The exterior of the engine was equally as impressive, with all the wiring and hoses concealed under cover and finished in chrome, polished aluminum, porcelain and baked enamel. The result was a 452 cubic-inch engine that was nearly unmatched in the industry at the time.

A V12 version followed shortly after the introduction of the V16; it displaced 368 cubic-inches and was basically three-quarters of a V16. Both of these engines remained in production through 1937. The V12 did not resume production for 1938. A new engine was introduced in 1938 and that very different than its predecessors. It was an L-head design, cast in a 135-degree vee, and featured a monobloc design. The was easier and more economical to manfacutre and it weighed 250 pounds less, had 21 fewer cubic-inches, but developed the same power.

The V12 engine was used to power the Series 85 for 1937. The Series 75 and Series 85 were the same vehicle, with the exception of the powerplant. The Series 75 used a V8 engine. In 1938 the V12 was discontinued, and the V16 took its place. The sixteen-cylinder cars were shortened to a length similar to the Series 75, and the chassis and bodies were interchangeable.

There were twelve bodystyles available, including coupes, convertible coupes, and sedans, as well as the larger seven-passenger sedans and limousines. These larger vehicles were called Formal Sedans or Imperial sedans depending on whether they had a division partition.

The Series 90 experienced its best year in 1938 with 315 examples built. The five-passenger Touring Sedan was the most popular, with 41 sold.

In 1939, the front of the V8 Cadillacs were midly updated. The grille was raked back and the headlights were now mounted to the nose and flush with the top of the grille. Chrome moldings were added to the running boards and the fender ornamentaion was now fully chromed. The rear license plate was moved from the left fender to the trunk lid.

There were a total of 138 V16 cars produced in 1939. Few changes or modifications to the car followed for 1940. A total of 61 V16 cars were built this would be the final year for their production. A total of 4,400 examples were built over an eleven year period.
By Daniel Vaughan | May 2008
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