Image credits: © Cadillac. GM Corp.

1931 Cadillac 452A V-16 news, pictures, specifications, and information
Drophead Victoria by Lancefield
Coachwork: Lancefield
Built to each customer's individual taste, the V16 became an American icon of prestige and helped the company out-perform Packard and their V12. The introductory brochure proudly claimed 'Sixteen-cylinder powering, complete individuality in style that, in brief, is the story of the Cadillac V16.' It was named after its 452 cubic-inch displacement and produced 185 bhp which was good for 100 mph. The selling price was $6,650 with only 50 units made per year. The customer could choose between 70 or so in detail.

This car was specially built for the 1931 London Auto Show at Earls Court. It remained in England for more than 60 years in the hands of the original family before it was brought to the United States in the late 1990s. It is one of about a dozen right-hand drive V16s sent to Europe in 1931 to be custom bodied. Some stayed in Europe and some were sent to India. This one-of-a-kind V16 was custom built by Lancefield of London.
Sport Phaeton Style
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Cadillac had largely failed to make headway against Packard, while Lincoln - bolstered by Edsel Ford's attractive new bodies - were gaining ground. Cadillacs were relatively boring, with old technology and stodgy styling.  [Read More...]
Sport Phaeton Style
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Chassis Num: 702797
Sold for $495,000 at 2006 RM Auctions.
There has always been pressure and competition to continue to improve the automotive product. During the 1920s and 1930s, this was no different. In many respects, the General Motors division was doing an exceptional job outdoing, or keeping up with  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2007
All-Weather Phaeton
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Leading the way in the 'cylinder wars' was Cadillac, which introduced its V-16 in January of 1930. That was followed in September with a V-12 to complement the existing V-8. The V-16 displaced 452 cubic-inches (hence the 452 designation) and develope  [Read More...]
Coachwork: Fleetwood
When introduced at the January 1930 New York Auto Salon the Cadillac Sixteen raised the bar for American luxury automobile manufacturers. This car had it all - smooth ride, marvelous engine, luxurious appointments and a striking design (inspired by   [Read More...]
All-Weather Phaeton
Coachwork: Fleetwood
The 16-cylinder Cadillac engine was the product of the mind of Owen Milton Nacker. Lawrence Fisher recruited Nacker, from outside of GM, to design this engine. The logic, at the time, was that GM was busily preparing a V-12 engine, which they were, N  [Read More...]
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Among the most significant announcements made in the American automobile industry late in 1929 was the letter that Cadillac President Lawrence Fisher dispatched to his dealers and the motoring press on December 10th. A new sixteen-cylinder Cadillac w  [Read More...]
Sport Phaeton Style
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Chassis Num: 452A703249
The Cadillac Sixteen carried an overhead-valve, 452-cubic-inch engine, which produced 165 horsepower and 320 pounds/feet of torque. One of the undoubted greats in an era of great cars, the Sixteen was theoretically available in 33 different models,   [Read More...]
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Chassis Num: 702368
This 1931 Cadillac V-16 Roadster was offered for sale at the 2007 Christie's auction of 'Exceptional Motor Cars at the Monterey Jet Center.' It is finished in maroon with black canvas top and gray leather interior. Power is from the overhead valve   [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2007
All-Weather Phaeton
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Cadillac's break through V-16 engine marked a continuation of engine leadership that began with Cadillac's introduction of the first mass produced V-8 in 1914. This magnificent engine delivered its considerable power with smoothness unmatched in the  [Read More...]
All-Weather Phaeton
Coachwork: Fleetwood
At the dawn of the 1930's the cylinder race was on, and Cadillac produced arguably the greatest with its massive 452 cubic-inch V16. Not only was this a powerful engine, but it was also elegantly styled with polished enamel paint, plated accents, hi  [Read More...]
Sport Phaeton Style
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Chassis Num: 702401
Engine Num: 702401
Sold for $363,000 at 2006 RM Auctions.
High bid of $475,000 at 2008 RM Auctions. (did not sell)
Sold for $410,000 at 2010 Gooding & Company.
This 1931 Cadillac V16 Sport Phaeton is one of only 18 Sport Phaeton V16's in existence. It is fitted with body number 42 and style 4260. It was sent to Cadillac's Philadelphia branch on July 19th of 1930. The Depression made it difficult to sell the  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2010
Coachwork: Fleetwood
The vehicle of choice for the country club playboy set of 1931, the Roadster was the lightest body offered on the Cadillac V-16 chassis and hence the most spirited in performance. This style could be ordered with an optional high-speed rear-end rati  [Read More...]
Convertible Coupe
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Cadillac introduced its V-16 powered automobile in November 1930 and took the automotive world by storm. The engine was a 45-degree, overhead valve design, displacing 452 cubic-inches and developing 175-185 horsepower.  [Read More...]
All-Weather Phaeton
Coachwork: Fleetwood
There were a total of 3,251 1930/31 V16s built in approximately 70 different body styles. There were 250 of this body style (Style 4380) all weather phaetons built and it was the fifth most popular style. This car's body number is 175. This body s  [Read More...]
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Chassis Num: 702879
Sold for $104,500 at 2008 RM Auctions.
This 1931 Cadillac Series 452 4100 V16 Seven-Passenger Imperial Sedan has coachwork by Fleetwood. It has the 'Madame X' raked windshield configuration and includes dual Pilot Ray driving lamps, a radiator stone guard, dual side-mounted spare tires,   [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2008
Sport Phaeton Style
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Chassis Num: 702406
Engine Num: 7-2246
Sold for $484,000 at 2004 RM Auctions.
Sold for $632,500 at 2009 Gooding & Company.
This Sport Phaeton was sent to its first owner in Brookline, Massachusetts, through the local distributor, Boston Cadillac, LaSalle and Oldsmobile. By the late 1940's, the car had been sold and was in the care of its next owner. It was sold in 1950  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2009
All-Weather Phaeton
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Chassis Num: 703110
Sold for $231,000 at 2009 Worldwide Auctioneers.
The Cadillac V16 engine had a small 3-inch bore, allowing Cadillac to place the cylinders close together, minimizing the engine's length and the length of the crankshaft. The crank ran in five main bearings and the combination of the short crankshaf  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | May 2009
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Chassis Num: 703118
Sold for $418,000 at 2010 RM Auctions.
This Fleetwood bodied V-16 Roadster was given a restoration in the mid-1990s. It is finished in two-tone brown with light brown wire wheels, a tan canvas top, and dark tan leather inetioer. The odometer indicates 38 miles, which appears consistent wi  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2010
Boattail Convertible
Coachwork: Pininfarina
Battista Farina was born in 1893, the tenth of eleven children, and he was consequently called 'Pinin' Farina, meaning 'baby of the family.' He worked as an apprentice with the family coachbuilding firm of Farina before founding his own company in 19  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2015
Sport Phaeton Style
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Chassis Num: 702677
Engine Num: 702677
Sold for $465,000 at 2012 RM Auctions.
There were 85 examples of Fleetwood's Style 4260 Sport Phaeton built on the Cadillac V-16 chassis, and three examples were built to order with folding rear cowls. They are chassis number 702682 with body number 8, 702691 with body no. 7, and this exa  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2012
Coachwork: Fisher
The Cadillac V16 debuted right after the stock market crash at the New York Auto Show in January, 1930. It became the first production road car to use the V16, which both Marmon and Peerless were also trying to launch.  [Read More...]
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Engine Num: 702891
Sold for $319,000 at 2015 RM Auctions.
Prior to the 1930s, Bugatti was the sole automaker to produce a 16-cylinder engine, which had been accomplished by bolting two 8-cylinder inline engines together. The engine was originally intended for aircraft use. On January 4th of 1930, Cadillac i  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2015
Coachwork: Fleetwood
The Cadillac V-16 was the top-of-the-line car for most of the 1930s. All of these models were custom ordered and very few were made. The majority of the V-16s were made in 1930, with others manufactured until production ceased in 1940.  [Read More...]
Coachwork: Fleetwood
This prime example of luxurious American coach craft is said to serve its owners in two distinct ways. With the division glass in position, it becomes a formal chauffeur-driven automobile ready to take its occupants to the classiest of events. With t  [Read More...]
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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Image Left 1930 Series 452A V161932 452B V16 Image Right
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