Image credits: © Cadillac. GM Corp.

1937 Cadillac Series 90 V16

Vehicle Profiles

1937 Cadillac Series 90 V16 vehicle information

Imperial Sedan

Chassis Num: 5130313

The Cadillac V16 was a magnificent automobile, but it was not immune to the worsening of the Great Depression. As the 1930s progressed, the V16 Cadillac's became more and more difficult to sell. Ownership of these exclusive and pricy vehicles were ge....[continue reading]

1937 Cadillac Series 90 V16 vehicle information

Convertible Sedan
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Grand Style of the Late 1930's....[continue reading]

1937 Cadillac Series 90 V16 vehicle information

Aero-Dynamic Coupe
Coachwork: Fleetwood

The 'Aero-Dynamic Coupe' was introduced as a prototype at the 1932 World's Fair, and joined the Cadillac lineup as a production model in 1933. The V-16 models were built on a massive 154 cubic-inch wheelbase chassis, the longest ever used on a Cadil....[continue reading]

1937 Cadillac Series 90 V16 vehicle information

Sedan

The 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 extinguished sales. All were finished to custom order, and the car was built in very small numbers; only 4,076 cars were co....[continue reading]

1937 Cadillac Series 90 V16 vehicle information

Aero-Dynamic Coupe
Coachwork: Fleetwood

In 1937, Cadillac was in the last year of production of its legendary first generation 45-degree V-16 motor. (A new 135-degree Sixteen was slated for the start of the 1938 model year.) The first generation V-16 is widely regarded as the quintessent....[continue reading]

1937 Cadillac Series 90 V16 vehicle information

Stationary Coupe
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Like many expensive cars of the era, this magnificent Cadillac was a 'statement' by its original owner, in this case, George Hummel of the Lorillard Tobacco Company. It is built on a massive 154-inch wheelbase chassis (largest available at the time)....[continue reading]

1937 Cadillac Series 90 V16 vehicle information

Convertible Sedan
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Chassis Num: 5130349

1937 was the last year Cadillac offered its overhead-valve V-16 engine and produced only twenty cars so equipped. Only five V-16 convertible sedans were built during that year and this example is the very last one produced. Cadillac made big news wit....[continue reading]

1937 Cadillac Series 90 V16 vehicle information

Imperial Cabriolet

There were fewer than 50 Cadillac V16s produced in 1937, and this example is one of only two Imperial Cabriolets. This imposing car was custom-built for Edgar Mannix, the executive vice president and general manager of MGM Studios. He frequently used....[continue reading]

Limousine (Modified V Windshield
Coachwork: Fleetwood

Chassis Num: 5130347
Engine Num: 5130347

This Cadillac was the third-from-last of the first Generation V-16 built and one of only 49 cars assembled in the original V-16's last year of production. Of these, 24 were produced as the seven-passenger limousine by Fleetwood. This particular examp....[continue reading]

1937 Cadillac Series 90 V16 vehicle information

Cabriolet
Coachwork: Hartmann

In 1937 Cadillac built fifty of their most expensive Series 90 V-16 chassis, and all but two were bodied in-house by Fleetwood. This chassis was delivered to Lausanne, Switzerland, to be bodied by Carrosserie Hartmann per an order by local resident P....[continue reading]

Imperial Sedan
Chassis #: 5130313 
Convertible Sedan by Fleetwood
 
Aero-Dynamic Coupe by Fleetwood
 
Sedan
 
Aero-Dynamic Coupe by Fleetwood
 
Stationary Coupe by Fleetwood
 
Convertible Sedan by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 5130349 
Imperial Cabriolet
 
Limousine (Modified V Windshield by Fleetwood
Chassis #: 5130347 
Cabriolet by Hartmann
 

History

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
Model Year Changes

  • Hydraulic brakes

  • Concepts by Cadillac

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    Cadillac Monthly Sales Volume

    March 2018
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    February 2018
    12,338
    January 2018
    9,895
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