Cadillac Sixteen

From the modern perspective, the very concept of Cadillac Sixteen seems completely out of time and place. Imagine 1930s, a time when United States faced incredibly harsh crisis called the Great Depression. Millions of people were unemployed, thousands of businesses were destroyed on a daily basis and ordinary people struggled to put food on the table, let alone buy a car.

Even wealthy American became totally conservative with their investments and money, seeing the world crashing around them. Despite the circumstances there was still a luxury car market on which Cadillac wanted to succeed. It was so called penalty of leadership, as the company aspired to create the finest cars in the world.

The name derived from a unique V16 engine, special for the sixteen cylinders installed and working perfectly together. It was a great combined effort of many engineers to create this masterpiece. Remember, in those days the majority of people found four or six cylinders complex, while the eight cylinder engines were for people with deeper pockets.

The idea of Cadillac V16 was structured long before the Great Depression and company had already invested a significant amount of money in the three years of development. The goal was to overtake Packard on the American luxury car market. In the beginning, just after the stock market crash in October 1929, nobody thought that economic downturn could last entire decade. So, the Cadillac management decided to proceed, hoping the bad days will be only a short disturbance.

Other car companies also invested in similar twelve cylinder engines, such as Packard, Franklin, Lincoln, Auburn, and Pierce-Arrow. Entire development of Cadillac Sixteen model was kept in utmost secrecy. Code words, decoy engine models, different blueprints and drawings, created an impression within the company that it was supposed to be some kind of a bus or coach vehicle.

The key person in charge was Owen Milton Nacker brought to Cadillac especially for this assignment. Sixteen was officially launched at New York's automobile show on January 4, 1930 and all models produced were finished to custom order. In eleven years of production only 4076 cars were constructed, making them highly collectable today.

This amazing vehicle attracted a lot of attention from the press and general public. Initial production spiked to twenty two cars per day in rather short amount of time. Model was ordered with a variety of combinations, including ten basic body styles and over thirty designer drawings.

Cadillac organized a large promotional tour in European cities, most notably Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Berlin, Cologne, Dresden, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Vienna, Berne, Geneva, Lausanne, Zürich, Madrid, and Angers. Production peaked during the first year, followed by a long stable decline. Minimum production numbers lasted entire decade.

As a result, Cadillac estimates showed they lost money on every single V-16 model sold. A wheelbase of 154.0 inches and weighing up to 6,600 pounds it was possibly the largest standard production car produced in the United States at the time. Also, Cadillac V16 was the first car powered by a sixteen cylinder engine that achieved production status in America.

Sixteen remained Cadillac's top of the line car for entire decade, until the war in Europe gave a final blow to sales. As an interesting fact, in 2003 Cadillac presented a concept car the Sixteen based on V16 engine generating 1,000 horsepower. In honor of classic car, many small details were included in the concept. Steering wheel logo was carved out of solid crystal and a Bulgari clock was installed. Should you cross paths with the old Cadillac Sixteen remember the great history that stands behind it. This remarkable car didn't change the course of automotive history, however, it did leave an impressive lasting mark for years to come.

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