Cadillac's V16 was the first true 16-cylinder engine built from scratch, a project led by Owen Milton Nacker. The resulting engine was an engineering tour de force designed concurrently with Cadillac's own V12 engine with wide interchangeability of parts. The new V16 engine was an engineering masterpiece, featuring an advanced overhead valve design that incorporated automatic hydraulic valve lash compensators that ensured that the engine ran as quietly as any side valve engine. Its 45 degree cylinder bank angle and overhead valve design kept the engine narrow, while the external manifolding provided good access.
Just as important as the car's mechanical specification was the under hood appearance. Wiring was hidden under covers, while gleaming black enamel contrasted with a brushed aluminum raised pattern on the valve covers. Fuel lines were plated, and a false firewall hid the necessary wiring and plumbing from view.
While the horsepower output of the V16 engine was rated by Cadillac at 175 horsepower, in truth it produced approximately 200 horsepower. Its mission, however, was not absolute performance and speed but rather to propel Cadillac's massive chassis, which could accommodate a multitude of relatively heavy and luxurious custom coachbuilt bodies.
In the face of a declining luxury market, Cadillac managed to survive thanks to the financial support of its massive parent company, General Motors. Without this financial support, Cadillac could never have produced such a low-production, luxurious automobile. The shrinking Depression-era market meant that the V16 was produced in tiny numbers for those few who were capable of paying more than ten times the cost of a Chevrolet convertible.
Cadillac offered no less than 50 different body styles by Fleetwood and Fisher in 1930-31 and that's only for the new 452 V16 model. There were eight different windshield configurations, each with an assortment of body styles. The two door Coupe pictured here is a Style 4376. The car was built in the Fleetwood, Pennsylvania factory before the Fleetwood operation was moved to Detroit in December 1930. The car sports a rare split V-style swing-out windshield with a seven-degree rake. The Cadillacs so equipped have become known as the "Pennsylvania Windshield" Cadillacs.
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