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.
A wide variety of bodies were offered on the V16 chassis, most being Fleetwood designs. A few special Fisher bodies were offered as well, either on special order or, in a few cases, as cataloged offerings. The cars instantly catapulted Cadillac to the head of the luxury class.
One of the more popular body styles offered by Fleetwood on both the V12 and V16 models, was this Dual Cowl Phaeton, also referred to as Sports Phaeton. Only 18 of these Phaeton V16s are known to still exist.
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