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 car in this gallery is a 1937 V16 Imperial Limousine, style #5725LB, built on the 154 inch chassis. It was first owned by Eddie Mannix, vice president of MGM pictures, who made it available to the studio's stars. Clark Gable is said to have used it while making "Gone With The Wind". The Fleetwood design catered to high profile stars who valued the privacy of its blind rear quarters and luxurious equipment, including a rollup division window that created a secure miniature environment for the privileged passengers with a separate clock, heater and radio for their pleasure and comfort.
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