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Cadillac Sixteen: Fast Car History Lesson

By Scott Newman, 10 Oct 2020 Features

Cadillac V16 concept car

The 1000bhp Cadillac concept car

The Cadillac Sixteen was everything an American luxury car should be: brash, ostentatious, perhaps even a bit vulgar. And that was exactly the point.

The Sixteen was intended to be noticed, a reminder that Cadillac was once America’s Rolls-Royce, a purveyor of the finest luxury automobiles. Everything about it was over the top. It was 5672mm long (a Nissan Patrol is 5175mm), weighed 2270kg, had 24-inch rims and, the whipped cream on the cherry pie, was powered by a 13.6-litre V16 engine, a nod to the similarly powered Caddys of the 1930s.

The 13.6-litre V16 engine produced 1000bhp.

Producing 746kW (1000bhp) and 1356Nm (1000 lb ft), the 13,577cc monster motor wasn’t a pipe-dream but a proper working prototype. It was one of the first examples of GM’s ‘Displacement on Demand’, the Sixteen able to run on 16, eight or four cylinders with the potential for 14L/100km on a light throttle.

TECH: What is cylinder deactivation?

Inside it was a smorgasbord of leather, wood, glass and aluminumium, with seating for four easily accommodated for by the vast 3556mm wheelbase (again, a Nissan Patrol’s is 3075mm). The Cadillac logo in the steering wheel was carved out of crystal and there was even a Bulgari clock in the dashboard.

The Cadillac interior was covered in leather, wood and aluminium.

The plan, spearheaded by outspoken GM Vice-Chairman Bob Lutz, was to produce around 350 cars annually at a price of USD$300,000 to go head-to-head with the Mercedes-Benz Maybach and Rolls-Royce Phantom, albeit with a 7.2-litre V12 and on a stretched version of the Zeta platform. Holden was to lead the car’s development due to its spare engineering capacity at the time (2007).

READ: Why Holden failed in Australia

Sadly, a production version never appeared and rich Americans bought Mercs and Bentleys instead. Nevertheless, the Sixteen did its duty, helping revitalise Cadillac’s image and lending some of its styling cues to future models like the XLR and CTS.

Cadillac Sixteen concept car driving.

Specifications

Engine: 13,577cc V16, OHV, 32v
Power: 746kW
Torque: 1356Nm
0-100km/h: 5.5sec (est.)
Weight: 2270kg