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1930 Cadillac Sixteen Roadster

1930 Cadillac Sixteen Roadster

The 1930 Cadillac Sixteen Roadster ...

was sold at a price of $506,000 - On January 4, 1930, New Yorkers were treated to an engineering tour de force. At the opening of the National Automobile Show at the Grand Central Palace, Cadillac unveiled the world’s first production V-16 automobile engine. The late historian Griffith Borgeson explained it elegantly:“It really made history and it made Cadillac, beyond all discussion, the absolute world leader in motoring magnificence… It was the super engine that set the whole exercise apart.”

Development of the Sixteen

The new engine was designed with overhead valves, which the division had never used. Overhead valves were noisy, but Cadillac adopted a new hydraulic lifter setup developed by GM engineering that effectively provided zero-lash operation. Moving the valves to the heads relaxed the constraint that manifolds had to compete for space in the valley between the cylinder banks. Manifolds could now move to the outside.

1930 Cadillac Sixteen RoadsterThis was also important because the vee-angle chosen, 45 degrees, left little room for manifold clutter. Cadillac also chose a large aluminum crankcase, with five main bearings. The crankshaft was counterweighted and fitted with a vibration dampener at the front. The timing chain also drove the generator. The two cylinder blocks had cast nickel-iron liners, which extended down into the crankcase. Heads were of cast iron. The central camshaft, with roller-type followers, actuated tubular pushrods, which in turn worked short rocker arms. With the new zero-lash hydraulic lifters, it was all very silent.