It almost (but didn’t quite) make it to the street. The Cadillac Sixteen was a prototype that test-bedded General Motors’ vast new 32-valve V16 engine, which was very clever.
It measured up at a massive 13.6 litres, but could cruise happily on four cylinders, overtake briskly on eight and only unleash the awesome power of all 16 when the pedal was jabbed to the metal (or hand-woven silk carpet, in the case of the Sixteen). This ingenious arrangement allowed the big concept car to return respectable fuel consumption figures, with the help of four-speed electronically controlled transmission.
The four-door Sixteen had a wonderfully clean profile. The long bonnet gave the car a slightly racy look without diminishing its gravitas. This had centre-hinged panels that enabled the engine to be accessed from either side. Gently flared arches were designed to display big ‘n’ beautiful polished aluminium wheels.
The low cabin was without pillars and had a transparent roof. The back end was short and neat, with both the trunk and grille sharing a shallow triangle design note.
Cadillac’s design team really went to town on the interior, determined to create a plush evocation of the luxurious trim that characterized the coachbuilt Fleetwoods of the 1930s.
The two-tone interior contrasted hand-stitched Tuscan leather upholstery with burr-walnut fascia, tappings and centre console, whilst the driver had a backless seat and two rear-seat passengers each had a super-comfortable chair, one of which extended as a full-length recliner on demand, filling space that would have been occupied by a front passenger seat.
No detail had been overlooked and the interior finish couldn’t have been bettered.Would there have been enough wealthy customers with discerning taste to make this opulent super-sedan a commercial success? For better or worse, we’ll never know.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
13.6 l (830 cid) V16
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Although the Sixteen never made it to the production line, elements from this stylish prototype were used in subsequent models, notably the second-generation Cadillac CTS that appeared in 2008, and a scaled-down Version of the Sixteen with a V8 or V12 is rumoured to be in the pipeline.