A stylish newcomer the 1934 Cadillac Aerocoupe saw Cadillac move away from the boxy 1920’s styling into the age of a more streamline appearance, it also offered the Cadillac V16 engine option for its various models.
Designed and engineered by Owen Milton Nacker the V16 engine development started in 1927 it was released in 1930. Its development was kept very secretive and if plans were ever to go outside it was always as the V12 that was also being developed.
The V16 was a very narrow 45o V block of 452 cub in, with a 3 inch bore and 4 inch stroke. A 5.5 compression ratio gave it an impressive 320 foot lb of torque and officially was rated 175 hp but it actuatly was considered quite a bit more than this, some say closer to 200 hp. In 1934 Cadillac rated the engine at 185 hp.
The cylinder heads were OHV and the whole engine was beautifully finished in black enamel, polished alloy and chrome.
In 1933 Cadillac had 3 engines, a V8, V12, and the V16. The V8 was really the engine, so efficient and powerful the V12 and the V16 didnt really offer much advantage over the V8.
1938 saw the OHV V16 replaced by the L-Head V16, a wide block engine of 135o based on the V8.
Sales of the V16 were not good. At the time of its development the stock market crash of the 1930’s was unforseen, by 1936 a Cadillac Fleetwood was selling at over $9,000 which equates to more than an executive style house would have sold for, and Cadillac was in the same quandary many of the other luxury car makerswere at the time.
Their cars had becomeprestige symbols, too costly to be profitable, and too famous to just drop.
As an example during the 1930 model year total Cadillac sales were over 20,000 cars, 1931 model year the total was 9,000 plus, and 1933 just 3,173 total of all models sold.
V16 powered Cadillacs totaled 296 in 1932, 125 in 1933, and from then on for the remaining years of its production struggled to maintain sales of more than 50 V16’s per year.
When the Cadillac Aerocoupe V16 was released in 1933 the GM bean counters expected it to sell 400 in the year 1934, but the sales were a very dismal 56. This would have been a massive disappointment to the Cadillac team, and over the remaining 1930’s they must have had many a discussion if to continue with Cadillac.
Luckily they did otherwise this wouldnt exist.
Styling that is 6 or 7 years ahead of its time, wonder if Cord copied the rear?
Thank you to Chris Uniger for this documentry, and Google Search.