My Car Quest

June 22, 2024

Concepts That Didn’t Make It: Cadillac Sixteen

by Wallace Wyss –

I’ve been covering the auto industry for, oh, 55 years or so and missed the grand era of the ’30s. I saw a picture of the 2003 Cadillac Sixteen concept car recently and realized how much I miss outsize characters like Bob Lutz, who directed General Motors Design to create it.

I like Lutz for a lot of reasons. He was outspoken. Whatever company he worked at, he pushed performance. He was born in Switzerland but became a Marine fighter pilot (later owned his own private fighter jet). He was a big presence at Pebble Beach. He’s retired now but still fires off pertinent articles.


2003 Cadillac Sixteen Concept – photo by General Motors

Now back to the Cadillac Sixteen. Back in 2003 when this show car appeared, it was the first Cadillac V16 in 62 years was a 90-degree 13.6 liter 830 cid all aluminum pushrod engine with 16-8-4 cylinder deactivation. It was rated at 1,000 hp. a high number then but soon electric cars will have that in premium models. Body was aluminum and the chassis was aluminum and steel.

Styling featured a very slanted A-pillar that would probably not meet whatever rules there are. Surprisingly its automatic had only four speeds whereas today it would have at least nine speeds. It also boasted four wheel steering, a feature called Quadrasteer which gives it a sharper turning radius at lower speeds. At higher speeds the front and rear tires turn in the same direction.

It’s easy to assume they just welded two V8s together but no, a firm called Katech designed and cast the engine for them.

The first Cadillac V16 debuted just three months after the 1929 stock market crash, which is a problem whenever you introduce a creme de la creme car, what happens if the economy takes a dip? Still back before the war, Caddy sold 2,000 of them.

But I’m thinking with the automatics with 9 speeds and the cylinder deactivation now available, it’s not as impractical as it looks if you have these updates. This car could be brought back. And Cadillacs do sell in China. Maybe just 5,000 of them sold in China would fund selling them to potentates all over the world. When you think about it, Rolls Royce and Bentley haven’t innovated lately and just want to tell you about their stars on the ceiling or some such. This might put the hurt on them, and I for one would like Cadillac to again have a car where they could revive their old slogan: “Standard of the World”.

What we have been missing all these years – “Standard of the World”.

1934 Cadillac Sixteen Custom Roadster

1934 Cadillac Sixteen Custom Roadster – photo compliments of RM Sotheby’s

RM Sotheby's - 1930 Cadillac V-16 Convertible Berline by Saoutchik

1930 Cadillac V-16 Convertible Berline by Saoutchik – photo compliments of RM Sotheby’s

RM So1937 Cadillac Sixteen Custom Phaeton | The Milhous Collection 2012

1937 Cadillac Sixteen Custom Phaeton – photo compliments of RM Sotheby’s

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is co-host of Autotalk, broadcast from KUCR FM each week in Riverside, CA.

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Concepts That Didn't Make It: Cadillac Sixteen
Article Name
Concepts That Didn't Make It: Cadillac Sixteen
I for one would like Cadillac to again have a car where they could revive their old slogan: "Standard of the World" - maybe the Cadillac Sixteen would do the trick?


  1. Byron LaMotte says

    Hi Michael,

    I always enjoy your material and I had a chance to view the Caddy Sixteen parked nearby the SuperSpyder in the GM Heritage Center in Mi. You never seem to be at a loss for material but the Super Spyder is another interesting story thus I’ve enclosed a recent article.

    Also I own a Super Syder replica that mimics the original. Without GM’s talent and tooling available, mine isn’t quite as cool but still very fun and unusual as it is the only one around.


    Below is the link to the article about the Super Spyder.

  2. Wallace Wyss says

    GM occasionally gets some extra mileage out of a cast side dream car by loaning it to Hollywood for a movie.Thi is the Caddy in Real Steel. Must’ve missed that one..E,wikipedia says of it “Real Steel is a 2011 American science-fiction sports film starring Hugh Jackman and Dakota Goyo and co-produced and directed by Shawn Levy for DreamWorks Pictures. The film is based on the short story “Steel”, written by Richard Matheson, which was originally published in the May 1956 edition of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and later adapted into a 1963 Twilight Zone episode. Real Steel was in development for several years before production began on June 24, 2010. Filming took place primarily in the U.S. state of Michigan. Animatronic robots were built for the film, and motion capture technology was used to depict the rodeo brawling of computer-generated robots and animatronics, respectively.

    Real Steel was released by Touchstone Pictures in Australia on October 6, 2011, and in the United States and Canada on October 7, 2011,[5] grossing nearly $300 million at the box office. It received mixed reviews, with criticism for the formulaic nature of the plot and the fact that elements remained unresolved or were predictable, but also praise for the visual effects, action sequences and acting performances”.

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