Featured here is a beautifully restored 1939 Cadillac V-16 Convertible Coupe.This automobile represents one of seven built in 1939. The first V-16 came out in 1930 in the Cadillac Series 452. The company’s new range-topping model, the Series 452 sported a narrow 45-degree V-16.

1939 cadillac series 90 v-16
1939 Cadillac Series 90 V-16 Coupe Convertible

Cadillac’s Powerful V-16

At the end of the 1920’s Cadillac studied ways to increase their automobile’s horsepower. Cadillac had a heavier and longer model coming out in 1930 and needed to find that extra power.

Possible ways to do this included adding superchargers or another gear. Superchargers were viewed as racing accessories and another gear really wouldn’t put out the amount of extra power required.

The answer Cadillac engineers came up with was to add more cylinders. In fact they decided to double the amount of cylinders from eight to sixteen. By doing this Cadillac could get the power required with a smaller per-cylinder displacement than the V-8. One of the chief concerns in designing this much larger engine was how to keep it from overheating which Cadillac did achieve. The Cadillac engineers also set the torque where the new V-16 could be well mated to existing transmissions and drive axle.

cadillac v 16After keeping the development of their V-16 under wraps, even from many staffers, when the engine was debuted it took the press by surprise.

Cadillac’s new V-16 was first unveiled to the automotive community at the Detroit Opera House before being displayed at the Detroit Auto Show.

The V-16 had helped make Cadillac into the nation’s premier luxury car.

1939 Cadillac V-16 Convertible Coupe Styling

The 1939 Cadillac V-16 has a body by Fleetwood Coach. This particular 39 V-16 was the top Cadillac. The 1939 Series 90 design was attributed to the team of legendary GM designer Bill Mitchell which created the 1938 Sixty Special.

The automobile’s all steel body with it’s straight lines was assembled by Fleetwood under the guidance of Cadillac. Headlights are level with the streamlined, fender mounted turn signals which sit above an elaborate “Cadillac”chrome bumper and finned grille guards.Prominent rear fenders hold a chrome fuel filler and clear, streamlined tail lights.

1939 Cadillac V-16 Specifications

The 1939 Cadillac Series 90 had a 135° L-head V-16 engine displacing 431 cubic inches.The engine was built with  twin distributors, twin water pumps, twin fuel pumps, and a nine main bearing crankshaft. According to Cadillac, it’s 185 HP made it the swiftest accelerating car in the world at the time and one of the smoother and quieter as well.

Standard was a three-speed selective synchromesh manual transmission..

Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum.

Front suspension was independent coil springs with rear suspension live axle and semi-elliptical leaf springs.

Overall length222.0 inches, height 65.0 inches, width 75.4 inches and wheelbase 141.0 inches. Weight was about 4,150 lbs.

The 1939 Cadillac V-16 Convertible Coupe sold new for about $5,575-$6,900 depending on options which included a spotlight, fog lights, windshield washer, heater, radio, seat covers, and automatic battery filler.

Produced from 1930 through 1940, the Cadillac V16’s were and are special cars, with only a total of 4,376 built. About 65 percent of that number was sold in 1930, the V-16’s very first year.

Production of both the Series 90 and the V-16 engine stopped in December 1939. .

Related Auto Museum Online articles are found on the links below…

1941 Cadillac V-8 Convertible Coupe

1937 Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood Limousine

Reference material for this article includes…The Encyclopedia of American Cars 1930-1980, by Richard M. Langworlh and the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide…Cadillac at 100: Legacy of LeadershipStandard Catalog of Cadillac 1903-2005 by John Gunnell.

The 1939 Cadillac Series 90 Convertible Coupe Collector Automobile

39 cadillac v-16 specificationsMost Cadillacs from this era make great collector cars. The late 1930’s and up to the start of the war sported some great designs.

A beautiful and extremely rare classic automobile, this 1939 Cadillac Series 90 Convertible Coupe sold for over $250,000.


(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)