A couple year ago SoCal toured the Mosier Restoration shop and
saw Gary Cooper's 1938 V-16 convertible in-process. Recently the big sixteen, now near
completion, had its turn on the shop's dynamometer. The legendary sixteen turned out to be
the most powerful automobile ever tested at Mosier's. It had 185 rear wheel horsepower.
Stronger than any Duesenberg they ever tested, and stronger than the previous record
holder, a Marmon Sixteen.
Owner Larry Hughes did have Bob tweak the engine a bit. It's
bored to 485 cid, fitted with dual exhausts, and has slightly higher compression. Now the
old Cooper car has so much torque that attempts to place a dyno-load on the drive line
(20-inch dyno-rollers) just didn't work. They tried a few times but the mighty sixteen was
unstoppablethe smoke and burning rubber unbearable. Bob feels a newly delivered 1938
thru 1940 V-16 (431 cid) probably did deliver 165 rear wheel horsepower in stock
So now you know, the most powerful automotive engine of the
classic era was Cadillac's side-valve sixteen. The 135-degree powerplant (used on
90-Series cars) fit into the same engine compartment used on 75-Series V-8s by slipping
the rear of its nearly flat 46-inch long block under the toe-board. It was 6"
shorter, 13" lower and 250 pounds lighter than the overhead sixteen. RAS
The original purchaser of the mighty sixteen in the photo above was C. B. de Mille.
eleven V-16 towncars built during the 1938 model year, at least three were delivered to
Hollywood luminaries; probably thru Hillcrest Cadillac on Hollywood Blvd.
Glazier is the proud owner of the fabulous de Mille towncar.
Photo by Bobbie'dine Rodda