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     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 unstoppable—the 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 configuration.
     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.

Of the 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.

Member Gary Glazier is the proud owner of the fabulous de Mille towncar.

Photo by Bobbie'dine Rodda


Date Last Updated: March 25, 2020
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