1960s Cadillac Concept Cars

1960s Multi-cylinder Race
This circa-1963 concept for an open V-16 Cadillac was reminiscent of classic 1930s speedsters.
This circa-1963 concept for an open V-16 Cadillac was reminiscent of classic 1930s speedsters.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Leading the way in the 1960s multi-cylinder race was Packard, which in 1955 was desperately seeking to recover some of its squandered past glory. The idea was a V-12 derived from its just-announced V-8.

According to former product planner Richard Stout, this would have been machined on the V-8 line, the longer block being moved "halfway down" to bore the extra cylinders.

Since the V-8 block was a 90-degree "Y," 30 degrees out of phase for the "in-step" firing desirable in a V-12, each rod throw would be staggered 30 degrees to compensate. Buick would use this same "split-throw" principle for its 90-degree V-6 in the early 1960s.

With 480 cubic inches and all the horsepower that implied, Packard's postwar V-12 would have been a mighty work indeed. But as Dick Stout remembered: "It was strictly grandstand stuff. . . . Tooling was guesstimated in the $750,000 area -- modest for such a spectacular result. . . . But in the end the money just wasn't there."

In fact, Studebaker-Packard then faced imminent bankruptcy and so abandoned luxury Packards after 1956, substituting medium-priced Studebaker-based cars through the marque's sad demise in 1958.

A few years later, Cadillac Division took its own stab at modern multi-cylinder power. The attempts followed two paths: a fairly crude, "bolted together" V-16 composed of two V-8s, and an exotic all-new V-12 with single overhead camshaft.

This multi-cylinder concept car from designer Wayne Cady was done in March 1965. It was badged LaSalle, the name of the 1930s Baby Cadillac.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The contemplated V-16 probably had nothing to do with Cadillac's own V-8. By 1960, the division's milestone 331 V-8 of 1949 had swelled to nearly 400 cid, which would have made a twin-block sixteen simply gargantuan.

A more likely choice was Chevrolet's 283, which would have doubled-up to 566 cid -- big, but not impossible. According to former GM Design Director Chuck Jordan, who then headed Cadillac Styling and worked on that side of the V-16 revival, this engine was more conjecture than concrete proposal.

"We were working with Engineering Staff to put two V-8s together," he later recalled. "It was kind of a homemade way to do it, but it was just to project an image we wanted to get across to [division management] at the time. Nothing serious was ever developed engineering-wise."

More intriguing was the clean-slate V-12 being prepared at the same time. Jordan remembered this as "a very sophisticated powerplant, and quite beautiful. I'm sure it was designed from scratch as an overhead-cam engine -- a very exciting piece of machinery to see."

This radical 1960s Cadillac concept car was an August 1963 effort from Wayne Cady. The nose of this scale model carries hints of the 1966 Buick Riviera.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Also a 90-degree unit, it was designed for instep firing à la Packard's stillborn V-12. Aside from that and sohc heads, technical details remain obscure.

It's unclear whether the clean-slate V-12 or the crude V-16 were ever seriously considered for production, but there's no doubt that development stopped at the prototype stage. Still, Chuck Jordan and his colleagues came up with a remarkable group of design studies for a new multi-cylinder Cadillac.

To learn more about these multi-cylinder ideas, check out the next section.

For more on concept cars and the production models they forecast, check out: