16 Cylinders For The 16th

This post about the last car—at least until now—with a 16-cylinder engine got me thinking about, well, 16-cylinder engines.

See the source image

From carwalls.blogpost.com a picture of a Cizeta-Moroder, the last car built with a 16-cylinder engine. If the car looks like a Lamborghini Diablo that should not be a surprise as the Cizeta was also designed by Marcello Gandini. The transversely mounted V-16 engine, the only such setup in automotive history, was actually made using two Lamborghini V-8 engines used in the Urraco that were essentially fused together. Like the Pantera I wrote about yesterday the Cizeta had a mid-engine configuration. Like most Italian engines, this engine was more about horsepower than torque. The V-16 produced 560 HP at a whopping 8,000 RPM and 398 LB-FT of torque. Supposedly, the car had a top speed of 204 MPH and could accelerate from 0-60 in 4.4 seconds. (My wonderful wife’s Corvette can’t reach 204 MPH, but it can accelerate from 0-60 in 4 seconds flat, didn’t cost an arm and a leg and is legal in the US.)

The car, all 19 or so units of it, was manufactured between 1991 and 1995. The original list price was 250,000 Euros. The Cizeta was never legal in the US. Jeremy Clarkson, of Top Gear and The Grand Tour fame, once remarked that the US is a country where one needed permission to do everything except to own a gun. He has an anti-US bias so his remark is hyperbolic, but it is true that in this country, which is supposedly a bastion of free-market capitalism, the auto industry is very heavily regulated. (Of course, citizens of the US shouldn’t be proud of the fact that its gun homicide rate is 9 or 10 times higher than Canada’s and 55 or 60 times higher than the UK’s.)

Cadillac produced the first 16-cylinder engine sold in the US. The Cadillac Sixteen (V-16) had unfortunate timing, being introduced in January, 1930—the beginning of the Great Depression. The engine and automobile were amazing feats of engineering for the time, but fate often intervenes in a most powerful way. About 4,000 of the Cadillac Sixteens were built through 1940 when production ceased.

With CAFE standards and the move to electric vehicles, I doubt we will ever see a 16-cylinder street automobile again.

2 thoughts on “16 Cylinders For The 16th

  1. I never knew there were 16 cylinder vehicles. My father had a friend that owned a 12 cylinder car. I don’t remember the make. The “friend” would bring it to my father to work on! My father hated that car because of the 12 cylinders. He did not have kind words about his friend or the vehicle.


  2. For most would be backyard mechanics, even good ones, getting the 16 cyllinder engines timing just right, the carburetors gas and air functions perfect. Wow!


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