In the mid to late 1920s a number of luxury car manufacturers began work developing multicylinder engines. Not to be outdone, Cadillac began work on two different multicylinder engines, a V-12 and a V-16. Larry Fisher, Cadillac General Manager, leaked to the press information about the V-12, hoping to keep the V-16 a secret.
Owen Nacker, who designed the Cadillac V-16 engine, also designed the Cadillac V-12 engine, and it shared the tooling and many of the components of the V-16. The V-12 was essentially a truncated V-16, with a bore of 3.125" instead of 3", giving it a displacement of 368 cubic inches. It shared the V-16's 45 degree bank angle., rather than the 60 degree angle that would have been ideal. The V-12 was less powerful than the V-16, generating 135 versus 175 horsepower. Both engines featured overhead valves in the first generation.Indianapolis 500. The Cadillac V-12 had a shorter wheelbase than the Cadillac V-16, with a choice of 140 in (3,556 mm) or 143 in (3,632 mm), compared to the V-16's 148 in (3,759 mm), but it offered a similar choice of Fisher and Fleetwood semi-custom bodies. It was difficult to tell a Cadillac V-12 from a Cadillac V-16 unless you were close enough to read the figure "12" mounted on the headlight tie bar, but the hood was four inches (102 mm) shorter, and the headlights and horns smaller than a V-16's. More significantly, the V-12 cost about $2,000 less for each bodystyle, starting at $3,795. The Cadillac V-12 might have been lower in prestige than the Cadillac V-16, but it joined a select group of 1930s cars with multicylinder engines, namely those manufactured by Franklin, Hispano-Suiza, Horch, Lagonda, Maybach, Packard, Rolls-Royce, Tatra,Voisin, Walter, Marmon and Lincoln. Moreover, thanks to its lower price, it immediately outsold the Cadillac V-16 with 5,733 sold in the 1931 model year, versus a mere 363 for the V-16.
The appearance of the 1932 Series 370B benefited from a radiator shell that flared on the top, more flaring fenders and curved running boards.Mechanical changes included a stiffer frame, and a Cuno self-cleaning oil filter mounted at the right hand side of the clutch housing. Dual Detroit Lubricator carburetors were used in place of the Cadillac/Johnson carburetors that had been standard equipment on Cadillacs for 20 years. Largely thanks to the deepening Great Depression sales plunged to 1740 units.
Styling changes to the 1933 Series 370C included a V-shaped grill that blended into the painted radiator shell, a radiator cap hidden under the hood, and skirts on the front and rear fenders for a more streamlined look. Fisher no-draft individually controlled vent windows were a new standard feature. Sales fell further to 953 cars.
The 1934 Series 370D was restyled yet again but this time was mounted on a completely new chassis. The radiator grill slanted rearward with a central bar and five horizontal sections, the windshield sloped even more rearward, headlights were enclosed in new teardrop housings mounted on streamlined supports, the horns joined the radiator cap under the hood, the spare tire was concealed under a new beaver tail deck on most models and the whole car sat approximately 2 inches (51 mm) lower. Significant mechanical advancements included dual X-frame chassis construction, "Knee-Action" front coil spring suspension that greatly reduced unsprung weight and Hotchkiss steering. The 1935 Series 370E saw the addition of the Fisher Turret Top on Fisher bodied cars and an increase in horsepower to 150. Sales over the two years combined totaled only 1098.
|Rear three-quarter view of 1931 Cadillac 370 with V12|
|1931 Cadillac 370-A V-12 Dual Cowl Phaeton|
|1931 Cadillac Model 370 V12 Sedan|
Series 80/85 (1936–1937)The Cadillac V-12 was renamed the Series 80 and 85 in 1936. The Series 80 and 85 featured a 131" and 138" wheelbase respectively. All V-12s were now Fleetwood bodied and had Turret Tops. A total of 901 V-12s were sold in 1936.
In 1937 the Series 80 was dropped leaving only the long wheelbase Series 85. The only significant mechanical changes were the adoption of an oil-bath air cleaner and a pressure radiator cap. Sales were only 478. The Series 85 was discontinued at the end of 1937