Styling: Revisiting the Cadillac Sixteen Concept

In 2003 Cadillac released a concept vehicle called the Sixteen, saying that:

The Cadillac Sixteen is classic automotive seduction with the panache of Cadillac’s ultramodern design.

Recalling the Twelve and Sixteen cylinder ultra-luxury cars that Cadillac released in the late 20s and early 30s, the Sixteen was a long, low, sixteen cylinder powerhouse.  In current and new Cadillac releases we are told that the new models have touches inspired by the Sixteen.  So let’s look again at the Cadillac Sixteen as a reminder of how we got here, and where we are going.  We lost the wonderful Sixteen Cylinder 1000 hp engine, but the Styling touches live on.

[Note: Click on most of these images for larger versions]

The Cadillac Sixteen (right), the 2003 North American International Auto Show Concept Car of the Year. The original Cadillac V-16 (left), the 1931 Dual Windshield Sport Phaeton, was the inspiration for the new Sixteen. (General Motors/Joe Polimeni)

If you examine the front of the Sixteen in this photo from the 2005 Shanghai autoshow, I think you will see similarities to the front corner of the Cadillac XTS concept that will be released tomorrow:

A Chinese model poses next to the Cadillac Sixteen concept vehicle at Auto Shanghai 2005 (General Motors/Natalie Behring)

Side View:

Preview of the XTS Concept:

Cadillac will premiere a new concept car at the 2010 NAIAS in Detroit


Cadillac V SIXTEEN Concept Interior

Press Release:


DETROIT – The Cadillac Sixteen is classic automotive seduction with the panache of Cadillac’s ultramodern design.

In form, power and opulence, the 2003 Cadillac Sixteen embodies the timeless qualities of an exceptionally luxurious super-sedan with its sleek, gemstone appearance. The rear-wheel-drive Cadillac Sixteen brings forth the exclusivity and grandeur of the custom-built Fleetwood coach cars of the 1930s for today’s generation of exceedingly well-heeled customers of discerning taste.

“The Sixteen is a modern interpretation of everything that made Cadillac the standard of the world and can again,” said Robert A. Lutz, GM vice chairman for product development and chairman of GM North America. “It’s a reminder of a glorious past as well as a progressive statement.

“Cadillac’s tradition is rich, but in the next several years it will be introducing vehicles as solid, dynamic and beautifully designed as anything it’s ever done. And Sixteen is a harbinger of this new era.”

Sweet V-16
The name speaks to the car’s powerful 16-cylinder, 1000-horsepower engine and Cadillac’s heritage as a maker of fine luxury automobiles. Cadillac’s reputation grew exponentially during the ’30s in no small part because of the development of the automotive industry’s first V-16. The Cadillac Sixteen’s grand exterior proportions create an unparalleled presence; its splendid interior is meticulously handcrafted and urbane.

“The Cadillac Sixteen proportions were crafted with great attention to detail and homage to classic design,” said Brian Smith, the Cadillac Sixteen’s exterior designer. “The Cadillac Sixteen evokes an era when luxury cars were hand-built.”

General Motors’ designers drew extensively on the traditions of the coachbuilt era in crafting the Cadillac Sixteen, employing the distinctive talents of leading artisans for the upholstery, instrumentation, interior wood and metal elements, and aluminum body panels.

As an exterior statement, the Cadillac Sixteen’s proportional composition is bold. The aluminum hood is long, giving the Cadillac Sixteen tremendous dash-to-axle dimension; the wheel arches were designed to accommodate the beautiful 24-inch polished aluminum wheels. The four-door hardtop incorporates an all-glass roof and is without B-pillars. Crisp-edged lines of the midnight silver aluminum body panels accentuate the Cadillac Sixteen’s striking appearance.

Even the engine compartment, with its sculpted design, has drama. With dual panels hinged about a center spine that runs the length of the expansive hood, it makes an event out of opening the engine bay. The hood panels are power-operated.

“The engine bay really pays tribute to the V-16,” said Wayne Cherry, GM’s vice president of design. “It’s like a setting for a diamond, clean and simple. The under-hood was designed with the same care and attention as the interior.

“The interior is a pure expression of design,” said Cherry.

“Premium materials in luxury refinement are fine woods, precision-cut metals and crystal. They’ve all been combined and balanced in harmony in the Cadillac Sixteen.”

Warm luxury, contemporary style
The interior theme is evocative of the posh accommodations of 1930s-era Cadillacs, but with contemporary style. For instance, the dashboard features a center-mounted Bvlgari clock.

The hand-stitched, Tuscany leather upholstered seats nestle the occupants. The right rear seat features power adjustable slope to recline like a chaise lounge. Warm, hand-woven silk carpets the floor in a light cream color that matches the leather upholstery. The dash, door panels, and front and rear consoles are trimmed with walnut burl veneer inlays.

“The lighting is architectural, enhancing the mood and desirability of the Cadillac Sixteen’s interior space, complementing its shapes and colors,” said Eric Clough, interior designer. “Technique combines with technology for a sophisticated, pampered ambience.”

Meanwhile, the custom-designed crystal on the cluster dials offers subtle cues of the Cadillac Sixteen’s precise engineering, elegance and craftsmanship.

One thousand horses
While GM designers drew inspiration from the ultra-luxury sedan’s ancestry, the Cadillac Sixteen is thoroughly modern in its powerplant and technological content.

The Cadillac Sixteen’s 32-valve V-16 concept engine displaces 13.6 liters and is mated to a four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. The engine features fuel-saving Displacement on Demand technology, debuting in 2004 on some 2005 GM models, which shuts down half of the cylinders during most driving conditions and automatically and seamlessly reactivates them for more demanding conditions, such as brisk acceleration or load hauling cylinders when the driver needs the engine’s full power. The engine produces 1000 horsepower and 1000 lbs.-ft. of torque.

The extensive use of aluminum components and structure provide substantial weight advantages. The aluminum-steel chassis employs high-arm SLA suspension up front and independent semi-trailing arm suspension in the rear. Four-wheel steering enhances the Cadillac Sixteen’s maneuverability. The front and rear brakes are six-piston calipers with 16-inch rotors.

Electronic amenities include a rear-seat DVD information system, Bose sound system, and the fifth-generation OnStar in-vehicle safety and security communication system. The head and tail lamps feature LED technology.

All told, the Cadillac Sixteen is an ultra-luxury automobile of the first order.

“This car offers premier refinement and craftsmanship,” said Cherry. “Its ultra-contemporary technical detailing is evident throughout.

“The Cadillac Sixteen is befitting of the great Cadillac tradition as the standard of the world.”

Cadillac All Wheel Drive – using the Haldex System

The new 2010 Cadillac SRX is available in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.  The all-wheel drive is the high tech choice, and makes the SRX a true all-weather, year-around vehicle.  The All-wheel drive system used is a 4th Generation version that can not only distribute power front to rear, but also left to right within the front/rear drive.

This system is likely to be a key feature / offering for the upcoming Cadillac XTS.  The new AWD system is different from that used on the current Cadillac CTS AWD.  The CTS AWD uses the Borg Warner InterActive Torque Management Transfer Case (ITM(R) tc) system.  The new Buick Lacrosse uses a similar AWD system to the Cadillac SRX.

Use of this new, light and efficient AWD system in the upcoming Cadillac XTS should enable the type of RWD sports luxury performance one would expect from a Cadillac while maintaining great all-weather performance.  In the Buick Lacrosse, the AWD system can send up to 85% of available torque to the rear wheels.  The Lacrosse specs show a weight impact of AWD vs RWD of 181 lbs.  Because the XTS will be on a similar chassis to the Lacrosse comparisons are apt, although the XTS is likely to have a 115″+ wheelbase vs the Lacrosse’s 112″ wheelbase.

Let’s examine this advanced AWD system used in the Cadillac SRX and Buick Lacrosse, and likely to be used in the upcoming Cadillac XTS.  From an article in the Haldex newsletter:

Mechanically, the SRX’s most notable new feature is an active and advanced electronically controlled, all-wheeldrive (AWD) system by Haldex that continuously distributes and transfers torque between the front and rear axles and between the rear wheels. Honed through more than 600,000 miles of tests on roads and test tracks across Europe – including Germany’s famed Nürburgring circuit, where Cadillac engineers have developed and validated new vehicle features for years – the system provides best-inclass levels of driving stability.

The SRX AWD hardware consists of a power take-off unit (PTU) in the front final-drive that transmits engine torque through a prop-shaft to the rear drive module (RDM) that includes a torque transfer device (TTD) and the optional eLSD. Both are wet, multi-plate clutch units from Haldex. Operating seamlessly and programmed to keep the car stable even when cornering (by splitting drive torque to counteract over- or under-steer situations), the AWD system also incorporates an innovative pre-emptive engagement of the rear wheels that eliminates the need to detect front-wheel slip before rear-drive activation, helping to both enhance and exploit the 265 horsepower generated by the SRX’s new standard 3.0-liter DOHC direct-injected V6 engine or the 300 hp delivered by the optional 2.8-litre turbocharged V6, both of which are paired with six-speed automatics. “Performance-wise, you get more horsepower and better economy [18 mpg in the city, 25 on the highway] with a V6,” Reuter says when asked about the change from the V8 in the 2009 model. “Fuel mileage is very important, and the price tag is also a little lower with a V6.”

Haldex Image
Haldex internal view

Basic Function

The unique design of the Haldex Gen IV compromises four functional parts:

* Hydraulic power pack with electrical motor and accumulator
* Wet multi-plate clutch
* Controllable pressure reducing valve.
* Electrical control unit (ECU).

The front and the rear axle of the car is connected via the wet multi-plate clutch which makes it possible to vary the torque distribution between the two axles. As the function of the Haldex Gen IV is independent of the differential speed between the front and the rear axle full lockingtorque, if needed, is available at any given time and speed.

When starting the vehicle the electrical pump in the Haldex Gen IV is started, swiftly providing the system with pressurized oil and thereby making the system ready for operation. The control valve sets the pressure to the piston which in turn compresses the disc package. The level of pressure set depends on the torque level needed which in turn depends on the driving situation. In traction/high slip conditions, a high pressure is delivered: in tight curves (i.e. parking), or at high speeds – a much lower pressure is provided.

Coupling Control Concept

Haldex Gen IV connects to the vehicle’s electrical system and to the data communication bus (i.e. the CAN-system), transmitting information on the driver’s actions, the engine, the transmission, the brakes and other on board systems.

Haldex Gen IV uses this information entirely for its control without the need for additional sensors. The available signals are received by the coupling’s processor and interpreted by the software. Continuous analysis of these data adjusts the characteristics of the coupling according to actual demand, without any active intervention by the driver.

The function of the coupling is automatically adjusted to prevailing conditions. When starting in sand for example, the shafts are coupled together as firmly as possible to obtain the best traction. When close cornering, i.e. parking, the shafts are uncoupled to allow easy maneuvering.

Haldex Drivetrain Model

The controllability of the Haldex Gen IV also makes it possible to use differently worn tires, to tow the vehicle with one axle raised, and to maintain function when using Run-flat-tyres or Mini-Spare.

Haldex Gen IV can use any suitable signal available on CAN. Signals from the ABS and ESP systems and the engine control are vital for performance. For enhanced performance, signals from a steering wheel sensor, yaw sensor, lateral acceleration sensor can be used if available.

Expecting THE Sedan: the Cadillac XTS

Cadillac has not released much actual news about the upcoming DTS/STS replacement sedan.  It may or may not be named “XTS”.  The internal designation is probably GM 166.

2003 Cadillac Sixteen Concept

2003 Cadillac Sixteen Concept photo courtesy Marika Buchberger

Logically, let’s look at what is likely:


  • Base model 3.6L DOHC DI V6, with 304 hp.  Hybrid model to follow after release.
  • Performance Sedan: L99 6.2L V8 with 390 hp.  The return of Active Fuel Management to Cadillac. AFM Lifters in cylinders 1,4,6, and 7 and the AFM control system enables V4 operation at engine operating conditions where V4 mode is more efficient.

Chassis: Long wheel base Epsilon II w/ 115″ wheelbase, or 3″ more rear leg room than the CTS sedan. FWD or optional AWD, so it should definitely be an all-season selection.  Ultra-high strength steel in a premium chassis for super rigidity.

Interior: Hand stitched leather. Elegant, sweeping interior with infotainment system, and navigation.

Exterior:  Styling hints from the Cadillac Sixteen concept.  Love it or hate it elegance.

Pricing:  US$45-$65K, with later Hybrid and Platinum lines at a premium.