Something like this will not happen again. Come and join us to briefly reminisce about the cars whose engines gave us fear.

Forked 16s never caught on in a big way. They are very big, heavy and thirsty. Every now and then one appeared, sometimes cars, ships or planes had it. But we definitely don’t trip over them, and there are sixteen-cylinder players like saffron in history. The last big success was the W16 engine from Bugatti, however, genuine V16 engines appeared earlier, even before color photographs.

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Cadillac Series 452 V16

Production cars with this unique engine can be found mainly in the history of America, they were Cadillac Series 452, Series 90 or Marmon Sixteen. It was Howard Marmon who first wanted to design a 16-cylinder for cars and started working on it as early as 1927, unfortunately he didn’t finish it before Cadillac, who came out with this 7.4-liter unit in 1930, so it belongs to him primacy.

For example, the Peerless brand had another such engine in 1931, a year later it was presented to the public in a car called the V-16, but it did not go into production. The same thing happened seventy years later to Cadillac. The V16 engine was to return to production, the Sixteen concept preempted it. This was the car that, along with the Veyron, was supposed to be the first to conquer the thousand horsepower mark, it was just a question of who would finish the car first. The Cadillac had two combined V8 engines and a total volume of 13.6 liters, while the Bugatti eight-liter with four turbos, although it was a W16 engine.

The owner of a unique Bugatti Chiron used the car as an artistic canvas.  It was the most complex project in history

Unfortunately, Cadillac didn’t make it into production, although it had a clever way to save fuel thanks to cylinder deactivation, a system that was just being developed at the time and is very widespread today. Shortly after the Cadillac concept, he came up with another idea to revive the Rolls-Royce V16 engine. The 100EX and 101 EX experimental cars were two-door coupes and convertibles, respectively, in the Phantom chassis with a BMW-developed 9.0 liter engine. The experiment was not intended for production, but Rowan Atkinson made it to the cinema screens in the film Johnny English returns.

You would also find another V16 engine from BMW developers, but this time in their own chassis. After all, this car is a very famous trial and experiment, it is a BMW 767iL with the nickname Goldfisch. It was an M70 V12 engine with four added cylinders. The resulting car was a monster, the cooling was in the trunk and there were giant air intakes on the rear fenders. This engine was also tested in a Bentley Mulsanne, where there was enough space in the front for cooling to prevent such a monster. Unfortunately, even that failed in the end.

Little Car Company comes out with another hit!  The scaled-down Bentley Blower is testing on three continents

Well, when one premium German car company does something, the other is on the lookout. Shortly after the experimental BMW, Mercedes-Benz also allegedly came up with its piece, but there is only scant information about this project. It is written somewhere that it was the 800 SEL version of the W140 generation, which had a W18 engine. However, we will not go into it completely. It is also not suitable to discuss the Devel Sixteen supersport, which looks cool, but after several years of promises was only seen with half the promised engine.

But let’s go back to the beginning. Cadillac was not the first brand to put a V16 engine in its car. That brand was Maserati when in 1929 it combined two Alfa Romeo 26B eight-cylinder engines with mechanically driven superchargers and Weber carburettors. This resulted in the Maserati Tipo V4, about which we are preparing a separate article. The car already had a respectable output of over 300 horsepower almost a hundred years ago. But we didn’t start with it in this list because it’s a racing car.


Auto Union Type A

But if you mention a racing car with a 16-cylinder fork on the air, everyone probably immediately thinks of Auto Union. At the beginning of the last century, you would hardly have looked for a bigger monster than the Autio Union in some of its variants – from A to D. The car, built with the help of a subsidy from the German government to support motorsport, came after the aforementioned Maserati, but it has a much stronger story and a greater impact on motoring in general. They are cars like no other.

A few more times the V16 engine appeared in motorsport. Once it was in Alfa Romeo, which wanted to deploy something precisely against the above-mentioned Auto Union. Their Tipo 316 was ready for 1938, but Union was slowly ending its model. Tipo 316 had two more siblings, 308 and 312. The last two numbers always referred to the number of cylinders. Anyway, they were all based on the 12C road model.

The last attempt to get the V16 engine on the racetracks, and the only one after the war, was made by BRM (British Racing Motors) in 1951. With the vision of the same advantage as Auto Union, they made a V16 engine according to the F1 regulations at the time, that is, with a volume of 1.5 liters. However, instead of the Roots compressor, a compressor based on that in the Merlin aircraft engine was used. A car was created that, in my opinion, probably has the nicest sound in the world. The video is below.

Apparently the last production car with a V16 engine was the Cizeta-Moroder V16T. The car is very much related to the Lamborghini Urraco, and inside there are essentially two of its eight-cylinder engines combined into a single block with four cylinder heads. It is stored in the middle across. But now we have to abandon the V16 engines, because we have probably already paid for everything worth talking about. Fortunately, there is still a W16 configuration.

Enough has been said here about the engine of this configuration in the Bugatti Veyron and Chiron, now we will be interested in the Jimenez Novia from 1995. Doesn’t that tell you anything? We wouldn’t be surprised, it’s a supersport designed by French motorcycle racer Ramon Jimenez as a tribute to the Porsche 917. Only one example was made, but it’s very ingenious.


First, it has carbon body panels, and second, a sixteen-cylinder engine composed of four engines from the Yamaha FZR1000 motorcycle. Jimenez wanted to drive the car to the 24h Le Mans race and then offer it to people. The car had a power of 520 horsepower and drove up to 380 km/h. But the whole project was terminated due to financial costs and the French government, which wanted one more chassis for crash tests.

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