What genre of car could possibly offer less to choose from than that of the most exotic and expensive? The ultra-luxury saloon, of course. By and large your choices are two-fold and they both hail from ol’ Blighty. You’re either a Bentley person or a Rolls-Royce person. Well, we’re here to tell you that there was once nearly a third competitor from America, of all places…
This is the Cadillac Sixteen concept. It’s been 15 years since this three-gallon tank of top-drawer 16-cylinder USA-flavoured decadence debuted so we thought we’d revisit what could have been a very big, fat, chrome-plated fly in Rolls-Royce’s ointment.
Though it was rather garish in its day (and the Phantom wasn’t!?) we happen to really love the way the Sixteen looks. The massive proportions wear the now typical Cadillac edges confidently and with class and the interior by the standards of many modern production cars, seems minimalist and airy. The enormous bonnet is split down the middle and opens sideways for ease of access – open it and you’re met with that monstrous 16-cylinder power plant complete with the intestinal yet artistic medley of manifolds.
The weirdest thing about this gargantuan prototype is that it works. Most concepts of this type with their ridiculous styling, untenable size and pie-in-the-sky party pieces exist purely to reflect the flutter of camera flashes at motor shows. Most are whisked off either to the crusher or a warehouse to gather dust. The Sixteen, for all its excess and absurdity, was as much an engineering exercise as it was a show floor jaw-dropper.