Cadillac Launched First Production V-8 100 Years Ago

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Cadillac’s first V-8.

Cadillac’s first V-8.

In September 1914, Cadillac introduced the first V-8 engine in a series produced, mass-market automobile. The 314.5-cid V-8 had a 3-1/8 x 5-1/8 in. bore and stroke. It was a 90-degree L-head with non-detachable heads and two cast iron four-cylinder blocks on an aluminum crankcase. It made 70 hp at 2400 rpm and 180 lbs.-ft. at 1800-2200 rpm.

In 1916, “Cannonball” Baker and Wm. F. Sturm drove a Cadillac V-8 roadster from Los Angeles to New York in seven days, 11 hours, 52 minutes. They bettered the previous time by three days, 19 hours, 23 minutes.

Con­tinuing refinements of the V-8 had brought detachable cylinder heads for 1918, an inherently balanced crank­shaft in the V-63 of 1924 and detail changes in the interim 85.5-hp Series 314 V-8 that endured until 1936. Then, Ca­dillac came out with a new Gen III V-8 that introduced unit-block construc­tion and downdraft carburetion in a design that would survive until 1949.

The iconic compact Cadillac OHV V-8 of 1949.

The iconic compact Cadillac OHV V-8 of 1949.

The 1949 Cadillac overhead valve V-8 started the postwar horsepower race. By 1952, it had a four-barrel carburetor and cranked out 180 hp. By 1955, the 331 V-8 had a 9.0:1 compression ratio, 250 hp. A dual four-barrel carburetor 270-hp version was standard on Eldorados and optional on other models.

In mid-1975, Cadillac launched the international-sized Seville with a 350-cid fuel-injected V-8, while full-size models got electronic fuel-injection for a 500-cid engine that was the biggest V-8 of modern times.

Cadillac's introduction of the Allanté in 1987 high­lighted what was called the “New Spirit of Cadillac.” The Allanté was based upon the GM-30 platform and utilized a 4.1-liter (249-cid) 170-hp V-8. Upon dropping the Cimarron in 1989, Cadillac returned to its tradition of offering only V-8 engines. By this time, Cadillac was marking its 75th year of offering V-8s.

Cadillac observed its 90th Anniversary in 1993 by introducing the pioneering Northstar engine, with limp-home capability. The Northstar engine of 1995, powering all Cadillacs except the Sedan deVille and Fleetwood, helped to mark the 80th Anniversary of the Cadillac V-8. The 4.6-liter 275-hp Northstar was used in the Seville SLS thru 2004, the Eldorado ESC thru 2002 abd the deVille and deVille DHS thru 2005. The 300-hp version was used in the Seville STS until 2004, the Eldorado ETC thru 2002 and the Deville DTS until 2005. Its final appearance was in the last 2006-2011 DTS series. The 4.4-liter Northstar V-8 used in Cadillac’s later V-Series are all supercharged.

Yes, the Cadillac V-8 is an icon and now the icon is 100 years old.

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