Centennial of V-8 Engine
Cadillac at the Forefront
John Gunnell - March 27, 2014 08:06 AM
The first Cadillac V-8.Courtesy of John Gunnell
The famous 1949 “high compression” Cadillac OHV V-8.Courtesy of John Gunnell
In September 1914, Cadillac introduced the world’s first V-8 in a series produced car. The 314.5-cid V-8 was a 90-degree L-head with non-detachable heads and two cast iron four-cylinder blocks on an aluminum crankcase. With a 4.25:1 compression ratio, it made 70 hp at 2,400 rpm and 180 lbs-ft at 1,800 rpm.
In 1916, Erwin G. “Cannonball” Baker and Wm. F. Sturm drove a V-8 roadster from Los Angeles to New York. Improvements included detachable heads in 1918, an inherently-balanced crankshaft in 1924 and detail changes in the 85.5-hp Series 314 V-8 that lasted until 1936. Then, Cadillac came out with a 346-cid V-8 that introduced unit-block construction and downdraft carburetion.
Cadillac kept the 346 until 1949, when a compact, but sturdy, 331-cid 160-hp overhead valve V-8 arrived. By 1952, it had a four-barrel carb and 180 hp. By ‘55, the 331 V-8 had 250 hp. A dual four-barrel carburetor 270-hp version was standard for Eldorados or a $161 option.
In 1964, what was basically the ’49 V-8 was bored and stroked to 429 cubic inches. Cadillac advertised 340 hp at 4,600 rpm. In 1968, the V-8 went to 472 cid and made 375 hp
The ‘75 Seville got a fuel-injected 350 V-8. Big Caddys had a 500-cid EFI V-8 — the largest in modern times. In ‘77, non-Seville Cadillacs got a smaller 425-cid V-8. The Eldorado was downsized for ‘79 with a 350-cid V-8. Big cars kept the 425.
Cadillac's 1987 introduction of the Allanté high¬lighted the “New Spirit of Cadillac” with a 4.1-liter (249-cid) 170-hp V-8. The deVille, Sixty Special, Seville and Eldorado came with a 4.9-liter (300-cid) 200-hp Cadillac V-8 and the Fleetwood used a 185-hp Chevy 350.
The Northstar engine powered all 1995 Cadillacs except the Sedan deVille and Fleetwood. For 2000, Cadillac restyled full-size deVille sedans on a stiffened platform shared with other GM models. A 4.6-liter 275-hp version came in the Seville SLS thru 2004, the Eldorado ESC thru 2002 and the deVille and deVille DHS thru 2005. A 300-hp version was used in the Seville STS until 2004, the Eldorado ETC thru 2002 and the Deville DTS until 2005. It lasted thru 2006-‘11 DTS.
4.4-liter Northstar V-8s in Cadillac’s later V-Series were all supercharged. The present STS-V engine produces 469 hp and 439 lbs-ft. The 2006-2008 XLR-V uses the same supercharged Northstar V-8 as the STS-V, but in a 443-hp 414 lbs-ft version with the supercharger and four intercoolers built into the intake to fit under the lower hood. Cadillac Escalades were powered by the Chevy-built Vortec 5700 V-8, 6.0-liter Gen III series V-8 or Gen IV 6.2-liter V-8. In addition, the CTS-V sports car offered a variety of Corvette V-8s with up to 638 hp.
Cadillac has been front and center in the world of V-8 engines.