- Written by webmin
Times have, apparently, changed. When Richard Langworth went looking for photos of the 1960s Cadillac V-12 to prove its existence for the story he wrote on that episode of Cadillac history in Special Interest Autos, he came up empty-handed. But after a few well-placed e-mails, GM’s Heritage Center (which now has one of the engines on display) sent along these three photos of what it called the V-Future V-12.
The mention that it’s at the Heritage Center sent me back to look over the photos I took when I visited the center in 2008 and, indeed, I did take a shot of an unlabeled Cadillac overhead-camshaft V-12 engine similar to, but substantially different from the one in these photos.
As you can see, it is indeed of an overhead-camshaft design, with a distributor running off the snout of each camshaft, though the Heritage Center engine seems to have a dummy distributor in addition to the camshaft-mounted distributors. Despite the accessories bolted to the engine, the one in the photos is obviously still somewhat roughed-in, with cylinders and pushrods open to the air; the engine at the Heritage Center is a little more refined and looks production ready. Though we can’t see the carburetors in the three older photos, the engine at the Heritage Center appears to use three two-barrels. And while Langworth’s description of an all-aluminum engine is supported by these photos, the engine is definitely not 90 degrees, as he wrote – more like 75. The 500-cubic-inch displacement that Langworth mentioned does seem plausible, though we’d love to see bore and stroke measurements.
Thanks to General Motors and the staff at the Heritage Center for providing these photos.
UPDATE: Karl Ludvigsen’s 2005 book, “The V-12 Engine: The Untold Inside Story of the Technology, Evolution, Performance and Impact of All V-12-Engined Cars,” has a few pages on the Cadillac V-Future program. He notes that Paul Keydel was assigned responsibility for the engines, and that six prototypes were built. They all featured a 60-degree bank, chain-driven camshafts and hydraulic finger followers. Initial displacement was 7.4 liters, though an 8.2-liter version was also built (500 cubic inches translates to 8.2 liters). The engines were tested from May 1963 through April 1964 and developed anywhere from 295 to 394 horsepower and from 418 to 506 pound-feet of torque, using a variety of induction systems including fuel injection, a single four-barrel carburetor, dual two-barrels, dual four-barrels and triple two-barrels.
Interestingly, Ludvigsen notes that the V-12 was slated to appear in the front-wheel-drive Eldorado, and that GM drivetrain engineers had initially considered a transverse engine placement for the front-wheel-drive drivetrains. Cadillac engineers protested, noting that the transverse engine placement would not work with the longer V-12, and were able to force the drivetrain engineers to develop a longitudinal engine placement in the front-wheel-drive cars. It wasn’t until after that change was made in 1964 that the V-Future V-12 program was discontinued due to the poor performance of the test engines and due to a predicted inability for the engine to meet anticipated emissions controls.