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Sixteen Coupe Convertible
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  Marmon Sixteen Coupe Convertible
 

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Country of origin:United States
Produced from:1931 - 1933
Numbers built:390 (all bodies)
Designed by:Walter Dorwin Teague
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 27, 2005
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Click here to download printer friendly versionThree different American luxury manufacturer set out to design V16 engines in the second half of the 1920s. Of these the Cadillac is the most famous and successful, but the Marmon was without a doubt the most advanced. The third engine, designed by Peerless, never made it past the prototype phase. The idea of using a sixteen cylinder engine was not new, but it was the first time such an engine was designed for road use. The luxury market was very competitive, and was driven by the idea that 'bigger is better'.

Howard Marmon was the first to start designing a V16, but the idea of using two of his eight cylinder engine blocks on a common crank did not work out, and he had to start again from scratch. A completely new engine was designed, using light alloys only for the heads, block and oil pan. Although displacing just over 8 litres, the engine was so light that it had one of the highest hp/lb ratio of any contemporary unblown engine. With 200 bhp available, it was surpassed only by the equally advanced Duesenberg 'eight'.

The lightweight engine was mounted in a straightforward ladder chassis, which was suspended by live axles and semi-elliptic springs all around. Most of the high end cars were available as chassis only, to give the customers the choice of a wide variety of body designs from independent coach builders. In the Marmon V16's case the company had commissioned Walter Dorwin Teague, one of the leading American designers, to provide a number of standard body designs. Just like the engine design, the Teague designed bodies were far from conventional.

Because of the delays in the design process, Marmon did not have the V16 ready until 1931. By that time Cadillac's V16 had already been available for a couple of months, and over 3000 examples had been sold. There were a lot of players in this competitive market, and it proved very difficult for Marmon to win the customer's hearts over. The Teague designs proved to be advanced for the relatively conservative rich and famous the car was aimed at. The final blow for the company was the depression, and the factory was forced to close down in 1933.

In the two years the big Marmon was available, a mere 390 cars were produced, which is a minute figure compared to the Cadillac V16's first year record. Today only about 60 examples of the Sixteen are still around, but despite the advanced design and rarity, they are not nearly as sought after as their high-end contemporaries like the Duesenbergs.

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  Article Image gallery (7) Specifications