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Hagerty Employee

Cadillac V-8s: A rich heritage of technology and Performance

Cadillac has a rich history of noteworthy engines: the first mass-produced V-8 engine starting in 1915 models, the V-16 of the 1930s and 1940s, and the overhead valve V-8 introduced in 1949. Fast forward to today, and there’s the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 that cranks out 640 horsepower and is found in the 2019 CTS-V; the Escalade uses a naturally aspirated version of the engine, where it makes 420 horsepower. While the CTS-V has been discontinued, there are rumblings that the 6.2-liter will be the engine in the upcoming CT5-V Blackwing. And then there is the intriguingly named Blackwing DOHC V-8 in the now-defunct CT6-V.


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Pit Crew

One of the cars in my stable is a Black 2013 CTS-V Coupe that uses the 6.2 L Supercharged engine.  Lots of power and torque.  This is the same engine family that powers my C7 Z06 Corvette and it was also built in the engine shop at Bowling Green facility that is home to all Corvettes.  This is a great Cadillac and it is very, very quick.  The two door Coupe CTS-V Coupe looks sharp and is an eye catcher (Rakish lines).  I have thoroughly enjoyed this addition to my collection. 

I don't know why Cadillac discontinued mating the Supercharged engine to Coupe model in 2015, but I think it was a mistake.  Mine runs great and never disappoints when I drive it.  I also own a Cadillac XLR two seater convertible (also built in the Bowling Green plant on the Corvette production line), but that is a story for a different day.  :<)


Love the CTS-V Coupe

Yes, the 1984 HT 4100 V8 engine with 135 horsepower was very noteworthy.   I bought a brand new 1984 Cadillac Fleetwood d'Elegance that was a piece of crap.  The car was cheaply made with cardboard being used as backing for inside paneling.  The body was so thin that I was trying to get a spot of rust off of it 7 years after I owned it and under that thin rust spot was a hole you could see through.  The engine head gasket went out after 70,000 miles and water was leaking into the cylinder block.  I was told because the difference between the aluminum block and iron heads cooling and heating at different temperatures created warping between the two metals and thus the gasket would not work anymore.  I went to put a rebuilt engine in it and the only one it would take is the same HT 4100 V8.  I replaced it and got rid of the car a few years later because it was a rust bucket.  I was also told that GM did not test their own engines.  They let the public do that for them after they sold them the piece of crap for an outrageous amount of money.  Only GM car I ever owned and will never buy another one.

Community Manager

Ironically the 4.5 and 4.9L versions of that motor were quite durable.  And then once they nailed it, they replaced it with the Northstar (shivers). 

Pit Crew

I can believe and remember that in 1984 nearly every car maker in the world was having quality control issues (including all divisions of GM).  The Japanese helped to raise the bar for all car makers (US, German, British, Italian, French, Swedish; you name it).  The Japanese showed the world how to improve overall automotive quality (with the help of an American named Deming).  There is even a prestigious Japanese quality award now called the "Deming Award" in his honor. Good, reliable, safe Japanese cars were the result; but they were not very exciting with respect to other cars. (Good quality does not always equal "exciting").


 So fast forward to today (2020) and automotive quality is far better than back in 1984.  And today's Cadillac automotive quality is among the best in the world.   The form, fit, and function of the two Cadillac's that I currently own rival the best in overall Japanese and German quality control, which are considered the world class standard.   It may not be fair to go back 36 years and try to compare that to what is available today.   The Japanese helped raise level of quality for all car makers and the Cadillac of today is not your Grandpa old "Caddy."  But I think we have all had own some bad cars in the past and, I can understand why someone would feel that way.  I would say that having a second look at GM (or Ford, or MOPAR) vehicles might surprise you.  They have all improved and now make some pretty decent vehicles compared to the past.

Intermediate Driver

The inept bosses in charge of Cadillac are slowly killing off what is left of a once great car.  They are continuing a flaccid attempt to be BMW and Audi in a market where those who like BMW’s and Audi’s are going to buy BMW’s and Audi’s not GM products.  Right after the new Blackwing V8 was introduced in the CT6 to sold-out orders, GM discontinues the CT6.  This brand is adrift like a rudderless ship, or in reality, a rudderless dinghy.

Intermediate Driver

None of the mid 70s/early 80s American cars were exceptionally good. Quality sucked. It was a time of down-sizing and squeezing mileage out of them.  The HT4100 was too small for most of the cars it was put in, so it was strained a bit as well as having some new design teething issues. Part of the issues were indeed caused (IMHO) by rushing it out. They needed a smaller, more economical, yet reasonably powerful engine NOW!  I wouldn't let something from 36 years ago keep me from buying something from GM today, things have definitely changed a lot!!

Intermediate Driver

Just wish the article had some photos of those old engine (1915 V-8, 1930s  V-12s & V-16s, and the 49 V-8).  I did a little research and found that Cadillac used nothing but V engines since 1915, using the flat-head V-8 up through 1948.

Pit Crew

My first Cadillac V8 was a big, black 1937 Model 65 Fleetwood, four-door sedan.  I bought it for $150 when I was a junior in high school.  Innovations were AM radio with hidden antenna, hydraulic (silent) valve lifters, traditional grey wool gabardine interior (felt like cashmere), triple-beam headlights and more.  The engine was loaded with torque and the car drove quietly and smoothly.  Gas mileage was lousy, but gas was cheap back then, in the early sixties.  Cadillac kept that same engine through the 1948 model, then went to the 331 overhead valve engine.  By the way, the Cadillac V12 and V16 were overhead valve also.  Wonderful automobiles.