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Cadillac Innovation and Racing

Cadillac Innovation and Racing

Over the past 100 + years, Cadillac has had a strong impact on design, technology and popular culture. From magnificent V-16 engines and computer-controlled suspensions to soaring tail fins and quad headlamps, Cadillac has set the standards in bold design and ingenious technology.

Features that are now taken for granted were hailed as technological breakthroughs when Cadillac introduced them on production vehicles. The list of Cadillac innovations includes the first self-starter and the first synchronized transmission. Cadillac raised the bar in powertrains with elegant V-8, V-12 and V-16 engines. Cadillac also introduced America’s first transverse-V-8/front-wheel drive automobile.

Cadillac’s reputation for innovation reaches back to the first Cadillac automobile completed by company founder Henry M. Leland on Oct. 17, 1902. His first single-cylinder Cadillac engine produced a then-astounding 10 horsepower, easily surpassing the output of his rivals’ powerplants.

In 1908, Cadillac became the first American automaker to win the Royal Automobile Club of Great Britain’s prestigious Dewar Trophy for significant automotive advancements. Three randomly selected Cadillacs were disassembled, their parts scrambled, and the three vehicles reassembled using only hand tools. A 500-mile road test proved the interchangeability of each car’s 721 components. With this impressive demonstration, Cadillac became the benchmark in automotive technology. This test cemented Cadillac's reputation for precision and quality and brought fame to the marque.

Cadillac research on high-performance aircraft engines during World War II paid a peace dividend when high-octane gasoline became available. Cadillac engineers designed a new high-compression engine that took advantage of the power-enhancing properties of this new fuel. In 1949, Cadillac introduced the first modern mass-produced overhead-valve V-8. Rated at an astounding 160 horsepower, the 331-cubic-inch Cadillac V-8 featured a short stroke and lightweight construction. It weighed 200 pounds less than the flathead V-8 it replaced.

Racers quickly recognized the advantages of the new Cadillac powerplant. Famed Indy driver Paul Russo won the 1949 Milwaukee 100 stock car race in a Cadillac, and Red Byron finished third in the 1950 NASCAR Southern 500 in Darlington, South Carolina. Gober Sosebee took the pole position and finished second in a 100-mile NASCAR Grand National race on a half-mile dirt track in Columbus, Georgia, in June 1951.

In 1952, Buck Baker won a 250-mile race in NASCAR’s Speedway division in a Cadillac-powered Indy-style car, and Tom Deal’s Cadillac finished second in the Carrera Panamerica road race in Mexico. Cadillac engines powered Briggs Cunningham’s limited-production sports cars and made the English-built Allard J-2 the car to beat on road courses from Watkins Glen, N.Y., to Pebble Beach, Calif.

Cadillac even traveled the long and winding road to Le Mans, France, the home of the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. Briggs Cunningham, a well-heeled sportsman and racing enthusiast, led the way. His American-based team brashly entered a pair of Cadillacs in the 1950 edition of Europe’s classic road race. The first was a stock-bodied 61 Series coupe and the second a stunning rebodied chassis that was affectionately named “Le Monstre” by the astonished French fans. Cunningham’s fresh-from-the-showroom Cadillac finished 10th; his aero-bodied creation posted a respectable 11th-place finish in spite of an excursion into a gravel trap. A Cadillac-Allard J2 entry, driven by Tom Cole and Sydney H. Allard, finished third overall and first in the over-8000 cc class.

Powertrain technology has also changed since the days of the V-16 engines. The carburetors and overhead valves that were cutting-edge technology have been supplanted by electronic fuel injection, multi-valve cylinder heads and double overhead camshafts. In 1992, Cadillac unveiled the 4.6-liter Northstar V-8, the first member of a new family of GM Premium V engines. GM Racing, the technical arm of GM’s motorsports program, developed several competition versions of the Premium V engine, including a twin-turbocharged Northstar V-8 that powered the Cadillac Northstar Le Mans Prototype in the American Le Mans Series. The small-block V-8s that power the production CTS-V and the CTS-V race car are among the most powerful small-block engines ever produced. The transmissions in the CTS-V race cars use a synchronizer design developed by Cadillac years ago as "Silent Shift," although the original bronze synchronizer pads are replaced with carbon composite material in the modern version.

In 2004, Cadillac entered the ultra-competitive SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge GT Championship with the CTS-V Sedan. From their debut in 2004 to 2007, Team Cadillac CTS-V Sedans won a Manufacturer’s Championship (2005), a Driver’s Championship (Andy Pilgrim, 2005), had 10 wins, seven pole position starts and 36 podium finishes, including wins.

Cadillac returned to professional racing in 2011 with two CTS-V Coupes in the ultra-competitive Pirelli World Challenge GT Series with seasoned drivers Johnny O’Connelll and Andy Pilgrim. In 2011, the team posted two wins, Mid-Ohio and Road Atlanta, to prove the competitiveness of the new Standard of the World race cars.

The V-Series vehicles are direct descendants of the racers found on the high-performance Cadillac Racing circuit. And if the many victories of its predecessors are any indication, there should be no doubt about its abilities. The V-Series of coupes and sedans continue Cadillac’s tradition of bringing innovative technology to the luxury sport market.

2016 ATS-V Coupe
The ATS-V Coupe could be taken straight from the road to the track. With its powerful Twin Turbo engine, class-leading torque, and aggressive acceleration, it redefines the limits of performance.

2016 ATS-V Sedan
The ATS-V Sedan puts racing power at your command. From the Twin Turbo engine and athletic lines to the driver-centric interior, everyday driving becomes more dynamic.

2016 CTS-V Sedan
The CTS-V Sedan proves performance and elegance can be combined with stunning results. You’ll enjoy a supercharged engine with responsive power and a cabin precision-fitted with refined materials and features. One moment behind the wheel, and you may discover new reasons to drive.