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Supercars

Here are some of the greatest 16-cylinder cars ever made

Without doubt the most exotic engine configuration. But which are its greatest champions?

BMW Goldfisch
  • Cadillac Sixteen

    Cadillac Sixteen

    Cadillac’s V16 engine can trace its roots as far back as the 1930s when it was used to power various models like the Series 452, before seemingly vanishing into the pages of history. But in 2003, Cadillac unveiled the Sixteen to the world with a modernised, 13.6-litre rendition of the forgotten hero, packing around 1,000bhp and enough torque to part the River Nile. It’s a shame it never made production.

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  • Bugatti Veyron

    Bugatti Veyron

    Arguably the greatest of all the mighty 16-cylinder cars, but did you know the Bugatti Veyron was initially going to have an extra two cylinders? Yep, that was the original plan before Volkswagen realised that it may be a touch too ambitious, even for them. Still, the resulting product was OK, given it snatched the then-production car speed record and all that.

  • Rolls-Royce 101EX

    Rolls-Royce 101EX

    The perfect car for such a wafty engine, and like many of the other cars on this list, one that failed to ever make it into the real world. Several Rolls-Royce 101EXs did, however, make appearances in Johnny English Reborn at the request of Rowan Atkinson himself, after which they were probably painted green and black and used to ferry a teddy bear around.

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  • BRM P15

    BRM P15

    On the opposite end of the spectrum to the big Roller is this: the BRM P15 V16 Formula One car. Despite producing a peak of 600bhp and redlining at close to 14,000, the displacement was only 1.5 litres (albeit aided by supercharging). Unfortunately, it gained a reputation for being ambitious but, er, not very good. It was hampered by reliability issues, and relegated - by choice of its creators - to Formula Two.

  • BMW 7 Series 'Goldfisch'

    BMW 7 Series Goldfisch

    What exactly made BMW’s engineers look at the already-great M70 V12 block and think what it needed was another four cylinders remains anyone's guess. But the resulting 408bhp engine was slotted into an E32 7 Series and, check this, retained the manual gearbox *gulp*. And yes, before you ask, it did go into production… not.

  • Maserati Tipo V4

    Maserati Tipo V4

    375bhp may not sound like much these days, but back in 1929, when Maserati began production of the Tipo V4, it must’ve had a Veyron-like effect on the world. The supercharged 4.0-litre V16 sent all of its considerable power to the rear wheels through a three-speed manual. Fittingly, the grand tourer even had its body designed by Zagato. We want one. Badly.

  • Auto Union Type C

    Auto Union Type C

    Built by Ferdinand Porsche himself, the Auto Union cars of the ‘30s carried all the ambition of the aforementioned BRM but weren’t rubbish in the slightest. The Type C in particular was a big favourite, with its ‘Roots’ supercharger contributing to a total output of 520bhp in a car which weighed just 734kg. If Wacky Races was real, this would be a fitting entrant.

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  • Bugatti Chiron

    Bugatti Chiron

    You didn’t think we’d forgotten, did you? While the Veyron’s achievements were undoubtedly brilliant, the Chiron should be the one history remembers more fondly in a hundred years. Why? Because its Super Sport variant became the first production car to hurl past the 300mph barrier. If people say the Ferrari F40 is the greatest car ever because it was the first to surpass 200mph, what does that make the Chiron?

  • Jimenez Novia

    Jimenez Novia

    Based on a little known car called the 'Porsche 917' and intended to compete in endurance racing in much the same vein, the Jimenez Novia W16 was built by a French motorcycle enthusiast, Ramon Jimenez, over 10 years using parts developed entirely by himself. During a closed motorway run, it’s even rumoured to have reached a top speed of 236mph. Not bad for a shed project, right?

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  • Devel Sixteen

    Devel Sixteen

    Ah, the car built by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia itself and claimed to have a sub-two-second sprint to 60 en route to a capped top speed of close to 350mph. It all sounds wonderfully mad. But, of course, none of this has actually been proven. The Devel Sixteen’s track-based version is also said to produce over 5,000bhp. Sadly, this too falls a bit short on legitimacy.

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