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Cadillac Motor Car Division
General Motors Corporation
300009 Van Dyke Avenue
Warren, Michigan 48093
Phone: (313) 974-5000
Very few people realize that the company now known as Cadillac was founded by Henry Ford in 1899. The Detroit Automobile Company was established by Mr. Ford who left in 1901. The name was changed to the Cadillac Automobile Company in 1902.
Cadillac founder, Henry Leland, developed his skills as a fine machinist under firearm manufacturer, Samuel Colt. Leland moved to Detroit in 1890 to produce precision gears and was soon making steam engines for street cars. After developing the gasoline engine for the 1901 Curved Dash Olds, he attracted a group of financial backers who partnered with him to form the Cadillac Motor Company, named for the French explorer who had discovered Detroit in the early 18th Century.
1902 - Henry Leland, a master mechanic and entrepreneur, establishes Cadillac. In their first advertisement, run in 1903, Cadillac uses the headline and slogan "Enter the Cadillac - It's just good all over".
1903 - Cadillac displays their Model A Runabout. The car featured a single-cylinder 10-horsepower engine capable of reaching 30 mils per hour. The company demonstrated their desire to be leaders in technology by having rack-and-pinion steering and variable intake-valve timing - features included in many of today's advanced designs.
1904 - The first production car in the United Stated to have a steering wheel is built by Cadillac.
1905 - Cadillac enters the luxury market sector with the introduction of the five-seater Model D. Dramatically larger than the single-cylinder cars, this four-cylinder car was distinguished by its price tag of $2,800.
1905 - Cadillac builds their first "concept car", the Osceola, which featured a fully enclosed driver and passenger compartment - the origination of the design of the modern automobile. Cars being built up until that time were open buggies with motors. The enclosed body car was offered to the public in 1906. Ads described it as "the physician's all-weather vehicle, and the perfect opera car."
1908 - The Royal Automobile Club awards Cadillac the coveted Dewar Trophy for its excellence of parts-interchangeability when they take three randomly-selected Cadillacs and disassemble them, mix the parts together, and then reassemble three cars using simple hand tools. Cadillac became the first American automobile manufacturer to win this award and the Cadillac advertising claim of "Standard Of The World" had a ring of truth. Cadillac also won the Royal Automobile Club 2,000 mile run.
1909 - General Motors acquires Cadillac for $5,969,200.
1909 - Cadillac becomes the world's first automobile company to offer a limousine with closed bodywork for the passengers as a standard offering.
1912 - When Cadillac introduced the Delco electric starter in 1912 the automobile immediately became more accessible to many more drivers, especially women, by eliminating the difficult and dangerous hand crank starting. The significance of this development is made evident by the awarding of a second Dewar Trophy to Cadillac, the first ond only time this has been done.
1915 - The world's first mass-produced V8 engine is built on Cadillac's assembly lines. It became the basis for the standard powerplant used by Cadillac for 85 years. The 314cid engine produced 70 horsepower and was the first engine to use thermostaticlly-controlled water-cooling technology.
As the USA became more involved in the First World War, the U.S. War Department bought over 2,000 standard V8 Cadillacs to be used as officer staff cars. Cadillac also built America's first fully-armored car and was involved in the development of the first Liberty aircraft engines.
Leland left Cadillac in 1917 to form the Lincoln Motor Company to manufacture aircraft engines>
1922 - The demand for Cadillacs grow due to driver-oriented innovations such as offering as standard windsheild wipers and rearview mirrors. For the first time, Cadillac's production exceeds 20,000.
1924 - The V8 engine is improved to produce 85.5 horsepower at 3,000rpm by such developments as a fully counter-weighted two-plane crankshaft.
Style becomes more and more important. Utilizing the improved fast-drying Duco paints, Cadillac offered buyers over 500 color combinations while most manufacturers were still offering only black. Brass and nichol was replaced by brilliant chrome plating and Cadillac's car bodies were designed with appearance and function in mind.
Cadillac Motor Car Company´ first V-type engine design was introduced in October, 1914, as the Cadillac V-8 Model 51. In its quest for heigher engine performance, Cadillac experimented for more than three years with a V-16 engine design.
The V-16 was designed, engineered, prototypes handbuilt, and hundreds of thousands of miles of testing was accomplished without public knowledge. But when it was formally announced in December, 1929, orders poured in from eager would-be owners who had not even seen one.
The new 16-cylinder Cadillac made its first public appearance in the form of a majestic Imperial Landau Sedan with Fleetwood coachwork at the 1930 New York Automobile Show. In an era of fours, sixes and straight-eights, the public was dazzled by the very notion of a 16-cylinder powerplant.
Despite the technological innovations and high quality custom coachwork, Cadillac sales dropped yearly as the Depression continued to devastate the luxury car market. Cadillac´s worst year was 1933 and it was announced that only a limited number of V-16´s would be produced. Serial numbers would range from 1 to 400 and the owner´s name and the car´s serial number would be engraved on a special plate attached as an integral part of the car. However, only 126 V-16 cars were ordered in 1933.
1930 - Cadillac introduces several major advancements for 1930: V-12 and V-16 engines are offered, power brakes are offered, cars come wired for radios, engines have automatic hydraulic tappet clearance adjustment to reduce maintenance.
1980 - All decisions and "improvements" are not a success. In 1980 Cadillac introduced the revolutionary V-8-6-4 engine. but the system proved troublesome and was unpopular with buyers and was abandoned two years later.
1984 - Cadillac builds a convertible model of the ElDorado for only the one year.