A brief look into the history of Cadillac; over 100 years and still going strong
Posted on: Thursday, March 10, 2011
For over a century, Cadillac has stood for iconic design, artful engineering and a love of innovation. It has been the automotive expression of the American dream, built for people who believe that it doesn’t matter where you came from, just how far you want to go and how fast you want to get there.
At the dawn of the twentieth century a man named Henry Leland, a master mechanic and entrepreneur, created an automotive company called Cadillac, named after his ancestor Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the founder of Detroit. Within six years, Cadillac had laid the foundation for modern mass production of automobiles. During this time, Cadillac was the first American car awarded the prestigious Dewar Trophy from the Royal Automobile Club of England. Shortly after, Cadillac adopted the slogan “Standard of the World.”
With Model Thirty, Cadillac debuted “the car with no crank” – the first production car to feature an electric self-start, ignition and lighting. This brought the Dewar trophy back to Detroit, making Cadillac the only car manufacturer to win it twice. In 1915, Cadillac introduced the first mass-produced car with a V-type, water cooled engine, eight-cylinder (V8) engine, which became a signature of the Cadillac brand.
In 1924, Cadillac broke new ground with the use of lacquer paint, offering customers over 500 colors combinations to choose from. Then in 1926, Cadillac recruited Harley Earl to design the 1927 LaSalle convertible coupe, making it the first American car designed by a stylist instead of an engineer. The name Cadillac became synonymous with beauty and luxury.
During the the height of the Depression, Cadillac raised the bar with the world’s first V-type 16-cylinder engine in a passenger car. In 1937, a Cadillac built V-8 breaks all previous stock car records at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 1938, Cadillac introduced America to the sunroof.
Shortly after Pearl Harbor, Cadillac discontinued car production and devoted its resources to the war efforts. V-8 engines, transmissions and power units are successfully used in M-5 light tanks and M-8 Howitzer Motor Carriages. After the war, Harley Earl redefined American automobiles again with the introduction of the tail fin.
In 1950 and 1951, car production exceeded 100,000 vehicles a year. Also, V-8 powered Cadillac’s finish third, tenth and eleventh at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, one of the most grueling races in the world. The company followed this up with a string of safety innovations, including an “autotronic eye” which dims headlamps automatically. By the end of the decade, Cadillac became one of the definitive icons of the fifties.
Cadillac continued to make technological and stylistic advances in the sixties. In 1964, Cadillac redefined luxury with Comfort Control, the industry’s first thermostatically regulated heating, venting and air conditioning system. In 1965, an American era ended when tail fins are discontinued.
Starting the seventies with a bang, Cadillac unveiled the 400 hp, 8.2L engine Eldorado. In 1974, Cadillac again leaded the pack with air cushion restraints (air bags) for passenger safety and catalytic converters to lower emissions. In 1975, Cadillac became the first manufacturer to use electronically fuel-injected engines and in 1978, the Cadillac Seville piloted the era of the computerized automobile with an onboard microprocessor in its digital display.
Cadillac then embraced the enthusiasm of the eighties with the dramatic Seville Elegante. A modern interpretation of the classic car designs of the thirties and forties, its sleek, sports car physique and distinctive “bustle-back” style were widely imitated throughout the industry.
During the nineties, Cadillac brought the first electronic traction control system in America. In 1990 Cadillac won the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award and in 1992 Cadillac Seville Touring Sedan won “Car of the Year”.
Celebrating its 100th anniversary, Cadillac gives tangible proof of its commitment to push the boundaries of design and engineering. It started the new millennium with the award-winning Cien Concept, inspired by F-22 Stealth aircrafts. Then, Cadillac unveiled the Escalade, taking the luxury SVU to new heights, and garnering international acclaim with the second generation CTS Sedan, which won the 2008 Car of the Year, 2009 Best Sport Sedan and 2010 Best 10 Cars awards.
Don’t just be part of the history of Cadillac, be part of the future too. Stop by your local Houston Cadillac Dealer to test drive the 2011 CTS-V, Escalade, SRX or any of the other Cadillac models.