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Type Division
  • Automobile distribution
  • Automobile marketing
Predecessors Henry Ford Company
Founded Michigan, U.S.
August 22, 1902 (1902-08-22)
Headquarters New York City, New York, United States
Area served Worldwide
Key people Johan De Nysschen, President, Cadillac
Products Luxury vehicles
Production output 149,782 vehicles sold (2012)
Owners General Motors Company
Website .html/
Footnotes / references

Cadillac , formally the Cadillac Motor Car Division, is a division of U.S.-based General Motors Company (GM) that markets luxury vehicles worldwide. Cadillac's primary markets are the United States, Canada, and China, but Cadillac-branded vehicles are distributed in 34 additional markets worldwide. Historically, Cadillac automobiles have always been the luxury icon within the United States of America.[2] In 2012, Cadillac's U.S. sales were 149,782 vehicles.[3]

Cadillac is currently the second oldest American automobile brand following fellow GM marque Buick and is among the oldest automobile brands in the world. Cadillac was founded from the remnants of the Henry Ford Company in 1902, almost 9 years before Chevrolet was founded.[4] The company was named after Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, who founded Detroit, Michigan. The Cadillac crest is based on his coat of arms.

General Motors purchased the company in 1909. Cadillac had laid the foundation for the modern mass production of automobiles by demonstrating the complete interchangeability of its precision parts while simultaneously establishing itself as one of America's premier luxury cars. Cadillac introduced technological advances, including full electrical systems, the clashless manual transmission and the steel roof. The brand developed three engines, with the V8 engine setting the standard for the American automotive industry.

Cadillac is the first American car to win the Dewar Trophy from the Royal Automobile Club of England, having successfully demonstrated the interchangeability of its component parts during a reliability test in 1908; this spawned the firm's slogan "Standard of the World". It won that trophy a second time in 1912 for incorporating electric starting and lighting in a production automobile.[5]

Early history


Cadillac was formed from the remnants of the Henry Ford Company. After a dispute between Henry Ford and his investors, Ford left the company along with several of his key partners in March 1902. Ford's financial backer William Murphy and Lemuel Bowen, called in engineer Henry M. Leland of Leland & Faulconer Manufacturing Company to appraise the plant and equipment in preparation for a liquidation of the company's assets. Instead of offering an appraisal, Leland persuaded Murphy and Bowen to continue manufacturing automobiles using Leland's proven single-cylinder engine. A new company called the Cadillac Automobile Company was established on 22 August 1902. The company was named after French explorer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, who founded Detroit in 1701.[6][7]

First automobiles

Cadillac's first automobiles, the Runabout and Tonneau, were completed in October 1902. They were two-seat horseless carriages powered by a 10 hp (7 kW) single-cylinder engine. They were practically identical to the 1903 Ford Model A. Many sources say the first car rolled out of the factory on 17 October; in the book Henry Leland – Master of Precision, the date is 20 October; another reliable source shows car number 3 to have been built on 16 October. Cadillac displayed the new vehicles at the New York Auto Show in January 1903, where the vehicles impressed the crowds enough to gather over 2,000 firm orders. Cadillac's biggest selling point was precision manufacturing, and therefore, reliability; a Cadillac was simply a better-made vehicle than its competitors.

Notable events

The Cadillac Automobile Company merged with the Leland & Faulconer Manufacturing forming The Cadillac Motor Company in 1905.[8]

From its earliest years, Cadillac aimed for precision engineering and stylish luxury finishes, causing its cars to be ranked amongst the finest in the United States.

Cadillac was the first volume manufacturer of a fully enclosed car in 1906. Cadillac participated in the 1908 interchangeability test in the United Kingdom, and was awarded the Dewar Trophy for the most important advancement of the year in the automobile industry. In 1912, Cadillac was the first automobile manufacturer to incorporate an electrical system enabling starting, ignition, and lighting.[9][10]

Acquired by General Motors

Cadillac was purchased by the General Motors (GM) conglomerate in 1909.[11] Cadillac became General Motors' prestige division, devoted to the production of large luxury vehicles. The Cadillac line was also GM's default marque for "commercial chassis" institutional vehicles, such as limousines, ambulances, hearses and funeral home flower cars, the last three of which were custom-built by aftermarket manufacturers.


In 1915, Cadillac introduced a 90-degree flathead V8 engine with 70 horsepower (52 kW) at 2400 rpm and 180 pound force-feet (240 N·m) of torque, allowing its cars to attain 65 miles per hour.[10] This was faster than most roads could accommodate at this time. Cadillac pioneered the dual-plane V8 crankshaft in 1918. In 1928 Cadillac introduced the first clashless Synchro-Mesh manual transmission, utilizing constant mesh gears. In 1930 Cadillac implemented the first V-16 engine, with a 45-degree overhead valve, 452 cubic inches (7.41 litres), and 165 horsepower (123 kW), one of the most powerful and quietest engines in the United States. The development and introduction of the V8, V16 and V-12 helped to make Cadillac the "Standard of the World".[10] A later model of the V8 engine, known as the overhead valve, set the standard for the entire American automotive industry in 1949.[10]

A 1921 Cadillac advertisement.

In July 1917, the United States Army needed a dependable staff car and chose the Cadillac Type 55 Touring Model after exhaustive tests on the Mexican border. 2,350 of the cars were supplied for use in France by officers of the American Expeditionary Force in World War I.[12]

General Motors of Canada had built Cadillacs from 1923 until 1936 and LaSalles from 1927 until 1935.[13]

Pre-World War II Cadillacs were well-built, powerful, mass-produced luxury cars aimed at an upper-class market. In the 1930s, Cadillac added cars with V12 and V16 engines to their range, many of which were fitted with custom coach-built bodies.[14]

In 1926, Cadillac recruited automobile stylist Harley Earl in a one-time consulting capacity, but his employment lasted considerably longer: by 1928, Earl was the head of the new Art and Color division and he would ultimately work for GM until he retired, over 30 years later. The first car he designed was the LaSalle, a new, smaller "companion marque" car, named after another French explorer and founder of Detroit, René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. That marque remained in production until 1940.[15]

Cadillac introduced designer-styled bodywork (as opposed to auto-engineered) in 1927. It installed shatter-resistant glass in 1926. Cadillac also introduced the "turret top", the first all-steel roof on a passenger car.[10] Previously, car roofs had been made out of fabric-covered wood.

The Great Depression sapped the auto industry generally, with the luxury market declining more steeply; between 1928–1933, Cadillac sales had declined by 84%, to 6,736 vehicles.[16] Exacerbating sales performance for the Cadillac brand was a policy, reflective of the times, which discouraged sales to African Americans.[17] Nick Dreystadt, mechanic and national head of Cadillac service, urged a committee – set up to decide whether the Cadillac brand would live on – to revoke that policy. After the policy was eliminated, brand sales increased by 70% in 1934 – and Dreystadt was promoted to lead the entire Cadillac Division.[17]

By 1940, Cadillac sales had risen tenfold compared to 1934.[14] In 1936, Dreystadt released the Series 60 as Cadillac's entry into the mid-priced vehicle market. It was replaced by the Series 61 in 1939, but a popular model that was derived from it, the Sixty Special, continued through 1993. Another factor helped boost Cadillac growth over the next few years: a revolution in assembly line technology. In 1934, Henry F. Phillips introduced the Phillips screw and driver to the market. He entered into talks with General Motors and convinced the Cadillac group that his new screws would speed assembly times and therefore increase profits. Cadillac was the first automaker to use the Phillips technology in 1937, which was widely adopted in 1940.[18] For the first time in many years all cars built by the company shared the same basic engine and drivetrain in 1941.[19] 1941 also saw introduction of optional Hydra-Matic, the first mass-produced fully automatic transmission, offered the previous year on the Oldsmobile.

Post–World War II

In 1951, Cadillac began production of the M41 Walker Bulldog army tank for that would be used in the Korean and Vietnam wars. Postwar Cadillac vehicles, incorporating the ideas of General Motors styling chief Harley J. Earl, innovated many of the styling features that came to be synonymous with the classic (late 1940s and 1950s) American automobile, including tailfins, wraparound windshields, and extensive exterior and interior bright-work (chrome and polished stainless steel). Fledgling automotive magazine Motor Trend awarded its first "Car of the Year" to Cadillac in 1949; the company turned it down.[20]

On 25 November 1949, Cadillac produced its one millionth car, a 1950 Coupe de Ville.[21] It also set a record for annual production of over 100,000 cars,[21] a record it repeated in 1950 and 1951.[22] 1949 also saw the introduction of the first mass-produced hardtop convertible by Cadillac (and Buick), a closed coupe body style without a "B" pillar, similar to the side windows of a convertible but with a fixed steel roof. Marketed as the Coupe de Ville, it would become one of Cadillac's most popular models for many years. Cadillac's first tailfins, inspired by the twin rudders of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, appeared in 1948; the 1959 Cadillac, designed by Peter Hodak, was the epitome of the tailfin craze, with the most recognizable tailfins of any production automobile. From 1960 to 1964, the fins decreased in size each year and disappeared with the 1965 model year (except for the 1965 series 75 chassis which was a carry over from 1964). The Cadillac tailfin did serve one practical purpose, however. From the inception of the fin up to the 1958 model year, the driver's (left) side fin housed the gasoline filler neck under the taillight assembly. To fill the car with fuel, the taillight had to be released and pivoted upward to access the gas cap. This eliminated the unsightly gas filler door from the side of the vehicle, providing a smoother, cleaner appearance.

Tailfins were added to body shape in 1948.[10] In 1953, the "Autronic Eye" was introduced. This feature would automatically dim high-beam headlamps for the safety of oncoming motorists.[23] The Eldorado Brougham of 1957 offered a "memory seat" function, allowing seat positions to be saved and recalled for different drivers.

An all-transistor signal-seeking car radio was produced by GM's Delco Radio and was first available for the 1957 Eldorado Brougham models, which was standard equipment and used 13 transistors in its circuitry.[24][25][26]
Cadillac Eldoradio Brougham all-transistor car radio-1957 dash

Cadillac's other distinctive styling attribute was its front-bumper designs which became known as Dagmar bumpers or simply Dagmars. What had started out after the war as an artillery shell shaped bumper guard became an increasingly important part of Cadillac's complicated front grille and bumper assembly.[24] As the 1950s wore on, the element was placed higher in the front-end design, negating their purpose as bumper guards. They also became more pronounced and were likened to the bosom of 1950s television personality Dagmar. In 1957 the bumpers gained black rubber tips which only heightened the relationship between the styling element and a stylized, exaggerated bumper design. For 1958 the element was toned down and then was completely absent from the 1959 models. 1956 saw the introduction of the pillarless 4-door hardtop sedan, marketed as the "Sedan deVille." All standard 1957 Cadillacs featured pillarless body styling.

1962 saw the introduction of a dual-reservoir brake master cylinder with separate front and rear hydraulic systems, fully five years ahead of the Federal requirement for all new passenger cars. The first fully automatic heater/air conditioning system was introduced in 1964, allowing the driver to set a desired temperature to be maintained by "climate control". That same year saw the introduction of Turbo-Hydramatic, a modern three-speed automatic transmission that would become GM's standard automatic for several decades. From the late 1960s, Cadillac offered a fiber-optic warning system to alert the driver to failed light bulbs. The use of extensive bright-work on the exterior and interior also decreased each year after 1959. By the 1966 model year, even the rear bumpers ceased to be all chrome – large portions were painted, including the headlight bezels.

In 1966, Cadillac would mark up its best annual sales yet, over 192,000 units (142,190 of them de Villes),[27] an increase of more than 60%.[28] This was exceeded in 1968, when Cadillac topped 200,000 units for the first time.[29] 1967 and 1968 saw the introduction of a host of Federally-mandated safety features, including energy-absorbing steering columns and wheels, soft interior and instrument panel knobs and surfaces, front shoulder belts, and side marker lights.

The launch of the front-wheel drive Eldorado in 1967 as a personal luxury coupe, with its simple, elegant design – a far cry from the tail-fin and chrome excesses of the 1950s – gave Cadillac a direct competitor for the Lincoln and Imperial, and in 1970, Cadillac sales topped Chrysler's for the first time.[30] The new 472 cu in (7.7 l) engine that debuted in the 1968 model year, designed for an ultimate capacity potential of 600 cu in (9.8 l),[31] was increased to 500 cu in (8.2 l) for the 1970 Eldorado. It was adopted across the model range beginning in 1975. Driver airbags were offered on some Cadillac models from 1974 to 1976. The last true pillarless Coupe deVille was the 1973 model; however the Sedan deVille continued in production as a pillarless model through 1976.

The 1970s saw vehicles memorable for their luxury and dimensions. The 1972 Fleetwood was some 1.7 in (43 mm) longer in wheelbase and 4 in (100 mm) overall, compared to the 1960 Series 75 Fleetwood; the entry-level 1972 Calais was 2.4 in (61.0 mm) longer than the equivalent 1960 Series 62, on the same wheelbase.[32] During this time, the Cadillac series gained a smoother ride while vehicle weight, standard equipment, and engine displacement were all increased. Cadillac experienced record sales in 1973 and again in the late 1970s.

1977 saw the same "downsizing" changes as the rest of GM's "B" and "C" bodied cars. DeVille models lost hundreds of pounds and got taller windows, smaller exterior dimensions, and smaller engines. However, they managed to retain the luxurious profile of earlier Cadillacs, while offering better fuel economy and handling.

The 1980s saw a downsizing of many models, and the introduction of the brand's first front wheel drive compact, the Cimarron. Detroit Assembly on Clark Street in Detroit, where Cadillacs had been made since 1921, closed in 1987.

The Art and Science era

Cadillac introduced a new design philosophy for the 21st century called "Art and Science"[33] which it claims "incorporates sharp, sheer forms and crisp edges – a form vocabulary that expresses bold, high-technology design and invokes the technology used to design it." This new design language spread from the original CTS and to the Cadillac XLR roadster. Cadillac's model lineup mostly included rear- and all-wheel-drive sedans, roadsters, crossovers and SUVs. The only exceptions were the front-wheel drive Cadillac BLS (which was not sold in North America)[34] and the Cadillac DTS, neither of which are still in production. The second-generation CTS-V is a direct competitor to the BMW M5.[35] An automatic version of the CTS-V lapped the Nürburgring in 7:59.32, at the time a record for production sedans.[36]

Assembly plants

Moreover Russian company Avtotor leads assembly models Cadillac CTS, Cadillac SRX and Cadillac Escalade in Kaliningrad city.[37]



The Cadillac racing logo

Before the outbreak of World War II, Cadillac (like most manufacturers) participated in various types of motorsport. Many Allard automobiles used Cadillac engines.

In the 1950s, Cadillac (like all American manufacturers at the time) participated in the NASCAR Grand National Series. The brand disappeared from the series by the 1960s.

Cadillac powered the Cadillac Northstar LMP a Le Mans Prototype in the early years of the American Le Mans Series from 2000 to 2002. When the prototype proved unsuccessful, Cadillac withdrew from the series.

Cadillac's most successful venture into motorsport in recent years has been its use of the CTS-V in the SCCA World Challenge Grand Touring class.

See also


  1. ^ "Form 10-K Annual Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 for the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2012 Commission File Number 001-34960 General Motors Company" (PDF). General Motors. General Motors Company. 15 February 2013. Archived from the original on 6 August 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Rick Kranz (30 November 2011). "Cadillac Develops New Strategy In Europe". Automotive News. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  3. ^ "GM's U.S. Sales Up 5 Percent in December". 3 January 2013. Retrieved 3 January 2013. 
  4. ^ General Motors (1954). "Cars That Built GM: An Album of Historic General Motors Cars". p. 8,12. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  5. ^ General Motors (1954). "Cars That Built GM: An Album of Historic General Motors Cars". p. 10,12,14,16. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  6. ^ "Cadillac, Antoine de la Mothe, Sieur de". 11 September 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  7. ^ Granzo T History of Detroit
  8. ^ "Cadillac: A Century of Excellence" by Rob Leicester Wagner (ISBN 978-1-58663-168-0)
  9. ^ Nazario (17 May 2012). "The Continual Innovation and History of Cadillac". GearHeads. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f Laam, Michael (January 2002). "100 Years of Cadillac History". Popular Mechanics. 
  11. ^ "1909, Cadillac Enters the Fold". Generations of GM History. GM Heritage Center. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  12. ^ Bentley, John The Old Car Book, Fawcett Books (1952) p 12
  13. ^ GM Heritage Center,
  14. ^ a b "1930–1939 Cadillac". Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  15. ^ "Earl, Harley J. GM's First Design Chief". Generations of GM History. 
  16. ^ Gordon, John Steele"The Man Who Saved The Cadillac". Forbes. 30 April 2009. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  17. ^ a b Gordon.
  18. ^ "The Beginning of the Phillips Screw Company". Phillips Screw Company. Retrieved 3 June 2011. 
  19. ^ Bonsall, p. 17
  20. ^ Flory, J. "Kelly", Jr. American Cars 1946–1959 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Coy, 2008), p.190.
  21. ^ a b Flory, p.255.
  22. ^ Flory, p.323.
  23. ^ 80 Years of Cadillac LaSalle by Walter M.P. McCall, Motorbooks International, Osceola WI, 1992, p. 298
  24. ^ a b "1957 & 58 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham". Generations of GM History. GM Heritage Center. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  25. ^ 1956 GM Year-End Annual Report, 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham car model introduction announcement, pg 15
  26. ^ Radio & TV News, August 1957, "Delco's All-Transistor Auto Radio", pg 60
  27. ^ Flory, J. "Kelly", Jr. (2004), American Cars 1960–1972, Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Coy, pp. 423, 425–428 
  28. ^ Flory, p.423
  29. ^ Flory, p.570. Karl Ludvigsen's "Cadillac: The Great American Dream Come True", in Northey, Tom, ed. World of Automobiles (London: Orbis, 1974), Vol. 3, p.297, mistakenly dates this to 1967.
  30. ^ Flory, p.721.
  31. ^ "Cadillac Eldorado History". Edmunds. 24 October 2011. 
  32. ^ Flory, pp.20, 23, 878, & 880.
  33. ^ Robyn Meredith (12 November 1999). "THE MEDIA BUSINESS: ADVERTISING; Cadillac is redesigning its image before its retooled cars appear." (The New York Times). The New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2010. 
  34. ^ "2006 Cadillac BLS – Car News". Car and Driver. Retrieved 9 June 2010. 
  35. ^ "2009 Cadillac CTS-V vs. 2008 BMW M5 SMG". Road & Track. 
  36. ^ "Cadillac CTS-V Blisters the Ring in Under 8 Minutes". Retrieved 28 June 2010. 
  37. ^ "Автотор - GM". 

Further reading

  • Bonsall, Thomas E. (2004). The Cadillac Story: The Postwar Years.  

External links

  • Official website
  • Cadillac Car Specs
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