|Predecessor(s)||Henry Ford Company|
August 2, 1902
|Headquarters||Detroit, Michigan, United States|
|Key people||Robert E. Ferguson, GM Vice President, Global Cadillac(p17)|
|Production output||149,782 vehicles sold (2012)|
|Owner(s)||General Motors Company|
Cadillac //, formally the Cadillac Motor Car Division, is a division of United States-based General Motors Company (GM) that markets luxury vehicles worldwide. Cadillac's primary markets are the United States, Canada, and China. Cadillac-branded vehicles are also distributed in 34 additional markets worldwide. In 2012, Cadillac's U.S. sales were 149,782 vehicles.
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 Henry Ford Company in 1902 by Henry Leland, a master mechanic and entrepreneur, who named the company after Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, the founder of the city of Detroit, and the Cadillac crest is based upon his coat of arms.
General Motors purchased the company in 1909 and within six years, 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.
Cadillac was formed from the remnants of the Henry Ford Company. After Henry Ford departed the Henry Ford Company along with several of his key partners in March 1902, the company was dissolved. Ford's financial backers, 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.
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.
Leland & Faulconer Manufacturing and the Cadillac Automobile Company merged in 1905.
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.
Acquired by General Motors
Cadillac was purchased by the General Motors (GM) conglomerate in 1909. 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. 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". A later model of the V8 engine, known as the overhead valve, set the standard for the entire American automotive industry in 1949.
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 during World War I.
General Motors of Canada had built Cadillacs from 1923-1936 and LaSalles from 1927-35.
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.
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, René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. That marque remained in production until 1940.
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. Previously, car roofs were constructed 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. Exacerbating sales performance for the Cadillac brand was a policy, reflective of the times, which discouraged sales to African Americans. 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.
By 1940, Cadillac sales had risen tenfold compared to 1934. 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. For the first time in many years all cars built by the company shared the same basic engine and drivetrain in 1941. 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 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. On 25 November 1949, Cadillac produced its one millionth car, a 1950 Coupe de Ville. It also set a record for annual production of over 100,000 cars, a record it repeated in 1950 and 1951. 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 thru 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. In 1953, the "Autronic Eye" was introduced. This feature would automatically dim the high-beam headlamps for the safety of oncoming motorists. 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.
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. 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.
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'. 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), an increase of more than 60%. This was exceeded in 1968, when Cadillac topped 200,000 units for the first time.
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. 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), 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 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. 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.
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, was closed in 1987.
The Art and Science era
Cadillac introduced a new design philosophy for the 21st century called "Art and Science" 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) and the Cadillac DTS, neither of which are still in production. The second-generation CTS-V is a direct competitor to the BMW M5. An automatic version of the CTS-V lapped the Nürburgring in 7:59.32, at the time a record for production sedans.
- Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
- Lansing Grand River Assembly, Michigan, U.S.
- Arlington Assembly, Texas, U.S.
- Oshawa Car Assembly, Oshawa, Canada
- Ramos Arizpe, Mexico
- Shanghai GM
2008 Cadillac CTS - coupe, sedan, and wagon
2007 Cadillac DTS - full-size sedan
Cadillac CTS-V - sports coupe, sedan, and wagon
2010 Cadillac SRX - crossover
2010 Cadillac Escalade - sports utility vehicle
2013 Cadillac ATS - sedan
2013 Cadillac XTS - full-size sedan
2014 Cadillac ELR - electric-hybrid coupe
Cadillac Cien concept.
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.
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|Cadillac vehicle timeline, 1930s–1970s — next »|
|353||355||70||60S||Series 60S||Fleetwood Brougham|
|Limousine||353||355||67/72/75||Series 75||6700||Series 75||FL Limo|
|« previous — Cadillac vehicle timeline, 1980s–present|
|Full-size||de Ville||de Ville||de Ville||de Ville||DTS||XTS|
|Limousine||Fleetwood Limousine||Series 75|
|Escalade ESV||Escalade ESV|
|Escalade EXT||Escalade EXT|