Cadillac History: A Century of Iconic American Luxury

Discover the Allure of Cadillac Today

1902-1910 – The first closed body

On August 22, 1902, the city of Detroit welcomed the birth of a new car brand: Cadillac Automobile Company. Its name is a tribute to the French army officer  Antonie de la Mothe Cadillac, founder of the city of Detroit. That same year, in September, sees the light the first car:  a two-seater with a cylinder engine and ten hp called  Model A.

The culprit of this new adventure is  Henry Martyn Leland: in addition to the mechanical designer, he is the one who convinces the Detroit Automobile Company to create the firm. Leland begins to work as a chief builder, and in 1904  takes over the management; he remains in the position, assisted by his son Wilfred until 1922. The secret of his initial success lies in the standardized spare parts. Until now, the owner of a car that suffered damage to a piston had to change the entire drive, while the cylinders or pistons of his brand could be replaced individually.

In 1905, the manufacturer launched the  Osceola, a single-cylinder two-seater representing the first step in designing fast cars. It is named in memory of the Seminole Native American chief (this one was 2.08 meters high, and the Osceola reached 2.21 in length). Four years later, on July 29, 1909,  General Motors acquired Cadillac for $ 5.5 million. At the end of the decade, it became the first American manufacturer to offer a  closed-body car as standard.

1911-1920 – Electric starter

 The brand introduces the electric starter to the 1912 Cadillac. Charles Kettering invented the invention; the invention replaced the cumbersome and dangerous traditional crank and is one of the most significant technological innovations in the automotive industry. The manufacturer wins the  Dewar Trophy  (the “Nobel Prize for Automobiles”).

Three years later, the company launched the first production car with V8 mechanics on the market: Type 51, a model with 70 HP of power. As early as 1919, General Motors built its building in Detroit.

1921-1930 – Designs with their name

 Over the years, Cadillac is gaining notoriety thanks to its style and careful lines. So much so that it became the first brand to put on sale a  vehicle created by a designer: it is the  LaSalle, the work of Harley Earl. The manufacturer also achieves important achievements in the mechanical section with the  Series 542  or, what is the same, the first commercial car equipped with a V16 engine that offers 160 hp.

1931-1940 – Elegance icons

 In 1934, Harley Earl gave the green light to new icons of elegance. They’re the  Series 50, convertible coupes with pontoon bumpers and harmonious details like round hood vents. On the other hand, a total of 20 Aerodynamic Coupés rolled off American production lines in 1938. The new model wreaks havoc at the Chicago World’s Fair.

1941-1950 – One million Cadillacs

 Seven years after the last LaSalle  (unit 205,000) left the factory (1947), the relationship between Harley Earl and Cadillac bore new fruit with the launch of the  Sixty Special. This car goes down in history as the first to feature the aeronautical-inspired fins designed by Earl. At the end of this decade, another event of great importance takes place: the automobile company celebrates the manufacture of its unit “one million”: it is a  Coupé de Ville that emerges from the lines of work of Detroit on November 25, 1949.

1951-1960 – Cadillac ElDorado: the birth of a myth

 The fins of the Sixty Special became a symbol of the brand until the  59 models set a  new record, with elements reaching 97 centimeters. The 1950s also witnessed two critical milestones in the history of the American manufacturer. 

On the one hand, the appearance of the “Dagmars,” huge front bumpers that receive this name in memory of the stage name of the voluptuous television star  Virginia Ruth Egnor. On the other, the production of the Cadillac “two million.” And it is that, although it took 47 years to reach one million units, The economic boom in the United States between the 1950s and 1960s makes it possible for the figure to double in less than a decade.

In these years, ElDorado, the brand’s flagship, also arrived. Among many other virtues, this car has a  memory power driver’s seat, aluminum wheels, and independent heating for the front and rear seats. Finally, in 1958, and after three decades at the helm of Cadillac,  Harley Earl retired.

1961-1970 – Technology at the service of the driver

 True to its purpose of continually revolutionizing the market, the manufacturer introduced in 1964 thermostat-adjustable heating and ventilation and air conditioning systems. Another new development is a  sensor that activates/deactivates the headlights according to the light conditions outside. Finally, in this decade, the firm’s first model equipped with front-wheel drive arrived on the market: Cadillac Eldorado Fleetwood  (1967).

1971-1980 – ElDorado continues to make history

 At the beginning of the 70s, Eldorado wrote a new chapter by assembling the series production engine with the largest capacity in the car’s history: it is an  8.2-liter V8 and 400 hp capable of reaching 200 km / h. h. The powerful vehicle also offers as optional equipment an electronically controlled rear-wheel anti-lock brake forerunner.

But this is not the only novelty of the period. From now on, all models leave the factory with seat belts. On the other hand, the manufacturer introduces a  precedent of the current airbag, called “Air Cushion.”

1981-1990 – From DeVille to the Voyage prototype 

 The  Cadillac DeVille is the first front-wheel-drive transverse V8 vehicle to hit the market (1985). The luxurious Allante convertible saw the light four years later: signed by Pininfarina and manufactured in Turin. It is the first model of the American brand to feature a speed-sensitive damping system.

But not everything is a series model: the  Voyage  (1988) increases the list of prototypes designed by the company. It is a high-end sedan with computer-controlled all-wheel drive, in which the front axle engages automatically when a loss of grip is detected at the rear. The concept also features  ABS, a five-speed automatic gearbox (electronically controlled), and a voice-activated telephone system.

1991-2000 – A very technological manufacturer

 Undoubtedly, the main protagonist of this decade is Seville, which in 1992 adopted a larger and more elegant body. Five years later, the STS version debuts the StabiliTrak suspension system. In addition, in 1998, it became the first vehicle in the world with adaptive seats.

The technological innovations continue: before 2000, Cadillac Deville equips the device with  Night Vision and becomes thus the first automobile manufacturer using infrared technology. For its part, the  Evoq, a prototype presented at the Detroit Motor Show, debuts the “Design and Technology” philosophy. It stands out for its headlights, vertical rear light clusters, and a  front section that diminishes its sharp shape. On the mechanical side, the 4.2-liter supercharged V8 engine, the keyless entry system impress, the Communiport info-communication center, or voice navigation.

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