View Full Version : Anyone know Cadillac history?

01-11-03, 09:26 AM
Hey all. I'm looking to get a page together that goes through all of Cadillac's history.. It can be written by more than one person and added to as time goes by.. I'm looking for an entire history of the company.. Does anyone care to be involved? If so, you could start by replying here with what you know.. I don't know of any sites out there who really go into depth about Cadillac history so I'd like to get it down somewhere before we never know or forget forever...



01-12-03, 02:56 PM
How is your history project going? I know quite a bit about Cadillac history and would be willing to write some sort of historical background in my free time (which isn't much!). Cadillac has a very interesting history. To begin with, the company was named after the founder of Detroit, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac.


01-12-03, 05:04 PM
Hi Max! Actually, I haven't even started. I just posted that topic yesterday morning and I'm looking for as much input as possible. I'd like this to be a joint effort so all and any information is important to me. Thank you for offering your time! I do appreciate it. :)

01-12-03, 07:47 PM
I'll post some history here within a few days.


01-13-03, 08:43 AM
Oustanding! :) It'll be good to get this new page going...

01-13-03, 09:35 PM
Although I don't have dates, names or anything written on this...

Years ago I read about the first muscle car.

It was a 1949 Olds.

But it was actually a Chevy with a Cadillac Overhead valve engine.

They modified the engine to over 12:1 compression and used avaition fuel.

It performed flawlessly in a cross country run and set several speed and endurance records.

more on this??


01-13-03, 10:11 PM
Interesting.. What an odd combination.. Have any pictures? :D

01-18-03, 09:16 AM
I'm new here and I don't own a Cadillac yet, but I have a couple of really good books that are out of print if you need me to look anything up for you.

01-18-03, 12:09 PM
Cool.. What books? And welcome! :) Thank you for signing up!

01-19-03, 12:45 PM
I have the "Standard of the World" book, by Hendry & Holls. I think it was the last edition. It covers just about every detail I've ever wanted to know, right up to the late 80's.

I also have a copy of "The Standard Catalog of..." which is printed for several manufacturers, and still in print. There are a couple of other old books that I can't put my hands on right now, they're in storage. When it warms up I'll probably be able to dig them up.

Thanks for the welcome.

01-19-03, 02:25 PM
Hmm.. Would there happen to be a "today in Cadillac history" in any of those books? That would be something very nice for our Calendar system..

01-20-03, 07:59 PM
I also have the "Standard Catalog of Cadillac". Good book, lots of historical articals in it. There was recently an update published that covers 1991-99 or 2000 I belive. You should be able to get it from one of the major chain book stores in the Transportation section. If they don't have it they should be able to order it.

01-21-03, 03:44 AM
I promised a little history so here it is. I guess to start properly, I’ll have to go back to 1701 in what was known as “French North America.” A small party of men made their way upstream from Lake Erie. They stepped ashore on the west bank downstream from Lake Saint Clair. The officer commanding the detachment was a tall, handsome figure in thighboots, dark blue frock coat and red sash, white lace jabot and cuffs—his blue cocked hat and sword at his side, symbols of leadership and authority from a noble family. It was decided to build a stockade and establish a trading post and a permanent settlement where they were. It was to be called Ville d’Etroit. The name of the man who just established the site of what was to ultimately be called Detroit was Le Sieur Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac.

Fast forward to February 16, 1843 near Barton, Vermont, when Zilpha, the wife of a farmer named Leander B. Leland, presented her husband with their sixth son. He was named Henry Martyn Leland. His Quaker parents taught him Christian ethics and a set of moral standards to guide him throughout life with an emphasis on practical Christianity—square dealing, kindness, and assistance to others. He also received patient instruction in everyday duties on the farm—the necessity for doing every job properly, no matter how small. Henry went to work at the age of 11 and began showing his aptitude for improving methods. He developed a way to peg soles that enabled him, as a schoolboy, to earn money comparable to adult pay levels. He later went to work at Colt (who had produced the first successful revolver) as a mechanic and made precision his passion. Then he went to work for another company called Brown and Sharpe, prosperous manufacturers of precision machinery where he enhanced his precision standards. They produced the first practical quantity produced hand micrometers with compensation for wear and accurate to one-thousandth of an inch in measurement. They advertised their tools as “The World’s Standard of Accuracy.”

Leland later began to think seriously about his own business and was attracted to the city of Detroit where he had a friend with a business selling machine tools. He met a wealthy man named Robert C. Faulconer and convinced him the city had a need for machine shops and they created the firm of Leland, Faulconer, and Norton in Detroit in 1890. Their main work was gear grinding and the design and building of special tools. Their business was booming with an emphasis on gear making. The bicycle boom swept the country at this time and Leland was asked to design and develop trouble free gears. The gears were accurate to a half thousandth of an inch and fully interchangeable. The company then went into motive power, both steam and internal combustion which was shortly to prove invaluable.

Down the road in Lansing, Michigan, Ransom Eli Olds founded the Olds Gasoline Engine Works. While he and his father built gasoline engines for farm use, early Olds vehicles were steam powered. By this time, the gasoline vehicle idea was making headway, following the pioneering work of Daimler and Benz in Germany in the mid 1880’s. Back in America, Olds joined a group of American inventors in the early nineties and completed one of the pioneer gasoline automobiles in Michigan. In 1897, the Olds Motor Vehicle Company was established. They had a big problem with the gears in their transmissions trying to make them mesh not to mention the fact that they were intolerably noisy. Olds went to Leland and Faulconer (now called L and F), to make a quiet running transmission where the gears were precision ground and interchangeable from car to car without any hand fitting. In 1901, L and F was given a contract to make two thousand engines for Olds. There were 2 other brothers named Dodge that also supplied engines for Olds. The Dodge engine produced about 3.0 horsepower while the Leland engine produced about 3.7 horsepower. The Leland engine ran at higher speeds and had lower friction than the Dodge engine thanks to closer machining due to the higher craftsmanship (some things never change! :) ). Leland realized that his expertise could be of great use in the new industry. He had his team improve their original engine which now developed 10.25 horsepower. Leland presented his newly developed engine to Olds but they were selling so many cars that they didn’t have a need for a new engine, especially one that would increase cost and delay production. This was disappointing for Leland but it wouldn’t be long before his engine got some use.

In August of 1902, two men came to see Leland about a company they were trying to liquidate. It had been organized three years previously and was named the Detroit Automobile Company. It had only produced a few cars but the company failed in 1900. It was revived and reorganized a year later with the chief mechanic now in charge. He renamed it after himself. It was called the Henry Ford Company but Ford left after 3 months when the company was failing again. The investors claimed that Ford only wanted to build race cars but Ford said the company was in too much of a hurry to make a profit and had no long term plans. The investors, now trying to just get out, asked Leland to appraise their automobile plant and equipment for sale. Leland agreed and went to look the factory over. This gave him a tremendous idea. He went and got his new engine and took it for his meeting. When he later met with the investors, he told them “I believe you are making a great mistake in going out of business. The automobile has a great future. I have brought you a motor which we worked out at L and F. It has three times the power of the Olds motor. Its parts are interchangeable, and I can make these motors for you at less cost than the others for the Olds works and it is not temperamental” (which was a problem back then). Impressed by the man before them, they voted to continue the business and gave him the leading role in the company which now needed a new name. The investors hoped that their new company would be the first successful automobile company in Detroit so what more appropriate title than the one the great French adventurer had first brought to that very spot some two hundred years before? It was dubbed the CADILLAC and shortly afterward, the Cadillac family crest was adopted (the design was prepared using the celebrated many-quartered shield surmounted by a seven-piked coronet and garlanded with a laurel wreath) and registered as a trademark.

I hope this wasn’t too long for everyone but I thought it was interesting info.


01-21-03, 05:29 PM
Wow. Thank you! I wonder if I should seperate this post into its own thread.. This is some REAL old history!

01-21-03, 05:54 PM
We had a kid from FoMoCo come to speak to my Rotary Club a few weeks ago. He was asking trivia questions throughout his speech and giving away promotional stuff to people who had the right answers.

Ford is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, and he was making a big deal out of "how many companies can you name that are 100 years old and still going strong..." I mumbled "Cadillac" and everyone at my table kind of chuckled. I don't know if they believed me or not.

A few minutes later he got to the part in his presentation where he had to admit the story about Henry Ford being kicked out of Cadillac a year before he started what is now the Ford Motor Company.

He then walked over to my table and handed me an insulated aluminum "Ford Focus" coffee mug. I thought that was pretty cool of him.

01-21-03, 06:33 PM
hehe! Good going. :) Knowledge is King (no pun intended)...

01-21-03, 06:43 PM
I saw a plate on my door sill that says Body by Fisher. Who is Fisher?

01-21-03, 07:02 PM
Hey. Where can I give credit for this article? Also, for the previous history article. I don't want to get in trouble for copyright infringement...



01-21-03, 10:44 PM
Sal--I got most of it from a book I have for the last article. The previous article came from different internet sites as will as from my own input. When I get home, I'll post the name of the book.

Mad'lac-Fisher is the name of a company that was owned by two brothers named Fisher. They used to make the actual body of the car for the GM chassis back in the early days of the car business until GM fully acquired the company in 1926 and then it was an exclusive deal.

Isn't it interesting how all the original car families came together in the first part of the century? Cadillac, Olds, Ford, Benz, Dodge--names that are still around today!


01-21-03, 11:06 PM
I think Olds got the ax last year didn't they? But you're right they all been around for such a long time.

01-22-03, 01:23 AM
Thank you! And yes, very cool story.. Daimler Benz - Daimler Chrysler.. hehe..

01-22-03, 02:16 AM
Here’s my last installment of Cadillac history but I thought they were more interesting facts.

Cadillac became the first American automobile manufacturer to win the coveted Dewar Trophy for the standardization of automobile parts. The Dewar trophy was instituted in 1904 to encourage technical progress. It was sponsored by a wealthy member of the British Parliament, Sir Thomas Dewar. It was awarded annually to the company making the most important advancement in the automotive field. From the beginning, Leland stressed the concept of parts interchangeability. “No special fitting of and kind is permitted,” he wrote in a factory manual. “Craftsmanship a Creed, Accuracy a Law.” In 1908, Leland became the first industrialist to employ the Johannson Gauges for checking the accuracy of his tooling. They were the creation of a Swedish-American toolmaker named Carl Johannson. These devices were extremely accurate blocks which measured tolerances down to two-millionths of an inch. The Royal Automobile Club of Britain became aware of Lelands boastings so they decided to test them. They selected 3 Cadillacs out of 8, dismantled them, mixed in spare parts for good measure, and then were re-assembled with no special fitting which was unheard of at that time. Most parts were hand fitted. Each of the cars started immediately and were then driven for 500 miles with no problems. Cadillac became the only company to win a second Dewar Trophy for its revolutionary Delco system of electric starting, lighting, and ignition developed by Leland and Charles F. Kettering of the Datyon Engineering Laboratories. The Delco system was a breakthrough and was the forerunner of the automobile electrical system as we know it today. It was also a breakthrough for woman since they could now start a car with a push a button instead of having to wind that heavy crank.

Another important part of Cadillac history is when it first caught the attention of William Crapo Durant in 1908, the founder of General Motors. Durant was the man who first envisioned the “diversified product line” form of marketing, an idea which would make GM the industry’s dominant force in later years. He wanted to be able to offer someone their first automobile and as that person grew older and attained status in life, to be able to move that person through his automobile ranks ultimately achieving a new Cadillac. Durant started by buying Buick in 1904. It was a successful franchise that enabled him to acquire the Olds Motor Works in 1908. That same year, Durant’s desire for a high-quality product aimed at the price range just above Buick led him to offer Leland $3 million for Cadillac. Leland held out for $3.5 million and Durant declined. After more success at Cadillac, Durant tried again but Leland had upped the price to $4.125 million and then $4.5 million! Leland finally accepted and Durant actually paid in cash that he had earned from Buick. He invited Leland to stay on and run Cadillac until he finally left in 1917 when his control over Cadillac was waning. Leland later went on to found Cadillac’s biggest competitor—the Lincoln Motor Company!

On January 2, 1915, a Cadillac ad appeared in the Saturday Evening Post that has become a classic. It was chosen one of the 100 greatest advertisements of all time. It was written by Theodore F. MacManus and is considered by some to be the greatest of all advertisements. There were no pictures or artwork—just text. It really makes you think. It is called “The Penalty of Leadership”

In every field of human endeavor, he that is first must perpetually live in the white light of publicity. Whether the leadership be vested in a man or in a manufactured product, emulation and envy are ever at work. In art, in literature, in music, in industry, the reward and the punishment are always the same. The reward is widespread recognition; the punishment, fierce denial and detraction. When a man’s work becomes a target for the shafts of the envious few. If his work be merely mediocre, he will be left severely alone if he achieves a masterpiece, it will set a million tongues a-wagging. Jealousy alone does not protrude its forked tongue at the artist who produces a commonplace painting. Whatsoever you write, or paint, or play, or sing, or build, no one will strive to surpass, or to slander you, unless your work be stamped with the seal of genius. Long, long after a great work or a good work has been done, those who are disappointed or envious continue to cry out that it cannot be done. Spiteful little voices in the domain of art were raised against our own Whistler as a mountebank, long after the big world had acclaimed him its greatest artistic genius. Multitudes flocked to Bayreuth to worship at the musical shrine of Wagner, while the little group of those whom he had dethroned and displaced argued angrily that he was no musician at all. The little world continued to protest that Fulton could never build a steamboat, while the big world flocked to the river banks to see his oat steam by. The leader is assailed because he is a leader, and the effort to equal him is merely added proof of that leadership. Failing to equal or excel, the follower seeks to depreciate and to destroy—but only confirms once more the superiority of that which he strives to supplant. There is nothing new in this. It is as old as the world and as old as the human passions—envy, fear, greed, ambition and the desire to surpass. And it all avails nothing. If the leader truly leads, he remains—the leader. Master-poet, master-painter, master-workman, each in his turn is assailed, and each holds his laurels through the ages. That which is good or great makes itself known, no matter how loud the clamor of denial. That which deserves to live—lives.

I hope I haven’t gone on too long but as you can tell, I’m very passionate about Cadillac. It truly is the Standard of the World.


Excerpts were taken from:

The Cadillac Century
Cadillac—Standard of Excellence
Cadillac—The Complete History

01-22-03, 09:20 AM
Thank you very much! I just added this info into the Cadillac History page. :)

01-22-03, 05:08 PM
The now abandoned Fisher Body Plant in Detroit

I used to date a girl whom I said had a "Body by Fisher" and a "Mind by Mattel."

Anyway, here's a great site entitled "The Fabulous Ruins of Ancient Detroit"


01-22-03, 05:11 PM

The history of the Fisher brothers!


01-22-03, 07:11 PM
Thanks for the info on Fisher!!!!!!!! According to the info on the site it means that my Caddy was one of the last cars with the body by Fisher plate. For sure I'm going to keep that plate on it now.

01-11-08, 04:16 PM
Hi Bob, please check out my "Cadillac Database" here:
You'll find a lot of historical stuff there. Feel free to use anything you want, provided you credit: "The Museum and Research Center of the Cadillac & LaSalle Club, Inc." and "Yann Saunders, compiler of the Cadillac Database."

Hey all. I'm looking to get a page together that goes through all of Cadillac's history.. It can be written by more than one person and added to as time goes by.. I'm looking for an entire history of the company.. Does anyone care to be involved? If so, you could start by replying here with what you know.. I don't know of any sites out there who really go into depth about Cadillac history so I'd like to get it down somewhere before we never know or forget forever...



01-11-08, 04:20 PM
For a list of books related to the Cadillac (in or out of print), check out the appropriate section of my "Cadillac Database":


Cool.. What books? And welcome! :) Thank you for signing up!