Cadillac is without doubt one of Americas favourite cars, even if it is out of reach for most US citizens. Cadillac started building its luxury cars way back in the dawn of the US motor industry, even pioneering the electric self-starting system that we now take for granted. During the 1950s and 1960s Cadillac also conceived other groundbreaking ideas such as self-seek radios, self-dipping headlamps and power operation for seats and windows.
Cadillacs, or 'Caddys' have always been luxury cars that have competed against rivals such as Lincoln, Mercedes and even Rolls-Royce. Famous models have included the outrageous finned models from 1959 and the long-running lines of Biarritz, Eldorado, Seville and Fleetwood.
By the 1970s Caddy's had really grown and were considered too ostentatious for most people. In-order for Cadillac to remain competitive during those fuel-conscious days, the company introduced a new range of front-wheel drive cars that would keep it in the number one luxury car spot for many more years.
The precision engineering firm started making internal combustion engines for marine use in 1896. When volume production of the 'Curved Dash' Oldsmobile began, engine manufacture was sub-contracted to both Leland & Faulconer, and the Dodge Brothers. Design was identical, but the former gave better output due to finer tolerances.
In the latter part of 1902 Henry M Leland, then approaching the age of 60, became an automobile manufacturer. With former Ford backers the Cadillac Automobile Company was formed, named after a French explorer who had 'discovered' Detroit some two-hundred years earlier.
Cadillacs were first shown at the New York Motor Show in January 1903 and orders far exceeded possible supply. Somewhere around 2500 cars were made in 1903, with a similar figure the following year. A four-cylinder car was added to the range for 1905, but the singles continued in production until 1908.
The fitting by Cadillac of electric self-starters as standard in 1912 and volume production of V8-engined cars from 1915 had profound effects upon the automobile industry.
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