Cadillac was founded in 1902 by Henry Martyn Leland, an entrepreneur and master mechanic, from the remnants of Henry Ford's automotive company. Leland named the company after one of his ancestors, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who had founded the city of Detroit, Michigan. Cadillac's crest is based on Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac's coat of arms that he had commissioned for his marriage in 1687.
In 1909, General Motors purchased Cadillac, gearing it up for mass production. GM established Cadillac as America's luxury car and its style and design brought about advanced technologies including a clashless manual transmission, steel roof and full electrical systems.
From its inception, Cadillac aimed to produce stylish luxury finishes with precision engineering. Its cars were consistently ranked among the finest in the United States. 1908 brought about the concept of interchangeable parts and 1910 introduced the first fully enclosed cab.
Cadillac's development of the V8 engine would set the standard for American automotive makers, marking its place in car making history. In 1908 Cadillac entered into an interchangeability test, resulting in the award of the England Royal Automobile Club's prestigious Dewar Trophy, for the most important advancement of the year in the automobile industry. This win generated the adoption of the Cadillac slogan of being the "Standard of the World".
Cadillac's body design featured shatter-resistant glass by the mid-1920s. The company introduced the first all-steel roof known as the turret top shortly thereafter. All other cars had been manufactured with fabric-covered wood up until that point. There is no doubt that Cadillac played a vital role in automobile safety early on. Certain models even featured airbags by the mid-70s.
That very first Cadillac was identical to the 1903 Ford Model A. It came as a two-seater open style known as a runabout or as a four-seater tonneau, the seats of which looked like cushioned benches or couches.
The Eldorado was a popular Cadillac line that was produced from 1953 to 2002, making it the longest-running American luxury car of all time. Each model varied considerably from year to year in body style, but the Eldorado was always top-of-the-line. It lost its unique sheet metal features in 1954, underwent a rear-end design change in 1957 and regained a convertible model and fender skirts by 1971.
Cadillac has also become famous for artistic endeavors. In 1974, Hudson Marquez, Doug Michels and Chip Lord created Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. This public art installation consists of vintage or junk Cadillacs that show the evolution of the car's line from 1949 to 1963. The cars are propped up at an angle with their noses buried in the ground. It has remained a recognizable icon in popular culture.
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