Following Cadillac: A brief history

Named after the founder of Detroit its self, Antoine de Lamothe Cadillac, the Cadillac Automobile Company had a meteoric rise to fame with in the industry. The company was founded by Henry Leland in 1902 and bought by General Motors in 1909. But by 1908 it had already won the prestigious Dewar Trophy from the Royal Automobile Club of England by showing off its capabilities of interchangeable parts in a reliability test. Thus being the first American Automotive company to win the coveted award. Cadillac went on to win the award a second time in 1912 for putting state of the art electric lighting, starting and ignition technologies into a production car. It is from this foundation that the company acquired the slogan ‘Standard of the World’.

There are many primal amenities that your car contains that were pioneered and first put into production by Cadillac. Cadillac was the first car company to put into production cars with fully enclosed cabs protecting the occupants from the elements. Simple yet ahead of the curve. Probably thought to be the most logical system on a car today was first introduced by Cadillac making the act of driving and learning to drive elementary: accelerator pedal on the right, brake to the left of that and clutch to the left of the brake. Systems that came before what we have today were much more complicate and not very user friendly. Also worth mentioning in 1964 Cadillac introduced the first climate control system allowing the driver and passengers to set desired temperatures with automatic heating and A/C. And for those reading who know how a modern transmission works, Cadillac also introduced the first clash-less syncromesh transmission. It was innovations such as these that hoisted the company to be the premier car company in the U.S and to what the world looked to for the new standard in the industry.

In 1927 Cadillac introduced ‘designer styled’ body work as opposed to the function following form, auto-engineered cars driving around at the time. From then on Cadillac was recognized by its outrageous styling. As the trunk lids and hoods stretched and grew to aircraft carrier credibility, there was more room to play with when it came to styling. In the 50s and 60s some companies went the route of jet age styling and designed fins into the bodywork. Cadillac went above and beyond, as was their nature. The Tail fins that Caddys ran with were comparable to tail fins on actual planes at the time. So much so that it be came a signature dish for them for years to come. Even the new models that Cadillac produces references those tall taillights of the era.

Trouble struck in the late 70s. With Gas prices rocketing and the market plummeting it was beginning to look like Cadillac had dug its self into a whole. From the late 70s all the way through the 90s and the early part of the 00s Cadillac was far from the standard of the world. With European manufacturers taking the reigns, Cadillac struggled to produce a truly desirable car in way of styling or luxury (apart from the ’93 STS of course). Around 2004-2005 there was a big overhaul and plan to get back on top selling a world standard car to the upper echelon of society. Up until this point the type of person buying a Cadillac probably got discounts at restaurants and went to bed around 5pm… a loyal Cadillac customer of yesteryear then. Going after the European companies that knocked Caddy of the top of the podium, they are going in the direction of performance luxury. Their new philosophy is ‘Art and Science’. The bold sharp lines used in the new designs are supposed to evoke a feeling that cutting edge technology designed the cars while the inside translates that cutting edge technology is used to work the car. Theses are just small steps in the direction of a contemporary standard of the world.


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