In many ways it embodies the American dream. It has been the luxury car of choice, virtually since it was first introduced in 1902. Whether this has been smart marketing, or through delivering a truly superior package is debatable, but when you think of luxury American cars, Cadillac is the one that springs to mind.
When this feature was planned Cadillac was about to be launched into Australia, The press had unofficially been up close to the metal, with a fleet of Caddys in Melbourne ready to go. Well, as we all know, parent company GM Holden pulled the pin on introducing Cadillac into Australia at this time - which in hindsight has probably been a sensible move. The economic climate is far from favourable to launch a new luxury model and brand. GM have not closed the door on Cadillac in Australia, but don't expect to see any in showrooms in the near future. Notwithstanding, Just Cars readers will be familiar with the Caddy, and so we bring this retrospective of a great brand, which like all of the GM stable in the USA is under extreme pressure as the company fights for its very survival. Let's hope Cadillac isn't a casualty.
The ultimate American success symbol, Cadillac has changed and reshaped the entire automotive industry in its 107 year history. But for Henry Ford, Cadillac may never have existed. The company was formed from the assets of the Henry Ford Company, and rather than disolve it, Henry Leland recommended to investors that it could be saved by using a reliable engine he had developed for Detroit manufacturer Ransom Olds. The engine was extremely reliable, smooth and powerful, but too expensive for Olds to use.
Leland was an astute and fussy engineer, who had already built a reputation for quality. His proposal to the investors of the Henry Ford Company was accepted and the reorganised company was named 'Cadillac' after the European founder of the company's Detroit hometown. Early Cadillacs gained a reputation of reliability and low maintenance, but the bodies and chassis let them down. While the Cadillac sold well, it experienced faults with non-Cadillac parts and production problems plagued the plant. To resolve the problem, Leland was appointed general manager of the Cadillac Motor Company. He set out to establish Cadillac in the luxury market and to raise standards in all aspects of the car. Leland aimed for precision engineering and a stylish luxury finish. A goal that Cadillac achieved.
Cadillac: A history of innovations
Cadillac's reputation for design and technological innovation goes back a century, to when Henry M. Leland built the first Cadillac automobile. Cadillac's pioneering spirit enabled it to rapidly advance noteworthy technological discoveries from the laboratory to the assembly line, enhancing the performance and prestige of Cadillac vehicles. "Innovation is rooted in Cadillac's heritage," said Mark LaNeve, Cadillac general manager. "Breakthrough design and technology made Cadillac the standard of the world."
Following is a chronology of significant Cadillac innovations, listed by model year.
1903: The first Cadillac automobile was completed on October 17, 1902. Powered by a 10-hp, single-cylinder engine and costing $750, the car sold out at its introduction during the 1903 New York Automobile Show. The first Cadillac engine used mechanically actuated overhead valves and a square bore-stroke ratio. Steering was by a rack-and-pinion gear. An early innovation was the use of special split-core fasteners, which locked a nut on its thread with no need for lock washers.
1908: Cadillac became the first American auto maker to win Great Britain's prestigious Dewar Trophy, given to the manufacturer making the year's most significant automotive advancement. This happened after a demonstration during which three randomly selected Cadillacs were dis-assembled, their parts scrambled, and re-assembled using only simple hand tools. An immediate 500-mile demonstration run proved the ready interchangeability of each car's 721 standardised component parts. Soon after, Cadillac adopted the slogan, "Standard of the World."
1910: Cadillac introduced closed bodywork - called a limousine - as a standard catalogue offering. Also in 1910, a Delco coil and breaker-point ignition system was first offered as a major improvement in reliability over magneto ignition.
1912: Cadillac was the first company to adopt a sophisticated Delco electrical system to handle self-starting, ignition and lighting functions. The Royal Automobile Club of Great Britain awarded Cadillac the Dewar Trophy for the second time, making it the first car company to win the award twice.
1915 Cadillac unveiled the first mass-produced V8 engine. One significant innovation with the 70-horsepower, 314-cubic-inch (5.1 litre) L-head design was the thermostatic control of cooling water circulation. The engine, multi-plate clutch and gearbox were combined in one bolted together assembly. The US War Department purchased over 2,000 standard Cadillac V8 models for use in Europe during World War I.
1924: A fundamental advancement in the design of V8 automobile engines was the incorporation of a fully counter weighted two plane crankshaft. All primary and secondary forces were balanced to vastly improve the smoothness of V8s in Cadillac automobiles.
1927: Cadillac introduced a smaller, more manoeuvrable, sporty "companion car" - the LaSalle. It was the first U.S. car to be designed by a stylist, Harley Earl.
1929: Security Plate safety glass, double acting Delco shock absorbers, and chrome-plated trim items were introduced for all models. Cadillac eliminated gear clash during shifting by the introduction of a new "Synchro-Mesh Silent-Shift" transmission. Bronze-on-steel cones matched speeds during shifting to facilitate the smooth meshing of gears.
1930: Cadillac introduced the world's first V16 engine for
passenger car use. This engine featured overhead valves with hydraulic lash adjusters, twin
carburettors, dual exhaust and a beautifully finished exterior design. It delivered 160 horsepower from 452 cubic inches (7.4 litre). A V12 derivative introduced later in the same model year produced 135 horsepower from 368 cubic inches (6.0 litre).
1938: To clear the floor and facilitate comfortable three-abreast seating in the front seat, Cadillac relocated the gear shift to the steering column. Cadillac also introduced an all new 16-cylinder design for a limited number of luxury models. This 431-cubic-inch (7.1 litre) L-head engine used twin carburettors, water pumps and distributors to generate 185 horsepower. Cadillac offered the first sunroofs available in America.
1941: Cadillac introduced a fully automatic transmission consisting of a fluid coupling, four forward speeds, and a hydraulic "brain" one year after Oldsmobile pioneered this innovation in its 1940 models.
1948: The industry's first curved windshields were introduced by Cadillac and other GM models. This also marked the first use of the Harley Earl-designed tail fin.
1949: Cadillac initiated the '50s-era horsepower war, with the introduction of a modern overhead-valve V8 rated at 160 horsepower. The 331-cubic inch (5.4 litre) engine featured high compression, a short stroke and lightweight construction. The first Cadillac Coupe de Ville introduced the two-door hardtop body style.
1954: Three safety innovations by Cadillac were an "autronic eye", which automatically dimmed the headlamps, a one-touch system for washing and wiping the windshield and a padded instrument panel cover.
1957: Cadillac's ultra luxurious Eldorado Brougham introduced the quad headlamp system, a brushed stainless steel roof panel, a power seat with memory, automatic door locks, "wide oval" (low profile) tyres, forged-aluminium wheels and air suspension. One feature common with mainstream Cadillac models was a foot operated parking brake that automatically released when the transmission was shifted into gear.
1960: Self-adjusting brakes were adopted.
1964: Comfort control was introduced by Cadillac, to provide customers with the auto industry's first thermostatically regulated heating, ventilating and air conditioning system. A Twilight Sentinel automatically turned headlamps on at dusk and off at sunrise. Front seat belts became standard Cadillac equipment.
1965: The introduction of Delco Superlift rear shock absorbers provided automatic load-levelling. A tilt and telescoping steering wheel adjustment was available.
1966: Variable ratio power steering permitted quick parking manoeuvres, with a slower ratio for more stable highway control. Electric seat warmers and a stereo radio were added as optional equipment.
1969: With the U.S. industry's first closed cooling system, engine coolant lost as a result of momentary overheating was automatically captured and returned to the radiator.
1971: Computerised anti-lock rear brakes were introduced as optional equipment.
1974: Along with Buick and Oldsmobile, Cadillac pioneered the use of an air cushion restraint (airbag) system to protect the driver in the event of a frontal collision.
1975: Cadillac was the first U.S. manufacturer to use electronic fuel injection.
1978: Digital electronics were programmed by Cadillac to operate a Seville trip computer. Two years later, integrated circuits took command of fuel injection, ignition and vehicle diagnostics.
1985: Cadillac introduced America's first transverse V8, front-wheel drive automobile. Another advanced feature in the new DeVille line was a viscous-damped, torque converter clutch.
1987: A multiplex wiring arrangement was introduced on the Cadillac Allanté to control exterior lighting.
1990: Allanté became the first front-wheel drive vehicle with electronic traction control. The system controlled wheel spin by adjusting application of the individual front brakes, then by reducing engine power by cutting off fuel to individual cylinders.
1992: The Northstar engine was introduced as the first step in what eventually became the Northstar System. The 4.6-litre, 32-valve V8 was first installed in the Allanté, and became available in other front-wheeldrive Cadillacs a year later.
1993: Road Sensing Suspension (RSS) and speed sensitive steering were introduced as part of the Northstar System for the Allanté. RSS used a high speed computer that determined damping requirements once a millisecond, to give a soft ride under normal circumstances, switching to firm as needed to control individual wheel and body motions. Speed sensitive steering provided increased steering feel at highway speeds, while giving easy parking and manoeuvrability around town.
1995: An Integrated Chassis Control System (ICCS) was added to the Northstar System. This system shared sensor inputs for the Road Sensing Suspension, Bosch ASR5 antilock braking system and traction control, providing improved ride and handling with better braking control.
1996: Continuously Variable Road Sensing Suspension (CVRSS) and Magnasteer debuted. An evolution of road sensing suspension, CVRSS provides an infinite range of damping settings, from boulevard soft to race car firm. Magnasteer is a speed sensitive steering system that provides just the right amount of steering assist for a wide range of driving conditions.
1997: OnStar, a revolutionary communication service, was introduced in the U.S. as an option on all front-wheel drive Cadillac models. OnStar combines Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, cellular telephone communications and a 24-hour, 365 days a year Customer Assistance Centre in an integrated system. OnStar can assist the driver in an emergency situation, provide navigation help, unlock car doors by remote control and provide a range of useful services. Also in 1997, StabiliTrak was introduced on Seville, Eldorado and DeVille, providing more secure handling during cornering and emergency manoeuvres. Two directional sensors - a yaw rate sensor and lateral acceleration sensor - work with the car's suspension, steering, anti-lock brake system and traction control system to determine what the driver intends to do. If the car doesn't respond as expected, the StabiliTrak computer sends commands to the car's traction control and brakes to help keep the car on the intended course.
1998: The first automotive application of adaptive seating debuted on the Seville STS. A network of 10 air cells is located in the seat cushion, seat back and side supports. Pressure is measured in each cell and then adjusted for optimum comfort and support.
1999: The massaging lumbar seat was introduced as an option on DeVille d'Elegance, DeVille Concours, Seville STS and Eldorado Touring Coupe. The unique massaging system is built into the world-class powered lumbar system. A single tap on the power lumbar switch produces a continuous roller motion that can be interrupted or repeated at any time during the drive.
2000: Night Vision, the firstautomotive application of infrared technology used by military forces during the Persian Gulf War, debuted on the completely re-designed and re-engineered DeVille. Night Vision can help improve driving safety, by enhancing the driver's ability to detect potentially dangerous situations beyond the range of the headlamps, and by helping drivers see beyond the headlamp glare from oncoming vehicles. The DeVille also featured Ultrasonic Rear Park Assist, which uses an array of four ultrasonic sensors to assist the driver in rear parking manoeuvres; a CD-based navigation system and StabiliTrak 2.0, which added active steering effort compensation and side-slip rate control as the next evolution of Cadillac's world class stability control system.
2002: Cadillac became the first auto maker in the world to offer XM Satellite Radio as a factory installed option on DeVilles and Sevilles. A revolutionary new band of radio, XM capitalises on direct satellite-to-receiver broadcasting technology to provide listeners with up to 100 channels of music, news, and entertainment available coast-to-coast with digital quality sound. Also in 2002, Seville received the MagneRide system, a magnetic-fluid based variable damping system that provides superior handling, control and ride quality on the roughest road surfaces. Cadillac also introduced the Escalade EXT, with its innovative Midgate that allows the vehicle to function as either a luxury SUV or hardworking pickup.
2003: The all-new CTS represented the first 100 percent application of Cadillac's "art and science" approach - bold, breakthrough designs coupled with innovative technologies. Its chiselled, lean body with sheer forms, sharp edges and crisp intersecting lines represents the type of design flair Cadillac showcased on its 1999 Evoq concept car.
Cadillac - The quintessential nameplate for people of power
Cadillac has long been known as the marque of choice for people of power. For more than nine decades, Cadillac has been providing special vehicles, limousines and production models for U.S. presidents, first ladies, diplomats, kings, queens, foreign dignitaries and famous people all over the world. Famous and powerful people from all walks of life have driven - or been driven in - Cadillacs. But perhaps the most prominent and well known are the legendary presidential limousines. Certainly, the sight of the president or royalty waving from a Cadillac has become a tradition in America and in dozens of countries all over the world.
WILSON TO BUSH
President Woodrow Wilson was one of the first chief executives to ride in a Cadillac during a trip to Boston for a World War I victory parade. President Calvin Coolidge used a lavish 1928 Cadillac town car. And in 1938, Cadillac delivered two limousines, called the "Queen Mary" and "Queen Elizabeth," after the great ocean liners, which served Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The 21.5 foot, 7660-lb. vehicles were equipped with a full ammunition arsenal, two-way radios and heavy-duty generators.
In 1956, twin Cadillac convertibles joined the White House motor pool, affectionately named Queen Mary II and Queen Elizabeth II. These convertible limousines were 21 feet long and weighed 7000 lbs. Like their predecessors, these vehicles were fully armored with state of the art communications. These vehicles also were fitted with narrow rims inside the tyre in case the tyres were shot out. These twin convertible limos served President Eisenhower, President Kennedy and President Johnson. They were retired in 1968. GM's next new presidential limo was a 1984 DeVille used by Ronald Reagan during his second term. President Bill Clinton rode in a 1993 Fleetwood Brougham. Unlike previous models, which were outfitted by outside companies, this vehicle was completely designed, developed and manufactured by General Motors.
2001 DEVILLE LIMOUSINE
The White House took delivery of a new presidential vehicle, a 2001 Cadillac DeVille Limousine that was used for the first time in George W. Bush's Presidential Inaugural Parade on Jan. 20. It is the first Cadillac to adorn the division's new wreath and crest emblem, and is considered the most technologically advanced car in the world. The seven seat presidential limousine was hand built by the GM Specialty Vehicle Group. This one, however, is taller, wider, heavily armored and loaded with communications gear. Its appearance is similar to the 2001 DeVille production models with all new and unique construction under the skin. Handcrafted and dressed in a black clear coat finish, the limousine is considerably longer, wider and taller than the production models. To maintain national security, the limousine is equipped with state of the art protection and communication systems.
The vehicle also has Cadillac's patented Night Vision infrared object detection system, as well as seven passenger seating with improved comfort and visibility for all occupants. Many of the interior cues, including the instrument panel and trim, are the same or similar to the 2001 DeVille. Wood accents and rich leather and cloth complete the executive interior. A rear seat executive package featuring a concealed, foldaway desktop can be deployed when conducting affairs of state. The rear seats have an adjustable reclining feature and Cadillac adaptive seat system for added comfort. Rear seat passengers can enjoy their own premium sound system complete with a 10-disc CD changer.
An embroidered presidential seal is positioned in the centre of the rear seat back panel, as well as on each rear door trim panel. Presidential seals are also affixed to the exterior rear doors.The U.S. flag stands tall on the right front fender, and the presidential standard is located on the left front fender. Flush mounted spotlights located in the fenders illuminate the flags at night.
Cadillac Concepts - the weird and the wonderful!
One of the exciting areas that all car makers working, are concept cars. Generally, these are kept inhouse, but Cadillac has shown a number of the concepts they have developed. Cadillac has created numerous highly innovative concept vehicles that have dramatically influenced automotive design trends and technology by showcasing bold, breakthrough designs and "state of the art" technologies. Concepts such as the 1933 V16 Aerodynamic Coupe, 1953 Le Mans and the 1999 Evoq have gained worldwide recognition by ushering in entirely new generations of Cadillacs.
1905 Osceola. Specially built so Cadillac founder Henry M. Leland could test the feasibility of a closed body car.
1918 Victoria Coupe. Cadillac had earned a reputation for dependability and engineering leadership by the time the 1918 Type 57 Victoria Coupe was introduced. The Type 57 included the Delco electrical self-starter, ignition and lighting systems pioneered by Cadillac in 1912, and the world's first mass-production V8 engine introduced in 1915, a 70-horsepower, 314-cubic-inch (5.1 litre) L-head design with thermostatic control of cooling water circulation. The Type 57 introduced tilt ray headlights - a mechanical system to "dim" the single filament headlight bulb by tilting the reflector behind the lens downward.
1933 Aerodynamic Coupe. Built for the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago, the "Aerodynamic Coupe" was the first in a line of Cadillac show cars. The 154-inch (392 cm) wheelbase car featured a sloping tail section that suggested speed, power and smoothness, and presaged the "fastback" styling of the 1940s.
1949 Coupe de Ville. Along with the Buick, the 1949 Coupe de Ville introduced the pillarless "hardtop" body design. Another Cadillac styling element widely imitated was the tail fin, inspired by the Lockheed P-38 fighter of World War II and first introduced by Cadillac in 1948.
1953 LeMans. The 1953 Le Mans concept car was one of the stars of Motorama, General Motors' traveling show of dream cars. Compared to a standard convertible, the Le Mans was nearly eight inches (20 cm) lower and its fiberglass body and 115-inch (292 cm) wheelbase made it 400 pounds (182 kg) lighter. Other styling elements showed up on production Cadillacs, including the tail fin treatment and the rear bumpers, which were vertical strips of steel that appeared to be part of the body.
1954 El Camino. The two-seater 1954 El Camino show car included a fiberglass body with a hand-brushed aluminium top. Its bubble-type aircraft canopy and curved tinted glass enhanced the car's crisp lines. The interior featured two aircraft-type seats, high backed and built into headrests, which flowed back to the rear window. The El Camino was powered by the Cadillac 5.4 litre, overhead valve V8 engine.
1955 Eldorado Brougham. Conceived as a modern technological showcase, the Eldorado Brougham debuted in 1955. Its features included air suspension, air conditioning, automatic "favorite position" seat (a concept now known as a "memory" seat), a self-opening and closing trunk, quad headlights, a brushed stainless steel roof and a pillarless four-door design.
1959 Cyclone. The Cyclone, a 1959 show car with an aircraft-inspired design, explored futuristic technology. An early version of a crash avoidance system was the Cyclone's radar sensing technology that provided the driver with information on an object ahead, including distance to the object and stopping distance, both measured in feet. The Cyclone featured a front mounted engine with rear mounted transmission and transaxle, and also came equipped with automatic climate control.
1967 Eldorado. A personal luxury car combining elegance and sportiness, the 1967 Eldorado was the first Cadillac with front-wheel drive. Powered by a 7.0-litre V8, the Eldorado offered automatic level control and variable ratio power steering.
1988 Voyage. The sleek 1988 Voyage concept car was a "rolling laboratory" of technology. Its computer controlled drivetrain automatically switched from rear-wheel drive to four-wheel drive when sensors determined slippage in the rear wheels, providing a 50/50 torque split from front to rear. Voyage was equipped with four-wheel disc brakes with electronic anti-lock braking, four-wheel independent suspension and electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. Its orthopedically-designed seats included more than 20 pneumatic and mechanical adjustments, three memory positions, plus back and cushion heaters with cushion massage.
1999 Evoq. Evoq proved that when form follows function, it could do so with boldness and distinction. When Cadillac introduced the Evoq luxury roadster concept, it gave tangible form to its art and science philosophy. Evoq was a rear-wheel drive two-seater with a retractable hardtop and crisply tailored lines. It boasted a supercharged version of the next-generation Northstar V8 engine with an intercooler and continuously variable valve timing. Evoq also showcased technologies such as Night Vision, Forewarn Back-Up Aid rear obstacle detection system, rear vision cameras instead of outside rearview mirrors, and Communiport, a mobile multimedia information system with voice-activated navigation, electronic mail and entertainment capabilities.
2000 Imaj. The Imaj was an upscale four passenger concept vehicle that blends the luxury of traditional coachbuilders with 21st century technology. Considered the high-end flagship of Cadillac concept cars, the all-wheel-drive Imaj pushed the limits of performance, comfort and communications technology.
2001 Vizón. The Vizón combines the functionality of a utility vehicle with the performance and comfort of a world class sedan or wagon. It has clean, sheer and sharp surfaces that pay homage to Cadillac's tradition of breakthrough designs and technologies.
2002 Cien. Drawing on 100 years of rich heritage, the Cien, honors its tradition of bringing innovative technology and trend-setting design to the luxury segment. The aerodynamic Cien - Spanish for 100 - melds design and technology in a mid-engine, two-seat sports car, combining V12 power and elegant proportions in a striking design that is unmistakably Cadillac. The bold, high-tech design incorporates sharp, sheer forms and crisp edges to create a low, sleek appearance inspired by modern day Stealth aircraft.
Source: JUST CARS, July 2009, Collectors Issue #161