Cadillac Brand History & Current Models

Sid Dillon Buick GMC Cadillac in Fremont, NE provides some information on the Cadillac Brand. Here is the history of Cadillac and current available models.

Cadillac Was Born Out of the Dissolution of the Henry Ford Company in 1902

As one of the oldest automobile brands in the world, Cadillac has an illustrious history and played a key role in defining the modern automotive world. The company was founded in 1902 after the dissolution of the Henry Ford Company. When Ford left after a dispute with his investors, the financial backers called in engineer, Henry M. Leland of Leland & Falconer Manufacturing Company. Instead of appraising the plant, Leland convinced the investors to continue producing automobiles using his single-cylinder engine. On August 22, 1902, the Cadillac Automobile Company was born. It was named after the founder of Detroit, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, and the iconic Cadillac crest is based on his family’s coat of arms.

Cadillac’s 1902 Automobiles – The Runabout & The Tonneau – 1903 New York Auto Show
The Runabout and Tonneau were the first automobiles completed by Cadillac in October 1902. They were two-seat horseless carriages that were powered by Leland’s 10 horsepower single-cylinder engine. The vehicles were brought to the New York Auto Show in 1903 and immediately gained attention, acquiring 2,000 orders at the show.

In 1908 Cadillac is the First American Auto Manufacturer To Receive the Dewar Trophy
From its inception, Cadillac sought to set itself apart by raising and creating new standards of quality. In 1908, they were recognized with the prestigious Dewar Trophy. Cadillac was the first American-made car to receive this award, which led to their slogan “the standard of the world.” To this day, they remain the only car company to receive the trophy twice, having won it again in 1913 for the creation of the first electric, self-starting car.

1909 – General Motors Purchases Cadillac – Cadillac Becomes GM’s Luxury Brand
In 1909, General Motors purchased Cadillac Automobile Company which became GM’s luxury vehicle brand. This only accelerated Cadillac’s growing popularity and the next few decades brought a number of unprecedented firsts, including the introduction of the first mass-produced V8 engine in 1915. It produced 70 horsepower,180 lb-ft of torque, and had a top speed of 65 miles per hour. This engine largely contributed to the modern engines we see on the road today.


1920s – 1930s – Cadillac Emphasizes Customization – 500 Color Combos – 50 Body Styles

One of the many attractions to Cadillac vehicles were their customization options. In 1925, they were the first company to use lacquer paint and offered customers over 500 color combinations by 1926. By 1930, they offered over 50 body styles so customers could set themselves apart from other drivers. One of the most infamous Cadillacs was Al Capone’s, who had both of his customized with bulletproof glass and a police siren.

In the late ‘20s Cadillac is First to Employ a Designer Versus an Automotive “Engineer”
Cadillac also led the way in automotive design. In 1927, they asked Harley Earl to design the 1927 Lasalle Convertible Coupe, marking the first time in American automotive history that a vehicle was designed by a designer and not an engineer. This firmly established Cadillac’s commitment to quality and luxury. One of the more famous examples of this is the 1940 Cadillac Fleetwood, which was featured in the famed 1972 mob drama, The Godfather.

In the ‘40s Cadillac Focuses On the WWII Effort – Post War Cadillac Awarded Car of the Year in 1949
Once the United States entered World War II, Cadillac fully devoted itself to the war effort, providing materials and aiding in engine manufacturing for airplanes. Once the war ended, it continued to perfect its automotive style, introducing the tailfin, which would influence many automobile styles for decades afterward. This design earned it the first ever Car of the Year Award in 1949.

In the ‘50s Production Doubled – New Innovations – New Designs – 1955 Elvis’ Pink Cadillac

The 1950s were a memorable decade for Cadillac, both on the road and on-screen. Production doubled, and the brand introduced major innovations like power steering and new safety features. In 1953, the Cadillac Eldorado Convertible Coupe rolled onto the scene and the name quickly became synonymous with luxury, as seen in many pop culture examples from the time like Elvis Presley’s 1955 Pink Cadillac and the 1956 film, Solid Gold Cadillac.

In the ‘60s & ‘70s Cadillac Offered Many Innovations: Heat / Air Conditioning / Seatbelts

Cadillac continued to lead the way in innovation throughout the 1960s and 1970s. They were the first to introduce comfort features like the heating and air conditioning system in 1964. They also paved the way for modern safety features by introducing the seatbelt a year before it became standard by law and including airbags as early as 1974.

In the ‘80s Cadillac Improves Car Delivery & Customer Interaction – J.D. Power’s #1 Award
During the 1980s, Cadillac improved their car delivery service and customer interaction, making them J.D. Power’s Number One in Customer Satisfaction. They also starred in iconic 80s movies like Ghostbusters and Blues Brothers.

In the ‘90s Cadillac Adapts to Market Changes – Introduces an SUV – Celebrates 100 Years in 2002
In the 1990s, Cadillac adapted to growing automotive trends including the SUV segment. In 1999, they introduced the Cadillac Escalade. In 2002, Cadillac celebrated their 100th anniversary by introducing the bold and stylish CTS Sedan. It continued its reputation as a pop culture icon, as both the Escalade and CTS appeared in the icon car chase scene in The Matrix: Reloaded.

In the 2000’s Cadillac Adopts the “Art and Science” Design Philosophy In Its Models
The 21st century brought a shift in a new design philosophy for Cadillac known as “Art and Science.” The mantra served as a guiding platform on which to build their vehicles, featuring sharp, crisp edges and incorporating high-end technology. The new design language quickly spread across the entire lineup and can be seen on vehicles like the CT6 Sedan and XT5 Crossover.

Cadillac Continues To Lead The Luxury Market – Adapting To Changes With Innovations

Cadillac has continued to reinvent and improve, perfecting and crafting their luxury brand as the automotive world changes. In August 2015, Cadillac left the General Motors nest and moved their headquarters to Manhattan. Since then, we’ve seen innovations such as the Cadillac House and Escala Concept.

Cadillac – Always At The Forefront Of The American Automotive Industry – What’s Next?

Having largely shaped the American automotive industry, Cadillac has always been on the forefront of luxury, uniquely combining innovation of engineering and style. We may not always know what they’re going to do next, but whatever it is, it’s sure to be something amazing.

List of Current Cadillac Models Available Through Sid Dillon Dealerships:

Cadillac Research & Review Pages – Contact Your Sid Dillon Dealer With Questions: