Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Cadillac is a brand of luxury automobile, part of the General Motors corporation since 1909, produced and mostly sold in the USA; outside of North America, they have been less successful. In the United States, the name became a synonym for "high quality", used in such phrases as "the Cadillac of clocks". This is less prevalent, though still known, in other English-speaking countries.
Cadillac was formed from the Henry Ford Company upon Henry Ford's departure. With the intent of liquidating the firm's assets, Ford's financial backers, William Murphy and Lemuel Bowen called in engineer Henry M. Leland to appraise the plant and equipment prior to selling them. Instead, Leland persuaded them to continue in the automobile business. Henry Ford's departure required a new name, and on August 22, 1902, the company reformed as the Cadillac Automobile Company.
The first Cadillac car was completed on October 7, 1902 and the following January was shown at the New York Auto Show, where it impressed the crowds enough to gather over two thousand firm orders. The Cadillac's biggest selling point was its refinement; it was simply a better made vehicle than its competition.
Cadillacs were sent to England, where they impressed, winning awards for reliability and build quality.
Cadillac became General Motors' prestige division, devoted to the production of large luxury vehicles.
In 1911 Cadillac was the first gasoline internal combustion engine auto to incorporate electric self-starting (as opposed to earlier crank start), utilizing the electric starter developed by Charles Kettering. Other innovations included the first V-8 engine in mass production, in 1915; shatter-resistant safety glass in 1926; and the first fully synchronized transmission (with gears "locked" in relation to one another to prevent clashing upon execution of a shift) in 1928. About this time, Cadillac acquired a smaller "companion" car called the LaSalle, which lasted until 1940.
Pre-World War II Cadillacs were well-built, powerful, mass-produced luxury cars, aimed at an upper class market, below that of such ultra-exclusive marques such as Pierce-Arrow and Duesenberg. In the 1930s, Cadillac added cars with 12- and 16-cylinder engines to their range, many of which were fitted with custom coach-built bodies; these engines were remarkable at the time for their ability to deliver a combination of high power, silky smoothness and quietness.
Postwar Cadillacs, incorporating the ideas of General Motors styling chief Harley Earl, innovated many of the styling features that came to be synonymous with the classic (late 1940s-late 1950s) American automobile, including tailfins and wraparound windshields. Cadillac's first tailfins, inspired by the twin rudders of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, appeared in 1948; the 1959 Cadillac was the epitome of the tailfin craze, with the largest tailfins of any production automobile. With their chromed, bulleted bumpers (the bullets were nicknamed "Mansfields" or "Dagmars", after their resemblance to the breasts of certain Hollywood starlets), chromium eggcrate grilles, and general stylistic ostentation, the late 1950s Cadillacs were arguably too extreme even for most Cadillac buyers. At this point, Bill Mitchell succeeded Harley Earl as styling chief, and his preference for more austere design combined with changing buyer tastes caused the excess to be rapidly toned down in the early 1960s. Nevertheless, Cadillacs retained their tailfins through 1964, and suggestions of them remained in the peaked rear fenders of many models into the 1990s.
Somewhat surprisingly for a marque with such a strong design heritage, Cadillac has resisted the temptation to produce any "retro" models such as the revived Ford Thunderbird or the VW New Beetle, and has instead pressed ahead with a new design philosophy for the 21st century called "art and science" which it says "incorporates sharp, shear forms and crisp edges - a form vocabulary that expresses bold, high-technology design and invokes the technology used to design it."
Low points, and the beginning of a recovery
Cadillac suffered from the malaise that set in to the American auto industry in the late 1960s to the late 1970s. There were high points, such as the launch of the Eldorado two-door personal luxury car in 1968, with its simple, elegant design—a far cry from the tail-fin and chrome excesses of the 1950s. However, the 1970s saw vehicles memorable for other types of excess: engine size, for one (the Eldorado featured an 8.2-litre engine at one point), weight, and physical bulk. The build quality also became poorer when measured against German rivals.
As with most American brands, Cadillac was forced to downsize its offerings between the 1973 and 1979 fuel crises. Its staple De Ville and Fleetwood lines were downsized for 1977 and again for 1985. It launched a smaller car around the size of the Mercedes-Benz 300, the Seville, based on a Chevrolet Nova platform. It was a success.
However, trying to extend its brand further downward to appeal to younger buyers, Cadillac launched in 1981 (for the 1982 model year) the compact Cimarron, a warmed-over Chevrolet Cavalier, as a rival to the BMW 3-series. Buyers rejected this model for being too close to the considerably cheaper Chevrolet: unlike the Seville, which did not resemble the Nova (or other GM X-cars), it was almost indistinguishable to the downmarket versions.
The mid-1980s saw Cadillac try to rebuild its image, aware that European and Japanese imports were on a rise, and with Honda launching its American luxury division, Acura. Some new design approaches were tried: the Seville, for instance, had gracefully rounded wheel arches with a hint of chrome. The greatest challenge to the imports was the Cadillac Allante, a convertible designed by Pininfarina of Italy, and built on what was touted as the world's longest production line—with the car's bodies fabricated in Italy and flown by Boeing 747 to the United States to meet their transmission and engine. The car was, sadly, not a commercial success, but today stands out as a modern classic and more than able to hold its own, image-wise, next to its Mercedes-Benz SL rival.
The Allante's styling influenced other Cadillacs, especially the Seville, which adopted its sharper, tailored lines. Indeed, Cadillac was so confident of the Seville that it was exported to Europe, but it faced stiff opposition.
The Art & Science era
The latest incarnation of Cadillac styling - Art & Science (A&S) was previewed with the 1999 Cadillac Evoq concept roadster at that year's Detroit Auto Show. With its crisp lines, hard creases, and sharp corners, the Evoq not only had a striking presence of its own, but also marked a departure from the softer design of previous Cadillacs.
Distinctive characteristics of Art & Science design include stacked headlamps, vertical taillamps, angular grille, and creased body lines in addition to alphanumeric model names.
The 2000 DeVille sedan and 2002 Escalade sport utility were the first executions of the Art & Science design philosophy, though they should be appropriately noted as more transitional vehicles since they combine A&S with the last era of styling and tested the waters for public acceptance.
Cadillac's 2003 Cadillac CTS was the first ground-up incarnation of A&S and was an instant hit. Following in its success was the Cadillac SRX sport utility wagon and the Evoq-inspired Cadillac XLR roadster. The 2005 Cadillac STS is the latest in the A&S lineup and will complete the transition between the old school of design and the new. The new Cadillac V-Series was also introduced to provide sporty models based on Cadillac production cars, with very extensive chassis and engine upgrades.
A slight evolution of A&S was shown at Detroit's 2003 Auto Show with the Cadillac Sixteen concept, which had a rounded body with crisp A&S features. This version of A&S will probably see itself debuted on models that appeal to more conservative demographics, such as the DeVille's replacement and a possible ultraluxury sedan.
The 2005 Presidential Limousine first shown at the second inauguration of President George W. Bush features A&S design cues, and is said to foreshadow the 2006 Cadillac DTS, which is the replacement for the DeVille.
- 1934-1935 Cadillac Series 10 - 128 in wheelbase Fisher
- 1934-1935 Cadillac Series 20 - 136 in wheelbase Fisher
- 1934-1935 Cadillac Series 30 - 146 in wheelbase Fleetwood
- 1936- Cadillac Series 60/65 V8
- 1936- Cadillac Series 70/75 V8
- 1936-1937 Cadillac Series 80/85 V12
- 1930-1940 Cadillac V-16
- 1987-1993 Cadillac Allante
- 1985-1993 Cadillac Brougham
- 1965 Cadillac Calais
- 1994-1996 Cadillac Catera
- 1982-1988 Cadillac Cimarron
- Cadillac commercial chassis
- 1949-2005 Cadillac DeVille
- 1949-1993 Cadillac Coupe de Ville
- 1953-2003 Cadillac Eldorado
- 1947-1996 Cadillac Fleetwood
- 1975-2004 Cadillac Seville
- 1947-1993 Cadillac Sixty Special
- 2006-present Cadillac BLS (Europe only)
- 2003-present Cadillac CTS
- 2006-present Cadillac DTS
- 1999-present Cadillac Escalade (ESV/EXT)
- 2004-present Cadillac SRX
- 2005-present Cadillac STS
- 2004-present Cadillac XLR
Concepts and prototypes
- Cadillac Evoq - 1999
- Cadillac Vizon - 2000
- Cadillac Imaj - 2001
- Cadillac Cien - 2002
- Cadillac Sixteen - 2003
- Cadillac.com corporate site
- CaddyEdge.com Website dedicated to modern, Art & Science styled Cadillacs. News, rumors, and lively discussions.
- CadillacForums.com Website and community for owners and enthusiasts of Cadillac luxury automobiles with well over 20,000 members. Included is a Cadillac dealer locator, a Free classified and auction section, thousands of images, reviews, message boards and more...
- Cadillac Owners A place to discuss ideas and issues regarding Cadillac Motor Cars and to share general enthusiasm about them.
- Cadillac Owner's Resources Items such as resetting the "Oil Life" indicator light, links to download your owners manual, personal webpages, photos and resources for the Service Professional: accessing the onboard diagnostic trouble codes, online service manuals, etc.
- Cadillac history extensive fan site with many photos from earliest to current models
- Classic Cadillac Community community site that captures and documents a large slice of the history of classic Cadillacs. Has 4500+ Cadillac-Images.
- Classic Cadillac Community Forum is a discussion board for Classic Cadillac enthusiasts.
- The Cadillac Database has thousands of facts, figures and images that attempt to retrace the history and styling of Cadillac automobiles from 1902 up to 2002.
- Cadillac-LaSalle Club is an international organization of nearly 7,000 members with 18,000 collectible automobiles built by Cadillac.
- 1958 Cadillac Owners Association is organized for Common Good, Mutual Benefit and Co-operative Assistance of the 1958 Cadillac Owner
- Cadillac V Series Forums is a website dedicated to the Cadillac V Series of vehicles, such as the CTS-V, STS-V and future XLR-V.
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