GM Purchases Cadillac – 7/29/1909

US History |

Cadillac has always been a name in the car world that has stuck with people time and time again. They’ve found a way to merge classic with modern and consistently come out with luxury vehicle after luxury vehicle. What many people don’t know is that it was actually founded after Henry Ford’s second failed attempt at a company. 

In the early 1900’s, Henry Ford was having a tough time getting a successful company started. After his first failed attempt, he tried again with the Henry Ford Company. Again a failure, shareholders of the company were ready to sell it away. They brought in Henry Leland, a machinist in Detroit at the time, to give a company assessment before they sold the company. However, Leland came in and ended up convincing them to not sell the company and rather keep it.

Leland had a bright idea with him. He wanted to combine the chassis that Ford had created with a single-cylinder engine – which would be developed by Oldsmobile. When his bright idea quickly won the hearts of others and became a reality, the Cadillac Car Company came into existence. Named after Antoine Laumet de La Mothe Cadillac, a French explorer, Cadillac was officially founded in August 1902. Their first manufactured car was presented the next year at the New York Auto Show. It was priced at $850.

Cadillac quickly became popular, manufacturing nearly 2,500 cars in their first year. Motivated by a competition he now had with Henry Ford, Leland gained complete leadership of the Cadillac Car Company in 1904. He took his son, Wilfred, under his wing and together they built a car company that was known for one thing and one thing only: quality. Although there were other big name luxury brands in America at the time, Cadillac continued to be the leading one in the field. They cracked the top-10 in auto sales each year from 1904-1915.

In 1909, the newly formed General Motors Corporation was beginning to take companies under their wing, starting with Buick and Oldsmobile as their cornerstones. By July of that year, Durant convinced the Lelands to do something that would change Cadillac forever. GM would end up purchasing the Cadillac Car Company for $4.5 million in GM stock. However, the Lelands would still keep their job as they would be given full responsibility for the production of the automobiles. 

It was on this day, July 29th, in 1909 that GM officially bought Cadillac.

Three years later, the invention of the first electric self-starting car was introduced by Cadillac. It was an engine that was pioneered by Charles F. Kettering and was a V-8 engine. It was later installed in every Cadillac on the roads in 1915.

Today, Cadillac remains a top luxury car company and continues to stress the importance of quality over everything. They’ve also been responsible for a lot innovations in the automobile industry. Today, other companies like Mercedes Benz, Lexus and Lincoln are in competition with the Cadillac Car Company. 

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Amanda Miller

Contributor & Chief Coffee Maker

Being from San Diego I have always gone to the Ocean and wrote my thoughts onto paper. Since a young girl writing has been my passion and now I love being creative with what I love. In school I started early writing for my middle school paper and have learned so much since then. I now have an opportunity to do what I love and work from home every day you can't beat it. I look forward to writing some great content for you all and to see the feedback I get in the process. My favorite topic is positive stories showing people helping others.