The Cadillac Car Company was created back in August of 1902. Over the past 115 years, the luxury-vehicle manufacturer has had some ups and downs. The people at the helm have made many excellent choices and a few really bad ones. A couple of those bad decisions left people scratching their heads wondering why in the world they would try that. Here's a closer look at this well-established car manufacturer and answers to some of your questions.
Didn't Henry Ford own Cadillac?
Henry Ford actually founded the Cadillac Company. It began as his second failed attempt at an automotive manufacturing company which was known as the Henry Ford Company. Henry Leland, a Detroit machinist, was brought in to assess the failing business before it was put on the market for sale.
Mr. Leland convinced Mr. Ford to keep the company. Mr. Leland recommended blending a good Ford chassis with an Oldsmobile engine and renaming the company. This resulted in the creation of the Cadillac Car Company. It was named after Antoine Laumet de La Mothe Cadillac, the man who founded Detroit back in 1701. The first Cadillac was sold for $850 in 1903.
General Motors Corporation purchased the Cadillac Automobile Company on July 29, 1909. The purchase price was $4.5 million.
Did Cadillac make cars with big tailfins?
Cadillac got serious about making cars with huge tailfins in the 1950's and early 1960's. They started the craze in 1948. Tailfins were inspired by airplanes, and some of the cars that had them handled like airplanes on the road.
The 1959 Cadillac Eldorado is one of the most well-known cars with overdone tailfins. It also had enormous chrome bumpers. This Cadillac was incredibly inefficient, ridiculously oversized and difficult to handle. It was arguably one of Cadillacs worse automobile designs, but it gained an odd appreciation for all of its awkward features. Eldorados had huge tailfins from 1948 to 1964. Cadillac DeVilles were similarly huge and awkward with enormous tailfins.
Didn't one of the U.S. Presidents give a Cadillac to the leader of another country?
President Nixon gave a 1972 two-door Fleetwood Eldorado to Leonid Brezhnev, Soviet Communist Party Chief.
Did Cadillac have trouble with their diesel engines?
The diesel engines Cadillac put in their cars from 1978 to 1985 left U.S. consumers with a bad taste in their mouth for decades. Some people are still leery of diesel engines to this day because of the great diesel debacle. The engines were GM 5.7-L V8 diesels. What made this even worse is that Cadillac wasn't the only automaker to use them. Chevrolet, Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac all used the same trouble-prone diesel engine.
Whatever happened to the Cadillac Cimarron?
Cadillac began manufacturing the Cimarron in 1982 then stopped making it after 1988. This was one of those bad decisions that left consumers scratching their heads. The Cimarron was an unfortunate effort to turn a pig's ear, a Chevrolet Cavalier, into a silk purse. It was literally a rebadged Cavalier with a few cosmetic upgrades.
This was Cadillac's attempt to provide a smaller, economy car in a hurry without putting any real effort into creating a high-quality model. Similar rebadging attempts have been made by other automakers with very similar results.
Oddly, Cadillac made a second attempt at rebadging from 1997 to 2001. In a sad attempt to compete with more successful European brands, they took a German car, the Opel Omega, named it the Catera and tried to sell it in the U.S. It was about as unsuccessful as the Cimarron.
Does Cadillac build race cars?
Yes, Cadillac has a long history in the race-car arena. Back in 1954, a Cadillac race car did quite well in the rough La Carrera Panamericana race. Fast forward to 2017, the last two Pirelli World Challenge races of the season at Sonoma Raceway were won by the Vector Blue No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe.
Does Cadillac make a sporty, powerful coupe?
The CTS-V is one of the most powerful production cars on the market. Cadillac has been producing it since 2009. The CTS-V comes in a two-door coupe model, a four-door sedan model, and a four-door wagon model. It comes with a 556-hp 6.2-L LSA V8 under the hood, a fine-tuned chassis, and all-independent suspension.
How long has Cadillac been making the Escalade?
Cadillac began making the Escalade in 1999. It was their first entry into the SUV market. They created the Escalade to compete with the Lincoln Navigator. This is one rebadging effort that has been wildly successful. The first Escalade was basically a GM Yukon Denali.