Cadillac was actually started by Henry Ford in the late 19th century. However, Ford soon departed, taking his name with him. In 1902, the company brought in auto part manufacturer Henry Martyn Leland and, taking its name from that of the French explorer who discovered Detroit, re-launched themselves as Cadillac.
Cadillac was one of the first American automakers to embrace the production of stylish luxury cars that were engineered precisely. Almost from the very beginning, cars made by Cadillac were regarded as being the best produced by U.S. automakers.
Early offerings, such as the Model A and the Cadillac 30 were successful enough that the company was acquired by General Motors in 1909. GM took advantage of Cadillac’s high-end brand name and its expertise in producing stylish luxury cars by making the company into its luxury imprint.
Cadillac Through The Years
Cadillac had an immediate impact on the American automotive industry when it released the Cadillac Osceola. While only one Osceola was built, it was the first close-bodied car to be produced in the U.S. The design caught on instantly and close-bodied cars soon became more popular than the open top models that had been prevalent in the early years of the automotive era.
However, Cadillac did not truly come into its own until the postwar era. Adorned with acres of chrome and massive tailfins inspired by World War II fighter planes, the Cadillacs of the 1940s,50s. and 60s were instant icons.
Yet, oil crises in the Middle East and gas shortages in the U.S. took Cadillac down the same perilous roads as many other American auto manufacturers in the 1970s. Americans began purchasing smaller cars and the company’s sales declined throughout the decade. The Cadillac brand continued to struggle in the 1980s as American drivers turned towards Japanese automakers, many of which introduced luxury models during this period.
Cadillac finally found its footing in the American auto market in the 1990s. By introducing a line of redesigned models and making major improvements in the quality of the engines it produced, Cadillac was able to reverse its fortunes introducing new models like the Escalade and the CTS sport sedan. These in turn finally succeeded in making Cadillac popular with younger drivers that had proved elusive in previous decades.
Originally introduced in 1999, the Escalade was Cadillac’s first entry into the SUV market. The full-size Escalade was intended as a more luxurious alternative to the Lincoln Navigator and has been popular with everyone from hip-hop stars to soccer moms ever since. In its third generation, the Escalade enabled Cadillac to finally break through the age barrier with younger drivers, and it remains the best-selling luxury SUV on the U.S. market.
The Cadillac CTS is a midsize luxury vehicle that has been in production since 2003. Available as a sedan, coupe, or sport wagon, the CTS was one of the first midsize Cadillacs to catch on with the public. Having been given a bold design and tested extensively at the famed Nurburgring in Germany, the CTS was designed to go head to head with luxury import brands such as BMW and Mercedes.
The Cadillac SRX is a midsize luxury SUV crossover that was introduced in 2004. Initially the SRX featured rear-wheel drive and offered the option of a third row seat or a V-8. However newer models have front-wheel drive, are smaller in size and offer only the option of a V-6. A 300-hp turbocharged model is also available.
Two Cadillac models that were discontinued in 2011 were the Cadillac DTS full-size luxury sedan and the Cadillac STS midsize sport luxury sedan.
Cadillac Products and Technologies
Cadillac always found success when they’ve remained innovative and focused on producing quality, well-engineered cars that also offer a certain level of reliability. Current models such as the Escalade SUV and the CTS are among the auto maker's best sellers. The CTS, in particular is regarded as being one of the only American-made, entry-level luxury cars that was able take market share away from import brands such as Lexus, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz.