Buick | Cadillac

Cadillac  is a division of U.S.-based General Motors (GM) that markets luxury vehicles worldwide.

Cadillac is among the oldest automobile brands in the world, second in America only to fellow GM marque Buick. The firm was founded from the remnants of the Henry Ford Company in 1902. It was named after French explorer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, who founded Detroit, Michigan in 1701. The Cadillac crest is based on his coat of arms.

From its earliest years, Cadillac aimed for precision engineering, reliability and stylish luxury finishes, causing its cars to be ranked amongst the finest in the United States. A Cadillac was simply a better-made vehicle than its competitors.

Cadillac’s first automobiles, the Runabout and Tonneau, were completed in October 1902. They were two-seat horseless carriages powered by a 10 hp single-cylinder engine. They were practically identical to the 1903 Ford Model A.

In 1906, Cadillac was the first volume manufacturer of a fully enclosed car. In 1912, Cadillac was the first automobile manufacturer to incorporate an electrical system enabling starting, ignition, and lighting

The development and introduction of the V8, V16 and V12 engines helped to make Cadillac the “Standard of the World”.

In 1934, Henry F. Phillips introduced the Phillips screw and screwdriver to General Motors and convinced the Cadillac group that his new screws would speed assembly times and therefore increase profits. Cadillac was the first automaker to use the Phillips technology, in 1937, which was widely adopted in 1940.

Postwar Cadillac vehicles innovated many of the styling features that came to be synonymous with the late 1940s and 1950s American automobile. These included tailfins, wraparound windshields, and extensive use of chrome. Tailfins were first added in 1948  and reached their pinnacle in 1959, decreasing each year until they disappeared in the 1965 model year.

Cadillac’s other distinctive styling attribute was its front-bumper. What had started out after the war as a pair of artillery shell-shaped bumper guards moved higher on the front-end design as the 1950s wore on. Becoming known as Dagmar bumpers for their similarity to the buxom 1950s television personality, they were toned down in 1958 and gone the next year.

One infamous Cadillac was the 1982 Cimarron – the brand’s first compact car. The Cimarron was a failure and as noted by automotive journalist Dan Neil “….the Cimarron nearly killed Cadillac and remains its biggest shame”. 

Classic models include the La Salle, Fisher Fleetwood, Brougham, Calais, Seville, Coupe de Ville, Eldorado, Catera, Cimmarron, Allante and the Sixty Special.

Formed as the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company in 1899 as an independent internal combustion engine and motor-car manufacturer, Buick holds the distinction of being the oldest active American marque of automobile, and was a cornerstone of the establishment of General Motors in 1908. 

The first Buick was the 1904 Model B, followed by the 1909 Model F. 

Buick’s early success is attributed in part to the valve-in-head, or overhead valve (OHV), engine. 

In 1911, Buick introduced its first closed-body car, four years ahead of Ford.

In 1939 Buick also pioneered the use of turn signals, which did not appear on other car brands until almost a decade later.

Famous models of the 1940s and 1950s were the Buick Skylark, Roadmaster, Special and Century. And Electra, Le Sabre, Invicta and Riviera of the 1960s and 1970s.

Buick won the first-ever race held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 1958 Buick marketed in late 1957, just as the space age began with Sputnik I, was nicknamed “the King of Chrome” and had rear tailfins reminiscent of a rocket ship. The 1959, Buick Electra had the aerodynamic Delta Fin.

Other design features included the Sweepspear – a curved trim line running almost the length of the car (1940s -1970s) and Ventiports – a series of three or four ‘vents’ on the front fenders behind the front wheels (1949-date).

The Buick Trishield emblem is rooted in the ancestral coat of arms of the automaker’s founder, David Dunbar Buick. The division adopted this on its radiator grilles in 1937.

Current models are the Escalade, ATS, CTS, SRX, XTS, ELR and CT6.