On this day in 1902 the Cadillac Automobile Company was formed by Henry Leland and former financial partners of Henry Ford after a failed attempt at establishing the Henry Ford Company, and quickly developed into one of America’s premier luxury automakers. It was named after Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who founded Detroit, Michigan. The Cadillac crest is based on his coat of arms. It is the second oldest US automaker falling only behind Buick. In its early years engineers developed the use of interchangeable parts, the building blocks for mass production.
Following a dispute between Henry Ford and his investors Ford left his own company and the investors called in Leland to evaluate the worth of the company in order to sell. He persuaded the investors to keep the equipment and build cars using the single cylinder engine he developed himself. They agreed and the result was Cadillac and the first Runabout rolled out of the plant in October of 1902. The cars were nearly identical in appearance to the 1903 Ford Model A, as they used the old Ford parts. At the 1903 New York Auto Show Cadillac gathered more than 2,000 orders. Cadillac was acquired by the newly founded General Motors in 1909, along with Buick, and Cadillac was placed as the the company’s luxury line, where it has remained ever since. Cadillac was the first make to mass produce a fully enclosed vehicle and introduce an electrical system that incorporated starting, ignition and lighting and it introduced its first V8 in 1915.