February 16, 1843 – Henry Leland is born

Henry Leland, born on this day in 1843, began his engineering career in the firearms industry, including time spent at Colt. He learned many valuable lessons in toolmaking, manufacturing and part interchangeability early in his professional life leading him to partner with Robert Faulconer to open Leland & Faulconer Manufacturing Co. in Detroit where they entered the early motor industry. In 1902 partners of the failed Henry Ford Company approached Leland to conduct an appraisal of the company’s factory and tools prior to liquidation. Leland completed the appraisal but advised the men that they ought to reorganize the company and build cars with the single cylinder engine he had designed for Oldsmobile. The former Ford partners jumped on the idea and Cadillac was born soon after with Leland at the helm. After GM bought Cadillac in 1909 Leland stayed on as an engineer and board member. After a dispute with GM president William Durant, Leland left and founded Lincoln Motor Company in order to produce Liberty V12 airplane engines for WWI. Following the Great War the plant was retooled to manufacture luxury vehicles. Lincoln was subsequently purchased by Ford in 1922. Henry Leland (right) and Robert Faulconer (left), in the office at Leland & Faulconer Manufacturing Co., Detroit, Mich.1906 Cadillac featuring a Leland designed single cylinder engine. By Brian Corey

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