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July 29, 1909 – GM buys Cadillac

When GM purchased Cadillac on this day in 1909 for $4.5 million in GM stock Cadillac was already one of the top sellers of luxury automobiles in the United States. Cadillac, born out of the ashes of Henry Ford’s second (failed) attempt at starting a car company was fueled by competition between Detroit machinist Henry Leland and Henry Ford. Leland participated in the founding of Cadillac in August 1902 and introduced the first model at the 1903 New York Auto Show, which actually combined a Ford chassis and an Oldsmobile engine. He took full control of the company in 1904 after Cadillac produced an astounding 2,500 vehicles in their first year of production.  In 1908 William C. Durant, who helped found Chevrolet and would go on to start several other brands of cars, started General Motors after acquiring Buick and Oldsmobile. In July of 1909 he persuaded Leland to sell Cadillac. Durant kept Leland and Leland’s son on board in their management positions, as they had proved how successful they worked as a team, putting them in full control of production. Just three years later Cadillac introduced the world’s first successful electric self-starter for an automobile and in 1915 they were the first company to put V8 engines in every production car for a model year.  Pictured:1903 Cadillac Runabout1909 Cadillac1915 Cadillac

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