Cadillac is part of General Motors and based in the U.S. They market luxury vehicles to numerous regions around the world while their primary business is in China, America, and Canada. In 2017, they had one of their best sales records ever with the distribution of over 350,000 vehicles worldwide.
Cadillac is one of the oldest automakers in the world, plus it’s the second oldest in the United States after Buick. It was founded as part of Henry Ford Company’s remnants in 1902.
It’s been a part of General Motors since 1909, but Cadillac didn’t need any help. They had previously established themselves as a leader in premier luxury automobile manufacturers.
They’ve been at the forefront of innovations and technological advances. Cadillac also set the standard for mass vehicle production. They were also the first American automaker to win UK’s Dewar Trophy.
A Brief History Of Cadillac
Cadillac started in 1902 out of the remnants left from the Henry Ford Company. When Ford disputed matters with his investors, he abandoned his company. Some of his partners followed with him. That’s when some financial backers for Ford brought in Henry Leland, an engineer tasked with appraising the remaining equipment and plant.
Instead of helping them sell the assets, Leland convinced them to manufacturer automobiles with his single-cylinder engine. That’s when they established the Cadillac Automobile Company, named after the man that founded Detroit.
Their first automobiles were released that same year, the Tonneau and Runabout. Both featured two-seats and used a ten horsepower engine. They looked like the Model A. The company took the cars to the 1903 New York Auto Show where they received 2,000 new orders. Many people already knew, in the beginning, that Cadillac vehicles were better-made and more reliable than the competition.
The Early Years
In 1909, GM acquired Cadillac and divided their prestige lineup. They were dedicated to producing larger luxury vehicles. It also became their default marque for their commercial chassis vehicles like ambulances, limousines, funeral home cars, and hearses.
As far as the GM hierarchy was concerned, Cadillac was the leader followed by Buick, Oldsmobile, and later on, Chevrolet. By 1915, they introduced their flathead V8 engine that produced 70 horsepower. This enabled the vehicles to travel 65 mph making it faster than the majority of roads could handle.
Government agencies also started to use Cadillac’s vehicles. During 1917, the Army requested the Type 55 Touring Model for use on the Mexican border. In addition, the company supplied 2,350 cars to French officers during the American Expeditionary Force during the First World War.
Then, in 1918, they created a dual-plane V8 engine. Later down the road, in 1928, they also introduced a Synchro-Mesh transmission. Only two years later, the company began using their first V16 motor, featuring a 45-degree overhead valve and producing 165 horsepower. This wasn’t just the most powerful in the United States at the time, but also the quietest. That’s how Cadillac set the standard for the rest of the automotive industry.
Sales Rise and Fall
In 1926, the company brought on Harley Earl who created the LaSalle over the next two years. It was a smaller vehicle that they produced through 1940. Their pre-war Cadillacs were powerful, well-built, and mass-produced. The company worked to target America’s upper-class society for purchases. They also added more cars with V12 and V16 motors, many of them featured custom-built bodies.
They also released some new bodywork. In 1926, they also released shatter-resistant glass. Plus, Cadillac is credited with the turret top construction. This was the first all-steel roof used for a passenger vehicle. Before them, the tops were made from wood and covered in fabric.
The Great Depression took a toll on the entire auto industry, but the luxury lines declined more rapidly than others. From 1928 through 1933, Cadillac’s sales fell 84%.
During that same time, Cadillac held to a policy that discouraged any sale to an African American. A mechanic for the company, Nick Dreystadt, who was also the head of the service department, set up a committee. They tasked themselves with attempting to revoke the policy with the hope that it would boost sales. Once they eliminated that rule, sales went up by 70%. They also promoted Dreystadt to lead Cadillac.
Around this same time, the Phillips screwdriver and screws were introduced. Henry Phillips convinced Cadillac that these new screws would speed up assembly times which would increase profits. Cadillac became the first automobile producer to use the technology, starting in 1937. The company later adopted it on a larger scale in 1940.
Before and After the Second World War
By 1941, all their cars were using the same drivetrain and engine. This is also the year they released the Hydra-Matic. It was the first fully automatic transmission that was mass-produced. They released it a year before Oldsmobile.
In 1949, Cadillac won the very first Motor Trend Car of the Year award, mainly because of the overhead valve V8 engine. That same year, they produced their one-millionth vehicle, a Coupe de Ville – a model that would prove to be a landmark in Cadillac history. In addition, they released the first hardtop coupe that was mass-produced. It featured a closed-body style and didn’t have the B pillar. It became one of the company’s top-selling models for several years.
Tailfins were added to vehicles starting in 1948, but they reached their height of popularity in 1959. Beginning in the early 1960s, they decreased until they were removed altogether from the 1965 lineup. Another distinctive feature was their front bumper. It became known to the world as the Dagmar bumper because of its similarity to the voluptuous 1950s television star.
Starting in 1951, the company produced M41 Walker Bulldog army tanks. These served in both the Korean and the Vietnam wars.
Two years later, they released their Autronic Eye which automatically dimmed high-beams when there were oncoming motorists. In 1956, they introduced a hardtop sedan that was pillarless. They marketed this car as the Sedan de Ville, and within a year, the feature was part of all Cadillacs. The next year, the Series 70 Eldorado Brougham was released. The hand-built vehicle featured an auto-leveling suspension, memory seats, and all-transistor car radio.
Continued Growth in the Luxury Division
Starting with the 1962 lineup, Cadillac introduced the dual-reservoir brake master cylinder. It featured a front and rear hydraulic system that was separate from one another. They also released the automatic heater and air conditioning system, as well as a Turbo-Hydramatic three-speed automatic transmission. This became their standard for many years.
By 1967, they released the Eldorado, a front-wheel drive vehicle. The elegant design set a luxury car standard in the market. It propelled Cadillac to higher success than the Imperial and Lincoln lineup of cars.
During the 1968 model lineup, they released a new 7.7-liter engine but later increased it to 8.2-liters to use in the 1970 Eldorado. Five years later, they used it across the entire model lineup. The 1970s brought some new dimensions to the luxury automobile world. Their 1972 Fleetwood measured an additional 1.7-inches longer than their 1960 series. In addition, the 1972 Calais grew 2.4-inch longer than the 1960 Series 62. Their models also increased in vehicle weight, engine displacement, and the amount of standard equipment. This led to more record sales during 1973 and then again later in the decade.
While they started using some passenger airbags in 1975, the option wasn’t popular, so they discontinued it after 1976.
Downsizing Plus Some New Features
It wasn’t long before they started downsizing the DeVille models. They had a smaller exterior dimension, smaller engine, and less weight. This improved the handling and fuel economy which pleased the public. By 1979, the Eldorado coupe also featured some downsizing as well.
By the 1980s, the entire lineup got smaller in size. The Seville used a new rear-end styling and switched to front-wheel drive. The company also released their Cimarron, a compact car, in 1982. Five years later, they introduced the Allante roadster. It had an HT-4100 V8 motor. This was the same year that the Clark Street assembly plant in Detroit closed down. Cadillacs were produced here since 1921.
Technology-assisted features became part of the Cadillac brand during the 1980s. One of these was the memory seat, which hadn’t been used since 1958. They also incorporated digital air conditioning and heating controls, high-tech engines, new stereo options, trip computers, and digital instrumentation.
Starting in 1994, all the DeVille models featured standard airbags, digital instrumentation, a message center, and dual-zone front climate control. The message center offered up valuable information about the vehicle including the speed and outside temperature. In 1996, they added some upgraded audio systems plus TheftLock technology. They also released the Cadillac Escalade in 1999 to compete with luxury SUVs such as the Lincoln Navigator.
The Modern Age
During the early 2000s, Cadillac began using crisper edges and shaper designs. It started with their CTS and moved into the XLR roadster. Their lineup increased to both all-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive sedans, crossovers, SUVs, and roadsters. The only exception to this was the BLS, which never made it to the American market, and the DTS.
During the 2005 model year, the STS took the place of the Seville. A year later, the company began implementing the newest Northstar system. It featured an aluminum DOHC L37 V8 engine. The STS became their most expensive sedan.
They also replaced the DeVille models with the DTS, otherwise known as the Deville Touring Sedan. Their final Deville came off the assembly line in 2005.
In 2009, Cadillac released a new CTS-V sedan to compete with a BMW M5. It featured a supercharged OHV 6.2-liter LSA V8 engine. It also set a record time among sedans at Nürburgring. Starting with the 2016 model year, the CT6 was released. It was their first rear-wheel drive full-size sedan since they discontinued their Fleetwood model back in 1996.
Alternative Propulsion Methods
Then, in 2014, they released the ELR. This luxury plug-in hybrid coupe used the same Voltec EREV drivetrain that they Chevy Volt utilized. The electric range was just short of 40 miles and it featured a top speed of 106 mph. Production ended in 2016 with a total sales of less than 3,000 vehicles.
During the 2015 Shanghai Auto show, Cadillac unveiled their CT6 PHEV. This plug-in hybrid uses a powertrain similar to the second-generation Chevy Volt. It combines a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine (producing 266 horsepower) with a two-motor 120 kW hybrid transmission and lithium-ion battery pack. The combined power is estimated at 335 horsepower. While the powertrain is made in America, the assembly occurs in China. It didn’t go on sale in the United States until 2017 and it featured a base price of over $75,000.
The fuel economy rating of the CT6 PHEV is 62 mpg combined on electric power and 25 mpg while driving in hybrid mode. The electric range of the vehicle is 31 miles, but the combined hybrid and gasoline motor range is 440 miles. It’s the company’s first vehicle made in China.
Safety and Crash Ratings
According to the IIHS, Cadillac doesn’t have any Top Safety Picks for the 2018 model year. The Cadillac XT5 was a Top Safety Pick in 2017. For 2018, however, it received “Good” ratings in everything except Headlights and Child Seat Anchors. The Cadillac XTS didn’t fair too poorly either. It received “Good” ratings in everything other than Child Seat Anchors. The CTS and ATS, on the other hand, did poorly in multiple areas.
The NHTSA tells a different story about this automaker. In fact, they gave an overall five-star rating to the Cadillac XT5, CTS, ATS, XTS, plus a four-star rating to the Escalade.
Cadillac Safety Equipment
Other safety features include numerous airbags, automatic seat belt tightening, Cadillac Connected Access, and Cadillac Edition First Aid Kit. There are also daytime running lamps, electronic traction control, following distance indicator, Forward Collision Alert and a highway safety kit. In addition, the company provides an inclination sensor, LATCH system, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, and OnStar services. Finally, cars have a Passenger Sensing System, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, rear vision camera and back child security door locks available as well.
Cadillac Safety Recalls
According to Wards Auto, General Motors ranks low on the recall list when compared with other automobile manufacturers. Unfortunately, over 90% of those recalls were issues that had consequences that could’ve led to fire, crash, accident, injury, or death. This was higher than the industry average. With that said, almost 54% of the time, GM initiated the recalls which were better than the industry average.
In 2018, there were two major recalls for the company. The first one involved almost 100,000 CTS sedans from 2005 through 2007. The sensing system mat located in the front passenger seat could’ve folded, bent, or kinked causing the electrical connections inside to break. When this occurred, the passenger would fail to register and the airbag would be disabled. Another 63,000 CTS sedans that weren’t involved in the recall received an upgrade to a 10-year/120,000 mile warranty.
The other recall involved over 1,000 2011 Escalade EXT vehicles as well as some Chevys. The company identified a defective rear axle cross pin leaving the axle vulnerable to fracturing. There have been no reported injuries or deaths with either recall.
Consumer Satisfaction Reports & Dependability Ratings
Consumer Reports ranks Cadillac separate from the GM brand in their ratings. They received a satisfactory score Owner Satisfaction. In fact, they came in 24th place out of 34. They also ranked extremely low on the Product Dependability chart.
In 2017, J.D Power ranked the Escalade as a top Large Premium SUV in performance and design. They ranked higher than the Lincoln Navigator, but the same as the Mercedes-Benz GLS. The only premium SUV with a higher rating was the Infiniti QX40.
As far as the cost of ownership goes, Consumer Reports lists the repair and maintenance to be an average of $10 per incident. This is one of the lowest recorded on the chart, especially among luxury automakers. Even when you look at the 10-year cost, it continues to remain low at an average of $530 per incident, which is mainly unheard of among the luxury brands.
Cadillac hasn’t won as many awards recently as they used to, but here are a few of the more prestigious in the past few years.
- 2017 Cadillac XT5 Named to 2016 Wards Auto 10 Best Interiors List
- 2016 Cadillac Escalade Earns President’s Award in AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Awards
- 2016 Cadillac Escalade Named Best Luxury Large SUV for Families by U.S. News & World Report
- Digital Trends Award Given to 2016 Cadillac CT6
- Cadillac Escalade Earned Consumer Guide Best Buy for 2016
- 2016 Escalade Named Reader’s Choice Award, Best Luxury SUV by AutoGuide.com
Mary Kay Ash walked into a Lincoln dealership back in the 1960s. She wanted a custom car to promote her business. She was told to go home and get her husband to come back with her. Instead, she went to the Cadillac dealer. She handed them her compact and asked them to match the color of her blush. They didn’t mind one bit and created the “Mountain Laurel” tone just for her.
Some of her sales directors loved her vehicle and ordered some for themselves. Mary Kay realized the car was a powerful symbol and great motivating tool. In 1969, she gave her top five sales consultants a new Cadillac Coupe de Ville. Of course, the company doesn’t pay outright for the car but purchased a two-year lease instead. Then, the consultant can turn the car back in or buy it herself.
This tradition remains today, but the color of pink has changed slightly throughout the years. In 2011, a male consultant won the keys to a pink Cadillac because there were no other options at the time. That’s why they now offer a monthly cash incentive for those that don’t want the Cadillac. There are also some other car options available as well, like driving a Chevy Cruze.
Snapshot of the Company
Cadillac was founded on August 22, 1902, in Detroit, Michigan by William Murphy, Lemuel Bowen, and Henry M. Leland. Their headquarters are now based in New York City, New York. Current markets include the United States, Mexico, Canada, the Middle East, Europe, China, Japan, and South Korea.
The current president is Steve Carlisle. Cadillac runs under the General Motors group which includes other brands such as GMC, Chevrolet, and Buick. GM employs around 180,000 people, according to the statistics in 2017.
In 2017, Cadillac sold 156,440 vehicles in the United States and 356,467 globally. It was their second-highest sales year in the brand’s history. They achieved a 15.5% increase over the previous year for worldwide sales. Their biggest growth occurred in China where sales went up 50% over 2016.
The top-selling vehicle for the year was the XT5 crossover. It sold 40% of the units worldwide. In addition, the ATS sales increased 17.2% over 2016.
While GM operates numerous production facilities around the globe, only a handful are used for Cadillac manufacturing. The Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly, located in Michigan produces the CT6. Their Lansing Grand River Assembly in Michigan makes the ATS, ATS-V, CTS, and CTS-V.
In the Arlington Assembly plant located in Texas, they produce the Escalade and Escalade ESV. There’s also a Spring Hill Manufacturing facility situated in Tennessee that’s responsible for XT5 creation.
In Canada, the Oshawa Car Assembly in Oshawa produces the XTS. Then, in China, the Shanghai GM plant makes ATS, CT6, CTS, XT5, and XTS vehicles. Finally, the Russian group, Avtotot assemblies, produces the CTS and Escalade under the Kaliningrad license.
At the beginning of the century, the company released the Wreath & Crest logo. They removed the birds and crown plus they sharpened the wreath design.
The most current version of the logo doesn’t have a wreath because the company felt it was outdated. The crest remains an ongoing symbol for the company and creates brand recognition.
Early in 2018, the marketing chief for Cadillac resigned. This led the company to reevaluate their techniques and they opted to change their advertising to be more culturally relevant. This came at the same they planned to launch their XT4 company crossover.
To reach out, they prepared two ads about the new vehicle and aired them during the Academy Awards. The ads had some fast-paced imagery and popular songs while running a “Dare Greatly” tagline.
Cadillac had been heavily involved in golf and even sponsored the World Golf Championships with the Cadillac Championship. With their recent shifts, they’ve dropped the golf support and turned to more hip partnerships. They’ve been involved with Global Citizen, Apple Music’s Car Karaoke: The Series, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop.
You wouldn’t think of motorsports when you reflect on this luxury brand, but prior to the Second World War, they participated in numerous types of motor racing. In fact, many of the Allard automobiles utilized Cadillac engines.
Back in the 1950s, they even participated in the NASCAR Grand National Series, just like most of the American automakers. The brand left the races in the 1960s.
They also powered the Northstar LMP, which was a Le Mans Prototype during the beginning years of the American Le Mans Series. This only occurred from 2000 through 2002 and they proved to be unsuccessful. That’s when they left the series altogether.
Their most successful attempt at motorsports came from the CTS-V which raced during the SCCA World Challenge Grand Touring class.
There are currently more than 300 motorcycles and vehicles found from numerous eras. The complex features over a dozen buildings found on more than 90 acres.
Exhibits at the museum include cars from the 1890s, classics from the 1900s, and cars built in Kalamazoo, the “Other Motor City.” There’s even an entire area dedicated to the Model A Ford.
Some of the Cadillac vehicles on display include the:
- 1903 Cadillac Model A
- 1931 Cadillac 355A 5-Passenger Sedan Model 31-259
- 1940 Cadillac 5-Passenger Sedan Model 6219
- 1942 Cadillac Fleetwood Sedan Model 7519
- 1954 Cadillac Eldorado Model 6267SX
- 1961 Cadillac Sedan Deville Model 6329
- 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible Model 6EL67
- 1993 Cadillac Allante’ Indianapolis Pace Car
- 3/8 Scale Presidential Limousine
Financing for a Cadillac on sale runs through GM Financial. Their headquarters are found in Phoenix, Arizona. They offer numerous solutions when consumers desire to find a Cadillac on lease or a Cadillac for sale. There are also some flexible options for the end of lease term. They even provide the BuyPower Card which is run through Capital One. This credit card allows drivers to save up rewards and use them for a new vehicle or Cadillac accessories.
Each brand of GM has its own line of protection plans. The Cadillac protection plan includes rental car coverage, roadside assistance, trip interruption, lost key or lockout service, and it comes in two varying levels.
Cadillac does offer a Military Discount. It’s valid for active duty members and veterans as well. There are also special pricing deals for companies in need of fleet vehicles.
A Master Dealer exhibits professionalism and exceptional customer service. Only forty dealerships receive this award each year. The CPO President’s Club is reserved for dealers that rank in the top twenty through their sales and customer satisfaction.
There’s also the Certified Elite Service which recognizes dealers that offer an high-end experience to consumers. Dealerships with this status also qualify for additional benefits from the company.
J.D. Power also ranked Cadillac as one of the Top Dealerships for Customer Satisfaction and Service in 2018. While J.D. Power also keeps a listing highlighting Dealers of Excellence, there is only one currently on their list. It’s Crest Cadillac in Frisco, Texas.
5 Interesting Facts about Cadillac
1 – Al Capone rode in a Cadillac. His 1928 sedan was a presidential bulletproof limo. It was fully armored as protection against the rival gangs. When he found himself sitting in Alcatraz, the car was impounded by the Treasury Department. When Pearl Harbor occurred, President Roosevelt found himself in need of transportation, so the Secret Service let him use Capone’s vehicle, though this fact is disputed.
2 – Cadillac used the first electric starter. All other cars of the time used hand-cranking to get going. Leland created the electric starter because a friend of his lost his life hand-cranking a car.
3 – The Cadillac Ranch is found in Amarillo, Texas and is a popular tourist destination. It features an art installation of older models with a strong emphasis on the car lineup.
4 – Henry Leland left Cadillac and started the Lincoln Company. Later, they went bankrupt and were purchased by Henry Ford.
5 – In 1912, the first electric-powered headlights were installed on Cadillac cars. They even won an award for the innovation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Makes Cadillac? Is Cadillac GM? General Motors is the parent company to Cadillac. They purchased the company in 1909 after they had already established themselves as one of America’s best luxury automakers. GM is also the company that runs Buick, GMC, and Chevrolet.
Where is Cadillac Made? There are several production facilities throughout the world. In Michigan, there are two that make Cadillacs: one in Detroit and the other in Lansing. There’s also a plant in Arlington, Texas and Tennessee. On the international level, Cadillacs are built in Canada and China.
Are Cadillacs Good Cars? They have a low cost of ownership and several models stand out for safety purposes. Overall, they seem to get average consumer reviews in the luxury market.
Does Cadillac Make a Truck? From 2002 through 2013, there was a Cadillac truck – the Escalade EXT. This luxury pickup truck was a revamped version of the SUV. It was a part crew-cab truck and another luxury SUV. It wasn’t just beautiful and functional, by also quite massive as well.
When was Cadillac Founded? Cadillac is the second oldest automaker in the United States with production beginning in 1902. It had once been part of the Henry Ford Company and is now part of GM. They purchased the company in 1909 and helped them continue establishing themselves as a leader in premier luxury automobiles.