Cadillac was formed from the remnants of the Henry Ford Company when Henry Ford departed along with several of his key partners and the company was dissolved. With the intent of liquidating the firm's assets, Ford's financial backers, William Murphy and Lemuel Bowen called in engineer Henry M. Leland of Leland & Faulconer Manufacturing Company to appraise the plant and equipment prior to selling them. Instead, Leland persuaded them to continue the automobile business using Leland's proven 1-cylinder engine. Henry Ford's departure required a new name, and on August 22, 1902, the company reformed as the Cadillac Automobile Company. Leland & Faulconer Manufacturing and the Cadillac Automobile Company merged in 1905.
The Cadillac automobile was named after the 17th century French explorer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, who founded Detroit in 1701.
Contributions to the Automotive Industry
Cadillac helped to define advanced engineering, luxury and style early in automotive history and its vehicles would come to be known amongst the world's finest-made. Precision manufacturing of truly interchangeable parts was an award-winning industry first in 1908. Cadillac was the first manufacturer to release cars with a fully enclosed cab as factory equipment in 1910. In 1912, Cadillac was the first manufacturer to incorporate an electrical system that consisted of cranking, lighting and ignition. In 1915 they were the first to regulate engine cooling by thermostatic means, and in 1922 the first to introduce thermostatic control of engine carburetion. Cadillac was also the first to build inherent balance in the V-8 in 1923.
In 1912 Cadillac became the first manufacturer to offer an electric starter as standard equipment. It was developed by Charles Kettering and was marketed as a convenience device for female drivers. Anecdotally, Henry Leland insisted on this after a close friend was killed by a hand crank when his engine backfired. By allowing anyone to safely start a car, the electric starter ensured the dominance of the internal-combustion engine over steam or electric, even though the internal-combustion engine was not necessarily superior to steam in emissions, fuel economy, range, or performance at that time.