EmpireCovers Highlights On This Day in 1909
On July 29, 1909, General Motors Corporation (GM) acquired the Cadillac Automobile Company, for $4.5 million.
In 1902, Cadillac was formed after the departure of the founder, Henry Ford. Ford’s need for perfection clashed with his partners’ eagerness to put passenger cars on the market. Shareholders called in Detroit machinist Henry Leland to assess the company’s assets for a plan to sell the company. Leland convinced them to stay in business. His idea was to combine Ford’s latest frame with Oldsmobile’s single-cylinder engine.
During its first year in production, Cadillac assembled nearly 2,500 cars. By 1904, Leland’s son, Wilfred, joined Cadillac and established the brand’s reputation for quality. Cadillac made the top 10 in overall US auto sales every year from 1904 to 1915.
In 1908, William C. Durant created the General Motors Corporation. One year later, it had already acquired Buick and Oldsmobile. On July 29, 1909, Durant convinced Wilfred to sell Cadillac for $4.5 million in GM stock. The Lelands also kept their management positions, granting them full responsibility for automotive production. Three years later, Cadillac produced the world’s first (successful) electric self-starting car.
The Lelands left Cadillac in 1917 and formed Lincoln Company. Unfortunately, Lincoln went bankrupt and was later acquired by Ford Motor Company.
Over the years, Cadillac has maintained its reputation as a leader for luxury and innovation. It was the first automaker to standardly equip power steering and automatic windshield wipers on all its vehicles.
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