Cadillac would not have existing, if Henry Ford would not have went broke

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1903 Cadillac Model A Runabout

Cadillac would not have existing, if Henry Ford would not have went broke

We all attribute Henry Ford to Ford and Lincoln, but did you know that if Ford had not have gone broke, odds are Cadillac would never had existed.

On August of 1902, William Murphy and Lemuel Bowen, the business men that were backing Henry Ford’s second automotive manufacturing endeavor, were ready to bail out. Rather than produce a vehicle that could be sold, Ford was more focused on experimenting on racing cars to test those his automotive experiments. Murphy and Bowen were not making any profits and their patience was wearing thin.

1910 Cadillac Model 30. W10HVCA001

Henry Leland had learned the art of precision machining while working as an apprentice for Samuel Colt, the firearms manufacturer. He perfected his skills with a variety of ventures before applying them to the automotive industry. In the summer of 1901, he contracted with Ransom E Olds of Olds Motor Works to produce an advanced new engine for the 1902 Oldsmobile. That partnership came to an immediate end when a devastating fire at the Olds Motor Works nearly destroyed the company.

Leland was becoming well known in the automotive manufacturing industry. After the fire, Murphy and Bowen retained Leland as a consultant because they needed an evaluation of the manufacturing facility and equipment at Ford. Their plan was to determine a value of the company as a whole and attempt to sell it to recoup some of their investment. But Leland had bigger ideas. He proposed a new venture that would keep the company open and use the engine he had designed for Olds to jump start a new production.

1914 The V-8 Engine. W14HV_CO001

Henry Ford was not having it. He gave his directors an ultimatum to dismiss Leland or pay him $900 and remove his name from the company immediately. The directors chose to pay Ford off and Ford’s name was removed from the existing Ford brand.

The company was reorganized and named after the founder of Fort Detroit, the French explorer La Sieur Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac. On October 17th, 1902, the first Cadillac was test driven.

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And so it goes, if Henry Ford would never have got in financial trouble and creat problems for his investors, Cadillac would probably never have existed. In another odd twist, Ford ended up with Lincoln a couple of decades later, but that’s another story

Henry Leland, one of the founders of the Cadillac brand, established the Lincoln Motor Company in 1917. It is said that he named the new venture after his hero, President Abraham Lincoln. Facing financial difficulties, Lincoln was purchased by Ford in 1922. Henry Ford’s son, Edsel, was instrumental in convincing his father to buy Lincoln and played a significant role in its development as Ford’s first luxury division.

The beginnings of the automotive industry were as exciting as the stories of Steve Jobs and the beginnings of the computer industry, just a different era

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