Video: The Cadillac Years 1902–1959

1957 Cadillac Clark St. assembly lineComing straight to you from the fabulous ’50s, here’s a great little history of the Cadillac Motor Company. Watch and see how the Standard of the World came to be. 



First, a little historical housekeeping. There’s at least one flub—or fib, shall we say—in this otherwise solid 1959 history of the Cadillac brand. Just past the one-minute mark, there’s an explanation of Henry Ford’s relationship to Cadillac that is historically incorrect. Ford was not the owner of the building that housed the Detroit Automobile Company, Cadillac’s predecessor, but the chief engineer and general manager. Ford, at odds with the company’s investors, soon departed to form the Ford Motor Company, while the Detroit Automobile Co. eventually became Cadillac.

In a similar way, the factory building pictured at this point in the film is not the Cadillac plant at Cass and Amsterdam in Detroit, as the narrator claims, but the Ford plant on Mack Ave. (Learn the story of the Ford Mack Ave. plant here at Mac’s Motor City Garage.) These fudges aside, the film is a sound review of Cadillac and its many contributions to the auto industry—and lots of fun, too. Please enjoy.


5 thoughts on “Video: The Cadillac Years 1902–1959

  1. I don’t understand the distinction between joining General Motors in 1909 (4:39) and becoming a division of General Motors in 1916 (9:06). Did the film make an error in mentioning the 1916 entry or is this something larger? Had GM been a consortium of companies sharing resources previously and became the organization I know today in 1916?

    I know the list of GM brands was covered before, and it’s long. There’s not room here to cover the early years in depth but I hope someone can address this in brief.

    • Sharp of you to notice. When Billy Durant returned to control in 1916, the General Motors Company, a holding company, became the General Motors Corporation, an operating company, and the constituent companies became divisions. The distinction is not relevant to this story, again suggesting the film is an agency job. They had a list of data points to hit they didn’t totally understand.

      For any car guys with an interest in business, I highly recommend Alfred Sloan’s book, My Years with General Motors. It’s fascinating and loaded with info.

  2. Thanks. I’ve read a couple of book on Ford but know almost nothing about the early years of GM.

  3. Actually, the Detroit Automobile Company owned “Sweepstakes”, the car Henry designed, & later borrowed to race & beat Alexander Winton on Oct 10, 1901. The company was renamed the Henry Ford Co. but that changed when Henry & them split ways over building more race cars (Arrow & 999). Leland & Faulkoner were brought in to productionize the car. They were a respected supplier/machinist/manufacturer & made what became the 1902 Cadillac out of it. Somehow Ford eventually retrieved the car & it lay unloved for decades at the Henry Ford Museum, until it was found & restored for the 2003 Ford Centennial celebration. A replica was also built at that time & resided at the Fairlane Estate. Ford designed the 1st Cadillac & Winton was absorbed by GM in the 20s.

  4. That’s a great video. Fibs and all. My Father, Charlie Adkins worked at the Clark Street Assembly plant and at the poletown assembly plant. He retired in 2001. He drove Hi-Low.

Comments are closed.