Cadillac Model A
Total Production: 2,497 1903 - 1904
The Cadillac Automobile Company of Detroit was founded by Henry Leland and Robert Faulconer. Both of these individuals were specialists in precision gear cutting before building their own line of vehicles. Their background would provide a solid foundation for the firm's superior manufacturing technology and would soon be established as the foremost builder of quality cars in the United States. The name 'Cadillac' was chosen in honor of the 17th century French explorer who had founded Detroit in 1701. Two of Henry Ford's ex-backers provided the necessary funds to enter business.
The early Cadillac's were powered by a 98 cubic-inch single-cylinder engine, dubbed 'Little Hercules' and mounted horizontally on the left beneath the front seat. The unit was attached to a conventional two-speed-plus-reverse planetary gearbox which was attached to a chain and drove the rear axle. This model was known as the Model A, and was available with either two- or four-seat coachwork. The cars were well engineering, reliable, and had a top speed of around 35 mph.
The first curved-dash Cadillac appeared in 1903; its designation later changed to the Model after the Model B was introduced in 1904. The Model B had a price slightly higher than the Model A, and many cosmetic updates including a box-shaped hood. Mechanically improvements included a press-steel frame, single transverse front spring and an I-Beam front axle.
The Model A Runabout had an attractive price of $750. For an additional $100, one could order a rear entrance detachable tonneau.
From 1903 through 1904, Leland and Faulconer only supplied the engines, transmission and steering mechanisms for the Cadillac's. Olds Motor Works had been contracted for the supply of the Leland-built engine, but the contract soon dissolved. By 1905, the Cadillac Company produced their entire vehicles.
Three examples of the Model A were brought to the 1903 New York Auto Show. These cars had numbers 10, 11, and 13. All three were purchased and an additional 2,286 orders were secured.
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2008