Image credits: © Cadillac. GM Corp.

1903 Cadillac Model A

Runabout Rear Entry Tonneau
Chassis Num: 644
Engine Num: 851
Sold for $178,750 at 2014 Gooding & Company.
In 1902, the Detroit Automobile Company - a firm on the verge of bankruptcy - called upon engine builder Henry Martyn Leland to appraise the worth of their factory so they could sell it. Instead, Leland showed them his outstanding one-cylinder engine and they quickly changed their minds about closing down. Instead, they formed the Cadillac Automobile Company.

Cadillac's first automobile, the Model A, was completed two months later, and in January 1903, when an astonishing 2,286 orders for the new vehicle were taken at the New York Auto Show; the sales manager declared that the car was 'sold out.'

The Model A has a single-cylinder engine with a two-speed transmission and center chain drive. The 1,370-pound vehicle boasted 6.5 to 8.25 horsepower, with a top speed of 31-34 mph, and sold new for $750. This model is an early production model and is one of five painted all black with nickel trim. It was sold new in Kansas City, KS.
1903 was the first year for Cadillac. William Murphy and Lemuel Bowen founded the Cadillac Automobile Company, and their cars featured engines built by Henry Leland. Rejected by Ransom Olds, the engine was called 'The Little Hercules,' and was a one-cylinder, 10-hosrepower unit. The car is equipped with a two-speed planetary transmission. This example was the first car to win the American Antique Car Club's Senior Award. It has a tonneau, which makes it a four-seater.
Runabout Rear Entry Tonneau
Under Henry Leland's leadership, the company became Cadillac, whose 1903 model closely mimicked by the 1903 Ford. Cadillac introduced its first model at the New York Auto Show in 1903, and by mid-week, company salesmen declared they were 'sold out.'

This Runabout features the optional rear-entrance Tonneau seat, which could accommodate two additional passengers.
Chassis Num: 13
Sold for $300,000 at 2007 Bonhams.
Sold for $134,750 at 2012 RM Sothebys.
There were three Model A Cadillac's brought to the 1903 New York Auto Show. All were sold. This example is serial number 13, one of the three at the show. It was sold to Mr. Homas, owner of the Thomas Winery in Cucamonga, California. According to factory records, this car was the 6th to be invoiced and the 3rd to be shipped.

The original family retained this car until February of 1973 when it was sold to Patrick Herman. In 1985, the car was treated to a restoration.

This car is the oldest known surviving Cadillac in existence. It was offered for sale at the 2007 Bonhams Important Sale of Collectors' Motorcars and Automobilia at the Quail Lodge Resort & Golf Club and sold for $300,000 plus Premium and tax.

Henry Leland started the Cadillac Automobile Company in 1902 after resigning as one of the initial investors of Henry Ford's new Ford Motor Company. By late 1902, Henry Leland had built his own automobile which he would aptly name after the French explorer who discovered the city of Detroit - Le Mothe Cadillac.

1903 was the first full year of production for the new Cadillac. It was powered by an eight-horsepower, single-cylinder engine which sat in a metal frame below the front seat. The engine was coupled to a planetary style transmission with two forward speeds and reverse, driving the rear axle by a chain. The body of the new Cadillac was a single seat roadster which could be modified into a touring car with the addition of the optional rear tonneau seat which attached to the rear of the roadster body. The bodies were produced by outside supplier companies and, ironically, when the new Fords would appear in late 1903, they would look virtually identical to the Cadillacs.

Sales of the new Cadillac were quite successful and Leland would continue producing the single cylinder models until 1908 when Cadillac became part of the new General Motors Co. Leland would stay with GM for only a few years. In 1920 Leland started a new automobile company called Lincoln. Ironically, Leland's Lincoln Company would be bought by Henry Ford in 1922.

This 1903 Cadillac is believed to be the oldest production Cadillac in existence.
By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2008
Runabout Rear Entry Tonneau
Engine Num: 892
The first Cadillac vehicles offered for sale could be purchased as a Runabout with or without a tonneau. They were powered by a single-cylinder engine rated at only 6.5-horsepower, though they produced as much as 10 horsepower.

For 1903, Cadillac sold approximately 2,400 cars and was considered the best car in its price race and an exceptional value.

This 1903 Cadillac Model A Runabout Rear Entry Tonneau has engine number 692 and was shipped from the factory on June 17th of 1903. Its most recent owner acquired the car in 1999 and performed a restoration in 2002. During its restoration, a new body was fabricated by Terry Martin at Martin Carriage House in Warren, Ohio. The diamond-tufted leather upholstery was courtesy of Loren Burch of Pasadena.

Upon completion of the restoration, this car was shown at the Castle Hill Concours d'Elegance in September 2002 and at Hershey, PA. It was placed in storage in 2006 and in 2008, it was brought to RM Auctions' 'Vintage Motor Cars of Meadow Brook' sale. It was estimated to sell for $115,000-$140,000. Bidding reached $75,000 but was not enough to satisfy the reserve. The lot was left unsold.
By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2008
Runabout Rear Entry Tonneau
Chassis Num: 1537
Sold for $88,000 at 2009 RM Sothebys.
This 1903 Cadillac Model A Runabout Rear Entry Tonneau was given a full frame-off restoration by specialist Greg Tocket of Stoneaire Classic Cars. It has participated in several shows, including a CCCA events and, while it has only been driven about 70 miles in total, is reported to drive perfectly.

It has a horizontally mounted single-cylinder engine displacing 98 cubic-inches and produces 6.5 horsepower. There is a two-speed planetary transmission with reverse and two-wheel rear mechanical brakes. The wheelbase measures 72-inches.

In 2009, it was offered for sale at the Vintage Motor Cars of Hershey sale presented by RM Auctions where it was estimated to sell for $75,000 - $100,000 and offered without reserve. As bidding came to a close, the lot had been sold for the sum of $88,000, including buyer's premium.
By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2009
Runabout Rear Entry Tonneau
1903 marked the first year of production for Cadillac and this 1903 Rear Entrance Tonneau was one of 2,497 cars built in its initial year. It features a Leland and Falconer 6.5 horsepower, single cylinder engine coupled to a two-speed planetary transmission and fitted with adjustable rack-and-pinion steering.

All 1903 Cadillacs had interchangeable parts and sold for $800.
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
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