Cadillac—The Complete Seventy-Year History
by Maurice D. Hendry. 416 pp. 8-3/4 in. x 9-1/2 in. (Princetown Publishing Inc., Princetown, New Jersey. 18.95 dollars.)
America, at one time so backward in automotive history, is fast catching up, at all events where her own makes of cars are concerned, with “Automobile Quarterly” well to the fore. They have already published a big history of American cars since 1775 and have one on the Chevrolet Corvette in course of preparation, and this great Cadillac tome is written in conjunction with “Automobile Quarterly’s” editors, with Richard M. Langworth in charge. It may not follow quite the systematic, chronological style of British histories but it covers the Cadillac, America’s luxury car, very fully indeed, from the story of the Lelands and the early days of this illustrious make, right up to the 1973 models.
There are appendices about the subsidiary Cadillac make La Salle, the Fisher and Fleetwood body-building concerns, specifications of Cadillacs from 1902 to 1973, production figures for these cars from 1902 to 1972, notes on enthusiasts’ clubs for these makes, etc., to back up the very solid text, which covers the beginnings and growth of Cadillac, the technical aspects, the advent of the V8, V12 and V16 Cadillac power units, Cadillac advertising, endurance feats and so on.
I found the author’s very thorough investigation into engineering aspects of his subject very rewarding. He includes a comparison between the pioneer V8 De Dion Bouton and first Cadillac V8 engine, covers the whys and wherefores of the V12 versus the V16 power units, has full coverage of the Bennett standardisation stunt at Brooklands in 1908 which won for Cadillac the coveted Dewar Trophy from the RAC, F. S. Bennett’s feats in the original 1903 Thousand Miles Trial and replicas in 1913 and 1953 (in the last-named of which I was a humble observer), and so on. So this is an important and compulsive study for Cadillac enthusiasts and students of automobile development alike.
There are masses of most interesting pictures, engineering drawings, reproductions from advertising material, etc., and many fine colour plates. All the many Cadillac/La Salle badges and mascots are written-up and illustrated and the many models from Model A to Calais, De Ville and Fleetwood series are described in some detail. Altogether this is an important history of a great American car, even if the sepia tint of many of the illustrations is rather off-putting.—W.B.