By on September 26, 2014

Cadillac_Model_A_Tonneau_1903 A fun Friday read for those who protested that there were too many negative editorials regarding Cadillac recently. Reader Forest Casey published an astonishingly detailed essay on Medium detailing the history of Cadillac, from the establishment of the brand right through to production of its first car, the Model A Runabout, and its stewardship under Alfred Sloan’s General Motors conglomerate. Casey, who works for the Petersen Automotive Museum, is an eloquent writer and a long-time TTAC reader. I only wish he had sent this essay in to TTAC before Medium got their hands on it.

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16 Comments on “From The CT6 To The Model A Runabout...”

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    I’m sure it’s been said before, and pardon my language, but CT-6 is about the stupidest fucking name ever for a luxury car. CT = confusing with the lesser “CTS”. 6 = denotes a car lesser than the “7-series” or A8 or housing only a 6 cylinder and not deserving of top luxury dollars.

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    Was browsing my favorite site, looking for my daily fix of kooky Cadillac news (seriously — love it) and wasn’t expecting to see the “Model A” on the main page. And then really wasn’t expecting to see the link to my article — really couldn’t be more flattered.

    And for all those interested in reading, thank you so much!

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      Thank you very much for an especially entertaining read.

      Sadly the audience for such fare would be so small as to be unfeasible, but I have enjoyed reading several early histories focusing on the men involved in the formation of the modern automobile, and your story could make the basis for an excellent short series covering the triumphs, failures, hubris and treachery which goes hand in hand with any fledgling industry.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for a very interesting read, Mr. Casey. I’m a big fan of early automotive history, also. I observed the PC Industry in the 1990’s going through it’s growing pains and often thought of the stories I had read about the early auto industry. I saw many parallels, to be sure.

      I hate to say it, but I think your choice of publishing platforms was correct. The TTAC crowd is not the audience for this kind of work. It’s not very easy to apply the “two minutes of hate” and oh so snarky remarks to something that has been rather well researched and crafted. As I write this, there are only seven comments, I can imagine only the history geeks will bother to click through to the Medium blog…

      I should also mention Ronnie in his devotion to all things historical and Detroit. I’m glad you found this and recommended it. It was a great read.

      The only thing I even found remotely bothersome were a couple of typos. But, in a former life, I did a lot of proofreading. Otherwise, well done.

    • 0 avatar

      Forest, it’s a great read. I knew some of the story but you filled in a lot of blanks. Thanks. Barthel’s oral history is a great original source. Thanks too for the link to my TTAC post about Henry Leland’s grave marker.

      I think the truth is that guys like Barthels, David Buick, Brush and even Henry Leland, men who never established great fortunes, though they had lasting influence on the automobile industry, were more common than guys like the Dodges, Ford and Mott, who died rich.

      Since you mentioned the US Motor Car Co and how it was reorganized as Maxwell, one could say that Benjamin Briscoe started two of the Big 3 automakers in that he backed the USMCC and Maxwell, which became Chrysler, and he was also one of David Buick’s early investors and Buick, of course, became GM.

    • 0 avatar

      The historical photos you found were a feast. A few of them are of a resolution and clarity I didn’t think were retrievable from that era.
      Thank you.

      • 0 avatar

        Back then they used large format cameras that could capture great detail.

        • 0 avatar

          Yep, I’ve printed glass and film negs of the area, obsessional stuff for me, a virtual time machine. But the period lenses were mighty soft. These photos look like they were taken with way more modern glass. It’s uncanny.

          I’m assuming they’ve been shopped a mite, like the selective contrast on that rear view of the Brush runabout that makes it pop out of the otherwise faded street scene. Probably there’s some other pixel magic worked to generally snap-up the details?

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    What a great read! Remarkable history of Cadillac, and a great overview of the intertwinings of a fledgling industry.
    Congratuatons to Forest Casey for producing such a flowing, clear history!
    Congratulations to TTAC, too–for providing us access to fine writers like Mr. Casey and others, who show us The Truth About Cars is more than just product reviews and g-force measurements.
    Mr. Casey and TTAC–you did well!

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    The Cadillac Model A sure looks a lot like the Ford Model A from about the same period; I wonder if that is because Henry Ford was involved with both companies at one point, or for the same marketing reasons that most cars today look alot alike.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Naw, it resembles a Curved Dash Oldmobile. GM was platform sharing in the other “oughts” too!

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    Well done Mr. Casey ! .

    I especially like your conclusion .


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    Great pictures, but where are the inked-up, 400 pound, open carry patriots with their pants hanging down to their knees? Where are the flip-flop wearing zombettes selfie-ing themselves? How come there isn’t a Grease Burger and Barfbucks franchise on every corner? America really looked primitive back then.

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