Leland was known for his aptitude for precision and his interchangeable gear systems that he perfected while making transmissions for the Olds Gasoline Engine Works. He brought that innovation and attention to detail to Cadillac earning the company the coveted Dewar Trophy award for the standardization of automobile parts. Continuing the innovative trend, Cadillac became the first production automobile with a push button start rather than a hand crank. This opened the way for more women to become regular drivers. Cadillac soon drew the attention of William Durant, the founder of General Motors and was purchased for $4.5 million. Leland eventually left the company to form the Lincoln Motor Company.
Cadillac continued as a pioneer in the industry introducing the first V type water cooled 8 cylinder engine to be mass produced in 1915. By the 1920’s Cadillac was offering over 500 color combinations vs the competitions single shade of Black. Stylist Henry Earl was recruited to design the 1927 LaSalle convertible coupe. The result was elegant, flowing lines, chrome-plating and a comprehensive design philosophy that made the name Cadillac synonymous with beauty and luxury.
At the end of WWII designer Harley Earl changed the profile of American cars with the introduction of the tail fin thereby making it an integral part of American auto styling for the next 20 years. Over the years that followed the designers and engineers at Cadillac introduced the V-12 and V-10 engines, the sunroof, standard power steering, thermostatic air conditioning, electric seat warmers, air bags, electronic fuel injection… the list goes on and on.