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Cadillac was formed from the remnants of the Henry Ford Company when Henry Ford departed along with several of his key partners and the company was dissolved. With the intent of liquidating the firm's assets, Ford's financial backers, William Murphy and Lemuel Bowen called in engineer Henry M. Leland to appraise the plant and equipment prior to selling them. Instead, Leland persuaded them to continue in the automobile business using Leland's proven 1-cylinder engine. Henry Ford's departure required a new name, and on August 22, 1902, the company reformed as the Cadillac Automobile Company.

Cadillac helped to define advanced engineering, luxury and style early in Automotive History. Precision manufacturing of truly interchangeable parts was an award-winning industry first in 1908. Cadillac was the first manufacturer to release cars with a fully enclosed cab as factory equipment in 1910. Standard electric engine starting & lighting was another award winner for 1912. Cadillac introduced the first production V8 engine for the 1914 model year. Cadillac was the first manufacturer to utilize the skills of a designer to produce a car's body instead of an engineer (1927). This gave the public a car that looked as good as it performed. Cadillac's engineers were first to design a manual transmission with synchronizers for increased drivability (1929) and were instrumental in the early development of the automatic transmission, beginning in 1932. Cadillac offered a production V-16 engine from 1930 through 1940 and introduced the production independent wishbone front suspension in 1934. The marque introduced tailfins for 1948. From the late 1960s onward, Cadillac offered a fiber-optic indication system which alerted the driver of a failed light bulb.

Cadillac was purchased by the General Motors conglomerate in 1909. Cadillac became General Motors' prestige division, devoted to the production of large luxury vehicles.
 

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