bet you didn't know...

...Cadil­lac and Lin­coln were founded by the same per­son

Car (South Africa) - - INSIGHT - BY: Jake Ven­ter

THE story starts in 1902 when Henry Le­land was ap­proached by the direc­tors of Henry Ford Com­pany to ap­praise their busi­ness prior to liq­ui­da­tion. They had fallen out with Henry Ford, whom they felt spent too much time rac­ing cars in­stead of build­ing them. Ford left in a huff, tak­ing with him the rights to his name and $900 to start the Ford Mo­tor Com­pany.

Le­land, how­ever, was de­ter­mined to save the busi­ness and of­fered his ex­per­tise to the man­age­ment. They, in turn, asked him to re­or­gan­ise the com­pany and de­sign a new car called the Cadil­lac. It was a sales suc­cess and, in 1909, Cadil­lac was sold to the fast­grow­ing Gen­eral Mo­tors Group to be­come its premium brand. Le­land be­came chief en­gi­neer.

Le­land’s link to Lin­coln started in 1917 when the USA de­clared war on Ger­many. One con­se­quence was that the Amer­i­can Air­craft Pro­duc­tion Board asked Packard’s Jesse Vin­cent and EJ Hall of the Hall-scott com­pany to de­sign an air­craft en­gine. They gath­ered up draughts­men and were prac­ti­cally im­pris­oned in a Wash­ing­ton ho­tel to work on the project. In­cred­i­bly, after ve days they had com­plete ma­chine draw­ings. They then com­man­deered var­i­ous shops to pro­duce parts for the pro­to­type and, seven weeks later, the rst en­gine started its test run on a dy­namome­ter. After two weeks, the de­sign was ap­proved.

Known as the Lib­erty en­gine, it fea­tured a liq­uid-cooled, sin­gleover­head cam-per-bank 45° V12 with a bore of 127 mm and a stroke of 178 mm. It dis­placed 27 litres and pro­duced 335 kw at 2 000 r/min. Some 21 000 Lib­erty en­gines were built to power var­i­ous air­craft and tanks.

And the link to Henry Le­land and Lin­coln? Ini­tially, Wil­liam Du­rant, who ran GM, re­fused to let Buick or Cadil­lac build Lib­erty en­gines. Ford, Packard and Mar­mon, on the other hand, had agreed to make the en­gine and this in­fu­ri­ated Le­land, who was still Cadil­lac’s chief en­gi­neer. He re­signed from GM and founded the Lin­coln Mo­tor Com­pany in or­der to build the Lib­erty, sign­ing a con­tract to make 6 000 en­gines. Du­rant would later re­lent and al­low Buick to build Lib­er­ties.

After the war, Le­land brought out a V8 Lin­coln (pic­tured), but it was too ex­pen­sive and, iron­i­cally given the ge­n­e­sis of the Cadil­lac brand, Henry Ford bought the Lin­coln name­plate (one which the Ford Mo­tor Com­pany con­tin­ues to own). Henry Le­land had cre­ated Cadil­lac out of a failed Ford com­pany, and sur­ren­dered Lin­coln to a suc­cess­ful Ford com­pany.

To­day, Le­land is a leg­endary gure in Detroit, known less for his in­volve­ment in start­ing Cadil­lac and Lin­coln, and more for his maxim, “When it comes to qual­ity, good enough is not good enough. The best is bet­ter.”

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