bet you didn't know...
...Cadillac and Lincoln were founded by the same person
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.”