May 28, 2014
Gary P. Garry
Comments Off on Henry M. Leland: Father of the American Luxury Car

Henry M. Leland: Father of the American Luxury Car


The impact that the automotive industry had on our country around the turn of the 20th century cannot be overstated. There were people who experienced this engineering breakthrough first-hand, looking on as the motor vehicle started to replace the horse-drawn carriage.

Of course, there were observers, and there were direct participants who pioneered the automotive industry. Some of their stories are truly remarkable; one of these extraordinary pioneers was a man named Henry M. Leyland.Over the years, the Cadillac has been one of the standard bearers for American quality and luxury. Henry Leland was the man who created the Cadillac brand.

Leland was at the epicenter of a historic era. He was born in 1843. It must have been impossible for him to envision the motorized world of the future when he was a youngster.

He was from Vermont, but he learned engineering and machining as a young man in Providence, Rhode Island. Leland was especially driven and talented, and he started dabbling in the creation of motor vehicles as early as 1870.

Ultimately, he wound up building engines for the Olds Motor Vehicle Company. This is the company that went on to become the Oldsmobile division of General Motors. The company was originally founded by Ransom E. Olds during the latter portion of the 1890s.

Henry Leland didn’t stop there. Many people are not aware that Henry Ford was not successful at first. His first company did not make it, and his second company was The Henry Ford Company. He left the company shortly after its founding due to an inability to see eye-to-eye with thecompany’s financial backers.

The investors brought in Henry Leland to evaluate the manufacturing capabilities of the company. They were going to bail out, so they wanted to know what they had to sell.

Leland told them not to sel, and recommended a different course of action. Leyland had engineered a single-cylinder engine that they could use to power a brand new type of car. They were sold, and founded the Cadillac Automobile Company in 1902. General Motors bought the company in 1909, and it is still going strong today over 100 years later.

You would think that the creation of the Cadillac would be enough, but Henry Leland is also the man who founded the Lincoln Motor Company in 1917. Caddy and Lincoln have always been competitors, but these two legendary brands both came from the imagination a single visionary who was born in the middle of the 19th century.

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