On August 22, 1902, the luxury automobile company Cadillac was founded by mechanist Henry M. Leland. An engine builder for Oldsmobile, Leland took it upon himself to redesign the Oldsmobile engine, modifying its valve ports and compression ratio to produce a smaller, more powerful engine. When Leland presented his finished product to Oldsmobile, they were apparently uninterested. Undeterred by their rebuff, Leland then took his engine to the brain trust at Ford Motor Company. FoMoCo, which was on the brink of collapse, was so impressed with Leland’s design they agreed to assemble an automobile around it. The company that formed around that automobile was Leland’s Cadillac Company, named for the French founder of Detroit, explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac.
The Cadillac Company was the first American manufacturer to offer the luxury of the closed-bodied auto as standard equipment. In 1904, Cadillac became the first auto company to receive the Dewar Trophy – an award established by Sir Thomas Dewey to encourage technical progress in the automotive industry. Four years later, Cadillac was acquired by GM to become a part of its “diversified product line” where it continued to flourish as the industry standard for American luxury and innovation.