The first car to incorporate electrical ignition and lighting…
Named after 17th century French explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac – the man who discovered The Motor City that is Detroit – the Cadillac oozes opulence. “The Standard of the World” and America’s premiere luxury car, it pioneered the features of precision engineering and power steering. But its history had less of a smooth ride.
In many ways Cadillac history reflects the changes in American values. In the 40's its reputation was tarnished by charges of racism against black customers including boxing legend Joe Louis who was famously refused entry to the showroom. It then became the epitome of post-war affluence in the 50's, enticing the upper classes to the likes of the Coupe de Ville and Fleetwood El Dorado. Under pressure from both the anti-materialism fervour of the 70's, and the 1973 oil-crisis, the Cadillac significantly downsized. And today the Cadillac One has become President Obama’s beefed up ride, nicknamed ‘The Beast’.
But it was Elvis’ obsession with Cadillac’s that really planted the car in popular culture. Elvis’ Pink Cadillac - the Elvis Rose - remains on permanent display at Graceland and has inspired songs from Bruce Springsteen to Nathalie Cole and the eponymous 1989 Clint Eastwood movie.