Henry Leland, an engineer, was contracted by Olds Motor Vehicle Company to develop a new engine for the Curved Dash in 1901. Olds rejected the engine which had 23 percent more horsepower. Leland showed this new engine to William Murphy and Lemuel Bowen, financial backers of the dissolved Henry Ford Company. Henry Ford had moved on to start the Ford Motor Company. Leland convinced Murphy and Bowen to stay in the automobile business, combining his engine and the old Ford plant and equipment.
From this partnership the Cadillac Automobile Company was created in 1902, named for the French explorer who discovered Detroit in the early eighteenth century. Cadillac sold out the entire year’s production at the 1902 New York Auto Show. 1,800 cars were produced for the 1903 production year.
The Cadillac Open Roadster is the first automobile with fully interchangeable parts for which it won the Dewar Trophy in 1908, the first ever for an American car. Before this all American cars were custom built with unique parts. Several hundred single cylinder Cadillac’s survive today.