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Lot 699: 1903 Cadillac Model A

Collectors' Motor Cars and Motorcycles, Bonhams (3 December 2007)

Founded by Henry Leland and Robert Faulconer, the Cadillac Automobile Company, of Detroit, Michigan completed its first car in October 1902, the firm�s superior manufacturing technology - precision gear cutting was Leland and Faulconer�s first speciality - soon establishing it as the foremost builder of quality cars in the USA. In 1901, Olds Motor Works contracted for the supply of Leland-built engines and, when unforeseen circumstances frustrated the plan, Leland and Faulconer formed their own company using funds supplied by two of Henry Ford�s ex-backers. The company took its name from the great French 17th century explorer who had founded Detriot in 1701.
The first Cadillac automobile was completed and test driven in October 1902, and the following January made a triumphal debut at the New York Automobile Show where sales manager William E Metzger took orders for no fewer than 2,286 cars, famously declaring mid-week that the Cadillac was �sold out�. An exemplary performer by the standards of the day, the Cadillac�s 98ci (1.6-litre) 10hp single-cylinder engine - known as �Little Hercules� - was mounted horizontally on the left beneath the front seat and drove via a conventional two-speeds-plus-reverse planetary transmission, with centre chain drive to the rear axle. Keenly priced at only $750, the Model A was available with either two- or four-seat coachwork and had a maximum speed of around 30-35mph.
F S Bennett�s Anglo-American Motor Company promoted the Cadillac in the UK, where outstanding performances on Sunrising Hill and in the 1,000 Miles Trial of 1903 ensured that there were customers queuing to place orders. That first 1903 curved-dash Cadillac was re-designated as the Model A after the Model B�s introduction for 1904, the �B� being a more expensive version with box-shaped �bonnet�, pressed-steel frame, �I�-beam front axle and single transverse front spring. At first Leland & Faulconer supplied only engines, transmissions and steering mechanisms for the Cadillac before taking responsibility for its entire construction in 1905.
Numbered �1447�, this early Cadillac is very likely one of those ordered at the 1903 New York show and is unique in that it comes with three alternative bodies - two-seat runabout, four-seat tonneau and C-cab van - thus making it outstandingly versatile and eligible for a variety of prestigious events including both the London to Brighton Run for private cars and that for historic commercial vehicles. A measure of this car�s quality may be gained from the fact that �1447� was used as a display vehicle by the Automobile Association of America during its recent 100th anniversary celebrations.
�1447� previously belonged to Vern Maleug, of Vista, California who had commenced restoration before selling it to Richard Anderson, of Seattle, WA in 1993. Every aspect of this car has been restored: the wood in the wheels is new; the wheel bearings have been replaced; the radiator was built new by Pat Herman; new timber was fashioned for the body; and the van body was constructed using period pictures of 1903 bodies for guidance. Only two such bodies exist, the other being on a Cadillac (in New Jersey) that is commercial only. This car is the only Cadillac Model A that has all three bodies: runabout, tonneau and delivery van. It comes with weather protection in the form of a hood, while the commercial body has its own �easy push� bogies with caster wheels and tailor-made cover.
The engine and transmission also have been restored, the former incorporating new main bearings; (aluminium) piston and rings; honed cylinder; water pump and hoses. The muffler has been rebuilt and recovered, while the fuel tank and feed pipe are new, as is the wiring, tyres and tubes.
Since coming to the UK earlier this year the car has undergone further preparation by N P Veteran Engineering Ltd at a cost in excess of �6,000 (invoice available) and was entered in this year�s VCC London to Brighton Run. It is offered with Society of Automotive Historians and Science Museum dating documentation, old State of Washington Certificate of Title, current MoT/road fund licence and Swansea V5.


Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motor Cars and Motorcycles
Bonhams, Olympia, London,
TypeCar
Lot Number699
Estimate£70000-£90000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£70000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£78500
Year1903
Condition rating0
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number1447
Engine number1447
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors