Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

1915 Cadillac V-8 Type 51

Sales Success of the 1915 Cadillac V-8, Type 51

In the meantime, however, the Cadillac V-8 gave an excellent account of itself despite the roughness, and in its second year on the market a 38.5-percent sales increase was recorded. For 1916, the Cadillac's already impressive power was increased by 10 percent. Meanwhile, prices on the popular open models went up as well, by $105, but the Cadillac was still one of the industry's best bargains.

By that time, of course, war was raging in Europe, and Cadillacs -- in undetermined but apparently significant numbers -- were ordered by the Canadian, British, and French governments for use as staff cars, ambulances, and the like.

Then, in April 1917, the United States entered the conflict, and the Cadillac seven-passenger touring was adopted by both the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps as the standard officers' car. More than 2,000 of these sturdy automobiles were shipped overseas, along with a reported 300 Cadillac limousines, to be used by high ranking officers including General John J. Pershing, Commander of the American Expeditionary Force.

So well did these cars acquit themselves that some time later Colonel Edward J. Hall, co-designer of the Liberty aircraft engine, spoke of them as having given "better service than any other make of car in France." The colonel could not recall ever having seen a Cadillac "tied up for trouble of any kind," and in concluding his remarks he added, "One of the first things I did on my arrival home was to purchase one for my own use."

Cadillac, in those years, was not considered one of America's most prestigious automobiles. Historically, that honor had been more or less divided among the "Three Ps": Packard, Peerless, and Pierce-Arrow. But after the conclusion of the Great War (as our grandparents called it), the gargantuan machines on which those companies had built their reputation fell rapidly out of favor. The electric starter, pioneered by Cadillac back in 1912, had come into general use, and women by the thousands had taken the wheel of the family car. They, and in time their husbands as well, turned increasingly to Cadillac as an automobile of impeccable quality in a manageable size.

On the next page, see the specifications for the 1915 Cadillac V-8.

Want more information on cars? See: