Development of the 1907 Cadillac Model K
Commencing with the Model A, introduced at the New York Auto Show in January 1903, Cadillac had offered a variety of single-cylinder cars, all powered by the same Leland-built, 10-horsepower engine. Of square design, with both bore and stroke measuring five inches, the little one-lunger displaced 98.2 cubic inches. A two-speed planetary transmission was employed, and steering was by means of a wheel, rather than the then-commonplace tiller. Further, the car was sturdier and far more dependable than most of its contemporaries.
By 1905, Cadillac was building four distinct one-cylinder models in a total of seven configurations, and offering them at prices ranging from $750 to $950. Then, giving a glimpse of what the future would hold for the company, that year saw the production of 156 four-cylinder cars, along with nearly 4,000 of the single-cylinder jobs. Dubbed the Model D, this first Cadillac four-banger weighed nearly twice as much as the heaviest of the one-lungers, and it sold for $2,800 -- nearly four times the price of the one-cylinder runabout.
Bennett, thoroughly familiar with the product he was selling, knew that any part from a Cadillac could be installed, without hand-fitting of any kind, in another Cadillac of the same model. He was sure that the judges would find that concept impressive, and being something of a showman by nature he could see in this feature the possibility of an enormous publicity bonanza for Cadillac.
Bennett prevailed upon the highly skeptical officials of the prestigious Royal Automobile Club to oversee a test in which the interchangeability of Cadillac parts could be demonstrated. Three identical, single-cylinder Cadillac runabouts were selected from a shipment, recently arrived at á London dock. It might be noted that although this was 1908, the cars were actually late 1907 Model Ks. In any case, on Saturday, February 29, 1908, under RAC supervision, the cars were driven the 23 miles to the Brooklands race track.
There, after 10 quick laps, they were locked up until the following Monday. At that point, again under the watchful eyes of the RAC's technical committee, the three Cadillacs were completely disassembled, down to the last bolt, nut, and screw. The committee then scrambled the parts, mixing them so completely that to identify any particular part with any one of the cars was out of the question.
Finally, the parts were divided into three distinct piles. And then, in a further fort to make the demonstration convincing, 89 parts were set aside and replaced from dealer Bennett's over-the-counter stock. Included in this portion of the demonstration, according to Cadillac marque expert Maurice D. Hendry, were "such items as oil pump and transmission components, clutch Bands and at least one piston, piston pin and rod."
Go to the next page to learn more about the racing success of the 1907 Cadillac Model K.