The Prestigious History of the Cadillac Convertible
13 Drop-Top Caddys You Must See
Cadillac convertible…now that right there is a pair of words that can leave some mouths watering. When you combine Cadillac, the preeminent North American luxury brand, and a drop top, you get some seriously sexy metalwork, to say the least.
Cadillac has been building cars since 1902. The earliest cars were all open air models like the majority of the automobiles of the era. A true Cadillac convertible didn’t make its way into the market for several years. Some fans of the automaker might argue that the 1905 Model D with its manual top is the first Cadillac convertible; however, others have pointed out that the Model C had a removable tonneau cover and was sold a few weeks earlier.
That minor point of contention aside, let’s have a look at the evolution of the Cadillac convertible from its earliest beginnings through the Cadillac Ciel concept car. We are going to take one car from each decade that seems to exemplify the beauty and grace that only a Cadillac convertible can exude.
1905 Cadillac Model D
Since we mentioned it earlier, we thought it would only make sense to start our history of the Cadillac convertible with the debate over which is the first. We fall on the side of the 1905 Model D just because it has what is arguably a manual convertible top despite remaining a mostly open car.
The 1905 Cadillac Model D was powered by a 300 cu-in (4.9L) four-cylinder L-head engine that struggled to create 30 hp. That may sound abysmal compared to the output numbers of modern cars, but it was above average for 1905. The Model D also featured a governed throttle; basically, the first cruise control.
1909 Cadillac Model 30
So, we slipped and added a second car from the first decade of the 20th century. The reasoning is simple: styling changes and innovations. You can see the design changes between the 1905 and 1909 models in the images above. On top of that, the 1909 Cadillac Model 30 took the Cadillac convertible to a higher level with a stronger engine and a sliding gear transmission to replace the overly complicated planetary gear used in the 1905 model. A few years later, in 1912, Cadillac introduced its first self-starter to the Model 30 line.
1916 Cadillac Type 53 Victoria
The Cadillac Type 53 revolutionized the automobile industry in three very important ways. Most significantly, this Cadillac convertible was the first automobile to use the modern control layout of the gear lever and handbrake in the middle of the front two seats. Secondly, it was the first Cadillac to use a key to start the ignition. Lastly, it was the first car to use three pedals to work the clutch, brake, and throttle.
The Type 53 Victoria was powered by a lighter V8 than older models and could muster 77 hp. Since the Type 53 and its two-seat convertible version, the Type 53 Victoria, were only produced for a single model year, the entire series has become quite collectible.
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