1904 Cadillac Model B 8 1/2hp Rear Entrance Tonneau with Surrey Top Chassis no. 4777 Engine no. 4777
Founded by Henry Leland and Robert Faulconer, the Cadillac Automobile Company of Detroit, Michigan, completed its first car in October 1902, the company'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. Leland and Faulconer received substantial financial input from two of Henry Ford's former backers. The Cadillac took its name from the great French 17th Century explorer who had founded Detroit some two hundred years earlier.
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) single-cylinder engine known as 'Little Hercules' was mounted horizontally beneath the front seat and drove via a conventional two-speed and reverse planetary transmission, with centre chain drive to the rear axle. F. S. Bennett's Anglo-American Motor Company promoted the Cadillac in the U.K., 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 Model B featuring a box-shaped bonnet, pressed steel frame, I-beam front axle and single transverse front spring.
This car was acquired for the Meldonfoot Collection from U.S.A. collector and yacht designer Bill Ottoman of San-Diego in California. The engine number 4777 has been confirmed by Cadillac authority Gary Hoonsbeen as fitted to a Model B Cadillac which left the works on 16th July 1904. We feel that a patent plate showing the date 16th August 1904 may be a later addition. This car was researched by Veteran Car Services Ltd Dating Panel in 2007 and awarded a date of 1904. The car participated in the 2007 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, achieving a complete and satisfactory run.
The car is presented to concours standards, the coachwork finished in red livery with black coachlining and fine gold lining to the bonnet. It is equipped with a magnificent centre-mounted acetylene Phare Solar headlamp, Gray & Davis brass oil lamps and rear lamp. Further generous equipment includes a brass bulb horn, purpose-made wicker picnic baskets and a Magnetic Speed Indicator by Warner Instrument Co. The car carries a LBVCR plate from 2007 and California Horseless Carriage Plate No.5855. For those seeking the ultimate weather protection for the less clement London to Brighton Veteran Car Run the car is usefully equipped with a canopy and roll-down back window, side screens and windscreen. The canopy is easily removable if desired.
These Cadillacs are simplicity itself to start and drive, offer very flexible top gear performance with low gear well able to cope with the steepest gradient on the Brighton Run with four up. Their survival rate has ensured relatively easy access to spares when required.
This superb veteran car, which has previously been a winner of several concours awards in the U.S.A., comes with a file containing VCS Ltd Dating Panel Research Report and letter confirming its date as 1904. It comes also with period photographs showing a Model B Cadillac, thought to be this car, along with a photocopied instruction book. At the time of cataloguing this car was not U.K. registered.