From its earliest days, Cadillac has produced elegant automobiles for well-off people, starting with its very first motor car, the Model A that debuted toward the end of 1902.
The Pick of the Day is a bona fide antique, a 1904 Cadillac runabout that still looks splendid despite its restoration being 20 years old.
“This terrific and rare example was restored by a gentleman from Delaware in 2002 and received its AACA Senior Badge #W16280 in 2003,” according to the Morgantown, Pennsylvania, dealer advertising the Cadillac on ClassicCars.com. “It was an incredible restoration and still shows extremely well today. Very close to a concours example and running perfectly.”
And as the seller points out, this handsome two-seat Cadillac would be eligible for the granddaddy of all vintage-car rallies, the London to Brighton Emancipation Run for vehicles built before 1905.
Some confusion here, though, because the advertisement describes the Cadillac as a Model A, but it wears the revised Model B body and trim that arrived in 1904. Whatever, the Model B was basically an updated continuation of the A, powered by the same single-cylinder engine and 2-speed transmission, as well as other mechanical details that were carried forward.
“Leland & Faulconer produced the engine which was called the ‘Little Hercules’,” the Cadillac ad says. “The valve train was fully actuated, and acceleration controlled by a sliding cam on the intake valve. With a square bore and stroke of 5 inches, 6.5 horsepower was the advertised rate.
“This engine sits under the driver’s seat and sends power to the rear wheels through a 2-speed transmission and Brown-Lipe differential. Braking is handled only on the rear wheels by applying friction to the half-shafts.”
Rear-only braking was standard practice in the day, and modest vehicle speeds generally made that enough. There was some feeling among engineers that front-wheel brakes could cause a vehicle to flip forward, like a bicycle when the front wheel seizes. The folly of that notion became apparent early on, and cars and trucks soon had brakes on the front wheels as well.
The underside is as nicely restored as the body, the seller notes, “and is a fascinating look into early automobile propulsion and the technology available at that time.”
While the overall appearance of the 120-year-old Cadillac is lovely, there are a few points of aging that justifiably could be passed off as patina.
“A beautiful coat of deep red covers all the straight and true but very curvaceous body panels that have obviously spent a lot of time on an English wheel,” the seller says. “There is some cracking in the curve of the body behind the seat. Pristine black fenders hang above each spoked wheel and are wrapped with clincher tires, for easier changing which will inevitably have been necessary due to the undeveloped roads of the time.
“Beautiful solid-brass pinstriping is seen on the hood, and it is bordered on both sides with black. A Cadillac brass badge is noted on the radiator, and 2 brass headlamps are seen on either side of the upper hood. A woven basket adorns the flat rear ‘trunk’ area of the vehicle, as well as another brass lamp attached to the back of the car.”
The lush button-tufted seat is covered in black leather, the seller notes, with the steering wheel on the right, as there had not yet been general agreement within the fledgling auto industry as to which side the driver should sit.
“This is fronted by an ultra-shiny brass steering column that makes its way from the floor to being topped by a perfect ebony-and-brass spoked steering wheel and spark advance lever. 2 simple red pedals mounted into the floor, one gear-ratcheted, control the motion of the car.”
The asking price for the ancient Cadillac, which most likely would make a good showing in the 60-mile London to Bright rally, is $149,500.
To view this vehicle on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.