Henry Leland

Henry Martyn Leland is often referred as the founder of Cadillac. He was one of the most respected engineers in the early development of automobile industry, who left a lasting impression and unfortunately did so at a very high price.

A simple son of a farmer became an apprentice machinist the summer before the Civil War. In 1890 he founded Leland, Faulconer & Norton as a highly accomplished engineer and respected expert in mass production. In 1900, Olds Vehicle Company, hired Leland & Faulconer to manufacture transmissions mainly because of their reputation in precision manufacturing. That was the official entry of Henry in the world of automobile industry.

In August 1902, a group of local investors hired Henry Leland to appraise the factory Henry Ford's second automotive company, which was on the verge of failure. They intended to close the company, but Leland passionately managed to convince them to continue production. Several days later, the Henry Ford Company officially became the Cadillac Automobile Company with Henry as a director.

The company was an immediate success by selling 12,212 units in the next three years. In July 1909, he and William C. Durant closed a deal for General Motors to buy Cadillac for $4.5 million. He also founded Lincoln Motor Company, with the biggest single personal paycheck of $10,000,000 and began work on V12 Liberty engine. After the World war company began manufacturing luxury automobiles, such as Lincoln Continental. The Grand Old Man of Detroit, as people called him because of his stern manners and long white beard, managed to create another successful tale in the story of American automobile history.

Pictures of Henry Leland

Henry Leland with Henry Ford   Henry Leland picture   Henry Leland walking

 

Next: William C. Durant | Return to library | Follow on Facebook