Prior to 1908 automobiles were made one at a time as required. Pistons, cylinder walls and bearings were ground and shaped to meet the high tolerances needed. The idea of interchangeable parts was considered both undesirable and impractical. Frederick Stanley Bennett, a British importer of Cadillac cars, urged the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) to hold an interchangeabiliy test. The RAC was convinced that the demonstration would prove that standardization of parts was impossible. Even though it seemed unlikely, the winning maker would be awarded the Dewar Trophy.
The Dewar Trophy had been established in 1904 to encourage technical progress.
On February 29, 1908, the RAC selected three of the eight Cadillacs that were shipped to England. These three cars were driven twenty-three miles across London to the new Brooklands motordrome at Weybridge and then run around the track for ten laps reaching a total odometer reading of fifty miles.
The cars were driven to a garage and locked up for the weekend. From Monday to Wednesday they dismantled every possible component. The frames were stacked up and the 721 parts from each car was piled on the floor. Then the parts were mixed up so that it was impossible to identify the parts that had come from a particular vehicle. Some essential engine parts were removed from the pile and locked up by the RAC so that Bennett had to supply those parts from his parts supply.
On Thursday the mechanics began assembling the cars. No filing or reshaping of parts was allowed. The first car was ready on Friday. It was filled with oil, gasoline, and water as required. The ignition was turned on, the crank was turned, and on the first pull the engine started and ran smoothly.
The other two cars were finished on March 10th and they started also. The three cars were driven on a 500 mile ride at full throttle to prove the validity of interchangeability.
1908 Cadillac Notes
The model G was introduced in November, 1907.
Calendar year sales and production was 1030 (1907-1908).
Model year sales and production: same.
The President of Cadillac was C. A. Black.
Henry M. Leland was president and general manager
Frank Johnson was chief engineer
The bulky, complicated, planetary transmission luxury fours were too great a first leap from the single cylinder, which had become passe. The compromised Model G design formed a solid basis for the “Thirty,” which was to be the single line for Cadillac through 1914. Had the Brush design concepts been perpetuated, the company might well have failed. Its move into a firm position in the luxury car field was to wait another seven years.
The model H was introduced in June, 1907. Calendar year sales and production: 509 (1906- 1908). Model year sales and production: same.
This was the last year for the planetary transmission fours and the counterclockwise cranking for Cadillac. The only remaining Brush features were the copper water jacket and the splash lube system; both of these were in use by Cadillac through 1914.
The model M was introduced in 1906. Model year production was included with the 1907 figures.
The models S & T were introduced on Nov. 1907. Calendar year sales and production: 1482 with S & T. Model year sales and production: same.
Several hundred of the approximately 16,000 single cylinder Cadillacs produced still exist in the hands of collectors all over the world. A prominent Australian collector visiting Hershey remarked, “Anyone wanting to restore, drive, and enjoy a one cylinder car had best find a Cadillac.”
1908 Automotive Notes
Annual production was 63,500 cars and 1500 trucks
The General Motors Company (GM) is incorporated in September by William CrapoDurant with George E. Daniels as president for a month followed by William M. Eatonas president until Nov. 1910
Buick and Oldsmobile join GM
Rapid Motor Vehicle Company (a truck builder) joins GM
Ford introduces the Model T
Studebaker joins Everitt-Metzger-Flanders Company to sell Studebaker-EMF cars
Charles Y. Knight invents the sleeve-valve engine to solve the problem of the poppet valves