The Cadillac automobile was named after the 17th century French explorer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac (born 1657), founder of Detroit, Michigan in 1701.
Cadillac is a brand of luxury automobile, part of the General Motors corporation, produced and mostly sold in the United States; outside of North America, they have been less successful. In the United States, the name became a synonym for "high quality", used in such phrases as "the Cadillac of clocks." This is less prevalent, though still known, in other English-speaking countries (who are more likely to use Rolls-Royce in such phrases).
Cadillac was formed from the remnants of the Henry Ford Company. After Henry Ford departed the Henry Ford Company along with several of his key partners in March 1902, the company was dissolved. Ford's financial backers, William Murphy and Lemuel Bowen, called in engineer Henry M. Leland of Leland & Faulconer Manufacturing Company to appraise the plant and equipment in preparation for a liquidation of the company's assets. Instead of offering an appraisal, Leland persuaded Murphy and Bowen to continue manufacturing automobiles using Leland's proven single-cylinder engine. A new company called the Cadillac Automobile Company was established on 22 August 1902. The company was named after French explorer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, who founded Detroit in 1701.
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