The history of automobiles goes back more than two centuries when experiments had started to build a “horseless carriage” run by steam. One such famous machine was demonstrated by Nicolas Joseph Cugnot in 1769 at Paris. Steam powered “horseless carriages” ruled the roads of Europe for nearly a century and quarter. The cumbersomeness of steam engines led to search for other means of propulsion like electric propulsion and the internal combustion engine. The IC engine invented by Karl Benz in 1885, won the race for alternate and more convenient propulsion for automobiles and rules to date.
Once the IC engine was established as the king of the horseless roads, a number of companies; akin to the technology start ups of today; started manufacturing cars in Europe and America. One of the companies was the Leland and Faulconer Manufacturing Company in Detroit. The company was reformed as the Cadillac Automobile Company in August 1902. They introduced two cars, the two seat Cadillac Runabout and the four seat Cadillac Tonneau in the model year 1903. When the newer Model B versions were introduced in 1904, these cars were called the renamed as Model A for the model year 1904.
The first three cars were displayed at the New York Auto Show in January 1903. Cadillac was able to sell all three cars at the show and took orders for another 2,286 cars at a princely deposit of 10 dollars. The Tonneau had a detachable rear end to increase the seating capacity of the runabout to four. The rear passengers entered through a single rear facing door. Roads in America were in a poor state and so when it rained or snowed and the roads became muddy, the car could be reversed onto the sidewalk to avoid the rear passengers getting their shoes dirty. Each Cadillac Tonneau cost 850 dollars. 750 for the car and 100 for the Tonneau. One could also order a leather top and side curtains for additional 50 dollar each, while a rubber top and side curtains costed 300 dollars. Side and head lamps were offered as additional cost options.
The Tonneau had a front false bonnet with the radiator mounted below it. Tonneau was 2807 mm (110.5″) long, 1613 mm (63.5″) wide and 1480 mm (58.25″) tall (without the roof). It weighed in a total of 621Kg (1,369 lb). Front and rear suspension comprised semi-elliptical leaf springs. Steering was rack and pinion and was offered with a steering wheel. why I am mentioning this is because a number of cars at the time were offered with tillers instead of steering wheels. It has drum brakes on each of the 559 mm (22″) wooden wheels for providing the stopping power.
The Cadillac Tonneau was powered by a 1,609 cc (98.187 cu-inch) naturally aspirated single cylinder petrol engine. The engine breathed through one intake and one exhaust valve and produced 6.5 BHP. The engine was mounted midships below the car and powered the two rear wheels. It had a two speed gearbox for transmission purpose. These engines could push the Tonneau to a top speed of 56 km/h (35 mph).
The Cadillac cars soon earned a reputation as cars capable of pulling weight and climbing inclines. They were reliable and easy to operate (for 1903 standards) and cheap to maintain. These cars competed in the Sunrising Hill Climb in UK in 1903 and were the only single cylinder cars to reach the top. They also participated in the 1000 mile reliability trials and came in fourth overall and first in its class of cars.
I am a submariner mechanical engineer. I served the Indian Navy for 21 years. I am extremely passionate about means of mechanical transport developed by humans that include automobiles, trains, ships, submarines and aircraft. I am particularly passionate about cars and want to share this exciting world with all the people.