Steering Column – January 2021 Edition

1908 Cadillac – The Standard of the World!

 

Henry Ford, Louis Chevrolet, Walter P. Chrysler, the Dodge Brothers, Ferdinand Porsche….the list goes on and on of the pioneers who “literally” made a name for themselves in the automotive industry. Sadly, Henry M. Leland’s name is long forgotten. Who you say? The fact is, Henry M. Leland may have been the most successful of them all. Allow me to introduce you. A gifted engineer and visionary, Mr. Leland picked up the remnants of Henry Ford’s second failed car company in 1902 and founded Cadillac. Instead of self-saluting his ego, Mr. Leland chose instead to name his company after Antoine de La Mothe Cadillac, the French explorer who founded Detroit.

Henry M. Leland Circa 1906

 

Focused on “making progress” Mr. Leland was blissfully unaware that he was actually “making history”. By 1908, Cadillac was perfection without peer. Its engineering was so advanced, so precise that Cadillac was awarded the 1908 Dewar Trophy in England, the automotive equivalent of the Nobel Prize. By the next morning, Cadillac had become the Standard of the World, a phrase that remained the company’s marketing slogan for the next 74 years until 1982. For generations the Cadillac name has become a metaphor for the American dream.

 

 

 

Thanks to owners Michael, Karen and Justin Beno of Green Bay, The Automobile Gallery & Event Center invites you to experience 1 of only 3 surviving 1908 Cadillac Model T (No relation to Ford’s) Touring Cars in the world. Restoration was completed just minutes from our front door, however, the journey to our Gallery showroom took decades. Relying on his own mechanical mastery, Michael Beno reconstructed the one-cylinder, 10 horsepower-engine over a period of years.

With the help of Cadillac historians, Michael and Justin unearthed the original build sheet and serial numbers allowing them to reconstruct history to exact standards. Together, a local father and son have preserved the finest Cadillac Model T Touring Car in the world.

Much like his masterful 1908 Cadillac Model T Touring Car, Henry M. Leland is a shining example of success. After selling Cadillac to General Motors for $4.5m in 1909 ($129m in today’s dollars), Mr. Leland was far from finished. 13 years later, at the age of 72, he founded another car company you might have heard of called…..Lincoln! While it may be true that no one remembers his name, there can be no denying that Henry M. Leland had the “luxury” of creating two unforgettable icons in automotive history!

 

Don’t Miss The Steering Column in February!

Remembering Red! The Man, The Machines & The Memories

Steering Column – December 2020

 

The Steering Column

Joy to the World!

 

Happy Holidays! Amid all the twists and turns of 2020, we still have December and we aren’t going to let anything rip that from our grip are we? After all, December is the one month of the year when we channel our inner child and dream about warm cookies, candy overcrowded with cholesterol, men in red suits with enthusiastic appetites and…. gifts, lots and lots of gifts for Christmas, Hanukkah and the holidays! I truly wish I could give you that pony you have been pining away for since you were 6, but will you settle for a Pony “Car” story instead?

 

50 years ago, this very month, 21-year old Bill Chambers was truly dreaming of a white Christmas as he anxiously finished his tour of duty aboard the Navy Destroyer USS Theodore E. Chandler (DD-717). By early January 1971, Bill was safely home on his family’s dairy farm in Suamico, WI and the only gift on his mind at the time was the one he was going to give himself… A Muscle Car!

With the sun dancing in and out of the clouds on a 56-degree day, Bill Chambers strolled onto the lot at House of Ryan Dodge in Green Bay April 9th, 1971. As if waiting just for him, a Burnt Orange 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T dealer demo sat patiently as it had for months. It was love at first sight. How fitting that Joy to the World (Three Dog Night’s version not Isaac Watts’ 1719 beautiful hymn) was number one on the radio as Bill drove his Challenger R/T home without any inclination that his $3395 investment would still be bringing joy to “his” world 50 years later.

Any relationship of this length is bound to be tested and Bill and his Challenger were no different. Along the way there was marriage, a family, a gas crisis, house payments, the Great Recession and other “challengers” competing for Bill’s affection. But even as her looks faded, Bill’s devotion didn’t. A full 37 years after that fateful April day in 1971, Bill Chambers treated his traveling time capsule to a full rotisserie restoration at Muscle Car Restorations in Chippewa Falls, WI in 2012. What was once covered in dust is now covered by national magazines like Muscle Car Review.

 

In all, Dodge sold 79,935 Challengers in 1970….. but only one Burnt Orange Challenger R/T with a special interior package, the one Bill Chambers fell in love with on the lot at House of Ryan Dodge 5 decades ago. Pay us a visit over the holidays to see this special Challenger R/T at The Automobile Gallery. As this challenging year comes to a close, Bill Chambers and his Challenger R/T serve as a reminder that, no matter how long it takes, what we once had is worth restoring. Happy New Year!

**This car was beautifully restored by Muscle Car Restorations – www.musclecarrestorations.com**

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