Cadillac Model 30

To venture out in the newfangled horseless carriages at the start of the 20th century you had to be either very hardy or very well wrapped up against the elements; protection against cold, rain or even snow was rudimentary to say the least. The early pioneers were tough people indeed.

Cadillac brought out their model 30 in 1909 and although this was initially an open version by 1910 a closed body, the first one ever offered on a US built car, was introduced; and it became an instant hit. People could actually travel in one without needing layers of warm clothing and waterproofs - something that we take for granted today but which was simply not possible before then.

The wonder of course is not that they did it but why no one else thought of it earlier! Most of Cadillac's cars were built in Michigan, which can get very cold at times, and it could be this that spurred them on. Whatever the reason the Model 30 was the first vehicle in America to make the transition from a simple means of transport to something looking more like a modern car.

Powered by a 33 brake horsepower 4.2 litre straight four-cylinder engine the car could reach 60 mph and for it's day it was a very good looker; standing nearly 7 foot six inches high it was imposing and looked expensive, which indeed it was compare to others at around twice the cost of the average car at the time; but the fact that it was relatively weatherproof kept it popular with good sales figures despite frequent price increases. More than 8000 were sold in 1910, 14,000 in 1912 and 15,000 in 1913, by which time it also had an electric starter which had been invented by Charles Kettering, a talented engineer who eventually also invented leaded petrol.

A number of model 30s still survive; at auction a ballpark price would be around £65,000 upwards.

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