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Unless otherwise specified all photos and illustrations are from Yann Saunders'
collection of Cadillac photos, advertisements and product catalogs,
reproduced courtesy of the Cadillac Motor Car Division and the Cadillac-LaSalle Club


The Coming of The New Cadillac, reads the headline of a magazine ad published in the reputable Saturday Evening Post dated August 26, 1916.

Although basically unchanged in three years, still it was said of the new model that in a multitude of ways, this is a better, finer Cadillac than any which has preceded it - the subject of unremitting research and scientific betterment in scores of details. According to the copywriters of the time, the absence of any radical change simply meant that the underlying principles of Cadillac V-type, eight-cylinder construction had been proven fundamentally sound by the performance of the 31,000+ cars already plying the American roads.

This year, Cadillac went to war in Europe and Henry Leland, the company founder, moved on to found the Lincoln car company.

The new, Type 55 hit the showrooms in the Fall of 1916. The copywriters continued to extol these new V-8 models as the ultimate motoring experience.  They wrote: "To ride in the Cadillac is to experience the uttermost in motoring enjoyment and motoring luxury.  Cadillac ownership carries with it that serene contentment which only those who possess then highest type of motor car are privileged to enjoy... as you allow the clutch to engage, you are impressed by a sense of velvet softness as the car glides into motion ... you note the marked freedom from vibration and the continuity of power, originating in the over-lapping impulses which melt and merge, one into another, into one continuous stream of impelling force ... no experience in any other car can afford even a limited insight into the luxuries of comfort and convenience which are present so abundantly". We, of the modern motoring age probably would  scoff at such poetic nonsense if we compared the ride of a recent Seville STS with that of a 1917 Cadillac touring car.  Yet, in comparison with the single-cylinder and four-cylinder Cadillac models that had gone before, riding in an early V-8 type must have felt like riding on air.

This year's line-up was very much the same in general appearance as the V-8 models that preceded it in 1915 and 1916.  Wheel base for the standard models increased by three inches from 122" in 1916, to 125". A new, longer chassis (132-inch wheel base) was used for the three top-of-the-line limousine and landaulet models. There was a return from the 10-spoke to a 12-spoke rear wheel. Design differences included new, crowned fenders and headlights finished in black enamel with nickel accents  Open cars got a 1½-inch wide molding around the top of the body.  A new roadster for 4 passengers was added to the line (that body style came to be known as a convertible Victoria). There was also a new, sporty phaeton for four passengers; it featured jaunty, wire wheels. The Victoria coupe introduced the previous year lost its roof bows and the decorative door insert (the latter would return in 1926, on some open models); it acquired also large quarter windows and a more spacious interior, accommodating four passengers now.

Regrettably, I have very little documentation on the 1917 Cadillac models.   The information herein is from the introductory, 4-page "Advance Leaflet" issued by the company before they published that year's all-model catalog, a 16-page booklet, measuring  8½ x 11 inches which, unfortunately, is still missing from my collection.  The photos are mostly from period advertisements as well as the factory archives.

Additional information on the 1917 models and the related sales literature may be found  in The (New) Cadillac Database© sections entitled "Descriptions and Specifications of Cadillac Cars 1913-1921",  "Cadillac and La Salle Sales Literature 1915-1919" and "Dream Cars 1903-1924". 

Further recommended reading includes:

The "Standard Catalog of Cadillac, 1903-2000" edited by James T. Lenzke, © 2000, published by Krause Publications, Inc., 700 E. State Street, Iola, WI 54990 [ISBN #0-87341-925-1, Library of Congress #91-61301].


Open Cars
on the 125-inch wheel base chassis


17trg7.JPG (7021 bytes)    17trgopn.jpg (9169 bytes)
The touring car for 7 passengers ($2,080) with two disappearing auxiliary sets
note the new molding around the upper body, visible in the LH photo

17trgclo.jpg (7564 bytes)    17TRGORI.JPG (6993 bytes)
The 1917 open touring (left) car was selected by the army for its staff car
The 1917 touring car in service

TP57TRG.JPG (9889 bytes)
Mom and son at a football game in 1917

17trgpho.jpg (7685 bytes)    17SHAP1.JPG (8093 bytes)
Two survivors; the car on the right is one of many belonging to enthusiast Dick Shappy, RI




17phapho.jpg (8954 bytes)    17phatop.jpg (8165 bytes)
The new phaeton for 4 passengers, with wire wheels ($2,080); this model replaced the former 5 pass. touring car
(Right) Cadillac folding tops were easy to operate by a single person; the side (storm) curtains were stored in
pockets on the underside of the top and dropped down into place when released; they were then attached from the inside




17rds2p.jpg (7805 bytes)    17rdstop.jpg (6515 bytes)
The roadster for 2 passengers, with disappearing rumble seat ($2,080)
(Right) one-man top system (cutaway showing top bows)

17rdst.jpg (7415 bytes)    17rdst2.jpg (6811 bytes)    17rdst3.jpg (7944 bytes)
This fine survivor is in the eclectic collection of Dick Shappy, in Rhode Island
[ Photos: © and courtesy of the owner ]



17rds4p.jpg (5959 bytes)
The club roadster for 4 passengers ($2,080)
this was a new, welcome addition to the line in 1917



Convertible Styles
on the 125-inch wheel base chassis


17cnv7p.jpg (8434 bytes)
The convertible car for 7 passengers ($2,675):
this new addition to the line would correspond to the hard-top
convertibles of the fifties and sixties; it converted in the warm months
from a fully enclosed car to a large open touring model 




17vic.JPG (8175 bytes)
The convertible Victoria for 4 passengers ($2,550);
in 1917 it acquired large quarter windows
and room for one more passenger



Enclosed Cars
on the 132-inch wheel base chassis


17cpe4p.jpg (8849 bytes)
The new coupe for 4 passengers ($2,800)

17SHAP2.JPG (12353 bytes)
This survivor was under restoration in
Rhode Island, in 2000
[ Dick Shappy collection ]

17Coup.jpg (20290 bytes)
Possibly the same car after completion
[ note larger cowl lamps ]




17brg.jpg (6894 bytes)
The brougham for 5 passengers ($2,950)



Enclosed Cars
on the 132-inch wheel base chassis


17lim7p.jpg (7666 bytes)
The standard, open-front limousine for 7 passengers ($3,600)

17LIM.JPG (5995 bytes)

17PC.JPG (9235 bytes)
1917 Cadillac limousine with admirers milling around




17imp7p.jpg (6801 bytes)
The imperial limousine for 7 passengers ($3,750)




    17LAND2.JPG (6092 bytes)    17lanpho.jpg (6731 bytes)
The landaulet for 7 passengers ($2,800)

old_limo.jpg (8718 bytes)
Original factory publicity shot
[ Yann Saunders collection ]

17LAND.JPG (8091 bytes)
This appears to be a fully convertible custom landaulet or Sedanca
style with a modified driver's compartment (open door areas)



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© 1996, Yann Saunders and the Cadillac-LaSalle Club, Inc.
[ Background image:  1917 touring car survivor ]