Cover image for The Cadillac story : the postwar years
The Cadillac story : the postwar years
Bonsall, Thomas E.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
vii, 229 pages : illustrations ; 27 cm
1946-47, in the beginning -- 1948-49, the tailfin era -- 1950-53, of tailfins and bathtubs ... -- 1954-58, fending off the competition -- 1959-64, Cadillac hits its stride -- 1965-70, at the apex -- 1971-79, trouble brews -- 1980-84, crisis in paradise -- 1985-91, a division in limbo -- 1992-01, Cadillac fights back.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TL215.C27 B65 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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The Cadillac story is more than the story of a car company. It is, in many ways, the story of the American automobile industry itself-- which, as much as any industry, drove America's growth in the twentieth century and defined who we are as a people: mobile and prosperous. Cadillac, again and again, played a critical role in that story, for both good and ill.
In the depths of the Great Depression, the brand redefined itself and the luxury market. After World War II, it epitomized expansive prosperity. Then, in the 1980s, it epitomized the industrial crisis that had suddenly overtaken America. Today, Cadillac's struggle to survive in a furiously competitive--and suddenly international--automobile industry mirrors the challenges facing American industry as a whole. Its success in meeting those challenges will have much to say about the future of American industry and of General Motors.

Author Notes

Thomas E. Bonsall is the author, most recently, of Disaster in Dearborn: The Story of the Edsel (Stanford, 2002) and More Than They Promised: The Studebaker Story (Stanford, 2000) Earlier books of his have won the Cugnot Award of the Society of Automotive Historians and the McKean Cup of the Antique Automobile Club of America.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Prolific automotive writer Bonsall gleans much of the material for this book from original sources such as annual reports, sales brochures, and other archival material from the manufacturer. The Cadillac postwar years is a riches-to-rags-and-possibly-back-to-riches story that chronicles the company's veritable slide into mediocrity through cost-cutting, mismanagement, and corporate interference by the parent company. Only in the past few years has Cadillac taken a new direction and increased sales to younger buyers, but the future is not necessarily rosy. The book is a trenchant analysis of each decade following the war: the robust Fifites and the huge fins that sprouted on the backs of cars; the mod Sixties, during which Cadillac's aging buyers began to die off; the silly Seventies, when quality problems led to much lower expectations from "America's Best"; the disaster of the Eighties, as corporate parent GM demanded cookie-cutter cars that further diluted the brand; and a return to advanced engineering form in the late Nineties. Throughout, the book is illustrated with period photos of various models that capture the mood of the industry and the company. In all, a worthy addition to postwar economic and sociological analysis.-Eric C. Shoaf, Brown Univ. Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.