History & Style: The Secrets of the Cadillac

In the midst of a cheeky deprecation of the Cadillac Catera, Car Lust explains the origins of the Cadillac logo. It's obviously some bit of imported heraldry, but the meaning behind the logo has its own fascination, and gives you an idea of the vast mental gulf that separate the founders of GM and the MP's who are running the company now:
The shield in Cadillac's traditional shield-in-a-wreath emblem uses the actual coat of arms of the man the car was named after, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, the French nobleman who founded the city of Detroit. In the upper left and lower right quadrants of the shield, there's a trio of black, duck-like birds. The official term for them in heraldry is "merlettes." Merlettes are a symbol of the Holy Trinity, and their presence in the coat of arms indicates that someone in old Antoine's family tree did something brave in one of the Crusades.
Ducks on the Cadillac logo?? I didn't believe it until I took a walk around the neighborhood to find a 15 year old Caddy. Whaddaya know! There really were ducks on the logo! (the "modern" logo, of course, has substituted some Mondrian-style black bars for the little guys).

Albert Sloan and co. may have been rapacious industrialists who helped pave America and destroy the planet. But, they also had a sense of history and style that allowed them to grab and hold the public's imagination. They were "car guys" in the best sense of the word, and it is clear that they would have had no place in the modern GM. Too bad because they could do the one thing that is in short supply right now: sell a lot of cars.

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