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1911::Cadillac's 'Thirty' Exhibit in Vancouver, British Columbia

Updated: Jul 7

The automobile exhibit that educated an era.

1908::The Cadillac Thirty

"1908::The Cadillac Thirty"

Clip: Democrat and Chronicle (1908)

Rochester, New York

In 1908, Cadillac ushered in a new era of motor manufacturing with its new 'Thirty' automobiles. The Thirty had a 30-horsepower motor under its hood and was said to be America's first practical vehicle. It set the standard in auto-making and made headlines for years with its unique showroom exhibit.

"Historians will date the new era in automobile manufacture from July 1, 1908." - Cadillac Motor Company

When the Cadillac exhibit arrived in Vancouver in 1911, hundreds of motorcar hobbyists and curious onlookers flocked to the Automobile & Cycle Company on Seymour Street to see the car everybody wanted. The display kicked up a flurry of chatter when people who had arrived to view the award-winning vehicle found only its chassis on a stand with all four wheels lifted clear off the floor. The car had no body and no fenders. It was an unusual way to display an automobile, but effective.

1911::Vancouver Exhibit of the 1911 Cadillac Thirty

"1911::Vancouver Exhibit of the 1911 Cadillac Thirty"

Clip: Daily News Advertiser (1911)

Vancouver, British Columbia

It was a stunning display. The chassis was lit with a thousand miniature incandescent lights highlighting the Thirty's 1,001 mechanical parts, all exposed to the viewer. Using an electric motor, the Cadillac attendant set the car's working parts in motion and explained its mechanical operations while it sat stationary on a stand. Its gearbox covered in plate glass revealed the workings of its various speed gears, and a portion of one cylinder had been cut away to show the operation of a piston and how gas was generated in the combustion chamber. It was fascinating. The 1911 Cadillac exhibit excited auto enthusiasts and sparked interest in the minds of the old-fashioned horse-and-carriage riders. A little over a decade after Vancouver's first automobile rolled down its city streets, the Automobile & Cycle Company sold almost two hundred Cadillac Thirtys from their lot.


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