Luxury Pre-War Truck: 1919 Cadillac Pickup

1919-cadillac-pickup

Some purists will tell you that manufactures should stick to their heritage and avoid deviating from what they are good at. When Cadillac introduced the Escalade EXT pickup, it caused quite a a stir with Cadillac loyalists who felt a truck wasn’t inline with the company’s past. To our knowledge, Cadillac had never before produced an official pickup truck, but the EXT certainly wasn’t the first truck to wear a Cadillac badge. We have actually featured a few Caddy trucks over the years, but this submission from James L. is the earliest example of a Caddy truck we have ever seen. This 1919 Cadillac Pickup has been in storage for a number of years and was just recently listed here at PreWarCar for $8,500.

1919-cadillac-type-57

Most of the purists out there would say that these coach-built trucks were abominations, but if you ask us they are still a part of the brand’s history. And we have heard a few rumors that there were even some that were factory approved, but we can’t find any proof of this. For us, it just shows that even a hundred years ago, some discerning motorist had a desire for a Cadillac that offered both luxury and utility. Given its age and rarity, finding this one’s history and provenance is going to be a challenge.

1919-cadillac-motor

The seller didn’t offer much information about this truck, other than that it’s a Cadillac. We don’t know much about these early Cadillacs, but we do know a V8 when we see one. Cadillacs main offering for 1919 was the Type 57, which was powered by their L head 315 cui V8. This motor offered about 30 horsepower, which was a decent amount of power in 1919. Based on the look of it, we are going to guess that this is the original motor and that it currently isn’t running.

cadillac-pickup

This truck looks to be a massive project, especially if the body is really alloy as the seller claims. While alloy bodies are rust resistant themselves, any steel that is in contact with them is likely to have suffered from electrolysis and subsequent rust. We aren’t sure if this truck can justify the behemoth that is the Escalade truck, but it proves to us that throughout Cadillac’s history there has been a demand for a luxurious truck. If anyone has more information about this truck or the 1919 Cadillac, please share in the comments section below!

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Comments

  1. Mark E

    I never knew any were ‘coach built’ or factory approved…all the Packard pickups I ever saw were purpose-designed and garage-built! ^_^

  2. Dolphin Member

    Hmmmm…never heard of an early Caddy pickup like this, but just about anything is possible if someone brings in real coachbuilding skills, and it looks like that’s what might have led to this Caddy truck being built.

    This link, which shows the truck, talks about Don Lee, who was the West coast distributor for Cadillac at the time [http://www.prewarcar.com/index.php?option=com_caradvert&view=ad&section_id=1&id=90460&Itemid=432].

    Then, this link talks about the Don Lee Coach & Body Works and the Earl family, as in Harley Earl, the famous head of design at GM [http://www.coachbuilt.com/bui/l/lee_don/lee_don.htm].

    It turns out that Don Lee bought the Earl Auto Works, where Harley worked designing cars, and that Harley had been designing and showing his cars in Los Angeles around 1919. Whether all this is enough to say that this truck is a ‘real’ Cadillac pickup is not clear, but at least it’s possible that Harley Earl *might* have contributed to the styling or building of this truck. But I would want more information before I would really accept this as a 1919 ‘Cadillac pickup truck’.

    • scot

      ~ the referenced Coachbuilt article on the Earls and the Lees is a particularly interesting read which fills a number of blanks in my knowledge of automotive history. as always, Dolphin, my appreciation for your input.

  3. Charles

    Cadillac made just about anything in the 00’s but with a V8 and big backlight this looks more like a Depression-era sedan/limo cutdown that missed the WWII scrap drives.

  4. Jim-Bob

    In a way it makes sense. Cadillac was originally called “The Henry Ford Motor Company”-yep, THAT Henry Ford. Originally they produced fairly inexpensive cars and so it makes sense that they may have offered a commercial vehicle. However, Ford left in 1903 (if memory serves as I am too lazy to go to the book shelf) and went on to found what is today the Ford Motor Company. Cadillac joined General Motors by 1912 (again I may be off by a year or two) after William Durant founded the company. He was later kicked out of GM and founded another car company using the name of a famous race car driver who drove Fords by the name of Louis Chevrolet. Chevrolet was then absorbed into GM too, and once again Durant was kicked to the curb of a company he helped found. He then founded ANOTHER car company, Durant, which then went bust in the great depression. He died penniless in a cheap hotel despite having founded two of the most recognizable brands in the US.

    Where was I again? Oh yeah, Cadillac and pickup trucks. I finally got out one of my books (The Complete History of General Motors 1908-1986) to see if I could find any reference to a utility Cadillac at this late of a date. It seems that in 1917 Cadillac was selling “armored” touring cars (where the armor was on the open top, doorless car in the picture I can’t say) for use by the US Army in WWI. Also, the base price of a Cadillac in 1917 was $2055 (roughly 4 Model T Fords) for a model 55, which I assume is the low line car. I can find no mention of a factory built pickup truck model so perhaps it was originally sold as a chassis and then fitted with the pickup bed by a coachbuilder with a wealthy client. Then again, looking at the joint between the cab and bed it looks like it might have started life as a dual cowl phaeton that was then modified into a truck. Whatever it is, it sure is cool!

  5. AMonFM

    “This motor offered about 30 horsepower, which was a decent amount of power in 1919.”

    Actually, the L-head V8 produced about 70 horsepower.

  6. Raymond F. Pittam

    Big M Automobile Dismantlement’s of William’s, California has a beautiful Cadillac Pickup .You can find them on Facebook.com or John Folley. He has it with a Good Clean Non Op Title. and it can be running with very little work. I think he is a member of your Group. I would have sent photos, But you do not allow it here.

  7. Clay Bryant

    Pretty rough panel attachin’ for “Coachbuilt”. I don’t want to bust to many fascinating stories but there’s a real chance this was built during World War 2.At the time,gas rationing allowed more for pick-ups then autos as they figured trucks were being used to help “the cause” instead of for joyriding.You just made yourself a pick-up and all of a sudden your gas allotment went up.(sidebar—-I still have my WW2 ration books).

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      I was just thinking the same thing although I have to say that it is a lot better than most. Farmers converted many cars into trucks in order to receive more gas coupons. I recently saw a Cadillac that was converted into a tow truck in a museum up in Calgary, AB. When I was considerably younger, there was a local farmer with quite a collection of cars and trucks. In the center of his collection was a ’34 Pierce Arrow (12 cyl.). It had been converted to a truck (although the bed or whatever was used was long gone) and was done rather well as the rear fenders were still intact along with all the hubcaps. The archer hood ornament was still intact. It had been driven during the war as it still sported the gas rationing sticker on the windshield. I don’t know what happened to the car as it was sold along with the rest of the collection back in the early 80s.

  8. tom

    Pretty unique.

  9. Hans

    Love to see this restored, it will make a wonderfull addition to someone’s collection.

  10. Andre Crouse

    Saw a 1928 Rolls Royce in Port Elizabeth South Africa a few years ago that had been converted into a tow truck. At the time the owner was restoring it back to its original sedan body.

  11. Dodge

    Its a Farm truck made during the Depression era, you see lots of these things are
    made out of big luxury cars that weren’t worth anything at the time.
    Some were farm trucks, some were made into tow trucks and service trucks.

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