[ last update: 02.05.2012 ]

The (new) Cadillac Database©

Cadillac and La Salle
Merchandising and Advertising Literature

The Hobby of Collecting Automobile Literature


Return to The (New) Cadillac Database© Index Page
or select the appropriate years from the tables, below


Preamble 1902-1904 1905-1909 1910-1914 1915-1919 1920-1924 1925-1929
1930-1934 1935-1939 1940-1945 1946-1949 1950-1954 1955-1959 1960-1964
1965-1969 1970-1974 1975-1979 1980-1984 1985-1989 1990-1994 1995-2002

The finest of the fine (no talk, just pictures)



Other literature sections


A list of product brochures mentioned in early Cadillac ads

FRFLAG.JPG (773 bytes)

Ce que disaient de la Cadillac les publicistes francophones dans les années trente [cliquez sur le drapeau]






You will see that the bulk of the illustrations in this Database   lack somewhat in size and definition. They were created in the early 90s with the imaging techniques available to me at that time.  Many of these images could be improved upon, today, as I have still on file a high percentage of original or good copies. Unfortunately, I do not have time to both add new inmages to the Web site AND go through some 50,000 images - ONE AT A TIME - to reprocess them using the latest version(s) of PhotoShop. Plewase bear with me when I say:  "better to have small, low resolution images then NO IMAGE AT ALL.


NEW FOR 2012


What this section on Cadillac and LaSalle merchandising literature lacks in pure pictorial detail will be compensated gradually (very gradually, I'm afraid) by larger, better  images of some of the finest items I acquired some years ago, thanks to the kind generosity of the late Z. TaylorVinson. Taylor had collected such sales catalogs and folders since the age of 9, that is to say for almost seven decades. When we met, on a number of occasions in the 70s, 80s and 90s, he graciously allowed me, first, to photograph the cover pages of those items that were missing in my own collection and, later, to optically scan the rarest and  finest of items in his collection. It is the latter that you will be able to admire here.  



The purpose of auto sales literature is to sell automobiles. In this respect it is interesting to note how the sales pitch has evolved over the last more than half a century.

In the early thirties, for example, art and literature combined to produce literary and artistic masterpieces like the 1930 portfolio of Fleetwood offerings, obviously to be appreciated by those prospective car owners of refinement and wealth for whom it is intended.  That statement was made by Cadillac in a press release published in Automobile Topics  for August 31, 1929.  The copywriter  added that Contributions of rare merit to the world of art or literature receive commendatory notice in the journals of the day.  Equally conspicuous talent devoted to sales literature and printed art, however, unfortunately wins less acclaim by reason of its commercial  aspect. Yet art it still remains in its truest form, elevating modern sales methods to levels undreamed of. According to the writer, Along with other works of art it [i.e. the portfolio in question] deserves a prominent position on their library tables.

That may explain why, today, this particular promotional item comprising thirteen advertising portfolios for ten different Cadillac and three different La Salle models will fetch a few thousand dollars at auction.  Not in the league of the Grand Masters, yet mucho moolah for a few sheets of printed paper.

Let's compare the literary prowess of the 1930 copywriters, epitomized in one of the latter portfolios describing the 1930 Fleetway all-weather phaeton, with the bare-facts terminology used, at the dawn of the new millennium, to describe Cadillac's new Escalade - EXT sport-utility vehicle.

1930one's motor car, being as it were a visible statement of one's social status, it is no more than mete that the consummate elegance and artistic savoir faire should be commandeered for the purpose of properly reflecting individual prestige.  A superior smartness of design, well modulated contours, urbane originality of colour embellishment, superb opulence of upholstery, ultra-refinement of fittings; these impressive glamours bespeak in no uncertain terms the pre-eminence of the owner.  They are embodied magnificently in the Cadillac Fleetway, a sport car specially designed and built to comply with the exceptional requirements of distinguished taste. Equipped for luxurious faring in all varieties of weather, the Cadillac Fleetway is a pleasure car dedicated to the lordly ease which is possible only when social punctilios of fine appearance are splendorously fulfilled. Among the special features of the Fleetway were genuine Aero leather upholstery [...and not just on part of the seating areas], carpeted foot hassocks, entry step lights, two (inner) corner lights and a robe strap. The range of exterior colors was well-nigh infinite.

2001: [The Escalade] EXT balances Cadillac's vision of art and science. With a bold, chiseled appearance and cheer lines, EXT makes a design statement.  The seven-spoke wheels and egg-crate grille speak to the Cadillac form vocabulary. In addition, the Cadillac wreath and crest is prominently displayed on the grille. As to its main features we are told that the Escalade ...has supple Nuance leather seating areas [not the whole seat and seat backs], a wood trimmed steering wheel, six-disc in-dash CD changer and Bose 250-watt sound system.

Yes, times have changed, as have also the needs of today's car owner! Which of the two Cadillacs described above would best suit YOUR image?

In this section of The (New) Cadillac Database©, are (or will be, in time) listed all the sales and merchandising literature items in my collection, as well as items seen in other collections or sales listings.  Each item is described in detail.  The information includes cover dimensions [where known], expressed in centimeters and/or inches;  first the width is shown, then the height.  The format may be vertical, i.e. "portrait" format [shown as "pf"]), or horizontal, i.e. "landscape" format [shown as "lf"].  The number of pages [shown as "pp."] generally includes the front and rear covers. Also given, where known (i.e. where the item is in my collection or at least if I had access to it)  are the main title text and a description of the cover illustration or design (if any), and the principal illustrations.

Gradually, I will add digital images of these sales literature items; they will generally be restricted to the front covers and, occasionally, one or two inner pages.

This section of The (new) Cadillac Database © has become a huge one, requiring considerable research, scanning, photographing or copying items in my collection or received from far and wide. You will see that much more effort has been put into describing the pre-WW2 and early post-WW2 items. When I began work on the Database, much of the later catalogs and folders were still readily available, so I decided to keep descriptions to a minimum, intending to expand on them at some later date.

The trouble is, with a "later date" comes creeping "old age", resulting fatigue and gradual loss of interest. That's why you will find many blanks and possibly also quite a few errors in the descriptions of literature items from 1970 and later. So, be a good sport, point them out to me and together we may expand the listing and improve on the quality and accuracy of the entries for the benefit of all Cadillac collectors and admirers.

yanngita.jpg (9954 bytes)
The author and his wife in S. Carolina, 1999,
holding the large, spiral-bound Fleetwood color catalog for 1939

[ they don't make them as nice as this any more ! ]





The Appeal of Collecting

[by the late Z. Taylor Vinson - one of the foremost authorities on automobile related literature ]


Automobile sales literature can be appreciated on a number of levels.   For me, the first appeal was to the imagination:  at an age in the single digits I could fantasize myself behind the wheel of a convertible or in the back seat of a chauffeured limousine.  Later, when I started to save the things instead of cutting them up, the thrill was in the accumulation.  Over time, more subtle reasons emerged:   the beauty of the items as examples of the printer's art, the recordation of advancing technology, the depiction of the changing attitude of society towards women and blacks, the variations in the appeal to the prospective purchaser caused by good or bad economic times.   

The art of sales materials has changed with the decades.   Initially, the cars were illustrated with heavily air-brushed black and white photographs.  Catalogues tended to have card covers slightly larger than the size of the pages.  The covers of the most elaborate of these were embossed and string-tied. Around 1910 the cars began to be illustrated in color.  Slightly later, around 1912, when the public had begun to be accustomed to the automobile, literal representation of the product through photographs was no longer deemed necessary, and the cars began to be pictured in line drawings and etchings.  The car was pictured in social and commercial settings to demonstrate the utility and versatility it could bring to an owner's life. 

From the 1920s through the early 1970's, color renderings, frequently exaggerated, were the principal means of depicting the automobile, with the use of photography restricted for secondary sales materials such as direct mail solicitations.   Advances in color photography and printing resulted in a return to the literal depiction of the car almost coincident with the first fuel crisis in the early Seventies.   The sober times then and since have caused manufacturers to emphasize the practicability of their products rather than the romance of them, hence the revival of photography and the virtual disappearance of color renderings which had long held sway.   Today's catalogues are essays in modern technology, often elaborate, and of a size that only a few years ago was used by luxury makes only. 

In the Eighties, new forms of direct mail sales material appeared, the video cassette and the computer disk (CD-ROM).  True to the Nineties, manufacturers introduced interactive media, going online by posting ads on America OnLine, Prodigy, CompuServe and World Wide Web. At the present time, a number of catalogues are provided with CD-ROMs tucked in the back (e.g., 2004 Oldsmobile and Chevrolet Impala).   Further, the large majority of press kits today are simply CD-ROMs.  The use of holographs, facsimile sales materials and "virtual reality" has yet to occur, but manufacturers can be expected to experiment with new visual technologies as they come to market.  However, the principal piece of sales material will always be the one deemed by the manufacturer to be most likely to result in the purchase of his product.   For the foreseeable future this will be the printed word with color photographs in the catalogue format. 

Z. Taylor Vinson,
Alexandria, VA - 2005



Categories of Automobile Literature

1.  Sales catalogs

These are printed and assembled like a book or magazine with the binding being either at the LH side or (sometimes) at the top.  Any item of no more than 4 printed sides or pages is a folder rather than a catalog.  In a catalog, where the publisher has not shown page numbers, I am counting the front cover  as page #1.  Below are sample Cadillac and La Salle catalogs that find favor among collectors today;  from left to right : 1939 La Salle folder,  1956 Cadillac dealer mailer and 1957 mailer; mailers were sent by the network of Cadillac dealerships to potential buyers.

Cat40ls.jpg (6399 bytes)    Cat56you.jpg (5196 bytes)    Cat57man.jpg (3299 bytes)


2.  Booklets

The same basic description as above applies although generally the format is smaller than for catalogs (e.g. approx. 5x8" [approx. 13x20cms] or less).   Contents range from information on specific Cadillac models to merchandising material of a general nature.  The small booklet, below, measuring approx. 3 x 4  inches, was published first in 1918 and again in 1919, 1943 and 1960 [there may have been also other years]; it describes and explains the Cadillac coat of arms or crest that has graced the vast majority of Cadillacs since 1906.  It mentions also Cadillac's proud slogan:  Craftsmanship a Creed, Accuracy a Law.

Cat43slo.jpg (4601 bytes)

3.  Folders

These are large sheets, which may be folded a number of times. Folders are not as easy to consult as booklets and catalogs.  The latter may be read by turning the pages, like a book or magazine; folders, on the other hand, tend to wear around the corners of the folds and along the folds themselves.

While some of them are printed only on one side, most are printed recto-verso. Not all folders are folded the same way; I have come across half a dozen different ones.   In describing their contents, I have assigned numbers to each fold or "page" in the logical sequence of unfolding them.  Descriptions include cover sizes (folded and open), orientation (which again may be vertical [pf] or horizontal [lf]) and the number of printed folds ("pages").

Cat53eld.jpg (6202 bytes)
This Cadillac folder is typical of the early fifties. 
During the Korean conflict, there was a slowing down
of Cadillac production and fewer merchandising
catalogues and pamphlets were published


4.  Portfolios

These consist of a stiff outer cover or envelope, containing one or more sheets, drawings, cards or folders.  Below is an example of a Cadillac merchandising portfolio for the 1937 Fleetwood models.  It consists of an outer envelope (left),  a descriptive booklet (right) and a number of colored cards (center) illustrating some of that year's models and body styles. In this example, the portfolio contains thirteen colored cards; shown is the Fleetwood convertible sedan (style #5780) for 1937. Interiors are described on the reverse of each card. The descriptive booklet contains other general information and specifications:

Cat37f1.jpg (3179 bytes)    Cat37f3.jpg (6614 bytes)    Cat37f2.jpg (2818 bytes)


5.  Data Books [dealer]

These were intended to inform salespersons in the vast Cadillac dealership network of the major styling features and technical advances in the new models for each year. They consist of anything from  50 to 200 pages or more and are generously illustrated with all body styles and interiors). They contain a wealth of information not usually found in merchandising material distributed to potential buyers.   They are rarely in color, although some of them do have inserts in two or three color tones to brighten them up. I have ceased to collect these data books on account of their rising cost [$200-500 each, depending on the year]. 

For some years now, a number of literature vendors have been making available reproduction copies; however, in my opinion, these are not always of very high quality, considering in particular the rapid advances made in today's offset printing techniques and laser photocopying equipment.  In addition, I find even these to be too expensive for mere reproductions!  Nonetheless, they are very useful works of reference for the collector or restorer who owns a car of the year and model in question

My friend Jean-Michel Roux, in Switzerland, graciously loaned me his Data Book collection from 1950 through 1966 and allowed me to copy them for the benefit of The (new) Cadillac Databse©.  I have also those for 1938, 1941, 1942 and 1946.  Therefore, if any users require more in-depth information about Cadillacs of these particular years, I may be able to help.

Dbook42.jpg (7190 bytes)
Above:   cover and a sample page
from the 1942 Cadillac Data Book


6.  Single sheets

These are usually printed on gloss paper or card,  8½ x 11 inches, printed on one or both sides.  They generally describe new features available with certain models of a given year.  The samples below illustrates the sunroof available on the 1970 Cadillac models.

Cat70su2.jpg (9238 bytes)Cat70sun.jpg (8361 bytes)
Two-sided product bulletin on the 1970 sunroof models


Technical Documentation

7.  Operating Instructions and Owner/Operator manuals and booklets

These generally consist of small, instruction booklets explaining how to operate the vehicle and use its various items of standard and optional equipment.  Some are quite voluminous so I have limited the descriptions to size, format (principally "pf"), number of pages and cover illustration where appropriate. 

lit_oms.jpg (5457 bytes)
In this fanned out grouping are the manuals for
1946, 1947, 1949, 1950, 19851, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955,
1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1964

Om20_21.jpg (4150 bytes)  Om26_27.jpg (4758 bytes)  Om52.jpg (5147 bytes)  Om55.jpg (4303 bytes)  Om80.jpg (4245 bytes)
Above: selection of covers of Cadillac owner/operator manuals for the
1920-21 Type 59, 1926-27 Series 314-314A, 1952, 1955 and 1980

8.  Service Literature [other than Shop Manuals]

The most common type is that issued by the company for internal use and for dealership service departments.  Service bulletins were generally issued monthly as a complement to previously issued Shop Manuals (see below).  As I have only a few items of such service literature, I have not included a listing in The (New) Cadillac Database©.  Below, from left to right are some Serviceman issues from 1959, 1966 and 1978 (the poor picture quality is a combination of digital camera and artificial light;  I may get around to improving them).

svceman3.jpg (7585 bytes)    svceman2.jpg (7707 bytes)    svceman1.jpg (9075 bytes)    li50sSvcMan.jpg (19107 bytes)

LI41ACCL.JPG (6853 bytes)


9.  In-House Magazines and Information Bulletins

These company bulletins or magazines, of which the most well-known are The Crest and Cadillac Clearinghouse [pre-WW2] and The Cadillac Craftsman and Cadillac Insider [post-WW2], often contain a wealth of information on new or special models. Once again, as I have only a few of these in the collection, I have not included a listing in The (New) Cadillac Database©.

Crestmag.jpg (7950 bytes)

inhouse1.jpg (7924 bytes)    56cftsmn.jpg (7826 bytes)    CadMusStory.jpg (21095 bytes)

liGMFolks54a.jpg (6939 bytes)    liGMFolks54b.jpg (5836 bytes)    liGMFolks54c.jpg (6822 bytes)    liGMFolks54d.jpg (7848 bytes)

liGMFolks50th1.jpg (7136 bytes)    liGMFolks50th2.jpg (7800 bytes)    liGMFolks50th3.jpg (7302 bytes)    liGMFolks50th4.jpg (7213 bytes)    liGMFolks56a.jpg (7082 bytes)
"GM Folks" was a multi-divisional, in-house magazine for the corporation's
FIVE divisions:  Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Buick and, of course, Cadillac;

these covers are from issues of 1954 to 1956

LiVision2002.jpg (52651 bytes)
Buyers of Cadillac cars in the late 20th and early 21st centuries
got an automatic (?) subscription to Cadillac "Vision" magazine

10.  Shop Manuals, Body Manuals

These were issued for most years, for internal use and for dealership service departments. For some years, when there had been no major technical or design changes, the company merely issued a supplement to the previous year's manual (e.g. the years 1946 and 1960). 

Left is the service manual for 1936, right the one for 1961.  As I have few of these manuals in the collection, once again I have not included a listing of them in The (New) Cadillac Database©.  

Svice36.jpg (6151 bytes)   Shop61.jpg (41276 bytes)


11.  Parts Lists

LiPartList.jpg (5385 bytes)


Any user with a large collection of Cadillac technical  publications who might want to participate in this project may prepare for me a detailed list of his/her holdings and send it to:

email.jpg (7997 bytes)

N.B.: Many of the early items in my collection are reproduction copies.  They are marked thus {*}.  Entries followed by the symbol {***} are missing from the collection. I may have seen them either in other collections, museums or on Cadillac-LaSalle literature listings.  Naturally, I am keen to obtain good photocopies of the latter items, or a more detailed description, to complete the Database.

lit_mis2.jpg (7430 bytes)     lit_mis3.jpg (8772 bytes)
Sample catalogs from the collection (above), include  
1928, 1929, 1942, 1946, 1953, 1955, 1956  1957 and 1959


Preamble 1902-1904 1905-1909 1910-1914 1915-1919 1920-1924 1925-1929
1930-1934 1935-1939 1940-1945 1946-1949 1950-1954 1955-1959 1960-1964
1965-1969 1970-1974 1975-1979 1980-1984 1985-1989 1990-1994 1995-2002


Other literature sections


A list of product brochures mentioned in early Cadillac ads

FRFLAG.JPG (773 bytes)

Ce que disaient de la Cadillac les publicistes francophones dans les années trente [cliquez sur le drapeau]



Return to The (New) Cadillac Database© Index Page
or select the appropriate years from the table, above


© 1996, Yann Saunders and the Cadillac-La Salle Club, Inc.
[ Background image: Montage of  Cadillac catalog, ad,  photo ]