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Cadillac Type 57: Over There & Now at the Library of Congress


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31. July 2014

We must admit that we knew absolutely nothing about the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) when we learned last week that a 1918 Cadillac Type 57 was being added to the HAER and to the Historic Vehicle Association’s National Historic Vehicle Register.

The Historic Vehicle Association, founded by Hagerty, an insurance company that specializes in classic cars, is fairly understandable.

But HAER?

Well, according to it:

“The Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) was established in 1969 by the National Park Service, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Library of Congress to document historic sites and structures related to engineering and industry. This agreement was later ratified by four other engineering societies: the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers. Appropriate subjects for documentation are individual sites or objects, such as a bridge, ship, or steel works; or larger systems, like railroads, canals, electronic generation and transmission networks, parkways and roads.”

And apparently cars, too, like this Cadillac.

1918 Cadillac Type 57

This particular Type 57 was used during World War I, during the Second Battle of the Marne, and later as a transport for Eleanor Butler Roosevelt, wife of Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., son of the president. She used it for two months, seeking out places for soldiers to get a little R&R.

Richard O’Connor, chief of Heritage Documentation Programs with the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, said, “The Cadillac Type 57-U.S. 1257X is a great example of a rare survivor—a vehicle that saw extraordinary use during its active life yet has survived to the present day. Recognizing the Cadillac military vehicle at the 100th anniversary of WWI commemorates America’s participation in the Great War and illustrates one of the many contributions the automobile has made to U.S. history.”

1918 Cadillac Type 57

Mark Gessler, president of the Historic Vehicle Association, said, “U.S. 1257X may well be the only complete and largely unrestored example of a WWI military Cadillac known to exist.”

Documentation of the Cadillac Type 57 – U.S. 1257X is being included in the permanent archives of the Library of Congress. Among the reasons why: its historic association with important events and persons, its construction and the design value of the V8 engine.

1918 Cadillac Type 57

And while on the subject of the V8, historically speaking, Cadillac was the first manufacturer to mass produce V8-powered cars. In the case of the Type 57, a 2,000-mile run in Marfa, Texas, conducted by the U.S. Army in 1917 garnered its designation as the “standard seven-passenger car of the U.S. Army.”

1918 Cadillac Type 57

Other reasons why it is going to be documented for the Library of Congress is because it retains most of its original materials, components, and craftsmanship.

So, 100 years from now, what will make it into the Library of Congress?

1918 Cadillac Type 57

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