Making The Register: 1918 Cadillac Type 57 (U.S. 1257X)

A survivor of the battlefields of World War I, the 1918 Cadillac Type 57 (U.S. 1257X) is one of America’s most important automobiles. Read on to see all the reasons why this special vehicle deserves a place of recognition in the National Historic Vehicle Register. 

Side Profile

A Storied Automobile

Automobiles played a vital role in elevating America’s standing as the greatest superpower the modern world has ever seen. An incredible testament to this is the 1918 Cadillac Type 57 (U.S. 1257X): the fourth car inducted into the National Historic Vehicle Register July 23rd of this year is. This special World War I-era touring car was used to support French and American troops near the front during the Second Battle of the Marne. But that’s not the only reason why U.S. 1257X is deserving of Register status:

Associative Value – Person (A vehicle associated with the lives of significant persons in automotive or American History

As with previous additions to the Register, U.S. 1257X has associations with several notable historic figures. Whereas the previous three were set squarely in the automotive world, this car’s associations are more “socially historic” in nature and a far cry from those more accustomed to the racetrack.

Having entered service during the First World War, U.S. 1257X was put to use by its original owner, Rev. Dr. John Hopkins Denison, in the service of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) on the French front. While there, it also served as one of the chauffer vehicles for Eleanor Roosevelt, daughter-in-law of President Theodore Roosevelt, who was charged with leading women’s involvement in the war effort, as well as with setting up leave areas in France for American soldiers.

Body Tag

Surviving The Frontlines

Associative Value – Event (A vehicle associated with an event or events that are important in automotive or American history)

It could easily be argued that the events of June 28, 1914, were largely responsible for shaping much of the 20th Century. Had Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria not been gunned down in his motorcade, the entirety of the Western world might not have been dragged into what became the first war fought on a truly global scale. Not only did it become the first war of its type, it was also the first major war to incorporate the latest advancements in automotive and military technology.

For the first time, generals and soldiers alike could arrive at the front in various wheeled vehicles that could greater traverse the increasingly vast distances in a shorter period of time. Chiefly favored amongst those higher in the ranks, Cadillacs served a number of officers and other assorted VIPs during WWI.

By the time the U.S. entered the war, it had been raging for nearly three years. This particular car made its way to the front and into the service of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) and YMCA in 1917, having been dispatched form the U.S. in August shortly after its completion. Once there, it made an appearance at the pivotal Second Battle of Marne, as well as aiding in setting up leave areas for soldiers fighting thousands of miles from home for extended periods of time.

Interior Shot

A Historic Trendsetter

Design or Construction Value (A vehicle that is distinctive based on design, engineering, craftsmanship or aesthetic value)

With its rugged design and construction, the Cadillac Type 57 gamely proved itself to be worthy of use as an official car of the U.S. Army during WWI and U.S. 1257X was no exception. In addition to its proven reliability on the battlefield, the Type 57 also featured an engine representative of the first mass produced V-8s, originally placed in the Type 51 in 1914. Together, these features became an important part of the Cadillac’s success overseas and on battlefields across the world.

1918 Cadillac Type 57 front

The Last of Its Kind

Informational Value (A vehicle of a particular type that was the first or last produced, has an element of rarity as a survivor of its type, or is among the most well-preserved or thoughtfully restored surviving examples)

By all accounts, this is the last surviving example of a largely preserved and documented vehicle from the WWI-era. Complete with a bullet hole, well-worn seats and olive drab paint, U.S. 1257X is one of the last remaining untouched links to our automotive involvement in a war that began over a century ago. Preservation efforts will be under way shortly to ensure this valuable piece of our automotive and military history remains in its current state for future generations to enjoy.

Interested in finding out more about the National Historic Vehicle Register? Click here to visit the HVA’s National Historic Vehicle Register website, and stay tuned for future updates to be announced in the months to come. 

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