1918 Cadillac U.S. 1257X
Date(s) of Construction
Original Owner and Use
Rev. Dr. John Hopkins Denison
New York City, NY
Support vehicle for the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.) and Young Men’s Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.)
Present Owner and Use
Designer / Engineer / Builder
Cadillac Motor Car Company
The 1918 Cadillac Type 57 with engine number 57A704, known also by its United States military designation U.S. 1257X, is nationally significant based on its relation to four criteria. First, it is associated with important events in automotive and American history and culture. U.S. 1257X was used in the First World War (WWI) as a support vehicle for the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.) and Young Men’s Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.) efforts. Second, it is associated with significant persons in American history, including the Cadillac’s first owner, Rev. Dr. John Hopkins Denison, Y.M.C.A secretary in France during WWI, clergyman, and scholar; and Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (the daughter- in-law of former President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt) who was charged with leading women’s involvement in the war efforts. Third, the Cadillac features significant design and construction value: the V-8 Cadillac touring car featured engineering prowess that proved itself on the battlefield and in military tests it passed in order to serve as an official car of the U.S. Army for WWI. Its engine is representative of the first mass produced V-8 that was initially placed in the Cadillac Type 51 in September 1914. Fourth, U.S. 1257X offers informational value as one of the only remaining vehicles used by the United States abroad in WWI and is the only known Cadillac to have participated in the war with a documented service record. Furthermore, it retains many of its original materials, components, craftsmanship and evidence of its service during the war. The period of significance for U.S. 1257X was from August 1917 to August 1919.
The 1918 Cadillac Type 57 is a four-door seven-passenger open touring car. U.S. 1257X features a front-engine, rear-wheel drive configuration. It has a liquid-cooled flathead eight-cylinder ninety-degree V-type engine with cast-iron cylinder blocks, mounted to an aluminum crankcase and topped with detachable cast-iron cylinder heads. The engine displacement is 314 cubic inches and produced 70 horsepower when new. Backing the engine is a multi-disc dry clutch and conventional sliding-gear three-speed transmission with an aluminum case. Power is transmitted to the rear wheels by an open driveshaft and a full-floating live-axle rear end. U.S. 1257X has a wheelbase of 125 inches, tires of 35 x 5 inches and a tread of 56 inches. It weighs 3989 lbs. The car features rear brakes only, with both internal-expanding and external-contracting shoes acting on the brake drums. U.S. 1257X was originally painted “Cadillac blue” and featured a black Pantosote top but currently has many layers of olive drab green paint and remnants of a canvas khaki top. It is believed these alterations were made while U.S. 1257X remained in service of the military. Generally the car remains untouched from its period of significance. The Cadillac retains its integrity as a historic artifact as many of its original components and finishes are still in tact.
The 1918 Cadillac Type 57 serial number 57A704 was constructed in the summer of 1917. U.S. 1257X was delivered on July 31, 1917 to Cadillac distributor Inglis M. Uppercu, Detroit Motor Car Company in New York City. Rev. Denison procured the car on August 9, 1917. Rev. Denison, a member of a wealthy Massachusetts family and pastor in Santa Barbara, CA and at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City, entered service with the Y.M.C.A. earlier in August. Subsequently, Rev. Denison turned over the car to the Y.M.C.A. along with his services as driver to support America’s efforts in the WWI. He sailed to France August 11, 1917. At that time, the Y.M.C.A. was the lead human services support organization for America’s military effort in Europe, the A.E.F. Rev. Denison’s Cadillac was registered by the A.E.F. as “U.S. 1257X.” It was the 257th passenger car to be registered. The “X” indicated it was serving the A.E.F. as a privately owned vehicle. While in service for the Y.M.C.A. Rev. Denison helped establish the numerous Leave Areas in France. In doing so he chauffeured Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. in U.S. 1257X. Mrs. Roosevelt, Jr., was essential in the formation of the leave system during WWI, was the first American woman sent to France by the Y.M.C.A., and was charged with organizing a significant portions of women’s activities related to the Y.M.C.A.’s war efforts. Rev. Denison and U.S. 1257X served at the front during the Second Battle of the Marne, the key turning point that led to the end of the war on November 11, 1918 (“Armistice Day” a date we now celebrate as “Veterans Day”). Rev. Denison served with U.S. 1257X throughout France for two years until he returned home to New York in August 1919. Following the war, the Cadillac remained in France until Denison went back and toured with the car in Europe. Subsequently, he returned U.S. 1257X to the United States and toured in the western part of the country. The car’s whereabouts during this period are unknown. In 1936, Major M.C. Bradley, a military memorabilia and surplus collector, bought the Cadillac and held it until 1968. The current paint and military livery adorning the car may be attributed to this period of ownership. Subsequently, U.S. 1257X passed through many collectors and was last purchased in September 2005 by its current owner, Marc L. Lassen.