Cadillac has been the hallmark brand of American automotive luxury for nearly a century and has entered the lexicon as a synonym for "top-shelf." A startup that was folded into General Motors in 1909, Cadillac introduced Model Thirty, the first production car to feature an electric self-starter, ignition and lighting. By the Roaring '20s, Cadillac was offering more than 500 color combinations. After World War II, Caddy helped propel American exceptionalism with new V-8 engines and tailfins designed by GM styling guru Harley Earl, producing more than 100,000 vehicles a year -- double its pre-war levels. Cadillac reintroduced its wreathed crest emblem in the Sixties on an ever more massive lineup that culminated with the 400-horsepower Eldorado in the Seventies. Oil-price scares and rising competition from European and even Japanese luxury makes ate away at Caddy's franchise over the next 20 years. GM's response didn't help: It made the DeVille, for instance, an iconic Cadillac, resemble its platform mates, the Buick Electra and Oldsmobile 98. Cadillac even launched a compact in 1982, but the Cimarron tanked because it looked not much different than a Chevy Cavalier. But beginning in the late Nineties, GM recognized the importance of Cadillac and gave it a bold, new, chiseled design signature, which helped restore some of the brand's old luster via fresh models including the CTS and SRX.