By on August 28, 2008

1930 Cadillac V-16 Sport Phaeton (courtesy time writing for TTAC is strictly limited. Farago asked me to pinch hit while he's otherwise engaged. As soon as this site's founder returns from his light bulb changing duties, I'm going back to my regular, better-paying job. So while I've got the floor, I'd just like to share a revelation…. I heard a radio ad today for "Cadillac employee pricing." Prior to that moment, I hadn't really given much thought to the concept of Caddy opting-in to GM's overall firesale. Not until the pitchman assured me "you pay what Cadillac employees pay." And then it hit me. Why would a Cadillac buyer want to buy a car that the people who build them can buy? I mean, if a Cadillac employee can afford a Cadillac, where's the status in that? At the risk of having my foul-mouth censored yet again, that brand is so screwed. Upmarket my ass. And why in God's name do they have to tell everyone about it?

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25 Comments on ““Cadillac Employee Pricing” Huh?...”

  • avatar

    I’m pretty sure there are some highly paid people working for Cadillac. Employee pricing doesn’t mean entry level line workers can afford the cars.

  • avatar

    That thought makes me wanna work in the Rolls-Royce factory, shifting Phantoms on a daily basis. Or perhaps in Gaydon, churning out Aston Martins? I wonder if those people can afford what they make?

  • avatar

    It’s just a heavy chevy.

  • avatar

    This is absurd. Premium wages attract and keep the best people.

    Do you then think “we pay our employees crap so they can’t afford our cars” is good marketing?

    Obviously there is some hyperbole in this post, but the essential point that it is good for a company to keep wages as low as possible is usually not the case, and there is no particular point to making it given that it is made so regularly by certain right-wing corners of the business press.

  • avatar

    GMs practice of running the exact same sale ads for each brand creates such absurdities. There are NO “Cadillac employees,” just people that work on the Cadillac brand for GM.

    Cadillac should not be running such ads. The premier brand in GMs stable should be above desperate giveaway ads. The Cadillac ads should showcase why the cars are worth buying and driving and more importantly – being seen in (which is really why you buy a luxury brand).

    On that note, you can get $5k off a new CTS if you want one.

  • avatar

    Desperation takes people down strange paths.
    GM never understood the luxury car dimension.

    At Bentley, not even the CEO was allowed to drive their cars.

  • avatar

    I have worked as a supplier of (component) for GM.

    The same guy working on a Cadillac (component) could easily be assigned to work on a Pontiac or Chevy (component) once the Caddy is launched. Or vice-versa.

    There is no such thing as a “Cadillac employee.” They are GM employees.

    By the way, I love Jehovah’s writing. Crass, but to the point!

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Here in Germany, selling cars to employees at a strong discount is a tradition that dates back to the fifties. And yes, Mercedes does it too. It never hurt the brand. (Neither was it detrimental to the brand that Mercedes has always been a prominent maker of trucks and taxis).

    What hurt the brand was when Mercedes started making crap cars. The same with Cadillac, as it goes without saying. Snobism (“I don’t want to drive a car that a prole can afford”) does not a brand make.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    The funny thing is, there is no such thing as a Cadillac Employee. There isn’t even any such thing as a Cadillac Division anymore. Everyone works for GM. A handful of sales & marketing zoiks have Cadillac somewhere on their business cards, but there isn’t even a single assembly factory dedicated to building Cadillacs. Engineering, design and manufacturing are all integrated into the ever shrinking GM empire.

    Remember the old saying about how to make a small fortune in Vegas … start with a big fortune …. the same is now true of GM. Start with a huge empire and MAYBE end up with a small one.

  • avatar

    JJ you’re right – Caddys are priced too low.

    Of course, most of them aren’t worth any more than is being asked, often they are worth less.

  • avatar

    Well, this weekend I’m taking advantage of Cadillac’s employee pricing – I’m getting a loaded 08 CTS for something like $11,000 off MSRP (after my GM Card earnings are applied). GM’s loss is my gain!

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Stein has said GM never understood marketing upscale cars. Oh yes they did. In 1956 my father had to wait to be called by the local dealer. There was one new Caddy in the third floor garage the showroom was empty, which not spoken for. They told him pony up the ($6500 and remember a chevy was $2500 then) or they call the next guy on the list. Further, he tried to get a discount by checking other dealers, they could not sell out of their area in those days. As an aside, Caddy was experimenting with a new Jetaway hydromatic that year. It failed three times for my father in say 30,000 miles. And with a 90 day warranty, he had to pay for the rebuilds. And yes, the Caddys were made in their own plant including the limos and stretched frame commercial cars (hearses & ambulances). The literature used to show the hand buffing of the bumpers for instance as the extras that went into cadillac. They weren’t mechanically perfect, but everyone in America had or wanted to have one some day, Yes, Elvis had a pink one and several white ones. Finally, resale values on caddys were sky high.

  • avatar

    The V-16 Sport Phaeton illustrates the point exactly. Cadillac was “The Standard of the World”, and backed it up with cars that could walk the walk.

    Would you put an ’08 DTS next to this and assert that the DTS is a “real” Cadillac?

    GM has so diminished the Cadillac brand that it means nothing anymore.

    From “Standard of the World” to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit”. Pursuit of WHAT, exactly? Mediocrity?

    The CTS is a fine car, but where do you go from there? STS? DTS? ‘Sclade?

    Oh, now I remember!


  • avatar

    Well, considering they pay the union line-workers $25-35/hour with extravagant benefits, they would have to price all of their cars in the $70,000+ range in order to put it out of reach for them.

  • avatar

    Actually Cadillac does have it’s own assembly plant in Lansing Michigan. The Grand River Assembly Plant builds only Cadillacs, at least at this point.

  • avatar

    God I feel angry when I see people act like money determines any worthiness about humans. We are all inherently worthy of anything and everything this world has to offer. No marketing, criteria, standards, expectations, humiliation, criticism or belittling affects that. A person working for Cadillac is not less than or more than anyone. We are all equal. We are all worthy. Please stop buying into worth being tied to our actions. A Cadillac or Bentley or a billion dollars does not make some more appropriate for having something than another. Comparison of one person to another is meaningless.

    Society has ingrained in many a mind and heart that our worth comes from what we do (job, behavior, ownership), its not true. We all have a right to ask for and expect something in life. We all have a right to come to our own conclusions. We are all entitled to good.

  • avatar

    I haven’t read such an invitation for a sh!tstorm in a long time. Yea, I get the notion – but in no way would I belittle those working at Cadillac in such fashion.

  • avatar

    they would have to price all of their cars in the $70,000+ range in order to put it out of reach for them.

    Exactly the point. This isn’t to belittle the workers. The point is that Cadillac is supposed to be GM’s LUXURY brand. In other words, they should be building the most expensive and exclusive cars GM makes. They should be so expensive that the average white- or blue-collar worker couldn’t afford one any more than they can afford a Bentley. Someone looking for a car in the price range Caddy’s covering now should be looking at Buick. And at Pontiac/Saturn should be below that. And Chevy should be at the bottom of the price range. Instead there’s so much model and price overlap that everything at GM has become a middle-class brand.

  • avatar

    What Frank said. I think too many of us are taking JJ’s point the wrong way.

    Price promotions on what should be your flagship brand don’t make sense. Well, they make as much sense as anything GM does, but a luxury brand should really follow the model “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”

    Of course the Cadillac brand has been so damaged that it no longer resonates with the monied crowd. It remains to be seen if it ever will again, but employee pricing promotions are most assuredly not the way to revitalize the nameplate.

    Say, do you think they’ll offer employee pricing on the CTS-V? Hmmmm.

  • avatar

    To this day, the legacy of Roger Smith’s non-too-subtley disguised, Cavalier-based Cadillac Cimarron lives on.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Thank you rudiger, back in the fifties and sixties you could buy devilles (big) eldorados (glitzy) and fleetwoods (bigger still) No caddy was under $5000 (remember chevy was $2500)and the eldos and limos easily could hit $8000 back then.This was a princely sum and as expensive as you could get domestically.

    The old GM system would never have allowed olds or buick up into the caddy price point and certainly never the other way around. In between this huge difference in price between caddy and chevy. were buick, olds, and pontiac. They were the stepping stones from chevy to caddy.

    All divisions made money, but chevy sold as many vehicles as the other four put together or roughly one quarter or the American market. Think of it, just chevy sold more percentage wise than all of GM does today.

  • avatar

    To Chrishaak I know the CTS at employee priceing seems like a good deal but as the former owner of Many Cadillacs the last three being STs’s I gotta tell you Cadillac priceing is too high to begin with and the proof is a few years from now your CTs won’t be worth 50 percent of what you paid for it after the discounts.

    I experienced this with all my Cadillacs and softened the blow somewhat by takeing advantage of discounts when they had then combined with subvented leases.

    My last Seville MSRP Was 55 thousand and after three years of light use by the wife with 22 thousand miles on it the car was only worth around 21 thousand dollars. This is why they cried uncle and fled from leasing. The product just depreciates like a pair of used shoes.

    My wife present car is a lexus and It has been the best car we have ever owned, and we have bought around 30 new vehicles between my wife and my self. The best part is the car is still worth about 75 percent of new after three years.

    Oh and my main reason for leaving cadillac was the continuous problems we had with all of them. every two to three months something went wrong. Window regulator failure, water leaks, heated seat problems , tie rod end failure. steering rack noise, oil consumption, water in the headlamps and taillamps, traction control light comeing on and off, wind noise, mirror vibration, brake rotor warping and on and on and on……………

  • avatar


    The silver lining is one can normally pick up a slightly used Caddy for significantly less than the original MSRP. Let that original owner take the depreciation hit. Some call it cheap; I call it savvy.

    I’d never buy another car new, but I’m seriously considering an ’08 CTS when the prices come down – which is looking to be sooner rather than later!

  • avatar


    I seriously doubt that any three year old Lexus — even with extraordinarily low mileage — is worth 75% of MSRP.

  • avatar

    What’s really incredible is how blythely GM tossed away Alfred P. Sloan’s effective model of individual division autonomy. For decades, each GM division had their own engines and bodies which gave them each a distinct market. Even when the early seventies’ compact Chevrolet Nova platform was passed around to all divisions (except Cadillac), at least each version (Buick Apollo, Olds Omega, and Pontiac Ventura) had their own specific engine lineup.

    That all went out the door when Roger Smith arrived in 1980. In what was an unbelievable cost-cutting move, every division was suddenly producing cars that, for all intents and purposes, were exactly the same as the other divisions’ cars. The only thing to differentiate Smith’s 1982 J-cars (Cavalier, Firenza, Skyhawk, J2000) were some minor grille and trim pieces. The Cadillac Cimarron was the pinnacle (or depth, depending on your perspective) of this disasterous move. It eventually killed the Plymouth and Oldsmobile marques, and it only remains to be seen if Mercury follows suit.

    It will likely go down in history as one of the worst business decisions ever made and could very well be the one that ultimately dooms and puts GM (and the rest of the domestic auto industry, for that matter) out of business.

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