By on March 31, 2010

I had the opportunity to visit with the Cadillac folks at a Pre-New York Auto Show Reception in West Village. It was a tasty cocktail gig with a trio of V-series models (CTS Sedan, Wagon and Coupe) available for closer inspection.  Though nobody actually sat in them.  But that’s not the point: marketing and re-branding the product was the topic of conversation.

Cadillac’s making a push to promote the V-series and Platinum groups as sub-brands, like AMG and Designo (look it up) in the realm of Mercedes-Benz.  And the V-series has acres of credibility with significant improvements to the respectable CTS, the awful STS and forgettable XLR. But the Platinum Caddys leave much to be desired. Even by Cadillac’s own (indirect) admission, recent Platinum editions are a far cry from Germany’s best efforts, or the Fleetwood Sixty Specials and Broughams of yesteryear.

That’s because chrome wheels, deck lid badging and chocolate covered seats/floor mats (not carpets) do not a special edition make.  Clock the Platinum edition DTS for proof, there’s plenty of low hanging fruit to grab. According to GM Design guru Ed Welburn, the forthcoming XTS Platinum will be far superior to previous efforts.

While Ed’s an old school hot rodder at heart, he publically made his penchant for Platinum luxury combined with V-series performance known.  As commentators on my CTS Sport Wagon review know, that’s where an LS4-style power train swap comes into play.  Over 300 liquid smooth ponies with effortless torque in a cheap to make power train?  You can’t do that with a V6.  Plus, that engine family already lives in the V-series.  Others listened, but Mr. Welburn unceremoniously walked over to Bob Lutz when I mentioned “LS-X swap” like I would on a TTAC Piston Slap. Oops, that’s my bad.

That’s not to say GM isn’t listening to an outsider’s perspective.  Far from it: Cadillac engineers, designers and PR flacks want to blend Cadillac’s past with its down market, platform engineered future. I’m sure they recognize the disconnect.  Just how far can a Platinum spec’d Caddy sell for, given the brand’s descent into mid-level luxury? And what exactly are you telling the market with a forthcoming flagship based on the tall and tipsy Buick Lacrosse with no V8, or even an EcoBoost-ish V6 option?

I reckon it’ll be a tough sell.  And history is on my side. With every word from well-intentioned Cadillac staffers, the legacy of my 1986 Cadillac Fleetwood Seventy-Five continually haunted my thoughts.  Sure, it’s a terrible car: a front wheel drive platform with 1980’s GM cookie cutter styling and a truly awful HT4100 engine.  But the fact there were two long wheelbase Caddys (Sixty and Seventy-Five Series) with a torque rich V8 and famous names means that today’s Cadillac has a long way to go before the Platinum name is more than a marketing term that resonates within the RenCen.

Unless everyone loves the Puff Daddy era of Hip Hop, the “Platinum” name will take years to get traction with the general public. And with a name like “Sajeev Mehta”, I certainly understand the implications of what you call yourself. Names like “Fleetwood” have obvious baggage, but instant recognition of a luxury orientation isn’t a problem. Why not say that Fleetwood is the new definition of Cadillac luxury in modern times? Sounds like an easy spin.

Then again, we have the very impressive V-series.  And it’s a completely different direction for Cadillac as a brand. Plus, the GM staffers gave the same message: pointing to the CTS V-Wagon as a low-volume Halo Car to prove the Wreath and Crest can run with the likes of BMW and Mercedes.  Considering the last generation of the E55 AMG Wagon sold less than 70 units every year in the USA, Cadillac’s V-Wagon has a weak business case. But that’s the North American perspective; perhaps the wagon will bring about international recognition?  Clock the sales of the Euro-only Cadillac BTS for a little more perspective on that. Point is, people buy Cadillacs that look and feel like a Caddy. And you don’t need to get hit by a Fleetwood to get it.

But the shining star in tonight’s lineup is the CTS Coupe, shown here in V-series livery. The thrilling return of the two-portal Cadillac is reason for applause, and becomes a Halo car in the spirit of the Infiniti G-coupe.  Fair enough, though the CTS coupe’s design from the A-pillar back looks like the Batmobile had one night of passion with an AMC AMX.

It’s a jarring design that will please some, but somebody forgot to sweat the OCD details: the tailfin-like taillights and CHMSL-cum-spoiler are just begging to turn chalky after a few errant runs with an orbital buffer at a car wash.  And even now they look…downright cheap. While the styling details aren’t there yet, expect all of the V-series to kick butt on the track. And maybe the Platinum editions will live up to their name too, if Cadillac reaches their goals in the near future.

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57 Comments on “Contemplating The Cadillac Future...”


  • avatar
    relton

    These Cadillac folks need to visit the GM Heritage Center and take a gander at some real Cadillacs. They could do worse than start with the 67 Eldorado, but the 49 Fleetwood 60 Special is no slouch either.

    If that doesn’t give them some ideas, nothing will.

    In the meantime, I think I’ll go out to the garage and take another look at my own Eldorado.

    Bob

  • avatar

    I agree that the time has arrived for Cadillac to *really* dig into its heritage. Words like “Eldorado” and “Fleetwood” and — especially — “Brougham” used to mean something really special. Bring it back, but do it right.

    It’s time for them to get away from being Buick-plus once and for all… and LONG past time for them to revive (and do everything they can to live up to) the best marketing tagline GM has ever had: The Standard of the World.

  • avatar

    Cadillac is making the best cars ever. As long as they keep turning out cars of this quality they definitely have a bright future.

    I’m just worried about Buick. GM seems to be doing whatever it can to make the Lacrosse boring – now they are stripping it of its V6 and adding an I4) and the rest of the Buick lineup feels watered down despite the high quality.

    • 0 avatar
      relton

      Cadillac may be making the best cars they ever did, but unfortunately all of them are Buicks.

      Cadillac has not made a car worthy of the Cadillac heritage for some time now.

      Bob

    • 0 avatar
      Z72_Silvy

      Not just the best cars in Cadillac’s history, but I hope you mean the best cars in history period. Any time, any place, any manufacturer.

      Cadillac has once again become the standard by which all car companies on earth will desire to be.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      The LaCrosse still gets the 3.6 V6, they just pulled the dud 3.0 to be replaced by the I4.

      And Z72_Silvy, get those meds checked. Cadillac, best cars in the world… Heh, heh, heh. Good one. Funny that Hyundai, first time out with a v8 luxury car, made a better car than Cadillac ever has (or is likely to).

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      BMW, Mercedes and Lexus have nothing to fear from Cadillac. It has been a second-tier luxury marque for some time now, and I see nothing on the horizon that will change this.

      As relton says, the new Cadillacs are very good Buicks.

    • 0 avatar

      Best cars ever? By what standard?

      Any post-war Cadillac that isn’t motivated by a V8 isn’t worth wearing the badge. Might as well be a Lexus!

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Yeah seriously.. When a Caddy has the same or better level of features as an S-Class Merc, along with cutting edge engineering (HCCI, variable-vane turbos, exhaust-heat scavenging, carbon fiber body panels and lightweight (Al? Ti?) monocoque), and a 10-year warranty, maybe _then_ it’ll be the best car in the world.

      GM can make a good-to-great, expensive, high-tech lightweight coupe (C6). Where are the sedans? Where is the Cadillac W126/W140 S-Class?

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    I have never understood either Cadillac or Lincoln dropping all their well known model names in favor of three letter designations which to this day the vast majority of the car buying public is unfamiliar with.

    Of course, down to virtually every model of both brands the vehicles themselves are nothing like the models they replaced. The exceptions would be the CTS as an entirely new model and the DTS which is still a Deville/Fleetwood Brougham type of vehicle.

    In Cadillac’s case looking at their sales results the question they need to ask themselves is what have we gained by using three letters to name all of our vehicles (Escalade excepted)and dropping all of the well known model names? I find it hard to imagine anyone at GM could come up with a positive answer.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    Why would you drop this amount of money into a company with this kind of future? Cadillac is fiscally bankrupted. Asking buyers to take a chance on Cadillac in 2010 is similar to asking buyers to take a chance on Packard in 1957. The fact that the US government has provided the billions to keep their show rooms open isn’t encouraging, in light of the fact that the US government is also fiscally bankrupted.

    You can’t just keep pretending that borrowed money that doesn’t exist is enough to take any kind of personal risk in purchasing a Cadillac.

    Buy from a brand that will outlast your payments. Buying from either GM or Chrysler is a bad deal once you start talking about spending over $25,000. It is time to start thinking of these companies in a similar manner we think of new foreign brands, except that foreign brands when they arrive spend their own money, not yours.

    At $55,000 and up, this kind of purchase is not just buying a car – it is more like purchasing an investment. Don’t risk it.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    Just look at Cadillac sales this past decade. The first CTS provided a couple of years of sales gains, but it’s been downhill since. Lutz is wrong about Cadillac. If buyers want a German “luxury” car (stiff ride, tight quarters, severe accomodations, high price, overengineered electronics) they’ll buy a German luxury car. Cadillac has to be itself (power, presence, comfort, style, room, technology). Forget V-series and 40-series rubber and racetracks. DeVille, stretched Fleetwood, Eldorado, and Escalade all LS-powered is what Cadillac should be, even if they only sell 100,000 copies.

  • avatar
    tced2

    Apparently Cadillac thinks the Escalade is the future. A Chevy Suburban with the Cadillac option.

    Make a real sedan. A bit gaudy. Powerful. Comfortable. Reasonable handling but not a Corvette. Exclusive to Cadillac. Oh wait a minute, they’ve already done that – Cadillac Sixteen. (The masters in the District of Control will never approve it).

    Oh yeah, and call it Fleetwood Brougham. But make it real.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    Platinum is such a worn out marketing name overused for years on everything from credit cards to health club memberships.
    Anyone remember the cassette boom boxes called Panasonic Platinum Sound?
    What next, a Cadillac customer loyalty program called Diamond Plus Deluxe Insiders Circle.

  • avatar
    SMIA1948

    If you want to understand Cadillac’s future, read “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind” by Jack Trout and Al Ries. Once a brand establishes an image in the public’s mind, that image can never be changed. Accordingly, a “Cadillac” is either the biggest, flashiest, most “American” car available, or it is nothing. The archetypal Cadillac is the 1959 Fleetwood. Given that the Obama administration wouldn’t let GM build real Cadillacs even if they wanted to, Cadillac is doomed.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      Nor would the archetypal Cadillac sell today.

      In spite of the nostalgic view of many people, the market for over styled, over sized, floaty riding cars is limited to the older people who are now buying Buicks, Avalons and even the occasional Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar

      When Al Ries has actually designed and produced a product for market, he’ll have some credibility. Until then he’s just a sophisticated version of selling the sizzle, not the steak. Just another ad man.

      Ries and his daughter seem to be unconcerned with product.

  • avatar

    I never heard of Brougham (sounds like a coachmaker from 1860s) or Fleetwood (is it like Oldsmobile, another absorbed company?). And Eldorodo sounds like one of those beater Chevy trucks that rustics around here use to pull horse trailers.

    As far as overused gimmicks go, “Platinum” is sure better than “Limited” (what is it, hoursepower is limited or something?).

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      I always laughed at the fact that you usually need an unlimited budget to by an automobile with “limited” on it.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      Fleetwood was an auto body maker in the early 20th century. Made very expensive and custom bodies for all the finest auto makers. It was very common (in the high priced cars) for the auto manufacturer to make the chassis/engine/transmission – then a body maker would add to the bare chassis. GM bought Fleetwod in the 20′s and used the name on exclusive Cadillacs – there never was a Chevrolet Fleetwood.

      Brougham is just a name Cadillac has used on its higher models. It certainly is more descriptive than CTS, DTS or whatever alphabet soup they are using this week.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree names would be better. I still remember Chrysler New Yorker and Acura Legend.

  • avatar
    rohman

    Platinum is a Ford F150 variant.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    Cadillac is a mass-market product. Let me say that again: mass-market product.

    How is a vehicle that you see dozens of everyday, and has $5K+ on the hood in incentives, aspirational? (I’m looking at you CTS…)
    If Cadillac were serious, there wouldn’t be a CTS other than the CTS-V.

    The only car that Cadillac has made in the last 40 years that was slightly ‘rarified’ was the XLR. As always, GM half-assed the details and it underwhelmed, but it could have been a contender.

    The Cadillac brand provides an acceptable, politically-correct commuter car for the American businessperson who wants to project the ‘I Buy American’ image, or for that segment of society that still believes big, bright, shiny objects are status-symbols.

    ‘Platinum’? Really? Even ‘Black’ is rather played out in the world of prestige marketing. Mention ‘platinum’ and ‘branding’ in the same sentence and I know exactly where your ‘upmarket’ is going – downmarket. Does anybody in DET ever catch up on what happens in the rest of the country? Ever?

    There is nothing wrong with being a mass-marketer. Mercedes is a mass-marketer. But, please, “Standard of Excellence” is 50 years gone from the Cadillac reality. Especially at Cadillac’s price points. This type of product direction without delivering the goods is a waste of energy, and further erodes any chances of actually achieving a perception of Cadillac as a desirable automobile.

    That dysfunction like this still exists at GM proves that little, if anything, has changed.

    • 0 avatar
      getacargetacheck

      Right on all points. Yes, Cadillac is a mass-market middle-class car and has been since WWII. People crying out for Cadillac to compete head-to-head against the S-Class or Rolls-Royce miss the point. There are plenty of people willing to spend the extra coin on over-the-top flash and comfort American-style at a lower-than-German price. The Escalade proves this. All GM has to do is take the Sigma, stretch it a bit and make big sedan and coupe versions with Chevy V-8s (no V-6) priced around $40K. They’ll fly off the lots. Give the SRX to Buick.

    • 0 avatar

      There was no mid-market Caddy after WWII until the Calais model of the 1960s. Historians, feel free to rip that one apart.

      Caddys were top of the line in America, as the likes of Mercedes and BMW had nothing even remotely similar. Rolls was rare air, but just because Cadillac didn’t compete with it (sans ’57 Eldorado Brougham) means they were “Mid Market” then I wager you think the S550 is a mid market luxury car in today’s society.

    • 0 avatar
      getacargetacheck

      Sajeev, I didn’t write “mid-market.” I wrote “mass-market middle-class.” The truly upper-class (the families who run the world generation after generation NOT the nouveau riche, the athletes, film stars and one-off Internet tycoons) don’t concern themselves with consumerist diversions like cars. In fact, many of them live in large cities and don’t drive. Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz (yes even the S550) are middle-class cars. ANYONE can walk in and buy one with the right credit score and enough of a down payment.

    • 0 avatar

      So the real rich people (who aren’t leveraged on their car purchases) don’t own a car because they don’t need it? Please tell me you don’t live in Texas. Because you’d be so wrong if you see what I see.

      And I seriously doubt Texas is alone in that fact.

      Rich people drive cars, unless they live in Manhattan. This is America, and its a big frickin’ country.

    • 0 avatar

      The rich drive cars. The wealthy, on the other hand, have chauffeurs, motorcoaches and private jets.

    • 0 avatar
      getacargetacheck

      The upper-class, i.e., the multi-generational, wealthy and politically powerful, don’t view automobiles as symbols of wealth. That’s a distinctly middle-class worldview (whether lower middle-class or the upper middle-class doctor down the street pulling in $250K a year). So, yes, while an upper-class Texan may opt to drive, he doesn’t choose his car so that everyone will know how wealthy he is. That’s what middle-class people do. Alfred Sloan and every BS ad and PR man before and since has known this. The lower-class and the upper-class actually view cars the same way: simply as a mode of transportation.

    • 0 avatar
      stationwagon

      @getacargetacheck
      how do you know this about the super rich? I’m curious, you might be right.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      “Right on all points. Yes, Cadillac is a mass-market middle-class car and has been since WWII. People crying out for Cadillac to compete head-to-head against the S-Class or Rolls-Royce miss the point.”

      Rolls used a Caddy Drive train in the 1950s and 60s.

    • 0 avatar

      The rich drive cars. The wealthy, on the other hand, have chauffeurs, motorcoaches and private jets.

      I dunno. The only billionaire that I know drives his own Lambos, Ferraris and Porsches. He’s got a captain for his yacht, but it’s a very big boat and needs a professional crew. Likewise with his Gulfstream. His 200 mph speedboat, though, he drives himself on Lake St. Claire.

      He made his money himself. Those with inherited wealth may be different.

    • 0 avatar
      Martin Schwoerer

      I’d tell anybody who is seriously interested in this subject to read Paul Fussel’s “Class”. According to which, indeed, the upper class does not concern itself with cars.

      If my recollection is correct, Fussel also says that yes, Mercedes is the slightly vulgar brand for the aspirational middle class and that Cadillac is the choice of high-proles (uncouth, fun-lovin folks with plenty money). The more times change…?

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve seen several people who own oilfield service companies drive S-class type of machines. I’ve met them socially and applied for jobs at their offices, seeing the cars for myself. And if ExxonMobil made tons of money a few years back, these guys did real well too. Not to mention they stay nice and wealthy considering TX’s favorable tax rates.

      But if I agreed with that sentiment, let’s get to the point: IF the cream of the wealthy crop don’t drive cars they will automatically be taken out of the pool of interested buyers. They become statistically irrelevant to the discussion.

      Wealthy people (who buy cars) used to buy real Caddys like they now to S-class Benzes or similar. The New Cadillac doesn’t occupy that wealthy market, whatever definition of “wealth” this market implies.

  • avatar
    SMIA1948

    The Cadillac Sixteen show car (2003) was true to the Cadillac brand image. Anyone who looked at it went, “Wow!” The Sixteen was about 5 inches shorter than the big Cadillacs of the 1960s, but about 18 inches longer than an S-class Mercedes. Even without the 1000 bhp V-16 engine, it would have sold.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      The Sixteen would have been something neat. Product like that could make Cadillac something special.

      Make the CTS-V the entry level car, and go up from there. And please, improve the materials quality.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    The XTS is not Caddy’s flagship but a DTS replacement. Also, GM is planning a 3.0L twin turbo that will likely get released with this car. The concept was a twin turbo, so why say that there is no ecoboost-ish V6 available?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    What’s fantastically irritating about Cadillac is that they seem to be, at best, a two-product lineup (CTS and Escalade) and the GM is terminally incapable of moving beyond the CTS.

    There have been editorials about GM’s Corporate ADHD syndrome, and Cadillac (and the CTS-V) is an example of that effect. When the planets are aligned, GM can make a class-leading product (and the CTS is very good: perhaps not as adroit a handler as the 3-series, but a better holistic car than anything else in it’s price bracket). You can tell that they sweated the detail on that car.

    But once they “won” with the CTS, they proceeded to phone in just about every other Cadillac: the STS was too small and actually had a worse interior, the XLR wasn’t appreciably better than the Corvette. The SRX? The first one wasn’t bad, but Cadillac really ought not to be competing with the Lexus RX: that’s Buick’s job and the Enclave does it better.

    The XLR is particularly shameful. How hard is it to take a Corvette—arguably the best sports car under a hundred and fifty grand, yet selling for a third to a half of that—and dump fifty grand worth of luxury content into it, resulting in something that should make the Mercedes SL run cry for it’s mother? How could you possibly screw that up?

    Near as I can tell, it’s because they just didn’t care enough to try. They got one car right, and figured that, by extension, they didn’t need to try hard because every subsequent car would be perfect and moved off to the next shiny thing. Again, they just aren’t paying attention.

    It should be easy to make a Cadillac, especially an upper-trim model: there aren’t the kinds of cost pressures and compromises inherent in, say, the Aveo. Every Cadillac should be a “Platinum”.

  • avatar
    SMIA1948

    The XLR was doomed from the beginning–it was simply too small to be a Cadillac. The still-half-baked 1993 Allante was more plausible as a Cadillac (I had one once). It had the biggest interior and trunk of any two-seat car in the world. If Cadillac is going to make a two-seater, they should pattern it off the two-seat Duesenberg that Clark Gable used to drive. There is a market for a two seat car that pro athletes can fit comfortably in, has a big enough trunk to hold 4 suitcases (even with the top down), and which makes everyone who sees it go, “Wow!”.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “1957 was chiefly notable for the introduction of one of GM’s most memorable designs, the Eldorado Brougham. This four-door hardtop with rear-hinged rear doors was an ultra-luxury car that cost an astonishing $13,074 — more than the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud of the same year. It featured a stainless steel roof, air suspension, the first memory power seats, and every other comfort and convenience feature available at GM at the time.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_Eldorado

    Picture:

    http://cars.88000.org/24__Cadillac_Eldorado_Brougham_1957.htm

  • avatar
    SMIA1948

    The comments about the upper class are correct. See “Class: A Guide Through the American Status System” by Paul Fussell.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    “Caddys were top of the line in America, as the likes of Mercedes and BMW had nothing even remotely similar. Rolls was rare air, but just because Cadillac didn’t compete with it (sans ‘57 Eldorado Brougham) means they were “Mid Market” then I wager you think the S550 is a mid market luxury car in today’s society.”

    If we’re looking at the facts-on-the-ground, then, yes, an S550 IS mid-market luxury. I see several every day, and they’re available to anybody who has about $850 a month to donate to their status car payment. BFD, nobody with funds is impressed. (Yes, that’s real money to Middle America [especially now], no, we ain’t talking about Middle America…)

    Pretend it’s 1968 and you’re monied. Would you have really chosen any Caddy against a 300SEL 6.3? Really?

    I don’t hate Cadillac, but they have to pick a metric.
    If Cadillac wants to be be the ‘Standard Of The World’, then please explain how the utterly mediocre (by any measure) CTS fits that mantra. Especially competing against Acura and such.

    • 0 avatar

      Again things were changing by the late 1960s: the crap Calais model and the infiltration of big Benzes is proof of that.

      The original discussion referred to Caddys being the “stuff” for the upper class after WWII. Name me a foreign car other than a Rolls that would top an Eldorado or Eldorado Brougham from the 1950s. And even the stuffy Rolls is a matter of taste, I’d rather have a befinned Caddy back in the day, for styling alone.

      There was a time, post WWII, that Cadillac was the King of American Roads.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      Sajeev,

      If we’re talking about the very brief window between WWII and, say, the mid-60s, then the Eldo would have been a top notch contender for the top of the “luxury” heap. Of course, they sold those in volumes well under 10K units. Per year.

      That’s the core truth I’m trying to get to. Be the old Caddy or the volume Caddy. Pick one. But the lack of ability to pick a path, is a waste of precious resources. And trying to recapture the exclusivity without being exclusive just doesn’t produce the desired cachet.

      Personally, were I alive and monied in the 50s, there’d be a coupla 300 SLs in my garage. And a few Jags, and maybe even a Ferrari or two.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, that was my point. There was a time when Cadillac was a King in America, and it slowly eroded to where we are in the current millenia.

      Much like the bankruptcy of GM, it took decades to happen. I am sure people predicted Cadillac’s demise when the Calais arrived, just like many critics nailed GM’s stupidity in the 1980s.

      More to the point: obviously the ’70s Mercs were far superior performers to similar Cadillacs, but the brand didn’t suck (i.e. didn’t abandon their core values) until the mid 1980s and beyond. The brand had a public perception as a “better than mid market” luxury vehicle. (that last quote is the best explanation I got after walking the NY show all day)

    • 0 avatar
      SMIA1948

      In the mid-60s, Cadillac actually *was* “The Standard of the World”. Car and Driver did a comparison test of the 1965 model Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special, the Mercedes 600, the Jaguar Mark X, the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, the Lincoln, and the Imperial. The Cadillac finished a close second behind the Mercedes, which cost 4 times as much. C&D was *shocked* by how good the Cadillac was.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      Nailed GM’s foolishness in the 80s? I guess you’re well under 40, because we laughed about GM’s product in the 70s. We knew it was only a matter of time (though it did take longer than any rational person thought) that the GM bankruptcy was decided in the 70s. They built junk, and if you loved cars, you knew it then.

      So, there was maybe a 10-15 year window, out of 90+ years of the Caddy “brand”, that Cadillac was competitive. What do we do with the 80ish% that was never competitive, if one had one’s head outta one’s ass?

      Caddy was never better than “mid-market” to those who knew the other players (save for aforecaptioned 10-15 years). Pre-war there were far more desirable players and other than a relatively small window, Caddy had nothing desirous for the cognoscenti post-WWII.

    • 0 avatar

      I am not surprised that people saw the writing on the wall back in the 1970s. But what was published to that effect? Maryann Keller’s book (Rude Awakening) was 10-ish years off, I think that extra time was needed to make such a convincing, slam dunk of a book.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      It took until ’79 for ‘On A Clear Day You Can See General Motors’ to be published, but c’mon, the facts on the ground weren’t in dispute in’75.

      All you had to do was ride in the neighbor’s Camaro to know GM was doomed.

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    “Standard of the World” lmfao.

    Ya, if you’re a gangbanger out of compton rollin in a ‘Slade with 25″ wagon wheels and enough bling to sink a ship or gramps driving to the piggly wiggly to pick up groceries in his carriage-roofed, wire wheeled DTS/STS with curb feelers.

    The CTS I owned had an interior that would be shamed by a Kia Spectra nevermind competing with an Audi or a Merc. And the powertrain sounded like it had dirt in it once you got the revs past 4 grand and the gearbox was about as accurate as rowing a crowbar through a box of rocks. Thankfully I sold itonce the warranty was up and it needed a new rear end and a 2500 dollar brake job.

    The CTS is the only thing Cadillac has left going for it. Sorry, but one good car (CTS lineup) does not make Cadillac the Standard by any means. They’re just Buicks with rear wheel drive.

  • avatar
    SMIA1948

    If Cadillac *wanted* to survive and the Obama administration would let them do what it takes to survive (both dubious propositions), they would build a 4-door sedan with the footprint of the Escalade ESV (223 inches long, 79 inches wide, probably 60 inches high). They would use the powertrain of the Escalade, because it is cheap to build and works well enough. They would use the size to provide true six passenger seating for people up to 6’8″‘ tall, and an enormous, easy-to-access trunk (at least 30 cubic feet). They would engineer the suspension to provide ultimate ride quality with “decent” handling. They would style it to make people go “wow”. Cadillacs have to have some “unique selling propositions” and one of them has to be sheer size. Another has to be “wow” styling. If it’s not big and it’s not “wow”, it’s not a Cadillac, and there’s no reason for anyone to buy one.

  • avatar
    DetroitsaRiot

    Caddy should be killed as a brand, or, Buick. Thats OK though, as the GM downsizing continues it will finally become apparent.

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    It’s true that by 1973, anyone paying attention could see that the cachet Cadillac had accumulated in America during the 1950s and 1960s was spent, and in just two or three years. The 1968 Eldorado still had swagger and street cred yet shortly after, the entire line became a joke overnight as car dimensions ballooned, and engineering declined as the economy petered out after 1971. The Arab Oil Embargo in the fall of 1973 and Detroit’s and D.C’s responses to it kicked the teeth from what was left of the Cadillac brand. It’s been nothing but false starts ever since. The “Last Convertible” 1976 Eldorado had the look of a Caddy but nothing else and that pretty much booted Cadillac from the imaginations of Boomers who went on to mistake Mercedes, BMW, Audi and later Lexus for luxury. I’m a Boomer too. Truth is, generationally we don’t know a thing about luxury. This is the Me generation for whom a silver German car became the same expression of “massed individualism” as blue jeans and long hair were for millions who thought rebellion was anything not embraced by The Man, no matter how mass-market their rebellion went.

    All of which is not to say Cadillac hasn’t conjured some excellent, interesting cars lately. As the driver of three V-Series Cadillacs over the past four+ years and considering another premium model for special purposes, I appreciate these cars for delivering an experience not available from any other maker. But they aren’t really Cadillacs by any measure of the brand Cadillac used to be. Toyota has its prosaic brand and then Lexus, with nothing in the middle, but that doesn’t mean Cadillac should make a V6 CTS. At least not the V6 CTS it makes today. The SRX Turbo is great for what it is, and I might even buy one but Cadillac shouldn’t even make such a thing. I love each of the V Series cars, even the one I didn’t buy, the STS-V. I far prefer the XLR-V to a Mercedes SL for reasons I’ve written elsewhere here in the past. It’s even visually dramatic enough to be a Cadillac. But it’s too small for the brand. It won my purchase for being the car that it is, not for being a Cadillac. Our 1st-gen CTS-V was not luxurious in any true sense, but it was a hell of a car in every way. Even it’s slight rawness was a plus, compared to the overbuffed M5. But it was more like a modern Grand National/GNX that didn’t rattle than a true Cadillac. We enjoyed it immensely nevertheless.

    Our 2010 CTS-V so seriously ups the ante that it is perhaps the first real-brand Cadillac I’ve been able to buy. It looks sensational. The interior is gorgeous and well executed. The seats are sensational. And its performance is non-pareil. It’s too small to be the top of the line. It should be the bottom.

    Cadillacs should be akin to American Maseratis. Relatively scarce, beautiful and visually dramatic, with interiors a cut above the mass market CFO faux luxury of Merc, BMW, Audi and Lexus. The drive trains should be anvil reliable but distinctive. Maseratis aren’t the most powerful cars in their class, but the Ferrari V8 within infuses the cars with personality unattainable elsewhere. Cadillac should have long-wheelbase cars that sacrifice some handling sharpness for greater composure in return. GM’s excellent magnetic ride control gives designers options in proportioning a car yet retaining handling cred.

    GM should make Cadillac’s something to work for and bulk up Buick with brand-relevant choices: pretty cars with options to sharpen performance. That brand has a rich history with six-pot engines, exterior beauty, rolling comfort, and a little factory hot-rodding. I’d be happy if Cadillacs were a little harder to get. Corvette is a low-productioon car that is persistently profitable for GM. There’s no reason exclusivity must have any deleterious consequence for Cadillac.

    Phil


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