By on May 7, 2012

An Open Letter To The People Who Make Decisions At Cadillac

Dear Cadillac Decision-Making People,

I hate you. Yes, you. You’ve stolen something from me. More specifically, you’ve stolen Cadillac from me. As a child, I was driven around in perhaps the last unapologetically great Caddy — the 1979 Eldorado — and I dreamed of the day when I would be able to buy a Cadillac of my own. While I was dreaming, and working, and anticipating that day, you, and people like you, shit all over the greatest brand in America in every way possible. You built and sold cars that were too poorly conceived and built to even earn the title of “garbage”. Every few years you would bring out some deformed-looking crapwagon, your bought-and-paid for press lackeys would drool all over it, and the name “Cadillac” would be further degraded in public like a heroin-addicted actress caught turning a trick outside a K-Mart by a giant movie-premiere spotlight.

Since the last real Eldorado died in 1985, you’ve built spacious cars, fast cars, plastichrome Tahoes, economical cars, and even somewhat reliable cars. You just haven’t bothered to build any Cadillacs. What is a Cadillac? It is, simply, a vehicle that is exemplary and desirable.

Now we have the ATS. Aren’t you ashamed of yourselves? Do you really think anybody wants this car? Do you really think anybody is willing to pay more for it than they would for an equivalently-powered BMW? Is this vehicle exemplary and desirable? The answer to these questions: Of course not. This car, along with every other vehicle you sell, should be summarily discontinued and replaced with actual Cadillacs. You’d be better off buying the tooling for the 2003 LS430, welding fins on said LS430, and selling that. It would be closer to the idea of “Cadillac” than anything you have now.

It’s too late to fix all your mistakes, but I can fix this ATS thing right now, at minimal cost, and it will save the car from the sales scrapheap of history. It is not too late to save Cadillac. I’m not doing it for you, or for GM, or even for the poor American taxpayer who financed this whole boondoggle. I’m doing it for me, because I want my Cadillacs back.

We need to start by discarding the idea that you can beat the Germans by imitating them and charging more for the imitation than the original costs. The path to victory for Cadillac isn’t a racetrack in the Black Forest. What’s next: putting free boxes of Pocky in the glove compartment of the XTS to win over Infiniti M56 intenders? Stop imitating. Stop being fake. Do something authentically American with the product.

You may believe that nobody wants to pay good money for American stuff. You’re wrong. There are dozens of companies, from Alden to Gibson to Oxxford, that charge top dollar for genuinely American luxury goods. Go look at an Alden shoe. It isn’t a copy of a German shoe, or even of an English one. It’s an American shoe. Go look at a Gibson Les Paul. It isn’t an Ibanez rip-off sold for a higher sticker than the Ibanez then back-door comped with mail-in rebates.

Don’t get me wrong. Cadillac doesn’t have a tenth of the credibility that Alden or Oxxford have. Thirty years of dumping sewage on your customers have seen to that. Still, there’s romance and magic in the Cadillac name despite your best efforts, despite the XTS, despite the children-and-luggage-only backseat of the STS, despite the entire interior of every product you sold for at least two decades. Cadillac still means something to some people.

One of those things Cadillac means is simply understood: it means V-8 power.

As we speak, BMW is busy infuriating its loyal audience by putting four-cylinder engines back in their volume models and naming the resulting embarrassments after the outgoing six-cylinder cars. It’s a betrayal of the first order. What are you doing to capture the people who have been disaffected by BMW’s decisions? What’s that? You’re putting four-cylinder engines in the ATS? In the name of G-d, why? Do you really think that imitating BMW’s idiocy is a good idea? Hell, your base car doesn’t even have a turbo. Gosh, what would I rather have: a turbo BMW or a Cadillac with the same engine as a fuckin’ Equinox?

This is what you need to do, so listen up: It’s time to make the ATS a real Cadillac. That means V-8 power. Standard. Call up GM Powertrain and tell them, and I am being specific here: “We need a bunch of LS4, or LR4, or some sort of V-8 in the five-liter range here, and we need them right away.” Then put those V-8s in the ATS. Every single ATS should have a V-8. Every one of them. No fuel-economy specials, no loss-leaders, no rental-only exceptions. If an American man or woman on the street sees an ATS, he or she should understand that there is a V-8 engine beneath the hood of that vehicle.

Having done that, I want you to make this advertisement. Again, I’m being fairly specific. I will provide a script for the TV spot.

(Our scene begins at the bottom of a long, steep road around a mountain. A BMW 328i and MERCEDES C-CLASS are visibly struggling to climb the hill.)

VOICEOVER: BMW and Mercedes have made gutless four-cylinders engines mandatory. It’s time for Cadillac to once again show them what it means to be THE STANDARD OF THE WORLD.

(There is the sound of a NASCAR V-8 being revved. A GIANT EAGLE appears in the sky. It flies down, lands behind the BMW and pins it with its talons. The camera cuts away to the rock face of the mountain and we are made to understand, through shadows, that the GIANT EAGLE is RAPING the BMW. Every twenty-fourth frame of this scene contains a subliminal image of the B-24 LIBERATOR.)

VOICEOVER: Cadillac has made the V-8 standard again. How’s fuel economy? It’s just fine, thanks for asking.

(The EAGLE is now landing on the MERCEDES, where a similar scene takes place. This time, the subliminal frame is of JOE LOUIS winning a boxing match.)

VOICEOVER: The Cadillac ATS costs $29,995. No rebates, no sales, no bull. Come get a real car for the price of a toy.

(The screen fades to black, the Cadillac script logo appears, and we once again hear a V-8 revving.)

FINIS

I apologize for that part with the eagle, I was just getting excited there for a minute. At this point, some of you have some objections. I will now answer those objections.

  • What about CAFE? What about it? Pay the government the fine. That’s what the Germans do. Don’t you want to be like them? Man the F up, already. Or get Obama to waive it for you. Either way.
  • What about sales volume? With a standard V-8, sales will go up. Trust me. People want V-8 Cadillacs. That doesn’t mean they want V-Series Cadillacs. They want a car with eight cylinders and no excuses. Your competition offers one of these. It is called the 300C. It is a success. Learn from it.
  • How are we supposed to make money selling a V-8 at $29,995? By cutting out the rebates and dealer kickbacks. Try selling an honest product at a fair price. It’s the only thing you haven’t tried. It might work.
  • What about the CTS and XTS, which don’t offer a V-8? Doesn’t this destroy our brand hierarchy? It’s too late to worry about crap like that. It’s go time. The CTS can and should also get a standard V-8. Every existing XTS should be burned to the ground then dropped into the Marianas Trench. The people who designed and approved it should also be dropped into the Marianas Trench, as a warning to the others.
  • It doesn’t fit. You sound like my high school girlfriend when you say that. Make it fit, the same way she did: with an engine hoist and a plasma torch.
  • But, but, but, the 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 offers similar power with greater…More numbers crap, boys. Nobody cares about your numbers. Nobody cared when the 1986 Seville Touring Sedan had more skidpad “g” than the BMW 528e. The only number that matters is 8. That’s the number of cylinders a Cadillac should have, assuming you have no V-16 available at the moment.

What’s the worst that could happen? I will tell you. The car could completely flop. It could clog up dealer lots, appear in rental fleets, and be the subject of some humiliating $399/month lease. Guess what? That’s all going to happen to the four-cylinder brick of manure you’re about to start selling anyway. With a V-8 engine in the car, you’d at least have some pride in your product. Pride goes a long way. It holds forts, inspires heroism, straightens backs, generates “Like” clicks on Facebook. Trust me on this.

We all know that nothing like what I have suggested is going to happen. The ATS will be released to glowing reviews in Motor Trend and polite indifference elsewhere. It won’t sell at the intro price. $5,000 rebates will appear. Eventually the car will be competing with the Buick Verano, dollar for dollar. The people who did bother to buy the early ones will hate you for giving the later ones away. The people who got the cheapies later will look forward to owning a real luxury car, like a four-cylinder, vinyl-seat BMW, the next time they lease. The Cadillac name will be worse off as a result. Thirty years from now, my son will speak the sentence “those two great compact Cadillac failures, the ATS and Cimarron” in a holographic, super-neuro-cortical-interactive version of TTAC. The people visiting said site will mostly have been born after the Cadillac brand was shut down for low sales and non-existent brand equity. That’s the future. It sucks. Avoid it, please.

Sincerely,

Jack Baruth
Cadillac Fan

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194 Comments on “How GM Could Save The Cadillac ATS From Its Otherwise Inevitable Fate Of Complete Marketplace Failure...”


  • avatar
    Xeranar

    The number of cylinders isn’t going to make a difference. Luxury buyers want basically two (and perhaps 3 things). They want Power, Comfort, and Exclusivity (if possible). Mercedes and BMW do all three of those reasonably well at varying price points. Audi hands down has the first two and the third with their RS/S lineup. Cadillac can be for the ostentatious if it so chooses to be. But the ostentatious market is largely dried up in favor of a son of yuppie-class bimmer lover. So no amount of cylinders will be able to pull them from their place. If they want to go a different route and try and stake out a place in the market on that ostentatious approach once more they’re welcome to but the upcoming generations just aren’t that into it.

    So why don’t we keep the people who remember that 1979 Eldorado in their place? They’re at least 64 now if they could have owned it brand new. New ideas for a new time and all that jazz.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Jack’s spot on, IMO.

      Cadillac has lost its purpose for being.

      Here is what a Cadillac should be:

      Powerful.
      Comfortable.
      Roomy (front seat & back).
      Refined.
      Quality baked into the mechanical components and interior trim.
      Aesthetically pleasing & distinguishable.
      Reliable.

      If someone is so worried about fuel economy that they can’t tolerate what is, in reality, thanks to better technology, a less wide efficiency and emissions gap between new V8s and inline 4s than ever before, they shouldn’t be looking at a Cadillac nor should Cadillac be looking at them.

      And Jack, just a passing note – that $399 lease on the ATS would be far too high, given that the general public can now lease an AWD CTS for $279 a month and nothing down (for real) at about 4 of the major Cadillac dealerships in the area where I live (metro Detroit).

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Kluttz

        They never HAVE been reliable. Why start that now?

      • 0 avatar
        seanx37

        Yes. ATS lease deals will be $199 a month, nothing down within 6 months of release of this car.

        The Buick dealer around the corner from me has Verano’s at $169 right now. So the ATS have to be more than that…

        I am also in Warren…so GM lease deals are cheap.

        I could live without a V8 in the ATS. As long as it had a supercharged V6. I have drag raced both ATS and XTS down Mound a few times in my Altima. Not much of a race. V6 Malibu’s are faster.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Edited to add:

        As much as Cadillac has lost its core purpose for being, BMW & Acura have drifted largely in the same rudderless, direction as of late, as Cadillac.

        Mercedes has only begun to try and capture their essential-ness. I’m not so sure how the verdict will come in at the end of the day, given that many of their “new & improved” cars (I’m looking at you, E class) are worse than their last versions, which were sins in and of themselves, let alone a viral pox when measured against peak Daimler goodness of the late 80s and early 90s.

        And BMW owners who loved the truly good BMWs (in an essential reason for being BMW mission statement way) of years past had better hope their beloved marque does a very fast recovery before it, too, is swallowed by the ineptness of its engineers, designers and bean counters.

        Acura? I fear it’s too late already.

    • 0 avatar
      morbo

      Me and my $46,000 (MSRP) fully loaded 300C disagree. I cross shopped Genesis and MKS. Lack of a V8 disqualified MKTaurus. Also, the fact that it had a farkin Euro-Alphanumeric was a mark against it (300C gets a pass since it was the original alphanumeric American power).

      Genesis was disqualified for its looks. It had all the right things; power, luxury toys, comfort. But it looks like a commuter car. If I can’t see the end of the hood, it aint a car.

      I will say the game of arguing $46,000 down to $36,000 was tedious, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

      As for GM, I can tell you that in my crowd (30-something East Coast professionals), GM, Ford and Chrysler are dead to everyone but me and the guy who’s the son of a GM Rahway worker. Irony being Ford and Chrylser are dead to him and GM is dead to me (bad dealer / car experience). My 300C is changing some minds in my group about Chrylser, but Baruth;s main point is correct. It will 6take an unprecedented (for GM) commitment to bang for the buck coupled with style to resurrect Caddy. Lexus proved it witht he original LS. Toyota with the 89 Camry, Honda with the 87 Accord, Hyundai with the ’05 Sonata, Ford with the ’05 Fusion.

      But RenCen lacks the intestinal fortitude to do that.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Kluttz

        It was the 1986 Accord. I’m a Honda guy and have kept up with them. The 1990 even trumped the 1986. With GLASS aero headlights, no less.

    • 0 avatar
      smallenginesmakemesad

      I disagree.

      I am a luxury buyer and I like V8′s. It’s the effortless feel of a big V8 moving the car that makes the difference.

      A turbo 4 could generate the same power and acceleration, but just sounds and feels too busy for a true luxury car. I don’t want to kick down 2 gears to go up a slight hill. A big V8 has the torque to make the hill feel like it’s not there.

      I own 2 Cadillacs but the newest is a 1970 Eldorado with the 500 CID engine and 550 lb-ft of torque.

      Demographic info (in case you think I’m 64) – I am 40 and have an E Class as my daily driver.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Since the last real Eldorado died in 1985, (To me the last real Eldo died in 1981 when you could get a by-God big block Caddy, would you really want a 4100?)

    You’d be better off buying the tooling for the 2003 LS430, welding fins on said LS430, and selling that. It would be closer to the idea of “Cadillac” than anything you have now. (That or the current Hyundai Genesis or Equus and add fins. Teach the Koreans how to tune a suspension.)

    Thirty years from now, my son will speak the sentence “those two great compact Cadillac failures, the ATS and Cimarron” in a holographic, super-neuro-cortical-interactive version of TTAC. The people visiting said site will mostly have been born after the Cadillac brand was shut down for low sales and non-existent brand equity. (Wow dude, you made me shudder and gave me a cold chill. But having witnessed the death of too many American car brands in only 35 years on earth I know your words are too prophetic.)

    On the rest of your points, bravo. Now I will go back to looking for 1992-1996 Fleetwoods on eBay Motors and Auto Trader.

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      Funny you should mention the Equus. When I loaded up the main TTAC page, right below the lead for this story was an ad urging me to go to a local Hyundai dealer and drive an Equus. The first time I saw an Equus in person, my first thought was put some Cadillac front and rear sheet metal on this and it makes a perfect Sedan DeVille for the 21st century. A few years ago I had a similar thought about the VW Phaeton, only that needed a reliable drivetrain and electronics in addition to the Cadillac sheet metal.

      Jack is spot on here. Although, if people want V6 base CTS’s, ho ahead and sell ‘em, but make something for the rest of us. A V8 Equuslike car as the new DeVille, and also a limited production classic halo car as the new Fleetwood Brougham. I’m thinking something like the 1966 Fleetwood Brougham with the minimum changes needed to make it legal to sell today — if doing that would not destroy the style.

      There’s a more general point here which is that I would like to see someone build a genuinely big car with some rear overhang to give it traditional proportions and elegance. I don’t think it’s impossible to sell a large car today if it’s reasonably efficient and handles reasonably well, which we can do. For pete’s sake, people buy long bed crew cab F250′s and use ‘em to go to Target.

  • avatar
    mikedt

    Fun read, but I’ve got to disagree with you. Yes, there are probably a handful of car purchasers that want nothing but a v8. For the rest of us, if they made a normally aspirated 4 with as much power as an 8 (I know impossible) we’d have no problem buying that.

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      Oh yes, an Offy powered Cadillac. I wonder what the motor mounts would be like. A V8 not only offers power, but smoothness. That is important in a luxury car. So is instantanous torque.

      I agree with Jack, offer the V8 as standard. At least do it with the CTS.

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        You want smooooooth? Then you’ll want straight sixes, V12s, rotary, turbines or boxers. V8? Close but no cigar.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Inline sixes are inherently smoother than V8s. I am perfectly fine with a turbo-4, having owned a number of so-configured Saabs. The more cylinders, the more friction. And while the non-turbo 149lb-ft (seriously??) ATS base 4 may be a weak-kneed little thing, I can assure you that the Turbo-4 in the 528i is not.

        That having been said, the sound of my N52 inline 6 with the factory sport exhaust as it hits the 7K redline is well worth the fuel economy penalty to me at this point.

        But overall, I agree, Cadillac can’t keep trying to copy the Germans. Do they think BMW targets other makes when they make a new car? Oh, Hell, no, they just make a new BMW. For better or for worse.

      • 0 avatar
        Aqua225

        MeaCulpa,

        I have rode or drove in vehicles with everything on your list, except turbines, and while yes, mathematically & provably harmonically the I6 is smoother than the V8, to most peoples ears and behinds, the V8 is smoothest. The rotary is much smoother, but since you can’t get the thermal efficiency of those things up to spec, they just aren’t worth the money. And even though they sound smooth, as I understand it, they wear much faster, despite having less high speed harmonics issues.

        One of the best sounding engines I have ever heard was the BMW 750 V-12 coupe. The worst sounding 6 cylinders I have ever heard are the Ford 4.9L I-6 (though these sounded right down mean when Ford finally EFI’d them —- then killed off, unfortunately), and just about all I6 BMWs I have ridden in. These engines sound terrible, even if they are perfectly balanced — dull, without life, with a flat odd jagged hum, lacking any passion or anything more than a flat note. The VQ in the Nissans and Infinitis sound infinitely better to my ear, and feel smoother to my rearend (you can have a perfectly balanced 60 degree V6).

        Ditto the Subaru boxer — these things don’t sound anything special, but they do haul the mail.

        What’s more interesting to me, is how fast BMW is abandoning the I6 in their bread and butter segment, for the I4, which all require balance shafts to get anything resembling smoothness from them. Maybe not everything was going well in I6 paradise??

        Anyhow, I have ridden in a I6 Japanese car, I was impressed with Japanese I6 designs, much more so than BMW. It was rare thing, but I believe it was a Toyota Cressida if memory serves.

        Oh, and a family member’s GMC with the GM I6, that thing sounds pleasing to the ear as well, and smooth as butter, even if it does appear to constantly light its Check Engine Lamp (something to do with the gasoline recirc system, and the charcoal canister — I think they pack it at the pumps which kills it).

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        Aqua225

        The sound of an engine and perceived smoothness actually has very little – presuming that the engineering is somewhat sound – with the engine configuration when were talking passenger cars. The exhaust system, engine mounting and in car acoustics is what gives both smoothness and sound. The Subaru usually sounds a bit unsmooth due to the unequal length of the headers. I know the sound of a V8 is appealing in the US, personally I can’t stand the sound of a cross plane crank V8 as they, to my ears that is, sound like fishing boats. But ad snake pit headers, and voila a decent sounding car. Modern car companies spends fortunes developing the “sound” of the car, making it sound just the way they think the customer will want, but still within legal limits, what we end up hearing is probably more the result of focus groups than of engine configuration.
        The same marketing department try’s to figure out to what degree the customer wants to “feel” the engine. Fiddling with engine mounts and what not to give the right amount of feedback and rumble. Most cars are not as smooth as they could be because the customer would perceive the car as slower otherwise.
        I’m pretty confident, in this day and age with catalytic converters in the manifold and what not restricting the flow of exhausts, that the engineers at any mayor car manufacturer can make a inline four sound pretty indistinguishable from a V8.

        My all time favorite engine sound is hands down a inline, turbocharged four running hard with anti-lag.

      • 0 avatar
        mistrernee

        Cross plane crank V8′s are pretty smooth, but the heavy crank makes them pretty lazy feeling engines and the firing order lumpiness isn’t every ones cup of tea.

        A 90 degree V4 engine has the problems of a V8 magnified without the heavy crank to smooth everything out, their firing order is all over the place but it’s a perfectly balanced engine otherwise. They sound like misfiring V8′s when idling.

        If V6 engines start to disappear from family cars (like Hyundai) manufacturers may go back to sticking two extra cylinders onto their I4′s again for the odd RWD car they make. :)

        BMW has never had a good reason to go through the trouble of making a V6. The only good thing about a V6 is that it’s shorter so you can stuff it into a fwd vehicle which is something BMW has never had to worry about.

        Volvo has been doing their best to stuff a straight 6 into their FWD cars because designing a good V6 is HARD and they are expensive to manufacture. Daewoo also gave it a go, as I am sure others have.

        With Mazda killing off their V6 engines the temptation to try and stuff an I6 version of their I4 into the Mazda6 will probably be too much for them to resist.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      Were you in the process of cross-shopping a Caddy?

  • avatar
    pb35

    You’re correct, Jack. Just a week ago I purchased a new Dodge Charger R/T Road and Track with a V8. I chose the Dodge because it is one of a kind in its class and I didn’t want to shell out $60k+ for a CTS-V.

    The price was pretty close to your target of $29,995 too.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Jack – I agree with a lot of what you have written but one factual correction. The mid level turbo engine (270hp) is the same price (including delivery) as the base 328i so they are not charging more than the original. While at the same time having a more powerful engine (with the same or less weight).

    http://www.insideline.com/cadillac/ats/2013/2013-cadillac-ats-starts-at-33990.html

    The 2.5 is cheaper and probably not a good idea. We don`t know the equipment comparison but it would be fair to assume the ATS has as much if not more equipment than the base 328i.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I generally don’t like JB’s musings, but I must say he is 100% on point here. You will never beat the Germans at their own game, and you have nothing to lose by going rogue. So why run a play by the book that can only result in failure?

  • avatar
    linster

    Jack, you don’t understand the original purpose of the ATS. It’s not supposed to be Cadillac’s Range-topper to compete with 5 or 7 series.

    It’s supposed to compete with the Audi A4, to be a nimble, small car with a turbo 4-cyl engine. The Alpha program got bloated by the scope-creep you advocate in your article: “Sure, let’s have a V6, maybe AWD, maybe this, maybe that. Let’s phone up our suppliers and toss in every single subsystem module they offer into a car!.”

    Cadillac lost the plot in the development of the ATS. It’s only competes with the CTS, except for the fact it is smaller and heavier.

    What Cadillac needs to do is grow the CTS to 5-series size, Drop the XTS rental queen, and lighten the ATS by shedding a couple of hundred pounds.

    I love big Caddy’s as much as you do. Sadly, those days are never coming back where you can buy a Fleetwood with more heraldic crests than a Highlands family reunion.

    I get your point about Cadillac being unique, but Cadillac shouldn’t plunge into it’s Malaise past to figure out the future. Cadillac should adopt the Japanese model: Be better than the competition.

    As a Canadian (and a North American), it’s disenhartening to see that our method of putting a product out begins with good intentions, gets fouled up in the development process by massive scope-creep, then gets released in the 11th hour in a half-assed “Fuck it, we’ll release it anyways and fix it next time.”
    We never learn from our mistakes, we only make different ones on the next go-around.

    In Engineering school, I see this attitude daily. Many cozy, locally-raised Engineers-in-training (myself included) often have this mentality of “get it out the door, we’ll get part marks.” Many foreign students will put in the 100 weeks, with the mentality of “No, I’m doing this right, and I’m getting an A+. The competition can do whatever they please.”

    Cadillac can’t afford to go back to it’s history of “getting a product out the door”, like every single Cadillac ever made. Yes, I do mean every single one (with the exception of the 1957 Fleetwood that GM lost money on). Even the beloved ’59 Cadillac was a rush-job, along with the Nova/Seville, and Cimarron.

    Americans don’t do details well. What Americans do well, however, is a dog-and-pony show. Cadillac’s demise is due to it’s lack of attention to detail and it’s lack of pizazz for the younger generation.

    Seeing that GM is unlikely to ever start taking details seriously (Like the ATS’ tiny trunk, or massive curb weight), GM needs to craft a new direction that will make Cadillac appealing to buyers who actually purchase upscale luxury cars (Note, this dosen’t include the Facebook Generation, or bozos who think that the number of likes on Facebook translates to sales.)

    People will sacrifice details for uniqueness and style. If GM can master those, it should have a winner with Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar

      It is entertaining to go back a read how some people get things SO wrong…

      “Cadillac lost the plot in the development of the ATS. It’s only competes with the CTS, except for the fact it is smaller and heavier.”

      No, it is lighter, a lot lighter…
      CTS Curb Weight 4,034lbs.
      ATS Curb Weight 3,477lbs.

      “Cadillac should adopt the Japanese model: Be better than the competition.”

      It is widely praised in every automotive article to handle and brake better than the BMW 3 Series…

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I do think there is a place for a big, classic, V8 RWD Cadillac. They just haven’t figured out how to do it yet. In the meantime, we have the XTS. Yes, it’s terrible, but like the Cayenne, sales of it will hopefully fuel more exemplary, desirable Caddys.

    I also wish they still had real names.

  • avatar
    salhany

    I don’t get the (admittedly entertaining) vitriol. This is a small-ish RWD car. Isn’t that what people wanted? Wouldn’t sticking a 5 liter V8 in this thing make it seriously nose-heavy?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      The LS-series V-8s are remarkably light, enough so that, for example, putting one in a 944 has almost no net effect.

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      It wouldn’t screw up the weight distribution that much. The 6.2L LS3 V8 engine in the Camaro SS (basically the naturally-aspirated version of the CTS-V engine) is only about 45 lbs heavier than the LFX V6 in the top trim of the ATS. (I don’t think GM has a smaller-displacement V8 in production right now, correct me if I’m wrong).

      The “High-Feature” V6 is a particularly heavy engine, and the LS V8 engines are particularly light for their displacement.

      • 0 avatar
        Rock36

        Well allegedly the C7 Corvette will debut with a 5.5L DI pushrod V8. Since it is supposedly a pushrod it will remain relatively light, with small dimensions.

        Sounds like it would fit Jack’s mandate nicely, just tune it for a little extra low end torque for the Cadillac. Assuming the rumors are true of course.

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        I agree. Since the next Camaro will use the ATS’s Alpha platform (and the platforms already share some components, from what I know), this engine is certainly a possibility. I don’t know what platform the next Corvette will use, but I’m sure the Alpha will accommodate its engine with ease.

        Cadillac needs to stop following the “import fighter” herd mentality and instead look at how Chrysler had relative success with the 300C.

        The irony of this, of course, is that the 300C and its relatives were developed alongside the W211 Mercedes E-Class. (This was revealed on Allpar about a month ago – the old “W210 leftovers” or worse, “Eagle Premier mashup” rumors have been proven wrong.)

        (Lincoln needs to learn a lesson from Chrysler, too – but that’s a different story.)

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        How about a small V8? Remember the tiny V6 that Mazda had? What was that, maybe 1.8 litres? If the LSx architecture was reduced to produce an engine of say, 4 litres maybe you could get good performance instead of too much power, which is usually traction limited and kind of vulgar. Then again, is the cylinder count really the problem? If the ATS offers exemplary build quality, refinement, older BMW handling prowess, Honda reliability, and American styling why would it not succeed? The reality is that BMW buyers are too preoccupied with Roundel Snobbery to look at anything else. So Cadillac will have to claw its way up to respectability by first pleasing new customers. Then again, if you take an unbiased look at the paint and fit of a modern BMW, the build quality part is likely to already be there…

    • 0 avatar
      rentonben

      Jack’s imaginary V8 ATS would really round out my lifestyle built up on authenticity.

      Sent from my Amiga.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      This is a small-ish RWD car. Isn’t that what people wanted?

      Wanted from who? From what I have seen, with the exception of the advertorials (and me) excepting the CTS-V wagon, no one has wanted anything from Cadillac in the past 35 years.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    Hear ! Hear ! My first Caddy was a ’68 DeVille ragtop with a 472c.i. screamer. Triple black. THAT car never had to apologize for anything. My last Caddy although a later model, had a V-8, a 425c.i. plant that was still OK. If I wanted a 4-banger, I would buy a …well, not a Cadillac.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    No, no, no!

    Not an eagle in the spot. That’s too predictable. Too cliche. What we need is something else.

    I got it!

    Let’s have a duck! Not just any duck, but um, a merlette. With big orange feet that leave little cartoon tracks where he walks.

    Then, we open up on the BMW and the Mercedes — heck, throw in an Audi, too. And the merlette runs around each of them as they struggle up the hill.

    The screen fades to black. Show the Cadillac logo. The ATS. The Caddy that zigs.

    Now that is how you do a commercial, Jack.

  • avatar
    Slocum

    And here’s the soundtrack for the rant:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9EqEQiodbM

    (couldn’t find the original version, but it’s a pretty good cover)

  • avatar
    dave504

    I recall the exact same sentiment when the CTS was released, and that car certainly was not a marketplace failure.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    Amen brother. So sick and tired of this Euro-chasing that GM has been doing for decades.

    Cadillac PR: “We took the newest Cadillac _______ around the Nurburgring and it beat the _______”

    CADILLACS DON’T BELONG ON RACETRACKS! COME ON!

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Sooner or later we’ll be seeing crossoversstation wagons and mini-vans beig tuned to dominate the Nurburgring.

      And a lot more people with back-pain.

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        You’re surely speaking of the M6X or is it X6M? I can’t tell cause I’m repressing the memory of BMW’s sullying the memory of the original M3.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I disagree. Pretty much any vehicle can be made a better vehicle by making it handle better. Does not have to be super stiff, but mushmobiles are a total drag. if I had to own a minivan, say, I’d want it to handle like a CTS.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        At Husky: I was referring to the ride quality that you find in a number of “sporty” edition cars.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      The Euro chasing only really applies to the Euro cars. The Currency? US GM must truly HATE Euros, it seems like they are hell bent on avoiding getting any.
      Well her’s my Eurocentric take on Caddy, they are a massive failure, nobody in these parts views caddy as an alternative to an Audi, BMW or MB. Sure it’s easy to blame it on anti american sentiment and I’m sure that GM does that every chance they get. But that’s just weak, a shit load of Europeans would LOVE to find a serious alternative to European premium/luxury (hell Lexus has a pretty stellar reputation) but Caddy fails to deliver, sure a majority would probably buy the S500 over the equivalent mess of letters that caddy offers, but they could snatch a considerable share of sales if they brought something new or interesting to the table (durability and Lexus anybody). But they don’t, apart from styling that always seems slightly over the top, sort of – if I’m allowed the extrapolate from NJ housewives and Bon Jovie – New Jersey elegant.
      Now you might argue that the cars offer good value for money, in the US it’s probably true, in Europe not so much. The Corvette – the Z06 is a dream car of mine – is the same, $95k US – sans VAT – puts the Grand sport smack dab in the middle of Porsche country, not a happy place for the Vette with it’s less desirable badge, cheap interior and resale value.
      When I’m on that note: Somebody in GM US should be forced to drive a Euro entry level A6 or 520 (or preferably a Stacco era Merc) and try to figure out what’s premium in Europe regarding interior fit and finish, that might hold the added bonus for the US as you would not be exposed to the worst-in-class Opel interiors as “premium” or “luxury” and break the perception that loads of leather and touch screens is synonymous with luxury. A IKEA chair does not become a Eames by Vitra just because it’s clad in leather
      And on the other note: The pricing of US GM products in Europe is strange as hell, it seems like they’re pricing at the point they wish they where but not where they are. Sort of looking at the XLR and saying “well we want it to be a SL competitor so let’s price it like a SL, no problem there”
      If Cadillac wanted to bring something to luxury D-day the way to go might be looking at what lexus did, but with american and understated styling and simple but perfectly executed interiors at a reasonable premium price point, and not trying to out German the Germans on the ring.
      So what the hell does Europe mater for Caddy? It’s an american brand after all, well do you think that the absurd amounts of A6 and 5 series that BMW and audi churns out makes for economics of scale?

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        “The Euro chasing only really applies to the Euro cars.”

        Er… I thought that’s what we were discussing from the start?

        Cadillacs lapping the Nurburgring isn’t about Cadillac chasing European market-share, it’s about Cadillac chasing US market-share by pretending to be BMW.

  • avatar
    Madroc

    Alden doesn’t sell in anywhere close to the volume that Cadillac needs to, even when you sweep in the product they sell under the Brooks Brothers house label. And I daresay most Alden owners don’t watch NASCAR or drive Big 3 cars. That’s not to say they can’t or shouldn’t embrace American style, which I agree is coming back. But building cars that had been relegated to liveries and the elderly by 1980 is no more the key to Cadillac’s revival than it is to Lincoln’s. Tastes have changed.

    To make “premium American,” I think they need to be more reliable and more aggressively styled than the Germans, and make it a little sportier than the Japanese even at the cost of a little refinement. Both are doable. And at some point, you’ve got to believe in yourself enough to say, “Of course it costs as much as a 3 series. Why shouldn’t it?”

    If it’s executed properly, RWD and a stick in a midsized sedan would definitely get me into a GM dealership when my Acura is ready to be loved by someone else. And that’s saying a lot.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree.

      No need to ape the Germans, just steal the best pages of their playbook. -Especially the One-Sausage-Three-Sizes from BMW.

      Unfortunately, Rolls-Royce, then Bentley, and then finally Mercedes took the place of what Caddy used to be.

      They’re not getting to Bentleyville anytime soon; the best they can aspire to is being [closer to] the American Mercedes; or Fisker.

      .
      The other thing all American carcos need to do is be more intolerant of bad design than Steve Jobs.

      -Which means they need to Fire Everyone except for the engineers and hire Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz as the CEO.

      And in the case of the Designers, by “fire”, I mean literally ritually-sacrifice-and-set-fire-to.

      .
      Funny how the name used to be an adjective for the best, most refined, luxurious and powerful version of Anything.

      -Times change, eh?

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Pretty much all American cars are, in aggregate, more reliable than German ones, but Germany gets a pass on reliability that Detroit is not allowed to have. I’d say that has always been the case…now build quality, well that is a much different story.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Thats one thing that I never understood about German cars, they have better build quality than American cars yet they don’t last as long, why?

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      But building cars that had been relegated to liveries and the elderly by 1980 is no more the key to Cadillac’s revival than it is to Lincoln’s. Tastes have changed.

      Heretic time:

      Kill both brands. No “revival”. They’re zombies already.

      Neither one means jack all (no pun intended, Mr. Baruth) to anyone but old people and enthusiasts – and it turns out that that ain’t enough market share to make ‘em successful, especially the latter half.

      Seriously, when was the last time anyone under 65 cared about Lincoln, other than hot-rod freaks?

      Likewise, Cadillac – even the enthusiasts don’t seem to like anything Cadillac’s made since around 1970, except maybe the CTS-V.

      (Exception: the Escalade, and hip-hop culture.)

      They’re dead marques – just like Pontiac and for the same reasons.

      Move on. Make new brands.

      (I exaggerate for effect. But only a little.)

  • avatar
    aristurtle

    You couldn’t just cram some random V8 engine from a truck or Corvette or whatever into every Cadillac, though; they’d need their own, more refined V8 engine series if you want every Caddy to have V8 power. Give it a nice name, too, one that evokes the idea that this is the best engine GM can manage. Maybe… “star”-something? “Polaris”–no, that’s taken by that ATV company… “NorthStar”! Perfect! I wonder why they never did this before!

  • avatar
    toplessFC3Sman

    I (almost) completely disagree, and its you that seems to be stuck on the numbers game; especially with that V8 you want in everything. What is wrong with a 6 or 4 that puts out as much power or more than a V8 in a low state of tune, especially if it means we get a car with better weight distribution and fuel economy. I remember reading a stat floating around that some large percentage of BMW owners didn’t know whether their car was FWD or RWD, and I imagine the same is true for the number of cylinders.

    The one thing I agree on is that GM seems to bake a lot of “incentive room” into their prices, and that should really disappear.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      “I remember reading a stat floating around that some large percentage of BMW owners didn’t know whether their car was FWD or RWD”

      Sounds more like they’re reffering to handling, once you drive a car at its limits its drivetrain proscons will become apparent.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        I submit that a “large percentage” (read: 95%+) of BMW owners never drive their car anywhere near its limits.

        Or even anywhere near their own limits, which are probably far lower than the car’s.

        The sort of people who read and comment on TTAC are not representative of the car-buying public – this is vital to remember.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      Since this would be a Caddy, I’d say low displacement 32V VVTi + AFM + SIDI + high compression + somehow blueprinted V8, for the base one, escalating to a turbo or twin turbo as options.

      Lexus pulled a similar one with the 1st LS400 and we all know how that ended.

  • avatar
    86er

    While I think we’re a bit hung up on the idea of Cadillac from its brief shining moment post-war, as Caddys were also innovative (self-start, break down and rebuild the engine to show the tooling precision), and very fast, I agree that it’s too late for Cadillac to out-BMW BMW.

    Right now, Cadillac is between a rock and a hard place. If they can’t get enough entry-level luxury owners with attractive leasing, they can’t keep the lights on.

    I’m sure no one behind closed doors at Cadillac really believes that a 7-Series or S-Series intender will do a double-take upon gazing at the XTS.

    This ATS, well, I guess I never saw the appeal of a small RWD car, unless we’re talking a race-spec slot-car thing.

    Of course, all this negative attitude about Cadillac’s upcoming products may be self-fulfilling prophesy.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    The only thing I agree on is that the base engine in the ATS should not have been offered. Instead, the turbocharged mill should be the base engine. You dont need to have a V8 to have a smooth running car. You certainly dont need a V8 to get torque. Turbos can offer amazing torque at very low RPM. Peak torque for this ATS equipped with turbo I am sure will come on very early. Also, lets face it, not all V8′s are great engines.

    I love this ATS, and would love to have a turbo 6MT with AWD. I agree with the spirit of this article. As Cadillac, there are certain levels of equipment that should simply not be offered, a normally aspirated base 4 cyl being one of them. I also believe that any would be luxury brand should not offer any model with a pick up bed either. A far greater sin IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      I saw a stretch limousine build out of a Caddy EXT once, complete with the pickup bed. It was just the stock, 4-ft-long pickup bed sticking out the back of the 10-ft stretched cab. I laughed so hard I almost crashed.

    • 0 avatar
      Aqua225

      Turbo 4-cylinder developing power in 2 revolutions of the crank shaft:

      Bang(R1)-Bang(R1)-Bang(R2)-Bang(R2)

      V8:

      Bang(R1)-Bang(R1)-Bang(R1)-Bang(R1)-Bang(R2)-Bang(R2)-Bang(R2)-Bang(R2)

      This is why people love V8 engines vs. 4 cylinders.

      Add in turbo lag, etc., and it’s not a technology that is transparent enough for a luxury car buyer. Luxury cars should have instantaneouos throttle response, a feeling that the car doesn’t even care that you are climbing a mountain road, or easing by a Sunday driver on a country road. High RPM operation of a luxury car engine should be a deviant capability for those who want it, but it should *NEVER NEED TO GO THERE*.

      And believe me, I love turbo engines, but I also know they are rough and tumble, with violent on-boost torque transitions, and weird bucks and lulls in the power curve in hot weather (and loss of horsepower in hot traffic). Granted I haven’t driven a GDI turbo car in hot weather, in which the fuel injection event timing of GDI will probably help the buck & lull issues, you still have lag going on.

      There are workarounds for lag…. you can add a supercharger to the mix, which transitions off when the turbo boost hits the best flow rate to match the supercharger. But then there is the question of whether you should just use a supercharger anyway (which is more expensive).

      • 0 avatar
        timmruss

        It is quite clear from your description that you haven’t driven a new turbocharged vehicle lately.

        Drive a 535i as a reference and you would realize that turbo-lag is a non-issue. Full torque at 1500 RPM makes is as efortless as it can be. Fits the description of efortless cruiser.

        No supercharger needed (in fact Audi S4 has a supercharger with peak tourque delivery at 2500rpm, much later than 1500RPM of BMW N54-55 engines)

        Times have changed….

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Please don’t talk about the early 80′s Eldorados, I’ve had a look at the Buick and the Olds versions in person. I may be a Gen Y, but I’m practically drooling at the thought of a V8 FWD that gets above 25mpg.

    To me, a Caddy should be flashy yet modest, showy yet not too showy, and first and foremost comfy.

    When I buy a Caddy, I don’t want to travel to German and beat a few BMWs around the race track, I don’t want to do burnouts in front of my yuppie friends, I don’t want to show of a huge tacky grille, I just want to go around in comfort with a touch of style.

    No, I will not pimp out one of these if I get one. That’ll throw any thoughts of modesty or taste.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    The ATS is pretty much ready to go. Does GM have a V8 that could possibly fit?

    In any event, I think the market has moved beyond gas-sucking cubes and considers resorting to gas-sucking cubes to be unsophisticated.

    Luxury buyers have come to expect their luxury cars to be something less than wasteful. They expect them to be a bit more subtle. Sure, they can afford all the gas they want (well, some can, anyway… the entry level buyer for the ATS who got a lot of overtime this year and it’s burning a hole in his pocket… maybe not) but that doesn’t mean they’re comfortable with burning a ton of it just because they can.

    If Pontiac still lived, you might be able to rebadge an ATS with V8 as a Pontiac and get away with it. Alas…

    You might look at the take rate on V8 Mustangs and Camaros as an indication of what the market really wants. If it’s very high, then I’d agree that V8ness may have some value that Cadillac could exploit. If not…

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Baruth is right about one thing he implies… The base engine’s 149 ft-lbs and 200 hp is not good, especially as I think the car is likely to be heavy.

      Raise the price and put the real motor in the base car.

    • 0 avatar
      multicam

      I think what Jack had in mind was the 300C, not the Mustang or Camaro. A successful sedan in the American tradition with a V8.

      I, for one, certainly love the idea of a V8 Cadillac sedan with a real name. If done right it would be something I’d look at as I get a little older with more spending power.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        “…300C, not the Mustang or Camaro…”

        I understand the distinction; I meant that the market penetration of V8s could be used as a bellwether.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      58% of retail 2012 and 2013 Mustangs have the V8.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “Does GM have a V8 that could possibly fit?”

      I’m pretty sure most of the LS engines will fit. After all an LS3 can be dropped into a Miata.

      According to what I’ve read GM’s next gen V-8 small block will power the ATS-V.

    • 0 avatar
      Aqua225

      “I think the market has moved beyond gas-sucking cubes and considers resorting to gas-sucking cubes to be unsophisticated.”

      I seriously doubt this. I think what has happened is that manufacturers, through government influence directly (GM) or indirectly (CAFE), are being forced to move down to smaller motors to make their CAFE numbers.

      Otherwise, they’d be attempting to move big iron, which is what customers still want.

      Sales of V8 equipped truck and SUV sales are still happening at a brisk pace, even with the volatile gasoline prices we are seeing lately.

      BMW and Cadillac are generally small volume car manufacturers when it comes down to it. You haven’t seen the kind of market angst and rejection that will change government, until you see the one that comes down when they delayed-for-trucks-and-SUVs CAFE standards go into effect for big iron.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    With respect to present and future Cadillacs – and having just seen a parked CTS coupe up close – I care more about being able to see out than whether a car has a V8. Maybe this is because I had my V8 years (1974-91, Pontiac 389-4V, air-conditioned 1966 Bonneville convertible) and that was enough to suffice for a lifetime. Later I grew to enjoy maneuverability and a stick shift more than brute forward thrust. So to speak.

    I expect our next new cars will be electric or hybrid, with batteries much improved over today’s – assuming we can make our Subarus (currently aged 9 and 6 years) last until then.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “I was driven around in perhaps the last unapologetically great Caddy — the 1979 Eldorado”

    Somewhere in Munich, there must at least one guy at BMW who is eternally grateful to GM for bringing such cars to market.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    JB, I don’t always agree with everything you say, and I have no idea if this would actually, work, but I’ll give you an Amen on this. This disgruntled e46 owner would definitely put a v8 6mt ATS above an f30 328 in my shopping priority. Not sure what the engine code was, but what about that 5.3 300 hp V8 with cylinder deactivation from the old Impalla SS/Grand Prix GXP line? Cadillac has to establish a brand identity. BMW is/was the ultimate driving machine, Lexus the relentless pursuit of perfection. Infiniti doesn’t have a slogan but to me, right now, they represent Japanese luxury and style done right, and a carefree edgy attitude towards performance (high hp, big loud charismatic normally aspirated engines, gritty, visceral drivetrains, handling that could kill you if you’re not careful). Standard V8′s across the line, especially if a few extra Cruze Eco style active aero enhancements, tall 6th gear, and cylinder deactivation could deliver that 300 or so hp while getting 30 mpg on the highway…on regular. That would be a nice tagline to have in your Ad campaign.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Jack – I would half agree. Cadillac certainly needs to get out of the business of trying to imitate the Germans and develop their own uniquely American products. Desperate emulation makes it look like they have self esteem issues. That’s why the Escalade is currently the only real Caddy.

    However, forced induction power plants are a good idea. They deliver the low end effortless torque that is in keeping with the Cadillac spirit. The current 3.6 needs to go as it needs way too many revs before it does anything. Use a twin turbo 3 liter six and call it a day.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    I believe the ATS is the right car at the right time for Cadillac along with the ELR. Leading instead of following.

    I predict the ATS will bring a whole new set of buyers into the showrooms that would have never even considered a Cadillac after the word gets out on how capable this car will be.

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      “I predict the ATS will bring a whole new set of buyers into the showrooms that would have never even considered a Cadillac”

      That’s Cimmaron talk if I ever heard it.

  • avatar
    28-cars-later

    Good Bless America! Baruth 2012!

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    JB- You should note that in today’s Wall Street Journal, there is a special section about women in business. There was a question (of course!) about women not being “car guys.” Dan Akerson is quoted as saying that the “car guys drove the company off a cliff.”

    Though you would enjoy that.

    I kinda like your point, though; but I’m not sure it makes any sense in a small car like this.

    The first time I ever rode in a Cadillac was in a 1957 Fleetwood (in 1957). It was my great uncle’s car and he was a vice president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, back when that meant something. (Among other things, it meant that he had his own private railroad car, which I got to visit around that time.)

    Compared to my dad’s stripper ’52 Ford, the Caddy was a revelation — cloth interior materials, carpeting, electric windows, air conditioning, automatic transmission . . and the effortlessness of a big V-8 loafing along at low engine speed.

    My late mother-in-law owned a big Caddy of early 1970s vintage. While it still had all of the Cadillac DNA, it had gone a little gaudy and was insanely large.

    I don’t know if there is still a market for that kind of car, but I agree with you that the success of the 300C shows that there might be. And I also agree that building an “import fighter” is a dumb strategy that has proved its stupidity for about 40 years. The wonder is that it still survives, although not with that label.

    As for the engine guys: no, all engines with the same HP and even torque characteristics are not equal, regardless of the number of cylinders they use. I have never driven a turbocharged car that completely masked its “turboness” either with lag or with “bog and surge” behavior, neither of which qualifies as “effortless.” And, in my experience, all 4s of greater than 2 liters displacement have an “agricultural” roughness about them, regardless of balance shafts and similar tricks.

    So, yeah, if you want to build a car for “wafting effortlessly” it’s gotta have a V-8, or at least an in-line 6. If it’s a Cadillac or a Lincoln, it’s a V-8.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      I interviewed for a finance job at GM Powertrain. I am forever thankful I turned them down for the position given what happened in the last four year — and having escaped both the finance and automotive careers for a happier life. Regardless, I got a nice offer, and I was going to be working under a woman who ran the division at the time. At the start of the interview, she asked why I wanted to work at General Motors. She then went into a ten minute explanation of how she just loves the product, wanted to work there in some way when she was younger, and then iterated through a range of V8-powered RWD GM cars, ending on her current vehicle, a Corvette. Women can be car guys, too.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        “women can be car guys, too.” Of course they can, and women buy a lot of cars. But what struck me about Akerson’s response to the question was that he did not say “women can be car guys, too” or words to that effect, but rather that “car guys drove the company off a cliff.”

        A statement that seems to me to be wrong on at least two levels when it comes to GM at least. Was he thinking about “Maximum Bob” Lutz? For one thing, he never ran the company.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        “Car guys” most certainly did NOT drive the company off a cliff. The beancounters who cheaped out the product, and recycled the same parts from a Cobalt into the dash and door panels of a Cadillac destroyed the company. Chasing pennies out of the design killed the company.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    This thing — cheap, cheerful, RWD, 4-cylinder — should be sold as a Chevy.

  • avatar
    redav

    If such a letter were sent, and if said letter were actually read, it would make no difference. I’m convinced that all that matters to them is that it appear in a bunch of rap videos.

  • avatar

    They also need to hire a stylist with the talent of Harley Earl.

  • avatar
    daviel

    Jack is right on the money! Reading that excellent piece I could swear I heard Jean Shepherd applauding from the ether-sphere.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    I love the idea for advertisement. With an eagle raping a Bimmer and Merc, the soundtrack has to massive, overblown and ever so slightly retarded. It has to be by Tenacious D.

  • avatar

    In early 2008, as GM was hemorrhaging cash, they killed the DOHC “Ultra V8″ engine intended to replace the Northstar. Since then, GM’s been trying to cobble together Cadillacs out of existing platforms and drivetrains. There’s not a single Cadillac made today that has a brand unique engine or platform.

    One thing, if they do decide to follow Jack’s advice, trash the engine covers and dress up the V8 just as Cadillac spent time on the aesthetic look of their classic V16 and V12 engines.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      The lack of northstar power does deal a pretty decisive blow to claims of exclusivity. Trying to do the whole audi/vw trick requires a great deal of skill and luck, I don’t know about skill but the shouldn’t count on luck.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        I’m not sure anyone beyond 1997 took the Northstar seriously, they would however take the LS4 very seriously if only for its Vette heritage.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    100% spot on, Jack. Anyone know why the Escalade saved Cadillac’s ass back in the day? Because it was the closest they had come to a genuine Caddy in decades: big, luxurious, comfortable. Sure the interior was overall crap compared to everyone else, but at least the car embodied the essence of the Cadillacs of yore.

    Anyone here remember when Apple was on its death bed in 1996? The company was led there through a serious of laughable decisions made by management to make Apple more like all of the other Wintel clone makers. Guess what – they couldn’t compete because they were overpriced equivalents in a race to the bottom. Not until Apple embraced its roots and got back to doing what it does best did the company get reborn.

    Cadillac needs to stop running away from its best products and best years and it needs to stop being ashamed of itself. Be bold, be brash, be American. You get nowhere trying to be someone you are not.

    * Lincoln – you’re in the same boat. Pay attention!

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      The Apple analogy is good, to a point. Apple did “embrace its roots” but would not have had its resurgence if it had been based on the new-design computers alone; it also required the introduction of the iPod and the startup of the Apple retail stores (both around 2001, a couple of years after the debut of the iMac). There was also the longstanding perception of Apple as the underdog versus Windows computers, but no one will ever root for Cadillac as an underdog among its competitors.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Also, Apple succeeded in large part because of it foray into non-computer products, such as music, both with iTunes and the iPod, and later the iPhone. Those products were halos that got people interested in their products again.

        Cadillac really doesn’t have that opportunity. But Harley pretty much pulled it off by selling a culture which lead to buying their motorcycles, so Cadillac could try something similar.

  • avatar
    tkewley

    Mr. Baruth,
    Much as I enjoy your semi-delusional rants, I think in this case even you are aware that you’re off base on this one. Any player in the luxury market today has one of two choices in terms of product: the Lexus model, or the BMW model. Admittedly, Cadillac seems to have chosen “both”, and not done a particularly good job of it, but to damn the ATS before any reviews or comparison tests have seen the light of day seems more than a little hasty. And I’m no fan of GM. And I own a BMW (my third).

  • avatar
    gmichaelj

    thank you for good points with great humor – very funny

  • avatar
    dougjp

    I loved this article, hilarious, and (partly) true IMHO. In any event, this IS the true TTAC mojo!

    The arrogance that caused bankruptcy is still there, price the copy cat car like a BMW and…..everyone will flock to us! ALSO hilarious, and sad at the same time.

    At least Jack has a possibly good idea here, so let it happen, its better than whatever the delusional folks at GM think up, and think of themselves.

  • avatar

    Jack, I’m not sure which is more admirable, your passion or your common sense.

  • avatar
    MeaCulpa

    Well I might argue that the Fifth Gen Seville was on to something. The northstar added, apart from iffy reliability, a sense of exclusivity that the LS engines lacks. Anybody who bitches about a 3 series with an inline four isn’t a hard core BMW loyalist, they should view it as a step towards the ultimate BMW, the all mighty E30 M3 Evolution.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Bravo…just bravo. You are a giant amongst men, Jack.

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    Wow, Jack, now I see why I don’t get thrown out by stating my opinion of GM on this website!!! Thanks, I needed that!!! You guys are great!
    kk

  • avatar

    Jack – your usual highly entertaining piece, and sound advice to Cadillac. What no one in the U.S. seems to think about is that the Germans did not get where they are by making comparisons to others. Mercedes, BMW and Porsche are unapologetically German. All are aware that from a quality and reliability standpoint, they’re not at the same level as the Japanese, but they continue to market themselves as premium automobiles. The more that everyone, including Cadillac, make themselves out to be BMW-fighters, the less anyone will believe in their product.

    GM’s alloy-block pushrod V8 is a marvel of efficiency offering a better power-to-weight ratio than any competing German engine. Why not offer this as the all-American alternative? Surely even a four liter version could be made to coax 270 hp and good fuel economy numbers.

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    I posted somewhere else on this site that GM stole the Epsilon from Saab. I was wrong.

  • avatar
    autobahner44

    This is by far the best thing you have ever written. You must decide yourself if that constitutes damning with faint praise.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    V8s are the best thing to happen to automobiles since brakes. You draw the line and never look back. You ever heard of V6 Corvettes? Wouldn’t that bring the name down? If you want an “entry luxury car” with a 4 banger, vinyl seats and 16″ wheels… Call it what you want, but the 3-series gets no respect from me. And you just can’t beat V8s. The simplicity (GMs especially) reliability, longevity, smooth and robust power right off of idle. Plus depending on how you drive, V6 MPG. Of course if you’re worried about MPG, get out of my showroom. Scram.

  • avatar
    Caboose

    I had a ’78 Eldo Biarritz. Red on red leather with a white landau top. It had the little engine for that year; it was only 425 cid (roughly 7-ish litres). It made abut 180 horsepower and as much torque as your mom. I never should have gotten rid of it. I should have Murilee Martin’d that b- out and kept driving every day.

    I really want a full-sized family sedan with V8 power. How hard would it be for Ford to give us an S-Class-sized Crown Vic with Coyote power and the six-speed auto? That would be a $30,000 car worth buying.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      “I really want a full-sized family sedan with V8 Power”

      If you really mean that, you can buy a Dodge Charger or a Chrysler 300C. Short of a limo, they’re about as full-sized as the typical car gets today. I’ve sat in the back of a 300 many times and can say it’s plenty roomy…and I’m a BIG guy.

  • avatar
    cfclark

    Agree completely with Jack. Cadillac should be about innovation, exclusivity, and American-ness. Not follow-the-leader-ism that waters down the brand. If I can drive a Cadillac it should mean I’m successful, not that I got a great lease deal that I could also have gotten from BMW or Honda. Has anyone from GM been to LA? BMWs here are not exclusive, not anymore.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think trying to sell cars by creating “import fighter” vehicles is the automotive equivalent of the “prevent” defense, which more often than you’d like just “prevents” you from winning.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Jack, here’s my ad. The camera focuses on an elegant sedan gliding down a parkway. There’s a shot of a man driving the car who owns his own tuxedo and his elegantly dressed date riding along.They’re talking and she’s laughing. Fade back out, showing the car and the audio picks up the rumbling of a V-8. The voice says: “Cadillac, American Luxury”. Fade out. Show the car, show the people, keep it simple.

  • avatar
    gessvt

    Meanwhile in suburban Detroit, Peter DeLorenzo is cutting and pasting some Cadillac article off TTAC for his Wednesday rant…

  • avatar
    CadiDrvr

    Jack,

    What you’re saying is exactly what those of us who have remained loyal to Cadillac during these darkest of years have been telling them as well.

    Obviously they aren’t listening, if they were the XTS wouldn’t have launched with the anemic (in this application) corporate 3.6L V6.

    I originally typed a lengthy response, but deleted and decided to remain succinct as my correspondence with Cadillac has been the past few years:

    There was a time when a Cadillac was not only the undisputed “STANDARD OF THE WORLD”, it was also “THE CAR OF CARS”. I see nothing in the ATS or XTS which could come close to reclaiming either title. All I’ve been asking of Cadillac is to build a car again that could live up to those titles, but its almost as if Cadillac (and GM) are too scared to do it.

  • avatar
    pacificpom2

    Grab a Buick Park Avenue, rip off the Buick badges, glue on Cadillac badges and voila! a luxury full size car with a V8, and no connections to previous mistakes.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Yes I love how the Chinese are permited to have full size American luxury cars but we Americans are not. I’d love a reborn Park Avenue.

  • avatar
    jco

    wasn’t the point of Cadillac to be the top of the GM pyramid? so regardless of whether or not they jam a V8 in this thing, Cadillacs should have the best interiors, tech, and yes engines GM can hopefully not half-assedly put together.

    but I think the bigger issue is that American buyers no longer associate the idea of luxury with American cars. I’d argue that Ford does better interiors, tech, and engines (even all the way down to their small cars), and Lincoln isn’t seemingly their brightest star.

    I can’t think of one Cadillac past or present I want to own. but maybe that’s because I’m still young and I want a car that’s light, efficient, rwd, and highly engineered. the Germans are way too heavy for me. I’m the target market for the FR-S, not the ATS.

    you’re not wrong with what you said. Cadillac needs to be the best American can build. if that includes V8s, ok.

  • avatar
    BobAsh

    I disagree. Or, I agree with the general point of the article, but I disagree with the recipe.

    Here’s mine, and it’s better:

    First, forget about that loop of winding road in Eifel mountains (no, Jack, it’s not even remotely close to Black Forrest). You use it for SS-badged Chevrolets, but for tuning Cadillacs’ suspension, you need the worst, most scarred piece of city street in America. And you need a full glass of bourbon (no, water won’t do). Put it on the dash and if it spills, you’re doing it wrong.

    Second, Cadillacs have names. ATS is not a name. Seville or Calais is. Or, if you want fresh names, find some proper ones. It’s not that difficult: find a map of France, and pick some good-sounding name. What about Cadillac Tours? Cadillac Beuvais? Or, maybe you could make a special model for your company cars and call it Cadillac Vichy…

    Third, fuck entry-level engines. Cadillac should offer one engine that is powerful, smooth, quiet and with loads of torque. I don’t give a damn whether it’s a V8, V6, four-cylinder turbo or some kind of hybrid or EV powertrain. I’m buying a Cadillac, so I’m gonna be driving slow, but I want to have power in reserve. You may offer another, needlessly powerful engine – but it should still be quiet and smooth. No sports exhausts.

    Fourth, forget the stick. Remove the shifter – put it on the columnt, or use buttons. You can use paddles under the steering wheel, but the console is place for drinks, not some unused stick.

    Fifth, get rid of the rev counter. Or at least, hide it or make it available only through settings. Cadillac drivers don’t let themselves to be bothered by lowly stuff like revs.

    Sixth, don’t make it cheap. Don’t offer rebates. Loosers who can’t afford Cadillac should be kicked out of the dealership all the way to the Buick showroom.

    Seventh, launch a new marketing campaign with this ad:

    “Racing is for boys. Real men know better.”

    REAL CADILLAC IS BACK

    • 0 avatar
      Alexdi

      This. Wonderful post. There’s a fair bit of “you’re too good to bother with petty crap” in the Cadillac ethos. The brand should absolutely be more snobbish. That’s money. Defensiveness and reactionary product maneuvering, not so much. Put another way, Cadillac should be Bentley at a more reasonable cost.

    • 0 avatar
      Toucan

      BobAsh, you just built a high powered Prius with very soft suspension.

      I wonder how many time did you hate on this Toyota.

  • avatar

    Cadillac needs a V8 big car more than it needs a V8 small car

  • avatar

    I do agree with the sentiments there. But more importantly;

    “It doesn’t fit. You sound like my high school girlfriend when you say that. Make it fit, the same way she did: with an engine hoist and a plasma torch.”

    This is why I read your stuff, and I will be adding this to my daily management phrases. Thank you.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    Let’s see, you turned 40, gained a middle age spread and need to ease the seat back. By a 70′s Caddy and park it in the yard. There’s serious interior and trunk room for just about anything. Guest house, sports bar, home theater room, stoner cave. With a UV light and some creative glow stickers, that’n a tab’ll get you space travelling from the comfort of home with an idling v-8 to lull you off to dreamland. Locomotive power, quiet and unyielding is coming back….batteries included. LOL!

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I just looked up the ATS, to me it looks like its visually copying InfinitiNissan while offering an engine that I’d rather not have in a Caddy.

    Forget todays complicated 6′s, 4′s, mpg, and all of that. If I were a successful business man all I want is a V8 and some class in my styling!

  • avatar
    mndoc

    Cadillac got my respect with the CTS-V. I recently traded up from a 3 Series to a CTS-V “Crapwagon” (as you put it)… and in my eyes at least, it’s the definition of exemplary, desirable and unique. And yes, it’s got the V8 Power.

    Because of this bloody impressive car, I will absolutely give the ATS the benefit of the doubt, and I can’t wait to see what the ATS-V will be like.

    Overall, I like the direction Cadillac is going. It shows a lot of bravery to break with the past and compete with the best contemporary cars, rather than milking tired brands from the 60s.

    This is coming from someone who isn’t carrying any baggage about Cadillac’s brand (having come from Europe) and knowing precisely 0 people who own one. I do know a LOT of people who own BMWs, Audis, Mercedes, etc. Even the M’s and AMGs are so common and boring, I would never look twice at one. Do you?

  • avatar

    Here’s a novel idea: instead of trying to compete with the Germans and the Japanese and Koreans, how about if Cadillac set out to simply build the best car in the world? That’s what earned them “the standard of the world” brand equity back in Henry Leland’s day.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    GMs got bigger issues than just Caddy right now. 2013 Malibu eco can be optioned up to $29,100. Are you kidding me? The car has virtually the same interior room and trunk space as a cruze eco, 75% the gas milage, and probably a lot less fun to drive! Who is going to pay that price for a midsized chevy and what does that do to buick?

    GM is doing what GM does best and blurring the lines too much and becoming it’s own biggest competitor. They need someone with a vision to take charge and say “this is where each brand will sit in the market” and run with it.

  • avatar

    Caddy means over the top. Big motor, luxury, etc. V8 is part of that dna.

    BMW will discover that a blown 4 isn’t a 6. The six is smooth by design, the four isn’t. A blower isn’t going to fix that.

    If I wanted a Prius, I’d buy one. Caddy and BMW are both top notch. Small motors belong in small cars.

    BMW has great fours….in the 1 series.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      BMW built its reputation with a 2.0 liter four cylinder car – the 2002. I love my inline 6 BMW but I’m fine with the idea of a turbo four, as long as it isn’t a repair queen like the N54 and N55 turbo six BMWs have been.

  • avatar
    doug-g

    Cadillac lost me when they took the Autronic Eye off the dashboard and hid it on the front fender in 1964. Then they did away with the ultra-cool mechanical signal seeking radio with the little dial that ran around when you pushed one of the buttons at the top (“stereo only” was an option) and the whole radio was hooked to a power antenna that you could play with. ’69 was also a blow when the three-phase tail lights went away and were replaced by units that did nothing to impress the neighbors or fellow shoppers at 7-11. What about the twin inside door handles on the Eldorado? Couldn’t they have been incorporated in the CTS coupe? Oh, and cigarette lighters! There used to be four and now there are none! Speaking of “four”, that was the number of power vent windows on a Fleetwood sedan. Between window, vent window and power seat controls, the driver's armrest on a '62 Fleetwood Sixty Special looked the like control panel of a 747. Interior lights? Damn! The lighting was nearly jewel-like. After you'd impressed the lookers with those three-phase tail lights, you'd KO them with the vision of those wide doors opening and all the elegant lighting going off! And, yes, they did have a V8 engine. That was a "given" that no owner questioned because they never opened the hood. Guys in white uniforms called "service station attendants" did that. They'd also check your tires and wash the windshield before you got started wallowing down the road again. Thank God you had all those windows buttons and things to play with; that took your mind off the fact that your car handled like…well, you know…

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I owned several USED Cadillacs and it always seemed to me that I understood the reason the owner sold it within a few days after I bought it.

      To me it seemed like I was always buying someone else’s problems. Often it was not economically feasible to repair the offending element unless you were planning to keep the car a long, long time, which I never was.

      But I never had any problems selling a Cadillac after it could no longer hold my interest. And in several cases the person who bought it put a lot of time and effort in it and kept the car a lot longer that the original owner or I did.

  • avatar

    “It doesn’t fit”

    So Jack, was the issue girth or length?

  • avatar
    86SN2001

    Ha! *If* Jack is anywhere close to being accurate about this beautiful Caddy……

    Lincoln had better close the one cubicle they borrowed from the janitorial staff to redesign the mediocre Fords now.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Sorry, but most buyers in the compact/entry-level luxury segment don’t want to pay for the expense of a V8; offering the V8 in the ATS-V is good enough.

    And there will be enough V8-powered Cadillacs with the next generation CTS and the RWD Omega flagship, not to mention other models like a roadster.

    The people I know (who buy German luxury cars) have no interest in what Lincoln has to offer, but are intriqued by the CTS (just wish it was a bit larger and had a nicer interior – both things which will be addressed with the next generation CTS).

    With the ATS, the next gen CTS, the Omega flagship and a roadster and/or coupe in the lineup, Cadillac will finally have what it needs to take on the Germans not only in the US, but in overseas markets.

    The “new” Lincoln, otoh, will find a tougher go at it. Lincoln’s lineup will be compared and shopped primarily with Acura and the FWD-biased Lexus models.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    “What about CAFE? What about it? Pay the government the fine.”

    As Pete from Autoextremist says, “notgonnahappen.com”

    Consumers want the “100 mpg carburators GM is hiding”. So, no, don’t expect V8′s to ever comeback big, unless diesel powered. Luxo buyers want to impress with ‘green-ness’ now.

    Gear head bloggers gotta start being realistic and quit expecting the 60′s muscle era to come back.

    Another thing is the Verano is FWD, ATS is RWD, that is a big difference.

    And this article contradicts all the ‘domestics make gas hogs’ TTAC editorials.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    Finally someone has sized up the mystique of a Cadillac!!!
    Thank you Jack!!!
    My father was a Caddy man an I was lucky enough to experience REAL Caddies.BIG,SOFT,and EXTREMELY POWERFUL!!!Damn fine cars!!!
    The last Cadillac I drove that came even close was a De Ville Concourse of 10 years back but it was front wheel drive.
    I remember riding in the back of a Fleetwood Brougham in rural Ohio when I was about 18..the driver liked to go fast and the sensation of this Massive car busting down a gravel road at 60+ with no noise…just a cloud of dust behind us…I will take to the grave.
    Caddies were the ultimate…..were,were….If only G.M. could gamble a little,a lot of Americans would flock back to the “real thing”.

  • avatar
    Joss

    The new GM knows the buyer who aspired to the fat horse shoe has gone the way of Lawrence Welk. But does GM know only PBS can pull off re-runs for a long dead clientele? Adieu Cadillac.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    Cadillac was screwed when they embraced the cold hand of death and started to compete for the both feet in the grave, hanging on by their fingernails to the edge of the coffin crowd.

    Proof positive of this is seeing the “sport tuned,” BMW fighter CTS being seen commonly with a vinyl top and driven in sheer terror by the AARP set who wished it was as wallowing and cushy as the recently discontinued nausea-mobile: the Town Car.

    And in that vein GM has thrown everything at pensioners from ill-conceived FWD V8 cars to sporty, retarded BMW clones and was shocked that none of them were a hit (surprise surprise) and that everyone else doesn’t want a schizophrenic car that wants to compete with the Germans at the same time exuding the same level of luxury as a Panther barge.

    The only people who want a Caddy these days are thugs who stick a teaspoon in the steering column and jack an Escalade.

    I’d say GM just kill the brand and focus on selling chrome Buicks to the Chinese.

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      Wouldn’t that just be the irony, Cadillac folding in favor of Buick… you know at this point I don’t think Cadillac would be missed much outside of those who remember its greatness.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Quite a reach- 1984 Cimarron!!!
    Cadillac has found success with CTS and ATS looks very appealing.

    It is fascinating to read so many opinions based on so little knowledge- 135 Comments so far!

    No one has so much as driven one of these, and the majority will never buy a new vehicle anyway.

    Based on experience with the 2011 Buick Regal with base engine, I expect the ATS with the 2.5L will drive just fine. It is not a heavy car, despite the disinformation that floods this website, and we haven’t seen the ATS-V yet.

  • avatar

    “Your competition offers one of these. It is called the 300C. It is a success. Learn from it.”

    And this is why your TTAC-writing son, and his peers, will all be driving Chryslers. Yes! Chryslers!

  • avatar
    siuol11.2

    Sure, it’s the lack of VA, and not the absolutely atrocious styling that’s going to kill this car.
    Also, I don’t know many people who buy luxury sedans that would take one of the big 3′s shitty V8′s over a more advanced V6 with similar numbers. American car makers have used ancient, unreliable, poorly performing engines for far too long- the world has changed, and the only people who don’t care about those kinds of numbers buy Maybachs or Bentleys.

  • avatar
    Wagen

    I am not looking forward to the day in the not-so-distant future when the undepowered 2.5L version of this thing is given to me at some car rental facility as an “upgrade” (will probably be classified as “Luxury”) that won’t fit American-sized people in the rear seat. That Chrysler 300, which I once avoided like the plague at rental counters because I all too often got the base model sans ABS, is looking better and better…

  • avatar
    Zackman

    “Every twenty-fourth frame of this scene contains a subliminal image of the B-24 LIBERATOR.”

    No no no, Jack, it has to be a B-17! A B-24 just doesn’t have the street cred of the Flying Fortress. EVERYBODY knows what a B-17 is. A B-24? Not so much, discarding the fact they carried a much larger bombload, but as a plane, they were cheap tin cans and difficult to fly.

    Unless you must really want to use the term “LIBERATOR”…

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      When I was six years old and a big WWII buff, I would bitch endlessly about how the B-17 was sooooo much cooler than the B-24. The older I get, however, the more I find myself sympathizing with the Lib.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I really do agree with everything you say Jack.
    Cadillac has no business competing with BMW at all. That should be Oldsmobiles job, just like Pontiac should cover the Audi buyers (Mercury should be somewhere between those), Chevrolet/Ford for the ‘common’ people, like VW, and Buick should go after Mercedes buyers.
    Cadillacs and Lincolns should be at the top, alongside Bentley and Rolls-Royce, maybe with a few ‘cheaper’ models to cover the S-Class/7-series, and A8 buyers.
    Will it ever happen again? Not by a longshot…

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    Wow, sounds like someone misses his Crown Vic. No one else does, and there’s a reason why. We’ve learned how to build cars better than they knew back in the 70s. Now I can get the power your V8 produced out of a turbo 4. Now I can get more rear seat and cargo space in a jacked up hatchback than your 3-across full-sizer could ever have. All with better safety, visibility, handling, AND fuel economy.

    But hey, if you miss 10 MPG highway couches on wheels…well, that’s just too bad. The reason they don’t build them anymore is because no one else wants them.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      And still, both the Japanese and Germans build cars with no cargo or rear seat space, with v8′s….
      Offcourse, Cadillac (and Lincoln) needs more than just v8′s, but it would be a nice start, just give them more of an identity than just any other Genesis challenger…

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Your homework assignment for tonight is to answer the question: “How many S550 and LS460 units did Mercedes-Benz and Lexus sell in the United States last year?”

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Your homework assignment for tonight is to answer the question: “How many S550 and LS460 units did Mercedes-Benz and Lexus sell in the United States last year?””

        That query actually proves Npaladin’s point, and disproves yours.

        The market for land yachts is now tiny. Times have changed.

        This chart illustrates the issue: http://www.bts.gov/publications/pocket_guide_to_transportation/2010/html/figure_05_10.html The market for cars is declining, and those who do prefer cars to trucks generally want smaller cars.

        The OPEC crisis had a substantial impact on car buyer tastes. You’re nostalgic for an era that is dead, dead, dead.

      • 0 avatar

        ah, trick question. relevant response… “Who Cares?”

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        Pch101: the chart illustrates the voodoo vehicle classification systems of the U.S. government and little else.

        If it provides any edification, it’s that automakers drove a truck (as it were) through the CAFE loopholes and “land yachts”, as you pejoratively refer to them, are now in the guise of a F-150 Lariat crew cab. Perhaps you’ve seen a few on Pacific Coast Highway 101.

        Here’s an equally unedifying link for your reference: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120416/OEM03/304169959/1261

        If we accept your premise that “land yachts” are now a “tiny” market, what does Toyota, Hyundai, Ford and others know that you don’t?

      • 0 avatar
        npaladin2000

        Exactly 86er. BTW, only Hyundai makes a “land yacht” and it is a comparatively tiny portion of their sales. Most RWD sedans are sport sedans these days, not couches on wheels like the author is pining for. Heck even trucks and SUVs generally are too stiffly sprung to be couches on wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “If it provides any edification, it’s that automakers drove a truck (as it were) through the CAFE loopholes and “land yachts”, as you pejoratively refer to them, are now in the guise of a F-150 Lariat crew cab.”

        That’s exactly the point that I was making. The guzzler crowd has shifted its tastes from cars to trucks. The large sedan and floaty coupe markets are almost dead.

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        Pch101: yes, those are the facts on the face of it. You’re reinforcing your own point without addressing mine. Fair enough, we all cherry-pick.

        *Why* did the “guzzler crowd” migrate to F-150 crew cabs? Was it because the CAFE requirements made a “land yacht” in the form of a sedan, classified as a “passenger car”, untenable while it made more economic sense to stuff all the latest bells and whistles into an Explorer, which was given a 19.0 mpg requirement versus 27.5 for a passenger car that was used for the same thing*

        It is indeed true that no one buys something that is left to wither on the vine. I’d like to drill down into the “why”, not the “what”.

        The unintended consequences and distortions of CAFE have already been dissected in detail on TTAC and elsewhere, no sense going into it further.

        I linked that Automotive News article because I think it’s too easy to vituperatively declare “the market is dead”(x3).

        *1990 CAFE requirments, when a lot of automakers were putting final touches on the future viability of the traditional American car.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “I’d like to drill down into the “why”, not the “what”.”

        I already addressed that. Tastes have changed. The OPEC oil crisis provided a gateway to the Germans and Japanese, who helped to move consumer tastes away from the rolling sofas of yesteryear.

        People don’t want rumble seats anymore, either, yet you don’t find Mr. Baruth lamenting their absence. He confuses his personal tastes with the demands of the marketplace. He waxes nostalgic for the late 70s Cadillacs that provided more benefit to Mercedes and BMW than they did for General Motors.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        The S-Class does about 30% of the volume of the CTS despite having real-world transaction prices that are almost TRIPLE that of the Cadillac.

        The success of the ES350 is proof positive of my position. People are so desperate for traditional luxury cars that they will take a Camry because it’s the closest thing.

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        “Pch101: I already addressed that. Tastes have changed. The OPEC oil crisis provided a gateway to the Germans and Japanese, who helped to move consumer tastes away from the rolling sofas of yesteryear.”

        If OPEC was the gate, CAFE was the door falling off its hinges.

        The two are related but not mutually inclusive.

        You’re positing an amorphous notion of “tastes” but you’re slightly contradicting yourself when you agree that F-150s with all the bells and whistles replaced the sedan that previously offered the height of motoring enjoyment, and then make the subsequent argument that we’ve moved beyond our “rolling sofas”. I would argue that “tastes” haven’t changed a great deal at all.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “you’re slightly contradicting yourself when you agree that F-150s with all the bells and whistles replaced the sedan that previously offered the height of motoring enjoyment”

        There’s no contradiction at all. What little is left of the large car market is now owned by foreign luxury brands, which don’t emulate Detroit’s ideas of car design.

        Detroit’s car branding model imploded, because the cars were bad. Detroit has never really recovered from this tarnish. This same tarnish did not fall onto the trucks, which are perceived as being more in line with their competencies.

        “The success of the ES350 is proof positive of my position. People are so desperate for traditional luxury cars that they will take a Camry because it’s the closest thing.”

        You really don’t get it. The ES proves my previous point; for the most part, those who have stayed faithful to cars have downsized. Those who want to own a beast have moved on to trucks.

        That leaves a small market for large sedans. Since the market is small, the money has to be made from margin instead of volume. That means making a few of them, and selling them for a lot.

        But that price premium requires a brand that can justify it, and Cadillac hasn’t been that brand for a very long time. Which leads us to the Escalade.

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        “There’s no contradiction at all. What little is left of the large car market is now owned by foreign luxury brands, which don’t emulate Detroit’s ideas of car design.”

        Hyundai, Toyota, Ford and Chevrolet are putting real investments into the Azera/Equus/Genesis, Avalon, Taurus and Impala respectively. The market isn’t as big as it used to be, but I wouldn’t call it “dead” (x3) as you described it earlier.

        Here’s that article again:
        http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120416/OEM03/304169959/1261

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Hyundai, Toyota, Ford and Chevrolet are putting real investments into the Azera/Equus/Genesis, Avalon, Taurus and Impala respectively.”

        Hyundai is targeting Toyota. There is no effort on their part to remake the Great American Land Yacht.

        The Avalon is a moderate-volume car, as is the Taurus. Neither one emulates the couch-on-wheels tailfin era that seems to strike Mr. Baruth’s fancy.

        The Impala is a fleet queen.

        The market that Mr. Baruth describes is toast. You can fight reality, or you can embrace it and move on. I’ve chosen the latter. God knows why he has elected to sprint down the path of denial that accompanies the former.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        “The success of the ES350 is proof positive of my position. People are so desperate for traditional luxury cars that they will take a Camry because it’s the closest thing.”

        Most people I know who drive ESes or Camrys got them for reliability first and foremost (they won’t eat one’s wallet like a German sedan). I don’t think lust for land yachts plays into why those cars are successful at all.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    Jack, normally I am agreement with you on most things, but not this.

    It would be great if the world would revert back to how it was in 1985, when the cost of gas was irrelevant, and things like longevity and handling and braking were only concerns of eurocentric snobs.

    But today manufacturers have to deal with A) the ever-increasing demands of consumers and B) requirements set forth by various governments about fuel consumption, emissions, safety, pedestrian safety, renewability, etc.

    There’s a reason EVERYONE is downsizing and boosting their engines. It’s something Saab of all people saw YEARS ago. While Cadillac was V8-6-4′ing itself to death, Saab was blowing past them with turbo 2.0L’s. While Cadillac was championing the leak-squeaky-burny Northstar as the engine of the future, the 9000 Aero was busy blowing it’s doors off with precisely HALF the displacement and cylinders. If they understood one thing, it was powertrains.

    Today, it’s not just that the government says your car must get X MPG or you pay fee Y; it’s that consumers look at a big inefficient V8 and say no thanks. GM has to put additional rebates on the V6 Equinox because the gas mileage is so bad they don’t sell – 15/23mpg in AWD form is slightly worse than a fuckin’ Z06 Corvette! So an LS4 powered ATS (which, btw, the LS4 is the transverse small block, renna renna) would have less power than the 3.6DI V6 and get worse mileage. Sure you want one, but would anyone who would actually buy these cars? Why the fuck would they? In fact, why the fuck is anyone going to want a V6 ATS when the 2.0T has mostly the same power, more torque, with that torque coming on earlier?

    As an aside, that motor in the C250 is junk, just like the IS250 motor is junk.

    -James M

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    Anyone else start humming “you’ve got the touch. dun dun duuuh dun. you’ve got the powaaaa!” after reading that ad?

  • avatar
    86er

    Pch101: the chart illustrates the voodoo vehicle classification systems of the U.S. government and little else.

    If it provides any edification, it’s that automakers drove a truck (as it were) through the CAFE loopholes and “land yachts”, as you pejoratively refer to them, are now in the guise of a F-150 Lariat crew cab. Perhaps you’ve seen a few on Pacific Coast Highway 101.

    Here’s an equally unedifying link for your reference: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120416/OEM03/304169959/1261

    If we accept your premise that “land yachts” are now a “tiny” market, what does Toyota, Hyundai, Ford and others know that you don’t?

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      Exactly 86er. BTW, only Hyundai makes a “land yacht” and it is a comparatively tiny portion of their sales. Most RWD sedans are sport sedans these days, not couches on wheels like the author is pining for. Heck even trucks and SUVs generally are too stiffly sprung to be couches on wheels.

  • avatar
    jamiescale

    Surprisingly ignorant post. A lot of anger and not so much in the way of reality or solid reasoning.

    Yeah, Caddy has littered the marketplace for the last few decades w/ utter crap, but this new generation of cars is actually pretty good.

    Should they follow Hyundai’s model and crank up their value quotient in relation to the Germans? Yup. Should they revert to sticking V8′s in everything because thats what they did in the 50′s? Umm, no. This isn’t the 50′s anymore (for better or worse)…

    The ATS looks to be a perfectly competent car for the market its targeted at and Caddy has a huge window of opportunity here as a lot of folks are fed up w/ the way the German’s treat their customer base with everything being an optional extra. I’m sorry BMW, but if I shell out $55k for a 5 Series it had better come w/ “Premium Sound” and Nav standard!

    If they simply price is right next to the similar BMW and Merc’s then that could be problematic unless its bundled w/ some compelling feature (other than “made in America!”)

  • avatar
    Fromes

    I know I’ll catch heat for saying this, but anyone who sits in a Cadillac and than sits in a BMW and decides “wow, the Caddy is nicer” is insane.

  • avatar
    SevilleSlantback

    ’84 Seville Slantback daily driver, couch pillow seats, V8 so smooth it’s almost silent at idle, 4.1 liter engine with the economy of a V6, rides like a cloud, garish styling and a hood that sticks out six feet, giant hood ornament and wire wheels…..the most unique car in a fifty mile area….

    Wouldn’t have it any other way myself. In case folks remember, the real cause of Cadillac’s misfortunes in the 80′s was that they downsized and converted all their models to platforms that looked like all the other cars GM made. The’80-’85 Sevilles and Fleetwoods were the last true landyachts designed by Cadillac, excepting the Brougham that was a carryover from a 1977 design.

    I’m not sure that the formula of the past would work these days. I fully support making the V8 engine standard in Cadillacs from the company that designed the engine, make it small in the 3.5-4.6 liter range and not a mechanical mess and underpowered like the HT4100 (I have had no problems with mine BTW, underpowered for sure but hey I don’t need to race anybody).

    What I think needs mentioning is pretty much what this article suggests was what Cadillac tried to do from the period of 1992 to 2002. Besides the German Catera, comfortable and powerful barges were the name of the game. For some reason, consumers had moved on. The market’s no longer the same as it was in 1976.

    Cadillac’s doing what it must try to survive, and at the current I think its odds are very good (especially compared to Lincoln)even when compared to ten years ago or so. The CTS has regained a lot of respect for the brand, the SRX is the second best seller in its class, the Escalade has capital built in its name to carry on to a replacement, the ATS should bring many new sales, and the ELR is a visually striking concept which shows promise.

    I hope GM comes to its senses and sticks a V8 into the XTS, because that’s what its customers want- power and smoothness unmatched by the HFV6. Compared to the HT4100 V8 or the Northstar, both of which I have driven, that thing’s thrashy and noisy as the Guns N’Roses at a charity cocktail dinner. To be honest however, if I was rich enough to afford a new Cadillac then I’d just do an LS swap with the XTS or a custom order.

    Cadillac is trying to find a way forward, the brand has come pretty far after almost being left for dead four years ago. I myself support a model derived off the old concepts of luxury that we appreciate, but the brand has to stay relevant with current times as well.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Cadillac had been declining before the 1980s, and the bustle-back Seville didn’t help its case.

      The lousy V-4-6-8 engine, troublesome HT4100 and botched downsizing of the 1980s made the 1970s look comparatively good. Cadillac, however, had been sliding since the late 1960s, with a real drop-off in quality beginning with the 1971 models.

      • 0 avatar
        SevilleSlantback

        Sure, but the downsized models of 1986 cut sales fully in half compared to a year earlier. The 1986-1991 models did a lot of further damage because they looked so much like GM’s other offerings at the time. Love them or hate them, the 80s Eldorados and Sevilles were large, comfortable and eye-catching. The act was cleaned up a bit by 1992 owing to the more contemporary new models, but by then the damage had already been done. It was these 90s models that saw Cadillac lose its sales lead, and this showed that customers had moved on from the “Cadillac Style” type of car that been the brand’s mainstay for 50 years.

      • 0 avatar
        gottacook

        In case it had been forgotten, the bustleback Seville came with the Oldsmobile 5.7-liter diesel engine as standard equipment (at least during its first model years).

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Somewhat pointless to try and compare todays market to what the market was in the 60′s & 70′s. Yes, I’m sure all of us that remember Cadillac’s heyday would love to buy a new 69 Coupe de Ville convertible or 75 Eldorado today but it’s about as far away from reality as you can get. Just plain not gonna happen. Given Caddy’s track record with small cars the odds of success with the ATS aren’t exactly good but at the same time I don’t think a V8 engine would change them. I do however think a full sized V8 sedan has good possibilities. Hell, if Hyundai can offer one why not Cadillac? A lot of similarities between Cadillac and Lincoln, both lost their way in the marketplace by discontinuing the types of vehicles their buyers liked and failing to attract new buyers with the replacement models. First thing both need to do is drop the alpha names and go back to model names. Cadillac might just be very surprised at the sales numbers of a modern day Sedan de Ville. Not everybody wants a pickup or a smaller car, proven by the S Class & Lexus 430 sales numbers. Cadillac could still compete in this market especially at a lower price point. Make a $50-60k rwd V8 Sedan de Ville with distinctive styling (i.e. not just a larger version of the current styling) and a knockout interior. Bet it would sell well. That was both Cadillac & Lincoln’s market and both abandoned it. The question is why?

  • avatar
    kkop

    Being a euro-import myself, I had never driven an American V-8 sedan before Cadillac invited me to try the CTS-V for a few laps around a track last year. I was instantly hooked on the power, but couldn’t help but think it would have been better with a manual (all the demos were auto). Unfortunately, I am not really in a position to spend $70K on a CTS-V to give that a try.

    So we bought the next best thing: Dodge Challenger, V-8, manual. $27K + tax. Yes, there are people out there who still want a V-8. Although sales numbers are relatively low compared to the Camrys of this world, Challenger had its best month ever in April.

    I’m not sure whether Cadillac should only have V-8 engines, but I do think 4 cylinders is taking it too far downmarket.

  • avatar
    Bruno Balestra

    Thanks for translating into words what I have thought for many years!

  • avatar
    timmruss

    For Cadillac to be a global player which by the way is necessary to compete with other manufacturers in its desired segment, it has to have more engine choices than V8s.

    The problem with GM and all other domestic producers lies in their R&D budgets. This becomes more of an issue with higher end cars. The pinpoint precision of BMW’s and Porsches that is addictive comes from the result of years of technical innovation and engineering. Add higher quality materials in the mix, the difference becomes so big even the always quoted “junior execs” who drive BMWs notice the difference.

    One other problem is brand identity. When I look at it through generations I can not see a specific Lincoln design perspective that makes it memorable. The frequently changing name-plates of these cars do not help either. Same can be said for Cadillac to a certain extent. No pedigree, no brand identity -> No prestige.

    And I disagree with Jack on this, no V8 will save Caddy, it has bigger problems than the number of cylinders in its engines. But I agree ATS will be a failiure; and in the end thats what matterz…ya…

    (Note: for people who talks BS about BMW 4cyl engines, just check your facts -> BMW ALWAYS build and sold more 4cyl engines than their inline sixes almost by a margin of 2 to 1, you are getting US market only for reference, everywhere else in the world people including enthusiasts buy 4 cylinder engines and enjoy them. So nothing has changed. Heck the original ICONIC M3 of the 1980′s had a 4 cylinder engine and was much better for it…)

  • avatar
    rpn453

    No need to apologize for the eagle. That was the best part of what would be, to my knowledge, the greatest automotive ad of all time.

  • avatar
    Uzzy

    I agree as much as I agree the 3-series and C-Class are bad for BMW and Mercedes-Benz, respectively. They only tarnish their brand’s appeal in the marketplace, right? …except for the many many people that love both of those cars and the ones Cadillac is trying to conquer from Bimmer & Benz. This article is worse than a joke. It’s serious, and seriously stupid!

  • avatar
    zoomzoom91

    Great song, those commercials were pretty good too

  • avatar
    Alexdi

    I don’t know about the specifics of this article, but I will say this: one thing I love about American cars is that, no matter how pretentious the guy in the BMW may be, or how much better his interior, I can beat the pants off him if I put my foot down. Superiority measured by effortlessly dusting someone. With the current ATS powertrain, that’s not possible. I don’t really care if it’s a V8 or a supercharged six, I just want it to get the job done.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Cadillac lost its way when it went all FWD and V6. Would you do that to the Corvette? F no, and I wouldn’t own either one. No RWD V8, no sale.

    • 0 avatar

      Cadillac CTS – Rear Wheel Drive – CTSV – V8
      Cadillac ATS – Rear Wheel Drive
      Cadillac Escalade – Rear Wheel Drive – V8
      Cadillac SRX – Front Wheel Drive
      Cadillac XTS – Front Wheel Drive

      Cadillac – 60% Rear Wheel Drive, 40% Front Wheel Drive

  • avatar
    jayzwhiterabbit

    Cadillac (and by extension, GM) cannot ever do enough to please everyone. If they make it big and V8, that’s not good enough. Small, sporty cars? Wrong. It really comes down to the fact that so many can’t ever get over GM’s past failures. They’ll never, ever change the doom-and-gloom tune.


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