By on September 4, 2013

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Peter DeLorenzo is one of my favorite automotive writers. After decades working in automotive advertising and writing about cars and the auto industry, along with deep family ties to General Motors upper echelon, Peter brings the right combination of knowledge and cynicism to the topic we love. Also, contrary to his gruff and curmudgeonly public persona, he’s been very gracious to this neophyte writer. I start looking for his regular Wednesday updates on his Autoextremist site on Monday nights, since he sometimes posts ahead of schedule. This week, Peter takes Cadillac and Interpublic Agency – Team Rogue, to task for how they are repositioning the Cadillac brand, moving away from what had been a return to “The Standard of the World” mentality to one more in tune, according to Ad Age, with “Work hard. Be lucky”, making the brand seem more-accessible. Peter sees that slogan and accessibility as at odds with making Cadillac a “desirable” brand. With all due respect, I think DeLorenzo is getting this half right.

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1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham – 2012 Eyes On Design Show

While I agree that abandoning the return to The Standard of the World is a mistake, I think that Peter’s wrong about it being an error making Cadillac seem “more accessible” to people who have worked hard and want to enjoy the fruits of their efforts. While the “Work hard. Be lucky” tagline isn’t the most elegant, it’s an implicit reference to the old saying, “the harder that I work, the luckier that I get.” The tagline, whether or not it is actually used, that’s still being debated, just might work with genuinely successful people.

The Ad Age piece talks about moving away from “ads for wealthy white guys” that focus on features and instead relying more on emotion. While DeLorenzo sees “more accessible” as cheapening the brand, I see it as a return to the brand’s true consumer image during its glory days. For something to be truly desirable, I think it still has to be seen as somehow attainable. Our desires often conform to hard reality. For something to be truly aspirational, it must be at least theoretically accessible, the reward for hard work. One’s reach should exceed one’s grasp and all that, but we do like the brass rings that we can grasp to be wrapped in hand stitched leather.

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1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham – 2012 Eyes On Design show

Sure, the Rogues @ iNterpublic, or whatever the joint agency is called, may be screwing Cadillac’s pooch and cheapening the brand, but remember, Elvis Presley, the truck driver who made it big, was the company’s most famous customer when it was at the top of the heap, not some highfalutin’ opera singer.

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1958 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham – 2013 St. John’s Auction, RM Auctions

In the brand’s heyday, the 1950s and early 1960s, Cadillac was *the* aspirational brand, the car for the man who made it. Inherited wealth might drive European cars, but successful Americans drove Caddys.  The word “success” implies achievement, earning something.  Cadillac was the car that people who dreamed of making it dreamed of driving. This occurred to me when I was putting together a piece for TTAC on the Nash Metropolitan and I decided to include a YouTube video of the “Beep Beep – Little Nash Rambler” song. There’s a lyric in there that I think sums up Cadillac’s brand image during its glory days, the 1950s, “I’ll show him that a Cadillac is not a car to scorn”. People who drove Cadillacs were proud of their success. If they wanted something less ostentatious, they’d be driving Buicks. It seems to me that Alfred Sloan’s hierarchy of brands was integrally linked to economic mobility, people becoming more successful and affluent over time. Cadillac was the top rung of the ladder of success.

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1958 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham – 2013 St. John’s Auction, RM Auctions

I was just at a Pierce Arrow meet held at the Gilmore Car Museum. A number of Peerless owners also brought their cars. Those two brands were two of the “Three Ps”, Pierce Arrow, Peerless, and Packard, that dominated the American luxury car segment in the classic car era. While it’s always an easy way to go broke selling cars to rich folks, the Great Depression made it even easier and of the Three Ps only Packard survived the 1930s. It’s conventional wisdom to blame Packard’s ultimate demise two decades later on its Depression era move to more mass market cars. Selling the “junior” Packards and later the Clipper line is seen as tainting Packard as a high end luxury maker, allowing Cadillac to surpass it. That conventional wisdom ignores the reality that those moves kept Packard in business, surviving the other two Ps. It also ignores Packard’s financial weakness, delaying new models and a modern OHV V8, just as Cadillac introduced their own high compression V8 and had the resources to restyle every year. Packard failed for a lot of reasons but one of those reasons isn’t the fact that they sold a lot of cars to upper middle class Americans.

There are many failed luxury car brands. Pierce Arrow and Peerless cars at the Gilmore Car Museum, August 2013

There are many failed luxury car brands. Pierce Arrow and Peerless cars at the Gilmore Car Museum, August 2013. Note the Herbert Dawley designed headlights integrated into the fenders, a Pierce Arrow signature (in those jurisdictions that permitted them).

It seems to me that what Packard did was actually very similar to what Sloan and Harley Earl did to Cadillac in the immediate pre-war era. GM essentially turned Cadillac into what LaSalle had been, moving away from things like selling V16 chassis sold to very wealthy customers who would either order a custom body from the Fleetwood catalog or have the new car shopped to a coachbuilder. I don’t think that it’s coincidental that the first car that Earl styled for GM was a LaSalle and that his name graces many design patents issued for the brand. Earl knew that the classic era was over. Earl protege Bill Mitchell’s seminal 1938 Sixty Special car was based on Cadillac’s cheapest car line.

Sure, Cadillac continued to sell some very expensive cars, but the more-expensive-than-Rolls-Royce late ’50s Eldorado Brougham was an outlier, an attempt to show Ford that they could lose even more money per car on a hand assembled ultra-lux vehicle than Ford lost on the Continental Mark II. When the Cadillac division was really cranking ‘em out, the DeVille was Cadillac’s biggest seller, and biggest moneymaker, not the more expensive cars.

Peter DeLorenzo does have a point. Going too far downmarket hasn’t been successful for the Cadillac brand. Of course there was the barely disguised Chevy Cavalier sold as the Cimarron, but also in the 1960s and early 1970s, Cadillac offered the Calais, an entry level Cadillac, much truer to the Cadillac brand than the Cimarron but still cheaper than the DeVille. Though it was less expensive, the Calais was widely outsold by the DeVille. Cadillac’s brand apparently finds its sweet spot somewhere between “entry level luxury” and ne plus ultra cars that cost more than most homes.

So there’s nothing wrong with making Cadillac an aspirational brand or even accessible, just so long as they don’t make it too accessible. American luxury has rarely been about rarefied exclusivity. There are more people who want to be rich than people who are rich. There’s probably room in the Cadillac lineup for a Ciel or Elmiraj at the high end (just as there was for the Eldorado Brougham, luxury marques do need flagships as well as big sellers) as long as people who can afford them know the ATS, CTS and SRX are within their means.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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111 Comments on “Is Making Cadillac “More Accessible” a Flawed Strategy?...”


  • avatar
    jmo

    In terms of cars, this would seem to make the most sense:

    Chevy – $15,000 to 30,000

    Buick – 25,000 to 50,000

    With small, medium and large versions on the same front drive platform. Cruze/Verano, Malibu/Regal, Impalla/Lacrosse

    Cadillac – +$40,000

    All Cadillacs built on a seperate rear drive platform.

    ATS, CTS and full size A8/S-Class/7-Series rival.

  • avatar
    vent-L-8

    well said. I also look forward to my mid-week DeLorenzo rant.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    As long as they build products with credibility, they will be fine, up or down market. They ought to have accessible cars, and ones that aren’t, they just have to be the best. The brand must be desirable, and to do that, they must consistently have cars that evoke desire.

    Their current and upcoming products are doing a better job at that than they have in many decades. The ATS is a desirable car. The new CTS is certainly very attractive in every way, the XTS and SRX however need that extra push. Whatever range topper is in the pipes should probably push the XTS out. A sexy convertible would go a long way to lifting brand appeal as well.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    DeLorenzo is a grump, and that’s the nicest thing I can say about him. I called him out (via private Email) on a factual error once sometime around 2007. He wouldn’t print the correction, and when I asked him why (via private Email) he exploded. Said some very unprofessional, rude, and unnecessary things about me and my interest in the car hobby. Somehow he felt entitled to personally insult me from the content of two factual Emails.

    I’ve been back occasionally, but he’s gotten worse. I remember the consecutive weeks he frothed about the four-door Charger.

    I know we all threatened to leave when BS was here, but this was different.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “I remember the consecutive weeks he frothed about the four-door Charger.”

      I love old muscle cars, but people who insist that there must be a 2 door Charger, even after acknowledging the Challenger exists frustrate me to no end.

      Worse yet, people who insist that a Charger cannot be a sedan, ignoring the fact that it was a K-car, and a Cordoba variant at one time as well.

      The latest Charger is simply the best there ever was (I should know, between my father and I, we’ve had or still have a ’71, ’76, ’84 and a 2013). On paper, I should be one of those prothing that the mouth, but I’m not, I’m busy throwing my Hemi powered sedan around road courses and drag strips and loving every second of it.

  • avatar
    NotFast

    Though I like Peter, he is also one of the grumpiest and most negative auto writers out there. Despite his constant hating on companies such as Porsche, they are doing fine.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Nice article, very true. Both BMW and MB offer down market “starter kits” that hasn’t hurt the brand, it’s when you insult the customer with offerings like the Cimarron and Catera that’s when you really damage your brand cache. Quality cars at any level is a positive for any car maker, it seems so simple

    Oh, and “Work hard. Be lucky” sucks. Most people who work hard think luck had little to do with it. “Work hard, enjoy it’s rewards” much better.

    • 0 avatar
      afflo

      Mercedes Benz is much more of a full line manufacturer (under the MB name) than Cadillac.

      Ever ridden in a Mercedes Benz bus? Mercedes Benz van? Seen an industrial site with a Mercedes Benz dump truck?

      There’s always been a connotation to MB that the vehicles are engineered to professional, commercial levels, much like purchasing restaurant grade kitchen appliances, or tools suitable for a professional mechanic’s shop.

      Cadillac has generally been a run of the mill GM car underneath, loaded with lots of extra creature comforts. It has always come across a bit down-market, not so much due to vehicle class, but the brand seems far less premium; i.e. it would be an object of lust for the working class and lower-middle classes, rather than a status symbol among the upper-middles.

      Head of Chevrolet marketing Chris Perry referred to the Corvette as a “mid-west sports car,” and said that there was a perception that it’s a car for “successful plumbers.” Cadillac has the same issue – it’s a car that says “I’ve made it in life!” to the low end of the socioeconomic ladder. The kind of vehicle that would likely still be filled with country-western CDs and be parked in front of an Applebees.

      THAT is what hurts Cadillac. Mercedes Benz and BMW “starter kits” offer a bit of the prestige that an up-and-coming white-collar worker with an MBA would like to present to the world.

      I wonder if the Caddy clientel (the sucessful tradesman and/or spouse) goes for a luxuriously appointed pick-up or SUV these days.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        I thought the point to this article was that it’s OK to have successful plumbers buy your product as long as there’s a higher end for other successful people, just don’t call it luck.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Cadillac: The Fat Elvis of car brands. I drive by a Cadillac ATS near my house. Nice looking car “owned” by an employee of the local Cadillac dealership. However, the fact that it sits out on the street with less expensive cars instead of in a garage hints at its status. I wonder if GM would have been better off creating a new luxury car brand without so much history from the chrome and tailfin era.

      • 0 avatar
        oldfatandrich

        A perfect synopsis of Cadillac’s problem as it attempts to reclaim its place in the luxury market. I was born in 1947, the son of a doctor who drove black Buick Roadmasters. (Father said Cadillacs were vulgar.) For better or worse, my circumstances were definitionally upper middle class and I had the good fortune to be privately educated. When I began to make serious money in the mid-eighties, I moved from a Buick Riviera to a M-B 190E. And it has been M-B ever since. Neither I nor any of my insufferable friends/colleagues could ever imagine driving a Cadillac—the aspirational ride of the working class. (For the record, I am probably insufferable as well.) It will take all the king’s horses and all the king’s men not less than 20 years to dispel this image.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Cadillac isn’t the standard of the world, yet. They still need to build THAT car. I think it’s coming but they need to sell a lot of cars and make a bunch of money until they can build THAT car, a car Lincoln can only dream of.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      “…a car Lincoln can only dream of.”

      Talk about lowered expectations. Will it also be hecho en Mexico?

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      I’m baffled that Lincoln sales are down 6% but Cadillac sales are up 36% so far this year. Is it really true that Ford has dumbed down Lincoln to the point that its just a Ford with shiny trim? If so, I can’t see any reason anyone would want one. The last nice concept was the Mark-9. It could easily be built off the Mustang platform.

      • 0 avatar
        Southern Perspective

        This reminds me of a license plate bracket that I once saw years ago on a Town Car that said “Just a Ford – With Lock Washers”.

        I thought it was hilarious, yet true.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Making Cadillac more accessible has been a flawed strategy since 1973 which was the first Cadillac sales year over 300,000. The division president admitted; “We didn’t build 300,000 Cadillacs last model year, we built 300,000 Buicks.”

    Cadillacs were desirable because they were build in a lower volume to less that demand. They were also built to a higher quality than the typical GM product of the day. This kept demand pent up and resale values high. In the mid 70s Cadillac became just a Chevy with more gingerbread or a car for a sucker that was too stupid to buy a Buick or an Oldsmobile and save a few bucks.

    Whatever brand equity Cadillac had has long since been peed away and gone down the drain of history. The Cadillacs I have desired post early 70s have been because of something other than the fact that they were Cadillacs.

    So in summary Ronnie, I highly disagree with you.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      You’ve summarized my feelings accurately on this topic. They went down the drain shortly after starting into the FWD lower-end models around 66, coinciding with the FWD Toronado. They make as many as they can, and often with the same steering wheel and center stack as an accompanying Chevy/Buick product. This shouldn’t be!

      I do agree they need a high-end halo type sedan, something unattainable for most. So when you see one while driving your lesser ATS, you think hey wow, I can get that some day. Nobody but nobody is going to aspire to the XTS from their CTS or SRX.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Not “66″ (unless that’s a typo on your part :P) but IMHO the cachet was totally lost with the death of the 368 V8+TH400 combo, although interior quality and exterior Cadillac-ness was lost in the mid 70s…

        I desire 90s Fleetwoods because of their 350 SBC availability but honestly if GM had kept making the 1984 Oldsmobile 98 until the mid 90s and simply added fuel injection to the 307 and made the 350 available I’d find those equally desirable. I desire 1992 to 1996 Fleetwoods because of their “last big bad a$$ GM boat” status. I wouldn’t mind a redesigned 2006 to 2011 DTS because of the styling and the sweetness of the Northstar, but I still fear the Northstar being a maintenance nightmare. But having said that, do any of those cars mentioned in this paragraph have the Cadillac quality of a 1930s to 1972 Cadillac? No effin way.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I’d only want a 06+ DTS Performance or Luxury III or Collection – all of which still have that lousy center stack!

          What choo mean not 66? That’s when the Toronado came out, and I believe there were a couple of lower priced FWD Caddys starting in 67?

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            There was only one front-wheel-drive Cadillac in 1967 – the personal luxury coupe Eldorado, which was all-new that year. It was based on a platform shared with the Oldsmobile Toronado and Buick Riviera, but had distinctive outer body panels and a Cadillac engine. The Eldorado was also built on its own production line that was separate from other Cadillacs.

            The 1967 Eldorado certainly wasn’t cheap. It was the most expensive non-limo Cadillac available that year, if I recall correctly.

            Starting around 1965, there was a less expensive version of the “standard” Cadillac badged as the Calais, but it was not very popular.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            As the boys on Duck Dynasty would say: “Nahhh.”

            Eldorado (from 67 onward) was the ONLY FWD Caddy until 1980 when the Seville became FWD. The entire line up did not go FWD until 1985 (minus the Fleetwood, Cimarron debuted in 82.)

            FWD in and of itself is not inherently bad. GM basically did the Eldorado/Toronado as FWD to show the world that they could and that FWD cars did not have to be economical penalty boxes. Building the FWD luxury coupes was like building the Corvair a few years earlier. The beast that was GM wanted to show the world that they weren’t totally conservative and staid.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            geeber is right. Prior to the 70′s in the US, FWD was a technological excercise limited mostly to luxury cars. It was sophistication.

            With the arrival of cheaper and competitive imports, as well as CAFE, it became an easy way to package vehicles into compact dimensions with fewer compromises like interior space.

          • 0 avatar
            Toad

            If I remember correctly, GM did not aggressively promote the fact that the Eldorado and Tornado were front wheel drive; many buyers never actually knew that they had purchased a FWD car. Oldsmobile and Cadillac dealers were concerned that the “new” technology would scare off buyers, so the issue of the drive wheels was downplayed.

            Too bad, since front wheel drive has become somewhat popular since then. Front wheel drive is a better option for the vast majority of drivers who do not define themselves as enthusiasts.

            The history of the Eldorado is covered extremely well at Ate Up With Motor.

            http://ateupwithmotor.com/luxury-and-personal-luxury-cars/185-1967-cadillac-eldorado.html

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I believe you’re correct Toad on that marketing. I know they tested the hell out of the power train, something like 3 million miles to make sure it had no faults since it was the first FWD USA production car since Cord went away.

            I’ve heard it is one of the most over-engineered and sturdy power trains to come out of Detroit.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            When the Toranado first arrived they made a big deal about front wheel drive. It was very exotic at the time and Oldsmobile really played that up, the Eldorado, not so much

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            >> @geeber: The Eldorado was also built on its own production line that was separate from other Cadillacs.

            I thought that from 67 to whenever they moved to Hamtramck, that the Eldos were on the same lines at Fleetwood and Clark St. as the other Cadillacs and the Riviera and Toronado. Maybe they were on the same line at Fleetwood (where the bodies were built), then split at Clark St? I’ll try to check my archives. Anyone else remember?

            Edit: After some brief research, I think body assembly at Fleetwood may have begun with the 69 model. Interesting side note, as I’m going over the archives for Fleetwood (paper) I noticed that there was a different pay rate depending on what you did on the line back then.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Good article I agree entirely. My mother bought her first Cadillac in 1972 going from Chevy Impala wagon. My parents were upper middle class raised in the Depression and had saved their money and put all of their children through college. I don’t think that Cadillac should do another Cimarron but a smaller more affordable option at 29k would do well. My mother had her 72 Cadillac Sedan Deville for over 12 years which she replaced with a new 84 Chrysler 5th Avenue with leather interior.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    I think that’s a great idea. If something’s ostentatious, we might hate it if we think that person’s showing off how much money they have. But we might forgive them if we feel like that person is proud of how much money they earned.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Packard made several mistakes in the 1930s.

    The first was going too far down market with the six-cylinder 110 of 1937. The 120 saved the company, but it was a LaSalle competitor. The 110 competed with the less expensive Buicks, and that DID tarnish the Packard name.

    Second, the firm ignored the top-end cars that helped place it among the “Three Ps” in the first place. It discontinued the V-12 after 1939 and never effectively merchandised the big eights. Packard forgot that it was the aura of the Senior Packards that made the 120 so desirable in the first place. Without the image of the Senior Packards, the 120 was just another upper-medium priced car.

    Finally, Packard allowed its styling to become too stodgy. Cadillac wowed everyone with the Sixty Special, and made sure that the “standard” Cadillacs boasted up-to-date styling, too. Packards after 1937 looked tired and somewhat dated next to a Cadillac or even a Buick. This was especially critical wit the 120. Packard’s consistency of style worked in the 1920s and early 1930s among its vaunted “old money” customers, but in the 120′s market segment, buyers expected sharp, up-to-date styling.

    Cadillac simply did a better job of reading the shifting market of the late 1930s and early postwar years. Cadillac successfully transitioned from the expensive, custom-bodied cars that had defined the luxury market in the 1920s and early 1930s to the newer, lighter, “owner-driven” cars. GM realized that customers wanted sharp, modern styling and new features such as automatic transmissions.

    Packard fumbled it badly, primarily by focusing too much on the medium-price market and moving too far down market with the 110.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    I’m having trouble linking any form of the word “aspire” to 2013 America.

    Unless Aspira is your health care provider.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I don’t think “Work Hard. Be Lucky.” is a good slogan, at all. Standard of the world has a time-honored type of feeling to it, something THE WORLD aspires to. Being lucky is something you do accidentally, and puts me in mind of “getting lucky” which is a term classless people use. Luck is the opposite of working hard. I don’t want to work hard my whole life to drive a Cadillac, while some jerk half my age gets to do the same thing because he got a winning Powerball ticket. That’s not what I want to think about, not the association which should be made. Lucky is not an elegant word either, it’s too stumpy, and is too often associated with some fat person from Des Moines winning the lotto, or perhaps the jeans brand for people just slightly too old to shop at Abercrombie.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I agree, it sounds like you hit the lottery, so come buy a Cadillac, very cheap sounding

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Awful slogan.

      They might as well have come up with the tagline “MMA, Big Gulps, Scratch & Win & Cadillac.”

      • 0 avatar
        SayMyName

        The fact that tagline slots in perfectly to the old Chevrolet theme song is a beautiful thing.

        Cadillac’s “accessibility” isn’t in question around these parts. You simply don’t see any well-heeled, respectable, clean cut individuals driving Cadillacs; they are all driven by gangsta garbage. Leaders drive ‘Slades, soldiers drive clapped-out early 90s-era Sedan de Villes.

        While other luxury brands aren’t immune to this effect (Lexus is almost as bad, sadly) the truth remains that you simply don’t see many Jaguars, Benzes or Bimmers in the ghetto.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          I’m impressed, I didn’t know you spoke ghetto

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          You do realize this is because the Caddys and Lexus (I feel Lexus is to a MUCH lower extent than GM in the ghetto) is because they don’t break.

          With no maintenance,
          Jag = broken engine. Stodgy, sort of uncool.
          Benz = wonky electrics.
          Bimmer = broken engine and electrics.

          • 0 avatar
            SayMyName

            I rather doubt reliability has much to do with it. More likely because you can find Caddys on BHPH lots by the handful, at least around here. They are “accessible.”

            Suffice it to say that I and my fellow mostly white, educated, and relatively affluent colleagues feel a Cadillac slots a few places below what is considered respectable and luxurious. Seeing Gangbanger Julio driving a slammed five year-old DTS down the freeway with the window down in summertime heat does little to alter that perception.

            Whether you feel it’s justified or not, status absolutely matters, and is arguably the single greatest factor keeping Cadillac from being perceived as anything close to great at this time.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            You’ve never seen old Jags at BHPH? Or older 5-Series for that matter? Never old E-Classes?

            Maybe check out a nicer BHPH. I’ve seen plenty.

            But since you’re so white, affluent, and college educated you probably know what you’re talking about.

            BTW – a 5 year-old DTS is from 2008, and is very unlikely to be slammed, as it’s too expensive in the first place. There’d be no reason for the window to be down in the heat, as I’d venture to say a 5 year old DTS has working AC.

            You’re venturing toward racist, and leaning toward more ignorant as we continue this convo.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I often drive with the windows down in the heat even though my A/C is in perfect order, I just don’t care much for A/C. I never knew it had ulterior connotations. There’s a lot of nuances that I’m just not savvy to which I’m glad about. It takes too much energy to keep up with all the little things that say class/no class to just a handful of people who don’t matter anyway

          • 0 avatar
            SayMyName

            “You’re venturing toward racist, and leaning toward more ignorant as we continue this convo.”

            Eh, so be it. Your feigned indignation aside, I see nothing wrong in calling a spade a spade. Perhaps if more of them conducted themselves in a more respectable manner, there wouldn’t be a need or reason for “-ist” stereotypes.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            I try so hard to be racist but for every MLK there’s a JFK.

    • 0 avatar
      coachbbq

      I think that you’re misinterpreting the line… to me ‘Work hard. Be lucky.’ means that there is no such thing as luck. If you want to have the same things as that ‘lucky’ guy whom you admire and/or envy, then you’ll need to work hard and create your own luck.

  • avatar
    doug-g

    “As you ride smoothly along the American Way you can almost make out John Hancock’s signature on the Eldorado’s glovebox door. Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and Cadillacs are ideals that all converge on the horizon. Unless you’re driving a Cadillac, you aren’t really participating in America. In fact, the desire to participate in America the Beautiful is the only common denominator of Cadillac owners. You don’t find Socialists making their journeys in Cadillac, and Marxists would likely melt down everyone in existence to reclaim enough metal for two Mavericks. Stature is added to Cadillac’s owner list by Corporate executives, oil tycoons and land barons, but they by no means make up the substance of that list. Wealth is implied, but it is not mandatory. You see Cadillacs in the worker’s parking lots at factories and you see Cadillacs parked in ghettos, solemnly awaiting their owners. With only a little prompting, service station attendants will tell you about their current Cadillacs and the ones they’ve owned before. Cadillacs are expensive but their owners are not necessarily wealthy. Each one does, however, have a conception of success, and owning a Cadillac in to a symbol of success but a success in itself.”

    That was the opening paragraph of the road test of a new Eldorado in the April 1970 issue of Car and Driver. What I got out of this was that accessibility was key to Cadillac’s success in the brand’s glory days because the brand still had “image”. The world, and Cadillc, have changed so much that I really don’t even know what a Cadillac is now or should be.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      The Cadillac aura bandied about here comes from an age where America led the world in *everything*; engineering, electronics, medical care and innovation, home building, military reach… and, most importantly, social mobility. This was mostly a result of having utterly pulverized our two main economic competitors in WWII and the pre-digital difficulties in automation and outsourcing. That sweet spot began eroding in the ’70s.

      Can’t reproduce that, can’t bring “World Standard” back to anything American.

      • 0 avatar
        doug-g

        That’s the problem for Cadillac, the world has changed… or is that an opportunity?

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          With the governmental overburden and corporate rapacity that have accreted since the 60′s, no.

          Neither party nor any of their minions has the least interest in a strong, prosperous and producing nation. They’ve found other ways to grow their power.

          Oops, excuse me, that’s not really pertinent to your question. Sure, there’s an opportunity for Cadillac to be a world leader again. Why not? They have huge assets of every kind. But the competition is only getting harsher and the resultant pasha-mobiles would be more a social provocation than aspiration.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        We still make some pretty awesome bombs, of course that’s a pretty closed market

  • avatar
    OneidaSteve

    Dont take this the wrong way folks, but many of you are acting way too old in your summarization of Cadillac. I am in my early 40s, the key age for Cadillac to start capturing owners. I was too young to remember the Cimarron, thankfully. And I was in college and poor during the Catera debacle (i happened to own a used one but we’ll ignore that).

    So the ‘problem’ with cadillac is the boring FWD Northstar models that are still on the road, and have the wrong image for ‘younger’ affluent buyers. It will take another 5 years of great products like the ATS to wear off the negative image of these 90′s era cars, in my opinion.

    I also agree that ‘lucky’ is a strange term, offensive to some. I would object to someone characterizing my material achievements as ‘luck’.

    • 0 avatar
      340-4

      Very true. I’m 44 and after sampling the ATS4, I would consider one.

      Same with the new CTS.

      What Cadillac needs to do is STOP dealers from adding gold bling and those horrid fake vinyl tops, etc. to these cars.

      I cringe at the thought of the first XTS I’ll see tricked out in this manner.

      Luck and chance and WHO YOU KNOW have far too much to do with success than mere hard work. That’s probably the least important factor in success today.

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        Some people make the critical mistake of separating “hard work” from “who you know”. The Stanley millionaire study shows that most wealth-accumulators attribute their success to mostly hard work. Further, most of them did not inherit their wealth. Ergo, they worked for their money.

        In the process of making a lot of money, you must meet the right people. But that doesn’t happen by chance. It is the wealth-seeker’s responsibility to accomplish the “who you know” part. If it weren’t possible to meet the right people, then we wouldn’t have any new millionaires. And the number of millionaires is growing.

        So network, baby, network!

        • 0 avatar
          Les

          This is probably one of the bigger reasons why the glut of collage accreditation hasn’t materialized a glut of well-paying jobs.. aside from the over-supply on limited demand.

          A few generations ago very few got into collage, but those that did were successful beyond the wildest imaginings of most of the rank-and-file in the country. So naturally being a working stiff made good, you’d do everything to put your kids through collage so they’d have it better than you, right? But before then, most kids who went to college were children of parents who went to those same collages, and knew other successful people who sent their children to those colleges. That’s where the seeds of their success lay and that’s where the seeds for the ruin of the college-grads-turned-burger-flippers were sown. It wasn’t that these ’99%er-OWS types’ had flubbed things up by taking Advanced Intermediate Underwater Basket-weaving, it’s that they buckled-down and got good grades chasing sensible degrees but then on their down-time they spent it hanging out with their pre-college peers while the old-money kids socialized with the future CEOs of America.

          It also kinda shows a bit I think that with all the financial troubles in recent years that most high-end executives don’t get to and stay where they are because of talent or even basic Competence, but because they know someone who knows someone who etc.. and they’re charismatic enough to sway those people into thinking, “Well, he is a very good friend and I’m sure those rumors that his last company went belly-up due to his mismanagement are only that, rumors.

          Sorta like the high-finance version of the successful plumber who gives his cousin Lenny a job even though Lenny can’t tell one end of a pipe-wrench from the other.

  • avatar
    340-4

    Cadillac’s problem isn’t Cadillac.

    It’s Chevrolet and Buick.

    I just checked out an ATS4, 2.0T.

    $47,000.

    Beautiful car. Focused and built for a purpose.. and a target.

    Well, so then I go check out a new loaded Impala. It’s a different car, of course, and it’s $35,000.

    But it’s just as nice. It’s roomier. It’s got all sorts of luxury features that, frankly, stunned me.

    Checked out a new Lacrosse. Same thing.

    See, Cadillac, you need to be that much better than the other cars from GM which are getting MUCH better than they used to be.

    Styling alone won’t cut it.

    I sat in a new XTS and really didn’t find it $20,000 better than the Impala. Didn’t drive it though.

    What would I do? Well, totally different colors. And NO ORANGE PEEL in your paint. Longer warranties. I don’t know. The cheaper cars are getting so good and so loaded, where does Cadillac go?

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      I believe if you drove the ATS4, the LaCrosse and the Impala you would discover that the ATS has a completely different “feel” and “character” compared to the other two, due largely to its well-tuned, rear-wheel-drive chassis.

      I do agree with your comments regarding the XTS and the LaCrosse and Impala. Out of the three, the Impala is by far the most handsome. I can’t see a compelling reason to choose the other two over the Impala.

      • 0 avatar
        gottacook

        “its well-tuned, rear-wheel-drive chassis”: ATS4 = AWD, not RWD, correct?

        Not that I’d want any of these three – I like to be able to see out in any direction at any time without effort. This requires glass, not periscope-equivalents.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    I’ve been cursed out and called an idiot by Sweet Pete for disputing his P.O.V. I don’t bother corresponding any more. He is a world-class jerk and only wants to hear from his sycophants, but I do read him.

    I agree more with Ronnie’s viewpoint. Still, DeLorenzo is right to think that with this strategy, Cadillac will try the “all things to all people” approach that Mercedes-Benz took in the Nineties. M-B’s rep has been sullied by that, and their new $30K sedan will make it even worse. To me, M-B is nothing special anymore. Why would a brand attempting a resurgence follow that path?

    With the well-received Impala topping out at $40K and Corvettes going for much, much more, jmo’s pricing strategy will never happen that way. But that’s GM for you.

    RE Packard: While I mostly agree with geeber (welcome back), I really think it was the Postwar era that killed them, not the 110 and 120 before Pearl Harbor. The Studebaker merger was the final nail.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Thank you! Packard management did make many critical errors in the 1946-51 time period, while Cadillac made all of the right moves, most notably the introduction of the tailfin in 1948 and the ohv-V-8 in 1949.

      The Impala and ATS are different enough in character that they can survive some price overlap. The division that isn’t really needed is Buick, in my opinion. I can’t see the point of buying a LaCrosse when the Impala is better looking and built off the same basic platform.

      • 0 avatar
        bomberpete

        geeber: Bu-ick and Chi-na are both two-syllable words. That’s the trident’s reason for existence.

        I grew up with Buicks and they have a special place in my heart but I don’t see how GM can have three car brands plus GMC flourish with under 20% market share. Buick’s marketing overlap with Chevy and Caddy in passenger cars make them unnecessary in the U.S.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The slogan is silly, but let’s be real here – it’s not all that bad. I mean, we’re not talking “Pimp Out Cadillac Style” or something ridiculous that WOULD tank sales.

    Ultimately, it’s the product, not the slogan, that sells. It’s the product that gives the brand cachet. The admen just need to avoid screwing it up. I don’t think the slogan in question does that.

    Here’s a test: think of your absolute dream new car right now. Mine would be a M-B S63 AMG (make it Barolo Red). Would I buy it because of Mercedes’ ad slogan (whatever it is)? Hell no – the car is awesome in every damn respect, and I want it.

    I suspect you’d come up with a similar line of reasoning.

    In the end, the key for Cadillac isn’t slogans – it’s product. As long as theirs continue to improve (and they have), the brand will continue to gain cachet.

  • avatar
    cardood

    If by ‘more accessible’ you mean that the 2014 CTS will have a ~$7,000 price hike, then I’d disagree. On that score, Cadillac is smoking bad weed. They need to earn street cred *first*, they you can think about $7k price hikes. They are going to have a tough time hawking the more expensive CTS, while shilling the ATS 2.5L I4 at $249/month.

    I happen to think that purely from a product standpoint (forget about pricing for a moment), that the new ATS and new CTS are knockouts and knocking on the door of a real competitive luxury lineup. Then you look across the showroom and see XTS.

    I think the real issue is consistency. Or in Cadillac’s case, a distinct lack thereof.

    c|d

  • avatar
    sckid213

    Disclaimer: I am 29 and the owner of an ’08 CTS.

    If you read the Ad Age article, it sounds like “Word Hard. Be Lucky.” will NOT necessarily be replacing the “Standard of the World” tagline for the brand. It may be a secondary line (similar to Acura’s “luxury, intelligently priced” line they use in addition to the official “Advance” tagline, or that whole “Joy” debacle to BMW’s official “Ultimate Driving Machine”).

    I like the idea of positioning the brand as something for people who work hard for their success. Yes, luck and chance and whatever else has a lot to do with success, but success almost always requires hard work. I’m no big baller, but I’ve been working full-time since the week after I graduated college while many of my peers “took time off,” “went back to school,” took bartending gigs because “the corporate world sucks,” etc. Several others live off their trust funds and roll around in their brand new Range Rovers. I was able to afford a car I really wanted by working hard, and making an honest living. My car is really my one indulgence in my life, and I feel like I earned it fair and square. If the new campaign can capture this theme in a compelling and non-pandering way that doesn’t go overboard on the Americana, it could be a cool alternative voice in luxury car advertising.

    Cadillac’s advertising has always been decent (I really liked “Break Through” in the early to mid aughts and who didn’t love Kate’s seductive ads), and I hope to see them keep the advertising… standard… high.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Agree. The “luck” and “it’s all in who you know” lines are excuses for the under achievers. You create your own luck and meet the important people along the road to success as you travel it.

    • 0 avatar
      oldfatandrich

      Keep up your hard work—I hope you are rewarded with cars you enjoy and a family you love. In the meantime, if you fancy great ad copy, check out the Pierce Arrow advertising from the teens and twenties. The cars were scarcely visible in this copy which has no rivals in its ability to suggest the cachet for which the marque was the envy of all other manufacturers.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    When I think of Cadillac three things come to mind; Cadillac Ranch, Vegas, and Lincoln. Which is to say, they are of a different age. Modern Caddys have so many confusing letter names that I really can’t be bothered. If I wanted to buy a cool vehicle I’d just go buy a Tesla if I’m leaning American. With Cadillac…there’s no there there. Big, low, and long is being replaced by short, squat and high and that’s just not luxury. Worse for the high end…luxury is nearly attainable in any vehicle or will be and the pace of technology makes luxury quant in a few years so it basically boils down to what fake fur you want to wrap yourself in saying “I’m somebody”. The world could care less. Which reminds me, I was in the basement of the LG in Seoul and spotted a Maybach…looked like a Hyundai.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    Over the past 30 odd years I’ve worked in the creative marketing of auto brands.
    I’ve read Ronnie’s article and all of the responses up to here. And I think all of you are missing an important element and alternate meaning of this proposed new Cadillac brand tagline.
    Work hard. Get lucky.
    Everyone seems to be reading these two elements as equal and crucial elements to success. OK
    But I think of the two lines this way:
    “Hard work.” affirms that the highest levels of effort are required for success (I think that most of us and the target market would agree with this notion).
    Here’s what you may be missing: “Get lucky”, has to do with the rewards of your success.
    The relationship between “Work” and “Luck” here is not additive, it’s sequential.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Then why not just say “Work hard, reap the rewards” instead of saying luck really means something else. No one here got it, I doubt anyone else will either

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        Yeah..

        Ronnie said he liked it because it reminded him of the saying, “The harder I work, the luckier I am.”

        This is LITERALLY (Old-school definition of Literally, like for really reals here. ;p ) The Very First Time I’ve Ever Heard This Phrase, and I’m gonna be in my 40′s in a few more years.

    • 0 avatar
      JaySeis

      Your missing the point. Today’s Caddy is simply not a reward for working hard or getting lucky. When I see blonde in a Caddy I think poseur, same as when I see the dude in the Range Rover. Different response when I see a Jag or Aston Martin as they are beautiful legacy looking machines. And when I see a man in a full dress trimmed out diesel $55-60K 3/4-1 ton I’m thinking….he rewarded himself ’cause that truck looks good and can flat out work.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        I’m not missing the point, it’s not my slogan, but the vastly improved Cadillac of today could easily be someone’s reward if that’s a car they really wanted. Personally, I would find a CTS-V Wagon very rewarding

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          Gotta agree with the Calvinist view here, there’s just no good spin on using “get lucky” in this context.

          It insults the effort necessary for most to be in Cadillac’s market space and it unavoidably and immediately brings casual sex to mind.
          However Mylied-up America may be, that’s still gauche for the traditional Cadillac clientele.

          Calvin, what’s the Hobbesian take here?

      • 0 avatar
        SayMyName

        +1. To the kind of customer Cadillac seems desperate to attract, the brand simply is not viewed as aspirational. Only time will change that, not pithy ad slogans.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      Since all advertising is supposedly sex, doesn’t Get Lucky imply you’ll get laid in a Cadillac? It certainly had plenty of resonance when Elvis was alive.

      • 0 avatar
        bomberpete

        mulholland employs subtlety and I use a blunt instrument but we make the same point.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The slogan is “Be Lucky”, not “Get Lucky.” And it may not be used in the ad campaign — it was the theme of the agency pitch to GM, but it may go no further than that.

          In any case, aside from a few militant libertarians, most people don’t have a political ax to grind with the concept of luck. The pitchman wants one to feel fortunate to own a Cadillac, not cursed.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      You people aren’t even quoting it correctly.

      It’s “Work hard. Be lucky.” NOT GET LUCKY. FIFTEEN PEOPLE KEEP SAYING GET LUCKY AND THAT ISN’T IT

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I have a Polo brand suit, it was made in Italy by Corneliani. Cadillac and Lincoln used to be that good. These days, Cadillac is your Polo suit made under license to Bloomingdale’s or Dillard’s. Sadly, Lincoln has fallen into the “designer” suit you find at your local Marshall’s.

  • avatar
    salguod

    Not exactly related to the article, but that red Brougham is gorgeous. I saw it here in Columbus at the Arthritis show in 2008. In fact, that lead image had me doing a double take to this one on my site:

    http://www.salguod.net/gallery/arthritis-foundation-2008/gallery/1957_cadillac_eldorado_brougha_2.php

    More on topic, my Grandfather built a successful business and bought a used ’57 Eldorado in ’59. It was a symbol of his success, I believe, so much so that he never sold it an it’s in my Dad’s possession now. Hard to imagine buying any of the new Caddys and treasuring them as much.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    I absolutely disagree with this. People who worked hard and how have money to buy a nice car in their retirement make very dull choices. Catering to them means effectively going back to the era when Cadillacs appealed only to folks older than 65. How fun is that? Let them buy Lincolns and Chrysler 300Cs. Let Cadillac be America’s only BMW fighter.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      Speaking of ‘aspiration’.. I’m not so sure if it’s best for a legendary storied brand that at one point in it’s history was considered, “The American Rolls-Royce,” to be shooting for, “Almost a BMW.”

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Before the ’80s, Cadillac and Lincoln (plus Chrysler to some degree) were the definition of Luxury. And they all had one thing in common. V8s. Then came V6/FWDs and German and Japanese (plus British) luxury OEMs ate their lunch. Many of these were V6/FWDs and I6/RWDs, but it didn’t matter. Big 3 Luxury OEMs had lost the ‘spell’ they had on the US market. It may never return, but having a normal V8 as the base engine would be a start.

    As mentioned, Luxury cars have nothing left to offer in the way of cutting edge technology and fancy gadgetry. When they do, those become obsolete soon enough. So in a short time, you’re left with a highly depreciated, badge engineered, V6 car that you’re completely bored with.

    I’ve never seen the point of the CTS-V. Amazing car and whatnot, but what about those that just want a normal CTS coupe with a normal V8, manual trans and leather? This should be be base CTS. I don’t need to set the Nurburgring on fire, but I don’t want cheesy either.

    • 0 avatar
      CarShark

      I don’t understand how you arrived at that point. BMW and Porsche didn’t win in the 80s with massive V8s and barges. They won because they *weren’t* about those things. A generational shift occurred and tastes changed to favor what they had to offer. They still win with those same products. Sure, enthusiasts talk about the hyper-powered V8s and sub-5.0 0-60 times, but most people order the V6 and drive down the highway. It’s just not appealing to them.

      Farago used to say that Cadillac should just be an unobtainable super-luxury brand. Not quite the coachbuilding stuff, but definitely more Maybach. Hated the CTS no matter how well it sold or how much it resurrected the brand. I thought it was a ridiculous, archaic notion of what “Cadillac” specifically, and “luxury” in general was. I think it’s not about size, exclusivity, toys or even a specific price point, but the experience the buyer has inside the car. The attention to detail, functionality and build quality of materials is more dependent on the effort of the manufacturer than just a checkbook.

      Mercedes isn’t hurt by the C-Class. It WAS hurt by going from first to worst in reliability years ago.

      BMW isn’t hurt by the 3-Series. It was MADE by the 3-Series. What hurt it was the Bangle design era and the run flat tire fiasco.

      There is a difference between what a company’s branding wants them to be and what they actually are. The CTS was key to changing Cadillac’s image from stodgy old boats to modern, aggressive and stylish. It’s all about execution.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Doubtful Cadillac or Lincoln will ever achieve another time like their heydays of the 50′s through the 70′s. Both Cadillac and Lincoln are guilty of badge engineering. I do see a need for both to come out with a 29k product like Mercedes to provide a product to those who are not rich and wish to aspire to a luxury brand. Increasing fuel and environmental standards will make V-8 rear wheel drive cars higher priced and less popular. The only competitive advantage that a luxury brand can have now is more electronic gizmos that the non luxury cars don’t have and that is getting harder to do with Ford, Chevy. and some of the other non luxury brands adding these features in their higher trim models.

    I don’t think Cadillac can ever compete totally with BMW because it is more than performance that make a BMW a BMW, it is the status of BMW and German cars. Most who buy German luxury cars will buy them anyway regardless of price and regardless if an American, Japanese, or Korean vehicle match or exceed them feature by feature or on the performance level. People buy vodka based on a premium label even if a cheaper vodka is available at half the price and is of identical quality which most vodka is.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Cadillac never was supposed to appeal to the Puritan work ethic ideal. Caddy was always supposed to be over the top. Quiet success, that’s what Buick is for. Lincoln and various Chrysler’s went back and forth with those memes in the old days. Big finned Imperials were peacocks while the Engle styled Imperials and Lincolns were quiet luxury. LexusAcuraGenesis appeals to the Puritan work ethic crowd while Jaguar especially and to a lesser extent the Germans are more into the “look at me” model.

    I think GM’s doing a very good job nowdays and there is definitely a place for Buick and Cadillac because there are now so many ideals about what an aspirational car should be especially now with Tesla, Porsche, Land Rover, SRT, Escalade and even King Ranch/Denali type trucks and Wranglers. Also it’s been proven millionaires often drive generic cars and trucks like F150′s, Priuses and Accords.

    I wonder what “Lucky” magazine as a concept has to do with this advertising campaign? If I was Cadillac leadership I would have a quick hook for this marketing effort. I think many people think that even though they were born on third base, they are proud of hitting a triple. IMHO, they need to be working on something else.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Maybe Cadillac never was suppose to appeal to the Puritan work ethic but it did. There were many who worked hard and saved and aspired to owning a Cadillac one day. It is hard for anyone who is younger to understand that concept, especially if there parents were not raised during the depression. Those were my parents which Tom Brokaw wrote a book about “The Greatest Generation”. Was that generation totally wrong? Today we would say that they were too cautious and should have just spent the money and let their children take care of themselves. So yes maybe Cadillac and Lincoln were originally suppose to appeal to the blue bloods of America, those that were born into wealth but then this is America the land where the Puritan ethic is a large part of the fabric of our country. Not very many trust fund babies will buy Cadillacs or Lincolns they are more into Porsches, Mercedes, and BMWs.

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      Cadillac historically has been the “look at me car”. In my opinion that goes against the Puritan work ethic ideal. Now some Cadillac de Villes in the 80′s and 90′s really were so similar to what I called OldsmoBuicks that they really sort of were the same thing. The new styling direction of Cadillac to me has that “look at me” deal going on where Buick is much more low key.

      Chrysler is now trying the “I worked my way up to this nice car” attainable luxury meme with the present 300 and supposedly that will be the theme for the wave of new Chrysler brand cars and crossovers on the way. I’m not so sure it will work for Chrysler or Cadillac.

      To me the ultimate trust fund/nouveau riche car is a Jaguar.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Cadillac and Lincoln will never be a Mercedes, BMW, or Jaguar and maybe they should not try to be. Cadillac has some good products on the market and if anything they should just refine the interiors and improve what they have. Lincoln needs to differentiate their cars more from Fords even though they share a platform. The Cadillacs of yesteryear were unique and beautiful machines even though they are considered gaudy and excessive by today’s standards. Today’s customer is much different and today’s government regulations make yesterday’s Cadillac not feasible.

    The crossover field has become too overpopulated with all brands either in the field or planning to enter the field. Nothing against crossovers except when everyone starts making the same product then that product becomes less popular and starts to decline. One only has to look at minivans and body on frame suvs.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “Cadillac and Lincoln will never be a Mercedes, BMW, or Jaguar and maybe they should not try to be.”

      They were a cut above those brands at certain points. They could do it again by building credible products that command high prices. It would take significant investment and years of building those products to build up the appeal and brand image however.

      Instead Ford and GM seem to prefer to do half ass luxury and try and make up the margins in volume or economies of scale. In my opinion, they already have volume brands, why not make their top tier brands focused on top tier quality and content so they can command a healthy margin per vehicle.

      Yes, these companies seem to be cost focused and seem to try and do volume, volume, volume. Their quality isn’t bad, but if they were serious about luxury, they’d set aside a team to run their top tier brands that is ultra customer focused and does quality and luxury first, cost secondary. Refusing to do that will ensure they will never be a top shelf brand. I suspect the prevalence of a bean counter and widget-maker mentality stifles this kind of plan.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff S

        Maybe so but even if they did improve their brands significantly they could not compete with Mercedes or BMW. For the most part people who buy those brands will not switch even if you showed them a better and more attractive product. I agree that GM and Ford will not put the time and resources in making Cadillac and Lincoln distinct and one of a kind because of platform sharing and cost cutting. At this point they can at least improve upon the quality of interior and the overall fit and finish.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “Maybe so but even if they did improve their brands significantly they could not compete with Mercedes or BMW. For the most part people who buy those brands will not switch even if you showed them a better and more attractive product.”

          I disagree. Theres a good chance those people didn’t always drive cars from those brands. Snob appeal is a very powerful thing, ask Porsche. I’m certain the majority of Porsche owners haven’t always exclusively driven Porsches. Economic mobility and trends have more to do with buying habits than plain loyalty.

          It might be very difficult to convince BMW or Mercedes buyers to switch, but truly credibly products have a way of coming into vogue. It’s difficult to sway Toyota buyers as well, but the tide is turning.

          Once world beating Cadillacs and Lincolns start showing up in the driveways of the trend setters, popularity takes off. Getting cars into those driveways means simply building a better car. Not a better car for the price, better period. In perception and reailty.

          It’s possible, but it will take hard work.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I’d like to add that in addition to hard work and product which is ACTUALLY better than the competition, Cadillac needs to redo their entire dealership network. New showrooms, better staff, better service departments.

            You could remove the cars and film an early episode of The Cosby Show inside the Cincinnati Cadillac dealer (Camargo).

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff S

            @CoreyDL–I live in N KY so I am familiar with that dealership it is an old well established dealership. Many things in Cincinnati have not changed, except maybe building a worthless streetcar to the Over-the-Rhine area and contracting out city parking to a private contractor. How about an early episode of I Love Lucy.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Many things haven’t changed when they should have – exactly. I don’t get the I Love Lucy comment and how it relates though.

            You don’t get young money to respect a dealership which is run-down looking and very old (just old, not cool-vintage mind you). The only people in there are 60+ buying their XTS or having their Deville serviced. The sales staff are sloppy, and the service staff relatively unprofessional.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I don’t think so. For me I am less brand prejudice, but someone like my nephew the BMW logo alone is enough. He says that anyone who would drive anything other than a BMW is a failure and loser. More adult owners of BMW for the most part would not be caught dead in anything else. It has taken the American manufacturers years to get people who have left their folds to even look at their cars and still even with world class autos from Ford and GM many are still skeptical. Even if Cadillac and Lincoln rose to the occasion with better products it might take a generation to convince buyers to come back. I know of people that will not look at a Ford or GM product because of a bad experience with one 20 or 30 years ago even when you show them. It is much harder to get customers back once you lose them. I am not saying that it is totally impossible but bad experiences and bad images of a product last a lifetime.

    I at one time became disenchanted with the Big 3 but reading reviews and keeping up on changes in vehicles over the years I have become less inclined to be brand loyal. I have had good Big 3 vehicles and good Japanese vehicles–actually all have been good except a 85 Mercury Lynx which was given to me by my older brother, but I have owned Fords since then with little or no problems. I would have no problem owning most of the cars and trucks made today. Regular maintenance is the key to longevity.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “… anyone who would drive anything other than a BMW is a failure and loser”

      Let’s hope your nephew grows up and develops a proper value system

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        If that person is over the age of 20, I’d probably not speak to them unless forced. Any adult with said viewpoint is an idiot.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff S

        Actually he is my wife’s brothers son and he will be 26 this month. He is a nice kid but his world revolves around BMW. He is working in a parts department of a BMW dealership in N CA. My wife just bought a new CRV with everything on it, I am sure he is disappointed but we could care less. My wife’s other brother had an old Mercedes and Toyota Landcruiser which were both over 20 years old, well worn, and barely running. She offered him my 99 S-10 for free which is in absolutely perfect condition and at the time had 82k miles. I didn’t really want to give my S-10 up except he is family and needed a reliable vehicle. Instead of gracious declining he went into a tirade that he would not be caught dead in an American car and he was insulted by her offer. I was just as happy to keep the S-10 and it is still going strong 5 years later. That was my point before, he was down on his luck and did not have the money to buy another vehicle but he was too good to drive a Chevy. At the time he had a couple of old houses he was fixing up and my wife thought he could use a pickup.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          The boy has a problem, let him take all the money he makes in the parts dept. and he can buy his own BWM and be the porcupine that perpetuates the stereotype and don’t give your perfectly good truck to ingrates. If he ever needs a truck he can get himself a BMW pick-up truck

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff S

            My one brother-in-law turned the truck down, which is my nephew’s uncle. My nephew has some more growing up to do. My first car that I bought was a 73 Chevelle for $1,400 which looked like a taxi but ran smooth with a 350 V-8. I was proud of that car and took care of it like it was the most expensive car ever, because it was my first car and I paid for it with my own money. I will not give my S-10 to anyone now, especially someone who would not appreciate getting it. I have been fortunate in my life to have gotten a University education and to have had good jobs but nothing was given to me I had to work for what I got. There are many more that have had it a lot tougher than I have. My wife was disgusted with the way her brother acted and she has little to do with him. I personally have no use for him.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @CoreyDL–You said that they could take the cars away from the dealership and it would be the set for the Cosby show (1980′s), my comment is that it would be the set of I Love Lucy (1950′s). I agree in today’s car market you need to have a modern and attractive car dealership, even for those who are 60 and older. There needs to be pleasant and help staff and the service waiting area needs to be attractive and clean. Many Toyota and Chevy dealerships today have nice attractive dealerships. I am 61 and I don’t like sloppy service and dowdy looking dealerships. Ambiance is a very important aspect of customer satisfaction.


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