By on September 21, 2017

1980 Cadillac Coupe deVille, Image: Wikimedia

If you’ve been reading me for a while, you know that I’m passionate about obtaining products, goods, and services that are Made In The USA. Which is not to say that I never buy anything from low-cost countries where workplace safety and environmental regulations aren’t up to snuff — to my eternal sorrow, both of my laptops are Chinese, and as many of you have reminded me, the new Silverado LTZ in my driveway was Hecho en Mexico — but in general I will pay a considerable cost in both time and money for an American or at least Western product.

It’s possible, of course, that I’m just doing it to be a total snob. Nowadays, Made In America tends to imply prestige and cost, whether we’re talking SK Tools, Alden boots, or any number of high-end, hand-made bicycles. If you’re walking down the street and everything on or about your person is USA-made, chances are you’ve spent some real money. That’s also true for many industrial goods, certain building supplies, and nearly anything with wings. There’s just one complex product where the American flag logo is attached to a mandatory discount in the minds of most consumers.

No prize for figuring out what that is…

Timothy asks,

A few years ago I believe I read something you wrote about Lincoln getting back to being Lincoln, and not trying to chase other manufacturers. It seems like they’re starting to do just that, with the new Navigator, Continental, etc. Cadillac seems to be still chasing BMW with diminishing returns. What’s your take on this now that it’s a few years later?

Well, I’m extremely bullish on the new Continental and I’m quite impressed with the new Navigator. I absolutely think Lincoln is heading in the right direction, even if the bulk of their volume comes from FWD crossovers at the moment. In a perfect world, we would have a proper Mark Ten coupe with a hood the size of a carrier flight deck and five Designer Packages, but that’s obviously in the same realm of fantasy as life on Mars and interesting matches on Bumble.

As for Cadillac, wey-ulllll, I think they have shown beyond the shadow of a doubt that GM can produce a car that can humble the Germans around a racetrack. But we already knew that GM could do that, because the Corvette does that all the time. And I don’t think you can argue for any real sales or prestige benefits that accrue to the obsessive pursuit of luxury laptimes.

The problem with Cadillac as I see it, however, is this: Customers in the highline markets are extremely sensitive to authenticity. You can read some perceptive thoughts on the subject here but let me break it down for you quickly: Most luxury-car buyers have to be taught what to want, because they didn’t grow up with an intimate knowledge of luxury cars. So they are hyper attentive to any signs that a product is imitative or ersatz because they are worried about being humiliated. They would rather buy a subpar product with impeccable social credentials than buy a brilliant product that might cause their neighbors to sneer.

I’ve met a lot of GM engineers. They are competitive men who often have backgrounds in team sports and other endeavors where you call the other guy out and then you beat him. The current Cadillac range is chock-full of that attitude. But to luxury buyers, this focus on beating BMW and Mercedes and Lexus just smacks of Avis-esque we’re-number-two-so-we-try-harder insecurity and it makes them allergic to the product.

The reason I think Cadillac should go back to making Fleetwoods and deVilles and unashamedly American cars isn’t because I think those cars are more in keeping with the brand, although they are. It’s because selling vehicles that are obviously authentic Cadillacs in the classic style would demonstrate confidence to customers. Which in turn would result in more sales. I’d like to see Cadillac once again become the Standard of the World. But it has to be on their own terms. Or it’s meaningless. Simple as that.

[Image: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

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118 Comments on “Ask Jack: What About That American Exceptionalism?...”


  • avatar
    ash78

    I agree with this wholeheartedly. But if I had to argue against us here (which I love to do, at least as a mental exercise), two things come to mind:

    1. Car company bosses, the auto media, and consumers all love rankings. We love the idea that “this car finished first in a comparo” or whatever. This tends to ignore the fact that most cars are so good now, the gap between 1st and 5th might be smaller than the gap between 1st and 2nd just a decade ago. We can try to quantify the rankings all we want to try to lend some objectivity to it, but reviews will always be in their own context of time, place, and competitive landscape. So for the nouveau riche — the modern lessees who grew up without that classic concept of luxury cars — driving an ATS-V might always relegate them to second-tier status behind their M3 driving coworkers. Maybe the premium assigned to American products (which I also share with you here) just isn’t enough to overcome people’s shallow status seeking.

    2. Lexus spent its first 5-10 years being laughed at by many. “They just steal Mercedes’ designs and ideas and make them bland and reliable” people said, as if that was some sort of losing strategy. Surprise: Most of the world doesn’t really care about brand heritage, as long as you have a good product NOW. Now we’re talking about Caddy mimicking Lexus. So I wouldn’t even consider counting Caddy out yet, they’re still growing. Unlike Lexus, who was able to build a reputation from scratch, it takes decades to turn a reputation around. I think they’ve been steadily working at it since the CTS about 15 years ago. Patience.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      Not really – Lexus is largely irrrelevant outside of the u.s.a. Even Canada doesn’t really care for the brand. Brand heritage matters – so many years of pimpmobiles and shoddy craftsmanship will take a long time to reverse for Cadillac. Cadillac can go back to its roots, but that would also mean confining itself to the u.s.a. – not many countries have an appetite for oversized autos and monster trucks (SUVs). Cadillac will chase growth in China – its last real hope.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Sorry that I am so late to the party. And confused that I agree with JB 100% in this case.

        Also agree that I would rather support a corporation which employs the maximum amount of local labour. With most corporations being publicly traded and stocks largely held by large investment organizations, pension funds, etc, the nation of origin is of diminishing importance.

        Here hopefully is a link that provides a break down of the costs associated in manufacturing an automobile. It is a union research document, however Jim Stanford who was the Chief Economist of the CAW/Unifor is a well respected, highly educated professional. They have calculated the direct labour cost of manufacturing an auto as 3.7% of its MSRP.

        If the link is deleted then just Google: Vehicle Prices and Investment in Canada – Unifor National. It is a .pdf

        http://www.unifor.org/sites/default/files/attachments/977-labour_costs_in_vehicles_0.pdf

        • 0 avatar
          BobNelson

          Arthur Dailey,

          Fascinating data!

          First, there’s a fairly clear inverse relationship between labor percentage and total cost.

          Second, and more importantly, there’s the modesty of labor overall. It reveals the absurdity of the mantra: “Unions killed the auto industry”.

          • 0 avatar
            gmichaelj

            Given how small the amount paid to assembly line workers, it also cuts out the justification for buying a South Carolina BMW or an Ohio Honda as being MORE American than a Ford or GM made in Mexico.

            If :
            2% R&D
            3% Admin
            4% Automaker profit

            vs 4% Labor

            Can’t tell what to do with the 55% to suppliers – does that take a similar labor burden, or was that labor already counted?

            I suspect the labor was already counted (hence the point of the pamphlet).

            Since the suppliers have to pay their means of production as well, you’ll have to double the amount for R&D, Admin and Profits.

            Which means more money withheld from US labor / interests when you buy a Foreign brand.

            @Arthur Daily
            BTW, as to the profit allocation, the idea that Ford and GM are owned as much by foreigners as the shares are held by US citizens is ridiculous. You might find CALPERS as a shareholder, but you wont find any Chinese or German retirement plans investing in it.

            Same for the rich families, by and large. Notable exception for the Italian Family that Obama gave Chrysler to.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @gmichaelj: Actually foreign investments in stocks traded in America is probably much larger than most realize. The largest single investor being the fund controlled by the government of Norway. According to Wikipedia “It has over US$1 trillion in assets, including 1.3% of global stocks and shares, making it the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund.”

            There are also a number of extremely large Canadian pension funds which are major players.

            Individual investors are I believe a significantly smaller segment.

          • 0 avatar
            BobNelson

            @Arthur Dailey

            Norway is an interesting case. They knew from the start that their oil revenues were ephemeral, so they have always put a portion aside for when the wells are exhausted.

            Since petroleum contracts are usually written in dollars (and almost never in Norwegian kroner), Norway has accumulated a lot of dollars over the past half-century. Where is it easiest to invest dollars? In America, of course… which explains the large investments.

            Norway’s population is about 5 million, so your trillion represents $200 000 per person. Invested, not spent!

        • 0 avatar
          gmichaelj

          Athur:

          Here is a list of the largest investors in Ford and GM.

          Tell me which ones you think are international / global investors.

          Note that there are two tabs for each stock: funds and institutional

          ‘http://investors.morningstar.com/ownership/shareholders-major.html?t=F_
          ‘http://investors.morningstar.com/ownership/shareholders-major.html?t=GM_

          I don’t know how the Family B shares work, but they aren’t foreigners.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Just this summer, I’ve bought a number of “everyday” things that were all made in USA, and I paid only a slight premium:

    Garden hose at walmart
    Coleman cooler at walmart
    Kobalt brand Paint scraper at lowes
    paintbrush at lowes (okay, this was significantly pricier, $15 for a Wooster OH made brush versus $7 for something worse quality and Chinese)

    Some car parts:
    Dayco serpentine belt and idler for my Ranger
    Motorcraft oil filter for the Ranger

    Most of the time, it was literally just a few dollars more for the American made product that was right next to the Chinese made one. I just paid attention and made the conscious decision to spend a few dollars more.

    You don’t have to be a “snob” to get your hands on American made goods. I think people overstate the savings of the outsourced stuff, if more people took that extra little step and minor commitment, things could really get turned around. The presence/absence of a factory making everyday consumer stuff (let along a car factory or appliances) can make or break a small town.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      In a lot of cases, I’ve noticed in the past few years that the US product is intentionally of higher quality than the Chinese version (your paintbrush example is great — Wooster, Purdy, or spend the day miserable). This is pretty similar to what Germany has been doing for decades and I hope we can one day follow that example, with high-end US products coexisting with “budget” brands. I’ve lived long enough now to realize the fallacy of buying cheap crap, which is only cheap up front…it often ends up costing more in the long run via frustration, breakage, replacement, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Well the point I’d argue is that US made stuff can even exist in that happy middle ground of being priced in a very competitive fashion (within spitting distance of the cheap Chinese stuff) with either similarly adequate quality compared to okay quality Chinese goods, or in many cases better. The decision is then in the hands of the consumer, whether they are motivated simply by country of origin to spend just slightly more. Unfortunately, for the majority of consumers currently, the answer is simply “no.” Every single every day consumer good that we come in contact with used to be made here, and used to support a big or small city or town somewhere in America. It may very well be a far-flung pipe dream, but I think reversing the outsourcing trend of even low-cost consumer stuff would only benefit us as a country/community in terms of the lower-skill jobs we so desperately need.

        • 0 avatar
          ash78

          Absolutely. My personal “threshold” for comparable quality products is that I’ll usually pay 10%-20% more for US-made stuff, all else being equal. I know we have some of the best worker protections and benefits in the world (with some exceptions) and I’m happy to pay that little bit extra the same way I’m happy to give to charity. I prefer local, then regional, then American, then North American, then democratically made — in that order. If one shirt comes from India and another from China, India gets my business. Same 10%-20% rule for me.

          But this logic breaks down when we talk about rewarding US carmakers a little too much through the 80s and 90s for inferior products. That level of jingoism can really do our country a disservice, so it’s a tough line. I used to joke I drove my VW because I was trying to help the US auto industry. At the time, there weren’t any competitive domestics, but that has changed a lot. Even if some of our cars still finish in the middle of the pack in comparison tests, the gap between first and last has shrunk a lot.

          • 0 avatar
            gmichaelj

            1. What does it mean to be “Made in America”?

            What is more important to our ongoing economic sustainability? Final Assembly? Parts Content? Design/Engineering? Ownership/Re-investment?

            I would rather buy a product from a Company that is owned by Americans than one that is assembled by Americans. The assembly plant workers are, relative to the other employees, the lowest paid and can be easily shut down.

            Compared to owners, all employees/sub-contractors aren’t as well compensated.

            2. I think we are well past the point where we can “help” by sending money to support HQ operations and profitability to Foreign companies. If there ever was a time when that was appropriate.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I would vastly prefer to buy a Camry assembled in the Kentucky (or Highlander or Sienna from Indiana, or Tundra from Texas) with 70%+ US made parts from suppliers scattered around Southern Indiana/Kentucky/Texas/etc, with a lot of the design/engineering/testing at this point being done in Texas, over just about anything nominally “domestic,” with a few shining exceptions (F150 comes to mind). GM can keeps its Mexican Silverados full of Chinesium parts.

          • 0 avatar
            gmichaelj

            gtemnykh:

            Well then you are a good Colonial!

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Is GM still doing some final assembly in Fort Wayne, IN? Are you more likely to find a higher trim (and therefore higher profit) truck from Fort Wayne?

            Just curious.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            PrincipalDan, they definitely do quite a bit of assembly in Ft Wayne, I drive by the holding lot with some regularity. Not sure of the trim mix, but it seems that there are a lot of fleet and “Custom” trucks. They have a separate finishing facility where you see plain jane WTs roll in one side, and gussied up “Customs” with blacked out trim and wheels and vinyl stripes and such come out the back side.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            @gmichealj

            Call it whatever you want bub. It supports local working class families and that’s what matters to me.

          • 0 avatar
            gmichaelj

            gtemnykh:

            Those “working class jobs” can be withdrawn whenever Japan Inc. thinks it is best to move those jobs, or the 5-percenters’ local engineering jobs, back to Japan, say in a down-turn.

            Also, what about those HQ engineers and designers and HQ working class secretaries?

            When you send the Contribution Margin (Revenue minus Variable Costs) of a say Pickup Truck ($10 Grand or more) back to Japan, you keep wanna-be working class Detroit secretaries in Waffle House Jobs.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            History/precedent has shown they haven’t, in fact they’ve only been moving more and more towards localizing suppliers, and investing in HQ/R&D centers in the US. Meanwhile domestics move even high margin vehicles south of the border in pursuit of sweet sweet profit, and outsource to bottom-bidder third world factories for components/sub-assemblies.

            Your what-if-ism is silly and irrelevant in light of what’s been going on.

          • 0 avatar
            gmichaelj

            gtemnykh:

            So in this competitive manufacturing market where businesses are constantly trying to improve revenues and lower costs, the Japanese employ more Americans at higher wages (so Total wages to US employees) than the American manufacturers?

            Unfortunately I don’t know of where one can find the statistics to back up the argument (if you do please tell – don’t think we’ll find it in SEC filings) but I don’t think Japanese auto companies spend more on US employees in aggregate, or per vehicle, than American auto companies do.

            Occam’s razor.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I’d prefer to reward the manufacturer moving in the direction of localizing and committing to more American jobs than the companies going in precisely the opposite direction, what exactly is hard to understand about this? You’re twisting and turning in every possible way to avoid an uncomfortable truth. The Camry is the modern day Impala (without the exciting/handsome styling and with higher build quality). It is in every way more American than a Hermosillo made Fusion, for example.

          • 0 avatar
            gmichaelj

            I’m “twisting and turning” to avoid the uncomfortable TRUTH that the Camry is more American than a Hermosillo Fusion?

            Well, I would say that your TREND analysis (“moving in the direction of localizing and committing to more American jobs than the companies going in precisely the opposite direction”) is fully played out from the Japanese Inc. Front. Toyota has all the jobs in Plano they are going to have given their level of sales in the US, after they replace all those Orange County sticks-in-the-muds. From here on out, jobs in Toyota City will grow just as fast as jobs in Plano. Unless Toyota wants to move all of its operations here.

            On the American side, I will agree that if Ford and GM can move more relatively low paid, and low skill, assembly line work (relative to all the other employees) to Mexico or China or wherever, that they’d do it – if it was a significant cost advantage. But from what I read in the automotive press, that is slowing as well, as quality suffers. But for arguments sake, let’s say they want to go non-UAW as much as possible.

            If so, I’d want to know how much is spent on assembly costs in the US – final vehicle and all supplier sub assemblies. My back of the napkin uses 12 hours of man-time X $55/hour/FTE, so about $660 for Honda/Toyota plant labor at Marysville or wherever. 12 hrs is from Mary Walton, albeit 20 yrs ago. $55 is John McElroy, for Honda, sometime last year. I think it was more like $63/hr for Big 2.5. XXX
            Mr. McElroy also contends that 70% of content is from suppliers, and my understanding is that Tier 1 thru X supplier employees are paid less. So let’s say 75% of what UAW workers make??? Is that a good estimate? Then $660 goes to Marysville plant labor. Supplier content: 70%/30% X 75% X $660 = $1155 goes to supplier’s employees, who I suppose, for argument’s (s’ ?) sake, are all US citizens. So 1,155 + 660 = $1,815 for US labor for that American Camry.

            Am I missing some funds here to the WORKING CLASS?

            Can’t say how much goes to US Honda/Toyota engineering per Camry – any estimates on that?

            I think these amounts on US labor pale by comparison to the amounts spent (in the home country) on overhead R&D, etc and dividends in the home country.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            That’s a thorough analysis, but one that still thoroughly misses the forest for the trees. Locally, Toyota is pouring in money into Princeton for the next generation Highlander, expanding Aisin’s footprint near Seymour (actively hiring), Lexington is getting a big makeover and another 700 jobs. North of me, Subaru just added the Impreza to their line and is hiring assembly line people, engineers, etc like crazy. Honda in Greensburg is adding the CRV to their assembly line. Meanwhile, Anderson/Muncie/Kokomo has been gutted with GM and its suppliers (Delphi, Remy) picking up and moving out, wiping out both assembly work as well as the high paid engineering positions in the electronics/circuits design area. The Japanese transplants put food on the table for a lot of folks in Indiana. Shutting down factories and then selling Mexican Silverados crammed full of Chinese Delco and Remy parts back to people (if they can even afford the note on a new car anymore) does not sit well with people.

          • 0 avatar
            gmichaelj

            The CAPS below are because I don’t know how to bold or underline (I’m not yelling)

            —-

            Well, I appreciate the trends you are seeing locally.

            And I appreciate that people need to eat now in Indiana and other places.

            But before I concede to your investment analysis, I’d want to see what new plants and models Ford and GM are building/investing in the US and globally, as well as what the Japanese are building/investing in the US and globally. Not just Indiana investments.

            Over the long run, Toyota/Honda/Nissan (Jap3) will build in Mexico and China as much as Ford and GM do, if there is a real economic benefit to doing so.

            Why would they concede labor cost advantages to US companies?

            If I’m not mistaken, Nissan is the biggest builder in Mexico, no?

            But also, it isn’t just the factories. It’s the wealth – where does the money go after they’ve paid labor and rents.

            Over the long run, if people buy more Jap3 or ROK2 than Ford/GMs, as well as other products like high tech gadgets from Asia, then when our grand children work and live, they will do so in a relatively smaller economy sending more wealth overseas than they will create here.

            The Economic Masters will be foreigners, who will favor where they are from.

            What we do, AS INDIVIDUALS, now, and how we spend our money now, will determine who makes the investment decisions in the future. If we buy goods from US companies, than, OVERALL, they will spend and invest more here in the US, over the long run, than foreign companies will.

            ——

            So all of that above is what I think we should do INDIVIDUALLY with our spending.

            Politically/collectively/economically I do NOT support unrestrained free trade markets. Clearly US factory and other workers can’t compete with near-starvation workers. NAFTA has been a failure for most Americans as the benefits from free trade have accrued to only the wealthiest Americans. It also saddens me that Ford and GM build things overseas to sell here.

            Politically/Collectively should we pull out of NAFTA? Yes. Should we tax the hell out of items made in China and start a Trade War – why not? Who would lose? Only the wealthiest Americans, for the most part. There would be economic problems in the near term, but most Americans would benefit by working in an economy where the wealth we created stayed here.

            I strongly believe we could create a successful mostly-closed economy. But this would be a POLITICAL action, separate from INDIVIDUAL buying / supporting decisions, which we can make now – on our own.

          • 0 avatar
            gmichaelj

            Also, i think the Factories are the Trees and the overall flow of capital (to all investments and employees globally, and to investors as dividends) is more the Forest.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            gmmichaelj, I appreciate you taking the time to respond in as intelligent and reasonable fashion as you have. And I’d say, you have a very rational and level headed view of things as they stand. And on the political side of things economics/trade wise, it sounds like we are basically on the same page.

            On the individual spending side of things, I’m going to stick to my guns on “whoever builds stuff in America with American labor (with American parts if possible), gets my business,” rightly or wrongly.

          • 0 avatar
            gmichaelj

            ok, thanks for hearing me out

          • 0 avatar
            BobNelson

            Ash78,

            “I know we have some of the best worker protections and benefits in the world (with some exceptions)…”

            No. On the contrary, probably the worst in the developed world.

            In America, there is (or at least was) a deep disrespect for labor, charged with all that was wrong. Management was dismissive of all notions of worker “participation”, à la japonaise.

            “Labor as bugaboo” gave cover to a long string of craven, incompetent and self-serving CEOs.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        Several years back, circumstances had me living in an apartment some distance from the house I owned. I needed to outfit the apartment kitchen with some basics and went to Walmart. I picked up the cheap $1 Chinese-made can opener because, heck, I don’t open many cans. And it worked fine until it didn’t, the cheaply attached drive gear detached from the head. I went back to Walmart and bought the $2.50 US-made can opener that I’d passed over the first time. That thing is still working way more then 2.5 times as long as the first one did. I’ve come to understand why so many people think only of the immediate expense and not the longer term cost of ownership. As the old saying goes: I’m too poor to be able to afford cheap tools.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        I like the Purdy brushes – very well made, and they come in a cardboard-with-Velcro “case” to keep them in. We’ve got three or four, and they make different brushes for latex paint versus oil-based paints.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      @PrincipalDan –

      Yes, Fort Wayne Assembly is humming right along. They don’t make the high-zoot crew cab trims, however.

      If you go by it now on I-469, you’ll see a few thousand U-Haul truck rental specials parked out back awaiting shipment.

      Here’s what GM says they make:

      GMC Sierra: Double & Regular
      4WD, 2WD; V6, V8 conventional, V8 flex fuel, V8 active fuel management, V8 diesel; LD short box on Regular Cab; short and long box on Double Cab; 4WD HD Regular Cab long box; HD ¾-ton Double Cab short and long box; HD 1-ton Double Cab long box, Single Rear Wheel and Dual Rear Wheel

      Chevrolet Silverado: Double & Regular
      4WD, 2WD; V6, V8 conventional, V8 flex fuel, V8 active fuel management, V8 diesel; LD short box on Regular Cab; short and long box on Double Cab; 4WD HD Regular Cab long box, HD ¾-ton Double Cab short and long box, HD 1-ton Double Cab long box, Single Rear Wheel and Dual Rear Wheel

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Exactly this, but a large percentage of Americans still shop exclusively on purchase price, never mind the potential true cost. It’s all good until a friend, relative (or the person themselves)lose a job to a outsourcing decision. I strive to look for as much made in America goods as I can. It drives my family nuts, but when I see $300 billion (plus) a year go to China, year after year, it grates me. Yes, China is investing some of that back into America, but I’m fairly certain they are enjoying the majority of that cash in their own country. Never mind the lopsided rules and regulations required to do business there, when everybody is clamoring for “free trade,” yet in practice are as much, if not more, nationalist than we are.

      As for Lincoln and Cadillac, I tend to agree that Lincoln seems to be gaining a foothold back into the market while Cadillac is still trying to be the “BMW of America.” What’s wrong with marketing to older, more established clientele (you know, those that actually have the funds to buy upscale cars)? Not saying they need to “Brougham” every vehicle they make, but I’m not sure most Cadillac owners, or potential owners, really care much about their vehicle’s Nurburgring times.

  • avatar
    ajla

    GM should have spent all that money to have Cadillac rival Lexus’s reliability rankings instead of chasing the dynamics of a 2001 BMW.

    “Standard of the World” comes from a parts quality award after all.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m finding that at 30k/yr and 125k now on the CTS, it has what I associate with VW…cheap parts break. Often they are cheap to fix but it can be annoying.

      • 0 avatar
        RedRocket

        Have you ever had a BMW? The only way they make it to 125K is with a total mechanical rebuild.

        • 0 avatar
          TOTitan

          Not true. I had a 635csi that I finally sold with 170000 miles and it ran great with no issues. I currently have a 335d with 97000 miles that has cost me nothing except regular maintenance and it can still run 0-60 in under 6 seconds, the quarter mile in 13, and go from Denver to Ventura County CA in 13.5 hours with only two fuel stops.

        • 0 avatar
          zamoti

          Pretty true. Had a 545i that was absolutely falling apart before it hit 100k. Leaked oil, coolant, power steering fluid, from just about every place that it could. Electronics were fragile and often broken. Fun to drive, but was not very durable.

  • avatar

    It is hard to tell sources. I got two oil filters for the caddy. One is made in poland and one in china. I got the same one from three different sources (Poland). The 3.6 is a worldwide engine.

    I got spark plugs that said AC Delco from my local small auto parts store. The boxes were red, white and blue.
    on the back in tiny print, says MADE IN GERMANY.

    The end links ? Made in Korea, of course.

    Makes me want to go off in my car from that unknown but very productive car nation, Canada. No one ever said “I drive a Canadien Car”.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    The problem with Cadillac going back to making Cadillacs is that Cadillac luxury hasn’t been authentic during our lifetimes. They were about wire wheels covers, fake radiator shells, fake convertible tops, fake wood dash trim, long hoods over short engines, and non-existent engineering innovation for decades before their sales collapsed. If you wanted engineering, you bought a Chrysler or Imperial. Few did.

    It seems like people are figuring out that BMW isn’t authentic anymore, which is why their sales are down relative to their German competitors. At the same time, their competitors are forced by regulators to follow BMW down the same path of pointlessly crude drivetrains in an age of cheap energy that will lead to their own loss of esteem.

    This doesn’t mean that the world is waiting for fully priced broughams to return. Broughams were always about dressing up garbage in the face of regulations that couldn’t be met while maintaining drivability and performance. This time the technology is there to generate numbers, but the premium priced engines of today are pinging stovebolts compared to the velvet naturally aspirated engines of a decade ago. Does anyone even know what an attempt at a refined engine would resemble in this day of stop-start, direct injection, and turbocharging? Sticking a bunch of depression-era design cues on an Impala isn’t going to turn it into a car that sells for Suburban money, and that’s what it would have to do to justify its CAFE score.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I get the animosity toward stop/start and turbos, but what’s wrong with direct injection? No bad driveability problems and good design eliminates the carbon build up on the valves…

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Some direct injection systems have an unflattering clatter to them.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        What ajla said. I think the ones that don’t have prominent clattering noises suppress them with engine encapsulation. The vibrations can still be felt when cruising on the highway, much the same way that there is nothing relaxing about driving a V6 powered car on the highway, or a four cylinder without well engineered balance shafts.

    • 0 avatar
      BobNelson

      ToddAtlasF1,

      “Does anyone even know what an attempt at a refined engine would resemble in this day of stop-start, direct injection, and turbocharging?”

      Of course we do. It would be a big-bore, low-revving, naturally balanced V8 or V12, free-breathing air intake and unhindered exhaust, coupled to a hydraulic transmission.

      Smooth!

      Also… ridiculously high fuel consumption, and atrocious pollution.

      It’s a simple question: What do we really want?

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @bobnelson: Some of us do know what refined power is like and have it. Sure, there are drawbacks, but for the most part, I get the V-12 experience without the maintenance, fuel consumption issues, and double-digit transmission gear count issues.

        http://www.yasamotors.com/products/yasa-750/

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I grew up with two Cadillacs in the family. These were 10yo cars at the time – a 2-door ’77 Fleetwood (425 engine), and an ’81 Fleetwood with the dreaded 8-6-4 engine (modded to always run all 8 cylinders). They were both extremely comfortable cars and were – at the time – usually the biggest thing on the road. Perfect for long highway cruising though I would often get a little car sick in the back seat.

    A big – RWD! and without the current Art & Science design – Cadillac would be on my list of future purchases. Add in a V8 or a well-sorted twin-turbo V6. Make it menacing in black.

  • avatar
    mshenzi

    It did matter to me that the Subaru Impreza I bought a few months ago was built in Indiana– supporting US manufacturing work wasn’t THE decider, but was absolutely a factor in my decision. Since ‘American brand’ and ‘American made’ often have little to do with each other now, the decision tree gets more complicated. For me, ‘made’ mattered more than ‘brand’.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I am very comfortable buying a product “made in the USA” regardless of who the parent company is because at least there are my fellow Americans earning a paycheck.

  • avatar
    Parousia

    I grew up in the back seat of a brown 1979 DeVille. 7.0L V8 cranking out 190 good-time horses and more torque than an overstocked dealership of Hondas. I agree with your article, Jack, that Cadillac needs to be “authentic” to appeal to people who can afford their product. The 1979 DeVille was authentic. 18 feet long, lots of chrome, and 15mpg going downhill at the Double Nickel. But the quality was horrendous! (I won’t list everything that fell off, cracked, or stopped working in the first three years under warranty, let alone the 13 years my parents owned the Brown Beast (which, your readers will appreciate, was traded in for a 1992 Crown Vic–with an identical 190hp)) Cadillac downsized their offerings shortly thereafter to chase the trend of better MPG, and in doing so lost their authenticity. If they had stayed the course and improved the quality of their American Sized products–instead of fiddling with the size–they would still be the Standard of the World.

  • avatar
    Waterview

    Ive traditionally been a Chevrolet “guy”, but I’m not going to replace my Texas-built Tahoe with a Mexican-build Silverado. Time to look at the F150 . . . . .

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      You could get a Texas built Tundra :p

      Encouraging news for Chevy truck guys: you can get a Flint built Silverado crewcab now (and have always been able to get a Fort Wayne built reg/extended cab), but you’ll really have to hunt around for them. Hopefully they can ramp up production there drastically.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    I know people hate it when I say it, but around here (I work literally in the shadow of O’Hare) Lincolns are the sole provenance of Uber and Lyft drivers. Extremely rare to see one without the yellow Livery plate. Would that prevent me from buying one? Yes, it would. Is that shallow? Probably. Do I care? No.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’m with you.

      Lincoln isn’t there yet…and the Continental is a LONG way from being great. It looks distinctive, but when you boil it down, it’s a puffed up Fusion, and the interior is ten kinds of cheap.

      (Awesome seats, though.)

    • 0 avatar

      This is a case of confirmation bias. Chicago is either the second or third strongest Lincoln market in the country, depending on the month (Detroit is always first, Miami is sometimes second). You can’t swing a dead cat in the west suburbs without hitting an MKZ, and they’re not livery cars.

      If you had said NYC, it might have been more plausible.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        I don’t live in or venture to the west suburbs. I live in the NW suburbs where NO ONE has a Lincoln, and I work across from the airport where EVERYONE has one and they’re all yellow-plated. I just walked across the street for a SBUX breakfast sandwich from the hotel next door, and there were two yellow-plated MKS idling in the parking lot and a yellow-plated MKT at a stop light. There was a mint 70s 20-foot-long Continental Mk-something parked in the lot though, that was cool.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick 2012

        I noticed a fair number of privately owned Contis (i.e. were not black) in Montreal this week. May have something to do with the horrific state of the roads there.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        My Lincoln was built in Chicago. I am not impressed.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Ford/Lincoln quality blows.

      Lincoln doesn’t really make a sing,e truly luxurious vehicle.

      The Continental is a pretty weak effort.

      Both Cadillac and Lincoln should be terminated or spun of to Chinese, Indian or Malaysian interests.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Worth noting: when Cadillacs were indeed “exceptional,” the rest of the world was basically a post-war pile of rubble. It’s a helluva lot easier to be exceptional when your competition is basically nonexistent.

    So…to make Cadillacs “exceptional,” make ’em with distinctive styling. I’m all for that. But they can’t move backwards technically and revert to becoming land yachts. That isn’t going to work.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Cadillacs were exceptional when their engines were torn apart in Europe and thrown back together during races, and in the capital-c Classic period.

      Otherwise they were premium products for an American audience; they were peerless, no pun intended.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        +1, 86er. Standard of the World and Penalty of Leadership are prewar concepts. My great-grandfather bought a ’26 Cadillac new, which represented a conquest sale from Pierce-Arrow. He didn’t commute in it, but it was the sole vehicle first for him and then as a hand-me-down for his son-in-law and daughter from ’26 through ’41. Definitely a quality vehicle.

        • 0 avatar
          86er

          Thank you, Featherston.

          While a predilection towards a certain aesthetic plays a part in it (rectilinear design), there is no doubt why the Classic period is favoured among collectors, and why they fetch unbelievable prices.

  • avatar
    01 Deville

    Agreed about Lincoln, there execution is great with somewhat humble bones.
    As for Cadillac, they need crossovers and more crossovers in short term.
    They do seem to have a long term vision of where that brand needs to be, and I think moving the HQ from Detroit to NYC was a necessary step. Cadillac has long represented sensible Midwest approach to luxury, a farmers luxury car if you will, that will have the substance but not the detailed execution. Sit and poke around any Cadillac and a contemporary Mercedes and without looking at badges you can feel the difference in attention to detail. Moving the headquarters to a place where a larger pool of talent that has first hand experience of contemporary luxury will hopefully help Marketing think big.
    As for fine tuning on what the brand represents they are building a team that is thinking in terms of brand and image and have the training and tools to tweak it. I am sure they are looking at customer perception of their brand and ways to fix it.

    Being an engineer I always have my run-ins with marketing but decisions about where a certain brand needs to be are best left to marketing.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      I visited NYC every year throughout the ’70s and ’80s before living there a total of five years between 1993 and 2002. NYC held onto antiquated ideas about US land yachts longer than anywhere else I’ve lived. Michael Bloomberg basically had to legislate them out of use to get Ford to kill the Panthers that ruled the streets of every borough.

      Until Cadillac’s second round of downsizing, they were the only choice. Everyone from Staten Island twenty year olds to Park Avenue blue bloods rolled in rear wheel drive Cadillacs up until 1985. The Eldorado Biaritz was aspirational for the first group, while the Fleetwood Limousines were the destination rides for the latter. German, British and Swedish brands made their hay in college towns and on the left coast. New Yorkers know about cars what farmers know about pimping. Every other major city in the world that was built before cars migrated to small cars while NYC stayed big until they had nothing left to buy. The US is hobbled by taking New Yorkers’ opinions seriously about anything, but going there to sell cars to the rest of the world is singularly silly.

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    As usual, Baruth of off-base on this. Who are those buyers of the traditional Cadillac-style luxo-boats? Where were they when Cadillac (and Buick, and Lincoln) were still building them, because they sure as hell weren’t buying them any more. There aren’t many Morty Seinfelds left in the world with enough money to want one. You can’t sell a young person an old man’s car. The few who want one usually buy a Lexus ES. Cadillac had to go in a different direction. I would suggest it is still a work in progress, but they are making the best cars they have ever made. Once their product development cycle catches up with the vagaries of the market we can talk. Although I do wish the development resources they put into the CT6 had instead gone into a crossover slightly smaller than the XT5. That is the main criticism I have of them right now.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Cadillac sold 158,000 full sized RWD cars in 1984, the last year of the real de Ville series cars. How many CTS, CT6, ATS, XTS cars do they sell now?

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      Gm made some nice land yachtss in the late 1950s and 1960s. The lardy rust buckets from the 1970s, putting out the power of a Pinto in a 5 tonne frame, usually with a “Lets see Japan make a better one of THESE” sticker on the back window, were complete and utter dogs.

      • 0 avatar
        BobNelson

        Guitar man,

        “Gm made some nice land yachtss in the late 1950s and 1960s.”

        That’s a HALF-CENTURY ago! That’s half-way back to the very first automobiles. That is done and gone!

        Taking antiques as examples for the future may not lead to a lot of innovation…

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Jack I always agree with you in these kind of rants.

    I can’t find the article now to link it but I loved the one you wrote about a coma dream/hallucination of a world where cars like the great Cadillacs, Lincolns, and Oldsmobiles of yore still ruled the road.

    I have visited the place in my dreams.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Nürburgring times are not enough.

    You need to have high quality switchgear, efficient packaging, good outward sight lines, conservative styling that endures the test of time, and infotainment electronics that are responsive and easy to use. I think Caddy falls down on a lot of those metrics.

    I’m not sure the quality is there either. I know relatives who watched their relatively new Cadillac combust itself to death on the highway.
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Cadillac interior, exterior quality is 2nd rate, their reliability is in the bottom quarter percentile, and their resale value is extremely laughable.

      Cadillac has morphed into the new Pontiac.

      Move it to Shanghai, sell it to the Chinese (where an increasingly larger # of their parts and components are made, anyways).

      Maybe Johan, Melody Lee and Uwe Pen Boy can stay on as execs and get Shanghai corner offices in the to-be-built/leased new Craddirac HQ.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    get rid of leases

    leasing has allowed everyone and their staff to get into formerly exclusive luxury cars

    when all cars have the hallmarks of luxury – power everything and leather – what people really want is exclusivity

    if you make people pay for their cars – no loans either – you’ll get exclusivity

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      If I ever see anyone driving a new Cadillac sedan, then I will tell them they have achieved exclusivity. Do they lease Cadillac cars? You’d think the lack of residual value would keep them from competing on lease prices with the cars they aspire to rival. Incidentally, those German cars are rented by the thousands without diminishing their prestige advantages over Cadillac.

  • avatar
    SMIA1948

    You are 100% correct, Jack. A “Cadillac” is either big, flashy, and distinctively American, or it is nothing, and it won’t sell enough units for enough money to be profitable. Audi (Audi!) now outsells Cadillac in the U.S. market–by a lot.

    The archetypal Cadillac is the 1959, with the huge fins and the bullet taillights. The first time that you see a new Cadillac model, your reaction should be “Wow!”

    There should be one Cadillac sedan, and it should be bigger than the biggest Mercedes, BMW, or Audi. It should have a 25 cubic foot trunk. It should have the smoothest, quietest ride of any car. And, it should cost $75,000. It’s fine if it has a pushrod V8 and a 6-speed automatic.

    A Cadillac should be easy to use. If GM can’t do better than the IP and controls of a 2001 Lexus LS430, they should just copy that car’s interior design. A car is not an iPhone. No thank CUE.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Cadillac is beyond fixing.

      They actually use images of a concept car (the Ciel) in commercials, as if they want to try and fool people into buying a Cadillac off of the design aesthetic of a vehicle they have no intention of building.

  • avatar
    Eggshen2013

    I don’t often agree with Jack, but he hit the nail on the head with this article.
    Cadillac should start being Cadillac again.

    • 0 avatar
      tomLU86

      They should take the best of both.

      A proper Cadillac should be BIG, POWERFUL, and SMOOTH, and have a V8 (or a V12 or V16).

      The Escalade hits 2.5 out of the 3 above (it’s a “smooth” as a Tahoe can be)

      The problem with the “Brougham” Cadillacs from 1970-1995 was that they were mediocre cars dressed garishly with whitewalls, vinyl roofs, and gadgets to differentiate them.

      They were the butt of jokes.

      Their demographic is gone.

      BUT, you’re not going to make it trying to out-BMW BMW (which Cadillac seems to have succeeded at, based on my limited driving of an ATS and what I read in car magazines).

      Be yourself! A classy, “American” (not tacky “Ummericuhn”) big car that handles well with a V8 would do it.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    Agreed. As a former owner of a “boat” Cadillac.

    Nobody asked for a Cadillac version of a BMW. Except car magazines that are going out of business.

    Embrace the Americana of the Cadillac heritage and make a modern interpretation of that.

    I almost think though it may be too late. The only thing keeping Cadillac afloat now is the Escalade, which is about as “ugly American” as it gets and it makes no bones about it.

    The last Cadillac car I really liked was the Seville STS and Eldorado ETC ending in around 2004.

  • avatar
    GermanReliabilityMyth

    Jack, I think you’re right.

    And, really, what name is more American than Jack (which is pretty much the same as John)?

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    Honestly, I don’t see what Cadillac has to lose by shifting from tryhard “German-beating” me-too-mobiles to authentic, “unashamedly American” cars. Realistically, they’d still keep a brace of utilities in order to keep the lights on, a la Porsche.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    They should build the Fleetwood brougham again, but with the 3.6 or 2.0t or something.

  • avatar
    delow48

    GM got their brands wrong when the financial crisis hit. Oldsmobile should have been the BMW killer and Cadillac should have been the high luxury brand. Like Jack says, the old school luxury or even a budget Rolls type or even the competition to the 7 series or S class German cars.

    With the current brands, Buick should be the one trying to compete in the 3 and 5 class as their brand could support the entry level luxury/sport class starting just under the $30k mark up to the $50-60k range. It would also generate a bit more distance from Chevrolet. Caddy should then shift up to the higher luxury class with an entry level where Buick ends in the $50k range. Undercut the Germans and you have a strategy not unlike Lexus in the late 80’s.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    Perhaps he is not a Cadillac follower.

    There may not have been a Fleetwood (I myself am not sure if it was an upscale model or option), perhaps you or some one can explain.

    However, there were LOTS of 77-79 Coupe De Villes with 425 CID V8s.

  • avatar
    GS 455

    The irony is that while Cadillac keeps going for handling wins in Car and Driver comparos, BMW sedans are becoming softer riding and less dynamic than in the past. The 5 series in particular could now be described as “The Ultimate Buick Machine”.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Agreed 100%. Ironically the American company to get this the most right is Chrysler with the 300. That thing is about as American as apple pie in concept at least. Take the money you’d WASTE lapping around the ‘Ring testing Brembo Brakes™ and put that money into a design that would make a self-loathing coastal college grad put their hand over their heart and tearfully sing the Star Spangled Banner at first sight.

    The ONLY piece of the car that isn’t committee’d/regulated/shareholder’t to death is design. The domestics have to leverage the hell out of that along with their heritage to a generation that doesn’t know the horrors of the Cadillac 8-6-4 diesel or the Lincoln Versailles.

  • avatar
    BobNelson

    “Cadillac should be unabashedly Cadillac” is a cool idea… but I don’t know what the car would be like.

    A behemoth with port-holes in a vinyl roof would be ridiculous. The Escalade is already pretty ridiculous. So… what would this unabashed Cadillac resemble?

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    There were some Auburn Boattail Speedsters in town for the ACD Festival. What stunning machines.

    Cadillac needs to look a few hours south for what American Luxury really means.

  • avatar
    pb35

    I had a Caddy similar to the one in the pic, coupe, same color but with red leather interior when I was 20.

    I called it the Love Machine.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Until about 1966 Cadillac built the highest quality cars in the world in terms of workmanship and quality of materials. They were also the fastest and smoothest and best equipped luxury cars in the world, far better than a contemporary RR, MB, or Jag. Nobody could touch a GM automatic transmission or a Cadillac climate control system in 1966. Mechanically, however, they were pretty pedestrian with pushrod, 4 barrel, cast iron V-8s, drum brakes, live rear axles, and body on frame construction, and they differentiated themselves from Chevy and Ford primarily by being physically bigger and offering more bells and whistles. Cadillac never really caught up mechanically during the 1970s and 1980s, being slow to adopt fuel injection, disk brakes, IRS, unibody, etc. that their foreign competitors were offering as standard equipment, and at the same time Cadillac quality of construction and materials steadily declined. They can’t go back to 1966 or 1956 because a nicely built but mechanically obsolete land yacht can’t possible compete with a modern MB, BMW, or Lexus. The closest they can achieve to what they once had would be to follow their only current success the Escalade by making medium and small versions – lots of in-your-face chrome, big power (no wimpy 4 cylinders – screw CAFE), and every luxury feature known to man. Make sure to put them together with care and with premium interior fittings (NO FAKE WOOD, NO FAKE LEATHER, and NO FAKE CARBON FIBER), offer a 7 year warranty, and price them 15-20% below the comparable Lexus or Audi until your reputation catches up with the new reality.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I was logging in to write something very similar. Up until the mid- to late- 1960’s, it was very hard to beat Cadillac for what it represented. Going back to the Brougham past won’t solve any problems, what Cadillac needs is a stable of SUV/CUVs that compete with the same from Germany, Italy and Japan. They will also need to maintain the stable of sedans they have now but replace or supplement the CT6 with a real S-Class competitor.

      I fear that Lincoln has done just that, they went back to the Brougham era and are offering cars that are the same cynical arrangement. Tarted up sedans and now re-badged trucks. Yes, they can slather on tons of gadgets and toys for less money than they did back in the day, but there are no dedicated platforms for the Lincoln line. How long before a lack of focus (or profits) demands cost-cutting?

      Let’s leave the past in the past. If you want Brougham from GM, Buick is your marque. They may not have the visual cues we remember from back in the day, but they are very much making those vehicles. Let Cadillac become the Standard of the World again. I just hope that GM can survive long enough that it happens.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Cadillac can’t time warp itself back to the ’70s and start making broughams again, but the styling needs to be far bolder and more expressive.

        A Continental with the CT6’s underpinnings would be a huge winner.

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      Me too with the Buick/SUV thing. I think Jack’s insight is dead on, as my Grandfather began buying Cadillacs when he retired (he was a small-town lawyer, Navy man, and FBI agent in reverse order). He drove Chevy’s, as you did so as not to offend your agricultural customers.
      Once he retired it was a new Caddy every 3 years. They ran the gamut from understated bustle backs to Arizona-editions covered in gold plastic and stripes. They were not fast (well, the final SLS was quick). What they had was balls. Chutzpah.

      My father retired a while ago and upgraded to an SRX. It wasn’t good at truck stuff, nor car stuff, got terrible mileage for being slow, and broke often. Usually expensively and on long trips. It just didn’t know what it was supposed to be, and wound up being bad at everything. It’s replacement is Japanese, reliable, and understated.

      I agree that the Escalade IS the true modern Caddy. Big, ballzy, in-your-face. Just like a V16 or Elvis’ convertible or Boss Hogg’s Eldo. If they were doing luxury SUV’s in 1936 the Escalade would have existed.

      It’s time to do several versions of SUV, where the brash money is (looking at you QX80). From just a bit inappropriate and small to large and really offensive. This will cannibalize Buick, but they’re leaning toward Korean compact CUV’s anyway. Maybe turn Chevy cars into the new Pontiac performance division if there are enough units to justify it. (Cruze/ATS performance car?) I don’t know that you can out-German the Germans, so just be Yank-tanks.

      • 0 avatar
        BobNelson

        Willyam,

        “… Escalade IS the true modern Caddy. Big, ballzy, in-your-face. Just like a V16 or Elvis’ convertible or Boss Hogg’s Eldo. If they were doing luxury SUV’s in 1936 the Escalade would have existed.”

        True.

        Another way of looking at the same vehicle is…”wretched excess”.

        All car purchases are personal statements. Buying a Prius inevitably describes the buyer.

        As you say, a big part of the Escalade’s statement is “in your face overabundance”. Let’s not kid ourselves… “overabundance” is an essential part of the message for ALL top-drawer models, so the buyer’s message is either false discretion (there’s that tree-pointed star, of course) or blatant false excess (hey! it’s a fuçking TRUCK after all).

        What is a buyer saying with a Mercedes C-class? An S-class? What does the buyer say with an XT5? An Escalade?

        There’s a future for a high-quality XT5. Not for a pig (truck) wearing lipstick.

        • 0 avatar
          volvo

          In following this discussion it occurred to me that even if Cadillac solved any performance and build quality problems overnight it would still have a brand image problem separate from concerns with quality and engineering.

          As others have noted the decline started in the 70s and remained unaddressed until recently.
          I look at a current Escalade sitting on 24 inch chrome plated wheels and realize I have never seen a MBZ GL, Lexus LS or Range Rover outfitted that way.

          Being “in your face” will appeal only to a very small segment of the luxury SUV market and I would prefer the Toyota Land Cruiser or GM Yukon if I wanted a vehicle in this class.

  • avatar
    George B

    Cadillac fails the valet test. When the valet brings your Cadillac around, do other people waiting for their cars experience envy? I would argue that a Mustang GT with an attractive paint choice is more likely to pass the valet test than any Cadillac and at a considerably lower price point. The Mustang GT is authentic with a great V8 exhaust note that clearly sounds better than the sound coming out of luxury cars with turbocharged 4 cylinder engines.

  • avatar
    orange260z

    As a former BMW and Lexus customer, I am very happy with my 2016 CTS 3.6 AWD. For me, it’s got the right balance of performance, luxury, quality, design and class. I’ve recommended the car to friends who have been surprised and impressed after driving, and are now considering the car for themselves.

  • avatar
    NN

    Confidence is sexy, and sex sells. The Cadillac Escalade is really still the torch-bearing American luxury machine (although the new Navigator might finally resurrect Lincoln from the dead).

    But forget Cadillac and Lincoln, as they’ve (mostly) forgotten themselves. Tesla is the new American luxury. They’ve got all the confidence and swagger in the world.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Exactly. What people don’t get about luxury is that it’s usually tied up with technology and/or style, and always has been.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Part of me says there’s something there – the Tesla is brash and forward thinking, but they aren’t great as luxury cars. Meanwhile, GM is already proving to be quite competent with EVs, if they could use that to build a better luxury car, they might have something (and say what you will about electric, it is smooth and quiet as a Cadillac should be, and can be quite powerful).

      Problem is, at this point, it might be just as Me Too as the past 15+ years of BMW-chasing has been.

  • avatar
    brettc

    The paint brush thing is very true. I was told a while ago to buy good brushes. The first time I painted with a high quality brush, it was so much easier to do the job. So while those brushes cost a but initially, if you take care of them they’ll last for several painting projects. Definitely something not to skimp on and Wooster and Purdy make some pretty nice brushes that aren’t Chinese.

    I’ve considered a new Golf or a Golf wagon for my next car, both of which are assembled in Puebla. However, I like the C-Max better and it’s made in Michigan.

    So my next car will probably be made in the U.S. Hopefully it treats me well! The last domestic my parents owned was an ’87 Celebrity built in Ste. Therese and it was a pile o’ garbage. Of course that was 30 years ago.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Always loved the old Coupe deVille. The true epitome of “personal luxury car.”

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    I’m too young to remember when Cadillac really did compete at the Rolls-Royce/M-B S Class level.

    I understand that making cars that are acceptable for standards all over the world makes sense from a global business perspective, but no one in the stratosphere we’re discussing buys ANY of those cars (RR/Bentley/Maybach) because they are good as ‘daily drivers’ for discerning buyers.

    No, they buy them for the same reason they buy supercars: because they are visible representations of being “**** you filthy plebes” rich. That doesn’t necessarily mean bringing back the Brougham and chrome, but quality of design, materials and construction. Say what you will about the VW Phaeton, that thing was a designed as a halo car (should have been a Bentley). That’s the kind of precision and attention to everything the Cadillac brand should have…just bigger than the Europeans in every vehicle class.

    Buick should be playing where Caddy is now, and Oldsmobile (RIP) should be where Buick is now. Cadillacs should be brash, big, bold and American…but not in a ‘Las Vegas Strip” way. More like the difference between Upper East Side and say….Windsor in the UK. Both have money, but are very different.

    The Escalade should be the idea for all their cars, in terms of looks, performance, ride quality, and options. Big, quiet, bad-ass American cruisers. Not a single one should start below the 75-85k raneg, and absolutely nothing smaller than a 6 cylinder should under the hood….10 and 12 cylinders are welcome at the top end. Hybrid and EV tech should be seamless and cutting edge when it arrives.

    The current line up’s standard suspension and performance specs should be where the ‘V’ designated models start, and the current “V” specs should be the top of the option line.


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