By on September 29, 2017

devillpickup

This is the day of the expanding man… and of the expanding pickup truck trim level. I’ve speculated elsewhere about a truck-based luxury sedan from General Motors, but other possibilities exist for the current GM full-sized platform.

There’s just one problem with the idea of a Cadillac-badged pickup: it might force GM, and the automotive media, to come to grips with some unpleasant truths about what really sits on top of the Sloan Plan nowadays.

The idea of a Cadillac pickup truck isn’t new and it isn’t confined to the aftermarket conversion industry. The Escalade EXT made it through two generations before following its Chevrolet Avalanche sibling into the grave. One of my business partners bought a pearl white EXT a while back and had Cleveland’s Roman Chariot customizers liberally splash the thing with gold trim. It was truly horrifying to see on the road and for that reason I relished taking every possible opportunity to borrow it.

While the market has spoken fairly plainly about its lack of interest in the Avalanche idea, it has been far more coy about the idea of a six-figure upscale pickup. There are plenty of half-tons going out the door at $75k nowadays, with the Super Duty-class crew cabs often fetching another 10 grand on top of that. Cadillac could have an Escalade crew cab on the market in 12 months, no hassle whatsoever.

The issue here is that GM already has an upscale truck — the demographically desirable Denali sub-brand — and there is every chance that an Escalade truck would put the superior optics of the Denali brand front and center for the world to see. In other words: What if they built it and nobody came?

I think you have to make an ornament of that inconvenience. Price it at $100,000 for a single fully loaded trim level and announce that you’ll only build 5,000 of them a year. Cadillac’s own dealer body would account for several hundred every year — the owners have to pull their boats somehow. The rest would be sought-after rarities that would appear in rap videos and on red carpets. I wouldn’t buy one because I like my Silverado and I like the virtual immunity to traffic enforcement that accompanies it. But somebody will. Bet on it.

What do you say?

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61 Comments on “QOTD: Is It Time for a Cadillac Pickup?...”


  • avatar
    threeer

    Is this a trick question? Did I miss the calendar and this is really April 1? Gads, no.

  • avatar
    The Soul of Wit

    I think this is the silliest idea ever committed to pixels.

    But, I also agree with PT Barnum….there’s a sucker born every minute. Which means your 5,000 annual sales figure, Jackie-boy…would be about right: 24*365*60=525,600*1%=5,256 (…..as this is a vehicle strictly for the 1%.)

    Hey, if it increases the employment in the country, why not? It’s just crass, but -vov-;…

    Anything that would take $5 billion dollars out of the hands of people stupid rich enough to buy one of these and churn it through the economy, I’m generally for.

    That it would be an abomination and likely kill-it-with-fire ugly with excess bling….hey, I can always use another reason to derisively mock rich stupid people.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    No.

  • avatar
    MBella

    This question is more difficult than it seems. On one end, it would print money for GM. On the other, it might take the brand in a direction they don’t want to go.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    Another automotive media outlet is extolling the 100k F-series so I don’t see this idea as that far off.

  • avatar
    jimble

    If the Cadillac brand still meant anything at all I’d say no way. But because it doesn’t there’s really nothing to lose, so why not?

  • avatar
    Caboose

    Jack, your last line there would make its own great QOTD: What are the most LEO-overlooked cars available today?

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    No.

    I get it, the whole 50 to 100 thousand dollar Ram and Ford trucks announced in these pages yesterday. But then I don’t, because trucks are about masculinity, and there must be a limit before luxury begins implying a masculinity that’s just way too coddled for what it’s supposed to be.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    Absolutely. I know I’ve been in favor of the idea of a truck-based car for quite some time. I even recall having commented on TTAC that it should happen but cannot seem to locate the thread to which I posted it.

    Normally I wouldn’t have thought about making it a Cadillac because, honestly, Cadillacs next to never cross my mind. But I can definitely see it working. Body-on-frame cars that are genuinely large both inside and out need to be made again. They need real tow/haul abilities. Cadillac can make this happen by aping styling cues of their 1930s heritage and put modern Rollers to shame. Offer custom coachwork by publishing body builder data as is commonly done for commercial vehicles. Just be sure that you include enough features (high GVWR, 4×4, passenger capacity etc.) to either qualify as a Light Truck for CAFE or a heavy-duty vehicle to be CAFE-exempt.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    Problem is not the price. Problem is the image.

    Trucks have an image of being workhorses. While the 100k Ford or Chevy truck may be luxury vehicles, they are still Fords and Chevys. So they share a working man’s heritage. Most people like and respect that.

    A Caddy or Mercedes truck is nothing but show and every one will laugh. They are toys.

    That’s why it makes no sense to make luxury trucks for any luxury brand.

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      ^A thousand times this.

      People who buy these have no issue paying upwards of $80 – $90K when it is a Ford Super Duty Plantinum, GMC 2500 Denali, yadda, yadda… As soon as the badge changes to a Cadillac, Lincoln (remember the Blackwood?), nobody or very few, want to be seen in it.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Exactly, and the kind of buyer who would drop $90,000 on a duded-up truck probably wouldn’t want a Mercedes/BMW/Cadillac in the first place. Different breed of cat.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “A Caddy or Mercedes truck is nothing but show and every one will laugh. They are toys.”

      As far as Mercedes goes, it is an image problem because MB makes one of the most capable off-road/work trucks on the planet. The Unimog.

      Because of the way MB markets their vehicles in North America, the overwhelming majority of their customers have never heard of it.

      Mercedes has outstanding off-road and on-road truck credentials.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        Exactly this. A KingDenaliXXL may have luxury features but it’s still a utility vehicle from a utility brand. Knowing the mileage that gets put on some of the HD trucks, luxury features may even be a bit of a necessity.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    It’s clear that Johan’s “Every Cadillac Will Be Based On Exclusive Architecture/Chassis & We’ll Sell 500,000 Of Them By 2020” vision thing is all falling down now, so why not?

    Cadillac’s best seller, by far, the XT5, is a rebadged GMC Acadia riding on the same C1XX Platform, and sharing the Chevy/Buick 2.0T and 3.6 liter motors.

    Cadillac’s next two best-selling products are the Escalade (Suburban/Tahoe platform with shared Chevy/GMC ppwertrains) and the XTS (Buick Lacrosse/Chevy Impala platform with shared Chevy/Buick powertrains).

    The CT6 is selling around 8,500 units per year, and the 3rd gen CTS and the ATS are unmitigated sales disasters in terminal, perpetual freefall.

    Do a Cadillac Pickup based on the Silverado, and put the Bose Panaray stereo in it from the option list of the CT6.

    Called it the ZT7 (C is for sedan, X is for crossover, and now Z will be for pickup truck, per Cadillac nomenclature).

    Give it a base 3.6 liter engine and auto start/stop, too.

    What’s the worst that could happen by Cadillac standards/expectations?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Chevillac.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Ditto for Lexoyta, Volksaudiporsche…Nissinfiniti…and worldwide, BMW and Mercedes sell boatloads of their own “Chevys”…

        The only “dedicated” luxury lines I can think of that share nothing (or little) mechanically with lesser vehicles are Volvo, Jaguar, Alfa, Land Rover, and Maserati. Even the ultra-lux stuff from Bentley and Rolls Royce has strong ties with lesser vehicles.

        Cadillac’s not alone in this practice. It’s problem is that it hasn’t executed it as well as other brands have.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Cadillac did have a pickup, and it failed, so the question answers itself.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      Did they, though? The Avalanche IMHO wasn’t a pickup, it was an open-back 2-row full-size SUV with a weird mid-gate. Its visual similarity to the Avalanche was probably it’s biggest drawback as the Avalanche early on was riddled with cheap black plastic. If they’d stuck with painted sheetmetal like the concept, and like they ultimately switched to in the 2nd generation, that association might not have been so bad. I’d say open-back SUVs failed, witness also the Envoy XUV.

      At the time the Avalanche was still in its first generation, and I believe the EXT was also coming out, I regularly saw pearl white Silverado 3500 duallies with Escalade front clips out on the roads.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “I regularly saw pearl white Silverado 3500 duallies with Escalade front clips out on the roads.”

        I’d say you just made the argument against a Caddy pickup quite succinctly.

        And, yes, the EXT was a truck…a funky truck, yes, but a truck nonetheless.

  • avatar
    Ko1

    A Cadillac pickup would totally sell out here in Alberta as long as you make it an exclusive limited run product (number plate on the dash) and price it high enough. It should be a crew cab 1/2 ton with a factory installed hard folding bed cover, 22″ wheels standard with a 24″ option, supercharged LS9 bumped to 700 HP, premium stereo with nav plus the usual full load options. Only offer it in pearl white with a light cream colored interior, black with a black interior and silver with a black interior since those are the only colors anyone’s going to want anyway.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I think it is a bad idea.

  • avatar
    Jean-Pierre Sarti

    I think all you nay sayers don’t live in The South. Or if you do you ain’t paying attention.

    I am in Houston and from what I see just noticing the new trucks still with temporary tags GM is getting killed in sales by all the high end Ford Editions begin sold.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    The Sloan Model only worked up through the 1950s, when each GM brand had basically a single car each on offer. once each brand had to have a full lineup of vehicles, it ceased to make sense.

    better to just do as Ford is doing, load up the top trim line of the Chevy/GMC pickups.

  • avatar
    Messerschmitten

    Just check the “Flower Car” option when ordering your ATS-V. Problem solved!

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “Price it at $100,000 for a single fully loaded trim level and announce that you’ll only build 5,000 of them a year.”

    That’s so crazy it might work as long you can meet two criteria:

    1.) Sufficient differentiation from the Denali

    2.) Discipline by GM to truly make it “limited edition” – not “limited to the number we can build.”

  • avatar
    Frank Galvin

    Good lord yes. Cadillac’s management may have forgotten that the brand represented aspirational wealth (better yet, they wish “those” peoples were representative of their customer base), but they won’t be able to argue with good sales numbers. The market is there, the lack of skilled trade workers and the explosion of fracking has created wealth for a lot of blue collar folks. 5000 is to low, 10k probably. The platform is paid for – there is no downside to this. Friendlier regulatory regime, possible tax reform that benefits the middle and upper middle class win / win.

  • avatar
    BobNelson

    Egregiously bad taste is a sure-fire success, so… “Yes, absolutely! Cadillac should sell a 100k pickup.”

  • avatar
    lilainjil

    Jack, did you cry when you wrote this piece?

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    “Cadillac’s own dealer body would account for several hundred every year — the owners have to pull their boats somehow.”

    I suspect my local Cadillac dealer spends half his day working the median in front of his store while pretending to be a homeless veteran who has found Christ.

  • avatar

    The only Caddy pickups I’ve ever seen were more El Camino, and were the first or second car in a funeral convoy.

    In a world where even Mercedes makes a pickup (and no matter what that truck looks like, you’ll see them brought in like the G Wagon was) why not Caddy ?

  • avatar
    turbosasquatch

    It would sell, they would make a lot of money from it.

    That being said, they would probably do better to push GMC upmarket (especially Denali) and create more trims of the Silverado and Sierra to compete with all 31 flavors of F150.

    Silverado Sterling to compete with the F150 Platinum and Ram Tungsten.

  • avatar
    01 Deville

    I don’t think they will based on what Johan has said about the brand, and how basically he tolerates Escalade because it pays the bills.
    Will they sell 5-10k of them per year? You bet, but it has to be named Escalade Xwhatever and should be advertised with pulling boats bigger than ESV can pull.

  • avatar
    cicero1

    No. they should be building the Sixteen as the halo product and a better Lexus Rx competitor in addition to the ct5 (or whatever the midsize suv is called)

  • avatar
    Driver8

    Sure. Senator K. Rock will buy at least two.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    Jack, I think you used the wrong line to open this piece. The next verse is far more appropriate:

    “You call me a fool
    You say it’s a crazy scheme”

    I have never owned a truck, but from the outside of that market looking in, I think the badge on the front seems to matter a LOT. Maybe not for those buying or leasing their first, and probably not for companies buying fleets.

    But the people who are willing to look at new Ford F series that pushes $100k (they have money AND they two horses or cars, or big trailers) want comfort on the inside, but the appearance (and actual capability) of a heavy duty truck.

    The Cadillac badge offers neither in that market. And I’m not sure that a Cadillac truck would work for the families that are using them as family haulers/occasional work trucks. Reverse badge snobbery?

    Mostly though, while it would likely be a high-profit product, I think the 20 years of image re-building as a global brand that Cadillac has been attempting would be damaged.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    If there is Lord in heaven this will never happen.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    No. The current arrangement is GM doing it right. This might crimp the Denali money printing machine’s business, and that’s bigger than Cadillac. Just keep adding trim levels and conveniences/features without the exterior luxury tells to the Denali. The trim level badge lets anyone you want to know know it all. If bling is the order of the day, get one with a roof over the bed.

  • avatar
    scuzimi

    So Jackooooo… I haven’t been hounding about your novelettes lately as I felt maybe my complaints about your loooong winded posts fell on deaf ears but your last few posts have been rather appealing and short. It’s good to know you’ve finally recognized the error of your ways. Snicker.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    There were better-looking Caddy pickups than the pictured example, like the Mirage on the pre-downsized platform.
    https://assets.hemmings.com/blog/wp-content/uploads//2011/05/CadillacMirage_02_1000.jpg

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    I’m totally distracted by the contact information in that ad. Wow! What are those services?

    Cable:AMINEX – What on earth is a cable? Is that like a telegram?

    TELEX 67-4519 – I’ve heard of that, but have no idea what it is. Is that an early SMS or TXT service?

    ANSBK: LORLIS BVHL – Does that stand for “Answer Back”? This looks like an AOL or Compuserve user ID from the days of old. What on earth was this?

    Well. The PO Box and the phone numbers are still active services.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    If a pickup is a Cowboy Cadillac then what is a Cadillac pickup?

  • avatar
    Shockrave Flash Has Crashed

    They sell the Escalade, the owner of the trucking company I worked for would have bought one. He put the Cadillac hood ornament on his GMC.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Time? It’s past time. An all out Silverado trim would cost GM virtually nothing. It would compete with Ford’s high end trucks where the High Country is a joke and the Denali is, at best, an also-ran. It would win back many of the Escalade sales that have been lost to the Escalade’s hoodrat image. In short, it would print money. Any other manufacturer with GM’s resources would have started cooking one up the minute that the fracking boom took off and it’d be printing that money right now.

    GM being GM, no cooking took place and no money printing is either. Maybe in 4 or 5 years we’ll see one.

    With a 2.0L turbo I4 and a plug in battery because Tesla!
    With four different touchscreens in the dash that control most of the same functions in wildly different ways because AAPL!
    With 28″ wheels, bicycle tires and a ride to knock your teeth out because BMW!

    And with an all new, exclusive coupe-look body that looks really cool but has sills all the way up to the drivers’ chin, 4″ of space in the backseat, and ingeniously makes the bed difficult to use besides. Because GM has some “design DNA” of their very own too.

    • 0 avatar
      BobNelson

      Car / truck purchases are largely irrational. The buyer is getting a vehicle… but that’s very much secondary to “making a statement”.

      Every car/truck has its own niche of “image”, and that’s what we buy.

      The Escalade is gangsta because it is the epitome of LOOK-AT-ME bad taste. That’s the image its buyers desire. Shameless conspicuous consumption.

      A Mercedes S is almost the same, but its conspicuous consumption is “shameless pretending to be discrete”.

      An F100 at 100k says – to the audience its buyer is targeting – “I am a manly male man, and rich enough to buy crap that makes no sense, just to show off!” (To others, it says, “I am a fuçking idiot!”)

      Cadillac sedans send very mixed messages: “I’m smart enough to prefer 99% of a Mercedes’s qualities for 75% of the cost” or “I can’t afford a Mercedes”.

      What message would a Cadillac pickup send? Who are the buyers who wish to be associated with that message? I can’t find any message that is complimentary to the buyer. (Who has paid maximum bucks for a nonsensical product.)

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        “The Escalade is gangsta because it is the epitome of LOOK-AT-ME bad taste.”

        The Escalade is hardly the only rolling middle finger in the world. A Range Rover is all of that, and more and worse besides, and they’re in with all of the money printing that comes with that. Meanwhile, the last white person that I saw driving a new Escalade was Tony Soprano. I don’t know why that is, their vulgar displays of wealth show up in rap videos too, but it is.

        “What message would a Cadillac pickup send?”

        “I have an unmistakably more expensive, meaning better, pickup truck than you do.”

        Or outside of Texas, “pretty much an Escalade, but with enough self-made oil man signalling coming from the vestigial bed to not remind you of World Star.”

        • 0 avatar
          BobNelson

          Dan,

          “The Escalade is hardly the only rolling middle finger in the world.”

          True!

          At some level, all look-at-me cars are ridiculous. They all carry subtexts, which usually are pretty damning for the buyer. Range Rovers were amazing à few years ago when they labeled their buyers as “willing to accept crappy engineering to get the snootiness”.

          Prius used to say “I’m a tree-hugger”. Now they say “You are murdering your own grandchildren”.

          If the Escalade says “I love pigs with lipstick”, the the Cadillac pickup would be saying “I sleep with a pig… but she wears lipstick!”

  • avatar
    scott25

    Still see tons of Cadillac front ends on Silverados and Sierras of all vintages, and rednecks and rural old people are the only people for whom Cadillac means anything, so absolutely it would be a success, but agree that the only colours necessary are black and pearl white. Put gigantic LEDs vertically and horizontally all across the front and rear ends and sell it with a Duramax.

    Also, I saw one of those 80s Fleetwood pickup conversions a few weeks ago for the first time, I thought it was done by the owner, had no idea it was an actual aftermarket conversion, but I guess that doesn’t surprise me.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Flower cars were popular in funeral processions for decades.

      “Not every funeral provider owned a flower car; they were a luxury item offered as an extra-cost option for extravagant funerals. The quantities built were low; it is estimated that fewer than a dozen were built each year by each coachbuilder in the funeral market.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flower_car

  • avatar
    el scotto

    oh this isn’t nearly over the top enough. Think Cadillac “Raptor” or a “Cad-O-Raptor” as such. Make it bold and outrageous, nevermind the roughest terrain it will ever see is speed bumps at the galleria. Phase two of this diabolical plot: The Cad-O-Raptor running in the NASCAR truck series. Or Melody Lee wearing shorts and drinking cheap canned beer in the VIP Cad-O-Raptor tent. Free tickets to a NASCAR truck race, free booze and food in the VIP tent and plenty of Cad-O-Raptors on display. Customers will tear holes in their pockets getting their wallets out. Melody in shorts and a tank top? Even Dead Weight would like that kind of PR.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    This is the kind of risk that should be made by Buick, not Cadillac. If the El-Enclave sells, then try out a glam Cadillac version.


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