The Truth About Cars » Cadillac http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 01 Aug 2014 21:12:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Cadillac http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 2015 Cadillac ATS-L Is “Coming With Length” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-cadillac-ats-l-is-coming-with-length/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-cadillac-ats-l-is-coming-with-length/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:18:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875137 Our most recent review of the Cadillac ATS determined that Cadillac had finally made a sports sedan worthy of besting the F30 BMW 3-Series. But the ATS was also docked points for providing E36 3-Series-esque rear passenger space. Cadillac’s Chinese division appears to have remedied the problem, with a rather unfortunate English marketing slogan. For […]

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Our most recent review of the Cadillac ATS determined that Cadillac had finally made a sports sedan worthy of besting the F30 BMW 3-Series. But the ATS was also docked points for providing E36 3-Series-esque rear passenger space. Cadillac’s Chinese division appears to have remedied the problem, with a rather unfortunate English marketing slogan.

For the Cadillac ATS-L’s launch, Cadillac has decided to go with the rather unfortunate slogan “I’m Coming With Length”. We’ll leave it at that.

The ATS-L really is packing more size. With an additional 3 inches of wheelbase, .79 inches of width and a .25 inch lower ride height, the ATS-L is the car that we should have gotten all along. From the photos, it doesn’t look like the car’s proportions were compromised either. Powertrains are the same as well, but only the 2.0T and 3.6L engines are available.

We now return to your regularly scheduled, less juvenile programming.

 

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GM’s First Concept Car and the Influential Result: 1936 Cadillac V16 Aerodynamic Coupe by Fleetwood http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/gms-first-concept-car-and-the-influential-result-1936-cadillac-v16-aerodynamic-coupe-by-fleetwood/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/gms-first-concept-car-and-the-influential-result-1936-cadillac-v16-aerodynamic-coupe-by-fleetwood/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 11:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872994 This car at first may look to you a lot like any other 1930s coupe, but it was one of the most influential cars of the era, impacting both the way that cars were styled and promoted. You see, in addition to setting the pattern for the way that General Motors’ cars (and their competitors’ cars as […]

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Full gallery here

Full gallery here

This car at first may look to you a lot like any other 1930s coupe, but it was one of the most influential cars of the era, impacting both the way that cars were styled and promoted. You see, in addition to setting the pattern for the way that General Motors’ cars (and their competitors’ cars as well) looked in the immediate prewar period, the 1936 Cadillac Aerodynamic Coupe was GM’s first production car that was based on what we now call a concept car. Back then, though, they were more likely to call those concepts “show cars”, and not only was the Aerodynamic Coupe GM’s first production car derived from a show car, that show car was the giant automaker’s first attempt at creating a one-off vehicle just for promotional purposes. It also represented the solidification of Harley Earl and his styling team’s important role in General Motors’ hierarchy and not so incidentally it helped Cadillac replace Packard as America’s preeminent luxury automaker.

The fact that there was an economic depression going on didn’t stop American car companies from participating in the 1933 Century of Progress world’s fair exposition in Chicago. Ford’s pavilion featured a chandelier made of three full-size Ford cars suspended from the ceiling. Studebaker constructed a mammoth, 80 foot long wooden model of their Land Cruiser automobile. Chevrolet built and operated an actual assembly plant on the fair grounds where you could watch cars being assembled and even take delivery of a new Chevy at the fair.

A number of automakers prepared special cars for the exposition, particularly the luxury marques. Packard created the “Car of the Dome”, sometimes called “the most famous Packard”, a modified Dietrich style sedan. Pierce Arrow showed their radically styled Siver Arrow. Ford displayed an aerodynamic rear-engined prototype designed by John Tjaarda of the Briggs company called the Briggs Dream Car that was the original concept behind the 1936 Lincoln Zephyr, and Duesenberg created a Rollston bodied supercharged Model SJ Arlington Torpedo sedan designed by Gordon Buehrig and nicknamed “Twenty Grand”. That car’s named derived from it’s $20,000 price, the equivalent of over $350,000 today.

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Clay modelers working on the Cadillac Aerodynamic Coupe show car for the 1933 Century of Progress world’s fair in Chicago.

With that kind of competition, GM’s newly formed Art and Colour Section took their task seriously. Previewing the fastback rooflines of the 1940s the Cadillac coupe show car had a very long 154 inch wheelbase and a sloping tail. The long and smooth lines were supposed to convey the impression of power and speed. Those lines were accentuated by the sloping rear end and by tapered horizontal accents on the sides of the hood and fenders. Unlike most cars of the day that carried exposed spare tires mounted either on the back of the car or as “side mounts” where the front fenders flowed into the running boards, the Aerodynamic Coupe stashed the spare in the trunk. Actually, that “trunk” inside the bodywork was rather advanced in an era when many luxury cars still had steamer trunks on a rack behind the car to store luggage. Even the exhaust pipes were styled, an innovation that lasts till today, and the exhaust system was tuned to give the car’s V16 engine an appropriate tone.

That V16 engine, in production since 1930 and the first production V16 used for a passenger car, was possibly the first car engine that was styled for aesthetic reasons. The motor received finishes in enamel paint, porcelain, polished aluminum and chrome. Valve covers were polished and detailed. Wiring was hidden away and special attention was paid to how and where the accessories were mounted. The V16 looked so good that Cadillac would apply the same styling to its V8 and V12 engines.

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Cadillac Aerodynamic Coupe show car

A “winged goddess” Cadillac hood ornament topped things off and even that received special attention, with a polished finish on its front, while surfaces visible to the driver were dulled, so as not to create glare. Per the coachbuilding terms of the day, the interior was done in”plain style”, about as plain as British “public schools” are public. A dark dashboard is brightened with two slanted strips of chrome, continuing the V motifs that abound on the car. Windows had walnut trim and the various knobs and handles were plated in a satin gold finish. The sun visors were shaped like abstract leaves, made of fine cloth and mounted with screws that had heads of imitation pearl. Instead of metal handles, the doors were closed with rope pulls mounted below the armrests. As would be expected, the deeply cushioned and broad seats were very comfortable.

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While the V16 engine didn’t survive past 1940, features of the Aerodynamic Coupe would find their way into production cars for decades, including the all-steel “turret top” roof, a recessed and lighted license plate housing, the fuel filler hidden in the taillight housing (a feature perhaps most famous for its use in the iconic 1957 Chevrolet sedan) and the use of chrome window surrounds and beltline trim to accentuate the coupe’s lines. The Aerodynamic Coupe itself would make it to production in 1936 more or less unchanged from the concept car.

In the following video, Steve Pasteiner, who runs the AAT prototype shop and who was a long time designer at GM, discusses Harley Earl and the influence of the Cadillac Aerodynamic Coupe. I apologize for the video’s audio quality, for some reason it recorded at a low level and I had to boost the gain in editing, resulting in some distortion. It’s still a worthwhile listen for Pasteiner’s insider’s look.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The resulting product was an automobile that looked much more modern to 1930s consumers when compared to the conventional automobiles of the day. Remember, automotive styling was in its infancy in those days and many manufacturers in the 1920s and even later paid virtually no attention to making their cars distinctive. Retired GM designer Dave Holls explained what set the Aerodynamic Coupe apart from its contemporaries, helping to position Cadillac at the top of the American luxury car market:

“Cadillacs were much later than 1933 in form. . . . It was fine styling — if you hold your hand over the front end and look at the car from there back, you begin to see a fair resemblance to the Cord Beverly. . . . This was a time when Cadillac began to make bold, yet careful steps toward change, while Packard hung tenaciously onto its long heritage, making only limited changes. A lot of people went along with them at the time, but the practice established a position, and they were stuck with it, later on with disastrous results.”

This particular 1936 Cadillac Aerodynamic Coupe was not just on display at the 2014 Eyes On Design show, it was featured on the poster for this year’s event. It’s owned by Bill and Barbara Parfet, who are well known among classic car collectors. Mr. Parfet has been president of the foundation that supports the great Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, a bit north of Kalamazoo. The ’36 is one of just 52 V16 Cadillacs made for the 1936 model year, each of them pretty much hand built by Cadillac’s Fleetwood body division. While that number of cars may not seem very significant, that year was the first time Cadillac surpassed Packard in annual sales to become the best-selling U.S. luxury marque, a position it still holds, though its leadership in the overall U.S. luxury segment has, in modern times, been eclipsed by foreign competitors, particularly brands from Germany.

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 get a parallax view 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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General Motors Issues Six Recalls For 720,000 Vehicles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-issues-six-recalls-for-720000-vehicles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-issues-six-recalls-for-720000-vehicles/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872770 Wednesday, General Motors issued six recalls for a total of around 720,000 vehicles, all assembled within the last five years. Autoblog reports the following have been recalled: 2010 – 12 Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain/Cadillac SRX; 2011 – 12 Chevrolet Camaro, Buick Regal, Buick LaCrosse: Bolt used to secure height adjustor actuator in vehicles with powered seats […]

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2014 Chevrolet SS in Red

Wednesday, General Motors issued six recalls for a total of around 720,000 vehicles, all assembled within the last five years.

Autoblog reports the following have been recalled:

  • 2010 – 12 Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain/Cadillac SRX; 2011 – 12 Chevrolet Camaro, Buick Regal, Buick LaCrosse: Bolt used to secure height adjustor actuator in vehicles with powered seats may loosen on its own, if not fall out, allowing the seat to move freely; 414,333 recalled.
  • 2013 – 14 Cadillac ATS, Buick Encore; 2014 Chevrolet Caprice/SS, Cadillac CTS, Cadillac ELR; 2014 – 15 Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra: Incomplete weld of seat hook bracket assembly, may require track replacement; 124,008 recalled.
  • 2011 – 13 Buick Regal; 2013 Chevrolet Malibu: Single-bulb burnout of turn signal failing to notify driver of issue, reprogramming needed; 120,426 recalled.
  • 2014 Chevrolet Impala: Bad electric ground on power steering module of belt-driven electric steering models — caused by misplaced paint — may lead to sudden loss or reduction of steering power; 57,242 recalled
  • 2014 – 15 Chevrolet Spark: Improperly fastened lower control arm of Korean-built models could lead to separation from the steering knuckle; 1,919 recalled.
  • 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon Denali: Incorrect retaining nut in interior roof rail could puncture or tear roof-mounted airbags upon deployment; 22 recalled.

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Rental Review: Cadillac ATS 2.0T AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/rental-review-cadillac-ats-2-0t-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/rental-review-cadillac-ats-2-0t-awd/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:58:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=869546 11 years ago, Cadillac told us that they were “The Standard of the World”, in a blast of Zeppelin-backed TV spots and aggressively geometric styling. The 2003 CTS wasn’t even the standard for North American luxury cars, but hey, it took Audi another 30 years to even come close to making that claim. Cadillac seems […]

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11 years ago, Cadillac told us that they were “The Standard of the World”, in a blast of Zeppelin-backed TV spots and aggressively geometric styling. The 2003 CTS wasn’t even the standard for North American luxury cars, but hey, it took Audi another 30 years to even come close to making that claim. Cadillac seems to be moving at a much quicker pace.

Despite Cadillac’s confidence in their excellence, they are reticent to lend any press vehicles to TTAC. The timing of a recent trip required a one day rental, and the local Avis counter advertised a special on the “Cadillac CTS” for just $80 a day with unlimited mileage. It turns out that Avis does indeed rent out the CTS, but our particularly branch did not. Instead, we were assigned a silver ATS4 (all-wheel drive) with the 2.0T engine and 6-speed automatic. Remember kids, if it seems to good to be true…

It would be incorrect to say that I was disappointed, but I had hoped for the CTS precisely because a) the relentless hype had me curious about its overall competence b) we are lacking in reviews of the car and c) every ATS I have driven thus far has been a letdown. Around the time of its launch, I briefly sampled a rear-drive 3.6L with all of the bells and whistles, and found it underwhelming. A second drive, in a 2.0T with the 6-speed manual, did nothing to dispel my skepticism. The 6-speed manual was unequivocally one of the worst gearboxes I’ve ever sampled, and the engine’s NVH characteristics were shockingly coarse for a luxury sedan. I could not, for the life of me, understand the praise being heaped upon this car.

After a solid day’s drive, I have a better picture in my head of why the ATS is so highly regarded. Part of it comes down to the fact that the team of engineers, product planners, designers and marketers have managed to great a truly worthy sports sedan. The other half of that equation is that the competition has miraculously managed to recede in overall competence to the point where the ATS is the class leader by default.

The ATS can reasonably lay claim to “The Standard of the World” title by virtue of its 2.0T engine, which is, well, the new standard of the world for virtually every mid-size car that would normally have used a V6 engine, thanks to a combination of regulations and economies of scale. The 2.0T in the ATS isn’t particularly charming or refined, but it does bring 272 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque at just 1700 rpm. Like most of these new turbo four-bangers, the torque builds down low and stays fairly robust throughout the rev range that you’d use in any realistic situation, including spirited back road driving.

Acceleration, passing on two-lane roads and any other task that relies on forward thrust is accomplished with minimal fuss, and it’s hard to see why anyone would bother with the V6 when the power on tap here is so usable in everyday situations. The 6-speed automatic transmission is the superior choice versus the manual, but it doesn’t feel terribly responsive or sophisticated. However, this gearbox will likely be replaced by either the 8L90 GM 8-speed automatic, or the Aisin 8-speed from the Cadillac CTS, so dwelling on its shortcomings is a bit of a moot point.

The most compelling part of the ATS is the chassis, which stands out as a credit to GM’s engineering team. It’s hard to think of a car that is able to so expertly balance ride and handling, delivering a smooth, composed ride no matter what the road surface, while also delivering on the “sport” part of the equation. Befitting its rental car specs, our ATS had a smaller wheel and tire combo than what I normally see on the road, and that may have contributed to the ATS being a bit more sedate. But through twisty stretches of road, the ATS still delivered in a big way, with flat cornering, eager turn-in and communicative, if not particularly weighty steering.

A spirited drive makes it plain why the ATS was met with such a chorus of approval when it debuted. GM has finally made a proper sports sedan that is better to drive than the current BMW 3-Series. Part of this has to do with the fact that current F30 has lost its way in such a severe manner that the ATS assumes this mantle by default: I have not driven the Lexus IS350, our EIC’s favorite sports sedan, and I know that an E90 328i is superior in every way, but right now, the ATS is without a doubt the best handling luxury sports sedan on the market.

Unfortunately, it has two glaring flaws.

  1. The back seat is tiny. Cadillac stole a lot of good things from the BMW playbook. One of them seems to be the size of the E36′s rear seat area. My two passengers, at 5’8″ and 6’2″, were initially enthusiastic about my rental car selection. By the end of it, they were cursing the Caddy.
  2. CUE is unequivocally the worst infotainment system on the planet. By comparison, the early renditions of MyFord Touch look like something running iOS. The haptic controls never quite worked the way they were meant to and even the slightest bump or pothole in the road can send your finger veering off to the tab or menu item that you didn’t intend to touch, leaving you to navigate through a confusing menu system that only leads to distracted driving.

With more time, a more thorough evaluation of the ATS, but for now, I can only determine that somewhere within the bowels of the RenCen, there are a talented group of engineers that are capable of making something that truly is “The Standard of the World”. Their electronics division is another matter…

 

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A Pair Of Loud Americans Invade The Burgerkingring http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/a-pair-of-loud-americans-invade-the-burgerkingring/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/a-pair-of-loud-americans-invade-the-burgerkingring/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 19:22:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866474 Germany must be a popular holiday destination for residents of the Motor City if today’s activity at the Nurburgring is any indication. Both Ford and General Motors were out in full force with their latest high-performance wares. Both the upcoming 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 and the Cadillac ATS-V sedan were spied lapping the famous racetrack. […]

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Germany must be a popular holiday destination for residents of the Motor City if today’s activity at the Nurburgring is any indication. Both Ford and General Motors were out in full force with their latest high-performance wares.

Both the upcoming 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 and the Cadillac ATS-V sedan were spied lapping the famous racetrack. The ‘Stang and the Caddy are entirely different performance propositions, with the ATS-V rumored to be adopting a twin turbo V6 engine to leave room for the CTS-V, which has traditionally had 8 cylinders.

The GT350 appears to be bucking the trend of forced induction, opting for a higher-reving naturally aspirated V8 – our sources say that a supercharger won’t fit under the new, pedestran-safety-oriented front end.

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Cadillac ATS-V Coupe Spotted At The Ring http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/cadillac-ats-v-coupe-spotted-at-the-ring/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/cadillac-ats-v-coupe-spotted-at-the-ring/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 11:23:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866282 AutoGuide.com has spied the all-new Cadillac ATS-V Coupe running the Nurburgring – and sporting a Michigan manufacturer tag. Also spotted was a prototype CTS-V, which should indicate that Cadillac has not yet given up on the idea of beating the Germans on their own turf. As long as they can avoid a confusing re-brand at […]

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AutoGuide.com has spied the all-new Cadillac ATS-V Coupe running the Nurburgring – and sporting a Michigan manufacturer tag.

Also spotted was a prototype CTS-V, which should indicate that Cadillac has not yet given up on the idea of beating the Germans on their own turf. As long as they can avoid a confusing re-brand at the hands of their new boss, they might have a fighting chance.

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Official: Johan de Nysschen Departs Infiniti For Cadillac http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/official-johan-de-nysschen-departs-infiniti-for-cadillac/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/official-johan-de-nysschen-departs-infiniti-for-cadillac/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:59:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863489 Johan de Nysschen, the executive largely credited with Audi’s rise to Tier 1 luxury brand status, has left his post at Infiniti after just two years on the job. He will assume the top job at Cadillac, after former President Bob Ferguson was moved to a new post as GM’s head of public policy. de […]

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Johan de Nysschen, the executive largely credited with Audi’s rise to Tier 1 luxury brand status, has left his post at Infiniti after just two years on the job. He will assume the top job at Cadillac, after former President Bob Ferguson was moved to a new post as GM’s head of public policy.

de Nysschen, who took the helm as Infiniti moved its headquarters to Hong Kong and re-organized its nomenclature (into the confusing “Q” and “QX” lines), was expected to lead a long, progressive turnaround for the brand, much as he did with the once-struggling Audi.

But his departure for Cadillac bodes poorly for a luxury brand that has failed to establish itself in the same way that Lexus has in North America, let alone globally. Witness the confusion around the Infiniti Q50, which was branded as a Nissan Skyline in Japan, despite a supposed push for Infiniti’s entry into the Japanese market.

While de Nysschen cited family concerns as a major motivation (he and his family have strong ties to the United States, having lived there for many years), an Automotive News story suggests that CEO Carlos Ghosn’s extremely ambitious targets may have played a part in de Nysschen’s departure.

Despite that, he will have a challenge on his hands at Cadillac. GM is also aiming for a major push into Europe – and you can bet that de Nysschen’s tenure will be focused on that goal.

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2016 Cadillac SRX May See Local Production In China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2016-cadillac-srx-may-see-local-production-in-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2016-cadillac-srx-may-see-local-production-in-china/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862161 On the strength of rising SUV sales in China, General Motors will likely add production of its next-generation Cadillac SRX in the emerging market in order to better capitalize on said sales. The Wall Street Journal reports Cadillac as a whole is doing well in China, sales rising 72 percent from January through May 2014 […]

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On the strength of rising SUV sales in China, General Motors will likely add production of its next-generation Cadillac SRX in the emerging market in order to better capitalize on said sales.

The Wall Street Journal reports Cadillac as a whole is doing well in China, sales rising 72 percent from January through May 2014 to 33,760 units with the SRX making up the bulk of those sales at 14,496 units, a rise of 23 percent for the crossover in the same five-month period compared to 2013. The current model goes for ¥420,000 ($67,770 USD), and has been on sale in China since 2009.

The new SRX would likely arrive as a 2016 model, with the hope Chinese production would help the automaker avoid tariffs on imported models; the crossover is only assembled in Mexico at the present. GM itself has big plans for its premium brand, including a $1.3 billion plant in Shanghai, and a goal of 300,000 units sold/10 percent share of China’s premium market by 2020.

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General Motors Digest: July 3, 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-3-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-3-2014/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858049 In today’s General Motors digest: GM recalls a recall; the automaker gains market share in spite of itself; its bankruptcy judge believes it may have committed fraud; the U.S. Senate gets ready for a second February 2014 recall hearing; and Anthony Foxx vows to keep the heat turned up on GM. Detroit Free Press reports […]

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General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan

In today’s General Motors digest: GM recalls a recall; the automaker gains market share in spite of itself; its bankruptcy judge believes it may have committed fraud; the U.S. Senate gets ready for a second February 2014 recall hearing; and Anthony Foxx vows to keep the heat turned up on GM.

Detroit Free Press reports the automaker’s recall of the 2013 – 2014 Cadillac CTS over an ignition switch issue similar to the one affecting the 2010 – 2014 Chevrolet Camaro, as well as the issue that kicked off GM’s recall parade back in February, only affected 264 coupes and wagons assembled before the redesigned sedan left the factory floor; the sedan was incorrectly listed among the 8.4 million vehicles recalled worldwide Monday.

In spite of said recall parade, Automotive News says GM gained market shared in the first six months of 2014, jumping from 16.9 percent in January to 18.8 percent in June. Further, June 2014 sales climbed 1.2 percent to 1.42 million units — instead of falling 2.6 percent as some analysts had predicted — fueled by new models entering the showroom and more lease deals. In turn, the annualized selling rate rose to 16.98 million, the highest rate seen since July 2006, and one higher than 2013′s 15.9 million in the same period. GM hopes to keep up the pace by offering Cobalt owners and owners of other recalled vehicles a $500 incentive to trade-in for a certified used vehicle, and employee pricing on new models; so far, 21 percent of Cobalt owners have taken the automaker up on its offer between March and May 2014.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber, who presided over the automaker’s bankruptcy proceedings in 2009, may have to haul GM back in on fraud charges if evidence is found, pointing to then-CEO Fritz Henderson’s possible knowledge — and obfuscation — of the ignition switch problem. Should the evidence be there, Judge Gerber could force the automaker to pay billions of dollars to any of the plaintiffs in the 90-plus lawsuits now waiting for his approval to proceed, which could come as soon as September 15.

Over in the Beltway, Reuters says a consumer protection and product safety subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee will hold a second hearing on the February 2014 recall July 17, though no announcement has been made as to who will be invited to testify as of this writing.

Finally, The Detroit News reports U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration both vow to “keep putting the screws on [GM's safety efforts] until it gets right.” The agency, who is monitoring the automaker for the next three years as part of the latter’s settlement with the federal government, will look into the newest recalls to determine if GM issued them in a timely manner, though Foxx thinks the automaker is acting in good faith.

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Cadillac Won’t Give Up On The Dream Of European Success http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/cadillac-wont-give-up-on-the-dream-of-european-success/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/cadillac-wont-give-up-on-the-dream-of-european-success/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 11:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=853321 Despite a flimsy dealer network, a lack of diesel engines and a poisonous brand, GM still hasn’t given up on the idea of making Cadillac a global luxury brand that can sell cars in Europe. Speaking to AutoExpress, GM President Dan Amman expressed his desire to sell Cadillacs in Europe, despite its past failures. Amman […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

Despite a flimsy dealer network, a lack of diesel engines and a poisonous brand, GM still hasn’t given up on the idea of making Cadillac a global luxury brand that can sell cars in Europe.

Speaking to AutoExpress, GM President Dan Amman expressed his desire to sell Cadillacs in Europe, despite its past failures. Amman also tacitly admitted that Cadillac would never be able to become a high volume brand or take on the German luxury brands – despite the fact that Cadillac has nakedly chased them in their home market of America

“But in the long term there is a role for Cadillac in Europe. Is it going to be a high-volume contender in the medium to long term future? Probably not. But is there a role for something other than the three German luxury brands? I think there is…We’ve got to figure out what it is, what our portfolio is, a different value proposition. But trying to out-German the Germans will not be the path to success. We have to have a different proposition.”

With a skeletal dealer network, unsuitable product for European tastes and road conditions (no diesel options is a complete non-starter) and an undesirable brand, it’s worth asking, why even bother?  Cadillac sold just 430 cars in Europe in 2012, with sales peaking at 3,000 cars in 2007. The brand has 40 dealers on the entire continent, and with diesels accounting for a reported 80 percent of premium car sales, this looks like nothing more than a vanity project, with GM wanting to sell Cadillacs in Europe just to bring the fight to the Germans on home turf – similar to VW’s folly in going after premium cars with the Phaeton, because Daimler dared to launch the compact Mercedes A-Class. And we know how that turned out.

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2015 Cadillac ATS Revealed Early http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/2015-cadillac-ats-revealed-early/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/2015-cadillac-ats-revealed-early/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 18:01:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=853217 A behind the scenes video posted by a production company shows some minor tweaks to the Cadillac ATS. The biggest one being the new front grille/badge, shared with the ATS Coupe. Although no mechanical changes are expected, someone at the production house is going to be changing jobs very soon, thanks to this slip-up.  

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A behind the scenes video posted by a production company shows some minor tweaks to the Cadillac ATS. The biggest one being the new front grille/badge, shared with the ATS Coupe.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Although no mechanical changes are expected, someone at the production house is going to be changing jobs very soon, thanks to this slip-up.

 

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Cadillac’s Peffer Resigns Amid Falling Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/cadillacs-peffer-resigns-amid-falling-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/cadillacs-peffer-resigns-amid-falling-sales/#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 11:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=850122 Sales of Cadillac’s lineup have fallen as of late in comparison to last year’s figures, prompting the brand’s U.S. vice president of sales and service, Bill Peffer, to resign his post. The Detroit News reports Peffer handed the reins over to interim vice president Kurt McNeil last Tuesday. McNeil is General Motors’ vice president of […]

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Sales of Cadillac’s lineup have fallen as of late in comparison to last year’s figures, prompting the brand’s U.S. vice president of sales and service, Bill Peffer, to resign his post.

The Detroit News reports Peffer handed the reins over to interim vice president Kurt McNeil last Tuesday. McNeil is General Motors’ vice president of U.S. sales operations, and held Peffer’s post once before, from 2011 through 2012.

Peffer was hired last autumn by GM from Nissan, where he served as the latter’s CEO for the brand’s operations in Australia, replacing the previous brand’s VP, Chase Hawkins, for “violating a company policy.” Hawkins was VP for one year prior to his firing.

Sales in the United States are down 2.3 percent year-over-year from January through May of this year, the XTS and ATS leading the way with 20 percent less sales in the same period compared to what they were in 2013. Though GM leadership are hoping for double-digit growth in 2014, Peter Nagel of IHS claims Cadillac will only gain 5 percent in U.S. sales this year, far from the 22 percent experienced the previous year.

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Junkyard Find: 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1985-cadillac-eldorado-biarritz/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1985-cadillac-eldorado-biarritz/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=843121 The Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz was made for the 1976 through 1991 model years, but the real Biarritz existed only through 1985. Today’s Junkyard Find is a final-year example of the proper, stainless-steel-roof-equipped Biarritz. This car is best-known as the Ace Rothstein‘s exploding Cadillac in the opening sequence of the film Casino. The Eldorado Biarritz was […]

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11 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz was made for the 1976 through 1991 model years, but the real Biarritz existed only through 1985. Today’s Junkyard Find is a final-year example of the proper, stainless-steel-roof-equipped Biarritz.

This car is best-known as the Ace Rothstein‘s exploding Cadillac in the opening sequence of the film Casino.
02 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Eldorado Biarritz was a very expensive machine in its day. How much? $35,500 in 1985, which is close to 80 grand in inflation-adjusted 2014 dollars. For that kind of cash, Ace Rothstein could have had, say, a new BMW 735i ($36,680), a Mercedes-Benz 300CD ($33,750), or even a Porsche 911 Cabriolet ($36,450). But hey, check out that stainless-steel roof panel!
12 - 24 Hours of LeMons Arse Freeze-a-Palooza 2012 WinnersIn my role as Chief Justice of the 24 Hours of LeMons Supreme Court, I hectored teams about the need for an Eldorado Biarritz race car until one team finally put together the “Ace Rothstein Special” ’84, complete with the appropriate suits.
13 - 24 Hours of LeMons Arse Freeze-a-Palooza 2012 WinnersNow that’s a race car!
16 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one is pretty well used up, but you can still see flashes of the casino-manager-grade luxury here and there.
07 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe chain-based front-wheel-drive system developed for the original Toronado back in 1966 was still being used in 1985.
03 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOpera lights, landau roof, and all.

The car that dreams are made of.

02 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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How I Royally Screwed Up My Life And Bought… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/how-i-royally-screwed-up-my-life-and-bought/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/how-i-royally-screwed-up-my-life-and-bought/#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 11:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=839793 A 33 foot stretch limo that was formerly owned by a famous run down strip club in Miami. Two small TV’s that dated back to the beginning of the Clinton era. Cheap burgundy upholstery that I probably would never want to study with a forensic light. 104,000 miles, and a corded phone right next to the champagne glasses in […]

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A 33 foot stretch limo that was formerly owned by a famous run down strip club in Miami.

Two small TV’s that dated back to the beginning of the Clinton era.

Cheap burgundy upholstery that I probably would never want to study with a forensic light.

104,000 miles, and a corded phone right next to the champagne glasses in the mini-bar. Oh, and it was a Cadillac. Not just any Cadillac. But the last of the old-school rear wheel drive Cadillac Fleetwoods with rear-wheel drive and the 350 V8.

Everyone screws up at some point when it comes to cars. But when I screw up… it’s something truly special.

This limo from Stripper Central had wheels that were (cough! cough!) begging for what most mother’s call “negative attention”.

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These were 90′s era gangsta wheels that, here in Georgia, are the rolling equivalent of MC Hammer pants. 

The reason why I bought this rolling showcase of 90′s era bling was the same reason why most car dealers and hobbyists end up buying this stuff.

We got drunk and saw it on Craigslist.

Now, in my case, someone from Alabama had already seen my own personal screw-up of a badly bought vehicle. A 2007 Crown Vic Police Interceptor that had been overhauled to a point of being practically brand new.

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Transmission replaced recently? Check!

Suspension overhauled? Big check.

A stack of papers that made the history of this car look like a paperback book? A never ending stack of papers and check copies.

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I paid a bit for the Interceptor since it was so new mechanically. About $2600 in total.  Drove it for a bit around town just to revel in what was a good deal on paper.

And then… nothing… nobody wanted a gas guzzling police car. It sat for months on end.

So what did I do? Well, first I got the phone call.

“My name is Sherman K Wires June-yah! I have a Cadillac stretch limo and an old Inidan bike I’m tryin’ to sell. You want to do any tradin’ with that police car?”

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My business is right near Deliverance country and, as such, I’ll pretty trade anything except chickens and tomatoes. I have a neighbor back a bit who raises both and I got all of those I need.

In the south, you get more than your share of folks who want to trade due to their own car’s mechanical issues. More times than not, you’re better off not doing it.

limotenseats

“Tell me about em’?” and thus started a 30 minute monologue I put on speakerphone while drinking bourbon, and going on Craigslist to look at the pictures of his two vehicles.

The first thing I noticed was that the Indian motorcycle was a fake. Fake Indians are as common as kudzu around here thanks in large part to a powersport auction that gets thousands of repossessed motorcycles every single month. The first play toys to bite the dust are always the phony ones. Yesterday’s Chinese scooters with Honda-esque names to them have largely been replaced with full-blown imitators of classic machinery.

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So that Indian was out. But a Cadillac limo? Hell, I had never bought a limo before. May be worth at least checking out now…

I ended up falling in love with the old bastard. It had that perfect combination of retro-kitsch and “Look at me!” uniqueness to it. I drove the Crown Vic to central Alabama through winding one lane roads, and met the fellow halfway.

Within ten minutes we exchanged keys and papers. I was shocked to find out that this behemoth could actually manage right near 20 miles per gallon if you kept it going at a 50 to 60 mile per hour clip. Just don’t press hard on the accelerator. Ever.

My goal was to surprise my wife by rolling it up to our driveway.

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Well I certainly did, and I managed to surprise a lot of neighbors as well who knew my regular work. Pretty soon, I was filling up the limo with folks I had known since forever and giving them a joyride.

There were lots of ideas hatching up in my enterprising little head while I took that drive. Most of them bad ones.

limootherside

The Atlanta Braves will soon be coming to about 15 miles from where I now live. So why not create a party/limo service to that new stadium and back?

Well, there were liability concerns. Old car concerns. People potentially barfing in a 100 square foot space with only two rear doors for ventilation. All of these things conspired to keep me conservative with that use and abuse.

limoprius

Then I thought about putting a big wrap around it and advertising it at the big box stores a few miles from my car lot. Other nearby dealerships use old military trucks to hang banners and pollute the aesthetics of the nearby Walmart and Home Depot parking lots.  So why not do the same with a vehicle that people would actually want to ride in?

To be blunt, I just saw it as hokey, and this thing had a neverending assortment of electrical issues that required a battery jump if I let it sit for a few days… which always happened. $2000 for a wrap seemed like a lot. But I realized that a supersized magnet could be had for about a tenth of the price. So financially, that was in the running. I just never warmed up to it.

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In the end, I just used the old limo as my own personal party and fun time vehicle. I took my wife and her friends to the movie theater when it came time for her birthday. I used it for my son’s birthday as well along with one of my mechanic’s kids. When Black Friday came, I was able to get a 32″ TV mounted on the wall behind the driver.

So now I had 3 TV’s. A ton of leather, and a vehicle that gets easily noticed wherever I took it.

That was the good news. The bad news was that like all novelties, I got tired of it after a while. It took up space. It required a lot of little things to be done which all soon added up, and this past week I finally sold it for $2800.

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So now I have one less limo in my life.  As for other automotive screw-ups, I have plenty to share. Dozens in fact.  But what about you? Have you ever bought a fun vehicle that became a rolling mistake as soon as you were given the keys?

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For D-Day: Ike’s 1942 Cadillac Staff Car & Blackout Civilian Studebaker http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/for-d-day-ikes-1942-cadillac-staff-car-blackout-civilian-studebaker/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/for-d-day-ikes-1942-cadillac-staff-car-blackout-civilian-studebaker/#comments Sat, 07 Jun 2014 15:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=838665 Among collectors of vintage American cars it’s generally known that 1942 model year cars are particularly rare. By January of 1942, Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States was a fully fledged participant in the global military conflagration known as World War II. Just about all production of civilian cars was shelved while […]

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Full gallery here.

Among collectors of vintage American cars it’s generally known that 1942 model year cars are particularly rare. By January of 1942, Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States was a fully fledged participant in the global military conflagration known as World War II. Just about all production of civilian cars was shelved while America’s industrial might geared up for combat. As a result of that truncated model year most car collectors know that  ’42s are indeed rare and civilian 1943 model year cars are nonexistent. What’s not as well known is that the transition of Detroit into the so-called “Arsenal of Democracy” was well underway long before the 1942 model year. That term was coined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a radio speech he delivered in December of 1940 and even by then, for example, Chrysler had already started working on what would become the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant in suburban Warren.

According to Charles Hyde’s book on independent automakers Nash, Hudson and the American Motors Corp. that was founded by their merger, by the spring of 1941, many months before the Pearl Harbor attack, executives of all three of the Big 3 automakers, GM, Ford, and Chrysler, made public announcements that their would be no new 1943 model cars. The independent automakers followed soon thereafter with similar news. The American auto industry was so busy with military contracts for the American and British governments that they simply did not have the engineering resources to develop 1943 models.

However, just because they stopped production of automobiles for civilian use doesn’t mean that the American car companies completely stopped building cars. The use of passenger automobiles by the military goes back almost a century. In 1915 a U.S. Army lieutenant named George Patton led 15 men into battle against Pancho Villa’s forces with three Dodge touring cars in America’s first motorized military expedition. In in the European war that was raging then the term “staff car”, a passenger used to convey ranking military officers, entered the lexicon. When the U.S. entered WWI, Packard made a custom Twin Six for the use of U.S. commander Gen. “Black Jack” Pershing.

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Jack Roush’s 1941 Ford U.S. Army Air Corps staff car replica. Full gallery here.

Hence in addition to the iconic Willys MB and Ford GPW jeeps, American automakers produced a decent number of 1942 model sedans to be used as staff cars. Besides making jeeps, Ford made staff cars. Jack Roush has a 1941 Ford U.S. Army Air Corps staff car replica in his collection, but with rank goes privilege and Buick, Cadillac and Packard also made staff cars. Speaking of rank, it’s interesting to note that while the staff cars are painted in drab olive green paint, they still retain all of their logos and badges. Generals and admirals need their signifiers of status too, perhaps even more so because they literally do have rank.

June 6, 1944 was the date of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Hitler’s “fortress Europe”. General Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower, later to be twice elected president of the United States, was the supreme military commander in the European theater of war for the Allies. He used a number of staff cars including a Packard and a Cadillac that’s on display at the Eisenhower Center in Abilene, Texas, Ike’s hometown.

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We TTAC writers are always on the lookout for content you’ll enjoy. Last summer, when I read about a Shelby Township, Michigan man who had gotten arrested when the propane fired “gun” on his decommissioned armored military vehicle was realistic enough to disconcert residents who called the police, it turned out that he was a member of the Detroit Arsenal of Democracy military vehicle club. Coincidentally, that weekend that they were going to be have a vehicle show in conjunction with a VFW hall that was hosting a veterans’ reunion.

General's Eisenhower (r) and Bradley talk near Eisenhower's Packard staff car

General’s Eisenhower (r) and Bradley talk near Eisenhower’s Packard staff car

Along with military jeeps of varying vintages, ambulances, Power Wagons, armored vehicles and half-tracks on display was this 1942 Cadillac staff car, documented to have been used by General Eisenhower in England before the D-Day invasion and then again in Germany closer to the end of the war. It was in service in the European theater from 1942 to 1945 and when Eisenhower wasn’t being chauffeured it was likely used by other generals.

While in the UK, Eisenhower’s British Mechanised Transport Corps driver was a young woman named Kay Summersby. It was widely rumored that the two had an affair, which Summersby’s second autobiography, ghost-written while she was dying of cancer, acknowledged, though it appears that the relationship was more romantic than sexual. Summersby was photographed with a Cadillac staff car, though it’s not clear to me if it was the identical car to this one.

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Gen. Eisenhower’s driver, Kay Summersby, poses with one of the general’s Cadillac staff cars.

Owned by a member of the DAoD, it’s a fully equipped Cadillac 1942 Series 75, built by Fleetwood. In addition to the standard factory equipment that included a flathead V8, it has blackout shields for all of the lights, a siren and flag mounts. Everything on the outside is painted olive drab, including all of the chrome trim, hub caps, badging and hood ornament. It may be painted olive drab but the Cadillac crest and name is all over the car, every logo is intact. As I said before, with rank goes privilege.

Speaking of chrome trim, about three weeks after the Pearl Harbor attack, on Jan. 1, 1942, the United States government declared certain metals like aluminum and chromium strategic commodities and reserved them exclusively for military use. That meant that automakers could no longer have the chrome plated trim on what few 1942 automobiles that they were still producing for civilian use after January 1st. Instead, they resorted to painting the trim, sort of how restomodders will have faux chrome trim painted on their cars, but in this case it was real trim, just coated with colored paint instead of chrome.

Actually some ’42s do indeed have chrome plating on their metal trim, but not to prevent reflections the enemy could see as with the Cadillac staff car. Some manufacturers still had stocks of trim that was already chromed, but the War Production Board ruled that  existing stocks of chrome plated trim would have to be painted over, so no one automaker had an advantage in the market.

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1942 “Blackout” Studebaker “Series 90″ with painted instead of chrome plated trim. Full gallery here.

This 1942 “blackout” Studebaker Series 90 Champion Club Sedan, is on display in the basement of the Studebaker National Museum along with artifacts of the company’s military history, which dates back to supplying the U.S. Army with horse drawn wagons, the Studebaker brothers’ original product. The “Series 90″ referred to 1942 being the company’s 90th anniversary. The car was assembled on Jan. 29, 1942. Studebaker would suspend civilian automobile production just two days later.

Even though they were constrained from using chrome, Studebaker stylists saw the restrictions as a styling opportunity. Instead of just painting the trim black or in the color of the body, the stylists chose other dark colors that better complimented the exterior shade. That’s how this car ended up with nice warm grey trim, though some is two-tone with white pinstriping. The Champion fender badge has also been painted, in white, and the car features a simplified hood ornament with Studebaker’s Art Deco S painted in gold.

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 get a parallax view 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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Not Even Incentives Can Save The Cadillac ELR – Sales Down, Inventories Up http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/not-even-incentives-can-save-the-cadillac-elr-sales-down-inventories-up/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/not-even-incentives-can-save-the-cadillac-elr-sales-down-inventories-up/#comments Tue, 03 Jun 2014 16:07:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=836337 Even as GM rolled out incentives to help move the Cadillac ELR, sales were down this past month, while supplies of the car continued to expand.   In May, Cadillac moved just 52 of their hybrids, down from 61 in April. Inventories are up from 1,077 as of April 3, to 1,515 as of this […]

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Even as GM rolled out incentives to help move the Cadillac ELR, sales were down this past month, while supplies of the car continued to expand.

 

In May, Cadillac moved just 52 of their hybrids, down from 61 in April. Inventories are up from 1,077 as of April 3, to 1,515 as of this writing. Not even GM’s generous incentives can help this thing.

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Editorial: Cadillac Is Abandoning Large Crossovers At The Wrong Time http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/editorial-cadillac-is-abandoning-large-crossovers-at-the-wrong-time/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/editorial-cadillac-is-abandoning-large-crossovers-at-the-wrong-time/#comments Fri, 23 May 2014 16:56:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=829578 A report by Ward’s Auto claims that Cadillac is scrapping plans to build a large, three-row crossover, similar to the Buick Enclave or GMC Acadia. Fear of competing with the two Lambda stablemates is being cited as a possible motive, along with a saturation in the large crossover market. They should do it anyways. Even […]

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A report by Ward’s Auto claims that Cadillac is scrapping plans to build a large, three-row crossover, similar to the Buick Enclave or GMC Acadia. Fear of competing with the two Lambda stablemates is being cited as a possible motive, along with a saturation in the large crossover market. They should do it anyways.

Even though they are held up as a symbol of everything that is against the state religion of automotive enthusiasm, crossovers are a global growth segment, especially small ones. And this is also one reason why Cadillac is apparently not going ahead with a large crossover. They want something smaller than the SRX, to help them compete with small luxury crossovers both at home, and in important markets like China and Europe.

This is an easy rationale to understand. Development dollars are finite, small crossovers are growing, and there’s lots of upside potential for something below the SRX. But that doesn’t mean Cadillac should abandon a larger crossover either. Think about the Acura MDX, the Audi Q7 and the Mercedes-Benz GL. These are all big, three-row crossovers that are globally successful (yes, even the MDX, which does sell in markets like Russia), and in the case of the MDX in Q7, they are a way to successfully leverage an existing architecture into something that can be sold at obscene mark-ups.

Cadillac would be foolish not to do this, if for no other reason than to leverage the profit potential at a tarted-up Lambda crossover. In the U.S, there is likely a price ceiling that they could charge for it, but you can bet that legions of affluent buyers would be clamoring for the chance to buy a more car-like big CUV from Cadillac. Given that the SRX is the sole Cadillac vehicle that doesn’t have over 100 day’s worth of inventory, it seems logical that another crossover would be a big seller. Why not kill off the Impala-based XTS entirely and replace it with a three-row CUV that can be sold to older customers and livery car services, as well as people who want something like an Escalade, but without the typical attributes of a BOF SUV (like reduced fuel economy and a more truck-like feel)? With the large car market tanking each passing year, getting out of a dying segment and into one that will be, at worst, stable in the next decade, makes a lot of sense.

And what about world markets? Take that price ceiling, multiply it 2-3x and that’s what you can charge for what is essentially a fancy Chevrolet Traverse. In China, a Buick Enclave sells for $81,000 USD – you can imagine what Cadillac would be able to charge for this kind of vehicle in the Chinese market, to say nothing of Russia, Brazil, Latin America and even India.

Assuming the marginal cost of turning a Lambda CUV into a Cadillac is low, the exercise seems like a slam dunk for GM. But we can’t always make these assumptions. Each individual business case is always a discrete entity, and trying to approach it with a “one-size-fits-all” mentality is a common fallacy in the world of automotive opinion writing. Even so, the case for a big Cadillac CUV seems to make sense – and GM’s track record of mis-managing Cadillac only furthers the thinking that cancelling this project is a mistake.

 

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Barclays: GM Recall Parade To Last Into Mid-Summer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/barclays-gm-recall-parade-to-last-into-mid-summer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/barclays-gm-recall-parade-to-last-into-mid-summer/#comments Fri, 23 May 2014 10:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=829313 Automotive News reports General Motors’ recall parade could, according to Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson, last well into the middle of the summer season. The data mining conducted by the automaker’s team of 60 safety investigators on 10 sources reporting potential problems — including consumer complaints and reports from its dealership network — will likely […]

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Automotive News reports General Motors’ recall parade could, according to Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson, last well into the middle of the summer season. The data mining conducted by the automaker’s team of 60 safety investigators on 10 sources reporting potential problems — including consumer complaints and reports from its dealership network — will likely bring more recall requests before GM’s senior executives. Johnson adds that the investigators are working on likely defects on a per-issue basis instead of per-vehicle, which may mean a number of vehicles will be called back multiple times as the recall parade marches on; he also notes that its hard to discern if recalls of past vehicles have already peaked.

Detroit Free Press says GM product chief Mark Reuss will be leading a new team of five execs in choosing who all will be on the parade route, determining when and if a recall should be issued on any given vehicle with a potential problem. The team’s creation aims to accelerate the automaker’s response to said safety concerns, as well as better enable communication with its consumer base and the federal government. In addition, the 60 investigators, led by global safety boss Jeff Boyer, will comb social media to gather evidence of problems that haven’t been found from within.

Over in Canada, Reuters reports government officials are investigating GM Canada over the possibility that, much like the mothership across the border, it, too, delayed product recalls. Transport Minister Lisa Raitt instructed her group of officials to ask GM Canada “when did they find out” about the out-of-spec ignition switch, proclaiming that if they knew before the recall was issued, the Canadian subsidiary “could be in violation of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.” If found guilty, GM Canada could be fined anywhere between $100,000 and $1 million CAN depending on the conviction issued, far less than the $35 million levied against GM by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earlier this month.

The Detroit News reports those affected by the recalls of newer vehicles, including the 2014 Cadillac CTS and 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe, are receiving free loaner vehicles much like those affected by the February 2014 ignition switch recall. In the case of Cadillac, however, the free loaners are standard practice for recalls related to the brand’s products, as they fall under warranty. Meanwhile, the Chevrolet and GMC loaner programs, according to spokeswoman Ryndee Carney, was at the automaker’s discretion; as the recall involves tie-rod defects — including a park-it-now notice — GM made the decision “to offer owners of those trucks courtesy transportation.”

Finally, Automotive News says those who purchase a 2015 Chevrolet Impala with the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder will include stop-start technology as standard equipment, which aims to boost the engine’s fuel efficiency by 5 percent. According to spokesman Chad Lyons, the stop-start tech “will become more prevalent in GM vehicles” as time goes on; the 2.5-liter Impala is the second to have the tech standard, after the 2014 Malibu. Those who prefer their Impala to come with more power via the 3.6-liter V6, stop-start won’t be available standard due the engine’s heavier weight negating potential fuel savings.

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Volkswagen’s Cervone Returns To GM As Global Communications VP http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volkswagens-cervone-returns-to-gm-as-global-communications-vp/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volkswagens-cervone-returns-to-gm-as-global-communications-vp/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 10:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=826618 Autoblog reports Volkswagen Group of America executive vice president of group communications Tony Cervone is returning to the GM fold as the automaker’s senior vice president of global communications. According to CEO Mary Barra, Cervone “brings an ideal mix of outside perspective and experience that compliments a deep background in GM and today’s global auto […]

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Autoblog reports Volkswagen Group of America executive vice president of group communications Tony Cervone is returning to the GM fold as the automaker’s senior vice president of global communications. According to CEO Mary Barra, Cervone “brings an ideal mix of outside perspective and experience that compliments a deep background in GM and today’s global auto industry.” Prior to his return, he also served as the vice president of communications for United Airlines and Chrysler Group, where he spent 14 years before his decade-long previous service to GM. Cervone succeeds Selim Bingol — who resigned from the company in April “to pursue other interests,” and will report directly to Barra.

Speaking of “outside perspectives,” Automotive News chronicles the story of how a trio of Southern gentlemen helped to bring the spotlight upon the out-of-spec ignition switch at the heart of the February 2014 GM recall. Leading the charge, attorney Lance Cooper had sought answers into the death of Brooke Melton at the wheel of her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. Cooper retained a number of experts in his case, including auto shop owner Charlie Miller and materials engineer Mark Hood, both of whom discovered the switches in Melton’s Cobalt and related vehicles performed differently than those found in 2007 and later models. The evidence gathered would help cement the settlement for his client’s family, as well as pave the way for the recall.

Moving toward the present, victim compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg may end up sorting through a mountain of data as he works out the details for a compensation package between GM and the 35 families affected by the switch. Between the time the first vehicles left for showrooms in late 2002 through 2012, 1,752 individuals died in accidents involving the vehicles under the February 2014 recall. Though the link may be tenuous in most of the cases, each one may open an opportunity for affected groups to lay some of the blame at the door of GM’s comptroller.

Looking toward the future, GM and AT&T will offer a number of 4G LTE connected-car packages beginning next month to consumers, ranging from $5 for a few hours of streaming music to $50 for several showings of “Frozen” for the little ones in the back. However, demand for the service may not be what the automaker expects, as consumers who don’t have company on the road often may wonder why they need a connected car with 4G. The concern isn’t helped by the delay of an app suite — featuring offerings from NPR and The Weather Channel — which would allow owners access without using their smartphones; the delay is over quality concerns, according to GM.

In brand news, GMC is doing very well for itself as of late, being the healthiest among GM’s four brands left standing after the 2009 bankruptcy. The “professional-grade” line of trucks, SUVs and crossovers are leaving their bow-tied brethren behind for the premium market, bumping into Cadillac more often than may be comfortable for some within GM’s hallowed halls. That said, GMC’s demographic prefers to remain low-key in opposition to the flash that brings the celebs to Escalade’s yard, even if the Yukon XL Denali is within spitting distance of the Caddy’s $72,690 base price.

Leading the charge is Buick-GMC boss Duncan Aldred, who is looking forward to where GMC will go while shaking off the shadow of Buick’s “senior citizen” image within the United States. The former Vauxhall managing director sees similarities between Buick and Vauxhall/Opel, and aims to rehabilitate its image through a marketing strategy that may use “shocking and polarizing” messaging to prove his point. As for GMC, Aldred says he sees its future “as really exciting in an Audi-esque kind of way,” with plans to push the Denali line further up the mountain toward the summit.

Finally, CarNewsChina has the first official photos of the facelifted Chinese-market Chevrolet Aveo, which takes its looks from the upcoming Cruze. The Aveo will be priced between 81,800 yuan and 114,800 yuan ($13,113 to $22,732 USD), with power from 1.4- and 1.6-liter engines under the bonnet. Made by the GM Shanghai joint-venture between GM and SAIC Motor, the newly styled compact will arrive in showrooms in June for the sedan, July for the hatchback.

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Hammer Time: Batter Up! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/hammer-time-batter-up/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/hammer-time-batter-up/#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 11:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=820914 The bases are loaded and the score is tied. Two outs in the bottom of ninth. 3 balls. 1 strike. You know this pitcher better than you know your brother. The last pitch had almost cleared the left field pole, and the entire stadium. Your swing was as beautiful as Mickey Mantle in his prime. […]

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The bases are loaded and the score is tied. Two outs in the bottom of ninth. 3 balls. 1 strike.

You know this pitcher better than you know your brother. The last pitch had almost cleared the left field pole, and the entire stadium. Your swing was as beautiful as Mickey Mantle in his prime. Just a few inches to the right and you would have been on your way to a private party with friends instead of another walk back to the batter’s box.

The catcher signals, and you catch one finger out of the very corner of your eye. Fastball. The pitch comes, right down the middle. It’s almost like a dream and yet, you can’t do anything about it.

The stomach pangs in stress and anguish as the rest of your body remains still. You watch it go past. The thud in the catcher’s mitt. The umpire bellowing, “Stttaaarrriiikkeee!!!” Your manager had told you not to swing and now, you have 50,000 fans booing as you curse under the breath and step away from the batters box.

Will you get a pitch that good again? The pitcher grins as he now knows, his mistake ended up giving him an advantage.

This is how I felt yesterday afternoon. That manager who I wanted to fire was a neighbor who I had bought a car for nearly eight years ago. A four year old Cadillac Seville with only 26,000 miles, a CPO warranty still in effect, and the exact color they wanted for all of $12,600. It was nearly $4000 less than what the nearby dealer had offered for the same type of vehicle. Except his was a year older and had 10k miles with no warranty at all.

For 8 years they had been happy with it being their retirement vehicle. A lot of long-distance trabeling and one of my mechanics ensured that the vehicle would stay in good running order. No Northstar engine issues. A couple of oil leaks around the 100k mark. but nothing out of the ordinary given what it was. They were happy, and I was happy for them.

Then a Solara driven by an idiot decided to make a turn going against traffic and…. bam!…. hospital visit and totaled car.

The good news was that the folks were okay. Bad news? All the airbags did their job and a 12 year old Seville wasn’t a prime candidate for the replacement of this safety equipment and the surrounding sheetmetal. The car was totaled. There was some soreness. An honest apology from the bad driver, and another page for everyone would be turned.

I get the call that evening, “Steve, someone just totaled out the car. We’re at the hospital”

“Is everyone OK?”

“Kinda. Our friends are about 80 and they were shaken up a bit. A little sore. But no broken bones. Can you come up to the hospital and pick us up?”

“Sure. I’ll be right there.” I palmed the keys to a nearby 2003 Camry and made my way against rush-hour traffic to the hospital.

It took a couple of hours to get discharged. Since there was no bleeding or dying, there would be a lot of waiting. I parked at a nearby church where my wife teaches Sunday school and made the long trudge to the hospital.

“Is everything OK with ya’ll?”

An older lady was resting on a bed and my neighbors, along with an elderly stranger, were waiting for their turn.

“We’ll be fine. But chances are Manda will need a couple of days of rest before heading back to Ohio.”

I became a good listener for the next half hour. Eventually the subject came to their next car.

“Can you help us find a Malibu?”

Sure, what are you looking for?

“We thought we would get another silver car with leather. Two years old. Maybe around $10,000.”

“I hate to say it, but you’ll be waiting for another two years to get that type of car, if you’re lucky.”

“So what do you think we should get?”

A tricky question, and I had to wait a moment to formulate the right response. These people were conservative in tastes, and I knew that I would be dealing with folks who wanted a showhorse car at the same workhorse price I got eight years ago. That deal was a lightning strike, and the auction market is a lot more competitive in 2014 than it was in 2006.

“Go ahead and when you feel able, just go to a dealership and test drive a few vehicles. See what you like and let me know.”

This turned out to be a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that it shocked them back into the reality of modern day car prices. Everything cost a lot more these days. The curse came from them testing cars with cloth interiors they didn’t like, and leather interiors that they thought were the bee’s knees.

“Can you get us a 2010 Buick Lucerne or LaCrosse for around 10k?”

I sighed with my eyes, “Yes, but the reality is a one owner car that has been maintained at a dealership and has a perfect Carfax goes for a stiff premium at the auctions. If you want to buy a clean car, you have to pay a clean book price.”

I showed them the clean Manheim Market Report prices for those two vehicles.

“Well, we can handle a few dings here and there…”

Baloney! Folks who insist on leather for a late-model vehicle aren’t going to tolerate scratches and scuffs. They want the perfect car, and that’s perfectly fine. But there is a price for that.

It’s called the clean book value.

I decided to browse a bit as my neighbors were busy debating each other about the car when, I found it. The perfect car.

07sat3

A 2007 Saturn Aura XE in the same color silver as their old Cadillac. It had half the miles of their totaled Seville (68k vs. 136k). The 07 Aura had also been reconditioned by two dealerships that I like to buy from because they don’t scrimp on getting their vehicles front-line ready.

One owner. No accidents. Extensive service history. This would very likely be the best car at the auction that day.

“Hmmm… well that’s interesting. Can you tell me about it?”

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I showed them the Wikipedia listing. I explained to them that the 3.5 liter engine and four-speed automatic transmission were the same one used in my wife’s old Malibu Maxx that they had liked so much. I told them that Saturn was now an orphan brand, but any GM dealer can service these vehicles and that this vehicle would likely be at least a thousand or so cheaper than the Buick since Saturns are no longer bought by most of the major auto-finance dealerships.

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Nobody shops around for a Saturn anymore.

“Yeah, but I’m not sure I want a Saturn.”

“Okay, well I’ll pull out the Carfax and let you read a few of the reviews from actual owners. I gotta eat with the family. Let me know what works.”

An hour later I got the news that I was anticipating…

“Barbara really wants to get the Buick. Just keep your eyes open, and if you find one, let us know.”

The next day the Saturn sold at the auction for $7500 plus a $200 auction fee. Throw in my $500 fee, and they could have bought the Saturn underneath the clean wholesale value. It would have been an easy slam dunk.

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Instead, I wound up buying an 03 Volvo S80 in silver with 130k miles for just under $3000. A re-man transmission was put in it only 2,000 miles ago and the car just got the belt changed at 122k. The only reason why I was able to get it was because the alternator was weak, and only 1 of the other 108 dealers took the time to look at the history.

03s802

Most long-time dealers just assume these Volvos were traded-in for a bad transmission. Plus Volvos tend to be slow moving, but this one has the right color and recent maintenance history for a finance deal. I’ll take my chances.

I hated to see that Saturn go by though. It was the perfect car with the perfect everything else. Will I get another nice easy fastball down the middle? Eventually I will. Unfortunately, my chance to swing at it now depends on two managers who are probably still busy bickering with each other.

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That Aura will now be showcased by a dealer in Alabama. So what about you though? Has there ever been a car that you knew would be the perfect fit? But someone, somewhere, decided otherwise?

 

 

 

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Cadillac ELR Inventories Balloon To 725 Day Supply As Dealers, Consumers Offered Big Incentives http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/cadillac-elr-inventories-balloon-to-725-day-supply-as-dealers-offered-5000-incentives-for-test-drives/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/cadillac-elr-inventories-balloon-to-725-day-supply-as-dealers-offered-5000-incentives-for-test-drives/#comments Wed, 14 May 2014 12:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=819986 The Cadillac ELR is shaping up to be one of the biggest automotive flops in recent memory – as of May 1, inventories had expanded to a 725 day supply, with Cadillac moving just 61 units in April. At the start of April, dealers had 1,077  ELRs on their lots. As of May 14th, that […]

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The Cadillac ELR is shaping up to be one of the biggest automotive flops in recent memory – as of May 1, inventories had expanded to a 725 day supply, with Cadillac moving just 61 units in April.

At the start of April, dealers had 1,077  ELRs on their lots. As of May 14th, that number had increased to 1,517, with inventories far outpacing sales of the car.

Now, Automotive News is reporting that dealers are being offered a $5,000 incentive to offer test drivers of the car if they have seven or less unused ELRs in their fleet, and $10,000 for two ELR demos if they have more than seven units. The test drive demos must log 750 or more miles, with the program expiring on June 2nd.

GM is also offering a $3,000 customer incentive if an ELR is purchased or leased (on top of government incentives that already exists), and dealers can qualify for a $2,000 incentive in July or a $1,000 incentive in August for selling ELRs.

While a Cadillac spokesman insists that the inventory backup is a result of production scheduling, the rising inventories, lagging sales and heavy incentives paint a clear picture: the ELR is an overpriced dog that is finding few buyers compared to the much cheaper Chevrolet Volt and the much more prestigious Tesla Model S, to say nothing of the various plug-in and pure EV offerings from other car makers.

Even worse is Cadillac’s inventory picture as a brand: according to the Automotive News Data Center every vehicle except the SRX recording over 100 day’s worth of inventory. Even the much lauded ATS and CTS had 153 and 138 day’s supply, far above industry norms.

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Reader Review: 2014 Cadillac SRX http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/reader-review-2014-cadillac-srx/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/reader-review-2014-cadillac-srx/#comments Thu, 08 May 2014 16:44:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=818258 Reader “Bunkie” aka Peter Hansen, sends us his impressions of the 2014 Cadillac SRX, versus his 2010 CTS Wagon. There are times when it’s a good practice to review long-held beliefs. I’ve never owned an SUV or a CUV. I have owned two Rangers, back when I lived in Columbus and had the whole house/2 […]

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Reader “Bunkie” aka Peter Hansen, sends us his impressions of the 2014 Cadillac SRX, versus his 2010 CTS Wagon.

There are times when it’s a good practice to review long-held beliefs. I’ve never owned an SUV or a CUV. I have owned two Rangers, back when I lived in Columbus and had the whole house/2 kids/2 cars/mortgage-in-a-new-subdivision sort of life. I loved my Rangers. The last one came in really handy when that life imploded and I needed to ferry my things to the storage unit that I referred to as the “museum of my former life”.

Since then, it’s been a life lived in Manhattan with a progression of 3 Taurii (wagons) and 2 Cadillac sedans Now, I drive a 2010 CTS Wagon purchased as a CPO car back in 2012. We keep our car in a garage, which is an unholy but necessary expense. Our usage pattern is to escape the city on Fridays, driving about 120 miles to a weekend house in Pennsylvania. This results in about 15-18K miles per year.

Two cars back, we got our second Cadillac (a CPO STS with the Northstar) from R.J. Burne in Scranton, and I returned to the dealer to purchase our CTS. When our CTS Wagon went in for service, R.J. Burne was kind enough to give me a loaner SRX, since they’re quite a distance away from New York City, and I was interested to see how a CUV would compare to my beloved station wagon. By the time I pick up my car (which should be as you read this), I will have put almost 200 miles on the SRX, over a mix of highways and very rough back roads.

I like a certain amount of functionality in a vehicle. I love sports cars, but we live in the real world with a single vehicle, so I must compromise. That’s exactly why I worked so hard to locate a CTS Wagon. The biggest letdown is the 3.0L V6, which feels inadequate compared to the torquey turbo 4 in my sister’s 328xi. I hadn’t yet tried the new 3.6L V6, but the SRX loaner afforded me that opportunity.

Like most CUVs in this class, The SRX’s shape and size is defined by its mission to provide a high level of comfort and space. To me, it looks short and squat with overly large wheels. I can’t say that I’m a fan of the new grill, as it appears too busy. I’ve always liked the vestigial tail fins that are part of the tail lights, largely because I’m a child of the 1960s and loved the befinned Caddies of my youth.

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Maybe it’s my age, but my very first impression was how damned easy it is to get into the driver’s seat. I’m about 6’2” with long legs for my height. I usually swivel my butt over and drop into the seat then swing my legs into the car. In the SRX, I was able to just step in and sit down. Like Etta James, the SRX appears to be built for comfort, not for speed. The second impression is that the driving position is more upright. This SRX was a Luxury trim, which included a thigh support. I’ve seen this feature on other cars, but the seat height has been to low for it to make a difference. Here it worked wonderfully and, for the first time, the weight of my upper legs is actually supported by the seat, not my knees and hips.

Visibility isn’t quite as good as our CTS Wagon. The A-pillar is huge. This SRX has deeply tinted rear and passenger windows, but at least the side mirrors are large and have a blind-spot monitoring feature. The rearview camera is acceptable, with a curving path graphic when you turn the wheel.

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This was my first experience with CUE, and I found the learning curve to be brutal. Nothing was intuitive and every action, from setting the climate control, to finding Deep Tracks on SiriusXM, took a long time. The sound system is from Bose and, frankly, the sound quality isn’t very good. As someone who builds speakers as a hobby – and onced worked for Bose – it’s disappointing to think of how many superior components are out there.

I have yet to find the way to reset the fuel mileage and trip computer, I suspect that I won’t get time to figure this out. Having said all that, we must accept that if we want this level of control and this rich feature set, there will always be a learning curve.

The driving experience far surpassed my expectations. Compared to the most recent CUV I’ve driven (an Ecoboost Escape), the SRX felt well-planted, free of the usual top-heavy sensation through curves. The steering does an excellent job of pointing the car despite lacking feedback. The primary characteristic when pushed hard into a corner is mild understeer. Body roll is well-controlled. The brakes are nice and linear, well-suited to the car’s weight. Ride quality is another surprise. Compared to my CTS, the SRX feels sharper yet the effect of this year’s crop of monster potholes barely unsettled the car. Road surfaces that have the CTS transmitting every small irregularity to the seat bottoms are no problem for the SRX. You feel them, but the amplitude and impulse are greatly reduced. Another side benefit is that the car is very quiet, more so than the CTS.

The difference between the 3.0L in the CTS and the 3.6L in the SRX is vast. In the 3.0L, there’s simply no torque below 4000 rpm – manual shifting and driving like a lunatic are needed to extract its full performance. The SRX is almost 1000 lbs. heavier than the CTS yet it feels much stronger. Put your foot in it, and it needs one less downshift to find the ponies. Shifts are smooth but leisurely. Manual mode is better, but compared to the 328, they are slow – not that any GM/Cadillac transmission I’ve experienced has performed with authority.

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From a practicality perspective, the SRX has a shorter cargo area than the CTS wagon, by about 4-5 inches. Depth is better and hatch height is much better. The CTS manages barely 19 inches while the SRX is about 28 inches.

Feature-wise, I like the driver info center. This is an area where all cars have been getting better with more customization. My loaner SRX has the Intellibeam automatic headlight-dimming feature. We had this on our STS and, at times, it required manual intervention. The SRX is much improved. It dims when following other cars, and isn’t fooled by reflective signs. I miss the fog lights and adaptive lighting from my CTS, however.

Now we come to re-examining part. I’ve stated publicly that I don’t like CUVs all that much. But as my needs are changing, I have become more impressed with the segment – provided that they are executed properly. Since I can’t have a pickup, I own a cheap trailer and can tow it behind my CTS. While my car is only rated for 1000 lbs, the SRX can tow 3500 lbs. I probably won’t even exceed the CTS’ rating, but it’s nice to know the extra capacity is there.

As someone who needs one vehicle to do it all, the SRX really won me over. I like the idea of the higher ground clearance and AWD (even with proper snow tires, the CTS does require more care in winter weather). The better seating position and larger cargo capacity are welcome. The 3.6L is a gem, and makes the 3.0L mill in my car look stone age. I may need to re-consider my biases against CUVs. At the very least, the SRX is a way for Cadillac to keep us CTS Wagon owners (all 4 of us) in the fold.

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GM Saved From ‘Park It Now’ Order, Looks To Strengthen Liability Protections http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/gm-saved-from-park-it-now-order-looks-to-strengthen-liability-protections/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/gm-saved-from-park-it-now-order-looks-to-strengthen-liability-protections/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=804122 The Detroit News reports U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos delivered a six-page ruling in favor of General Motors, saving the automaker from issuing a “park it now” order that would have proved costly both financially and in reputation. Had the order gone forward, it would have set a precedent that not even the National […]

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Recalled GM ignition switch

The Detroit News reports U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos delivered a six-page ruling in favor of General Motors, saving the automaker from issuing a “park it now” order that would have proved costly both financially and in reputation. Had the order gone forward, it would have set a precedent that not even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could attempt in its limited penalty power. The attorney representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit for the order, Robert Hilliard, may appeal.

In other legal news, GM has filed a request with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Francisco to prevent lawsuits filed against the automaker in recall-related incidents prior to the 2009 exit from bankruptcy, reinforcing the liability protections established during the bankruptcy proceedings. GM is currently facing 41 separate lawsuits from 19 U.S. district courts, which may be consolidated into a single venue by a judicial panel in the early stages. The bankruptcy court in New York will rule on jurisdiction April 25.

Autoblog reports CEO Mary Barra will create a new group within the company to be headed by vice president of global product development Mark Reuss that will work with vice president of global vehicle safety Jeff Boyer in monitoring new products for potential safety concerns. Barra also addressed the suspension of engineers Gary Altman and Ray DeGiorgio during her 2014 NYIAS eve announcement:

Let me be really clear, these are real people with real careers, and I’m personally dedicated to making sure we have true facts of what happened… We agonized over that decision, but we thought that was the right thing for the individuals and right thing for the company at this time.

The Detroit News adds North America president Alan Bately, speaking before analysts and investors at the 2014 New York Auto Summit during the 2014 New York Auto Show Wednesday, proclaimed his employer was focused on safety, citing the Chevrolet Trax’s standard rearview camera as an example. When asked about the recall and whether money would be set aside to handle warranty and liability claims down the road, however, Bately said that until internal investigator Anton Valakus completed his work, GM wouldn’t have any answers to offer.

Meanwhile, the myriad of documents delivered to Congress and the NHTSA this week threw more fuel to the smoldering recall crisis when it was revealed GM and supplier Delphi redesigned an ignition switch on the Cadillac SRX prior to production in February 2006 after test drivers accidentally bumped the ignition out of power in a manner similar to the switch at the heart of the recall, which didn’t see a redesign until April of the same year. GM added that the expanded recall of 2008 – 2011 vehicles affected by the out-of-spec switch would cost the automaker $40 million, and that 109 vehicles not under the recall may have received the defective part, as well.

Finally, Fortune magazine senior editor-in-chief Allan Sloan posits that Barra was thrown under the bus GM built in the 13 years prior to then-CEO Dan Akerson passing the torch to her late last year. He also suggests that instead of the federal government, the media and the general public taking her to task for everything wrong with GM as of late, blame should be laid at the feet of the correct people involved in setting the stage: Rick Wagoner, Ed Whitacre and Akerson.

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Cadillac Flagship, Redesigned LaCrosse To Be Made In Detroit By 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/cadillac-flagship-redesigned-lacrosse-to-be-made-in-detroit-by-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/cadillac-flagship-redesigned-lacrosse-to-be-made-in-detroit-by-2016/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:30:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=798938 In light of General Motors’ recent announcement of a $384 million investment in its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, two vehicles from Cadillac and Buick could wind up being produced alongside the next-generation Volt. Edmunds reports IHS Automotive senior analyst Stephanie Brinley expects Cadillac’s all-new flagship to be produced in late 2015, with the Buick LaCrosse — […]

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2013 Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

In light of General Motors’ recent announcement of a $384 million investment in its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, two vehicles from Cadillac and Buick could wind up being produced alongside the next-generation Volt.

Edmunds reports IHS Automotive senior analyst Stephanie Brinley expects Cadillac’s all-new flagship to be produced in late 2015, with the Buick LaCrosse — currently assembled in Fairfax, Kan. — joining the flagship in 2016 for the latter’s next redesign.

Though GM hasn’t said much about the flagship, industry insiders claim the vehicle will be aimed at the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS and Mercedes S-Class, and may be priced as much as $100,000.

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A Primer On SLAB Culture http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/a-primer-on-slab-culture/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/a-primer-on-slab-culture/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:55:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=794826 This well-traveled Houstonian thinks his town is Pistonhead Nirvana, proven every month via fanboi scale and diversity at Cars and Coffee gatherings.  Or with every 1000+hp racer on at Texas2k, every shoestring budget’d LeMons racer and Art Car fanatic: it’s all here. Except there’s nothing like Houston’s SLAB culture. A confession: I know automotive subcultures, […]

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This well-traveled Houstonian thinks his town is Pistonhead Nirvana, proven every month via fanboi scale and diversity at Cars and Coffee gatherings.  Or with every 1000+hp racer on at Texas2k, every shoestring budget’d LeMons racer and Art Car fanatic: it’s all here. Except there’s nothing like Houston’s SLAB culture.

A confession: I know automotive subcultures, no matter which socioeconomic population nurtures it, always raise the ire of outsiders. My response?  Every generalization about SLABs applies to anyone building a custom, race or show car. We are all the same, deal with it.   

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Like most automotive hobbies, the Houston SLAB scene starts with the belief that the factory’s work needs improvement.  While spec racers turn a depreciated hulk into a track beast, the SLAB rider takes a slice of unloved Americana, bringing it back to a time when Japanese cars were cheap rust buckets that’d never threaten General Motor’s existence! I mean, look at our grilles and look at theirs, right?

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A car that traces its roots back to the 1970s Pimp Rides is necessary to make a modern SLAB: Camcords need not apply. Any Blaxploitation movie gets you up to speed on Pimp Rides, but the Houston SLAB scene uses them as a springboard to something new.

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Depreciated American luxury cars are the norm: Cadillacs, Buicks and certain Oldsmobiles are preferred.  Lincolns/Panthers and Chryslers are cool too, even Jaguars and Quattroportes pull it off vis-à-vis distinctly luxurious proportions.  But don’t break your budget on the ride, GM’s W-body is one of the most common platforms for good reason, as costly modifications are necessary to pay homage to the Pimp Riders while advancing the game:

  • Massive stereos, some are IASCA worthy with a little tweaking.
  • Kitted out power popping trunks, slathered in custom vinyl and personalized phrases in neon/mirrors.
  • Wire wheels much like the Cragar units supplied as OEM for Cadillac in 1983 and 1984, except replacing the fragile tin content with 100% steel. Texan Wire Wheels sells them as “83s” and “84s”, seemingly cornering this niche market.
  • Vogue tires in new sizes for new cars, naturally.
  • Replacement steering wheels, usually with wood grain rims.
  • Candy Paint, just like any vintage rodder.
  • Reupholstered interiors, taking advantage of the latest trimmings on the market.
  • Aftermarket HID lights, custom LEDs, Lambo doors, flat panel TVs and anything else you’ll find in the custom car scene.
  • Oversized brand logos, like the tailgate emblem from an Escalade.
  • Lowered suspensions (often aftermarket Air Ride) for obvious curb appeal.

That stance is at the SLAB’s core: it’s a sweet American luxury sedan ridin’ close to the curb.  Close to the concrete, up against the “slab”…hence the name. Some suggest that SLAB is an acronym for Slow-Loud-And-Bangin’ but that definition seemingly came later.

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But the wheels make SLABs so eye-catching: references percolating through Houston’s music, Houston’s culture.  Originally a re-pop of those Cadillac rims from 1983 and 1984, some are fed pro-baseball grade growth hormones to extend the hub far beyond Cadillac’s factory specification.  Ordinary wires have “pokes” while insanity ensues when you go “super poke.”  While not sure of their origin, odds are that having more poke comes people’s need to out-do each other. Like everything else in this world!

IMG_1759Your taste in poke is subjective, but they are all known as swangas and elbows.

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Elbows are when the hub and spoke of your wheels “poke” out of your body just like your arm’s elbow when perched atop the door sill.  Makes sense, but Swangas?

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Again, not sure: it’s connected to the organized dance that multiple SLABs do on an open stretch of road.  It’s like watching racers warming up their tires during pace laps.  It’s infectious: even the cops do it.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Here’s what I saw at the first annual SLAB Parade, put on by the Houston Arts Alliance.  This cow town’s been good about supporting the art scene, especially our Art Cars and our screwed and chopped Rap artists.  While H-town Rap is a “thing” for the likes of Jay Z and Justin Timberlake, Detroit has yet to embrace Houston’s re-branding of their Camry prey/Rental Car fodder and their highline euro-wannabes. Aside from the Chrysler 300, of course.

So welcome to the Third Coast, the coast that actually likes American cars. How they were: with real names, impressive proportions and maybe even SLAB hugging overhangs, too. And the people who make them?  They are no different than other car nuts.

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No doubt, Houston is the best place to be a car fanatic, mostly thanks to our diverse population.  Love it or hate it, hopefully you enjoyed seeing this slice of Automotive Americana while I avoided the pitfalls of a milquetoast overview of an automotive sub-culture. Fingers crossed on that last part.

 

 

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