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. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:30:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 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 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 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 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 title

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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Answer Of The Day: Reader Response To The ELR Sales Question http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/answer-of-the-reader-response-to-the-elr-sales-question/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/answer-of-the-reader-response-to-the-elr-sales-question/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 09:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=786817 cadillac-elr-ad

The best comment on the ELR sales and inventory figures post didn’t even come from the comment section. Instead, it ended up in the TTAC reader feedback inbox.

One of our readers, who asked for his name to be withheld, had this to say about my ELR post

Not trying to excuse the elr….but you have to look at inventory on it with some sort of intelligence… not the usual approach. There are about 500 elr dealers…. do the frickin math.

Two units per store. Some have more….some have less. You act as if there are ELRs pouring onto the streets.

OEM has to supply the dealers who signed up to sell it right? Launches have to fill the channels…. you write like Cadillac is drunkenly building these without a clue.

Our reader certainly has a point, but I still think that there are too many examples on the lots, given how these cars are selling.  And the high price tag – even if most of these cars will be leased – makes it a hard sell, especially against a Tesla Model S.

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QOTD: How Long Will The Cadillac ELR Last? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/qotd-how-long-will-the-cadillac-elr-last/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/qotd-how-long-will-the-cadillac-elr-last/#comments Thu, 03 Apr 2014 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=785913 Click here to view the embedded video.

So far, Cadillac has moved just 180 units of the ELR in 2014 – at that pace, Cadillac stands to sell just 720 units in 2014, far short of the often-stated 2,000-3,000 unit annual sales target.

Even worse is the inventory picture. According to Cars.com, there are 1,077 ELRs available at dealers, which could translate to almost a year’s supply of the $76,000 plug-in hybrid.

The ELR is unequivocally a flop: between the absurd price tag, the fiasco erupting over Cadillac’s now-infamous TV ad and the early recall of the car, the launch of Cadillac’s “green” halo car could not have gone any worse. The only question is, how long will it last?

Personally, I think that it won’t make it past the 2015 model year. Dealers are already inundated with inventory, including multiple examples of the Saks Fifth Avenue tie-in cars, and the market for a $76k Cadillac version of the Volt is just not that large.

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Hammer Time: The Third Set http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/hammer-time-the-third-set/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/hammer-time-the-third-set/#comments Wed, 19 Mar 2014 17:16:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=772345 shoot1

“Gimme Carter!!! Gimme Carter!!!”

“You can have him!” My brother Lewis, a lifelong conservative was watching me, a hyperactive  six year old, pointing eagerly at our home’s only TV.

“I’m voting for Reagan.”

“Pa-tau!!1 Pa-tau! To a 1st grader’s ear, the word Reagan sounded just like “Ray gun”. And for all I knew, Carter and Reagan were locked in some Star Wars parallel universe fighting each other for control of the presidency.

Lord knows that 34 years later, I would need every single ounce of that youthful imagination to get through a day long movie shoot.

My wife and I always try to spend one day out of the month together. No kids. No work responsibilities. Just the privacy and solitude that comes with two people who are well-matched in what has become a picky, picky world.

She wants to get back into the film and video world, part-time, and so I took it upon myself to get two vehicles that would be a good fit for that elusive older car that looks neither brand new nor decrepit.

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The 1980 Cadillac Seville that I mentioned last week was the optimal fit for this journey.  Black on black. Perfect leather seats. A little bit of wear. But not enough to make it look like anything more than a five year old car for the one to two seconds it would wind up on film.  After I put in a new master cylinder and properly bled out the brakes, it was good to go.

The second car was a more interesting case. I had sold a 1983 Mercedes 300D Turbodiesel to a fellow that I thought was a hardcore Mercedes enthusiast for all of $1700. I only made about $400 out of the deal. But I always take personal pride in making sure older cars are given to true enthusiasts. Instead of chucking it to someone looking to donate a car to the human hurricane within their family.

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I got a great deal on that old Benz and in turn, left nothing to chance. New filters, fluids, brakes, two new tires. I spent about $300 prepping it for sale in parts and sold it to a guy who I thought would do a good job keeping it.

The good news is he didn’t abuse it. The bad news was that I couldn’t find out whether he took the lease amount of effort of changing the oil.

He said he did it recently. But a quart low already? The alignment is off? And that inner-tie rod end needs to be replaced? Mother of pearl!

A friend of mine who works for Porsches and Maseratis decided to give me the full-report on it while I handled the Cadillac.  The Cadillac was flawless. The Mercedes? Still tight. Just minor stuff…

“You’re getting picky-picky with this one Steve! Damn things old enough to be a Grandma in Alabama.”

“My wife wants to drive it out to a movie shoot. She hates big cars. So I’m gonna be drivin’ out the Caddy.”

“Get her an Impala or a Malibu instead Steve. I hate the smell of this diesel…$^^%$!!!”

My wife came by with her 1st gen Prius, and after I spent over ninety-five dollars filling the two vehicles up, we headed straight for Conyers, Georgia. A small town located somewhere between civilization and Deliverance.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The drive was the usual homicidal freakshow that is Atlanta traffic.  Folks don’t use their turn signals. Cell phones are surgically attached to most commuters, and two people driving 65 mph are justifiably banished to the right side of the freeway where they belong.

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The Cadillac was just majestic. GM ‘s styling may have been a bit off the mark for this generation of Seville. But the 6.0 Liter Cadillac 368 engine was just perfectly matched to this particular generation, and it’s a shame that GM decided to off it after only one year for their diesel and 8/6/4 abominations. As for steering and handling,  you can do the same exact one finger cruising with this car that you can do for nearly any good Lincoln or Cadillac of days gone by… and it’s easier to drive than the Mercedes.

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The Mercedes was meh. A 300D is expected to be infinitely higher in decibels than an old school Caddy and, even for the time, it wasn’t quite a luxury car.

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I will admit that the material quality alone is easily a parallel universe beyond the Cadillac.  All the fake wood and cheaper vinyl of the Cadillac pales to the glory that is the W123′s design and engineering excellence.

That difference though is eliminated once you turn the key.

For the experience that is daily driving through a busy metropolitan area, I preferred the Cadillac. It has enough luxury to keep you isolated from the rampant vehicular stupidity that surrounds, you while allowing the driver to hear the smoothness of a big Detroit 6.0 Liter V8 over the 3.0 Liter clackety-clack-clack of the Mercedes. This noise difference is especially noticeable during the interminable traffic jams that happened on the ride back.

We didn’t hit anything other than air molecules for this first 35 miles journey. We arrived early. Just in time for the most important event for movie extras between the waiting and the shooting.

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The eating. Lunch for a successful TV program is a true wonder to behold, and since there were only a few extras for this show which we’ll assume is called, “Go And Throw Ice At The Devil!”. Since there were only two of us at the time, we were spared of the usual culinary segregation and got to eat with the cast and crew.

I saw a familiar face as soon as I got out of the Seville. “Steve! I miss that old yellow pickup truck!”

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“It’s down the street from me. The guy is using it for his lawnmower repair business.”

“He’s not restoring it? Damn! I wanted that thing.”

“I’ve been to his house. The family doesn’t believe in anything after 1984. He spent an hour going through the truck and it’s now the ugliest good running truck in town. ”

Brando and I caught up on life, and my wife caught up on crossword puzzles. At least until the opening shoot.

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It was supposed to easy. The main character leaves his driveway in some Grizwold 1970′s woody wagon. My wife’s car goes straight past. The Caddy turns right, a Ford truck turns left, and a Triumph TR6 idles away at a stop sign.

Sounds easy enough? Not when you don’t have enough walky-talkies.

We did the shot 16 times. 16 TIMES! And every time I did the shoot, I got an unwelcome surprise.

The police officer blocking off the road I turned into decided to change his cruiser’s parking position after each shoot. Why? I have no idea. His vehicle wasn’t even in the camera shot. But sure enough, every single time I made that turn, I found myself performing another new and exciting three point turn with a 34 year old Cadillac.

“Ka-thunk! Ka-thunk!” Asthamtic sounding acceleration back to position. Then wait….

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I also discovered something else. Black on black plus even a 70 degree time will equal about 90 degrees inside one of these things. The A/C worked, thanks to the prior owner who converted it into R134. Unfortunately the director wanted the vehicles to idle at all times. So we likely wasted about $30 worth of gas in the shooting process.

None of the cars broke down or even overheated. However the Triumph had more blue smoke than anything I had ever seen that didn’t already have a two stroke engine in it. I’m willing to bet that the thing was dirtier than any old scooter you can find… but it ran. That vehicle was a bit rough around the edges. But this gorgeous Riviera helped smooth out the line-up that day.

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After the shoot, we had dinner and then… a holding cell. No joke. The extras had to stay four abreast in a 2 foot by 10 foot room with no nuttin’ for two hours.

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Conversation, yes. Smartphone? Wonderful! A TV? Surely, you’re joking Mr. Feynman.

Once the clock struck exactly 8:48 P.M. we were out on parole. No overtime this time. Brando signed us out and we quickly made a 37 mile skedaddle towards the north Georgia woodlands we call home.

Will we do it again? Probably. However, Georgia weather is rather nasty and brutish during the summer time. A Malibu with light colored cloth and a snow white exterior may be the perfect match for the next set.

 

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Ellinghaus: Cadillac Could “Easily Flourish” In Australian Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ellinghaus-cadillac-could-easily-flourish-in-australian-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ellinghaus-cadillac-could-easily-flourish-in-australian-market/#comments Fri, 14 Mar 2014 10:05:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=771210 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe

Sometime in the future, Cadillac global marketing boss Uwe Ellinghaus believes Cadillac could enter the Australian market, being able to “easily flourish” under the proper conditions established on top of the goodwill the brand already has in the country.

Auto Advice reports however the main goal for Cadillac is to go after what Ellinghaus calls “low-hanging fruit” markets:

We see the opportunity [in Australia] and we want to expand into as many markets as we can afford, but it’s also fair to say we have so much growth potential unexploited in China, even in the US, Canada, Russia, Dubai, Mexico… This is the lower-hanging fruit.

We have limited resources and great opportunities elsewhere that we need to make a very careful plan when to enter which market.

Regarding where Cadillac could enter the Australian market, he says the space soon to be vacated by the Holden Commodore would be the perfect point of entry. Offering the brand for Commodore prices, though, would be easier said than done as far as a business case is concerned, pointing toward both the BMW M Series and Mercedes AMG as to where pricing would occur for Cadillac’s high-performance lineup. He also had high hopes for the CTS, and the SRX and Escalade, with the latter two finding huge success in Australian burgeoning SUV marketplace.

As for when Cadillac would enter the scene, Ellinghaus says an introduction would occur near the end of the 2010s at the earliest, and would be headed by one or two models converted to right-hand drive. This follows an near-entry into the market back in 2008 before turning back at the last moment, though not before exporting a few vehicles and appointing dealers to sell them.

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Cadillac ELR Sells Just 99 Units http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/cadillac-elr-sells-just-99-units-in-february/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/cadillac-elr-sells-just-99-units-in-february/#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2014 18:59:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=761081 450x300x2014-Cadillac-ELR-_12_-450x300.jpg.pagespeed.ic.rYtST8SCgA

With just 99 units sold , the Cadillac ELR is going to have a tough time hitting its 3000 unit target for 2014. At $76,000, it’s hard to imagine anyone lusting after one when a Tesla Model S is within its price-point. Hell, even the dealers don’t want it.

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Cadillac Reports 43% Of Dealers Will Not Sell ELR http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/cadillac-reports-43-of-dealers-will-not-sell-elr/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/cadillac-reports-43-of-dealers-will-not-sell-elr/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 12:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=748921 2014_cadillac_elr_f34_ns_21314_600
A niche vehicle is one that serves a very specific set of buyers with a vehicle that’s defined by a specialized and uncommon or unique role; and is often knowingly sold in low numbers to satisfy that dedicated group. Sometimes it’s to test a market: The Miata created its own niche in the 1990′s, and became a role model for modern product, like the S2000 and BRZ/FRS. Other are more esoteric niches, like the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. Sometimes, niche cars bring buyers to a brand that they would not have thought about before.

Currently, one of our most popular niches is the hybrid segment, dominated by the Toyota Prius. Chevrolet threw their hat into the ring, inadvertently, with the Volt. Though primarily an electric car, it does run the gas engine as a series hybrid with engine lockup if needed for maximum efficiency. The sales have been mediocre, pushing just over 23,000 units in 2013. The Prius? It sold over 145,000 units in the same time period..

Is it any wonder, then, why 43% of Cadillac’s dealers aren’t willing to take the up-market, $75,000 (before $7,500 Federal tax credit) Cadillac ELR? It’s a niche of a niche. And it’s an expensive one for dealers to take a risk on. 

 

Edmunds reports that 410 out of Calliac’s 940 dealers will not take delivery of the new ELR, an fairly astonishing 43%. With fuel prices relatively low and a high sticker price, there appears to be little demand for the ELR, and dealers are keen on it. Jim Vurpillat, Cadillac’s global marketing director, told Edmunds in an interview that dealers “might look at (ELR) and say, ‘Ok, if I sell one of these, I got to have service charging stations, special training, a sales area. I have to buy special tools… If they don’t think they will sell more than one or two units a year, they would do the numbers, and it is probably not worth it.”

The cost for the training, additional tools, and other EV equipment can total $15,000 according to Edmunds. It’s just too costly of a chance for many Cadillac dealers to take. Most sales are expected to be in California, Dallas, Miami, and New York City, says Vurpillat. In Austin, Texas, our single Cadillac dealership has had one in stock.

But, at which point do we look at this as no longer chasing a niche, but falling into failure? Is it nearly half of your dealer network saying “no, thank you”?

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Ecto-1 and the Working Cadillac http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/ecto-1-and-the-working-cadillac/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/ecto-1-and-the-working-cadillac/#comments Tue, 18 Feb 2014 14:18:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=745745 21108_1-1024x768

You have to hand it to Lego: years after the patents on their plastic interlocking bricks expired, the company has become expert in parting kids of all ages from their cash. The Lego Movie, a concept that would have boggled the mind of any child of the ’80s, is a certified blockbuster. The Lego Harry Potter and Lego Star Wars video games – that’s a game of a toy of a movie, if you’re counting – are best-sellers across multiple platforms.

Now there’s this, an assemblage of beige-overalled 1980s misfits rendered in blocky, multi-part format, ready to do battle with spectres while making off-the-cuff quips. Talk about shut up and take my money: the Lego Ghostbusters set is relatively affordable, at just under fifty bucks, and is everything you were hoping for. By June, thousands of them should be parked proudly on the desks of all kinds of dudes who are far too old for this sort of thing. I’ve already cleared a space on mine.

The centrepiece of the set, aside from minifig versions of Venkman, Stantz, Zeddemore, and Spengler, is the gloriously recreated Ectomobile – Ecto 1. Thirty years ago this year, the white and red original burst on-screen, sirens blaring.

As a fit for the role, the Cadillac might have been an even better casting choice than Bill Murray as Venkman. When there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, you know who you’re gonna call.

1959CadMillerMeteorHearseAd

Before Hollywood got hold of it, Ecto-1 started life as a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Futura Duplex. The Futura designation indicates that it had limousine windows rather than a landau top, and the Duplex that the car could be used as both an ambulance and a hearse. Technically, I suppose the Ectomobile could be called a Triplex in that it could ferry you to hospital with a minor cough, take your corpse to the cemetery after some careless orderly put an air bubble in your IV, and then bust a proton-pack cap in yo’ ass after you returned from beyond the grave to haunt the intensive care ward.

Much like the Armoured Rolls-Royce’s underpinnings, Cadillac once supplied a bare chassis for custom coachwork, available through their commercial division. Essentially a strengthened Series 355 frame, the 390 V8-powered chassis was bare of bodywork except for the front clip, and might include optional extras like air-conditioning and air suspension. Most were considerably lower in the rear than the civilian versions, making for a lower load height.

1959CadHearseLimoChassisAd

Companies such as Superior, Eureka, and the aforementioned Miller-Meteor took this bare frame and created ambulances, hearses, a very rare vehicle called a flower car (used for transporting floral arrangements), and stretch limousines. Quarter-panels and other signature Cadillac bodywork would often be supplied along with the bare essentials, but the coachwork usually involved customized doors, windshields, a heightened roof, and unique details like curved glass in the rear for a better view of the casket.

While a lucrative business for Caddy in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, these professional vehicles weren’t all that common. In 1959, just 2102 chassis were made, the lion’s share going to the Miller-Meteor company in Ohio. Divided again between ambulance, limousine, dual-purpose and the odd flower car or two, not many more than several hundred Futura Duplexes were made in total. Stringent EMS regulations introduced in the late 1970s would eventually force the change to van-based ambulances – the last Cadillac commercial chassis was delivered to Miller-Meteor in 1976.

i-3_B

By comparison, the similarly iconic DeLorean DMC-12 of the Back To The Future trilogy is relatively commonplace, with somewhere in the neighbourhood of 9,000 cars made between 1983-84. The bullet-shaped tail-lights and the quad foglights of the ’59 Caddy are a one-year oddity.

e1pre10

Thus, there was only ever one Ecto-1. Where the set designers got the car from isn’t clear, but the news that it was originally brown will certainly please Style Editor Sajeev Mehta to no end. While versions of the script as late as 1983 indicated the Ectomobile should be a 1975 Excelsior ambulance, drawings commissioned by Dan Ackroyd for his original screenplay seem to show a much earlier car.

gb1_behind_the_scenes00

At any rate, the ’59 Miller-Meteor got the part, and was transformed into a screen legend first by concepts drawn up by John Daveikis, and then more properly realized by Steven Dane, credited as a hardware consultant. Dane also fabricated up early models of the proton packs you probably tried to make as part of your Hallowe’en costume in 1984.

Two cars were used in the film, the first an ex-fire-department ambulance that was rented by Sony Pictures to portray the black-primered “before” car that Ray Stantz so proudly pulls into the firehouse, “Everybody can relax, I found the car. Needs some suspension work and shocks. Brakes, brake pads, lining, steering box, transmission, rear-end…”

ghostb10

All that for just $4800. Well, it did need rings, mufflers, a little wiring – point is, the fictional Ray Stantz got a heck of a deal on an extremely rare machine. Thanks to the work of the non-fictional Steven Dane, the slightly-beat Desert Rose Caddy ambulance that was actually purchased by Sony was transformed inside and out into an iconic bustin’ machine.

In the mind of Dan Ackroyd, Ecto-1 should have been more ghostly hearse than ambulance – painted a menacing all-black with purple underglow and sirens. Fortunately, since so much of the film was to be shot at night, the car donned the red and white livery we all know so well. The Ferno-Washington gurney held the proton-packs, and a series of avionics gauges were fabbed up into spirit containment devices and ghost detectors.

It was a hell of a machine. Nearly twenty-one feet long, eight feet high and nearly seven feet wide, Ecto-1 weighed nearly three and a half tonnes. Sure, the V8 cranked out 325hp, but the floaty suspension and mausoleum curb-weight blunted performance somewhat. Blunted? Sorry, I mean slimed.

After the movie, Sony ended up buying the primered car as well, and using it as a promotional vehicle. George Barris, famous for any number of other famous movie and TV cars, made another Ecto-1 out of it, and it eventually passed into private hands. Among other differences from the original, the promotional car has a red interior rather than black.

black1

Another car was used as a rolling feature at Universal Studios, and Ghostbusters II featured Ecto-1a, an “upgraded” version of the original. Any number of replicas have followed, many of them based off of Superior and Eureka ambulances.

The appeal of the Ecto-1 has been something of a double-edged sword in the view of Professional Car enthusiasts. While some far-gone ambulances and hearses have been pulled back from the brink by movie enthusiasts, the rarity of the standard cars might well have been increased by Ecto-1 replicas made out of hard-to-find ’59 Miller-Meteors.

It’s not like movie star status did anything for the original. Left outside for nearly two decades in the Sony Pictures backlot, Ecto-1 was weathered and brutalized by the years. Eventually, right around the 25th anniversary of Ghostbusters, the car would be sent to Cinema Vehicle Services of North Hollywood for a full restoration. The Ectomobile was stripped down to the bare bones and built up again. Even after the renovations, it spent another five years baking in the California sun on the backlot. Ecto-1a is a ruin after the same sort of shabby treatment.

white1

For those of us who remember Ghostbusters from the complete first picture, the idea that a trilogy might be on the horizon is both exciting and terrifying. Think of just how bad the fourth Indiana Jones movie was, as best represented by the car-chase that destroyed the warehouse seen at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark – a childhood memory sacrificed to CGI nonsense.

But Ecto-1 (apart from the siren) was never purely about movie magic. It’s an antiquated rolling piece of American automotive history given new life by a mortgaged-to-the-hilt gearhead Ghostbuster; an unlikely, outdated rescue vehicle suddenly imbued with silver screen immortality.

ecto-111

It is, funnily enough, a dead car resurrected by a movie franchise that ran on putting down spirits who wouldn’t remain deceased. To end with a quote from Dr. Peter Venkman, “Generally, you don’t see that kind of behaviour in a major appliance.”

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Early ELR Adopters Receive Free Charging Stations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/early-elr-adopters-receive-free-charging-stations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/early-elr-adopters-receive-free-charging-stations/#comments Wed, 29 Jan 2014 18:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=726882 2014 Cadillac ELR

If you should become one of the early adopters who purchase a Cadillac ELR soon, the brand has announced that they will throw in a free charging station as a gift for paying $75,000 over the next 36 to 72 months for the luxury plug-in hybrid.

Normally, the 240-volt charging station would be installed at an owner’s home starting at $1,000, with financing available for installations between $1,000 and $3,499 spread over 24 months at 0 percent and $0 down, and 2.99 percent over 84 months with $0 down for installations above $3,500. The price range is determined after Bosch Certified Contractors look over factors affecting installation, including age of the home, location of installation, permits et al.

On top of the incentive, ELR owners will also acquire the services of their own ELR Concierge Representative, who will help their owner with information on battery care, home charging, service scheduling and other concerns regarding their purchase.

No word on when Cadillac will cease offering free stations, though the $699/month lease incentive for well-qualified consumers currently on offer will end on January 31 of this year.

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Junkyard Find: 1975 Cadillac Coupe de Ville Custom http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/junkyard-find-1975-cadillac-coupe-de-ville-custom/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/junkyard-find-1975-cadillac-coupe-de-ville-custom/#comments Wed, 29 Jan 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=726730 09 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMy recent trip to Southern California resulted in a bonanza of Junkyard Finds, including the first-ever Junkyard Find Jensen Interceptor, this Maserati Biturbo Spyder, this hyper-rare Sterling 827 SLi fastback, this super-scary AM General ice cream truck, and this Corinthian Leather-equipped Chrysler Cordoba. Is that all? No, that is not all! Today we’re going to admire an amazingly luxurious customized Malaise Coupe de Ville.
04 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe problem with the factory version of this car was the lack of privacy in the back seat. Say you’re above all the lights in those high-rolling hills— do you want your romantic Cadillac activities to be visible to everyone?
14 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin500 cubic inches, 210 horsepower. That’s just barely 25 horses per liter.
07 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNot that you really need a lot of horsepower with a sled like this. Sadly, the custom vinyl isn’t looking so good when you get up close.
15 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinScrap metal is just worth too much to keep a car like this away from The Crusher.
Here’s an ad that shows Cadillac’s push to be the least exclusive luxury marque. As we all know, that didn’t work out so well for The General.

01 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]>
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The ATS Goes Long In Its Target Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/the-ats-goes-long-in-its-target-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/the-ats-goes-long-in-its-target-market/#comments Sun, 26 Jan 2014 17:34:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=724674 atscaddy

It’s not secret that General Motors is depending on China to ensure a rosy future for its Cadillac brand. However, the imported ATS, complete with pinched-off rear seating and thirsty turbocharged engine, isn’t cutting the mustard. No surprise, then, that GM will be building the ATS locally in the future, with one very important change.

Carnewschina reports that the Cadillac ATS will be built in China with a choice of the 200-horsepower 2.5L four-banger or the 3.6 DI V6. More importantly, to suit the, ahem, unique tastes of the Chinese market, the wheelbase will be stretched four inches, making it an ATS-L.

At this point, it’s tempting to write something along the lines of “Oh, those wacky Chinese and their obsession with rear-seat comfort and K-turn-nightmare wheelbases.” But think about it for a moment. The traditional brand image of Cadillac includes spaciousness, doesn’t it? Yet every single Cadillac built since the demise of the RWD Fleetwood has been cramped in the back to some extent. The original CTS and edged-up STS were disasters in that regard; your humble author used to daily-drive an ’06 STS AWD and when I adjusted the front seat to my preference it would touch the rear lower cushion. Even the famed DTS wasn’t exactly S-Class-competitive in back, thanks to its shared platform. The ATS is pretty much a four-door 2+2, like a Mazda RX-8. Where’s the appeal in that? Why aren’t all Cadillacs spacious and comfortable in back?

For now, it looks like, as with the previous STS-L and the Buick “Park Avenue” G8, the General is saving its best ideas for its favorite market.

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2014 Cadillac ELR to Lease for $699 a Month http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/2014-cadillac-elr-to-lease-for-699-a-month/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/2014-cadillac-elr-to-lease-for-699-a-month/#comments Wed, 22 Jan 2014 12:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=704690 2014-Cadillac-ELR. Photo courtesy AutoGuide.com

If you thought the $75,000 price of admission for ownership of the 2014 Cadillac ELR was too high, the luxury automaker may have another option for your consideration: A lease contract of $699/month with a few stipulations.

In order to lease the luxury plug-in hybrid — based upon the $34,000 Chevrolet Volt — you’ll need to either own or lease a GM product screwed together from 1999 forward. Next, you’ll need around $5,000 at signing for a lease that will last just 39 months. Then, you’ll have to deal with the usual tax-title-license-dealer fee-optional equipment gauntlet, plus whatever price the dealer sets for the whole thing.

Finally, whip out your magnifying glass and reading glasses: The fine print states that price of the ELR has an MSRP of $76,000, and that you can only drive a total of 32,500 miles before paying 25 cents per additional mile; if you were to average 13,476 miles/year — the national average, as it turns out — the additional 11,297 miles would total $2,824.25 over the limit.

If interested, you have until the end of January 2014 to sign the papers.

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Generation Why: Macklemore Is Wack, And So Is Bloomberg’s Piece On Cadillac http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/generation-why-macklemore-is-wack-and-so-is-bloomergs-piece-on-cadillac/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/generation-why-macklemore-is-wack-and-so-is-bloomergs-piece-on-cadillac/#comments Thu, 16 Jan 2014 13:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=700689 Click here to view the embedded video.

Rivaling Jack’s tales of his harem in the “Most Unpopular Subject Matter on TTAC” Sweepstakes is my constant references to rap music. What I perceived to be a wink-and-a-nod to younger readers who enjoy hip-hop was succinctly summed up by one commenter who wrote “It wouldn’t be a Kreindler piece without a [deleted perjorative for white wannabe rappers] reference”. Although I resolved to tone down the “shout-outs”, an recent piece by Bloomberg demonstrates that there is a time and a place for a knowledge of hip-hop music.

Bloomberg, – a notorious peddlar of pro-Cadillac stories, even in the face of contradictory date – is committing yet another act of fellatio-in-print upon GM’s luxury brand, suggesting that a song by rapper Macklemore is indicative of Cadillac’s rising fortunes, along with a 22 percent bump in sales in 2013. There are, of course, a few issues at play here

1) Nobody who is a real fan of the genre regards Macklemore as anything but an interloping yuppie, adopting hip-hop modes of dress and language while preaching overly PC themes. This is neither the time nor the place for a discussion of hip-hop’s attitude towards gender relations, other sexual orientations or state and federal penal codes, but it’s safe to say that people from all walks of life, whether black, white, gay, straight male or female enjoy hip-hop music, including its darker sub-genres – and part of it is because the edgy, if not downright criminal themes, resonate within them the same way that any form of rebellious, anti-social music does. Macklemore is like the helicopter parent that wants Little League to abandon scorekeeping and make every game a tie, when everyone else is alright with the spirit of competition.

2) Cadillac has not been relevant in hip-hop, or with young people, for some time. Over time, rappers’ taste in cars has evolved, with imported luxury cars becoming the preferred vehicle of choice. Maybe the 2015 Escalade will make a resurgence, but it’s hard to see rappers backing away from the G-Wagen and Range Rover as the SUV of choice.

3) Even though a late model SRX is driven for 2 seconds in the video, the song is not singing the praises of the XTS, CTS or any modern Cadillac. The brand made its way into hip-hop culture via old body-on-frame sedans like the Fleetwood, which were both prestigious in hip-hops early days, and popular with the low rider crowd on the West Coast. Dr Dre may have been “King of the beats you ride to in your Fleetwood” but nobody is ever going to rap about the ATS. Speaking of which…

4) In a growing luxury market, Cadillac sold 182,543 units, including 38,319 ATS models. Subtract sales of the ATS from that total, and Cadillac’s 2013 performance is worse than any other year since 2009. So while adding a nameplate has been a help for Cadillac’s overall volume, the rest of the brand is down, and the ATS itself has been struggling, with residuals taking a beating due to incentive spending. Those $299/month lease deals are going to be very expensive for Cadillac once the term is up.

5) Bloomberg’s piece also sneaks in the inevitable mention of Cadillac as a global luxury brand. Can we please stop this? Mary Barra may be targeting 1 million units in a decade, but with diesel engines not arriving for another three years, Cadillac is, and will remain, an utter non-entity in Europe

The “White Walls” video isn’t so much an ad for new Cadillacs as it is an homage to the Broughams and B-Bodies of yesterday, the ones that cemented Cadillac’s reputation as a “pimp mobile”. They might still be writing songs about Fleetwoods, but in 20 years, nobody will ever be rapping about the XTS. Now, the Elmiraj on the other hand…

 

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NAIAS 2014: Cadillac ATS Coupe Is Alpha’s Final Frontier http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/naias-2014-cadillac-ats-coupe-is-alphas-final-frontier/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/naias-2014-cadillac-ats-coupe-is-alphas-final-frontier/#comments Tue, 14 Jan 2014 12:52:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=699113  

2015-Cadillac-ATS-Coupe-Main

The coupe market is declining in the mainstream market, but in the small luxury car segment, a two-door variant is considered a necessity to compete. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Infiniti all have two-door variants of their small sedans, as a way to add volume and give buyers a sportier option. For 2015, Cadillac’s entry wears the ATS nameplate and drops the 2.5L base engine.

Looking a bit more restrained than the outgoing CTS Coupe, the ATS will offer the 2.0T 4-cylinder (with a 6-speed manual option) and the 3.6L V6. Cadillac’s new logo also makes a prominent debut on the coupe’s front end, and the car looks a bit like a scaled down Elmiraj, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Take a good look at the car’s overall shape and you can imagine what the Camaro might look like. As the Chrysler 200 proves, it’s difficult to escape a platform’s “hard points”, but in this case, the Camaro should be tastefully proportioned and hopefully, a bit more compact than the current car.

From a dollars and cents perspective, things get a bit more confusing. Our sources tell us that GM’s rear-drive Alpha platform will be used for this car, the CTS and the Camaro – and that’s it. It’s hard to see how GM will have enough volume to get a good ROI on Alpha. Apparently, GM’s hopes rest on both the Camaro and global sales of the CTS and ATS to achieve these targets.

So far, sales of the ATS have not been promising. The ATS lags behind the big German competitors, its leasing strategy is not going as well as they’d hoped and incentive spending has been far higher than the competition. Global sales of the CTS and ATS also seem t0 be a non-starter, once China is taken out of the equation. European sales of Cadillac are basically inconsequential, and without a strong brand or a diesel option for their cars, they are doomed to linger in obscurity. Even if they look this good.

2015-Cadillac-ATS-Coupe-Main 2015-Cadillac-ATS-Coupe-03 2015-Cadillac-ATS-Coupe-04 2015-Cadillac-ATS-Coupe-07 ]]>
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Junkyard Find: 1982 Cadillac Cimarron http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/junkyard-find-1982-cadillac-cimarron-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/junkyard-find-1982-cadillac-cimarron-2/#comments Wed, 08 Jan 2014 14:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=694241 10 -1982 Cadillac Cimarron Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinSometimes I just have to choose a Junkyard Find car based on its potential for a good Crab Spirits Story™, and that’s what’s happening today. The Cadillac Cimarron— well, there’s not much we need to say here about the image-tarnishing disaster that finished the brand-devaluing job GM started a few years earlier with the Seville (other than the fact that it took many years to undo the damage and convince car buyers that Cadillacs weren’t just badge-engineered bait-and-switches. The Cimarron never sold very well, and the J-body cars weren’t known for longevity, so Cimarron sightings are extremely rare today; we’ve seen this ’82 and this ’83 Cimarron d’Oro, plus the very first Down On The Street car. Here’s an ’82 that I found during a recent trip to California.
12 -1982 Cadillac Cimarron Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, it turned out that Cadillac badges on a Cavalier just wouldn’t translate into a thick stream of pure cash for The General.
04 -1982 Cadillac Cimarron Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinLeather or Pleather? Does it matter?
08 -1982 Cadillac Cimarron Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinYou couldn’t get the Iron Duke in a Cimarron (Cadillac Division execs probably expended all their remaining political capital to keep the raspy, shaky half-a-Pontiac-301 out of their J-Car); instead, the base engine in ’82 was the developed-for-the-J pushrod 1.8 four-banger.
01 -1982 Cadillac Cimarron Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinWould a Coupe Deville buyer have slapped this Chevron Travel Club sticker on a side window?
18 -1982 Cadillac Cimarron Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinCimarron By Cadillac!
Why not start the day with a Cimarron promotional film, while Crab Spirits works on the real story of this fine automobile?

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Former Cadillac Marketing Head Don Butler to Head Ford’s In-Vehicle Comm Tech http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/former-cadillac-marketing-head-don-butler-to-head-fords-in-vehicle-comm-tech/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/former-cadillac-marketing-head-don-butler-to-head-fords-in-vehicle-comm-tech/#comments Wed, 08 Jan 2014 12:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=694553 Don-Butler

While much of the attention focused on Ford Motor Company’s personnel news has been focused on CEO Alan Mulally’s announcement that he’s not leaving for Microsoft, FoMoCo has made another important decision, who is going to head one of Mulally’s pet projects, Ford’s in-vehicle communications technology. Automotive News reports that Don Butler, 50, the highly regarded longtime General Motors executive who most recently was in charge of Cadillac’s global growth strategy and before that headed the brand’s marketing, was named executive director of connected vehicles and services, effective immediately.

Butler’s departure from GM last year was a surprise both in and out of the company, and the appointment of a marketing person to head a technology driven unit might also seem surprising but Butler actually has a long technology resume.

In 2002, Butler was named vice president of commercial development for GM’s OnStar telematics unit. While at OnStar, he was responsible for the Virtual Advisor program, a voice-activated system for accessing weather and other information services. In 2009 he briefly left GM to run marketing for a Seattle telematics startup named Inrix Inc. before returning to the automaker the following year to take over marketing for Cadillac. Butler had a major role in the 2012 launch of the Cadillac User Experience telematics system, known as CUE.

Part of Butler’s job at Ford will be overseeing the expansion of the company’s Sync AppLink to an additional 3.4 million FoMoCo vehicles this year. Sync Applink lets users control smartphone apps with voice commands through the car’s infotainment system.

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Review: 2014 Cadillac CTS 2.0T (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/review-2014-cadillac-cts-2-0t-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/review-2014-cadillac-cts-2-0t-with-video/#comments Fri, 27 Dec 2013 14:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=686066 2014 Cadillac CTS 2.0T Exterior-001

It’s been decades since Cadillac produced the “Cadillac” of anything. However, when car buffs dismiss the only American luxury brand left, they fail to see Cadillac’s march forward. 2002 brought the first RWD Cadillac since the Fleetwoood. A year later the XLR roadster hit, followed in 2004 by Cadillac’s first 5-Series fighter, the STS. Not everything was rosy. The original CTS drove like a BMW but lacked charm and luxury fittings. The XLR was based on a Corvette, which made for excellent road manners, but the Northstar engine didn’t have the oomph. The STS sounded like a good idea, but the half-step CTS wasn’t much smaller and ultimately shoppers weren’t interested in a bargain option. That brings us to the new ATS and CTS. Ditching the “more car for less money” mantra, the ATS has been created to fight the C/3/IS leaving the CTS free to battle the E/5/GS head-on. Can Caddy’s sensible new strategy deliver the one-two punch fans have hoped for? I snagged a CTS 2.0T for a week to find out.

 

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

I found the outgoing CTS a little discordant, but 2014 brings an elegant more aggressive refresh. GM’s Art and Science theme has matured from “cubism gone wrong” to shapes that flow and jibe with a larger grille and softer creases. The 5-Series continues to go for elegant and restrained, I find the XF and A6′s design a mixture of plain-Jane and snazzy headlamps while the Infiniti Q5o and Lexus GS are going for flowing elegance.

The demur side profile continues with a simple character line to draw your eye from front to rear. One thing you’ll notice during that eye-movement is the distinct RWD proportions that separate the CTS, E, 5, GS, XF and Q50 from the long-nosed Audi A6 and near-luxury FWD options. Out back the CTS’ rump is a bit less exciting but employs all the latest luxury cues from hidden exhaust tops to light piped tail lamps. I was hoping Caddy’s fins would be further resurrected,  but the “proto fins” on the XTS are absent. Pity. Obvious from every angle is an attention to build quality absent from earlier generations with perfect panel gaps and seams.

Structurally, the CTS has jumped ship to a stretched version of the Alpha platform the smaller ATS rides on. Thanks to the automotive taffy-pull, the CTS is now 2.3 inches longer than a BMW 5-series. However, because of the Alpha roots, the CTS has actually shrunk for 2014 by 3 inches in length while getting 2 inches wider and a 2 inch roof height reduction.

2014 Cadillac CTS 2.0T Interior-006

Interior

GM has proven they are able to create a car that drives competitively and looks sexy on the outside, but interiors have always been a mixed bag. The last gen CTS felt as if it was built with a mixture of custom parts and Chevy hand-me downs. No more. Like the ATS, the Caddy shares little with the rest of GM’s mass market-rabble. It is hard to find fault in the CTS’s dashboard’s combination of injection molded soft touch plastics, leather, faux suede, real wood, carbon fiber and contrasting stitching. Cadillac continues their dedication to shiny touch buttons on the dash and no luxury sedan would be complete without a little gimmicky drama. The CTS’s motorized cupholder lid ties with the XF’s automated air vents for the feature most clearly designed to brag about. I’m not sure how long that little motor will crank away, but it can’t be any less reliable than Jaguar’s theatrical air vents.

Because of the way Cadillac chose to stretch the CTS’ donor platform, cargo and interior space aren’t the primary beneficiaries. This means that rear legroom actually shrinks for 2014 to the smallest entry in this segment by a hair. Trunk volume also drops from a competitive 13.6 cubes to 10.5 which is a 20% reduction compared to the Lexus and BMW and 30% smaller than the Mercedes. The CTS makes up for some of this with comfortable thrones all the way around and when equipped with the optional 20-way front seats the CTS ranks #2 in the segment just behind BMW’s optional 24-way sport seats in comfort. Taller drivers and passengers beware, dropping the CTS’ roof height made the profile sexier but cuts headroom to the lowest in the segment.

2013 Cadillac ATS Instrument Cluster

2013 Cadillac ATS Instrument Cluster

There is one glaring flaw. The decidedly dowdy base instrument cluster is shared with the ATS (pictured above) and the XTS. Our Facebook followers were so put-off by Caddy’s base dials, the fervor spawned a Vellum Venom Vignette. While the ATS is saddled with the four-dial layout, the CTS and XTS have a savior: the most attractive LCD disco dash available. (My tester was so equipped.) Perhaps it is this dichotomy that is so vexing about the base CTS models. If you don’t fork over enough cash, you’ll constantly be reminded that you couldn’t afford the Cadillac of displays.

The 12.3-inch cluster offers the driver more customization than you fill find in any other full-LCD cluster. Unlike the Jaguar and Land Rover screens that simply replicate analogue gauges, you can select from several different views depending on whether you feel like analogue dials or digital information and the amount of information overload you prefer. (Check out the gallery.) My preferred layout contained a high res navigation map, digital speedo, fuel status, range to empty, average fuel economy, audio system information with album art and track information and the speed-limit on the road I was traveling on.

2014 Cadillac CUE - CTS 2.0T-001

Infotainment

I have been critical of Cadillac’s CUE system but 2014 brings some important software fixes resolving the random system crashes and demon possessed touch controls I experienced in the ATS and XTS. After driving the CTS for 852 miles, the CUE system proved rock solid in terms of reliability. Unfortunately, little has been done to address the sluggish response to inputs, unintuitive menus and old-school nav graphics. Despite the still flaws, I have to stick by my words when MyFord Touch landed: I’d rather have slow infotainment than none at all. BMW’s iDrive still ranks 1st for me because the interface is intuitive, attractive, responsive and elegant. BMW continues to add new features to their system and, unlike other systems, the new features in general operate as smoothly as the rest of the iDrive interface. You may be surprised to know that CUE ranks second for me.

CUE’s graphics are more pleasing to my eye than MMI, COMAND, Sensus, MyLincon Touch, Enform or AcuraLink. COMAND’s software should have been sent out to pasture long ago. The graphics are ancient and trying to load any of the smartphone apps is an exercise in frustration. Instead of reinventing their software, Lexus reinvented the input method taking their system from most intuitive to least in a single move. Senus isn’t half bad but Volvo’s screens are small and the software lacks the smartphone integration found in the competition. MyLincoln Touch is well featured but lacks CUE’s more modern look and the glass touchscreen.

2014 Cadillac CUE - CTS 2.0T-006

The scratch resistant glass touchscreen and proximity sensors used by Cadillac are part of what give the system a clean modern look. Most systems use resistive touchscreens which are pressure sensitive and require that the surface of the screen actually move to sense your touch. This means they need to be made of a ductile plastic which is several layers thick. The consumer comparison is to think of your iPhone or Android phone vs a color Palm Pilot from years past. Cadillac uses the screen to allow intuitive finger-sliding gestures and the proximity sensor to reduce visual clutter when your finger is away from the screen. Move you hand closet to the screen and the less critical interface buttons reappear.

Cadillac continues their relationship with Bose, giving the base model an 11-speaker sound system that brings everything but navigation to the party. Our model was equipped with the up-level 13-speaker Bose sound system, navigation software and the optional single-slot CD player hiding in the glove box. Compared with BMW’s premium audio offerings, the Bose systems sing slightly flatter and lack the volume capable in the German options. However compared to Lexus’ standard and optional systems the Cadillac holds its own.

Ecotec 2.0L I-4 VVT DI Turbo (LTG)

Drivetrain

Thanks to the new GM Alpha platform, all three engines sit behind the front axle which is ideal for weight balance. Base shoppers get the 2.0L direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder worth 272 ponies and 295 lb-ft of torque, besting BMW’s 2.0L by 32 HP and 35 lb-ft. On “Luxury” trim and above you can opt for GM’s ubiquitous 3.6L V6 (321HP/275 lb-ft) for $2,700, but I’d probably stick to the 2.0L turbo if I were you. Aside from being lighter, the turbo delivers more torque at lower RPMs and has a more advantageous power delivery which make it a hair faster to 60.

Shoppers looking for more shove and willing to part with $59,995 can opt for a 420 horsepower twin-turbo V6 in the CTS V-Sport that cranks out 430 lb-ft. Despite sharing thee 3.6L displacement of the middle engine, GM tells us that only 10% of the engine components are shared. Sending power to the pavement in the 2.0T and 3.6 models is essentially the same GM 6-speed automatic transmission BMW used to use in certain models of the 3-series until recently. Optional in the 3.6L and standard on the twin-turbo V6 is an Aisin 8-speed automatic that is essentially shared with the Lexus LS.

2014 Cadillac CTS 2.0T Exterior-014

Drive

Unfortunately, the first thing you’ll notice out on the road is the coarse sound from under the hood. GM’s 2.0L engine is no less refined than BMW or Mercedes’ four-bangers, but the difference is you can hear the engine in the CTS. In fact, based on the overall quietness of the cabin (a competitive 67 dB at 50 MPH), I can only conclude that Cadillac designed the engine to be heard. I don’t mind hearing the 3.6L V6, but most luxury shoppers would prefer not to be reminded they chose the rational engine every time they get on the freeway. On the bright side, because GM does not offer start/stop tech, shoppers are spared the inelegant starts and stops that characterize 528i city driving.

While I’m picking nits, the 6-speed found in the 2.0T and most 3.6 models lacks the ratio spread and shift smoothness of the ZF 8-speed automatic found in most of the competition. While I prefer GMs 6-speed to the somewhat lazy 7-speed automatic in the Mercedes E-Class, the rumored 8-speed can’t come soon enough. The 8-speed used in the V-Sport (optional on the 3.6L) solves the ratio and marketing issue, but the Aisin unit feels just as up-shift happy and down-shift reluctant as it does in the Lexus LS 460. As a result when you use the shift paddles, your actions feel more like suggestions than commands.

2014 Cadillac CTS 2.0T Exterior-013

The reason I label those flaws as mere nits is because of how the CTS accomplishes every other task on the road. Acceleration to 60 happens a 4/10ths faster than an E350, a half-second faster than the 528i,  a full second faster than a GS350, and practically years ahead of the A6 2.0T. Part of this has to do with the engine’s superior torque curve and higher horsepower numbers, but plenty has to do with curb weight. At 3,616 lbs, the CTS 2.oT is 200lbs lighter than the BMW or Lexus, 400lbs lighter than an E350. The comparable Audi A6 would be the front-wheel-drive 2.0T model with the CVT at 3,726. If you think that’s an unfair comparison, the 2.0T with Quattro is 3,900lbs and does little to correct the A6′s front-heavy weight balance.

As a result of the CTS’s near perfect 50.3/49.7 % weight balance and the light curb weight, the CTS feels more agile and responsive on winding mountain roads, especially when you compare it to the V6 competitors. The steering is as numb as anything on the market thanks to electric power steering, but you can get faint whiffs of feedback now and then and the steering weight is moderate rather than strangely firm in the 528i. Admittedly we’re splitting hairs here when it comes to steering feel, as there is precious little difference between the CTS, GS and 528i. Even the hydraulic system retained in BMW’s 550i doesn’t feel as crisp on the road. Helping out the handling is a standard moderately firm spring suspension or an optional MagneRide active suspension as our tester was equipped. The adaptive dampers feel more refined than in previous versions, despite them not changing the vehicle’s personality much from regular to sport mode. The CTS never felt out of sorts on rough or uneven terrain and despite being moderately firm, never felt punishing. This places the CTS right in line with the modern Germans. Toss in standard Brembo brakes and the CTS is far more willing to hike up its skirt and dance than the establishment competition.

2014 Cadillac CTS 2.0T Exterior-007

For 2014, Cadillac added $6,035 to the MSRP and put “value” on the back burner. At $45,100, the CTS starts $4,400 less than the 528i and $2,600 less than the GS350. Of course the Caddy’s base model has fewer features, so an apples-to-apples comparison brings the delta up to around $1,500 less than the BMW. That’s a much smaller window than there used to be, and it’s not surprising when you consider the CTS’ interior is finally equal to or better than the Germans. The pricing deltas get more interesting as you go up the ladder. The CTS 3.6 is a few grand less than a BMW 535i. In that mash-up, the BMW provides superior thrust but when the road gets winding the CTS is more enjoyable. Then we get to the CTS V-Sport. The V-Sport brings a twin-turbo V6 to a twin-turbo V8 fight. At 420 HP and 430 lb-ft the numbers are stout to be sure, but trail the 443 HP and 479 lb-ft from BMW’s 4.4L V8 and most importantly, the V8 delivers a far superior torque curve delivering all of its torque 1,500 RPM earlier. Still, the Cadillac is 325 lbs lighter, handles better, is $4,830 cheaper and by the numbers gives up little in terms of straight line performance.

The two sweet spots for the CTS are a nearly loaded 2.0T with the LCD disco dash and a moderately well equipped V-Sport. The 2.0T offers the best road manners of its direct competition at a reasonable value. The V-Sport on the other hand offers BMW shoppers an interesting alternative. At an $1,800 up-sell over a comparably equipped 535i and $4,800 less than a 550i, the V-Sport is probably the best value in the luxury segment for 2014. After a week with the middle child Cadillac, GM seems to finally be on the right path with their luxury brand. As long as the XTS is replaced with a large rear driver sedan soon I might even say that the American luxury brand is on a roll. While I can think of a few reasons to buy a BMW 5-Series over a CTS (the base CTS instrument cluster is a good reason), shoppers have no reason to dismiss the CTS as they might have done in the past. Although the CTS is still 20lbs of sound deadening and an 8-speed automatic away from being the Cadillac of mid-size sedans, it is a truly solid competitor.

 

 GM provides the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.3 Seconds

0-60: 5.9 Seconds

1/mile: 14.36 Seconds @ 97.5 MPH

Average observed fuel economy: 24.8 MPG over 852 Miles

Sound level at 50 MPH: 67 dB

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Chevy’s Next Volt Shooting For 200-Mile Range, $30k Price Tag http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/chevys-next-volt-shooting-for-200-mile-range-30k-price-tag/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/chevys-next-volt-shooting-for-200-mile-range-30k-price-tag/#comments Wed, 18 Dec 2013 12:30:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=682802 2013 Chevrolet Volt Exterior-002

Prior to stepping down as CEO of General Motors, Dan Akerson made a few mentions about an EV similar to the Volt that would possess a 200-mile range on a single charge with an on-board generator that could run on gas, diesel or natural gas. He also hoped the car would sell for around $30,000.

What wasn’t reported, however, was that Akerson wanted this car to be GM’s moon shot in order to surprise the competition, namely Tesla with their proposed $30,000 Model E, set to debut in showrooms as early as 2016. With the upcoming Cadillac ELR helping to bring more EVs to the road (along with the funds to develop the Volt Mk. II), GM could end up planting their flag next to the Chinese telescope left behind in the Bay of Rainbows. Only time will tell, and with 2016 approaching, there is little of it to waste.

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Alpha: General Motors Last Hope For The Commodore http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/alpha-general-motors-last-hope-for-the-commodore/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/alpha-general-motors-last-hope-for-the-commodore/#comments Thu, 12 Dec 2013 12:30:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=678394 U113P5029T2D429719F31DT20120109160003

I believe 2013 will be a year that Australia decides whether it wants to have an auto industry or not,“ 

-Mike Devereux, Holden’s former Managing Director, in November, 2012

Those ominous words spoken by Mike Devereux last year have taken on an almost eerie significance in light of yesterday’s events. After more than a half century of building cars in Australia, Holden will now become a “national sales company”, ostensibly selling rebadged global General Motors products, manufactured in places like Korea and Thailand.

But veiled remarks about the Australian auto industry aren’t the only words uttered by Devereux that caused us to take notice. At the launch of the latest VF Commodore, Devereux made a vague statement about the Commodore’s future, implying that it would be built on a global platform at the Adelaide factory. While the latter is no longer possible, there’s still hope that the Commodore could live a GM architecture. The only question is, which one?

Originally, Devereux claimed that two global architectures were coming to Adelaide after 2016 – and one of them would be the next Commodore.

“This [Commodore] will run through to the end of 2016. After that time we are going to be putting two global architectures into the [Adelaide] plant, one of them will underpin the next Commodore.”

To make sure he wasn’t misunderstood, Devereux repeated: “There is another Commodore coming after this one. We’re going to build it in Adelaide on a [global] architecture.”

While production at Adelaide is off the table, there is still the matter of which architecture could be used, with two schools of thought on the matter.

The predominant theory is (or was – until Holden decided to close up shop) that the Commodore would move to the front-drive Epsilon II architecture, and become little more than a rebadged Chevrolet Impala or Buick Regal (media reports suggested that the next Commodore would be a front-drive car the size of a Toyota Camry and sold as a Buick in other markets).

There are plenty of good reasons to do this. Despite the broad fanfare the rear-drive Aussie sedans attract among North American enthusiasts, they are similar to other enthusiast pet interests, in that their sales and profitability does not measure up to the mythology surrounding them. Australian car buyer tastes have shifted away from cars like the Falcon and Commodore to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars – attributes better suited to front wheel drive platforms than rear drive layouts.

Smaller cars like the Toyota Corolla, Mazda3 and Hyundai i30 are dominating the sales charts currently, along with pickups like the Toyota HiLux. Hanging on to fifth place is the Holden Commodore, which is enjoying its strongest sales in some time. But even then, front drive rivals like the Toyota Camry aren’t far behind (the Camry currently sits in 9th place). The market for sedans is still there, but which wheels are driven may not matter as much.

However, the Commodore brand is not just another nameplate. Is is arguably Australia’s national car, and a front-wheel drive Commodore would be a dramatic departure from the familiar formula that Australians are used to. General Motors experiment with a Holden badged Malibu (based on Epsilon II) hasn’t been terribly well received either.

That leaves another global platform in GM’s selection, one that drives the proper wheels and crucially, has the potential for scale. The Alpha platform, currently used only on the Cadillac ATS and CTS, and eventually, the next generation Camaro, could make for a very nice next-generation Commodore. Its use as a CTS shows that it can be adapted to the size that Aussie full-size buyers (or what’s left of them) expect in a Commodore. The platform can accommodate everything from GM’s 2.0T 4-cylinder, to the 3.6L V6 in both turbo and naturally aspirated forms and crucially (for marketing, purposes at least) whatever V8 the next-generation Camaro opts for.

The three nameplates using Alpha right now won’t allow for significant volumes, given that they are luxury and nice sports car vehicles. But a new Commodore – sold as a Holden in Australia, a Buick in China and the United States and perhaps even as another sporty Chevrolet as a successor to the SS – could help Alpha get the volume it needs, while leaving Commodore diehards happy. Of course, it wouldn’t be built in Australia. Only GM’s Lansing, Michigan plant and a factory in Shanghai build Alpha. A Made In China Commodore, no matter how good, is probably the opposite of what Holden wants to deal with from a marketing perspective.

I’m not going to pretend that this is anything other than a bit of wishful thinking sprinkled with a basic understanding of auto industry economics. Nevertheless, I find it hard to believe that GM would go to the trouble of engineering an all-new rear-drive architecture and restrict it to three nameplates that will do 99 percent of their volume in North America. There has to be further use for Alpha, and I hope that the next Commodore is one of them.

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Mark Reuss More Or Less Confirms Elmirajish Flagship: “You Make A Statement With A Coupe” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/mark-reuss-more-or-less-confirms-elmirajish-flagship-you-make-a-statement-with-a-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/mark-reuss-more-or-less-confirms-elmirajish-flagship-you-make-a-statement-with-a-coupe/#comments Thu, 28 Nov 2013 14:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=665842 2013 Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

Last July GM CEO Dan Akerson confirmed that the automaker’s Cadillac brand was working on a flagship sedan larger than the XTS, to play in the big leagues with the BMW 7 Series, the Mercedes-Benz S Class and the Lexus LS, on sale by 2015. While at the recent Los Angeles auto show media preview, Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North American operations, strongly hinted that the big rear wheel drive platform may first appear as a coupe, not a four door sedan. “That’s the car Cadillac needs,” Reuss told USA Today. “You make a statement with a coupe. You don’t make a statement with a sedan.”

Obviously, the bigger money maker would be a sedan with greater production numbers but Reuss echoes the comments of a lot our readers vis a vis the Cadillac brand: bring back something big and brash, unapologetic about being a Caddy coupe, maybe even name it Eldorado after the most expensive Cadillac coupes of yore. Cadillac says that the Elmiraj is named after a dry lake bed in California famous for land speed attempts, but the alliterative connection to the name Eldorado can’t be a coincidence.

2013 Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

The design team responsible for the Elmiraj seems to understand what made the Cadillac brand “the standard of the world” in its heyday. “It is back to the American optimism of the ’60s,” says Gael Buzyn, who designed the interior. Niki Smart, who headed the exterior design team seems to understand that Cadillac was the brand for people who had arrived, who had made something of themselves. “This is for people who’ve done all their fighting, have earned their stripes.”

A coupe based on the same bones as a top shelf sedan could act as a halo for both the sibling sedan and for the entire Cadillac lineup.

Cadillac Ciel concept

The Elmiraj is the second act of what Cadillac says is a three act play regarding their new top of the line car. Before the Elmiraj coupe dazzled people at Pebble Beach this summer, the Ciel four door convertible was such a big hit on the show circuit in 2012 that they brought it around again in 2013. The third act is being teased by Cadillac as an “arrival”, without saying whether it’s going to be another concept vehicle or the actual production flagship, be the first one a coupe or a sedan.

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Hammer Time: Young People Smell Funny http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/hammer-time-young-people-smell-funny/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/hammer-time-young-people-smell-funny/#comments Thu, 14 Nov 2013 17:40:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=650706 large

A herd of automotive journalists get led off into a dark room filled with oversized furniture and cheap snacks.

It is where the ritual slaughter of truth takes place. A screen bigger than Wilt Chamberlain’s …. flashes in front of them as discordant music pulses and the beautiful people beam out their irrational exuberance of owning the upcoming 2014 model.

The actors and actresses on the screen are all young, sexy, virile, obscenely joyful, and about as genuine as a thirty-three dollar bill. Which is A-OK for me. Because after the fifteen minutes of corporate infomercials filled with empty code words such as “Value”, “Best In Class”, and “Award Winning”, the head honcho of the press junket let’s me, and everyone else, off the hook with the biggest lie in the car business.

“We believe our core audience will be young people in their 20′s and 30′s.”

It doesn’t matter what car they are trying to jerk us off with, the words never change.

Cadillac XTS?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Young… 30′s…. a technology junkie…

Toyota Corolla?

Click here to view the embedded video.

20′s and 30′s… preferably someone who thinks that there were plenty of talented white dancers on Soul Train.

A Lincoln?

Click here to view the embedded video.

A rabid Jimmy Fallon fan… 20′s to 30′s…. who still thinks old Town Cars and floating sting rays are great ways to rebuild your brand image.

I have been through dozens of press car launches over the last two years, and every single one of them is lock, stock and loaded with a barrel full of the big lie.

“We… want… the… young. Old people? Not in our commercials! But you’re invited to visit the local dealership, and we’re hoping that the parental enablers within you will help improve our current demographics. But our NEW customers? Our army of customers for the future? Young.”

The young obviously include the young at heart, and of course, that includes all of us who have the money to blow on a new car. In otherwords, the average 60 year old.

Click here to view the embedded video.

These days the mature among us are supposed to be sold with plenty of dancing, spastic pop music, and enough good drugs to turn any rotten life into a Disney movie.

Am I being a curmudgeon? Not at all. This particular commercial struck me as one of those patronizing phony pitches that is designed for success in the boardroom. and failure in the marketplace.

The old man within the middle-aged me looked at this ad. and imagined a bunch of burnt out advertising executives trying to convey the following message.

“Our car is the cool car. Our cool is the hip car. Why? Shut up and look at the young people dancing. It’s like, all 70′s and shit.”

This is the same outstanding logic that brought us talking cartoon ducks selling Cadillacs.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Commercials featuring water, which were somehow supposed to introduce the Infiniti brand back in the day when all Datsuns were Nissans.

Click here to view the embedded video.

And the reanimated corpse that nobody knew outside our industry or cared about. Once again hocking cars… maybe…

Click here to view the embedded video.

Now if Harley Earl had ripped the flesh off that young guy’s neck. Carjacked the brand new 2003 Pontiac GTO, and hit enough curbs, pedestrians and stop signs to make the commercial resemble the game Grand Theft Auto, then it would have been something worth our attention.

Instead you’re left thinking, “What the hell was that all about? Buicks? Old guys with hats?”

This is the exact level of bewilderment that goes through my mind whenever I am reintroduced to the young buyer paradox. Young people are broke these days, for the most part. So why fucking lie?

Reality usually gets no more than a passing glance in the rear view mirror at these new model launches because doing so would require these guys to admit that that their best customer is the stupid one who buys the car at MSRP, and finances it at an 18+% interest rate,.Plus bullshit fees and GAP insurance.

While the guys pine away about their target audience. This is what I usually lead between the lines and the moving lips.

“We love all our customers Steve. Really! But we especially love the stupid ones who are bad at math.” If the guys who presented these vehicles would at least pay homage to their true prime customer, instead of creating fictional facsimiles based on modern day fashions, they would likely wind up with better marketing campaigns.

The Cadillac XTS was probably the best example of the type of marketing campaign where there is simply no audience and a complete dismissal of reality. After a few commercials featuring music and random images of the XTS, we were introduced to the then brand new CUE technology. This new system would be the killer app for getting Cadillac’s new young customers in the door.

Did the CUE technology enable hands-free communting? Was it some type of tablet, phablet, or mobile device? I came there with absolutely no idea what CUE meant.

So, I was treated to a solid two minutes of a guy using what seemed to be aikido type movements to guide all the instrumentation on the center console.

What the hell was that? Why?

Well, because in the future dictated by Cadillac, apparently knobs no longer work. This was the defining reason to buy the XTS. No knobs.

Click here to view the embedded video.

After the final video, we were given the grand announcement of who the target audience would be for the XTS.

Young.

30′s, maybe 40′s.

Technology junkies.

Someone who thought that Cadillac is a world class brand that can outperform other leading luxury brands including Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus and Infiniti.

Any questions?

You bet your ass I had questions. After a couple of minutes I was mentally crossing out the questions that I simply couldn’t ask…

“I see that CUE uses hand movements for the radio and temperature controls. What about finger gestures? If I gave CUE the finger, or the circle jerk, would it automatically scan to the nearest talk radio station?”

“In the future, are there any black people who buy your product?”

“What do you guys have against knobs? Couldn’t you have simply constructed four round knobs that don’t feel like rubber dog chew toys?”

This is the one I ended up asking…

“The Mercedes E-Class, Audi A6 and BMW 5-Series all offer multiple engine choices along with their own unique high performance models. You are offering one engine and that one is shared with the Impala and LaCrosse. How can you realistically expect to compete with the best cars in this class?”

The fellow in charge of answering the questions did a little sidestep.

Click here to view the embedded video.

And let me in on who Cadillac’s future customer would be.

It…

Was….

The sleazy used car dealer? Pretty close.

The young Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

Now don’t get me wrong. Marketing teams in every industry want to show how their product is the best in the business. But to get people into that Promise Land when it comes to cars, you need a target that your audience can relate to.

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who think that Cadillac is a world class brand is not a target. It’s a fictionalized slip of the tongue that let me know the XTS had no chance of making it.

“Young people” is also not a target. When it comes to cars, not even an age group (or sex) can represent a valid target. 25 to 35 can range anywhere from investment banker to jail bait.

However, the worst target is not one that is too big, too small, or even a fictional one.

The worst target in the car business is the one that aims squarely at pleasing the guys in the suits, and nearly nobody else who is outside their brainwashed world.

Self-adulation of a brand, or a model, is the surest way of making any audience cynical of your credibility and intent.

Everybody says they’re the best.

clapton-is-god

It takes more than that to get the point across. In the case of the spastic dancing Corolla commercial, they could have used a canine, a cane, and a Clapton… and maybe some cocaine from the 70′s.

That would do the trick.

 

 

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Editorial: Unrealistic Timelines At Cadillac http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/editorial-unrealistic-timelines-at-cadillac/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/editorial-unrealistic-timelines-at-cadillac/#comments Mon, 11 Nov 2013 15:31:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=647842 ATS-front-quarter-550x412

Readers of our departed EIC’s chronicles will no doubt understand that building a luxury brand is a gradual, concentrated effort that won’t bear fruit for many years. Over at Audi, it took Herr Schmitt and Herr Piech the better part of two decades to morph Audi from an oddball line of tarted up Volkswagens into a global luxury player, and that journey was not without its own mishaps.

Audi wasn’t the only one to trudge down that road either. Bob Lutz’s latest book recalls the genesis of the BMW naming convention (naming their cars the 3, 5 and 7-Series), arguably the start of their rise from, well, an oddball line of Bavarian built cars into one of the auto industry’s blue-chip luxury car makers.

So who is Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac’s new marketing chief (an ex-BMW man) to think that building Cadillac into a global luxury brand will take about 10 years? Cadillac’s main markets right now are America and China, with the two countries accounting for about 90 percent of sales. Even so, Cadillac is badly outgunned in America, with Mercedes-Benz and BMW (and Lexus as well) each doing roughly one-and-a-half times the volume that Cadillac does in its home market. In China, supposedly Cadillac’s second most important market, Audi is outselling Cadillac by roughly 10 to 1. In Europe, Cadillac is a non-entity, selling just 2,274 cars in 2012.

The idea that Cadillac will be a global player in the luxury car world in as little as 10 years is at worst a fantasy, at best a demonstration of profound ignorance. As a former BMW marketing exec, Ellinghaus should know that Cadillac lacks key products (like a small crossover, a proper flagship and diesel engines) needed to compete in the all important European market, and that competitors like Lexus have yet to crack the “global” part of the equation despite arguably having a higher profile in the luxury world.

The best summation of the entire situation comes from TTAC commenter edgett

This is American marketing at its worst. The idea that the content of the product is overcome, or recreated, at the hand of “branding” is how they got into this in the first place. What if the brand identity for Cadillac became “The Standard of the World”, and they spent all of their “branding” money on creating a product which epitomized that identity?

 

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Piston Slap: Escalading on Thin Ice? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/piston-slap-escalading-on-thin-ice/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/piston-slap-escalading-on-thin-ice/#comments Wed, 06 Nov 2013 13:58:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=641137
William (no longer TTAC’s tiburon_guy) writes:
Hey Buddy, I am no longer tiburon_guy since we sold it (sad face – SM) but I do have a question that a friend asked me about. He has a 2002 Escalade EXT he bought new (demo actually, 300 miles on it) now it’s at 60k and overall no major issues. He’s attached to the truck and rightfully so, as in my opinion it’s the best model Escalade created by GM.

His question is with it getting up in age (11 years) he’s worried about what to expect trouble wise down the road and if he should part with it soon or keep hold of it due to the low mileage (and garage kept since day one) so it looks pristine. The resell on this truck is pitiful but he also doesn’t want to be stranded. Have you heard any bad things about the 2002 model year of Escalade EXT? I’ve done a little digging but haven’t come up with much.

Additionally, my 2010 Ranger XLT is still kicking ass and taking names, but I wanted to know if you had heard any more of the 5.0L engine swap for our Ranger?

Sajeev answers:

Aside from the well documented piston slap problem on LS-based Vortec truck engines, there’s really nothing to worry about.  Yes, it’s an older vehicle and things will always go wrong, but the old Chevy Tahoe underneath the Escalade EXT isn’t exactly striking fear into my heart. Even piston slap isn’t a deal breaker, it’s more of an annoyance that a local engine builder can fix whenever your friend wants a fresh engine…which will be a long, loooong time from now.

So what’s left?  A lot of eyeballing and preventative maintenance: fluid changes, rubber product changes (vac lines, belts, hoses, etc) and other wear items that people tend to forget.  If that hyperlink scares him off, he either needs a replacement vehicle or a second vehicle to ease the burden.  Both can be fun and affordable if done correctly.

Now about the fantabulousness that is the Ford Ranger: the 5.0 Windsor swap’s been done many times before and this link is helpful.  I especially like the job done by this guy, the attention to detail is quite excellent. Check out the interior swap from a Ford Explorer Limited, complete with all the buttons on the steering wheel, automatic HVAC and the fancy trip computer!

WOW, what a luxury truck!!!

Now were you talking about the 5.0 Coyote swap?  Looks like that famously swapped Coyote Ranger has been dead in the water since the initial media buzz.  Which is sad, but maybe they worked out the wiring, induction, chassis upgrades, transmission change, driveline change, drivability, accessories, HVAC plumbing, etc…or perhaps not.

And maybe you have $20,000-30,000 lying around.  But if you did, you’d keep the Ranger, get an 5.0 windsor Explorer Limited for that swap, and use the remaining cash for a new 5.0 Coyote Mustang down payment.  Because no matter what, you’ll need a better daily driver than a project truck.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

 

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