As a luxury brand, Cadillac doesn't have the same racing pedigree as other manufacturers that spent a considerable amount of their time at the track during the latter half of the 20th century. But the American brand hasn't ignored motorsports in the subsequent millennia and deserves some real credit for fielding — and winning with — models like the CTS-V.R Coupe (Pirelli World Challenge GT series), ATS-V.R (GT3), and DPi-V.R (Rolex 24 at Daytona, WeatherTech Championship, Michelin Endurance Cup).
Cadillac would like to remind everyone of that fact and has introduced the GTP Hypercar as the keystone of its next attempt to embarrass rival manufacturers on the world racing stage — which will reportedly include the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 2023 CT4-V Blackwing Track Edition, intended for regular customers, is the other part of that equation. To be offered in three flavors, each honoring a different course on the International Motor Sports Associations (IMSA) schedule, the models will exist as a kind of purchasable victory lap.
We’ve known for some time that the top rung of General Motors is all in on electrification, a decision that has elated some and caused others to flee. Set to serve as the brand’s flagship is the Celestiq, a slinky fastback with an expected price tag north of a quarter million dollars.
What’s your take on the specter of a $300,000 Cadillac?
Cadillac has been meticulously stoking the fires of the hype train of the Celestiq to ensure the model has a full head of steam before its debut on July 22nd. The forthcoming flagship model is rumored to become the most expensive product in the luxury brand’s 120-year history and will bring back a level of opulence not seen on American cars since the golden era of the 1950s.
Frankly, it sounds like General Motors may be setting expectations a little high — especially since the last handful of Cadillacs haven’t exactly been able to check the luxury box with the kind of gusto necessary for a nameplate that’s supposed to specialize in providing exactly that. The brand’s best offerings now tend to be focused more on performance than comfort and are accompanied by sporting names that include terms like “Blackwing” and “V.” But that may soon change if the latest teasers of the Cadillac Celestiq are anything to go buy, as the company seems to be returning to its roots.
In 2017, General Motors bowed out of the European market. The tactical retreat came after nearly two decades of struggling to make the region profitable and freed up cash the company could use to expand more profitable endeavors located elsewhere. This basically entailed widening its footprint in China, eliminating modestly sized passenger vehicles from its North American lineup, and setting aside any extra money for electric vehicle development. However, the automaker’s Western clientele has been slower to embrace EVs than hoped, even with gas prices becoming astonishingly high, and market analysts expect the United States to be the very last developed nation to see alternative powertrains go mainstream.
One possible solution for this conundrum is to sell those all-electric vehicles elsewhere — namely Europe.
We return to the Turbo-Hydramatic once more today, and our third installment sees us at a critical point in the timeline of the automatic transmission. Fuel economy pressure from the government and performance demands of the consumer increased considerably in the intervening years since the THM’s debut in 1964. That meant the creation of lighter, more compact, and cheaper versions of the Turbo-Hydramatic compared to its flagship shifter, the THM400. GM branched out into the likes of the THM350, THM250, and the very problematic THM200.
In 1987, GM stepped away from the traditional THM naming scheme and switched to a new combination of letters and numbers. Number of gears, layout, and strength combined to turn the THM400 into the 3L80. But the hefty gearbox was already limited by then to heavier truck applications; passenger cars moved on to four forward gears after the dawn of the Eighties.
Our Abandoned History coverage of the Turbo-Hydramatic transmission series continues today. The THM was a singular solution to two different automatic transmissions in use by Oldsmobile, Cadillac, and Buick in 1963. Turbo-Hydramatic arrived at a time of modernization for the automatic, which prior to the mid-Sixties was regarded as inefficient and less than smooth.
The THM400 was the 1964 replacement for the Hydra-Matic and Buick’s Dynaflow and established itself as a smooth and reliable gearbox. It proved useful in a variety of luxury and heavy-duty applications and shrugged off weight and torque easily. In short order, it took off as the transmission of choice for various small manufacturers outside of GM. However, no matter how excellent the THM400 was, it found itself squeezed by a drive toward greater fuel efficiency. It was also a bit hefty to be of broad use in smaller or lighter passenger cars. GM needed more Turbo-Hydramatics!
A few weeks ago, we concluded Abandoned History’s two-part coverage of the Chrysler UltraDrive transmission. Within the comments was a request for more transmission coverage of an equally abandoned nature. Let it be so! Come along as we discuss the vast automatically shifted expanse that was the Turbo-Hydramatic transmission family, by General Motors.
Way back in 2007, I kicked off the Down On the Street series (which was supposed to be a one-time reference to the title of a Stooges song beloved by me and the late Davey J. Johnson) with the first of what would turn out to be hundreds of interesting street-parked cars: a 1984 Cadillac Cimarron d’Oro. That led to something of a Cimarron obsession, and I’ve spent the past 15 years documenting every semi– intact Cadillac J-Body I find during my junkyard adventures. You’d think they’d all have been crushed by now, but such is not the case; I found this loaded Brown Overload Edition ’85 in a yard near Pikes Peak earlier this year.
General Motors’ joint venture in Shanghai is reportedly having employees sleep on factory floors to remain operational during regional COVID-19 lockdowns. The facilities are operated collaborative by GM and state-owned Chinese partner SAIC Motor Corp, with government restrictions being in place until at least Friday. Due to the tens of million people affected, it’s one of the largest lockdowns instituted since the pandemic started.
Initially reported by Reuters, the situation was framed as GM finding a workaround to ongoing Chinese lockdowns while other companies simply stopped production. But that seems to be glossing over some of the relevant context, mainly that the plant is now loaded up with workers who are sleeping inside the factory and living in relative isolation to ensure the facility is compliant with China’s stringent zero-tolerance policy while still managing to remain competitive.
General Motors is plotting to create a new premium brand for the Chinese market comprised primarily of halo cars shipped in from the United States. Details are scant at the moment, primarily due to GM getting caught with its pants down on the news breaking. The automaker doesn’t appear to have reached the point where it feels comfortable sharing. But Chinese media has been sharing the story for several days, forcing the company to issue an official statement confirming that it’s true.
Chalk up another victim of the ongoing global supply chain headaches. GM announced to its dealers this morning, by way of its fleet order guide, that their large SUVs – 2022 Tahoe, Yukon, et al – will not be offered with a rear-seat entertainment system “for the model year.” This marks just one of many features which have vanished from vehicles in the wake of what’s been a tough couple of years for carmakers.
Proving the situation is fluid, some items are creeping back into rotation. For example, heated seats are once again part and parcel of the Chevy Traverse – just in time for summer.