Cadillac's Fate: Over at TTAC, Jack Baruth lamented the passing of Cadillacs of yore, noting, "The problem with Cadillac as I see it, however, is this: Customers in the highline markets are extremely sensitive to authenticity. ... Most luxury-car buyers have to be taught what to want, because they didn't grow up with an intimate knowledge of luxury cars. So they are hyper attentive to any signs that a product is imitative or ersatz because they are worried about being humiliated. They would rather buy a subpar product with impeccable social credentials than buy a brilliant product that might cause their neighbors to sneer."
"The reason I think Cadillac should go back to making Fleetwoods and deVilles and unashamedly American cars isn't because I think those cars are more in keeping with the brand, although they are. It's because selling vehicles that are obviously authentic Cadillacs in the classic style would demonstrate confidence to customers. Which in turn would result in more sales. I'd like to see Cadillac once again become the Standard of the World. But it has to be on their own terms. Or it's meaningless. Simple as that."
I remember a 1980s commercial for the Volkswagen Fox, which began by showing a video of a Beetle which passed by as the narrator said, "The Volkswagen Beetle - a car whose time has come and gone." I feel the same way about Cadillac as a luxury brand in the U.S. Its time has passed.
Once upon a time, Cadillac was the world's de facto luxury automobile. Presidents, sheiks, kings, princes, dictators, popes, celebrities and gangsters rode in big, long Caddys. In the 1996 comedy film, 'Mrs. Winterbourne', Ricki Lake's character spotted a Rolls Royce and exclaimed, "Wow, that's like the Cadillac of automobiles, huh?" Not these days, Ricki. Cadillac has forgotten how to deliver authentic luxury. The brand is 115 years old, so maybe it's just Alzheimer's.
Fifty years ago, Cadillac owned most of the luxury automotive real estate. Today, foreign auto nameplates have captured over 80% of the U.S. luxury vehicle market. In 1993, Mercedes-Benz sold only 61,899 cars, compared with 255,869 Cadillacs. By 1999, Mercedes was outselling Cadillac. So was Lexus. Now, Cadillac is outsold 2.5 to 1 by Mercedes-Benz.
Recent brand surveys have shown that Mercedes and BMW hold top ranks in the category of automotive luxury cars, followed by Jaguar, Lexus and Audi. Cadillac, Lincoln and Acura received far lower scores.
Cadillac's future will not be as a leader, in market share or authenticity. It will simply be a line of tarted-up offerings on lesser GM platforms with just enough comparatively lavish touches to please nouveau riche Chinese and aging Americans. Caddy will survive as a brand as long as it helps spread the development costs on General Motors' future vehicular platforms. (posted 10/12/17, permalink)
Goin' Asian: Recently, Peter De Lorenzo wrote, "Last month it became official: Cadillac now sells more cars in the Chinese market than here in the U.S., and that is a reality that isn't going to change, in fact it will only pick up speed in the coming years. A sign of the times? Sure, all rational thought simply points to the fact that the Chinese market is destined to be the dominant transportation market for decades to come.
But I see it as the death of one of the most storied automotive legacies in automotive history. And even though the Cadillac office in New York is filled with wonderful emblems and tchotchkes from Cadillac's past to great effect, none of it really matters anymore.
Will Cadillac still be here? Certainly. But make no mistake, the Chinese market will dictate the future direction and composition of the brand."
Peter's probably right about China, especially since that's where GM is placing its bets. Buicks and Caddys are big sellers over there. But, to be fair, in the flagship luxury sedan category, Cadillac is doing well, based on June 2017 U.S. sales. Mercedes-Benz's S-Class is the top seller (1,169 units), followed closely by the Cadillac CT6 (1,014), the Lincoln Continental (973) and BMW's 7-Series (634). The Cadillac Escalade was the top-selling large SUV last month, with 3,420 'Slades finding buyers.
Cadillac's not dead in America, but don't expect another Eldorado, since the Chinese can't pronounce it. (posted 7/26/17, permalink)
Pricey Halo Cars: Almost every luxury vehicle manufacturer offers a top-of-the-line limousine-like sedan. Sixty years ago, people actually bought them in fair quantities. Today, not so much because the market has moved away from sedans to SUVs.
Into this shrinking mix is tossed the 2017 Cadillac CT6, which - inexplicably - comes standard with a four-cylinder engine. Timothy Cain recently test one fitted with a more appropriate twin-turbo V6, making 404 horsepower and fitted to an eight-speed automatic. The Cadillac CT6 3.0TT Luxury model is priced north of $75,000.
For that kind of money, it should have a better moniker than CT6 ... (more >>>)
Buh-Bye: Cadillac, in search of both increased volume and more exclusivity, plans to pay 400 of its U.S. dealers to go away. These dealers represent 43% of the brand's U.S. total stores.
There is one Cadillac dealer in Vancouver, WA and one in Portland, OR. That's it for the Portland Metro area, which has a population of 2.4 million. In the same metro area, there are three Mercedes dealers, two BMW dealers, two Lincoln dealers (both are also Ford stores), one Audi dealer and one Lexus dealer. (posted 9/28/16, permalink)
A Dull Future: The Cadillac Escala four-door coupe concept is a pillarless, hatchback, revealed to the press during 2016 Monterey Week. Compared to the stunning Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 concept (introduced on the same day), it's fairly pedestrian - a pleasant but derivative design, featuring bits of other production and concept cars. A little Chevy Impala here, a little Jaguar XJS there, a little Genisis over that way and a whiff of Nissan Altima thrown in for good luck. The rear is, sadly, somewhat reminiscent of the PT Cruiser convertible's trunk. Perhaps it's a tribute to the unloved, bustle-backed '81 Caddy Seville.
Cadillac called the Escala, "The next evolution of Cadillac design and previewing the craftsmanship and technology being developed for many future models." The engine is said to be a 4.2-liter twin-turbo V8 with cylinder deactivation - another uncreative combo. Oh well ... at least it's a V8. This concept Caddy is 210 inches long, about halfway between a 1990 Caddy DeVille and a 1995 Lincoln Town Car.
What ever happened to the boldness that resulted in stunning Cadillac concept cars of yore like the Ciel four-door convertible, first seen in 2011? Or the wild Cyclone of 1959?
Peter De Lorenzo wrote, "There are no ifs, ands or buts here, folks, they're going to build this car as part of (Cadillac exec) de Nysschen's relentless push to remake GM's luxury division in the spitting image of Audi. And it's aimed right at China, which is where Cadillac operatives go to feel better about themselves." (posted 8/22/16, permalink)
Back In Black: Dan Neil drove the Cadillac CT6 flagship model and wrote that it "is the first decent-looking long black car made in America in a very long time. There's power in the silhouette, Jungian urges and wicked thoughts. The low, louche hood flies into the deeply raked windshield almost seamlessly. The Cadillac escutcheon, now modernized and free of laurels, is centered in the full-frame grille, and it never looked better." Sorry, but I like the old Caddy emblem better.
So what have we learned? In black, it's a looker. For the money, it should be.
The $88,460, 4,000-pound, 204-inch long car rides on a 122-inch wheelbase. It is powered by a 3-liter twin-turbo V6 which makes 404 horsepower. The model Dan tested was the top-of-the-line CT6 3.0TT Platinum AWD edition.
The problem is that the base model stickers at $53,459, with rear-wheel drive and a 265-hp in-line four cylinder engine. Four cylinders? Hmmm. Reminds me of the Cimarron.
Who will buy this car? Well, the stripper model will certainly appeal to black car services. Optioned-up models seem overpriced compared with what else is out there. Then there's Cadillac's documented reliability problems.
So much for Caddy's Dare Greatly ad campaign. Maybe it's supposed to mean We Dare You Not To Buy It. OK. I won't. (posted 7/11/16, permalink)
Why Are Today's Hearses So Ugly? The Cadillac CTS-based hearse used for Nancy Reagan's funeral was particularly ungainly:
I've smoothed out some of the lines to give it a bit more style, although it's hard to merge a boxy rear with a sloping front. The Lincoln MKT makes for a better-looking final ride because it's boxier to begin with.
In any case, I still prefer old hearses. (posted 3/14/16, permalink)
Old Time Rattles: At TTAC, Jack Baruth waxed nostalgically about the '79 Cadillac Eldorado. "Who has two thumbs and loves the '79 Eldorado? This guy. I've spent more time writing about it than I've spent writing about Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Maseratis … combined. What made the '79 Eldorado great? Everything. It was styled with a crispness and strength of purpose never again seen on a Cadillac. It had a solid drivetrain as standard, although the optional engines and the later HT4100 tended to misbehave. The packaging was superb inside and out: trim yet spacious, small enough to be hassle-free in a parking lot but big enough to be recognizably Cadillac.
Most importantly, it was the last great coupe from a company that had a reputation for building brilliant luxury two-doors. (The CTS-V Coupe had pace but possessed neither space nor grace.) As a statement of personal wealth, taste, and maturity, no automobile truly satisfies like a full-sized luxury coo-pay."
Jack added this caveat: "The '79 Eldorados, too, were creatures of the moment. Most of them were pretty well worn-out before they reached their 10th birthday. That's part and parcel of being a mass-market luxury car. They're great to own when they're new and under warranty."
In 1984, when my business was doing well enough that I could finally afford a luxury car, I considered Cadillac. The Eldorado was a real looker - especially the Biarritz model with the stainless steel roof.
The Eldo was the perfect Eighties car. It went well with ladies' big hair and guys in sport coats with the sleeves pushed up to their elbows. Bold, in-you-face lines. Tailored but flashy - like a navy blazer with almost too many brass buttons. This Caddy was much crisper than the bloated mid-70s model it replaced. Big, chromey front end with a nice Caddy-mesh grille.
But, sadly, those Eldos were crap cars - bad cowl shake and assorted rattles after only 30,000 miles, the leather didn't hold up, etc. The Eldorado symbolizes GM of the 1970s and beyond - lots of flash but everything was the same underneath and, in a quest for cheap part prices, they were filled with poorly-made components and flimsy fitments that just did not hold up. So I bought a new Lincoln Mark VII instead.
I don't care what purists would say about the lines of the Eldo. The '79-'85 Eldorado may never get a MOMA design award, but I still think it's a great-looking machine. (posted 2/25/16, permalink)
Buh-Bye: The overpriced, Chevy Volt-based Cadillac ELR coupe will be discontinued.
Originally priced at $76,000, Cadillac only sold 1,024 ELRs last year, down 22% from 2014's totals. By comparison, the Chevy Volt moved more than 15,000 units.
The plug-in hybrid vehicle was previewed at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, in the form of a concept called the Converj. (posted 2/5/16, permalink)
Cadillac Style: The Space Race in car design began when General Motors found out about designer Virgil Exner's new 'Suddenly It's 1960' '57 Chrysler Corp. line-up; the GM styling department almost soiled its corporate trousers.
Suddenly, The General realized that Styling VP Harley Earl's age of high 'power dome' hoods and chrome applied by the bucketful with a trowel was over. It was too late to do anything about the '58 models (the '58 Buicks and Oldsmobiles are case studies in high hoods and excess brightwork), but a crash program was initiated to make GM's 1959 models as wild as Chrysler's. The result were creations such as the soaring-finned '59 Caddy and the bat-winged '59 Chevy.
Understandably, Cadillac had some reason to worry. In 1957, sales of the all-new, big-finned Imperial more than quadrupled and came very close to Lincoln's sales figures for the year. Cadillac's sales were down 5% from 1956, despite the demise of the big Packards - which most auto pundits thought would send conservative Packard clients in Cadillac's direction. Looking at the sales data, it appeared that Packard's loss was Imperial's gain.
Postwar Cadillacs were always modern-looking automobiles but they also carried hints of the brand's historic values. But the 1959 models introduced so many style changes simultaneously - huge, soaring rocket fins, bullet taillights, a large compound wraparound windshield, thin-section rooflines and slim roof pillars - that they received much criticism from the press, design experts and others for abandoning Caddy's familiar ... (more >>>)
The View From A Millennial Moron: Recently, Melody Lee, 'director of brand and reputation strategy' for General Motors' luxury brand and a self-described millennial, had some bizarrely interesting things to say about the move to NYC, about the Cadillac brand and about herself.
Thus spake Melody: "I don't buy products, I buy brands. I don't use Apple computers because they are the best computers, I use them because Apple is cool. We need to show drivers what the Cadillac lifestyle is all about. ... We want to be a global luxury brand that happens to sell cars. We don't want to be an automotive brand."
Devices that became cool did so because had something to offer - quality, reliability, style. Or all three. And a goal - this is how BMW lifted itself from a maker of Isetta bubble cars to a top luxury automobile brand.
Over at Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo wrote, "The ugly and painful reality for Cadillac is that there are no shortcuts in this business. There is no substitute for stunning, visionary design, sound engineering excellence and real-world performance with impeccable execution and quality. Everything else designed to impart an aura of hipness is a complete waste of time."
TTAC commenter readallover posted, "One of the reasons Apple is so beloved is because it was compared to Microsoft. MS product routinely were released with consumers as the beta testers. Compared to MS, Apple stuff worked right the first time and was intuitive to start with. Cadillac is Microsoft: over-promise and under-deliver. Lexus is Apple. If she wants Caddy to be the new Apple she needs to start at the dealer level the 'experience' at the dealer level is on par with any used car lot. She may think she is selling only the image, but way more people care about the product." Think about it: Everything that trades on 'perception' began as a product which excelled compared to its peers.
As to the 'Cadillac lifestyle', please wake me when Cadillac figures out what that is these days. Sixty years ago, Cadillac defined luxury automobiles in America.
In those old days, Cadillac really lived up to its slogan, 'Standard of the World'. If you look at period newsreel footage, you'll see potentates, dictators, popes, celebrities and gangsters being ferried about in shiny black Caddys. No more. Cadillac needs to figure out what it wants to be and then go for it. I believe Cadillac should have a single focus - world-class luxury. A car so good that it can truly be called the Standard of the World. Again. (posted 12/16/14, permalink)
What's In A Name? Cadillac is changing its naming structure for its new big sedan. The luxury brand in the General Motors portfolio "is preparing to roll out its new LTS. Only now, the latest thinking is that the upcoming flagship model may not be called LTS at all." It has been given the unimaginative moniker CT6.
Well, if this new big Caddy is going to cost over $100,000, I think the flagship's model designation should be 'Outta My Way, Peasants'. (posted 10/8/14, permalink)
This Is What Lincoln Needs To Do: Cadillac is reportedly developing a world-class rear-wheel-drive flagship model. It will compete with the $100,000+ Mercedes S-Class and will make its debut at the 2015 New York Auto Show.
Maybe Cadillac can return to being the 'Standard of the World'. But it has some serious work to do first.
For instance, the very butch-looking 2015 Cadillac CTS now has a front grille emblem without the usual Cadillac wreath. I think this is a bad idea. Cars with a consistent brand message don't change emblems - consider BMW's roundel and Mercedes' three-pointed star. What does Caddy have against the wreath?
Meanwhile, Automotive News reported that GM's Lansing, Michigan factory will sit idle for three weeks because Cadillac's inventory levels are higher than Snoop Dogg on a slow afternoon. Currently, there's a 152-day supply of the entry-level ATS, while the CTS has a 215-day supply - an astonishingly high number by industry standards. The bloated XTS sedan and the hybrid ELR have 152 and 194 days worth of supply respectively.
Cadillac now averages a 172-day supply - about triple the level that is considered healthy. By comparison, Lincoln's car inventory was 87 days. Audi's was 45 and BMW's was 42. Cadillac's U.S. sales have slipped 2% year-to-date in a luxury market that has expanded 6%.
Many pundits have laid the blame on Cadillac's high list prices and a reluctance of its dealers to 'cut deals'. Consider this: the Escalade's starting price in the U.S. is $73,965, while the Escalade Platinum Edition - more chrome, bigger wheels - is priced from $90,270. (posted 8/15/14, permalink)
Changing Cadillac: Sales of Cadillac's lineup have fallen as of late in comparison with last year, prompting Caddy's U.S. vice president of sales and service, Bill Peffer, to resign. He was the third sales VP in two years.
It's not all bad; Cadillac is still outselling Lincoln and Hillary Clinton's book. Speaking of which, Hillary sometimes looks like an old Cadillac.
In 2013, Cadillac sold 182,543 vehicles. Sales in 2014 to date are off by about 10%, while other luxury nameplates are reporting healthy increases. Sales of the entry-level Cadillac ATS are down 20% and its much-ballyhooed ELR electric vehicle is a disaster, with around 300 cars sold to date. Even so, Caddy outsells Lincoln by more than 80%. Cadillac sales today are as good or better in units than they were in 1999.
The problem is that foreign makes now have the majority share of the luxury vehicle market, Based on the first nine months of calendar 2013, they have captured over 81% of the U.S. luxury vehicle market. Recent brand surveys have shown that Mercedes and BMW hold top ranks in the category of automotive luxury cars, followed by Jaguar, Lexus and Audi. Cadillac, Lincoln and Acura received far lower scores.
Cadillac no longer has the brand cachet it once enjoyed and a new manager will not change that overnight. Cadillac needs to up its game - setting a goal of delivering best-in-class models with no-excuse quality levels. This is how Lexus went from virtually nothing in 1990 to a market leader in less than ten years.
Despite repeated claims, Cadillac has failed to meet those goals. Caddy's quality-levels as observed by Consumer Reports are mediocre at best and many of its models are uninspired, tarted-up versions of lesser General Motors stablemates. (posted 7/3/14, permalink)
Flagship Down: There is much weeping and gnashing of teeth amongst the internet autoverse cognoscenti ever since Cadillac announced last week that they are abandoning plans for a premium class flagship model to compete with the Mercedes S-Class and its ilk.
I say, "Smart move."
GM unveiled the stunning Cadillac Ciel concept at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance two years ago. It was an recherche design surprise.
While shown in four-door convertible form, GM exec's hinted that a production sedan would eventually appear. Autoextremist Peter De Lorenzo referred to the production version as "something that would finally allow Cadillac to go toe-to-toe with the top models from the leading German players in the luxury-performance end of the business, and mean it."
Here's the problem: The $80-120,000 large sedan market is a very limited one and is already well covered with offerings from Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Maserati and others.
Cadillac is already facing serious competition from others in its existing market and doesn't need a Ciel model to further distract it. Cadillac needs to up its game - setting a goal of delivering best in class models with no-excuse quality levels.
Despite repeated claims, Cadillac has failed to meet that goal. Quality-levels as observed by Consumer Reports are mediocre at best and models like the bulbous XTS are compromised from its Buick LaCrosse platform level upwards and is an unexceptional offering.
May the death of the Ciel give Caddy more focus to make better vehicles in its present market arena. (posted 7/8/13, permalink)
Total Recall: Have you ever looked at a photo and found seemingly unrelated memories flooding your brain? It happened to me when I was looking at Hemmings blog and saw a photo of a gorgeous white 1957 Cadillac. The '57 was a handsome vehicle featuring a leaner look than its predecessor. It had none of the bulbous fussiness of the '56 Caddy and lacked the Harley Earl-mandated troweled-on chrome of the garish 1958 model.
The '57 Cadillacs featured all-new bodies on a new X-frame chassis. Series 62 models rode on a 129.5 wheelbase and featured a 300 horsepower Cadillac V8 engine. The 62 two-door hardtop coupe sold for $4,677; the convertible was priced at $5,293.
Most 1957 Caddy photos are of the more-expensive Eldorado models with their unique, stuck-on rear fins. But the Series 62 example shown in the photo is, in my opinion, a better-looking car - it has cleaner lines and is just gorgeous.
While the vehicle in Hemmings is a convertible, my newly-triggered memory was of an almost identical white hardtop coupe. It was driven by an Atlantic City entertainer. (I think he played piano and was MC at one of AC's many show bars of the era.) He was a regular patron of the Brigantine Country Club and I was often his golf caddy in 1958-59. I don't remember his name but he was a distinguished, gray-haired man, very fit and a sharp dresser. He always treated me well (unlike those self-centered, impatient jerks who always blame caddies for their own lousy golf scores) and he was a very good tipper.
His '57 Cadillac always sparkled; even the trunk where his fine leather golf bag resided was immaculately clean.
Mr. MC behaved like a gentleman to everyone. Nice guy. I wonder what happened to him? I hope he enjoyed/is enjoying a pleasant retirement. (posted 8/20/12, permalink)
Junk In The Trunk: Recently, I saw MotorWeek's road test of the 2013 Cadillac XTS. It looks very tail heavy in a Kim Kardashian kind-of way.
Little more than a glorified Buick LaCrosse with a Cadillac grille and badging, this pug-nosed beastie rides on the Buick's 111-inch wheelbase but has been made six inches longer by adding an extended trunk, providing ass-heavy styling. Maybe XTS really stands for 'eXtra TuSh'.
At 202 inches, it is nine inches longer than BMW 5-Series but rides on a six inch shorter wheelbase.
A reasonably optioned XTS will cost over $50,000 (the Platinum model goes for $60K) but this new Caddy "flagship" seems to be just a Buick with a bustle. (posted 7/27/12, permalink)
Roots Of Luxury: Jack Baruth at TTAC has penned a convincing article suggesting that Cadillac return to its roots with fins and V-8 engines. I agree.
On the soon-to-be-introduced little, four-cylinder Cadillac ATS, Jack wrote dismissively: "Aren't you ashamed of yourselves? Do you really think anybody wants this car? Do you really think anybody is willing to pay more for it than they would for an equivalently-powered BMW? Is this vehicle exemplary and desirable? The answer to these questions: Of course not. This car, along with every other vehicle you sell, should be summarily discontinued and replaced with actual Cadillacs. You'd be better off buying the tooling for the 2003 LS430, welding fins on said LS430, and selling that. It would be closer to the idea of “Cadillac” than anything you have now."
Cadillac's decline has been sad to witness. Sixty years ago, Lincoln and Cadillac defined luxury automobiles in America.
In the old days, Cadillac really lived up to its slogan, 'Standard of the World'. If you look at period newsreel footage, you'll see potentates, dictators, popes, celebrities and gangsters being ferried about in shiny black Caddys. Pope Pius XII had several Cadillacs (prewar and postwar), including a Derham-bodied model with a throne in the back seat that could be elevated.
Then there were those Caddy "harem cars" in the Middle East:
When growing up, I lusted after Cadillacs. Caddys of the 1950s were easily recognized because of those gleaming red taillights perched atop those uniquely-shaped finned rear fenders. And the sparkling chromed, egg-crate front grilles. Cadillacs were distinctive and flashy, letting you know that the owner was someone who had "arrived." And who could forget the 'Dagmars' - those tit-shaped front bumper guards on '50s Cadillacs? They were named after a busty pinup and 'actress' of the day.
In those days, Caddys were the sheet-metal equivalent of a sartorial ensemble consisting of a navy blue double-breasted blazer with brass buttons, white trousers and tasseled, bone-hued loafers, worn by a man holding a large Cuban cigar. Flush - and not subtle about it.
In 1984, when I could finally afford a luxury car, I considered Cadillac. The Eldorado was quite a looker, especially the Biarritz model with the stainless steel roof. I remember drooling over a white example with a red leather interior in the local dealer's showroom. But then I drove one with some miles on it and found that those Eldos were rattly pieces of crap. The Eldorado symbolized GM of the 1970s and beyond - lots of flash but, in a quest for cheap part prices, filled with poorly-made components and flimsy fitments that just did not hold up.
I never bought a Cadillac, finding other luxury marques to satisfying my needs. The adolescent me would still like to own a flashy, top-end Caddy. The grown-up me knows better. Which is why I'm driving a Lexus these days. (posted 5/16/12, permalink)
Cadillac Electroado: Thinking back to the Caddy's salad days when the Eldorado was the model to have, the just-announced electric Caddy should have been given a name that acknowledges its heritage.
Of course, the new Caddy will be - oxymoron alert - an over-priced Volt in sleek clothing. General Motors has said, "The Cadillac ELR will feature an electric propulsion system made up of a T-shaped lithium ion battery, an electric drive unit, and a four-cylinder engine-generator. It uses electricity as its primary source to drive the car without using gasoline or producing tailpipe emissions. When the battery's energy is low, the ELR seamlessly switches to extended-range mode to enable driving for hundreds of additional miles."
Doug McIntyre has written that this is the Cadillac no one will drive and that, after initial sales fueled by celebs, trend-chasers and their ilk, "it will be added to a long line of new electric-powered models that are unlikely to have many buyers."
He has noted, "GM's first electric-powered car - the Chevy Volt - has been a failure. Only 125 were sold in July. Recent research on inventory indicates that most dealers have the car in stock. The electric-powered car market is tiny, primarily because alternative products are more popular and practical."
"The larger challenge to the Volt and the Cadillac ELR is that hybrids like the Toyota Prius are still the preferred cars for people who want gasoline-driven vehicles. Toyota said in April that it had sold more than a million Prius vehicles in the U.S. since the car was introduced. The gasoline-electric hybrid, which gets more than 40 MPG, has become the favorite car in its class."
I've never understood the expression 'salad days'. Sounds too ... ummmm ...vegan. I would have called it 'steak days'. As in: consume a big, fat filet mignon in a posh restaurant and drive off in a big, fat Eldorado Biarritz.
PS: I must admit that I do like the Cadillac Ciel four-door convertible concept car, which just made its debut in Monterey, California. It reminds me of the Good Old Days - 'steak days', if you will - when cars were distinctive enough that you could tell one apart from the other. (posted 8/19/11, permalink)
Who Knew? Sometimes, Hillary Clinton looks like an old Cadillac.
No Baby, Please: General Motors Co. plans to build a new Cadillac small car at a plant in Lansing, MI. The automaker plans to invest $190 million at the Grand River Assembly plant to produce the new Cadillac ATS, a compact version of the Cadillac CTS luxury car, designed to take on the BMW-3-Series, C-Class Mercedes and other premium import-brand compacts.
Production of the ATS sedan is slated to start in July of 2012, followed by the coupe in July of 2013. Expect pricing to range from the high $20s to low-mid $30s.
Last year, I suggested an easy way for Caddy to get in the upscale little car business with the BTS - a model which would have inherently high quality. It would have required minimal investment and would have given the division the Baby Cadillac it always seems to want.
But Cadillac didn't do it. And, in hindsight, maybe that's a good thing.
Remember how General Motors got into trouble? Too many models. It seems to me that the ATS is a bad idea. It will only undercut the Buick Regal, which - along with all other Buicks - is targeted at Lexus, including the compact IS 250/350 models.
Forget baby Caddys. I now believe Cadillac should have a single focus - world-class luxury. A car so good that it can truly be called The Standard of the World.
As it once was. (posted 11/1/10, permalink)
Don't Call It Cimarron: With the death of Pontiac and the disappearance of the Vibe - the Toyota Matrix clone made in the NUMMI plant, General Motors needs a new vehicle to produce at that California facility. Some have suggested making the Vibe a Chevrolet or Buick. I disagree.
Over the past several years, Cadillac has been moving down into the "entry-level luxury" field - a contemporary euphemism for 'mid-priced field', the popular 1950s term. (Think Buick Century, Mercury Montclair, Oldsmobile Super 88, etc.) So has Lincoln, for that matter. Both have given up on the idea of competing model-for-model against Lexus, Mercedes and BMW.
With Buick's U.S. future in doubt, it's time to take the next step and introduce a new entry-level luxury vehicle, the Cadillac BTS.
The BTS would be a substantially upgraded Toyota Matrix XRS. Priced at $30,000, $8,000 above the XRS, this Cadillac would feature a luxury interior, using really good-quality leather (better than the crap-leather used on the typical Cadillac), and fitted with heated/cooled seats, chrome accents everywhere and lots of electronic gadgets.
To make the Cadillac BTS feel truly luxurious, General Motors would have to set aside its penny-pinching ways. I would expect this car to have non-electronic interior upgrades costing GM a $500 premium over a the cost of the old Vibe's interior. There would be no options; everything would be standard. The Cadillac BTS would offer a roomy backseat, comfortable ride, versatile cargo area, peppy performance from its 5-speed auto-equipped 185 horsepower engine, generous standard safety features and, best of all, Toyota reliability. An AWD version could also be offered, since the Matrix and Vibe already produce such a model.
Unlike the Cadillac Cimarron, the BTS would be based on a modern, dependable platform, rather than the Cimarron's woeful J-Car underpinnings.
Pontiac sold about 2,000 Vibes per month. With a Cadillac moniker, sales could rise to 2,500-3,000 per month, especially if the economy begins to recover. Last month, less than 8,400 Cadillacs were sold. (Thirty years ago, Cadillac sold almost 32,000 vehicles per month.)
The Cadillac BTS could be a great addition to the line and put Caddy solidly into the entry-level luxury market with a unique offering. And make a nice profit for the division. (posted 5/4/09, permalink)
Standard of the World: It saddens me to see Muhammad Ali these days. The three-time World Heavyweight Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist is a shadow of his former self - a victim of the ravages of age, brain damage and Parkinson's Disease. I remember his greatness when he was in his prime.
I feel the same way about Cadillac. At TTAC, Sajeev Mehta slammed the 2008 Cadillac STS V6, stating that it "doesn't deserve to wear the crested wreath" and awarding it one star out of a possible five. Excerpt: "For all of GM's talk of world-class interiors, the new-for-'08 STS still has the shittiest cabin in its class. The vent registers' flimsy actions are worthy of Aveo real estate. The console, while positively Malibuian, fails to coddle like the padded, stitched panels on the Lexus GS. The only touch-point more pedestrian than the door panel's northern hemisphere: the hard plastic that envelops the gauge cluster, forcing the driver to make skin contact with Lumina-grade goodness with each activation of the keyless ignition system. This is a forty-five thousand dollar luxury car?"
In the old days, Cadillac really lived up to its slogan, 'Standard of the World'. If you look at period newsreel footage, you'll see potentates, dictators, popes, celebrities and gangsters being ferried about in shiny black Caddys.
When growing up, I lusted after Cadillacs. In 1984, when I could finally afford a luxury car, I considered Cadillac. The Eldorado was quite a looker, especially the Bairritz model with the stainless steel roof. But I drove one with some miles on it and found that those Eldos were crap. The Eldorado symbolized GM of the 1970s and beyond - lots of flash but, in a quest for cheap part prices, filled with poorly-made components and flimsy fitments that just did not hold up.
I never bought a Caddy, finding other luxury marques to satisfying my needs. The 9 year-old me still wants to buy a flashy, top-end Caddy. The grown-up me knows better. (posted 9/22/08, permalink)
Cadillac Man: 84-year-old Joseph Macko of Flint, MI just picked up a new 2009 Cadillac DTS. He has been buying a brand spankin' new Caddy every year since 1955. "You only live one time. Money is to spend," Macko said. "I spend it once I get it."
His wife, Marcella, said the annual trip to the Cadillac dealership for Joe to trade in his old car and take delivery of his new one is something she just doesn't get excited about anymore. "He does, but I don't," she said, chuckling. (posted 8/22/08, permalink)
Bye Bye, Big Caddy? A report by Frank Williams in TTAC claims that large Cadillacs are an endangered species and may soon be dead.
Unnamed "people familiar with the situation" have said that Caddy is adding more versions of the CTS and smaller SUVs while putting the replacements for updating the DTS and STS on hold. The Hamtramck plant where the DTS is built alongside with the Buick Lucerne is scheduled to switch over to produce the Volt in 2010. What happens to the biggest of Cadillac's cars after that is pretty much up in the air.
Frank writes, "It will mark the final step in taking Cadillac totally downmarket and mainstreaming a brand that once had a proud luxury heritage. king Cadillac totally downmarket and mainstreaming a brand that once had a proud luxury heritage. Lincoln's done it and now Cadillac is doing it. Sad. Truly sad."
Indeed. Fifty years ago, Lincoln and Cadillac defined luxury automobiles in America. Competition from foreign luxury cars was almost nonexistent. But times have changed.
Nevertheless, hip author and member of the Manhattan intelligentsia Tom Wolfe - described as the "chronicler of America at its most outrageous and alive" - drives a white Cadillac DTS with a custom all-white interior. To match his suits. (I always thought his daily driver would be a nicely restored Good Humor truck.)
I've always loved the song, 'Look At That Cadillac' by Stray Cats. That's the one where Brian Setzer sang, "I'm puttin' all my money straight right in the bank. Well, I'm a half way to gettin' my big black Cadillac tank!"
Without those big black Cadillac tanks, what will they make hearses from? (posted 8/14/08, permalink)
Fifty Years Ago: Lincoln and Cadillac defined luxury automobiles in America. Competition from foreign cars was almost nonexistent. A Rolls-Royce was more than double the price of a Caddy or Lincoln. BMW made sedans but only offered its sports and touring cars in the U.S. And the Isetta. The 'big' Mercedes 300 sedan was pretty stodgy-looking, cost 25% more than a Cadillac 62 and had a puny 136 hp engine (less powerful than a Ford six!) to pull its heavy 4,200 pounds of bulk. Meanwhile, the '57 Caddy offered a 300 hp V-8. Lexus and Audi did not even exist.
Fast-forward to 2007: In the first five months of 2007, Lexus sold 131,000 vehicles, BMW-badged vehicles totaled 119,000 and Mercedes - 99,000. Contrast those numbers with Cadillac's sales of only 81,000 units and Lincoln's woeful 61,000.
In the old days, Cadillac really lived up to its slogan, 'Standard of the World'. If you look at period newsreel footage, you'll see potentates, dictators, popes, celebrities and gangsters being ferried about in shiny black Caddys. Pope Pius XII had several Cadillacs (prewar and postwar), including a Derham-bodied model with a throne in the back seat that could be elevated. Then there were King Ibn Saud's fleet of twenty Caddy "harem cars" in Saudi Arabia. Created by coachbuilder Hess and Eisenhardt, they were 1953 fastback long-wheelbase Cadillacs with six doors and mirrored one-way glass in the passenger sections and divider glass between the chauffeur and the ladies. The cars cost $12,500 each - about three times the price of a standard Caddy.
When growing up, I lusted after Cadillacs. Caddys of the 1950s were easily recognized because of those gleaming red taillights perched atop those uniquely-shaped finned rear fenders. And the sparkling chromed, egg-crate front grilles. Cadillacs were distinctive and flashy, letting you know that the owner was someone who had 'arrived.' And who could forget the 'Dagmars' - those tit-shaped front bumper guards on '50s Cadillacs? They were named after a busty pinup and 'actress' of the day.
There was a custom car I used to see in my Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood when I was 9 or 10 years-old. It was a customized early-'50s red Cadillac convertible and was a rolling advertisement for the owner of Sam's Auto Body. The rear of the car was like the GM LeSabre showcar with the center jet pod made from the bullet nose of a '50 Studebaker. At the time, I thought it was the world's coolest car.
Caddys were the sheet-metal equivalent of a sartorial ensemble consisting of a navy blue double-breasted blazer with brass buttons, white trousers and tasseled, bone-hued loafers, worn by a man holding a large cigar. Flush - and not subtle about it.
My first ride in a Cadillac was during my aunt's funeral when I was 11. We traveled to the cemetery in a limousine - a sleek-black '54 Caddy Series 75. I rode in the collapsible jump seat. I remember getting yelled at by my parents for playing with the power window switches and running the windows up and down on a cold, windy December day.
Even in the jump seat, I had a comfortable ride in that Cadillac. It seemed to glide on a sheet of glass, probably helped by the Caddy's fat balloon whitewall tires. I instantly acquired a taste for luxury.
My uncle had lots of kids and used to buy 2 to 3 year-old black Cadillac 75s from a funeral livery service in Philadelphia in the 1950s and early '60s. He paid less money for the limo than for a 2-3 year old Caddy sedan. He always got ones with a divider window so he and my aunt didn't have to listen to their ill-behaved kids screaming and beating each other up in the back seat. (Prior to buying limos, my uncle owned a '47 Ford woody. He had to get rid of it because it became termite-infested!)
From the 1960 to the mid-'80s, Cadillac still sold well, even when it began to share more and more of its overall styling and components with GM's lesser brands - something that started in 1959. The gorgeous 1961 Lincoln Continental won the coveted Industrial Design Institute Award but was still was outsold four-fold by the not-as-good-looking Cadillac.
The 1977-79 Cadillac Seville was a nice-looking car, too; it's hard to believe the handsome sedan was derived from a Chevrolet Nova. The downsized '79 Eldorado was also a looker - especially the Biarritz model with the stainless steel roof. But those Eldos were crap cars - bad cowl shake and assorted rattles after only 30,000 miles, the leather didn't hold up, etc. (That's why I bought a new '84 blue Lincoln Mark VII instead of an Eldo.) The Eldorado symbolizes GM of the 1970s and beyond - lots of flash but everything's the same underneath and, in a quest for cheap part prices, they were filled with poorly-made components and flimsy fitments that just did not hold up.
Even later-model Caddys don't seem to wear so well either, based on comments by my Cadillac-owning friends.
By the 1980s, Cadillac was a joke, exemplified by the Cadillac Cimmaron, a tarted-up GM J-Car - a virtual twin of its lesser WorldCar J-bretheren: Chevrolet Cavalier, Pontiac Sunbird, Oldsmobile Firenza, Buick Skyhawk, Holden Camira, Opel Ascona and Vauxhall Cavalier. Crap cars all. (WorldCrap?) Added to the joke was the shrunken Cadillac fiasco of 1986, when Caddy were unrecognizable when parked in a group of other '86 GM sedans.
Lincoln took advantage of Cadillac's dropping fortunes and, for a time, offered a decent product line. In the late 1980s, when Cadillac had clearly lost its way, Lincoln sales actually exceeded those of Cadillac. In 1990, over 233,000 Lincolns were sold; all were passenger cars. But the division lost its direction too, choosing to focus on trucks, and its offerings of today are pitiful. The cars became decontented, discounted and dissed. By calendar year 2004, only 139,000 Lincolns were sold; passenger car sales accounted for less than 79,000 units. The remaining units sold were trucks. (In September '07, a mere 3,200 Lincoln passenger cars were sold.) (posted 11/1/07, permalink)
"Cadillac's 'Hot Rod' Not So Hot." That's the verdict from Paul and Anita Lienert on the $53,680 Cadillac CTS-V. Excerpts: "There were way too many things that looked cheap, from the carpet to the overhead console - stuff you'd expect to find on a $12,000 compact, not a $50,000 luxury sedan."
And: "We've complained before about the chintzy-looking plastic that Cadillac used on the instrument panel and doors of the CTS, and unfortunately they've done nothing to improve or rectify the situation on the V-series. We also noticed some glaring problems with assembly quality." Not good. (posted 6/6/05, permalink)
Other Pages Of Interest
copyright 2008-17 - Joseph M. Sherlock - All applicable rights reserved
The facts presented in this blog are based on my best guesses and my substantially faulty geezer memory. The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Probably.
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If I have slandered any brands of automobiles, either expressly or inadvertently, they're most likely crap cars and deserve it. Automobile manufacturers should be aware that they always have the option of trying to change my mind by providing me with vehicles to test drive.
If I have slandered any people or corporations in this blog, either expressly or inadvertently, they should buy me strong drinks (and an expensive meal) and try to prove to me that they're not the jerks I've portrayed them to be. If you're buying, I'm willing to listen.
Don't be shy - try a bribe. It might help.