Cadillac thinks it’s being clever with its halo car, but we’ve seen this all before…
Fact is, Cadillac has long made road-legal concept cars part of its blue chip charm. Instead of continuing to chase Standard of the World status, I think the brand has a unique chance to self-make itself untouchable.
Credit where it’s due, there have been many legends: 1934 Aerodynamic Coupe, ’57 Eldorado Broughams with onboard bars, ELR hybrid, XLR convertible, Blackwing V8s, classic V-16 engines, the 382 Boeing 747 flights from Italy with Allanté bodies…and, I must admit, a review that helped launch my career.
However, those highs are only a fraction of Cadillac’s story.
Cadillac’s output represents the battles between its future-focused designers, its white collar bean counters, image-obsessed marketers, and blue collar workers at every link in the value chain.
So? Cadillac (the company), Cadillac (the product), and Cadillac (the brand) have rarely been in sync.
Sometimes, you can see this melting pot boil over: “The Cadillac that zigs” was assembled in Germany, with an engine from England, transmission from France, and marketed with a cartoon bird so pervasively it helped to name a fictional character: Lisa Catera.
Porsche is driver’s cars. Kia is value. Ferrari is racing cars. Ford is ubiquity. Lamborghini is poster cars. Rolls-Royce is luxury. Cadillac…?
Cadillac has worn more than 15 distinct logos since the end of the Second World War; does this speak to a deep turmoil and unease, or evidence it’s at the cutting edge?
Want to send hides harvested from your ranch to recover your Escalade? Done. Incorporate plastics your mid-level composites firm is developing into a 1997 Eldorado? Ship it. Put Ultium bits inside a ’34 Town Sedan to preserve its irreplaceable original engine? Sold.
I am not judging, or even attempting to answer those questions—just this next one:
Why is Cadillac chasing yet another batch of customers for its latest halo car when it could be championing the customers it has already earned?
The way forward—transitioning Cadillac into an unassailable force that earns more money—is disruptively simple: keep producing a range of General Motors-derived luxury vehicles and build a bespoke restoration, reengineering, and remixing division on top.
Not for only the latest and greatest, mind: for all Cadillac models, ever. Stay with me, here…
Like an established tailor, Cadillac is able to offer a level of generational service from more than 100 years of experience, with customers and brand recognition everywhere.
Part credit to its best designs, but most of Cadillac’s staying power is because of its earned status as an attainable reward for hard work, not as a purveyor of world-altering products.
Using GM technology, American-sourced materials, and Cadillac designers, owners should be able to—with an open cheque book—pay to have the factory reimagine their Caddy in any way.
People wonder why Cadillac isn’t quite as valued as other top luxury automakers. This lack of care for its own history is why.
Factory-completed restorations are now huge business, and importantly, people will pay crazy money to buy a notable vehicle even if—by any standard—it has a sketchy past.
Take this hypothetical Car F, for example: