Archive for category Cadillac

Cadillac – The Swagger Is Back

cadillacOur former Operations Manager drives a Cadillac STS. “Big deal” you say, but it’s a very big deal. Chris is a 40-something automotive connoisseur, and his past rides have typically originated from Sweden, with a long line of super sanitary restored Musclecars. He hails from a family of RISD trained, cutting edge product design types, and again, they tend to favor the tidy offerings from Saab and Volvo. So, for Chris to risk ridicule at the Thanksgiving table for owning a Cadillac is a tantamount to an automotive sea change. But, no one in the family finds fault with Chris’ recent choice of steed. Make no mistake, we are witnessing a minor miracle in the making. A total about face in Cadillac’s corporate zeitgeist, market perception and product line – and that’s a wonderful thing

Fifty years ago, Cadillac proudly proclaimed itself “Standard of the World” and that claim was not idle boast. In 1912, Cadillac won the prestigious Dewar Trophy for manufacturing excellence. At a time when most automobiles were painstakingly hand assembled with considerable custom fitment and component rework – several production Cadillacs were completely dismantled, their parts co-mingled and the cars reassembled with no rework allowed to any of the components. These cars were then driven 500 miles each with no mechanical failures of any kind. A stunning achievement – It spoke to Cadillac’s impressive levels of production accuracy, manufacturing process control and standardization. Mind you, this achievement coming long before the era of advanced metallurgy, CNC machining and Demming inspired total quality management.

For 50 years hence, Cadillac was known as an engineering, quality and design leader, with innovative features such as electric starting, automatic transmissions and some of the most exuberant Harley Earl inspired styling the world has ever known. In those days, a Cadillac in the driveway signified financial wherewithal, social standing and prestige. A Cadillac was truly something special.

The party came to an abrupt end in the 1970s and 80s, as a succession of Middle East oil embargoes catalyzed a precipitous rise in fuel prices. Cadillac responded with a series of engineering fiascoes such as the V8-6-4, Diesel Seville, and the Cavalier based Cimarron. Cadillac compensated for the poor engineering with over the top baroque styling intended to evoke the past glory days. Again, they missed the mark – so that by the 1980′s the only people voluntarily driving Caddies were the white belt/white shoe Florida crowd and the, ahem, “urban adult entertainment managers” with names like Huggy Bear and Sweet Lou. We actually owned a 1982 Coupe DeVille, and it was, speaking bluntly, a piece of utter vehicular excrement. Grim times indeed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cadillac ATS to Take on BMW 3-Series

Cadillac ATSIn October 2010 General Motors announced a significant decision for its Cadillac brand. That luxury marque, which sells midsize and larger vehicles, would finally be getting a compact car. And not just any sedan — this one will take on the segment leading BMW 3-Series when it comes to the market within the next few years.

Compact Cimarron

Granted, this is not GM’s first attempt at building a compact car. From 1982 to 1988 we had the Cimarron, a J-body based car underpinned by the same platform powering similar Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick models. Right there you had a big problem — this Cadillac was barely distinguishable from other GM models: sure, it had a special grill, tail light treatments and leather interior, but customers saw right through the Cimarron. When GM pulled the model in 1988 it was a mercy killing.

In the 1990s, GM introduced to the North America market the Catera, a small mid-size sedan from Opel. This car was better than the Cimarron, but it still fell short. Introduced in 1998 and dropped in 2003, the Catera was the “Cadillac that zigged,” prized for responsive handling and an upscale interior, but no competitor for the likes of BMW, Mercedes, Audi and other luxury European makes.

CTS Line

In 2003, GM introduced the CTS line, a midsize sedan that has finally proven that GM can build a European fighting model. This line has since incorporated a coupe, wagon and high output versions of the car, but GM still didn’t have an entry level luxury car to compete against small BMW, Lexus and Mercedes models.

The proposed Cadillac ATS remains a bit of a mystery. GM used its announcement to talk about expanding production at its Grand River plant in Michigan and adding jobs, but said little about the car itself. That may be due to the company’s pending reveal of a concept of the ATS at an upcoming auto show, most likely the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Read the rest of this entry »

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