Hooniverse Editorial: The Standard of the World and How to Reinvent Cadillac – Part 1

Of all of GM’s remaining brands, Cadillac is possibly best positioned for ultimate success. Here is some of my ideas on how Cadillac can once again be the Standard of the World. This is a four part series in which I discuss the significant history of the Cadillac Brand (Part 1), and then go on to highlight the three models that rivaled anything that the rest of the world produced at that time: The Cadillac V-16 from the 30’s (Part 2), The Cadillac Eldorado Brougham from 1957 to 1960 (Part 3), and the Cadillac Sixteen Concept from 2003 (Part 4).

General Motors underwent an unprecedented “engineered” bankruptcy last summer. As it is sheds divisions right and left, historic nameplates are being discarded and the company that once had over 50% of the new car market has lost the recipe. So what’s to become of Cadillac in the future? It needs to compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Rolls Royce, Bentley, and the relatively new upstart from Japan, Lexus. This particular commercial is a great start, but you really can’t run a luxury division with three body styles of what are essentially the same car, and an upscale clone of a Chevrolet crossover. The two-seat XLR sports car has been discontinued, as will the STS and the DTS. The Escalade will live on though because America can’t seem to get enough of these rolling excesses. It has, over the last decade, been a very successful product in terms of sales for what was once the Standard of the World. But does it send the right message?

This next commercial, released at the time the new XLR-V debuted in 2005, illustrates that Cadillac has had a very long and distinguished history, producing some very desirable cars through the last 100+years. Some of the later models highlighted include a 1956 Eldorado Convertible, the flamboyant 1959 Eldorado Convertible, the understated 1967 Eldorado Coupe (notice a theme here?), the very flashy 1976 Eldorado Convertible, and a very curious addition in the form of a 1979 Seville sedan, which was one of Cadillac’s most troublesome vehicles at that time with the option of either an ill-tempered V8-6-4, or a normally aspirated and anemic Oldsmobile-derived diesel V8. However, the commercial highlighted Cadillac’s past and that combined with the first spot, it is a brand worth re-inventing.

The CTS is a worthy competitor to the BMW 3-Series, and the Mercedes C-Class, as well as the upstarts from Audi, Lexus and Infiniti. These are the cars and brands that currently reside on the lists of luxury car buyers. While Cadillac has its fans, they aren’t usually the trend setters and taste-makers that it so sorely needs (the Escalade changed this to a degree, attracting new and younger buyers to the brand) the expanding international-sized CTS lineup is expected to go further with the sport wagon just now going on sale with the stunning two-door coupe waiting in the wings to follow next year. But Cadillac needs more in the way of other models, including one that is excessive, extravagant, and in true form that defines “the Standard of the World.” There were only two other series of Cadillacs from its long history that were truly extravagant; the prewar V-12 and V-16 Cadillacs and the 1957 to 1960 Cadillac Eldorado Broughams. Look for Part 2 Tomorrow showcasing the prewar Cadillac V-16, and read my original article at Automotive Traveler.

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