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Is Cadillac's Image Dying and Does Anyone Care?

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  • pmc4pmc4 Posts: 198
    Yep! You're right. The photo I posted was a pathetically expensive 1988 Mercedes Benz $50,000 300SE in all it's crude, primitive glory. How anyone would rightfully buy such a stinking car is beyond my considerable comprehension.
    Fintail. I am curious. Why did you buy that thing? I'd seriously like to know.

    As far as the Haters are concerned: You can buy a 1984 Cadillac Seville Bustleback with fake burled walnut trim for $15,000 in 1984, or shell out like $50,000 for a 1988 Benz 300SE that had real stained plywood trim. So keep hating on the fake burled walnut. GOOOOOO plywood!
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,714
    It's not a US spec car, so it isn't a relevant comparison.

    Primitive? The car was easily the most advanced sedan in the world when it was introduced, and was so good that 10 years later, Toyota would give it flush glazing and call it the Lexus LS. Why did I buy it? I didn't buy it new...and for the price of a used Kia I bought a pristine one owner car of the best workmanship and comfort that gave me a few years of driving pleasure with very little maintenance cost.

    Surely a bustleback cost like 25-30K in 1984? I mean, that was around the time my mom bought a new Ciera and it cost nearly 15K, and I think the piece of crap Chevy S-10 Blazer my dad bought in 1985 cost more than 15K.

    And real wood of any thickness still beats plood ;)
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    Actually, they're both '67s. The first is a Deville and the second an Eldorado. Cadillacs were already heading downhill by 1974. :cry:
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    Fake burled walnut is deserving of every bit of hate that can be heaped upon it. I can print out a picture of a board and tape that to the dashboard of my car and it would look better.
  • ClairesClaires Chicago areaPosts: 979
    My guess is there is no company that has achieved this exclusively on a broad luxury basis, let alone Caddy. In my mind, they never were the standard anyway.

    I think the original post was concerned with general perception of luxury, performance and service that Cadillac once enjoyed. There was a time when Cadillac was generally viewed as the best of the best. Being seen at the wheel of a Cadillac meant that you'd finally made your mark in the world. The phrase "this is the Cadillac of (TVs, refrigerators, stereo systems, whatever)" needed no explanation -- it was understood to mean "this is the BEST there is, ever, anywhere."

    Whether or not the perception was consistent with reality is beside the point. So is the discussion of 80's models. The point of this discussion (as I understand it) is whether GM is able to anticipate and meet the evolving needs of the driving public to return Cadillac to its former glory status.

    MODERATOR
    Need help getting around? claires@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    When Cadillac won the "standard of the world" trophy, it was a mid-priced car, much like Buick is today. If you are talking about Cadillac after World War Two, then Cadillac was priced in the luxury class for the US market, but compared with Lincoln and Imperial. Packard was doomed. Cadillac became a high end model after GM took it over, but Cadillac's high end was during the thirties when the V16 was in production.

    I think Cadillac made an attempt to get into the true high end luxury market with the Eldorado Brougham in the late fifties, but this model was more glitz than anything and was a maintenance pig.

    I would agree with you on BMW (mostly sports sedans) vs Mercedes (wide range of luxury/sport_sedan models). For prestige the Rolls is it, but is way out of range for nearly everyone. Mercedes is prestigious, and one can buy a C-class for a reasonable price (which may not be quite as much prestige as an S-class, but still is a Mercedes).

    I have yet to see a new CTS. I did take my SRX back recently for the axle seal recall, but the showroom only had Corvette's, Impala's and SUV's to look at. But I do think the CTS with the new interior and re-sized body may replace the DTS as the popularly priced Cadillac.
  • steverstever Ex Yooper, just arrived in New MexicoPosts: 40,550
    However I believe I have heard "the Lexus of". Perhaps not in advertising but in comments. Nothing like this one.

    Interesting to note that the Is Lexus The Standard of the World? discussion doesn't get too many comments.

    I don't hear comments like the Rolex of can openers or the Mont Blanc of down pillows. Cadillac still seems to own the phrase - people just don't seem to make comparisons like that as much anymore.

    Maybe because Timexes keep time as well as a Rolex with a lot less maintenance and expense, and Bics write better than most Mont Blancs?

    Moderator
    Need help navigating? stever@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • xrunner2xrunner2 Posts: 3,062
    The point of this discussion (as I understand it) is whether GM is able to anticipate and meet the evolving needs of the driving public to return Cadillac to its former glory status.

    Nicely put. Seems like many of we posters get all hung up about the word "standard". According to some folks, the "standard" term was used with regard to some race sponsored by Dewars that Cadillac had won. If "standard" of luxury/performance had actually been awarded to a car mfr on annual basis over years by some group such as WSJ, NY Times, Motor Trend, CR, Car and Driver, Road and Track, etc, then maybe it might be useful to use that term. But, that has not been the case.

    Maybe we are really talking about the desire and capability of GM to return Cadillac to its former glory status and how close is it now in achieving that goal. But, some will say, what is "glory". Do we even know if GM has set goal to make Cadillac the top luxury car of the world? Have Wagoner or Lutz stated so or is it mentioned in GM annual report to shareholders? If they have set that goal, how will they know when they have met it?
  • 62vetteefp62vetteefp Posts: 6,048
    The phrase "this is the Cadillac of (TVs,
    Interesting. We still hear this phrase in advertising of the past that is used today. Look in the yellow pages and around. However I doubt you will see new ad campaigns using it and surely those under 40-50 would not think "Cadillac of ..." automatically when looking at something. Then again they would not think the "BMW of, or Merdedes of. However I believe I have heard "the Lexus of". Perhaps not in advertising but in comments.

    Anyway if we look at what is out today the CTS and SRX are both considered right up there with the BMW and MB and Lexus. They may not be above them that "the Cadillac of" can be used but those who can get beyond their prejudice of domestic makers they would see that the CTS is worthy of it's place in the upper luxurydom. Pretty much most of the media has placed it up there. The SRX also is placed highly.

    Is Cadillac so much higher than the others that "the Cadillac" could be used?? No way. In fact back in the 60's when this term was widely used those other marques just were not seen as much. Just not many around and Cadillac was at the top. Today it would be very tough to stand out among all these high end marques and no one does in every area.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,162
    Geeze, the CTS already wipes up the floor with the 3-Series and C-Class, both of which are overpriced yuppie poseurmobiles. You're getting a 5-Series for the price of a 3 with the CTS.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,372
    Correct assessment. Looking out from the US auro market between the '60's and today, the world got awfully smaller. Now the Lexuses, BMW's and Mercedes of the world have overtaken any perceived notion of Caddy being the luxury standard.
    What about Rolls?? Bentley? Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

    Caddy as World Standard? Never to be seen again (if it ever really was). The Mark of Excellence is not used anymore for a good reason. Because it's not true.

    BTW, I or my family have owed cars produced by the now infamous Big 3 for over 55 years. I just got tired of waiting and hoping. Now that the GM allowed the CTS to get interesting, I am waiting to see if they mess it up.

    Regards,
    OW.
  • 62vetteefp62vetteefp Posts: 6,048
    The standard of the world has been discussed here adnauseum.

    Is it the most ostentatious? elegant? technical? highest priced? best price for the money? greenest? best quality? highest reliability?

    It is not any of the above and yet may be all of the above.

    for our purposes here I would say it is the product that when someone on the street sees it says: now that is a great car that I really want to aspire to/ have. It is what everyone says is the best of the best. Right now because this world is so flat I do not believe there is one marque out there that is the top dog.

    But for this discussion I believe we should look for say the top 2 or 3 that meets my definition. Rolls and Bentley I would say they meet the above definition but are so much more expensive relative to others that they knock themselves out of the running. When Cadillac was the "standard of the world" (the world being the US at that time) the other marquees were not that far behind them in price. Sure the caddy was expensive but it was not 5 times the price of the normal car being sold.

    So per my thoughts the BMW's, MB's, Audis, Lexi, Caddys are the ones that can compete for this "standard". I guess I would think that most would say MB is the standard compared to the rest. Sure it is not a performance car like the BMW but in my opinion if a high priced BMW is sitting next to a high priced MB I would say the MB has more prestige. Am I right here?

    At this time Cadillac does not have models to compete with the high end. At the low end (3, CTS) Caddy is very well represented. Time will tell if the newer models make the same inroads.

    And please do not start a thread on how CTS has a cheap interior or whatever. It is recognized by the media as being right up there with the best of them.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,162
    I'm not sure about that either. The fastest way to commit fiscal suicide is to buy a 1980s Rolls!

    I really don't want Cadillac to chase Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes too much. It is at the sweet spot for me as far as affordability. I'd have to defect to Buick if Caddy goes too high end. If Buick goes away, I have nowhere to go. Chrysler? Nah, the 300 is getting too long in the tooth. Lincoln? Feh! Nothing there anymore.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,372
    And please do not start a thread on how CTS has a cheap interior or whatever. It is recognized by the media as being right up there with the best of them.

    Not a problem and I agree. Your point is well taken.

    The reality in my view is that visibly, edgy doesn't do it for me but inside, it is very nice inside. Previous to 2008, no Caddy was appealing at all to me. Therefore, I would not have cause to have the marque on my comparo list. 'Doesn't do anything great for me' also comes to mind as I review Caddy products.

    Since the topic is Caddy's potential to be the standard, no current model says they are going to claim that any time soon.

    Regards,
    OW
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    Interesting you should mention the 300. With the new DOHC V8 killed I assume that the non-V CTS will get some pushrod V8 out of GM's stable once the STS is dead, which would make it a 300C with a better interior.
  • xhe518xhe518 Posts: 107
    Interesting you should mention the 300. With the new DOHC V8 killed I assume that the non-V CTS will get some pushrod V8 out of GM's stable once the STS is dead, which would make it a 300C with a better interior.

    The non-V CTS doesn't have a V8 anyway. I'm also pretty sure I read somewhere that they will keep on building the Northstar for those that want to count cylinders, even though the DI 3.6L makes more power.
  • cooterbfdcooterbfd Posts: 2,770
    Maybe we are really talking about the desire and capability of GM to return Cadillac to its former glory status and how close is it now in achieving that goal. But, some will say, what is "glory". Do we even know if GM has set goal to make Cadillac the top luxury car of the world? Have Wagoner or Lutz stated so or is it mentioned in GM annual report to shareholders? If they have set that goal, how will they know when they have met it?

    Great point!!! Is it possible, with the advent of the Japanese luxury marks over the last 20 yrs, trying to emulate BOTH Cadillac AND the Germans, only with cust. svc. and Quality in mind, that what has happened is that Caddy has tried to remain true to it's recent history as being that luxury car (the "sofa"on wheels) that Americans aspired to own as they chased the American dream. Yet quality issues, not styling have nagged them.

    The Germans on the other hand, have that import "prestige" on their side and have masked their quality issues by building a "supercar" image with gadgets and V-10's and V-12's and such.

    Even early on, the Japanese made thinly veiled "gussied up" versions of their more popular sedans into Luxury Marques, but the quality and reliability is what allowed them to gain a foothold.

    couple this with the fact that people come out of college EXPECTING the American Dream to be there waiting for it, there is nothing left for them to "aspire" to.

    Caddy's Northstar V-8 has been around now for almost 15 years. It is one of the better V-8's on the market still. But, no V-12 bling, sticks that are few and far in between, and quality and reliability on par with the Germans, but (questionable now) historically behind the [non-permissible content removed].

    They are criticized for not being as sporty as the Germans (not meant to be), but not as reliable as the [non-permissible content removed] (point well taken, but now in SOME question), so that kind of puts them in no man's land in the luxury arena.

    What they SHOULD do w/ the CTS is pound it into the public's head that it is BIGGER and LESS EXPENSIVE than the 5 or E!!! Screw the magazines that compare it to the 3 and C!!! They may not get people looking for a 5 or E to buy into that, though they may, but they WILL get it into their heads that it is MORE CAR for the SAME PRICE as the 3,C,IS,A-4, etc.

    Caddy may NEVER have been as good as it was looked at in the '50's or '60's, but it sure as hell was never as bad as people said in the '70's or '80's.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,162
    The non-V CTS already has a 2.8 V-6 or a 3.6 V-6, neither of which is a pushrod engine, though I'd really like the idea of an LT-1 350 V-8 in the the little CTS!!!
  • cooterbfdcooterbfd Posts: 2,770
    Absoluely!! Just pound that into the public's head and then you may get people looking for a 3 buy the CTS. You MAY get some frugal people to buy the CTS instead of a 5 or E, but I think the latter is more of a stretch than the former.
  • xhe518xhe518 Posts: 107
    though I'd really like the idea of an LT-1 350 V-8 in the the little CTS!!!

    The CTS-V has basically the Corvette ZR-1 engine, detuned to "only" 550 hp ! :)
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,372
    Her is some interesteing data from July 2007.

    According to the industry examiners at CNW Research, Cadillac’s fortunes appear to be slipping away at the margins.

    In the firm’s July installment of their Retail Automotive Summary, their Aspirational Index (which judges a brand’s attractiveness to consumers) reveals that Cadillac’s rising star is beginning to falter. In the mid-Nineties, the marque rated only a 4 on a 10 point scale. With the brand’s dramatic rebound beginning in 1999, its score climbed for five straight years, flattening out in 2005 and 2006. It has now slipped under 8.0, the brand’s lowest mark since 2003.

    The ‘aspiration age’ for Cadillac buyers has also swelled from 30.3 just three years ago to 35.9. Interestingly, Cadillac trucks (read: the Escalade brand) went from 25.7 to 32.7—a 27 percent increase. This suggests that Cadillac’s appeal among buyers in that most coveted of demographics (18-35 years old) is slipping.

    Editor’s Note: Cadillac’s disappointing trending seems like a fairly predictable result of its aging bread-and-butter product line (think: CTS, SRX, XLR, and STS). Older consumers seem to be less concerned with purchasing new models than they are with other factors (witness the devoted elderly audiences of such long-running cars as Cadillac’s own DeVille, or Ford’s Crown Victoria). We anticipate an uptick in Cadillac’s scores once the 2008 CTS filters into dealerships.


    Regards,
    OW
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    I think the new CTS still has the 2.8 in Europe, but over here it's either the standard or direct-injection 3.6L. If Cadillac does get a sub-CTS car, I'd imagine they would drop the base 3.6L to open up some pricing room for that, and add a 375-400ish V8 to push the CTS up into E/5er/Genesis territory.
  • xhe518xhe518 Posts: 107
    I think the new CTS still has the 2.8 in Europe, but over here it's either the standard or direct-injection 3.6L. If Cadillac does get a sub-CTS car, I'd imagine they would drop the base 3.6L to open up some pricing room for that, and add a 375-400ish V8 to push the CTS up into E/5er/Genesis territory.

    I'm not sure about Europe, but here in the US, the CTS has two 3.6L engines - the base one makes about 255hp, the direct injection one makes 300hp. There is definitely plenty of room between the 300hp CTS and the 550hp CTS-V for a V8 option.... But in this new era of $3.50 gas, 35mpg CAFE, etc.. I don't know.... They will definitely have a turbo-diesel for the CTS soon - I think it's already on sale in Europe.
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    Geeze, the CTS already wipes up the floor with the 3-Series and C-Class, both of which are overpriced yuppie poseurmobiles.

    Easy there, big fella. While the new CTS is clearly the best Cadillac in 40 years (please don't pretend that any of the 80s Caddies were anything more than pathetic), it leaves something to be desired for us stick aficionados. Every review of the MT version of the CTS that I've read pans the stick. I don't doubt that the automatic can hold its own against the foreign competition, but as long as my knees hold out, I have no interest in a car with fewer than 3 pedals.

    I'm at least 2 years away from replacing my 330i. If Cadillac can work the kinks out of the manual tranny by the time I'm ready to buy, then the CTS will be a serious contender. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect the same level of gear-shifting satisfaction from the 2010 CTS that I'm used to from my 2001 330i.
  • pmc4pmc4 Posts: 198
    "Fake burled walnut is deserving of every bit of hate that can be heaped upon it. I can print out a picture of a board and tape that to the dashboard of my car and it would look better."

    Weren't you the poster who agreed with Consumer Reports when Consumer Reports remarked how elegant and real the fake wood in the 2007 Toyota Avalon looked? What, then, makes the fake wood in the early 80's Cadillacs any different (late 80's Caddys and beyond went with real wood trim)? Could it be that the Cadillac is a domestic car and the Toyota is an import? And if that's the case, what difference does origin of manufacture matter when fake or real wood trim is discussed?
  • pmc4pmc4 Posts: 198
    When Lexus invents automotive greats like the first V16, first automatic transmission, first starter, first power steering and power windows, as Cadillac has, then they can call themselves "It's... the Lexus of..."
  • pmc4pmc4 Posts: 198
    The 80's Cadillacs were pathetic, yet you own a BMW? What, pray tell, is your opinion on the 80's BMW's? I at least proved with pictures that they were certainly the most pathetic car during the 80's in any class. Only cars from Yugoslavia were more pathetic.
    In fact, looking at BMW's from the 1980's and Yugo's from the same decade, we can swear they're from the same manufacturer...
  • pmc4pmc4 Posts: 198
    As I proved before, circlew, Cadillac in all decades (except the 90's) made the best cars in its respective classes. Find a decade where I'm wrong.
    Nothing from Germany could ever touch the ElDorado, which explains why Elvis and F. Sinatra owned them. The best Germany could do is resurrect WWII-era vehicles, add power steering to them and a huge 6L engine, old technology and ugly interiors with high noise levels and a truck-like ride ("I bought my 300SE 1988 Benz for $50,000 because it's vault-like solid. Like my F-350 SuperDuty pickup."), so we saw nothing significant from Germany until this century.
    Japan started making nice luxury cars in the 1990's, starting first in 1991 with the Lexus LS 400. Before that, Cadillac was the luxury car.

    If I'm wrong, then please support your argument with something like pictures instead of vagaries. Thank you.

    You can't do it though, because everything from Germany was crude and primitive up until the 1990's. If I'm wrong, show some pics of german cars that cost around $30,000 new from the 60's, 70's, 80's. You can't do it without embarrasing Germany...

    .
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    I guess I would think that most would say MB is the standard compared to the rest. Sure it is not a performance car like the BMW but in my opinion if a high priced BMW is sitting next to a high priced MB I would say the MB has more prestige. Am I right here?

    I'd suggest that car X is prestigious if significant numbers of upper-middle & upper-class professionals/managers/entrepeneurs buy (or lease) it. In my town, which is a fairly affluent NYC suburb, this segment of the market is voting German with its dollars. From what I've seen, this is true of most demographically similar zip codes on the east & west coasts. It might be different in the flyover states.

    It wasn't always this way. When I was a kid - in the late 50s & early 60s - Cadillac owned these buyers. The only serious competition came from Lincoln. I can recall just one Mercedes in my home town (also a fairly well-off NYC suburb), & it belonged to a career Foreign Service officer who brought it home after completing a 2-year stint in West Berlin. Apart from this, Cadillac was the car of choice for the local ruling class. No one thought that this would ever change.

    But it did. By the later 1980s, the doctors, bankers, lawyers, stockbrokers & successful businessmen were driving German iron: Mercedes, for the most part. The only exceptions were folks who, for personal reasons, would not buy anything made in Germany. By this time, the typical Cadillac buyer was either old or a member of what I'd call the blue collar aristocracy - the Con Ed foreman who had worked a lot of overtime, for example. Nothing wrong with that, mind you, but certainly not nearly enough to sustain a luxury brand.

    So I'd say that if Cadillac can recapture a significant chunk (20 or 25 percent, say) of the upper-middle & upper class market segment, it will be perceived as a top-tier player.
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    The 80's Cadillacs were pathetic, yet you own a BMW? What, pray tell, is your opinion on the 80's BMW's?

    What difference does it make? I own a 2001 BMW 330i, not an 80s BMW. My car is 2 generations removed from the 3-series cars of the 1980s. Your question doesn't make sense.

    I have a great deal of respect for the Cadillac brand. The Caddies of the 50s & 60s were magnificent cars. Consider the '57 Sedan de Ville, for example, or the '64 Coupe de Ville. Beautiful cars. The '67 & '68 Eldorados are simply drop-dead gorgeous. So I'm no Cadillac basher. But after '73, Cadillac lost its way.

    If you were a Cadillac marketing manager & you had to develop an ad campaign that tied the new CTS to the one of the great Cadillacs of the past, which car would you pick? A timeless beauty from the 50s or 60s or one of the rolling bathtubs from the 80s?
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