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Is Cadillac's Image Dying and Does Anyone Care?

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  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,364
    As he said, prior to WWII, it was.

    Not a global standard.

    Regards,
    OW
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,364
    What's not a global standard in these

    Because there are these...

    link title

    link title

    Regards,
    OW
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,560
    Cool, I like that unrestored V16

    Rolls even had a factory in the US during the roaring 20s, so it must have been enough of a standard to warrant such an expense.

    MB was virtually unknown in the US before WW2, save for a few movie star types in Hollywood and eccentric east coast , but the custom bodied supercharged cars ranked up there with RR in Europe.

    Caddy was exported then and was a highline car, but did not trump RR or MB in those markets when it came to prestige or period luxury. It could have been equal in many aspects, but was not an overall standard.
  • cooterbfdcooterbfd Posts: 2,770
    But here, it was the standard....The Cadillac of automobiles (OK it wasn't a "Duesy"). I found this clip from a Time magazine article from 1934. It seems even Rolls Royce produced cars for the common man:

    Rolls-Royce of America, Inc., founded nine years later with U. S. capital, and British control, began producing cars in 1921. Even before Depression, the makers found that many a well-to-do U. S. businessman, financially able to own a Rolls, hesitated to buy one for fear of appearing unduly swanky in so luxurious a car (average price: $18,000). Rolls-Royce hastened to blast away this sales resistance with advertisements boldly captioned: To the Man Who is Afraid to Let His Dreams Come True. But during Depression the number of such fearful men grew so great that Rolls-Royce sales since 1931 fell off over 50% to $926,000.

    "Last week, after four years of Depression deficits, Rolls-Royce hit upon a brand new idea. President John S. Inskip put on display in Manhattan a hybrid 'luxury" car, the Brewster "Cabriolet de Ville," with which he hoped to develop a new market. It had a Brewster body, a Ford chassis, a Ford V-8 engine. Price: $3,500. President Inskip had wangled a contract out of Henry Ford to supply engines and chassis in bulk. At the Springfield, Mass. plant of Brewster & Co. Inc., onetime famed carriage makers, now wholly owned by Rolls-Royce, the chassis were to be lengthened and partly reshaped to fit Brewster bodies."

    Not to mention, RR used coachbuilders extensively, just like Cadillac did. Considering the difference in prices, I guess you would have to say that RR was (and is) in a class all by themselves.

    The article says that the avg price of a Rolls was $18,000, whereas those V-16 Caddies were between $6-9,000 (unknown if that included coachwork).
  • aldwaldw Posts: 82
    The landed aristocrats in the US preferred Packards, with Pierce-Arrows and Peerless among them, but in terms of performance Duesenberg was the American Ferrari of its day, besting the Rolls-Royces and Bugattis of the same period. Cadillac was best in terms of mechanical reliability and manufacturing, as well as better transmissions, due to GM's economic muscle. Any of these vehicles, though were fit for royalty and were purchased as such.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,560
    Exactly, it was the standard in the US - with Packard and Pierce Arrow up there for a time, too.

    Not many Brewster's were built, it was kind of a desperation move. I do seem to recall Charlie Chaplin owned one...I guess that's worth something. And by the decade Caddy would have lower priced cars too.

    If one is to be the world standard, is price an issue?

    I think those prices were for Fleetwood/Fisher bodied cars, other custom bodies would be more.
  • cooterbfdcooterbfd Posts: 2,770
    "I think those prices were for Fleetwood/Fisher bodied cars, other custom bodies would be more."

    Fleetwood/Fisher were exclusive to the 8 and 12 cyl models. As far as the 16's, other coachbuilders were involved as well.

    The 8's and 12's ranged in price from$3,295 to $5,800.

    As for the 16's, my book quotes $5,700 to $9,800. BUT, just like other fine manufacturers of the time,many of these left the factory as a cowled rolling chassis, and the coachwork was custom, leaving many to be considered "one-offs", and their provenance may have to do just as much with their current values as anything. This is where i put Cadillac on par with many of the other manufacturers of the time. I'm sure if someone layed out 12,15,18 thousand for a car back then, attention to detail and craftmanship was top notch, whether the body rested on a Caddy, RR,MB,Packard, Pierce, or any other name.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,364
    Now, fast forward to today, and the luxury of Cadillac is far from ANY standard around the world. The difference back then was a heck of a lot smaller.

    Regards,
    OW
  • cooterbfdcooterbfd Posts: 2,770
    The difference back then was negligible, based on the fact that many were coach -built.

    The difference today is that Caddy is trying to re-establish themselves in the luxury car market. Had we not had an oil crisis, and Caddy decided to build the Sixteen.....
  • aldwaldw Posts: 82
    Cadillac was enough of a world standard to be better than Rolls in reliability and ease of repair, the Rolls being better primarily in the NVH department (which is where they earned their reputation).
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    About 1960, give or take, the Rolls's reliability compared to the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, or the Mercedes 600, was far better than either of the two upstarts.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,560
    But this was in like 1908, right?
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    The question is: what is the basis for the "Standard of the World". Cadillac's advertising theme was based on winning the Dewar Trophy for "Standardization". Cadillac was for many people, the car to own in their golden years, in the 60's. This is probably what led to the phase, "the Cadillac of this or that".
  • aldwaldw Posts: 82
    Up to the 1950's the Cadillac was the more reliable vehicle quite notably, it must be said that American manufacturing to that point was the literally the standard by which the rest of the world looked towards, especially the Japanese. This was particularly true in terms of # of defects vs production volume.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,364
    ...Garbage.

    The horror. The horror. Everything that was wrong, venal, lazy and mendacious about GM in the 1980s was crystallized in this flagrant insult to the good name and fine customers of Cadillac. Spooked by the success of premium small cars from Mercedes-Benz, GM elected to rebadge its awful mass-market J-platform sedans, load them up with chintzy fabrics and accessories and call them "Cimarron, by Cadillac." Wha...? Who? Seeking an even hotter circle of hell, GM priced these pseudo-caddies (with four-speed manual transmissions, no less) thousands more than their Chevy Cavalier siblings. This bit of temporizing nearly killed Cadillac and remains its biggest shame.

    Regards,
    OW
  • aldwaldw Posts: 82
    Save your insults for someone who cares :P , anyone who knows the history of automobiles would understand how good American manufacturing was, that was the system that won a World War with more reliable production than anyone short of the Soviets were putting out.

    Besides, how does 1980's quality have anything to do with a 1950's product comparisions, eh? :confuse:
  • aldwaldw Posts: 82
    Some food for thought:

    With GM in the lead, 1950s cars got bigger, more luxurious and more powerful through the '50s. But they also became more reliable, safer and easier to drive. The American car of the '50s was probably the best for the money in the world.
  • marsha7marsha7 Posts: 3,670
    "GM's reputation for building high quality luxury passenger cars is ruined forever anyway, until every last person who bought a Caddy in the 70's and 80s is dead"

    That is the absolute truth...while that may be over 20 years ago, and seem quite historical, it is those folks who, assuming they were still competent to drive and still alive, started buying the Lexus and Infiniti and MB and BMW in the 90s and into the next century (i.e. now)...and not just them but their adult children, who watched Mom and Dad complain about the junk Caddy or Lincoln they bought, which certainlt turned their kids, in their 20s-40s, to seek out other brands, mostly imports...

    That reputation for quality, or the lack of it, is what has caused the imports to now carry a 50% market share...junk Lincolns and Caddy pushed two generations away, and now they have to EARN their trust back, just advertising "Buy American" will not do it, as they saw what junk they goy when their parents bought American years ago...

    Trust, once lost, may take YEARS to get back...the union folks have no conception of this, as they just think every new year the buyers will line up for their (potentially) shoddy product...they do, but in lower numbers...

    When a car does not work, spends it time in the shop, or rattles or vibrates, I believe most buyers will blame the people who made the car...they may not think "UAW" but they think GM workers or Ford workers, probably not management...and then they simply avoid the product...

    GM can survive but they had better make ALL their cars like the CTS and Lucerne, because any junk made now will cause them to lose this generation and the next, and they simply do not have that much time to spare...

    Buyers expect quality and if they do not get it, they may now abandon you forever...cars cost too mucg to be unhappy with a GM car this year and then buy one in 3 years...if someone buys GM junk today, GM has lost them for the next 100 years...
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,364
    Excuse me but the 1950's was then and this is now. How good US manufacturing WAS is the point.

    That's what makes the changes so sad. We can win a war with good old US manufacturing but we can't devlop competitive cars??

    No excuses, just garbage, greedy management. Now we have to import Australian Pontiacs!

    Regards,
    OW
  • laurasdadalaurasdada Posts: 2,602
    Quality was never Job 1 (other than in Ford ads). Two words: Roger Smith.

    '13 Jaguar XF, '11 BMW 535xi, '02 Lexus RX300

  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,364
    Correct. Mis-management Greed was Job #1 - The True Mark of Excellence. (We found out later after years of loyalty and getting inferior products.)

    What a shame.

    Regards,
    OW
  • laurasdadalaurasdada Posts: 2,602
    Ok, what can I say. The Caddy XLR just has some kind of hold on me. For the fun of it, on the way home I stop at the Caddy dealer. Two XLRs with the tops down, one a new '08 the other a used '06. After a few minutes, salesman comes over with the keys, figured he was going to see if I was interested. He basically ignores me (like he's my wife!).

    So, I say, "Takin' it for a ride?" He replies, "No, just putting the tops up, closing soon." He hops in the '08 and the dance begins: Trunk opens high, panels fold in, top comes up and lowers onto windshield and then...nothing. Trunk won't close. Sales dude sits there for a couple of minutes, kinda shaking his head. Reversed his field, top goes down, properly. Waits a minute, then top goes up properly. Hey, you hit .500 in the bigs and guaranteed Hall of Fame!

    As he headed to the '06, he just looked at me and kinda shrugged. I got into my uber-shiny TL and opened/closed the sunroof without incident as I left...

    '13 Jaguar XF, '11 BMW 535xi, '02 Lexus RX300

  • laurasdadalaurasdada Posts: 2,602
    I believe that, GM more so than Ford or Chryco, believed in the adage that, "You can fool most of the people most of the time." Hey, wrong!!!

    '13 Jaguar XF, '11 BMW 535xi, '02 Lexus RX300

  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    I think that the Cimarron was intended to counter the BMW 3-series more than Mercedes. I think that the BMW was the "car" that most college age people wanted, either right now or after graduation.

    The Cadillac from the last half of the 70's were good cars, although the diesels may have been less reliable. The problems really started with the 1981 8-6-4 engine and was then follow up with the 1982 4100 engine which was very unreliable with something like 25% of them failing. By comparison the Cimarron was a very reliable car.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,140
    but their adult children, who watched Mom and Dad complain about the junk Caddy or Lincoln they bought

    I dunno Bob - I remember my father making disparaging comments about VW Bugs and their lawn mower engines when we'd tool around in his '53 Buick.

    I never bought a Buick but I've had at least 4 VWs.

    My wife grew up in a Fastback/Squareback family and she hates VWs. She made me sell this one after we met.

    So all those kids growing up in Camcord families may wind up enthralled with CTS's.

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

  • m4d_cowm4d_cow Posts: 1,491
    indeed, I've nelected the Chinese auto indutry's history, which is all tied up with volkswagen... but I cant find anything on Subaru being sold to toyota, got any link? thanks.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,140
    Toyota is now the largest shareholder in Subaru but not an outright owner.

    Toyota Boosts Stake in Subaru's Parent (Inside Line)

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

  • marsha7marsha7 Posts: 3,670
    I cannot argue with you, except to provide what I believe, as of 2007, was a fact or darn close to a fact, that the imports now have about 50% market share of the American auto market...that speaks for SOMETHING, and we can discuss what it is for quite some time...

    But, I assume my theory is at least PARTIALLY correct, considering that car buyers today in their 30s and 40s would have been old enough, as children, in the 1980s to see Mom and Dad complain about much of the junk back then made right here in America...those OVER 40, like me, would have lived the 1970s and 1980s...you may argue that is ancient history, and it is, but the union really has not changed much, so it is easy for oldsters to remember the boat anchors they had...

    Add to that the number of over-50 that now buy MB, BMW, Lexus and Infiniti, and it is my opinion that they have NOT forgotten the ancient history from 25-30 years ago...they ain't buying as many Cadillacs or Town Cars, as the competition has been gaining for two decades and does not seem to be stopping...

    Lexus LS has been improving over the years, Town Car is virtually unchanged for, what, over a decade???...every time an over-50 buys an import, that would have been a guaranteed Caddy/TC sale 15-20 years ago...competitors have been upgrading while Town Car, which should be one of the top sellers to those who want luxury, just ain't there...

    I think the memories of the junk of the 1980s (and somewhat into the 90s, which isn't quite ancient history) will haunt the Big 3 for a long time...when one is bitten and ripped off with a luxury purchase, it may be quite some time before you try that brand again, especially when the competition has products that are, minimally, equally competitive, and possible even better...

    And, when the teenagers hear their parents complain about the shoddy treatment, poor quality, constant repair of their Caddy or Lincoln, just how much brand loyalty do those teens grow up with???...basically none, almost being programmed to avoid the Big 3, which makes then lean to the imports...

    Management abused us, union workers abused us, dealers abused us, and now they sit and wonder why we buy imports...they are reaping what their arrogance has sown for 2-3 decades of crap, and now that we have alternatives, they cannot figure out what to do...it is almost like the thought of a quality vehicle never even crossed their minds...the only good coming out of this will be the near-term destruction of the UAW

    When non-union southerners who can lose their jobs for poor quality start making American cars, then it will be Lexus will be wondering why Caddys are so good and why Lexus showrooms are empty, but as long as the union keeps threatening to strike while plants are being closed due to lack of sales, they will only push MORE Americans to buy imports...when is the last time a Honda plant shut down for a strike???...
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,364
    You assessment is dead spot on. It's a vicious cycle that GM, Ford and Chrysler will not see the bottom of until a huge change is complete. This has just begun to happen.

    Does anyone really think that theses companies can offer cars better than ToyHonSan for the masses to fight high energy prices?? With their current problems, the cash will run out before the products win out.

    People will pay more for quality earned by these "invaders"! Lexus blows Caddy into the weeds on pure luxury and quality, period.

    Even Hyundai has an unintended Caddy Killer as their target was Mercedes and Lexus but at the same time annihilates the price vs. Caddy. I viewed one at the dealer this past week. $35-37K LOADED and a 10 year warranty will ensure complete and utter success for this car. The Asians are just getting warmed up will GM bleeds to death!

    Since I'm not dead yet, I will continue to never visit a Caddy dealer until their products surpass global competition.

    I, however, wish everyone who buys a Cadillac much pleasure and satisfaction with their ownership experience.

    Regards,
    OW

    Regards,
    OW
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