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Is Cadillac's Image Dying and Does Anyone Care?



  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    Consumers Reports collects data for their subscribers from their subscribers. The basic question is whether the data they have is good enough to compare the quality of one make with another. What CR does with the data is to report what problems have been reported for each make. They do some sort of average, so that they make a judgement about above or below average. The basic question is whether there is a comparable sample of each make, or are some makes dominating the sample and the average.

    J. D. Powers collects data from all owners of various makes, not just consumer reports subscribers, with the specific intention of comparing one make with another.
  • xrunner2xrunner2 Posts: 3,062
    On a more relevant note, Cadillac can still muster up in the syle department when it wants to, but substance, uhmmm, I'm still iffy on that subject when it comes to Cadillac. And G.M. seems to disconnected and erratic with the way they do

    GM/Caddy went to Italy for Allante body apparently, then put in GM/Caddy parts for engine/susp/etc. Perhaps they could reverse this procedure and take the upcoming CTS body, pretty decently styled, and with agreement with Acura, have Acura engine/susp/brakes/interior. This joint venture would be a win/win for both Caddy and Acura. Buyers would get a very nicely styled CTS with Acura running gear. Also, many Acura fans have been clamoring for a bigger model having RWD to replace the RL model and this would satisfy it.
  • Well in the 60s and 70s the Rolls had an established market and was resting on laurels from the distant past...and momentum is a very serious factor in marketing (first out of the gate). Rolls demise and sale to the Germans compares to Cadillac's in that sense of momentum "lost"...Cadillac also rested on its laurels and sold some very bad cars in large numbers....until the competition caught up.

    So I guess a simplistic way of saying it is that Mercedes saw a plump, slow target in both Rolls and Cadillac and after figuring out how to do it, ate them for breakfast. It just took a few years.

    Same with Lexus...they saw an overpriced, rather blase Benz in a market all by itself, (Benz having killed off any potential Lexus competition for them) and figured out how to make a comparable car for a good deal less of an MSRP.

    Rolls Royce was kind of an icon, like Harley Davidson. You could capture a buyer, bury him in evidence as to why his car/bike is sub-standard in every respect to another product, as well as grossly overpriced, and then torture them with electric prods, and most of them would still buy their "icon".

    Sometimes a product reaches a level of brand equity that defies all logic. You CAN make a substandard product and survive as long as you somehow manage to make money doing it.

    Rolls would have continued to make bad cars into eternity if the British government would have been willing to continue subsidizing them.

    But somebody in Britain woke up and realized that it was the aviation department of Rolls that was making all the money.

    Rolls had a modern car "in theory" but Benz had one in practice. Big diff. Rolls had horrendous problems with their series I Shadows...absolutely horrendous. I'm surprised buyers didn't burn the factory to the ground with that car.

    To be fair, later cars were better.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    The 1982 move to the 4100 greatly improved Cadillac's CAFE (from 18 to 22).

    Yes, but it drove their warranty expense up 900% because that engine was total junk, lasting in most cases, just over 20,000 miles before needing a complete replacement engine.
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    I have explained the 4100 design problem before, but here is it again. The basic problem had to do with "standardization of parts". When a part is made there is a "tolerance" for the size, so parts that should be 1.000 in size, are allowed to vary from perhaps .999 to 1.001 in size. In any case, the 4100's built with a combination of parts that were both too big and too small resulted in engine failures. I think that the coolant leaked into the oil. engines that were put together with parts that were normal to large were ok, as well as engines with normal to small parts. As I recall about 25% of the 4100s failed. The failures took a while to start showing up, and then it was a while longer before Cadillac realized that too many engines were failing. It also took Cadillac some time to figure out the actual problem. This was reported in the SAE Journal when the problem was sorted out. The handbuilt preproduction test engines most likely did not have this problem.

    This is not the sort of problem one would expect the winner of Dewar Trophy for standardization to have.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Indeed, and thank you for that info - I missed it last time, and am interested to know that. In my case, I happened to have 3 of them, an 83 in a Fleetwood Brougham, and an 85 in the "new smaller, smarter Fleetwood (no Brougham)", and an 87 Sixty Special. I had to trade the 83 on the 85 because the engine was failing, and I didn't want to have it replaced, so I just traded it. Unfortunately, I had to trade the 85 on the 87 for the same reason. To its credit, the 87 lasted 3 years till I traded it on my last Cadillac, in 1990 on another Fleetwood, which had the 4.9L motor in it that, burned oil like gas. It was like "fill the oil and check the gas please"..... As I said, my last Cadillac, I tried a Lincoln in 92, and never went back. I learned slow, but I learned well, and still have no interest in Cadillac.

    That's why I wonder if they ever can regain the "standard" title, even if they deserved it - which I doubt they ever will.

    But I'm not bitter.
  • xrunner2xrunner2 Posts: 3,062
    I have explained the 4100 design problem before, but here is it again. The basic problem had to do with "standardization of parts".

    The question should be: Did they know how to properly address manufacturing tolerances and variation to best of their knowledge back in 50's, 60's and thus build engines without problems back then? Did the GM corporation know best practices and procedures on variation throughout 70's and 80's of what they had previously learned? If so, what happened in 1982 on that 4100 design?

    Think that Japanese manufacturers embraced American statistical/quality experts such as Deming and Juran after WWII to continuously work on reducing variation in manufacturing and other processes. American car companies finally discovered Deming/Juran in mid to late 80's and are still working to catch up to Japan.
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    The 4100 had an aluminum block. GM had problems with previous aluminum engines. I suspect that the aluminum was part of the problem, not that it should have been. But I also think that the 4100 was really designed for the FWD 1984 models, and was put into production early because the 1981 8-6-4 did not meet Cadillac's expectation for fuel consumption at the EPA testing grounds. Cadillac had expected a much better highway rating I think.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Very plausible explanation, and clearly, the V-864 not only disappointed in mileage, but also in reliability. The new DOD engines don't do much better in mileage except in perfect conditions, however, they are bound to be more reliable.
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    The DOD engines require a certain style of driving to get good results. The PBS show, Motorweek, did a comparison of two Chrysler 300C's with two different drivers, one driving for fuel efficiency, the other hot rodding through traffic. The hotrodder got about 17 where the other driver got 24.

    My question is: would the 300C with a nice 4.5 liter engine get better mileage and still have decent performance?
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,071
    Either I'm fierociously lucky or doing something right where everybody else is doing wrong. I had a 1994 Cadillac DeVille with the 4.9 litre V-8. It was only rated at 200hp, but the car seemed really fast. It could do 100mph with no effort and would often get away from me on the PA Turnpike if I wasn't paying attention as the ride was so smooth and the engine so quiet. I had absolutely no trouble with the 4.9 engine - no oil burning or leaks and no cooling problems. I could pound railroad spikes all day with that engine and it would keep running.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Two things, lemko - one, you buy the right year Caddy, so you maybe are lucky there. The other is, you have the right mindset about your machine, so you are pleased with it pretty much no matter what. That's how I am with Fords generally, although I've had some turkeys over the years. I used to be that way with Cadillacs, but eventually got put off with them. I think I bought them all in the worst years, probably. Starting in 83 was not at their finest moment.
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    In the 1980's and 1990's I owned Buicks with the 3800, so I have no first hand experience with Cadillac engines. The 4.9 had 275 lb-ft of torque, which is very close to the northstars 300 lb-ft rating. So performance should be good.

    I just figured out where my 1986 info on the Riveria/Toronado was. Anyway, the 86 BMW 635CSi ($41,000) would do 0-60 in 10.5 seconds, while the 3800 Buick/Olds's would do it 11.1 seconds. The Allante was about 10.3 seconds. If the BMW was an indicator of good performance, then in the late 80's a 0-60 time of 10 seconds is not bad.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 17,713
    >They do some sort of average, so that they make a judgement about above or below average.

    Exactly right. And the word "judgement" in there is where they end up adding their own opinions and preferences.

    This message has been approved.

  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    The original suggestion - or accusation may be a better word - was that Consumer Reports is allowing some sort of financial support to influence its vehicle rankings and reliability results. That is how I read the original post.

    That is a far more serious accusation than saying that their survey results are not accurate because of a limited responder base, or even the built-in bias of the staff at Consumer Reports.

    If this is true, it is a huge story, given the influence that Consumer Reports wields over vehicle buyers, and the attention their annual auto issues receives when it debuts with its reliability survey results.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,917
    I wonder if CR is being paid to make some cars look good, or to make some look bad. Or both?

    It's a conspiracy!
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    Consumer reports have always maintained that they don't have advertising so that they are immune to advertizer influences. If they are taking money under the table to report bogus results that would be another matter. I doubt that they do this. They sort of accuse the other car magazines, like Motor Trend, of doing this to make one or another car the Car of the Year, by taking advertizing dollars.

    I do think that if one is looking for a used car, looking through back issues of Consumer Reports might be useful in deciding what years to avoid, or possibly what might be a good one to buy. One needs to look through several issues to really see a trend though, and sometimes there really isn't one.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,707
    As you see it? Then you must have cataracts. How do you explain the instant phenomenal success that Toyota has had with their Scion line? It's because Toyota does their homework and doesn't dump their products on the public to test them.
    You do realize that almost everything we gt over here in the U.S. is a generation old? In Japan, Toyota and Honda have just as many reliability problems as GM and Ford do - and they're not seen as special at all - just average.

    We just get them over here after the problems have been worked out. So first generation "imports" are closer to second generation domestics.

    That said, the CTS will be a good entry. Bugs worked out, good interior, and yeah, it's no Porsche, but it's also no Camry, either.(and don't even get me started on Totoya's bonehead move to ditch the manual in the IS350)
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,071
    Wow! Great observation. Heck, Toyota probably has the Yakuza put a hit out on anybody who complains. Maybe the domestic automakers should introduce new car models to consumers in the old Soviet bloc. When they're a generation old, they can introduce them to the American market after all the bugs have been discovered and eliminated.
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    At one time at least, before the Japanese had a lot of factories here, I think that new models were put into production for the home market first, and brought here after the problems were sorted out.
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