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Is Cadillac's Image Dying and Does Anyone Care?

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,529
    The Allante is not so complex or hard to understand IMO.

    The car was obsolete at the time it was produced. Simple as that. Benz had a 500SL in the wings and it made the Allante look and feel old and stole ALL the publicity.

    There's really nothing more complex than that about the story.

    The 500SL's debut was March 1989, very bad timing for the Allante. It had an emergency roll bar deployment, active suspension (ADS) with automatic leveling. It has 320 horsepower, a governed top speed of 156 mph, and 0-60 in 6.2 seconds. Lotsa razzle-dazzle there.

    It was also available as a 300SL 6 cylinder and a 600SL V-12. Choose your weapon, spotlight-seeker!!

    Basically Cadillac was totally overshadowed by this new model line. The SL wasn't a DIRECT competitor, it was just the celebrity of two-seater luxury cars. Allante just remained unnoticed.

    To us, the difference in price between an Allante and a 500SL seems like a lot, and that these cars were in different markets---but to high rollers who wanted the very best, it really wasn't the case. What's $30K to multi-millionaires?

    I bet Allante owners felt like wannabees, don't you?

    MORAL OF THE STORY? Don't fight the last war, fight the next war.

    Corvette got it right in 2006, Allante didn't in 1988.

    It wasn't a "flop", it was a non-event.

    MODERATOR

  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    Exactly how was the Allante a disaster? The 8-6-4 required a lot of mantenence, as the solenoids did not last long. The Cimarron was a reliable car.

    GM did make the full size front wheel drive cars similar in body stiffness to the Mercedes E-class. BMW's have not been as dependable as either Buick or Cadillac in the J. D. Power dependability studies, so coping a BMW would seem to be a step backwards.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,529
    Unfortunately the people at JD Powers don't drive or test cars. They are numbers counters and survey takers, and solely relying on that kind of information to build or sell cars will take your company off a cliff.

    An automobile is a dynamic entity, and its reputation ultimately comes from the experiences of the owners.

    If BMWs reputation exceeds Cadillac's, then that's where one must look for the answer IMO.

    MODERATOR

  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    I think the Allante basic problem was front wheel drive. But the Mercedes SL had been in production since the mid-50's, so with a history of more than 30 years by 1987 any Cadillac competitor would still have been of limited success. The current XLR is not selling any better than the Allante did, nor does it compare with the current SL either.

    I do know a Cadillac dealer in Chicago who continued to make a market in used Allantes for a period of time after 1993. I think the "Country Club Set" or "Golf Club Set" probably liked the Allante as a Cadillac convertible.
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    J. D. Powers is providing information to the manufacturers regarding their quality control. Quality control is an important item in keeping customers happy.

    BMW's reputation was built on making sports sedans, or the ultimate driving machine (or something to that effect). Cadillac attempted to make the front wheel drive Seville Turing Sedan (STS) into a comparable sports sedan by developing an active suspension. The basic problem was that with 60% of the weight on the front wheels, handling was never really quite right.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,529
    Well fair enough, but good reports from JD Powers doesn't build great cars.

    Yep, FWD was an unfortunate choice for a luxury two-seater...here again, I smell the GM bean-counters.

    MODERATOR

  • autoboy16autoboy16 Posts: 992
    unless saab makes a rear engine front drive roadster... Totally unique. If honda, maker of great FWD vehicles goes all out their way to make a RWD roadster, saab shouldn't be that bad with one. A saab Sonnet with 9-5 styling seems cool! give it a power top and its a seller. Price: $25k?

    Coming to mind, the next 9-3 may have a metal roof like the g6s.

    Instead of the AWD 9-7x, it should be like the equinox!! The 9-9x can be a lambda.

    Saab is doing ok with its FWD vehicles and 4WS Saabs new slogan: Saab_"Unique by design" as well as born from jets. The jets thing is getting old gracefully but still aging. Its good to have but not on every thing. Maybe something here, something there, but not too much. Still, its just my opinion.

    BTW, the 9-3 is so great, GM took it and made the cadillac BLS. Also a fantastic car. But were my other next 9-3 ideas good?

    -Cj :P
  • gsemikegsemike Long Island, NYPosts: 1,764
    Aren't there rumors of a Porche sports sedan? If that were true, wouldn't the vault to the head of the standard or the world discussion?
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,144
    I'm sort of picturing something that would look like the old Citroen DS.
  • It is supposed to be called the Panamera...

    Possible pictures would be...

    image

    image
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Well fair enough, but good reports from JD Powers doesn't build great cars.

    Very true. Also, the study most quoted by everyone, is the "Initial Quality" report - which tests the number of defects found in your brand new car in the first 90 days of ownership. Well, that's important, yes, but more important to everyone, I think, is the 3 year dependability study which measures how the car is really made. Initial nits and nats are annoying, but if the car keeps falling apart month after miserable month, you don't want one. (Insert Volkswagen here) :lemon: . That's the JD POwer study I observe.
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    As it turns out though, the Initial Quality report is a fair predictor of the longer term Dependability Study. Some makes move up and some down, but generally no one at the top moves to the bottom. Those near the industry average may be above in one and below in the other.
  • 62vetteefp62vetteefp Posts: 6,048
    At 3 years it is Lexus,Mercury, Buick, Cadillac, Toyota, Acura, Honda at the top. At the bottom it is Land Rover, Saab, Suzuki, Kia, Hummer, VW, Saturn.

    Industry average is 227 with a best score of 136 and a worst of 438. BUT Land Rover really sticks out below Saab at 326.

    Again if you look at the delta it is basically from 1.5 problems per car to 3 problems per car. Not a lot of difference anymore.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,529
    I'm with nvbanker on this one---"long term reliability" means after at least 50,000 miles of serious hard driving---not pampered miles by a worshipper. You know, like the car magazines do. They have multiple drivers and often drive fast----if you get a Grade A from a 50K car magazine test, then you've got something to put in the bank. But prissy little surveys---nah, I ain't buyin'....owners are simply not disinterested enough to report accurately enough, and not owners long enough to report often enough.

    It might be an indicator of a calamity waiting to happen, but I don't see JD Power as a good predictor of actual long term reliability.

    it's just a menu, it's not the food.

    FOR INSTANCE -- the JD Powers on MINI is pretty bad...but I've been grilling owners now for 6 months, at random, and reading all the longterms, and I'm getting a somewhat different picture. Not Lexus grade, but better than I expected to hear.

    MODERATOR

  • 62vetteefp62vetteefp Posts: 6,048
    -- the JD Powers on MINI is pretty bad...but I've been grilling owners now for 6 months, at random, and reading all the longterms, and I'm getting a somewhat different picture. Not Lexus grade, but better than I expected to hear.

    the Mini only has 2.8 problems over 3 years per JD Power. While below iindustry average just not that bad. Like I said reliability today is pretty good for all cars/trucks. Should be a non issue for new cars. that is why GM felt confident enough to offer 4 years on Cadillacs/Buicks and 5/100,000 miles on everything. Their warranty has really been dropping in the last 4 years (and I have seen the data).
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,069
    I have no feeling whatsoever that CD or MT would be interested in testing a middle of the road car for the middle of the road driver in the US. Their methods, manners, and interests don't represent anything near the median or the mean of the US driver.

    The car mag I can pick up at my doctor's office tomorrow will have a list of cars in it that the testers drool about: a Ferrari XTM 3649 model with superblaster motor option, a Catarina Testosterone Deluxe Italiano model imported for them to test, a CTX GT Mustang with optional production (137 only) motor (this one might catch my youthful memory car award), a minivan Ford 600 XLViss model that can corner as well as a Vette according to the rumor on the cover hook line, etc.

    I've probably overstated my point. I'm not interested in Civic Si's. Test a 500 real world model; test a Lucerne CL; test a base Zephyr; test a DTS base model. And test them for normal driving not for racing characterists.

    But that's not what would sell the magazine.
  • Only ever had one warranty claim on my MINI in two years and the person I sold it to has had no problems over the past seven months either.

    Part of the problem with the MINI was that JD Powers adds in perceived design faults to the score.

    The average consumer isn't smart enough to comment on that IMO of course.
  • 62vetteefp62vetteefp Posts: 6,048
    The average consumer isn't smart enough to comment on that IMO of course.

    of course. Darn that average customer. Just not smart. They just do not know what they want and do not care. :P
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,560
    Most will want what they are told to want...

    The key is knowing how to tell them.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,529
    Given that over 25% of all Americans claim to talk to the dead, I don't see why they can't comment on automotive design :P

    MODERATOR

  • laurasdadalaurasdada Posts: 2,602
    I think you're wrong on that statistic. When I was talking to Elvis, Jim and Janis last night they concurred it is more like 27.5% And they should know as they talk to the dead quite regularly.

    Elvis does say hi, is thinking of buying a Silver Thunderbird...

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

  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I do not see the Allante as a sales failure. I will have to go back the the 1987 Motor Trend article on the Allante, where they interviewed Cadillac's head engineer, to see exactly what he said. I hope that will settle the issue.

    There is no issue here with me. The car could have sold 100K copies in 5 years, it was still a dismal failure because it didn't even come close to beating the competition of the day, which was stated to be the SL per Cadillac. Just because it sold well proves that Cadillac buyers are loyal, and we all know they had no problem buying any one of the heaps Cadillac sold in the 80's. Again, a pointless matter about sales. Sales are only one criteria in determining whether or not a car is a success or not. By all other means the Allante was an utter flop.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I agree with your views on Saab. AWD isn't needed on what is orignally a FWD car anyway, its overkill.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I think the Allante basic problem was front wheel drive. But the Mercedes SL had been in production since the mid-50's, so with a history of more than 30 years by 1987 any Cadillac competitor would still have been of limited success. The current XLR is not selling any better than the Allante did, nor does it compare with the current SL either.

    I don't get this, but it is interesting. The Allante was a 60K car with a non-power convertible top, it was FWD, it was underpowered and had very poor structural rigidty for a convertible. Even it had been RWD that would have fixed all the other problems it had. The car was typical GM of the day, half-baked and ill-conceived and put on sale way to early in its development.

    I can't believe I'm going to say this, but the current XLR most certainly does compare to the SL, much more so than than Allante ever did during its day. I don't see how you could think otherwise. This class of car isn't about sales as much as the sedan classes are so why are you so hung up on that? The XLR doesn't sell any better for the same reason the Allante didn't, because it is overpriced. The 100K asking price for the XLR-V is really over the top for a "Cadillac", but it is easily the best car GM makes or any American brand for that matter.

    Cadillac tried to price the XLR like the Germans instead of taking a page out of Lexus' book. Lexus knew the SC430 couldn't compare to the SL so they priced it like a CLK550, not a SL550. Cadillac should have done the same, a 65K XLR and 85K XLR-V would have sold better than 78K XLR and 100K XLR-V do. To say that XLR cars don't compare to the SL and to imply that the Allante did is just way off-base. The XLR is way more "together" and competitive with the SL than the Allante ever was.

    Sure the Allante was "together" by 1993, but hadn't it been on sale since 1987? It took GM 6 years to get the car right? If so it deserved to flop. The Allante even looked the part and the name sounded elegant, but like so many GM cars they were out to lunch on the details and that is what killed it. That and the ridiculous assembly process must have come the most brain-dead folks at GM at the time.

    M
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,174
    I remember both the Allante and Merc and I don't know how they were even comparable? Pardon me if I am wrong, but wasn't the Allante FWD?

    And I don't recall the Benz being anything but a rear driver. So wouldn't this be a more logical comparison to the Caddy?

    image

    Both had about the same success from what I remember.
  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    One of GM's problems in the 70's and 80's was the greatness of their 60's cars.

    The beautiful Caddy's of the 60's were still common on the streets in the 70's and 80's. They really made their replacements look sad, and the new cars ran poorly in comparison. Sure the old Caddy's were gas-guzzlers, but they were glorious cars.

    No one could feel anything but sheepish and embarrassed in his downsized FWD 80's caddy when he parked next to an old 60's queen of the highway.

    image

    image

    Fortunately for GM, Cadillac is like an aircraft carrier. It can sustain a lot of damage without being destroyed, but it takes a long, long time to just turn it around, and a long, long time to repair the damage.

    I will say that the 08 CTS looks more like a real Caddy than anything we've seen in a long time - perhaps since the Allante. However, we must wait with bated breath to see how the execution works in the real world. The Allante too looked good on paper, as did the Catera, and the XLR. Unfortunately they all had serious flaws.
    I really hope that Cadillac has sweated the details - this time.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,529
    The XLR-V still isn't right, though. There's already some negative media buzz about it. It's not devastating, but it's not good news either.

    For one, Cadillac charges you a nasty premium for the supercharger and apparently the performance upgrade you get is not even close to worth the $20K. It's a bit of a rip-off I think is the general critics' notion. Also the electric hardtop is supposed to be diabolically unfriendly and it seems likely that this going to get real annoying real fast for many otherwise happy owners.

    It's stuff like this that drives me nuts about Cadillac. They get to "almost" and then shoot themselves in the foot on TWO really really important items...the "promise" of performance vs. the reality, and the major component of the car's identity---the hardtop/convertible function.

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  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Well the top issue was fixed with a running change. The first few batch of XLR/XLR-Vs would dump any rain water right onto your luggage when the top was opened. That flaw has been fixed last time I read up on it.

    I think the price is the biggest problem, a 100K for a Cadillac is a tough sell to their traditional buyers and it is way to much too ask of a Euro buyer shopping in that price range. They'll simply say "may as well get the MB/BMW/Porsche/Jaguar" etc. etc. A M6 Cabrio, SL550 or a XLR-V? Cadillac isn't going to win that one too often. The Cadillac name itself just doesn't garner any respect or interest with people who spend 100K on a car, regardless as to whether or not the XLR-V itself is worthy or competitive with other 100K droptops.

    It's stuff like this that drives me nuts about Cadillac. They get to "almost" and then shoot themselves in the foot on TWO really really important items...

    This is GM's problem in general. Take the Kappa twins and the Saturn Aura for instance. They look the part on paper and even perform nicely, but their are lots of oversights and/or faulty details that keep them from greatness. Interior quality/fit/finish, transmission (on the Kappas) and other things that annoy. To GM's credit though they seem to be more eager to make changes right away instead of years down the line. At least in the case of the Sky/Solstice.

    M
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    As I said I would do, I went back to the library with the back issues of Motor Trend. I read the 1987 Allante article published in the September 1986 issue. I think that I understand your confusion.

    The article was both an interview with a Cadillac spokesperson and a test of the 87 Allante. At the beginning of the article, the spokesperson said that GM's grand plan (note this is probably mid 1986) was to move Buick up market to replace Cadillac and to move Cadillac up market to compete with Mercedes. The rest of the article was on the Allante, and did not address the issue of where the Allante fit into the moving up scheme. My impression was that the Allante was not a final product in this grand scheme.

    The article stated that they were planning to build up to about 500 Allantes per month, but did not expect to sell that many, at least in the first year.

    That same issue of Motor Trend had a comparison test of the Corvette, Porsche and Mercedes 560SL. The Corvette was considered the run away best performer of the three. The skidpad performance was perhaps worth noting, the SL got 0.80, while the Allante was 0.81 in its separate test. Skidpad numbers are meaningless when it comes to actual performance on real highways, so how the two might have compared in actual handling is not clear, but in the Motor Trend test write up they seemed to think the Allante was much better than the rest of the production Cadillacs at that time.

    As far as GM's grand scheme of moving Buick and Cadillac up goes, in 1989 Buick had a Park Avenue Ultra model, with a much nicer interior. The Ultra was comparable to perhaps the Fleetwood Cadillac at that time. When the 1991 Buick Park Avenue (an all new body) came out, the Ultra Park Avenue was not the 1990 version, but was more like the old Park Avenue, while the standard Park Avenue was the Electra. So I think GM's grand plan was dead by the early 1990's. We are now more than 20 years past mid-1986 and I do not see that Buick has changed, or that Cadillac is any more Mercedes like that it ever was. Mercedes had a broad range of models in the 80's, so Cadillac could have aimed at the low end.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,529
    Well Corvette grabs some European car buyers because the performance you get for the money is just unbeatable. When you start breaking $100K however, the Europeans can throw a lot at you---but at $55K or so, they got nuttin' to match a Corvette's performance.

    This "ultra-luxury GT" market is a tough one....over $100K I'd suspect most people want either a really razor-sharp performance car or a big-[non-permissible content removed] sedan with overwhelming presence and performance. They pretty much spit out that Lexus SC430 or whatever it was.....

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