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Is Cadillac's Image Dying and Does Anyone Care?

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,013
    Have you ever ridden in a MB from that period? The cars were never meant to be Caddy-like luxury. No button tufted seats and inches of sound deadening and numb steering and acres of plood. This was not the point, it is not a European ideal. The cars sold in relatively identical form on the world market - the American idea of luxury does not exist much away from this continent. People gave up some of the cush for durability, workmanship, and roadworthiness. I'd take a period MB to a track vs a period Caddy any day.

    Nothing significant from Germany? Only little gadgets like fuel injection, ABS, large scale production of airbags, crumple zones, workable ergonomics, dual circuit brakes, the list goes on. Crude and primitive? The S-class cars since the W111 and especially the W126 were the most advanced sedans in the world when they were introduced. The 107 and 129 SL cars were also very advanced, hence how they have aged gracefully while most of their counterparts looked ancient after a few years.

    Don't ask for pics when the pics you provide are innacurate and irrelevant.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,013
    And that car was introduced in 1972 - 1980 was the final year. Those SLs and to some extent the SLC as pictured really helped MBs image during the 70s - that was an extremely glamorous car to own in the 70s if I am not mistaken. The SLC is not my first choice, but I'd probably take it over a 1976 Eldo, if I actually wanted to drive it.
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    You had an '02 Seville? I've gotta say that I've always liked the '92 - '04 Sevilles. They're sharp cars, with a clean, broad-shouldered all-American look. IMO, Cadillac's comeback began with the rollout of the '92 Seville.

    About 6 years ago, I spotted a mint '96 STS in a local dealer's lot. Dark green, with tan leather interior, as I recall, & with only 30K miles on the clock. Asking price was in the mid to upper teens. I was smitten, so I tried to sell the Seville to my wife as a railroad station car. (At the time, an old Taurus was pulling this duty; I've never liked leaving the BMW at the station.) Sad to say, the STS was gone by the time my wife signed off on the deal. What a disappointment.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,013
    I think that's what a lot of people had problems with back in the day - the size of a Caddy vs the size of the competition. A highline MB or BMW would be the size of a Chevelle or a Fairlane or something of that class, but cost as much as a Caddy or Lincoln. Until the early 70s, MB "class" distinction (S-class etc) was more of a factor of engine and trim rather than the body - a highline and lowline car could share 90% of body parts and be virtually identical in size. But they'd have vastly different interiors and powertrains. That compared to the domestics, where each step up was a vast difference in appearance. I think people reached a point where size got to a point of diminishing returns.

    I think the car you mention would be a W108/109, technically an S-class although in lower form can be considered an E-class. A 300SEL from that platform is certainly an S-class.

    Caddy is today more comparable from a technology standpoint than at any time since the import competition for that customer hit North American shores.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    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?

    Nope. I firmly believe that the only wood which belongs in a car should be a structural part of the body, and I think that only Morgan still builds them that way. Putting an overvarnished strip of whatever on the dash is silly, and putting a plastic strip of pretend whatever on the dash is simply shameful.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,389
    Nothing from Germany could ever touch the ElDorado, which explains why Elvis and F. Sinatra owned them.

    That proves everthing! I do not look at cars buy the status of the owner...good grief, Batman!

    Here is a 1980 Merc 450 for sale with 105K miles for $10,500

    image



    Here is a picture a 1980 FWB (my dad owned the same color in 1984)...nice but the slowest car on the road and turn-in of a water buffalo. I wonder how much one would sell for today?

    By the end of the '80's Caddy had lost all of it's luster IMO.

    The point is Caddy was great during a long past era and now it's not. Period. The end.

    Along the way, others have eaten their breakfast, lunch AND dinner!

    Regards,
    OW
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,196
    Funny thing is, I still own one of those 1980s Cadillac "rolling bathtubs." I wouldn't call it a timeless classic, but it has a lot of sentimental value for me as it was my first new Cadillac. I had a 1975 Cadillac Sedan DeVille before that one. I've also owned a 1994 Cadillac DeVille and a 2002 Cadillac Seville STS. I currently own a 2007 Cadillac DTS Performance I bought back on November 23rd.

    I couldn't even get a CTS at the time as my dealership was sold out. Funny thing is, as I was closing the deal on my DTS, a woman comes in almost frantic asking if they had a CTS. Looks like Caddy's got a hit! Sometimes I wonder if I should've got a CTS as well? It's a bit too small for my tastes, but I really love what they've done with it. Trouble is, by the time I got a CTS outfitted to my tastes, I'd have probably spent as much or more for it than my loaded top-of-the-line DTS.
  • pmc4pmc4 Posts: 198
    Jimbres, you said that the 80's Cadillacs were in your own words "pathetic". Why you said this I don't know. But anyway, the reason why I asked you what your opinion of the 80's BMW's was because you said Cadillacs were "pathetic" yet you also own a BMW.

    "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?"

    The new CTS fortunately diverges from the Euro-influenced sedan it replaces; it has returned to its roots. For example, there is this fabulous lighting that frames the interior door pulls and exterior lamps, giving the car a marvelous look that can only be a Cadillac. The interior is fabulous. The exterior is fabulous. The whole car is fabulous, unlike the first CTS in 2002. Since the only cars to diverge from Cadillac greatness was the first-generation CTS, Catera and Cimmarron, I'd tie the new CTS to any of the Caddys of the past, excluding these three models listed.
    Maybe the '68 Eldorado Sinatra drove (but that car was considered a 'personal luxury coupe' not a sedan). Perhaps the 1976 Seville that got rave reviews. That would be this car:

    image
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,196
    ...a late '70s Malibu might've aped the Cadillac Seville but the Cadillac Seville didn't ape a late '70s Malibu. The Seville debuted in 1975 as a 1976 model. The downsized A-body Malibu didn't appear until 1978.

    It isn't the first time lesser GM makes imitated their upscale cousins. Early 1930s Chevrolets looked like baby Cadillacs. The 1940-41 Chevrolet clearly imitates a contemporary Buick.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    Sometimes I wonder if I should've got a CTS as well?

    What about the STS? Pretty much the same car as your old Seville except for being RWD, and you could probably have worked a good deal on a leftover '07.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,196
    The new STS is a much smaller car than my old Seville STS. If they'd have kept it the same size as the old car, I probably would've gone for it. The new STS is also a much more expensive car than my Seville STS which I thought was pretty expensive as it is. I'd want a V-8 Seville and we'd be talking big bucks by then - even on a leftover.
  • xhe518xhe518 Posts: 107
    I don't think the new STS is really all that much smaller than the older FWD STS - I think maybe the older one seemed roomier due to FWD.... I'd have to look up the specs and check back ....my first impression is the new STS is roughly the same size as the old one though....
  • xhe518xhe518 Posts: 107
    I went back and checked.... The older Seville STS is almost exactly in between a DTS and STS in size

    2008 STS - 196 inches long, 116 wheelbase, 3973lbs

    2002 Seville - 201 inches long, 112 wheelbase, 3992lbs

    2008 DTS - 207 inches long, 115.6 wheelbase, 4009lbs

    http://www.edmunds.com/used/2002/cadillac/seville/19037/specs.html
    http://www.edmunds.com/new/2008/cadillac/sts/100886907/specs.html
    http://www.edmunds.com/new/2008/cadillac/dts/100888385/specs.html
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    That does not tell you about the interior space. I had a 2002 SLS and traded it for an SRX (a stationwagon/SUV version of the RWD STS) and my feeling is that there is no difference in interior room. However, the legroom and headroom are the same, while the shoulder room is 1.5 inches less and the hip room is 2 inches less for the STS. So, Lemko is right about the DTS being bigger on the inside.

    What I like about the SRX vs the SLS is the handling. The SRX is much better handling and will make a shorter U turn than the SLS could. The SRX feels more like a sports car by comparison, although not really like my 86 Corvette.
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    Mercedes was way ahead of GM in engineering in the 60's, and while I think perhaps GM has finally reached the point of being comparable now, they were probably behind through most of the 90's. To be fair to GM though, a nice Cadillac was always much bigger than a nice Mercedes and cost half as much. From my point of view, a Buick (far cheaper than the Cadillac) was a far more sensible choice. The Buick was affordable. But the E-class (used to be a 280 or 300 I think back when - mid-60's) Mercedes was a very well engineered car.
  • xhe518xhe518 Posts: 107
    I guess you could say a 2002 STS is 'much' larger than a 2008 STS, but by the same token then, a 2008 DTS is 'much' larger than the 2002 STS...

    Here's an interesting point - I'm sure you've heard the rumors (or maybe it's even fact) that Cadillac will merge the DTS and STS into one car in a few years....I wonder the new one will be closer to the STS (196 inches) or the DTS (207 inches) ? Or will they split the difference and be back to the 2002 STS size (201 in)
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,389
    To be fair to GM though, a nice Cadillac was always much bigger than a nice Mercedes and cost half as much.

    But never the World Standard in luxury.

    Regards,
    OW
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,389
    According to Forbes, top selling luxury nameplates for 2004 U.S. Sales (through Nov. 2004)/ price range

    1. BMW 3'er - 95,980 - $20K-$30K
    2. Lexus RX-330 - 94,164 - $30K-$40K
    3. Cadillac DeVille - 61,739 - $40K-$50K
    4. Cadillac 'Slade - 54,797 - $50K-$60K
    5. Jag XJ - 9,590 - $60K-$70K
    6. Merc S-Class - 18,082 - $70K-$80K
    7. Merc SL-Class - 18,804 - $90K-$100K

    Regards,
    OW
  • 62vetteefp62vetteefp Posts: 6,048
    The year 1950 was the high point in the Cadillac brand’s post-World War II exports to Australia, when five cars were sold, including one to then-Prime Minister Robert Menzies.

    For the next 40 years, Cadillacs came to symbolize American culture. The spectacularly vulgar be-finned barges of the 1950s and 1960s epitomized the country’s prosperity, captured in the 1956 Judy Holiday hit movie “The Solid Gold Cadillac.” Yet, the cars rarely left American shores.

    Today, Cadillac vehicles are sold around the world, including Europe, Asia/Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

    The Cadillac CTS’s upcoming debut in Australia in October will help confirm General Motors Corp.’s determination to transform the once America-centric brand into a genuine global player in the prestige class currently dominated by the German Big Three brands – Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi.

    Cadillac’s re-emergence in Australia comes after three failed attempts in Europe. Having rejected the first-generation “global” models, only now is GM Holden Ltd. sufficiently confident Cadillac can consistently deliver competitive cars and build a full line of models.

    Total Cadillac sales peaked at a staggering 350,813 in 1978, though it was this very popularity that eventually diminished the brand’s image in the U.S.

    In the wake of the first and second energy crisis, GM integrated Cadillac engineering with its down-market divisions. Over the next two decades, as the cars moved to front-wheel drive, Cadillac lost its unique styling, specific engineering and quality. Affluent Americans began buying European prestige marques, instead.

    The nadir came with the ‘81 Cimarron, a 4-cyl. with wind-up windows and manual gearbox, the first in a Cadillac since 1951. By 1998, sales had bottomed at 170,379. By then, GM already had made the strategic decision to revive the once-revered marque.

    The GM board accepted that taking on the Europeans and Japanese (Lexus) would consume $6 billion (in mid-1990s dollars). Most of the money was spent on the creation of the new large-car, rear-drive Sigma architecture that, for a time in the late 1990s, also was intended to form the basis for GM Holden’s all-new VE Commodore.

    That didn’t happen, but Sigma did spawn the CTS in 2002 and subsequent STS sedan and SRX cross/utility vehicle. GM Holden looked at all three models before deciding Australian customers would never accept the poor packaging – one reason the platform was rejected for the VE – including the lousy interior quality.

    The second-generation CTS addresses both issues and brings an increased model lineup that’s clearly intended to confront the BMW 3-Series.

    Both the gorgeous CTS Coupe, seen at January’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit as a concept, plus a wagon version, are expected here in 2009. Sadly, the CTS-V that’s aimed at the BMW M3 and gets the supercharged 6.2L Corvette ZR1 engine, is left-hand drive only.

    In size, the CTS is positioned against the 5-Series/E-Class/A6. But its base price just below $70,000 pits it against the 3-Series, as well. Australian models get a 3.6L direct-injection V-6 that basically is the Commodore’s V-6.

    There also are plans to offer the new 247-hp, 406 lb.-ft (550-Nm) VM 2.9L direct-injection V-6 diesel, so desperately needed in Europe and currently being tested in the Commodore.

    As well, there is the production version of the compact AWD Provoq CUV hydrogen fuel-cell concept unwrapped at this year’s Detroit show to demonstrate a step forward in GM’s E-Flex propulsion system.

    The street-version Provoq will be built on GM’s Theta-Epsilon platform using a conventional gasoline engine and will go on sale in Australia in 2010. A GM insider says the Provoq will be built in Mexico alongside platform-mates, the Saab 9-4X variant and Saturn Vue CUV.

    Cadillac also is planning to replace its STS and (stretched) DTS large sedans with a single rear-drive model. But instead of using the Sigma architecture, the new car is being designed and engineered in Australia using GM Holden’s long- wheelbase WM (Statesman and Caprice) underpinnings.

    It’s possible the new Caddy, due in 2011 or 2012, will represent the convergence of the Zeta RWD platform with the more-expensive Sigma architectures. However, no one is saying so just yet.

    This also raises the question of whether GM Holden is prepared to pit the new Cadillac model against its local Caprice that inevitably will be priced some $25,000 below the Cadillac.

    Cadillac’s decision to base the new large car, aimed at the E-Class and 5-Series, on Zeta architecture was taken before GM cancelled plans to replace the Northstar V-8, Cadillac’s premium quad-cam engine, in 2009.

    The new engine was killed after the auto maker realized Washington was determined to press ahead with a new corporate average fuel economy standard that calls for the U.S. fleet of cars and trucks to achieve an average 35 mpg (6.7 L/100 km) by 2020.

    Even before the new CAFE requirement and the failure of the European BLS, Cadillac knew it needed a true 3-Series rival, a smaller model aimed more at Europe and other global markets than the U.S.

    That car, due in 2010 in a variety of body styles, is based on the new rear-drive Alpha architecture and already is penciled in for Australia, as well.

    Building a credible luxury brand in a sophisticated market like Australia is not easy. It’s taken Audi AG more than two decades to be a serious player. GM Holden (and Cadillac) must be prepared to invest heavily and take the long view.

    Convincing Australians that Cadillac deserves comparison with BMW and Mercedes brands, and is a class above Chrysler, won’t be easy. Delaying Cadillac’s return until the arrival of the second-generation CTS reveals a realistic and welcome maturity.
  • 62vetteefp62vetteefp Posts: 6,048
    Since GM has suspended development of the next-generation premium V-8 that would have replaced its able but aging Northstar V-8, the DIG high-feature V-6 could be a suitable substitute down the road?

    “On one hand,” says Cyrus, “nothing sounds like a V-8. On the other hand, a lot of customers are saying, ‘V-6 is good.’ We get quite a good draw on it in Cadillacs where we offer both.

    We expected to sell quite a few V-8s and smaller numbers of V-6s, but sales have gone the other way around, probably 80% V-6 and 20% V-8 in the STS. For the time being, we’ll continue to offer both and let the customer decide.”
  • xhe518xhe518 Posts: 107
    the DIG high-feature V-6 could be a suitable substitute down the road?

    We expected to sell quite a few V-8s and smaller numbers of V-6s, but sales have gone the other way around, probably 80% V-6 and 20% V-8 in the STS. For the time being, we’ll continue to offer both and let the customer decide.”


    I don't think we're too far from the point where a V8 is about as desirable among trend-setters as wearing a mink coat to a PETA convention.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    Perhaps the 1976 Seville that got rave reviews.

    Looks like a late-70s Malibu with a Cadillac grille, emblematic of Cadillac's descent into irrelevance. Bleh. :sick:
  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,013
    I've always seen the 58 Impala roofline as a child of the 57 Eldo, too
  • xhe518xhe518 Posts: 107
    The downsized A-body Malibu didn't appear until 1978.

    Yep, and it didn't get the thicker Seville-like "C" pillars until it was "freshened" in 1980 or 1981.

    The original Seville was based on the old Nova.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,196
    "Uncle Tom" McCahill described the 1955 Chevrolet described as a "junior Oldsmobile with a Cadillac rear and a Ferrari grille." You can also see a lot of 1948 Oldsmobile influence in the design of the 1949-51 Chevrolets.

    I'd say the 1976 Cadillac Seville influenced a lot of late 1970s/early 1980s GM vehicles. Take a look at the rather upright Seville-esque rear roofline on a 1980 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight for instance or the very Seville-like front end of an early 1980s Chevrolet Caprice. I, for one, believe the first-generation Seville is a classic design. It was exponentially better than Lincoln's feeble effort the Versailles.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,196
    And those who don't know would hardly recognize that fact looking at the car. You could immediately see a Granada lurking under all the Lincoln-esque cliches of the Versailles. Cadillac messed-up in 1982 trying to pull another rabbit out of the hat with the mediocre J-car platform resulting in the awful Cimmaron. Well, there was no rabbit that time, rather something the rabbit left in the hat after a delicious carrot and celery dinner.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,013
    I can agree with your views on that Seville. Compared to the rest of the brand in 1975, it appears to be from a different planet. Easily the most tolerable Caddy of that period, not a bad car as far as I know, either A Fleetwood Talisman with the airbag option might be the most over the top and luxurious, but a Seville would be better to actually live with.
  • xhe518xhe518 Posts: 107
    I think the second-gen Seville for 1980-81 was a disaster too - styling wise. I guess some people liked it - I always thought that hunchback look was terrible. Although, I liked the looks of the 1979 Eldorado

    The mid-70's to mid-80's were pretty much dark times for the domestics - not too many great or memorable cars really.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,196
    I'd say the very worst years for Cadillac had to be 1981 through 1988. I wouldn't touch a 1981 Cadillac with a 39 1/2 foot pole. All they had was the V-8-6-4, (which I hear is actually a pretty good engine if you disconnect the prehistoric DOD controls) and the dismal diesel. It got worse in 1982-83 with the advent of the Cimmaron and the HT4100 engine. I drove a 1983 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham with that engine. It went from 0-60 in February to April.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,389
    Yeah, my dad's '84 FWB beat you by a week!

    Regards,
    OW
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