By Kurt Gensheimer
From its inception until the 1970s, Cadillac was definitely the car for Americans who “made it” in life. It was a car that defined class, elegance and success. Of course, the 1970′s disco era and the oil crisis really wreaked havoc on the Cadillac brand. Ever drive a 1976 Eldorado with the 7L V8 and 180 hp?
‘God awful’ about sums it up.
The eighties were no better, with hunks of crap like the Cimarron, which was simply a rebadged Chevy Cavalier.
The nineties saw glimmers of hope for the brand, especially when the 300 hp Northstar V8 was introduced – a terrific engine even today.
With the success of Northstar-powered V8s in the Allante, Eldo, Seville, and DTS, people slowly started coming back to the brand because Cadillac was no longer a slovenly, gutless anchor weight that only appealed to fans of Glen Miller and Ensure. They were still big, but at least they were more powerful.
My opinion of Cadillac didn’t change until the CTS and XLR were introduced. I never put Cadillac in the same category as a BMW, Mercedes or even Lexus for that matter. But now I do. Why? Because Cadillac trimmed the fat, started offering cars in manual transmissions, endorses a Cadillac branded racing team and has cars like the CTS-V which can eat an M5 for lunch…which is one hell of an achievement. For the first time, they’re successfully balancing performance with luxury, and hence, attracting a younger buyer.
The CTS has completely transformed the Cadillac brand from portly and mundane to svelte and exhilarating. And to build on that success, they introduced the CTS wagon, which is a beautifully designed car that performs well and promises to get a lot of Cadillac buyers out of their Escalades and into something more sporty and practical. The follow-up is the CTS and CTS-V Coupe which appeal to the 2-door crowd.
Cadillac is positioned for greatness once again – assuming Dan Akerson doesn’t screw everything up at GM.