Cadillac In The New World Order


If you’re a car guy, one of the last marques that you would have considered buying even just a decade ago would have been a Cadillac. GM built the Cadillac brand around huge land barges that accelerated sedately and wallowed in turns. Good for retirees and business folk, but way off the mindset of hotrodders and street car guys alike.

The Cadillac brand almost went the way the Oldsmobile brand did. The rise of a newly-affluent Yuppie class shunned dad’s Seville and looked toward Europe for that exotic combination of performance and luxury exemplified by BMW, Audi and even Mercedes. And don’t forget the competing Lexus and Infiniti brands that gave even the Germans sleepless nights. But Cadillac wasn’t done yet. With a combination of technologies like the Northstar 32-valve engine and MagneDrive, all that was needed was a fresher, more contemporary design to move the Cadillac brand back into the consciousness of the buying public.

Used to low-rpm but torquey engines, American enthusiasts must have been stunned to see the Northstar engine emerge from GM’s workshops. Imagine, a quad-cam, all aluminum V8 engine with the latest fuel delivery and control systems. More than the performance it gave, it showed that GM had the engineering prowess to match German precision. And although MagneDrive sounds like some cheesy invention, it was in fact the precursor to the magnetic dampers that Ferrari currently uses for its sports cars. Electromagnetic control of the shock absorbers affords a level of damping that even the best hydraulic coilovers cannot hope to match. And wonder of wonders, even GM’s HydraMatic transmissions rival that of the Euro contingent’s with its smoothness. Juddering kickdowns are a thing of the past.

In the days of the Cadillac Seville, the brand seemed to look only at Ford’s Lincoln as its competitor, and was content to just stay ahead of that particular brand. Today, the Cadillac CTS and upcoming ATS and XTS models are very very credible performance cars. And don’t say that their design isn’t fresh. In fact, their very edginess makes them look more modern than the packages that are being offered by foreign carmakers. 500 horsepower engines? Check. Adjustable suspension that suits your mood? Check. All-wheel drive?? Should you want it. Luxury appointments? It’s a Cadillac, isn’t it? If this sounds like some ad copy for the brand, so be it. But as a car guy, you be doing yourself a disfavor if you don’t check out this revitalized brand.

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Janus M

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