The Next Real Cadillac
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When General Motors invites you to an event, they feed you. They take you to classy restaurants, and they pick up the tab. And there is always a GM executive there, to pull out the credit card at the end and tease you into believing that you’re getting inside information in the meantime.

At Amelia Island, the official host with the credit card was from Cadillac. (No, the photo accompanying this article has nothing to do with the car. It’s the view from the room at the Ritz. Off the balcony. I wanted you to understand the level of journalistic sacrifice involved in reporrting on these events.)

But, we digress.

General Motors – along with Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Bugatti – is an official sponsor of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. And, even though they no longer sell a model labeled the “Concours,” they still consider Cadillac their premium brand.

So, GM had the juice to park the CTS next to the Veyron on the circular drive in front of the hotel.

Now, we need to level with one another, so that I’ve made full disclosure.

(more after the jump)

I own a Concours. I also own a DTS. Between the two, I’ve got over 300,000 miles of seat time in Caddy’s, and that’s not counting the two STS’s my wife drove before we needed the mini-van.

I like Cadillac’s.

My dad always wanted a Cadillac, but he always bought a Buick instead. He was a country doctor. He said that people wouldn’t pay their bills if he drove a Caddy - they’d figure he had too much money.

But, in his world, there was no better possession than a Cadillac.

When I bought my first Cadillac, it was like communing with him. He’d died years before. But, my first thought was – God, I wish dad was here.

Dad and I shared the concept.

A Cadillac is the best ride there is.

Of course, that statement has to have some qualifications.

It was, after all, Cadillac that brought us the Cimarron and tried to present that Cavalier redo as somehow an American 3 Series. The guy that runs new car sales in North America for GM still doesn’t know how guilty he should feel for having tried to peddle that car when he was very young.

So, Cadillac has been known to disappoint.

Still, I drive a Cadillac every day. It’s a 2002 DTS. I’m given to understand that a DTS is an old fart car, that it’s not the state of the art these days, and I sorta understand.

But, it’s got a Northstar, and front wheel drive – which matters to those of us that live in Wisconsin – and all the bells and whistles work, which isn’t bad at 156,000 miles.

I just had to put a new starter in it. Did it myself. Pretty slick. The starter is in the cylinder valley, right under the intake manifold. Should I ever have to do it again, I could do it in thirty minutes. Or less.

Somebody was thinking when they engineered that motor. I appreciate that.

I get power, I get legroom, and I get the look.

And, it’s a Cadillac.

When I was much younger than I am now, going to auto shows was much different than it is today. Back then, auto manufacturers lavished the most expensively printed catalogs on any kid that came up and asked for one. It’s sorta like being old and a journalist and asking for a press kit, today.

Cadillac catalogs were extraordinary.

They didn’t do photos. They did commercial art, and the cars were almost as attractive as the women posed by them. The Cadillac was the key to that life of luxury and bliss.

Who wouldn’t want to live like that?

Well, actually, at least for a while, a lot of people didn’t want to live like that and the country club society became unfashionable. GM lost its focus, unable to figure out how to build a Cadillac that could compete with a Mercedes, reduced to actually trying to emulate the German brands.

But, either Cadillac’s figured it out or America is returning to its roots, because a lot of people seem to want to live like that today, again.

And, to do that, they need a Cadillac.

Fast. Powerful. Top of the line. Nothing better. Nothing even to be compared.

So, I’ve got a chip on my shoulder when I discover that my host is a Caddy guy, and that he’s a very, very bright Caddy guy.

I want to know.

They told him he was going to be hosting some bloggers.

So, he was not well prepared.

I practiced criminal law for 33 years. When you do that, you lose a certain element of social discourse. You start ordering in a restaurant by saying to the waitress, “you’ll bring me orange juice, won’t you?” Leading questions are, truth to tell, so much fun.

But, of course, lawyers learn to do that for a reason.

In the end, he told me that I would love, not like – love - the car GM has in store for me in 2010.

Fuggetabout the CAFE regulations,

Cadillac is going to build me my car.

And, one of my options is going to be a V-12.

(He didn’t say that, but he didn’t deny that. I don’t give his name, because I don’t think he was supposed to inkle about this. But, General Motors is going to have to reconcile the reality that they’ve got some really smart and talented people working for them that think they’ve got winners, and it isn’t that easy for these folks to conceal their pride in what they’re doing when they find kindred spirits.)

It will be a rear wheel drive car.

And, it will be big, by current standards – DTS big.

There will be – unlike past Cadillacs (except for the current STS) – engine choices. The base will be a V-6. The top will be a V-12 based on that same V-6. I personally believe that there will be a V-8, as well, but there is some suggestion that the intermediate engine may not be a V-8, but may instead be a turbocharged version of the V-6 presented as part of the third generation GM hybrid, tuned for power. So, too, might be the V-12. (After all, when GM announced the third generation hybrid, they specifically said it had been designed to work for very passenger car the company builds.)

Mind you – the guy didn’t say that last part. He didn’t deny it, either. So, by New York Times journalist standards, that would be good enough to take it as true. But, I can’t make that promise, because I didn’t ask – he was being so enigmatic that I didn’t think of that possibility until the next day.

But, he had this gleam in his eye.

And, he was smiling the whole time.

Even as he paid the bill.

Ralph Kalal
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