I just got back from Wisconsin, where Cadillac brought me to try out their new CTS-V on the track at Road America. I also stayed in a hotel owned by a toilet company that would make a great fetish hotel if you had a thing for golf caddies. While there, I was lucky enough to dine with some Cadillac folks, and ruin their meals with my stupid talking.
The Idea: My biggest questions were actually philosophical — specifically, the philosophy of what it means to be a Cadillac today. See, there was once a very specific idea of what automotive luxury meant to an American, and Cadillac was once the ultimate expression of that particular form of luxury.
It was an idea based on comfort, effortless power, a grand, imposing design language, vast interior space with very luxurious, opulent appointments. Couch-like bench seating, and a car designed to travel far and long and fast, but with little emphasis on performance or handling.
Modern Cadillac has gone the other way, using performance-oriented European premium cars as a template, and they’ve done a damn good job at it, too. But, even if Cadillac is making these sorts of cars very well, isn’t there still a place for the old Cadillac idea of what a premium car should be?
I think so. And I think with the eventual coming of semi-and full autonomous cars, the old Cadillac concepts will become very relevant again. Which is why I proposed my idea: a modern take on the old Caddy ideas of comfort, space, luxury, and elegant ease.
And the way to get there is through France.
See, I think the ideal modern (well, modern-ish) template would be something like the Renault Aventime — a radical way to make a roomy, luxury car without making something as massive as an old Fleetwood. The old proportions are dead, with their massive overhangs and vast slab sides. A new take on the old Cadillac ideas could be this sort of premium one-box, enclosing a vast, luxurious, wildly comfortable interior.
I think there’s something to this idea of re-inventing the pure American luxury car idea! I was excited, explaining my idea to everyone I could.
The Response: I eventually asked one of Cadillac’s lead platform engineers about this idea, and he was barely able to contain his rage. I mean, I could tell. He crushed a dinner roll in his hand. He’d been hearing me talk about it, and reminded me that I’d brought it up “like eight times already.” When I pressed him about what he thought about the idea, he dropped his fork loudly to the table and told me “I’ll show you what I think.”
He gestured to one of the many hired goons in tailored grey suits that were seated behind our tables. The goons were eating dinner as well, but that didn’t stop one from walking behind me, grabbing my head, and executing one of those movie-perfect neck-snap moves.
Luckily, the goon had been eating ribs, and his hands were pretty well coated with barbecue sauce, so, instead of snapping my neck, the goon just left a pair of massive brownish-red smears of sauce across my face and the back of my head. It sort of burned, too, and some got in my eye.
I just nodded and thanked the goon, and the dinner continued in an uncomfortable silence.
The Idea: We all know Cadillac dropped the acanthus wreath from their logo. They’ve actually done this a few times before.
But with that fake wreath gone, there’s an opportunity here — Cadillac could work in a small, wreath-shaped depression around their logo where real plants could be inserted! Sort of like how those ‘living wall’ buildings work, where plants grow vertically on the walls. Think of all the feel-good green/eco cred they could get for almost nothing! They could call it the ‘Living Logo!’
The Response: I think after the failed (and quite aggressive) response to my first idea, some of the PR people convinced the engineers and product designers to contain their rage just a bit and not try anything as, you know, lethal.
I mean, I assume that’s what they said because for this idea a few of them politely laughed and pretended to consider it while they simply instructed a waiter to decant a full gravy boat down the front of my pants.
I’ll admit — I was impressed with their measured response to this one.
The Idea: This one I knew would be gold, even before I said it. A real crowd-pleaser. Something I can be confident everybody wants to see from Cadillac.
A NEW CIMMARON.
The Response: This time, it was the PR people who had previously been calming down the engineers that responded first. The PR rep sitting next to me grabbed his plate, dumped the food off of it, and used it to slap me, again and again, until one of the hired goons had to pull him off.
It was actually the same goon that attempted to snap my neck with his sauce-covered hands earlier, and I think that shared experience brought us together.
In fact, the Cimarron thing had sort of riled everyone up, causing a minor sort of riot, with chairs and knives and pitchers being flung around. The goon, for some reason I can’t fully understand, became protective of me, and, cramming me under his arm, bolted out of the event.
I’m still in his basement. It’s cold and wet in here.
I’m a little scared.
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