Some of the best cars made in America have been built by the "Standard of the World." Some of our favorites are included below. Sifting through a brand's 120-year history like Cadillac is a fun activity for car archaeologists. Cadillac vehicles have existed throughout history and have come to represent what American luxury and performance in the context of the automobile means in many ways.
Cadillac has gone through many ups and downs, had its reputation burnished and tarnished, just like every other American brand. However, Cadillac has persisted throughout it all, and as the era of electric vehicles dawns, the brand once known as "the standard of the world" appears to be primed for yet another resurrection, due to EVs like the recently unveiled Lyric SUV and upcoming Celestiq ultra-luxury sedan. Therefore, in honor of Cadillac's 120 years as a going concern (the Cadillac Automobile Company was established on August 22, 1902, and named after the founder of the City of Detroit), we chose 12 of what we consider to be the most interesting and historically relevant Cadillacs. This is by no means an exhaustive list, therefore we undoubtedly missed a lot of vehicles that ought to be included. But the fact that there are so many options is what distinguishes a company like Cadillac. We hope you enjoy our 12-car journey through Cadillac's illustrious history, which is arranged chronologically from oldest to newest.
We begin in 2004, which is odd for a corporation that was first established in 1902, with the first-generation CTS-V. This was possibly the first indication of Cadillac's comeback in the twenty-first century as a rival to the German executive racket. With a Nürburgring-developed chassis, 400 PS (294 kW) of LS6 Corvette small-block power, a limited-slip differential, and a six-speed manual transmission, it was outfitted with everything needed to wreck a BMW M5 for the price of an M3. And it looked good.
Cadillac did really need to adapt in 2004. Because it had relied on the same soft luxury clichés as its main sources of income for more than a century. The vehicle that most embodies this approach is possibly a pink Series 62 with a dash of jet-age design. Elvis Presley made pink Cadillacs popular, and over the course of the next 50 years, they cemented their place in popular culture. A song and a movie both go by the name "Pink Cadillac." The Cadillac name may have been most immortalized during this period of automobile development.
Coming back to the present, the ATS-V is another outstanding sports sedan from Cadillac. More importantly, it does so without relying on the appeal of a powerful, snarling V8. The larger CTS-V was responsible for handling that. With a 3.6-liter turbocharged V6 engine, the ATS was fairly burdened. With 465PS (342kW) of power but not a lot of personality, the chassis and handling carried the load. Generally speaking, a true rival to the modern BMW M3.
The only cars in the world that you could possibly assign points to for being set-dressing are probably Cadillacs. Any movie from the latter half of the 1980s or the beginning of the 1990s that is set in an urban American setting will likely include a Cadillac Seville-like vehicle parked in the background. Cadillac also garnered a lot of accolades for the 1992 fourth-generation model. In 1992, it was named the Motor Trend automobile of the year.
The second-generation CTS-V Wagon from 2009, which is offered with a manual gearbox, is Cadillac's unicorn of the modern era. Yes, a rear-drive, 556PS (409kW), supercharged V8 estate with a manual transmission. It seems like the ideal mixture, doesn't it? Since they hardly sold any, it is only natural that stick-shift V2 Wagons are cherished and infrequently seen for sale.
Another cultural phenomenon, at least to us. The late-model DeVille, for those of you who are familiar with The Sopranos, is none other than the preferred limousine for the New Jersey mob. Although it is front-driven and hampered by the North Star V8 as it is, the car is far from ideal subjectively, but when it lumbers into and out of the Bada-Bing parking lot, it fits the bill.
Like the outrageous American luxury automobile of the 1970s, Cadillac may realize that the days of the tire-ripping V8 super saloon are numbered. When else would it be appropriate to equip its newest 5 Series competitor with a rumbling V8 and manual transmission? The supercharged farewell to the super saloons we've known and loved is the 670PS CT5-V Blackwing. It will keep M cars honest all the way to the track and beyond for change less if it's anything like what Cadillac has been producing for the previous 15 years.
For many Cadillac enthusiasts, the pre-war era was the brand's heyday. In its most opulent coach-built era, Cadillac dominated the luxury automobile market. the time period when more cylinders equated to more luxury, when the marque's breath-taking V16 outperformed rival V12 automobiles. Want further evidence that this was the conventional Cadillac at its peak? Sales numbers for V16s in the millions should be sufficient. The Sixteen Concept served as a preview of 2003's plans for a new V16-powered vehicle, but the 2008 financial crisis put an end to those plans. Actually appropriate, given that the original V-16 was debuted soon after the 1929 Wall Street Crash.
Finally, a Cadillac came close to succeeding but fell short. The 2002 Cien, which was first displayed as part of a 100th-anniversary celebration, had a 7.5-litre V12 with 750PS (552kW) and fighter jet-inspired appearance. Additionally, it was a completely functional vehicle with engineering work done by Prodrive. With GM executives evaluating the viability of low-volume manufacture in the UK, it was also very much under consideration for production. Before they changed their minds and abandoned it before 2002 ended, TWR, Prodrive, and other options were investigated. The vehicle is later shown in the 2019-set 2005 movie The Island, where it is described as a "V12 '09 Cadi, 750 horsepower $500,000 automobile." Oh, how I wish it were.
Unbelievably, Cadillac is among the world's oldest automakers. Despite its longevity, it initially seems difficult to identify genuine standout models from its recent and distant past. in particular for Europeans. But be patient. This century-old owner of luxury and, more recently, performance has some absolute gems in its back inventory, whether they are genuinely excellent or have considerable cultural value. Let’s get into them.
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