Following Cadillac: The New Mantra

Since about 2004 Cadillac has redesigned its self to compete with the European luxury brands. However, now a days it isn’t enough to just be a lofty road yacht. To compete you also have to have power, performance and sleek modern styling along with the first class comforts. Below I posted 2 Commercials that aired in the U.S that show Cadillac’s new intentions. Both videos make claims to a heritage once forgotten. I believe that Cadillac are on the right track to prove to a new generation that they once were the standard of the world and are gunning to retake that crown.

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Following Cadillac: A brief history

Named after the founder of Detroit its self, Antoine de Lamothe Cadillac, the Cadillac Automobile Company had a meteoric rise to fame with in the industry. The company was founded by Henry Leland in 1902 and bought by General Motors in 1909. But by 1908 it had already won the prestigious Dewar Trophy from the Royal Automobile Club of England by showing off its capabilities of interchangeable parts in a reliability test. Thus being the first American Automotive company to win the coveted award. Cadillac went on to win the award a second time in 1912 for putting state of the art electric lighting, starting and ignition technologies into a production car. It is from this foundation that the company acquired the slogan ‘Standard of the World’.

There are many primal amenities that your car contains that were pioneered and first put into production by Cadillac. Cadillac was the first car company to put into production cars with fully enclosed cabs protecting the occupants from the elements. Simple yet ahead of the curve. Probably thought to be the most logical system on a car today was first introduced by Cadillac making the act of driving and learning to drive elementary: accelerator pedal on the right, brake to the left of that and clutch to the left of the brake. Systems that came before what we have today were much more complicate and not very user friendly. Also worth mentioning in 1964 Cadillac introduced the first climate control system allowing the driver and passengers to set desired temperatures with automatic heating and A/C. And for those reading who know how a modern transmission works, Cadillac also introduced the first clash-less syncromesh transmission. It was innovations such as these that hoisted the company to be the premier car company in the U.S and to what the world looked to for the new standard in the industry.

In 1927 Cadillac introduced ‘designer styled’ body work as opposed to the function following form, auto-engineered cars driving around at the time. From then on Cadillac was recognized by its outrageous styling. As the trunk lids and hoods stretched and grew to aircraft carrier credibility, there was more room to play with when it came to styling. In the 50s and 60s some companies went the route of jet age styling and designed fins into the bodywork. Cadillac went above and beyond, as was their nature. The Tail fins that Caddys ran with were comparable to tail fins on actual planes at the time. So much so that it be came a signature dish for them for years to come. Even the new models that Cadillac produces references those tall taillights of the era.

Trouble struck in the late 70s. With Gas prices rocketing and the market plummeting it was beginning to look like Cadillac had dug its self into a whole. From the late 70s all the way through the 90s and the early part of the 00s Cadillac was far from the standard of the world. With European manufacturers taking the reigns, Cadillac struggled to produce a truly desirable car in way of styling or luxury (apart from the ’93 STS of course). Around 2004-2005 there was a big overhaul and plan to get back on top selling a world standard car to the upper echelon of society. Up until this point the type of person buying a Cadillac probably got discounts at restaurants and went to bed around 5pm… a loyal Cadillac customer of yesteryear then. Going after the European companies that knocked Caddy of the top of the podium, they are going in the direction of performance luxury. Their new philosophy is ‘Art and Science’. The bold sharp lines used in the new designs are supposed to evoke a feeling that cutting edge technology designed the cars while the inside translates that cutting edge technology is used to work the car. Theses are just small steps in the direction of a contemporary standard of the world.

Drive – Movie Review

Ryan Gosling plays a Hollywood Stunt driver by day and wheelman for hire by night. That’s the basic premise. In the movie the nameless wheelman (Gosling becomes some what romantically involved with his neighbor (Carey Mulligan, Wall Street 2). Her husband is soon released from prison but owes protection money to a group of gangsters. Looking to protect his new affection, the wheelman helps out the husband and offers to be the driver for a job to get the money needed. A double-crossing from the gangsters ensues and the wheelman is left with the money and a choice to make: run with the money or set things strait and protect his neighbor and her child.

Since seeing the movie Bullitt, all cop drama movies with car chases are held to that standard that Bullitt set the bar for. If Frank Bullit (Steve McQueen’s character in Bullitt) were to work on the other side of the law this would be the story of that man. Now I know that is a tall order to dish up but bear with me. 80s style music was the choice of chorus in this film and I rather liked it. I complimented the subtle yet stylized cinematography beautifully. But it did more than that. In the movie Bullitt you will notice through out the movie that the music is used to not just set the mood of the scene but to direct your mood and prepare it for the scene. Whether it be a relaxed or high-tension scene it directs your pulse to calm or to go on the attack, most notably the build up to the big car chase through the streets of San Francisco. But then the music does something rare, something most production studios don’t know how to do to this day… it stops. It stops and lets the sounds of what the driver hears, the engine and tire squeal. It may seem small and insignificant but watch these two movies and try to notice your pulse and posture during the chase scenes. Drive’s main chase scene has the wheel-man in a Mustang GT (coincidence?) and the chasers in a Chrysler 300. I almost expected the 300 to end up plowing into a Gas station. It’s not just the chase scenes though. Gosling seems to capture that cool reserve that Frank Bullitt always seemed to hold. If Jason Statham had been cast for this movie he wouldn’t have know when to shut up. No cheesy one-liners here. Saying what needs to be said nothing more nothing less.

When I originally saw Ryan Gosling as the lead I was with some doubt about the movie. Having being forced to watch The Note Book by an ex-girlfriend I had what you would call a bias. After seeing the movie and appreciating it for what it is it is on my top 10 list and i highly recommend it to cinema fans let alone Bullit fans and automotive junkies

P.S if you have a keen ear you can hear, in Bullitt, the throttle blips on the up shifts (special FX and useless). If you also pay attention to Drive there are up shifts while driving the Mustang GT in reverse…

Following Cadillac: Preface

For the first term of my MA in automotive journalism here at Coventry University, I was given an assignment to pick an automotive brand and follow it. Through out the term I will be researching Cadillac’s history following where it is now and where it is going in the future. But what makes sense for me to do in this first post is to explain why I chose Cadillac. If I put out there the basis for why i chose this brand above many others I feel it will lay good groundwork to build other posts on top of.

My personal history with Cadillac began with a very intimidating matte grey ’76 El Dorado convertible. For a good portion of my childhood it was covered in boxes and other random objects that had collected on top of it in my home garage. Admittedly, I was sometimes afraid of it. With the imagination I had it was kind of like the monster under the bed. When in reality it was my dad’s daily driver once upon a time. I can only assume that with the gas prices creeping up as they were and still are, a ’76 V8 Cadillac coupe convertible larger than most four doors driving around today was getting pricey. So into hibernation it went. After some years of nagging from my mother my dad finally decided to fix it up. Finding a collector to buy the beast helped out a little bit. I was actually quite happy the caddy was getting fixed up. Not because the monster under the bed was getting an eviction notice but because I got to help out my dad fix it up, i.e I got to hold his tools and hand them to him when he asked. This was one of the first verses in my genesis that sparked me wanting to now as much about cars as possible. When ever he worked on the Caddy or any car for that matter I always wanted to help but most likely got in the way more often that not. One of the last memories I have of that monster is when my dad got the radio working. I whole-heartedly expected to turn the radio on and to hear someone announcing news from 1976, kind of like in the movie Frequency. Surprisingly, that didn’t happen. My next personal encounter with Cadillac wouldn’t happen again until I was 17.

I can’t remember the exact month but I do remember how and when i got my first car. A highland green ’93 Cadillac 4.6 V8 STS. I called it Highland green because I was and still am a fan of the movie Bullit…the catalogue color of Steve McQueen’s 390 GT. My brother, the previous owner, brought it to my house as a hand-me-down gift. I immediately wanted to take it for a spin. It ran perfectly and as far as I was concerned it was the standard of my world. In the 8os and early 90s American cars were not the best, to put it lightly. However, Gm usually tested all its new technology on Cadillac before making it standard equipment on the rest of its cars. Although something didn’t always work I can assure you my friends with other cars from 1993 were jealous of my heated seats, CD player and Bose gold series speakers. Though they were not jealous when my catalytic converter rusted off. But from one car person to another, with a 4.6 liter American V8 up front, my right foot hasn’t been heavier since. That car has since been retired. Over 150k miles on the clock and a good old-fashioned road trip down to Daytona beach under her belt, it wasn’t a bad life. It was my first car but it won’t be my last Cadillac. I assure you.

My Pilgrimage – Coventry Transport Museum

When initially entering through the museum, i could understand why they called it the “Transport Museum” and not the “Automotive Museum”. that is until i walked up to and was presented with the wall of al the ‘transport’ companies that were born, lived and died in coventry. not only were there countless car and motorcycle companies but also cycle companies.

I couldn’t fathom living in a time where so many companies in one city producing so many of the same type of product. Some companies were never in existence with others. There are a select few where their life spans have overlapped. having lived here for only 2 weeks i just got used to picturing this city as it is. After having a look at this wall, I pictured coventry with wall to wall bike shops sprouting out of car factories and just as many motorcycle shops as pubs… i wish i had a time machine and a million quid to spend.

The whole museum is a gear heads wet dream. The models on display range from the ancient motor bikes to dinosaur like autos. If you happen to have the slightest interest in anything automotive it is very, very cool to see where the machine you drive or ride comes from. Not just the the machine as a whole but the individual components that make your transport of choice up.

tDuring my first visit to the museum, I was amazed at how far back some of the automobiles dated that the museum had on display. One of the first motor bikes along side an original Daimler… very ancient stuff. Moving forward in time, they had an original Mini on display against a backdrop of the tunnel chase scene from The Italian Job. Ironically enough that particular scene was actually filmed in the Coventry sewer system. In my second visit i got to see the area of the museum that housed two lands speed record breaking turbine powered cars. I never really thought they would be the size of a locomotive, but they are. Next to one of the land speed machines was a time line of all the records and the automobiles that accomplished them and also the listed time it would take to get to land mark destinations around the world at those speeds from Coventry. Very cool. My favorite to see was the Campbell BlueBird… no bias…

I was never one for museums. i think they can be incredibly and undeniably boring. The idea of just looking at motionless things on the wall bores me. The parts of history sitting in the Coventry Transportation museum however, you can see and feel the speed of them. Well most of them. The older pieces you have to compare to current technology. “…a hand held mobil phone that let’s me see the person I’m talking to AND surf the web?? holy S**T”…” a carriage without the horse and the mess??? my god!”

If you ever considered yourself a gear head, petrol head, car lover, etc., making it to the Coventry Transportation Museum is a pilgrimage you must make if ever in england. You’ll be surprised at what you do and do not know.