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Cadillac Should Build a Supercar

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author photo by Eric Brandt February 2018

Did you know a Cadillac has won the last two Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance races? This is a grueling 24-hour endurance race that takes place at the famous Daytona International Speedway in Florida. Winning takes not only the best drivers, but an expertly engineered race car with the performance to outpace the competition -- and the reliability to endure 24 hours of track time without any major problems. This victory was achieved with the Cadillac DPi-V.R. prototype race car in 2017 and in 2018 -- but do any of the brand's current or potential customers know that?

I kind of doubt it. Cadillac doesn't tout its newly found endurance racing dominance very much, and I think it should in order to be taken more seriously as the high-end luxury performance brand that it truly is. I believe the best way to get the word out would be to build a world-class supercar.

Yes, Cadillac makes the ATS-V and CTS-V, which are tremendous performance cars and among the best in their respective classes. But I'm talking about a real supercar with a dedicated platform. Something that at least somewhat resembles the DPi-V.R. -- and something that can go toe-to-toe with the likes of Ferrari, Porsche, and McLaren. A supercar from Cadillac would solidify the American luxury brand's place in the upper ranks of automotive excellence by showing off what it can really do.

Unfortunately, there are two crossed flags in the way of a Cadillac sitting at GM's performance throne. The Chevy Corvette has been at the top of the GM sports car food chain, with few exceptions, for over half a century. The closest Cadillac has ever been allowed to come was with the short-lived XLR and XLR-V, which were C6 Corvette-based sports cars built in the same Bowling Green, Kentucky plant as its Chevy counterpart. While more luxurious than the Corvette, the XLR never saw its full performance potential, because nothing is allowed to be better than the Corvette -- the halo car of the whole GM conglomerate.

But Cadillac has been gradually getting more independence from GM. It moved its headquarters from Detroit to New York, and it's been doing less sharing of platforms and components than it used to. Cadillac's vehicles aren't just really nice Chevys and Buicks anymore -- far from it. Every new car Cadillac has come out with over the past decade has been a significant step forward for the brand, and I believe the next logical step is a supercar.

One of Cadillac's greatest virtues is its value proposition. Its luxury cars and performance cars are often as good as (or better than) their rivals, while usually undercutting the price pretty significantly. For example, you can get a Cadillac CT6 with the fantastic Super Cruise hands-free semi-autonomous system for just a little over $70k. The CTS-V starts at around $86k, making it the only "super sedan" of its kind with a 5-digit price tag. These are values you can't get anywhere else in the luxury car world. The same philosophy can be applied to a Cadillac supercar.

Interestingly, Cadillac has toyed with this idea in the past. At the 2002 Detroit Auto Show, Cadillac rolled out a mid-engine supercar concept called the Cien, which features a 7.5-liter V12 that made 750 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. But a supercar is even more relevant now, given Cadillac's racing success and its continued inroads into territory formerly dominated by European luxury brands.

Of course, building a supercar from scratch would be a huge investment and would probably never get a green light from the top brass at GM because of the Corvette -- but if Cadillac were able to pull it off, I think it could put the public perception of the brand where it truly belongs. Since it's a business that needs to make money, it will probably just continue cranking out more crossovers instead ... and hopefully putting V badges on some of them.

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Cadillac Should Build a Supercar - Autotrader