Cadillac is reaching deep into its past to find inspiration for its future.
Cadillacs once enjoyed a reputation as among the world’s finest cars. Under the slogan “the standard of the world,” the brand built cars generations of Americans aspired to own one day. But, from the malaise era onward, it has often shared the stage or struggled to compete with luxury marques from Germany and Japan.
General Motors will attempt to recapture some of that old Cadillac mystique with a new standard-bearer.
A 1950s Icon Building a 21st Century Car
The company has announced that its upcoming Celestiq flagship sedan will be hand-built in a unique location.
GM will invest $81 million to update its Warren Technical Center. Part of the classic building will become an assembly point for the all-electric Celestiq.
The Warren center opened in GM’s 1950s heyday, designed by the famed architect Eero Saarinen. Today, it is where many future GM designs are born and home to the research center the company uses to develop new technologies.
The Warren center’s stainless steel dome design speaks to the optimism of the early jet age. It has been on the national register of historic places since 2014.
GM hopes to tap into the innovative spirit of that era with a combination of 21st Century technology and old-school craft. Massive 3D printers will print Celestiq parts out of polymer and metal, which will be hand-fitted into finished cars.
A Step Up in Luxury
The automotive press hasn’t seen the Celestiq in full yet. Cadillac has released teaser photos that appear to show a long, low-slung sedan that may use a liftback design. It reportedly rides on the same platform as the all-electric Lyriq SUV, which is available with up to 500 horsepower and all-wheel drive (AWD) grip.
Images released so far suggest modern touches like thin LED lighting elements. But they’ll combine with classic hints, including a hood ornament not seen since 1956. Cadillac says it will include a screen that spans the entire width of the cabin and a smart glass roof that lets each occupant control the transparency and shade over their seat.
Cadillac expects to limit Celestiq production, Reuters says, to as low as 400 units per year.
The company hasn’t revealed pricing details yet. But hand-building the car suggests that it may be an attempt to challenge ultra-luxury icons like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It could carry a sticker price well over Cadillac’s most expensive current product, the $82,000-and-up Escalade ESV.