Looking at this photo, I feel a mixture of both frustration and envy. I am frustrated because I failed to take any more snaps of this rare Cadillac STS-V, one of only 2440 produced. The envy is a result of this car’s owner living my dream. He or she owns an STS-V, a car I have lusted after for a decade now. He or she also lives in Harlem, a neighborhood I adore and one very close to my old apartment in Washington Heights. But there are downsides to living in Harlem, just as there are downsides to the STS-V.
Harlem is becoming an increasingly desirable place to live—after all, its location is extremely convenient, it’s full of amazing restaurants and bars, it’s steeped in history, and it has a wonderful vibe. Of course, everybody else is realizing that, too, including landlords and developers and so rents continue to rise. There are also the downsides of gentrification, like low-income residents and small businesses being forced out, but that’s a complex discussion that can’t be covered in a few sentences.
Although my NYC friends may disagree – which is ironic because so many of them are transplants from cities with certifiably awful public transport – the NYC subway system is very good. There’s little need for a car, and off-street parking is expensive. For a car enthusiast, that is one hefty downside to living Harlem or indeed anywhere in NYC. The number of cars wearing DeFenders and Bumper Bullies also demonstrate the danger one faces in street parking. Would you want to street park a rare beast like an STS-V? Probably not.
To those outside of New York, the name ‘Harlem’ may conjure imagery of some frightening neighborhood, as though nothing has changed between Across 110th Street and today (of course, Harlem was hardly ever the worst of NYC’s neighborhoods). Likewise, the Cadillac nameplate carries its own baggage, many associating it with lumbering landyachts purchased by retired grandparents in Florida. Of course, those enlightened know today’s Harlem and today’s Cadillac are very different to their 1970s counterparts. The STS-V and its Sigma platform cohort were the first thundering calls announcing Cadillac had changed.
Although the STS-V wore a much more sedate interpretation of the brand’s new Art & Science design language than the first CTS, its sharp lines and creases, bulging hood and mesh grille made a statement. For whatever reason, the owner of this STS-V – photographed by William Rubano – wanted to make even more of a statement and had his car wrapped in vinyl. Quite a change from how Cadillacs used to be wrapped in vinyl! Unfortunately, this chrome-effect wrapping conceals the character line down the side of the car.
Cadillac advertising touted that all three of the V-Series models hit 0-60 in under 5 seconds. The 2004 CTS-V followed that classic American adage, “there’s no replacement for displacement” with Corvette-sourced LS6 V8 engines (a 5.7 then a 6.0) each pumping out 400 hp and 395 ft-lbs.
The STS-V and XLR-V went a different route, employing a Roots-type supercharged version of the 32-valve, DOHC Northstar producing 469 hp at 6400 rpm and 439 ft-lbs of torque at 3800 rpm. Displacement was reduced to 4.4 liters, while the block and head gaskets were reinforced, new cylinder heads were installed and numerous other modifications were made to support the V’s high-performance mission.
While the 14-year old Cadillac V8 may have seemed an odd starting point for Cadillac’s second V-Series high performance model, the Northstar had already seen enhancements in 2000 and was also adapted for rear-wheel-drive in 2004. However, the needle hadn’t been moved much in terms of performance: the XLR, STS and SRX V8s produced 320 hp and 315 ft-lbs, just 20 horses more than a ’95 Seville STS.
The STS-V was one of numerous hi-po GM models born under the auspices of John Heinricy, the director of GM’s performance vehicles division. Its output was nothing to scoff at, outperforming the Jaguar S-Type R, matching the Mercedes E55 and CLS55 in horsepower but not torque, and besting the V10 M5 in torque but not horsepower.
While the rawer, pushrod V8-packing CTS-V came only with a six-speed manual, the STS-V came only with a 6-speed GM 6L80 automatic with a manual shift mode and Cadillac’s Performance Algorithm Shifting for more aggressive shifts. Sadly, paddle shifters were not available.
While I would happily daily drive a regular STS, an STS-V would have to be a weekend car for me. Like its super-sedan rivals, the V is heavy on fuel: EPA estimates put it at 13/19 mpg. Parts would also be rare and expensive should something go wrong.
If you did have an STS-V as your daily driver, you would have been pleasantly surprised by the ride quality. Cadillac ditched its lauded Magnetic Ride Control (optional in lesser STS models) to provide the V with a more restricted range of motion. They also stiffened the front and rear shocks and anti-roll bars by 15% and added larger Pirelli Eufori run-flat tires (18 inches up front, 19 at the back), but the ride remained compliant. The V also stopped shorter thanks to Brembo brakes.
Presaging the 2007 STS Platinum, the V received an enhanced interior courtesy of Dräxlmaier, known for their work with Maybach. There was a leather-wrapped dash and center console, available in black-on-black or two-tone black and Tango Red. The real Eucalyptus seen in lesser STSs was replaced with olive ash burl wood. Seats featured suede inserts and thicker bolstering but lacked the ventilation of the regular STS. Despite this omission, the V was otherwise fully-loaded—the only option was a sunroof delete.
Critics were impressed with the STS-V but not enough to give it segment honors. Car and Driver ranked it above the CLS55 but below the M5 in a three-way comparison test, praising its comparatively sharper price (at $74k it cost $7k less than the BMW), handsome interior, comfortable ride and impressive power. However, like other media outlets, the STS-V was found to have less engaging handling compared to the Germans, although it certainly didn’t embarrass itself. Its greater dimensions naturally resulted in a less wieldy feel, although the 4300 lb curb weight was close to the Germans. Curiously, Canada’s Driving found the Benz to have more of a rumbling, old-school Detroit muscle feel and sound to it than the STS-V; the Caddy had a more subdued engine note and lower noise, vibration and harshness, although the transmission’s occasional stumbles were a fly in the otherwise very refined ointment. Those seeking to get wild in the V could switch the Stabilitrak to Competitive Mode, allowing for some delightful power oversteer.
The STS-V’s curse seemed to be that it always lived in the shadow of something else. It launched at the same time as the Chrysler 300C SRT-8, an even more dramatically-styled, full-sized American sedan with 425 hp and 420 ft-lbs from its 6.1 Hemi V8 and a price tag $35k less. Then, right as Cadillac finally entered the supersedan party, Mercedes and BMW went ahead and upped the stakes with their even more powerful E63 AMG and V10 M5. The poor STS-V had enemies coming from above and below, but the final nail in the coffin was the second-generation CTS-V.
With a price tag $23k less and a gobsmacking 556 hp and 551 ft-lbs from a supercharged 6.2 V8, not to mention a gorgeous interior and an exciting new interpretation of Art & Science, the new CTS-V made the STS-V the most pointless potential purchase in a Cadillac showroom. The XLR-V roadster may have been even more expensive and just as slow a seller but at least it was a roadster and had something no other Cadillac could offer. The STS-V overlapped with the new CTS-V for one year before being retired.
The STS-V’s exclusivity hasn’t translated to strong resale values, the cars being worth little more than the contemporary first-generation CTS-V. The 2009 models — the rarest model year — are generally worth thousands less than the much more desirable 2009 CTS-V. Selling an STS-V to M5 drivers in the mid-2000s was like trying to sell a two-bedroom Harlem walk-up to Upper East Side debutantes.
I daydream often about where I’d like to live and what cars I’d like to own. Give me a brownstone in Harlem, and some off-street parking for a daily driver CTS. And although the STS-V isn’t perfect, I’d love to have one as a weekend car. Then I wouldn’t need to be envious anymore.
Future CC: 2014 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon – Born A Classic
Future CC: 2005-11 Cadillac STS
Future Curbside Classic: 2015 Chrysler 300 SRT – Coming To A Classic Car Show Near You, Eventually
Future Classic: 2007 Mercedes-Benz R63 AMG – The Least Desired AMG?
Thanks William for this detailed writeup on an interesting car. It seems an interesting choice to supercharge the Northstar when so much cheap horsepower is available from a small block. I wholeheartedly agree with it though. Cadillac had their own engine and Lincoln did not. They should never stray from that paradigm.
This was the chase the Germans phase at Cadillac. The looks are therefore not as expressive as Chrysler. At the same time, I would question if the average M5 buyer even knew of this cars existence.
It is my understanding that this car had it’s most success as a long wheelbase car in China, without the performance goodies. Arts and Sciences did not appeal to them and it was more diluted in this.
My fondness for the Seville is pretty much contained to the first three generations. All of which are deadly sins, even if they outsold this bland looking, if not sinfull thing. I am not sure it would have even be possible to not chase the Germans after 1991. Good design is so much to do with self confidence, which Cadillac had completely lost.
There was very little “self confidence” in the 1986 Seville’s design. I know CC has discussed this ad nauseum, but Cadillac paid dearly for this flop.
Completely disagree. They lead but few buyers followed. That is very different from copying, and to me, much more interesting.
Re: Leading vs. Following. This is one of the reasons why I like the Art & Science design direction. FWIW, it has been consistent for the last 20 or so years, one can generally identify a Cadillac because of that trait. The same applies to MB, BMW and Lexus too.
I really find the newest examples of Cadillacs quite nice. Too bad I don’t have the finances to own one.
+1, Geozinger. It’s really quite remarkable how they have retained this design language and evolved it. And it still retains elements of classic Cadillac design. It’s been softened a bit lately but it still stands out.
I definitely agree about Art and Science. Cadillac had to set a distinct “look” after making what looked like more rounded versions of ’90s designs that looked like more rounded ’80s designs (’00s Deville) or initially sharp ’90s designs that had simply become stale (Seville).
+3. And while the design language has been around for a while, it continues to evolve tastefully with very few missteps (ELR), IMO.
I am a big fan of the 2008 CTS. With thee return of RWD and skipping the German chasing Northstar and the by then perfected 4.9, what a great 92 Seville it would have made. More than a hint of the 86-91 in that car. With a doubling down on the digital interface, it really was the future, a world beater.
Your write up is 100% correct, took the words right out of my mouth.
Well, I find the Acura ZDX interesting and unique, but that doesn’t mean I think its poor sales were somehow because it was so brilliant and class-leading that buyers couldn’t understand it. Vehicular flops can be interesting, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a reason buyers avoided them. Sometimes there is, sometimes it’s just the wrong car at the wrong time. The 1986 Seville may have been the right car for the future predicted in 1980, but by the time 1986 came around, it was apparent that GM had put too many eggs into the wrong basket.
Trying something different can succeed or fail. The outcome is not always deserved. The best selling sales year for the 86-91 Seville was 91, not a good year for car sales. But people were catching on to the virtues.
Me and you may be the only one that loves the 1986-1991 Seville. I do not care what people say. Heck I liked them, they looked like mini shrink wrapped baby Seville’s (1975-1979 version), but still with V8 engines.
The 1988-1991 Cadillac Seville STS were down right beautiful, had Bose audio system and the 1990-91 models boasted 200 BHP. That is a ton of power for such a small-ish premium luxury car. I do believe that if GM only introduced the 1986 model about 2 inch longer & wider. It would have been a true winner! that was all that was needed IMO.
Very enjoyable read, Will. Given your love of these Cadillacs and NYC, I hope one day you can make one or more of your daydreams a reality.
Sadly for me, your first shot just brings up frustration. Even in the 2000s, Cadillac was just “off” as far as I was concerned. Granted, this STS was better looking than the hyena-butt Gen1 CTS, but it is not an exciting design. Parked by the Civic, the STS hardly looks like a better, more desirable car.
Inside, more of the same blandness. This was supposed to be an über-luxury-sport machine? Just generic GM swathed in leather…
Performance wise? Well, there was a tweaked version of an old engine (with a poor reputation for reliability woes) that could not beat the competition. No paddle shifters in a high-performance sedan. Handling that didn’t even match the leaders. Sorry Cadillac, that was just not how to win hearts and minds of high-end luxury performance buyers.
Cadillac was a market leader back when they had an arrogance and swagger, with distinctive styling and an unmistakable presence (love it or hate it, you couldn’t miss it). This STS-V was trying to be something Cadillac never was: a German high-performance sedan, and they just couldn’t pull it off.
I wished then, and I wish now, that Cadillac would focus on making great Cadillacs again, not fake BMWs and Benzes. How about stunning interiors that would put a Range Rover to shame? How about a vehicle with the visual presence of the circa-2000 Sixteen concept or the circa-2013 Elmiraj concept? How about a truly innovative and unique power train not shared with other GM cars? Then Cadillac wouldn’t have to defensively boast about “beating” competitors with meaningless performance statistics (note: that tactic doesn’t work for attracting high-end buyers who want the confidence of a winner, not the hyperventilating boasting of someone who just isn’t a real player). Cadillac could lead and not follow once again. If that happened, then I would even start daydreaming about owning a Cadillac too.
I agree, GN. The point about the interiors is especially significant – of all the things that can be done to upgrade a car, the interior is probably the least expensive and easiest to do.
When Cadillac finally figures out that it cannot build a better high-end German sport sedan than the Germans can, Cadillac might be on its way to a renaissance.
As far as I know, the RWD Northstar did not have any issues.
I disagree, GN and JP. As my recent CTS review shows, Cadillac has managed to make cars that ride with the plushness and solidity you would expect of a Cadillac and yet absolutely delight in the twisties.
I feel Cadillac just needs more time to change perceptions. A lot of people – including GM fans – are getting antsy about sagging CTS sales and about some of Johan de Nysschen’s decisions. I think we have to be patient. Cadillac is making some amazing cars and eventually buyers will realize. I have hope.
A flashy flagship like the Sixteen would be nice but I don’t think that will do anything for sales. Right now, Cadillac needs more crossovers. Some more plug-in hybrids, too (the CT6 plug-in is coming soon). I imagine the next ATS and CTS will be a bit bigger in the back seat as well, which may help sales (I didn’t find the CTS that cramped though; criticism of its back seat is over the top).
Re: the STS-V, I know people criticize the regular STS for having a somewhat bland interpretation of A&S styling but the STS-V really elevates it. It doesn’t look like an M5 or E63. It’s interesting to note reviews found the STS-V rode better, indicating this was less extreme than the Germans and perhaps a more comfortable all-rounder.
Where they went wrong was choosing the Northstar V8. It was at an evolutionary deadend and I truly wonder if they could have extracted anymore from it if they tried. Obviously, the next CTS-V went with a regular pushrod V8 and still earned rave reviews. The STS-V was certainly refined and the Northstar probably helped its more subtle, sporting character but the E63 and V10 (!!!) M5 were anything BUT subtle.
The Germans…always those Germans. M, AMG and ….
Johannes, I would actually prefer that type of Cadillac to the usual German suspects even though I’m too situated in the EU. Different and capable of being used on our mountainous roads. They are rare but when they come up for sale they can be had for thousands less than the Germans.
That is, if I was not concerned about what spending the winter standing in storage would do to its electronics (this could hardly be an all year round car here)…
PS: I could say the same for any of the high perf Jags.
What I would REALLY like to experience is a 2017 Porsche Panamera 4S that can do 0-62 mph in 4.5 seconds. Not impressed ? Then keep in mind I mean the 4S Diesel…
Cadillac has had over 30 years to change perceptions!!!!! Unless they do something bold, repeatedly and flawlessly–and soon–they will not break through. Rehashing BMW and MB themes that are now dated (the RWD/AWD sport sedan market is shrinking, not growing) is not a recipe for success. I enjoyed your CTS review very much, but there was nothing you wrote that indicated that it was better than a 3 Series or C Class, merely that it was competitive. That isn’t good enough to get people to rethink their brand preferences, especially in a segment where image is of paramount importance.
I will bluntly state the harsh reality for all current Cadillac fans: the brand still does not have the cache enjoyed by the luxury segment leaders. Period. And before people start screaming how fabulous and successful the Escalade is, I will restate that the jumbo SUV is nothing more than a blinged-out, extra-expensive Suburban, and people know it. I live on the North Shore of Chicago, which is prime territory for luxury vehicles. The mix of full-size GM SUVs is 50% Chevy, 25% GMC, 25% Cadillac. They are viewed as pricey station wagons, nothing more. White or silver ones are driven by “Rich B**ch” moms (whose hubbies drive Porsche/Benz/BMW), black ones by livery drivers going back and forth to O’Hare Airport. Cadillac sedans? In my town of 19,000 people, I don’t ever see them. I know just one person who has a recent-vintage CTS, and I kid you not, she just turned 99-years-old (the mother of a neighbor). Oh yeah, there are some 60-something and 70-something women who drive SRXs. Hardly the sort of scintillating imagery to get affluent buyers storming their nearest Cadillac dealer in search of the “latest and greatest.”
So what are the popular, pricey “image” vehicles in town? BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Audi, Range Rover. Down a notch or two on the status ladder but still seen as desirable are Jeep (Wrangler and Grand Cherokee), Ford Explorer, the jumbo GM SUVs (interchangeable–all seemingly have equal status), Lexus, Acura SUVs, Infiniti SUVs and the newest Volvos. Cadillac and Lincoln simply don’t compute as prestige brands, but there is one high-end American brand that does…
Tesla is getting people to take notice. The brand is seen as fresh, bold and innovative. Their mind share is well ahead of their market share–they have already achieved the status of an “über-cool” brand which is the core essence of luxury marketing. And they built this reputation in just 4 years!! So no, the market will not allow Cadillac any more time to keep trying to “match” the competition…
Ironically, Tesla is pushing features that remove the driver from the “chore” of driving, much as Cadillac and their abundant creature comforts used to do. The market is shifting toward luxury, technology and SUVs. Cadillac should play to their historic strength of style, comfort/luxury and high tech convenience features–that way they could get back ahead of the curve instead of chasing yesterday’s German “news.” Unless they do this, and do it soon, their sales and market share picture won’t get any brighter, particularly as the Escalade ages and the “RB” crowd moves on to the next new glittery wagon. The clock is ticking…
I agree with what you say, but I got some points to address.
The one about Tesla is pretty valid, and normally, I would reluctantly concede because to make a long story short, I don’t like Tesla at all. However, I think the reason that people like Tesla so much is twofold.
1: People are very conscious about image, and the Tesla presents one that, while I think is dishonest and not something I care to project myself, certainly holds true for a market share of people.
2: The Apple effect.
Remember when the first Iphone came out? People were enthralled with it, people loved the idea of what it could do and the potential that was there. Sure, it had its issues, but people didn’t care. But what happened? Well, the other companies took notice, came out with their own products that offered the same if not more of what the Iphone had, at a cheaper price. Now, an Iphone is seen as an overpriced and underdeveloped brick of stupid ideas and half-assed decisions compared to its competitors, and unless you’re a diehard Apple junkie, it just seems like bad value. I imagine the same will happen to Tesla, yes, they’re King Mighty right now, but what happens when other companies do the same thing that Tesla is doing, and do it better and cheaper. Where does the company go then?
Speaking of perception, let’s talk Escalade. As some of you may know, I hate the Escalade. A lot. So, I’ll try to be as objective as possible. The Escalade projects an image for the brand certainly, but not an image that’s positive. When I think of Escalade, I think of the modifications done at the height of it’s popularity. Loud, overblown interiors full of LED lights and giant bass speakers, gigantic 20’+ wheel (With spinning rims no less, because “gangsta son!”) and Chrome wraps everywhere. I imagine that that image, in some way, still exists for the Escalade and for Cadillac at large. The fact of the matter is this, that image is long gone. It may still exist in some forms, to be sure, but it’s nowhere near as mainstream as it was. The fact of the matter is this, the Escalade is still being built with the mindset that the image it had with rappers and reality show stars back at the second gen’s height in popularity still applies. But no one told the company that this is not 2004 anymore. Now granted, there are certainly more tasteless and stupid SUVs out there that are popular with the Noveau Riche (G Wagon anyone?), but those SUVs don’t dominate the image of the companies quite like the Escalade does. Customers in the luxury segment want something new, and the Escalade is so stale, you could use it as a Frisbee.
I do admire the fact that Cadillac is trying to do something else and go back to its roots. (I saw a CT6 yesterday on my way home from work, and that is a gorgeous looking car), but the fact of the matter is, they got a long way to go. Cadillac needs to understand that people are always going to think of Grandpa’s Coupe Deville rather than an M5 when they hear the name. That may not sound positive, and I understand it’s not. But I think they should embrace what that image used to mean, rather than what it turned into.
Oh, I know Cadillac doesn’t have the cache of the Germans. But consider this: Lexus and Infiniti may have a rather elevated position in the US market, but elsewhere they struggle. Why? Because the Germans have been at it for longer. Nobody cracks the luxury market overnight. Nobody is telling Lexus to reverse course in Europe and try some different product.
One exception is Tesla, and that’s because the Model S used a completely different form of propulsion than anything else while the Germans were still dilly-dallying with hybrids and diesels. I think Tesla may have been helped by being a new brand with no preconceived notions.
I won’t defend the Escalade. I can appreciate it is an aspirational vehicle for many and I can understand it has strong name equity. But the sooner the Escalade is dumped for a refined, Range Rover-esque SUV – still with bold styling, however – the better. And keep the Escalade name. I don’t believe what is effectively a Chevy truck with a live axle belongs next to a CT6.
I said changing perceptions will take time. You say Cadillac has been trying for 30 years and that’s somewhat true. However, they didn’t take it seriously in the 1990s. The 1992 Seville arrived at roughly the same time as a new Fleetwood, Eldorado and DeVille, all clearly aimed at traditional buyers. I would say Cadillac has only been “seriously” trying to battle the Germans head-on as of 2002. Everything else was just dipping toes in the water (’88 STS), or making the best of what they had, platform-wise (’98 Seville).
Even since 2002, Cadillac has occasionally taken a step back and stopped their progress. Look at the 2006 DTS or even the 2013 XTS: concessions to their old buyers and ones that didn’t help draw in new ones (although the XTS was a much more modern and competitive vehicle).
Cadillac has a full lineup of sedans now. That part is done. Now, it’s onto crossovers, with two planned for the next few years. Are they hella late to the crossover party? Yes. They misjudged the market with the first SRX, even if conceptually it was similar to the Germans’ offerings. The 2010 was successful but you’re right, it isn’t exactly youthful. But with some more crossovers in the lineup, I see their future getting brighter.
One wonders though how much juice the crossover concept has left in it. Usually the market moves on after a while, but I can’t argue the concept of a crossover is appealing for many.
“So what are the popular, pricey “image” vehicles in town? BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Audi, Range Rover. Down a notch or two on the status ladder but still seen as desirable are Jeep (Wrangler and Grand Cherokee), Ford Explorer, the jumbo GM SUVs (interchangeable–all seemingly have equal status), Lexus, Acura SUVs, Infiniti SUVs and the newest Volvos.”
Bizarrely, you just described Vienna’s upper crust car scene – up to a point. Take out the mega SUVs and put Volvo (and maybe Jaguar) ahead of the Japanese, with more and more Teslas making an appearance at the bottom and you have it (you may also wish to throw in the odd Maserati and sedan).
Re Escalade, here in Austria those are usually driven by people you don’t want to meet; even among US car fans they are seen as somewhat of a bad joke. Very different image from the one held by the most luxurious Jeeps, which are thought of as serious competition to the Rovers.
GN, it’s very much the same in my neighborhood with the exception of some higher-end pickup trucks mixed in mainly by owners of construction companies etc.
Infiniti is to some extent visible but ONLY with their SUV’s, no sedans, Lexus is mainly that way as well.
I wonder if part of William’s affection for the Cadillac is due to it not being a player where he is located. Similar to how many (myself included) will fawn over whatever cars are not available in North America but in reality probably aren’t that great (it’s just that we can’t get them).
We’ve seen Cadillac make one misstep after another. The current generation of buyers has largely given up on them and has ZERO interest. Maybe the Escalade (as you noted) but that’s an outlier. Other parts of GM are coming back. The Malibu for example was a name with so much negative baggage that finally after several recent generations is able to be taken seriously again by those shopping its (mainly Asian) competition.
Cadillac is dead. There is no meat on the bone. New ones don’t appeal to those with the money to spend, they are priced (or perceived to be priced) too high compared to the “established” competition, and where’s the value proposition. Nobody wants to explain at a cocktail party why they bought one over a readily accepted Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Volvo or whatever. It’s just not how the masses work. There’s too much groupthink and insecurity among the newly middle-upper class to try something new. And Cadillac is way too vocal in explaining why they are at least as good as X, Y, and Z. If you want to be taken seriously then do something different and shut up. Let your product speak for itself, but not just as another option, it needs something to differentiate it at this point. The current product does not have that and power, once something desirable, has become cheap and available everywhere. It’s no longer the thing and there are way too few places where it can be actually used anyway.
Volvo, in contrast, is succeeding after years of lackluster vehicles with the XC90 and soon the new S90/V90. How? The interiors are stunning, the cars are designed very well and stand out from a crowd in a non-shouty way and everything about them is subtly elegant and in no way crass. The XC90 has rapidly become one of the Go-To vehicles in this area and I see them continuing on this path as long as they keep the rest of the product line on a similar path.
I have no idea who the actual people are behind Volvo (yes I know Geely owns them but don’t know any names). I know WAY too much about Johan, Melody and Uwe and know that these are individuals that on some level annoy me with the way that they are proceeding with their business. They are simply getting in the way of the brand and thus actively making it undesirable.
What kind of crowd does one move in where one has to explain the choice of a long established name like Cadillac. Explaining a purchase to such ignorant people must really be tiresome.
Oh right though, Cadillacs sales decline has nothing to do with generational politics.
(topmost photo): Which is the Cadillac??
Was scrolling the comments looking for someone to say it! Otherwise I would!
Greenhouse shape really is identical, and the body lines aren’t far off either
Same here. Sort of like the Olds Calais and downsized mid 80s Eldorado
Green house styling in the mid 50’s, mid 60’s, etc for the Big Three also look much the same………
Difference is they looked better………..
That is debatable of course….
Hooper bodied Rolls Royces from the World War Two period are hard to beat for style.
The angle and distance of the photo make the Civic and STS look a lot more alike than they actually do. Vague resemblance in roofline design aside, these do not look alike.
Not exactly alike, but shows how Cadillacs have
homogenized since, ohhh about, the late ’80s.
Conversely, a 72, or 58 Ville comes down the street
and life comes to a stand-still for a minute or so. 🙂
A 2010 CTS rolls by? Hmmm.. Looks like what
I shaved with this morning.
Very informative write-up of a car I barely took notice or interest in when it came out. I didn’t know these were so rare, so the fact that I’ve likely never seen one also has kept them off my radar for so long.
I sort-of liked this generation STS, but always thought the design lacked something. Even the regular versions were never all that common.
On the note of having this car in the city, you’d be surprised the amount of very high-end cars people who live in Boston, sans bumper bullies. Granted, most who drive newer expensive cars also have the luxury of heated underground parking.
Great analogy to Harlem too. Like NYC and many other cities, various Boston neighborhoods continue to experience the same trends with developers buying up properties in less desirable neighborhoods and either building new luxury condos in their place or revitalizing older properties, younger professionals moving in and also fixing up older buildings/homes, etc. The people, restaurants, other businesses, change and the level of income and cost of living also increase. It’s definitely a heated debate, and I can see both sides of the argument.
Brendan: I’m agsinst the gentrification and subsequent
upscaling you described in your last paragraph. Common
folk need a place to live and eat. No excuses for $2,000/
month broom closets, $10 burgers, and $5 coffees.
And all of the authenticy that made the neighborhood appealing to hipsters disappears, to which they find the next community to indirectly uproot.
XR7Matt: I’ve seen it happen in Nye Beach in Newport Or. Sugar House in Salt Lake, Melrose Ave, Silverlake, West Hollywood and it’s all the same thing: Corporate version [Disney style] of what hip trending places are supposed to be.
These places sprung up organically, because of the people living there, not from social engineering urban planners and big buck retailers.
They weren’t about curb extenders, traffic calming, high end mixed use apartments on top and upscale shopping and dining on the street level, but places where real people, local residents and businesses could afford to be that made these areas what they were.
Check out the downtown areas the young house humpers on “House Hunters” want to live in. They all look like they are designed from some sort of Uni-plan for downtown redevelopment whether they be in the South, North East or West. All the same.
There’s an orgy of it going on in Hollywood, my old hometown. I doubt I’d recognize it after six years away.
Most of the Portland metro area is getting that way too. Ive only lived here 10 years and barely recognize it sometimes. I’m all for cleaning up a slum but at the same time, pricing ‘regular people’ out isn’t the answer.
The thing I hate the most is when a developer buys an old home or small apartment building in an untouched historic area, demolishes it and puts up a McMansion or luxury condos. On the units they use state density bonus laws to get around height limits and providing sufficient parking.
The McMs are hard to sell and change hands over and over. The condos don’t sell and end up becoming apartments. The developer then flips the building to make a quick buck and leaves a permanent eyesore in the community. The newer construction doesn’t age well.
Historic preservation overlay zones (HPOZs) are a good way to protect a neighborhood from these developers. If you wait too long though, and lose too many vintage buildings, you become ineligible for HPOZ protection. Long-time, rent-stabilized tenants get displaced in the process and many become homeless. The neighborhood loses not just its charming, historic architecture but also its soul as the newer tenants tend to be younger and more transient.
They come in, rape you, get you pregnant and leave you with the baby. Then as Matt says it’s off to the next community.
The luxury condos are the ones that bother me. I’m all for revitalizing older neighborhoods if it means fixing what’s broken, rescuing buildings falling into disrepair, encouraging small business investment and the like. When you start building bland “inoffensive modern”, or worse yet, fake neoclassical condo blocks, you’re replacing individual character with sameness and obliterating the originality that made the place attractive in the first place.
Otherwise it really is a slippery slope though. How to encourage those with the means to make improvements to move in, without displacing those who have made these places what they are? How to constructively improve without pricing people out? How to attract art, good food, and cool places while resisting chain establishments and the corporate onslaught?
Some cities seem to do a better job than others. I feel like Richmond has managed to navigate these waters pretty well so far, especially given a rather unsavory reputation from the 80’s and early 90’s to overcome, but even with a good track record you’re always one bad planning commission vote away from the path to disaster.
There are lots of rent-controlled apartments in NYC. The city is also implementing responsible housing practices, like requiring new developments to meet a quota of low-income housing apartments per development.
Good luck finding a rent-controlled apt. these days in NYC. The situation is very dire, as I read almost every day in the NYT.
Couldn’t have said it better. The early Art & Science cars are very dated, not to mention the chincy interiors.
True, but these models were a major stepping stones for Cadillac to start to seriously taking on the Euro sedans.
You have to remember this is Cadillac. Which had to learn from scratch how to play in the hyper sport performance segment of the car world. Where as BMW / Benz etc had been use to high performance cars for decades now.
So this was the prequel to what Cadillac is today.
Well, today, Cadillac still is not seriously taking on the Euro luxury cars. But in five years or so, they might have a lineup which could be taken seriously.
The STS might have been one small step forward, but GM subsequently took two large steps back and killed the long-standing nameplate in the process. So it is hard to say this car did them any real good.
How is Cadillac’s current passenger car lineup not seriously taking on the Germans?
I’d say Cadillac matched the Euro luxury cars years ago, but the Euro luxury cars became way better at being plushy soft cruisers than driving machines years ago. That’s the problem with chasing shadows
Have you seen the Motortrend / Automobile Magazine where the Cadillac CTS (V-Series). Beat the M-Benz C-Class (AMG), Audi RS, BMW (M3) etc in a head 2 head comparison. It has like millions of views on YouTube. I think from a year or two ago.
To even think that a Caddy could even be mentioned in the same breath as these stellar stealth fighters like 13-15 years ago was an impossible thought in ones head. It is proof that it might take 30 years to beat the very best in class, but it’s possible! for that we all have to give Caddy credit. Sure it took many attempts, with several abysmal fails like the Cimmaron Sport, Edl
They have definitely aged poorly and had lousy interiors, even though I give Cadillac credit for trying to “reinvent” itself. The CTS at least brought in buyers that never would have considered Cadillac.
I can’t share your enthusiasm for the Cadillac, as it just doesn’t speak to me, probably due to a lot of hands-on experience with my father’s 1st generation CTS, a car that I learned to loathe.
Harlem, however, I can whole-heartedly share your feelings for. As a former West Harlem (Hamilton Heights, to be precise) resident for 5 years, it remains without question the area that I’d choose to settle into for the remainder of my days if not for the skyrocketing expense involved.
Do you still live in NYC?
Washington Heights was quite reasonably priced and always felt nice, like it couldn’t really be gentrified. Besides, that would destroy the character. The Heights aren’t The Heights without Dominicans parking their minivans curbside in the summer and blasting music; lively Latin music pouring out from bodegas; piragua stands on every corner; etc etc.
It’s funny how so many parts of Brooklyn are more expensive to live in than Manhattan. Now that Williamsburg is all gentrified, the next stop is Bushwick. From then, it’ll be East New York. Hell, give it 20 years and hipsters will be moving to Brownsville.
My thoughts are with you today William. I know what it is like to be on this site pointing out virtues,(or vices) of a car no one else sees. It is a thankless, impossible enterprise, as people will have made snap judgements and simply will not take the time to take a fresh look with an open mind. Your friends will move the discussion to the architecture of Harlem, perhaps that is for the best.
Thank you John. I don’t take it personally. Yes, this is a car I love but I see its flaws and I see where it fell down against the competition. But for GM’s first full-size supersedan effort, it held its head up high and was almost as good as the established Germans. The Art & Science cars were what made me a Cadillac fan, and I’m a proud Cadillac fan because of how good GM could make the STS-V (even if it wasn’t class-leading) just twenty years after the overpriced-yet-cheap Cimarron and the thoroughly disappointing downsized ’86 Eldorado and Seville.
Friend at work bought one recently. I like how low the the front is. I don’t like the A&S look, but over the years I’m mellowed to it. Heck of deal, these depreciate big time. Only had it for 2 months now, so can’t say how reliable it is. I’ve never known anyone to keep their Cads for more than 2 years. Too much trouble.
Hmmmm Are those really Cadillacs?
I don’t recognize them without 200 vertical LED white lights adorning each side of the front headlight area. They went from humongous LED 3rd brake lights to completely over the top front adornments. You say most people don’t own cars in New York, sorry but I could not imagine ever giving up my cars “freedom ” to live like that.
Don’t want, or have any need for Uber or public transit.
People complain when Cadillacs get bland, and yet they complain when they are bold and flashy once again. Sigh.
And as much as I am a car enthusiast and love owning a car, more people on this planet should be taking public transit and more cities should be making an effort to implement effective public transit like NYC has done. They had the foresight to build one of the world’s best subway stations long before they reached the huge population figure they have today. That’s what the planet needs.
As for Uber, well, I tend to use that when I’m going out drinking. I hope you wouldn’t be driving your car then!
I have also always been a fan of the STS-V; I have always viewed them as sort of filling the role for Cadillac that Bentley does for Rolls Royce (Yes, I know; I am not saying that Cadillac is on par with Rolls Royce). The STS-V is a gentleman’s luxury touring express. In this case though, the destination would Las Vegas rather than Monte Carlo. It’s also a pretty nice ride for going clubbing in the Big Apple, with plenty of room for two couples.
I am pleased that Cadillac is on the come-back trail and have great hopes for them over the next five years or so. I agree with GN that Cadillac should focus on their interior quality and go ‘over the top’ there. The horsepower race is over when Honda Accords have 240 power. How high can you go, and what does it prove any more? 700 hp for a street car? So what? Further every car has integrated Bluetooth and all the same onboard computerized gimmicks – there’s no place left to stand out there. Overall quality is also very good for even average cars now. So, rich and thick leather and heavy chrome quality switchware please… and soon.
The V – series Cadillac’s are more aimed at the BMW M – series cars. AMG Mercedes are also aimed at the M series. Bentley’s were for the most part a cheaper car than the Rolls, although at times did offer some extra performance.
I have not thought that I would like a V-series, but the basic STS was something I thought I might like, until the 2008 CTS, which then seemed like a better car. At this point I think the Sigma Cadillac’s were a good start, but now the current line is ever so much better that it is not surprise that the STS’s resale value is down.
This and the CTS-V are the only sedans with 6 lug wheels that I know of.
Ill be damned, youre right!
Personally, I despise 6 bolt wheel patterns. They aren’t usually compatible with a classic 5 spoke wheel design and in the case of late model Fords, and ’97-’04 Dakotas/Durangos its some weird-o size pattern and your choices in wheels are extremely limited. And this isn’t the only nut ball application for them. Dodge Vipers, some Kia minivans, and the fullsize GM fwd based CUVs use them also. On a heavy duty truck I can begin to see the purpose, but….REALLY?
Nice to know someone loves these. 🙂
I’m a fan of the Art & Science look, it reminds me of the “sheer” look of the 1977 B-bodies. This last Seville was one of the best IMO, from a styling POV.
I know most don’t care for the somewhat anodyne looks, but at least it’s proportioned well, unlike the contemporary Chrysler 300C with it’s chopped roof. Or some cars that have come after that have 20″ wheels on a passenger car, Toyota Venza springs to mind.
To me it looks like an NFL player in a nicely tailored suit, or the kind of car I should be driving now that I’m all grown up.
+1 again, Geozinger. I absolutely agree. The 300C SRT-8 was in-your-face and, while I think it looks cool, I can’t honestly it looks elegant. This looks cool and elegant.
I prefer these to the original CTS design; it always looked a little off to me, stubby from some angles, and the interior design with its bulging center stack was awful. These were a mellower take on art & science design–probably too mellow. The interior really does seem like generic GM with nicer materials. However, all things considered, I do like them. They’re a step in a progression though–when the second-gen CTS premiered, *that* was art & science done right, at least to my eyes, and the STS faded into the background.
However, the slight visual tweaks of the V trim help make up for the oversubtle design, and it’s hard to argue with the power. I also wonder if the boosted Northstar might return better fuel economy than the CTS-V’s LS? It would be an intriguing option if I were ever to see one for sale. As has been mentioned, by the time they were putting the N* into RWD vehicles, it seemed most of the reliability problems had been rectified.
Nice writeup overall and I do like that lead photo–that’s a great row of classic brownstones (even though only one seems to be brown).
The RWD Northstar was reengineered as the cooling needed redone. They added VVT. I think that the intake manifold length was not variable, which might have enhanced performance.
The supercharged Northstar did have more horsepower and torque than the Corvette engines at that time. However, horsepower and torque do not always translate into better performance.
I leased one. Great car when it was running. Two supercharger pullies, one transmission wiring harness, rear axle bearings, numerous smaller gripes. Out of a 36 month lease, it was in the shop for four months. The service department never followed up, loaners were $hitbox pontiacs, always treated me like I was interrupting something more important.
I’ve since owned two 911s and currently drive an Audi Rs-5 convertible. Service department treats me like a valued customer.
Screw you GM.
Anybody ever watch “The Beast”? Patrick Swayze drove one of these in that short lived 2009 TV series. It was short lived because he made it after his pancreatic cancer diagnosis and sadly lost that battle. Classy and driven to the last.
CC effect, I saw three of these last generation STSs today! No Vsports though.