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Cadillac Escala – More Vaporware from Cadillac?

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Escala Continues Series of Outstanding Cadillac Concepts  Concept cars push design limits to determine if the buying public is ready.  Over the past few years, Cadillac has teased the car community with three outstanding concept cars.  The Ciel was a 4-door convertible with suicide doors first shown in 2011.  The Elmiraj was a stunning coupe shown at Pebble Beach in 2013.  The Escala was a highlight of the Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance in 2016.

The Ciel and Elmiraj were to be precursors of future Cadillacs.  Then the Cadillac CT6 sedan was launched and we learned these distinctive concept cars were just vaporware after all.  Concept cars often over-promise the future and production cars under-deliver.  This year’s Escala may not be produced, but some of its design cues may find their way into future Cadillacs.

Cadillac Escala FV ForbesEscala is a Glimpse of Future Cadillacs  With Johan de Nysschen leading Cadillac there may be a better than even chance that Cadillac will actually launch a flagship.  If the Escala were produced as it was shown the car would be worthy of Cadillac’s old “Standard of the World” tagline.  It could be the car that would return Cadillac to its heyday.   Like the Ciel and Elmiraj, the Escala may be nothing more than a design exercise.

de Nysschen, however, added this note of caution to the Escala’s press release.  “Depending on the development of the market segment for large luxury sedans, Escala is a potential addition to our existing product plan.”  Interpret this to mean that the Escala is not a go program yet.

CADILLAC ESCALA R34 VehicleVoiceThe front end style uses Cadillac’s distinctive vertical light pipe driving lights.  Narrow OLED headlamps flank a sinister looking blacked out grille with a sporty three-dimensional texture.  The headlamps and grille are highlighted by a bright surround that is mimicked in the rear styling.  The bodyside is relatively unadorned with subtle rearward front fender and forward quarter panel character lines meeting around the B-Pillar.  The very fast roofline hides a rear hatch with a generous rear opening ala Audi A7.  The liftover, however, looks a bit daunting.  The bright bordered boomerang-shaped taillamps are connected by a horizontal bright strip atop the rear fascia.  There are large bright dual exhausts to complete the ornamentation of the rear end.

To give an idea of the size of the Escala, it is about 6-inches longer than today’s Cadillac CT6 sedan.  Six-inches may not seem like a lot, but the Escala (probably CT8 if it is ever produced) looks much more substantial than CT6.

Cadillac Escala Interior VehicleVoiceDriver Interface – OLED Screens  The interior of the Escala is very tastefully done with upscale materials and three OLED panels for the telematics/infotainment systems.  The interior is trimmed in light grey to maximize the sense of spaciousness.  The OLED panels sweep across the instrument panel and maximize the display of information for the driver.

Cadillac Dealers Need More Crossovers  Johan deNysschen is less-than-definite about whether Escala will be produced.  In fact, there are rumblings that de Nysschen’s ambitious product plans have been scaled well back.  So the existence of the Escala is very iffy.   We can be somewhat confident that some of the design cues on the car – like the front and rear designs – may be seen on a future Cadillac model.  Frankly, Cadillac would be well-served to add a couple of hot-selling crossover SUVs to its lineup first. The flagship would be nice, but the crossovers would move the metal.


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The Quail 2016… A Motorsports Gathering

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The Quail VehicleVoiceThis is the second time I have attended The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering and it did not disappoint.  Held at The Quail Lodge and Golf Club in Carmel, California, the event drew 5,000 attendees.  Cars and motorsports are supposed to be the highlight of the event, but food, drink and people are even more interesting.  The attendees were enthusiasts, collectors, owners and motorsports personalities.  Some of the vehicles on display had their owners hovering nearby.  Other vehicles had their attendants close to make sure spectators did not touch them.   Some of the restorers had worked on the cars for years and were bringing them out in public for the first time since the restoration was complete.  Getting more popular all the time are “barn finds”.  These are vehicles that have not been restored to a level never even attained from the factory.  They have their fifty, sixty, seventy or eighty year patina intact.

There were over 250 vehicles to gaze at.  Most were luxury and sporting marques like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Rolls Royce, Bentley.  One of the highlights was the new Bugatti Chiron in a deep French blue with a highly chromed character line sweeping up the A-Pillar along the door and then down and back forward towards the front fender.  Very dramatic.  Framing the Chiron was a “sea” of Bugatti Veyrons in a rainbow of colors.

Bugatti Chiron VehicleVoiceBugatti Sea VehicleVoiceWhile The Quail is an event for individuals to showcase their vehicles, corporate displays seem to be on the upswing as well.  Bugatti showcased the Chiron.  Bentley showed off the Bentayga and the new Mulsanne.  Acura was there celebrating 30 years on the market.  BMW was celebrating its 100th Anniversary.  Cadillac was featuring its CTS-V.  Alfa Romeo featured the 4C and upcoming Guilia sedan.  Singer, the classic Porsche upfitter, had a small display and a large crowd.

Bolus VehicleVoiceMy favorite display was the Bowlus travel trailer hitched to a Bentley Bentayga.  This all-aluminum $219,000 travel trailer is reminiscent of an aluminum Airstream but is totally high tech.  The Bowlus folks say you can live off the grid for two weeks in their travel trailer and be totally comfortable.

The Quail is a signature event for Peninsula Hotels.  Six Peninsula hotels had a spectacular pavilion with gourmet food appropriate from their cities – Bangkok, Beijing, Chicago, Beverly Hills, Paris, and New York.  Most people probably couldn’t get through all six pavilions.  While all six of the Peninsula pavilions were outstanding, perhaps the best was Beijing with great food and music to set the ambiance for a truly luxurious experience.


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Iconic Stutz Still Exists – Warren Liu Wants to Resurrect It

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There have been over 1,800 car brands in the United States auto industry since 1896.  Entrepreneurs and enthusiasts saw the American auto industry as a way to make a name for themselves and, hopefully, a lot of money.  This set off a wave of industrial Darwinism that continues today.  Car brands came and went with startling regularity.  Some brands launched and died quickly and are now just a faint memory if remembered at all.  It would take a real automotive history buff to remember the Adria, or the Carhartt, or the Hackett.  Some more recent brands are still fresh in our memory like Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Mercury, Plymouth, Hummer and Saturn.  Today, there are 40 car brands on sale in the United States.  Some names are so strong that they keep coming back in one form or another.

Logo Credit:  Stutz Motor Car of America

Logo Credit: Stutz Motor Car of America

Stutz Sold 35,000 Cars Until Falling to the Great Depression

A once-storied name in the American luxury auto industry still exists – Stutz.  Stutz would be 104 years old today if it were still producing cars. They were famous for the Stutz Bearcat and Stutz Blackhawk. Stutz made fast cars for racing and luxury cars for the wealthy. While they were known as “The King of Cars” in the late teens, the company could not make it through the Depression and stopped production at its Indianapolis, Indiana factory in 1935. While Stutz was in business it sold about 35,000 cars.

If you are a reader of Clive Cussler adventure novels, Isaac Bell one of Cussler’s protagonists frequently drives a Bearcat while working as an early 1900s private detective. Cussler, an avid car collector, usually features iconic cars from the past in his books.

Kings of Bling – Excalibur, Stutz, Clenet

In the 1960s and 1970s three of the most flamboyant personal cars were produced – the Excalibur from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the resurrected Stutz fabricated near Turin, Italy and the Clenet from Santa Barbara, California. These were highly styled and high priced personal cars sold to celebrities, royalty and the filthy rich. The word bling had not been coined the way we use it today, but these cars were over-the-top with bling.

Stutz Motor Car of America

Seeing the Excalibur have reasonable success in the late ‘60s (Excalibur sold 3,200 cars from 1965 through 1989), and wanting a strong American name from the past that still resonated among luxury car marques, Stutz Motor Car of America resurrected the name in 1968.

Photo Credit:  Stutz Motor Car of America

Photo Credit: Stutz Motor Car of America

Renowned Chrysler stylist Virgil Exner designed a new Blackhawk coupe in 1970 based on the Pontiac Grand Prix. In an age where styling excess was de rigeur, Exner’s flamboyant design attracted buyers like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Lucille Ball. At one point, a Stutz model was the highest priced car in the world. From 1970 through 1995 over 600 cars were produced.

Another flamboyant car that should not be ignored was the Clenet. Clenet made about 430 cars from 1977 through 1982.


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Ford Carrousel – The Story Continues

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For this last Holiday Card, I included a non-holiday photo of an vehicle I worked on in my youth at Ford – the Ford Carrousel concept and asked who could identify the vehicle.  A few who were working at Ford at the time correctly identified it, but all misspelled it.  The prototype used an unusual spelling of Carrousel with two “Rs”.  Many though it was Hal Sperlich’s MiniMax concept from the late ’70s at Ford, or a prototype of an early Chrysler minivan.  Nope.

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Cadillac Elmiraj Concept – Build It!

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Hollywood Design  Cadillac’s Hollywood-designed deep blue Elmiraj coupe was dramatically unveiled at Clint Eastwood’s Tahama Golf Resort during the 2013 Pebble Beach automotive week.  Cadillac and General Motors management is coy when asked if they will build the Cadillac Elmiraj concept coupe. To a person, journalists who were at the unveiling want to believe Cadillac can find the means to build this car.  If Cadillac were given the green light to build Elmiraj, Cadillac management says they could have it in production in about two years.Cadillac Elmiraj Concept


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Audi e-tron Spyder

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Sometimes things start out great and end up only OK, or perhaps worse. The smell of coffee in the morning. Most Superbowls. A full bottle of Patron. We recently had the opportunity to experience the Audi e-tron and came away excited by the vehicle, but wondering why we got to see so much of it.


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A Pickup Truck With A Diet For Raptors

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The General invited AutoPacific to get a sneak peek at a new pickup truck concept that will be shown at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show. We’re going to spoil the surprise and fill you in with all of the details so keep reading…
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What Will Cars Do in 80 Years?

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mobility2088.jpgCan you imagine the technology of your car in the future? How about 80 years from now? Will your car fly? Will you have a personal jetpack? Here’s one to consider: Take all the bad drivers you curse every day while you pilot your way to work and give them all flying machines. That would make for some fantastic video. And lawsuits, too.
It’s not easy to look into the future. But it takes a good imagination, and true desire to look beyond what sits in the driveway today. And I would bet that every one of you has some of this future-think in your DNA.
Think about your car. What do you like? What would you like to remove from your car and install, say, in your mother-in-law’s car? Or just eliminate, perhaps? Honda has been developing a remarkable documentary series. While it’s true that it’s a sales pitch, it’s also terrific insight into the future of the automobile. Check out their idea about vehicles 88 years from now. (watch video)

Posted in: Concept Cars, Honda

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2009 NAIAS: Dodge Circuit EV

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As true of most manufacturers, Chrysler LLC is working on a full electric vehicle. Chrysler is going for the sport-minded set, though, teasing with a two-seat Dodge sports car, complementing Jeep Patriot EV and Chrysler Town & Country more practical-minded extended-range EV concepts.

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Follow the jump for more photos and the full Dodge press release.

Posted in: Concept Cars, Dodge

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2009 NAIAS: The Beat Sparks On, and Orlando Comes to Town

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At the 2009 NAIAS, GM announced that in 2011, a production version of the global Beat minicar and the Orlando seven-seater will both join the U.S. lineup. The Beat, due for a Geneva show production introduction, will be called Spark for production. In the photos that follow, the white vehicle is the Orlando and the green the Beat (eventually to be renamed Spark.)

Chv_12_Spark_bl_09.jpg

Profitable or not, GM is bringing an international minicar to the States. While the Spark will reward drivers with terrific fuel economy, will the efficiency gains be enough to adapt to the small size?
Chv_08_Orlando_2_bl.jpg

The Orlando brings an internationally sized seven-seater to the States. Orlando, introduced as a concept at the 2008 Paris auto show, will focus on moving people more than stuff. Its box shape will provide maximum cargo room for the footprint, but this will not be a vehicle measured by whether or not it can hold a sheet of drywall.
Follow the jump for more photos and Chevrolet’s official release.


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