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Not Another Cadillac Cimarron

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Topics:  Cadillac Cimarron

Not Another Cadillac Cimarron

Bill Crittenden
5 May 2016

Rumors are circulating that General Motors may make a Cadillac off of the platform currently under the Chevrolet Cruze, and instantly the Cadillac Cimarron comparisons began.

For those who don't remember, or who have blocked their memories from the trauma of having seen one, the Cimarron was a 1982-1988 experiment in meeting CAFE requirements that saw Cadillac very roughly attach a different grille, logos on the tail lights, Cadillac hood ornament, high-end paint and Caddy's special trip computer to the Chevy Cavalier. There was no pretense at hiding its origins, it shared the same outlines as the Cavalier in one of the worst examples of "badge engineering" ever to see roadway.

In the era of the 1980's, the idea that a luxury car could be small was a new one associated with more refined German cars. The not at all refined Cimarron came with a four cylinder or a V6, depending on year, and just as an example I've found that the '86 Cimarron gave 85 horsepower from the 4 and just 120 from the 6. Add to that the cheap Cavalier-with-stick-on-chrome styling, and it's no wonder it's been rated one of the worst cars of all time.

But this isn't the 1980's anymore. BMW has the 1 Series, Buick has the Encore, Lincoln has the MKC, and small luxury cars are an accepted, growing market.

General Motors has to remember more vividly than most the mistakes of the Cimarron, and I trust them to borrow from the Chevrolet little more than the mechanical parts out of the sight of the driver. Everything the driver can see or touch should be newly created or borrowed from other Cadillacs, and I believe that the new management would make sure of that.

Of those mechanical parts I mentioned, the Cruze platform is far more developed than the Cavalier of the 1980's. It has racing pedigree in various European touring car series, it has been factory equipped with a 181 horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder, and is capable of much more.

While comparing a Cadillac based off of the Cruze platform makes Cimarron jokes easy for automotive Facebook pages, the reality may be more akin to the similarities and differences in the Nissan Sentra/Infiniti G20 pairing of the 1990's.

There is potential to make a car worthy of the Cadillac name, if the economics work out. Here's where this idea gets iffy. The 2015 Cruze topped out at $25,660 before increasing costs for low-production sheet metal, higher quality interior materials & components, higher quality paint, chrome wheels, Cadillac's electronics, better seats, and hopefully a boost to the engine putting it over 200 horsepower. Would you pay close to $40,000 for a FWD or maybe AWD Cadillac? For reference, the price range for a hardtop RWD BMW 1 Series is $31,200 to $43,250.

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