By 1982 Cadillac had spent roughly 80 years building and then polishing its brand into one of the most respected around. “The Standard of the World” they called themselves and for a long time they could still utter such lofty proclamations and actually keep a straight face. It was true a few chinks in the ol’ crest and wreath had started to appear during the 70s in regards to that always important little thing called “reliability” but the marque was still producing some larger-than-life, desirable cars in that decade. 70s Eldorado Convertible, anyone? Yes, please–Bum Phillips had six of them. It all went horribly wrong, though, in 1982, when a bunch of automotive apostates at GM decided to urinate on the grave of Antoine Laumet de la Mothe, sieur de Cadillac’s grave by “designing” and then offering for sale an object they called the Cadillac Cimarron. It sounded like something you’d sprinkle on buttered toast, but lots of fine automobiles have had weird names. The only problem was that the Cimarron fell about 100 miles short of being a fine automobile.
Let’s see, a four cylinder engine in a Cadillac? Seems weird. A body that looks distinctly like a Cavalier? Even weirder, huh? Wait a minute, isn’t that…no, it couldn’t be…but shit, look at it. Hell, it IS a Cavalier! For just shy of twice the price of a Cavalier, the lucky consumer would receive pretty much the exact same auto with some pretty badges screwed onto the hood and trunk and leather seats cut from the hides of diseased, USDA Grade Z bovines. Oh, and “courtesy lights”–mustn’t forget those. Not exactly the bargain of the century and even die-hard GM loyalists with questionable taste saw through this little scam. Nobody bought it, and the one guy I used to work with who did, (albeit in used form ten years after the fact) was a total tool and would have still been such even if he had somehow wound up behind the wheel of a 1969 Lamborghini Miura. Water finds its own level, as they say.
The Cimarron helped start a downward spiral for a once venerated brand that’s only been reversed in the last five or ten years, although I must add, GM’s decision to remove the DUCKS (they’re actually called merlettes but no sane person would know that) from the Cadillac crest earlier this year was absolute fucking bullshit. I don’t know any other way to say it.