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Auto Trader Weekly


I seldom get really fired up by new car model announcements

Sure, many of then are exciting – like the stellar Holden Commodore VE or the Ford Falcon Typhoon – and set me to working out how I might be able to afford them.

But this week’s announcement that Cadillac will join GM Holden’s premium brand portfolio in New Zealand has left me really buzzing.

I have an affection for American automotive iron, even if I’ve never owned any – the nearest I ever got was a 1962 Vauxhall Velox PASX and a 1966 Vauxhall PC Cresta.

The Velox had a Cadillac connection – it took styling cues, including its bold chrome grille, from a Cadillac show car and the front bumper also had echoes of Cadillac’s twin-spinner styling of the early to mid-1950s.

But the PASX was a flawed diamond, and would have benefitted from a hefty dose of Cadillac’s motto: The Standard of Excellence. The Vauxhall was a great idea, poorly executed. Lets face it, the Cadillacs of the 1950s and into the 1960s were the ultimate expression of the big (or full-sized as they were known) American car.

They were a symbol of the optimism of the post-World War II era, land-tethered equivalents of such aerial icons as the North American F86F Sabre fighter.

Those Caddies made an indelible impression on my mind, even though I’d never seen one in the metal.
In fact, in their heyday you saw very few 1950s and 1960s Cadillacs on New Zealand roads.

It wasn’t till recent years when New Zealand collectors and speculators began importing droves of classic cars from America that Caddies became more frequent sights on our highways.

Once, it was a cause for much whooping and pointing if I spotted a 1959 Eldorado with its towering, way-over-the-top fins; a couple of weekends ago I saw two within half an hour – one pristine, the other somewhat tatty.

I don’t know the reason for my love of Cadillacs; it just seems to me that from the beginning of my passion for cars, the big, bold, ostentatious Caddy seemed the ultimate motor vehicle.

You could keep Rolls-Royces or top model Mercedes-Benzes; for me the Caddy was THE car – at least as far as a passenger car was concerned. Ferraris – and even better, Maseratis – were another matter.

So this week’s news that Cadillac is coming here towards the end of next year, was music to my ears.

Sure, modern Cadillacs have about as much in common with those land yachts of the 1950s/1960s as a Fiat 850 Spider has with a Ferrari Daytona.

But the sports-oriented Cadillac sedans – like the CTS, the first Caddy to come here next year – wear the badge and carry the name that will always hold a special place in my heart.

Whether they – or their predecessors – would live up to my idea of what the Standard of Excellence should be, I’ve yet to discover.

The rose-tinted spectacles may soon lose their colour; but I can’t wait to see the Cadillacs and drive them.
Will they excite me like my favourite Cadillac, the 1960 Eldorado Coupe?
I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

But I’ll be waiting with barely-hidden excitement.

Auto Trader New Zealand