When the Cadillac XLR entered the market for 2004, it was the brand’s first two-seater (and first convertible) since the Allanté was retired in 1993. That final year of the Allanté used a 4.6-liter Cadillac Northstar V-8, just like the XLR, but the similarities end there. While the 295-hp Allanté was front-wheel-drive and based on a modified version of the E-body chassis used in the Buick Reatta and Cadillac Eldorado, the 320-hp XLR was based on the C6 Corvette’s rear-drive chassis. It was even built in the same Bowling Green, Kentucky, assembly plant as “America’s sports car.” All signs suggested Cadillac was serious about building a luxury sports car.
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I own a very nice '07 Red XLR and have enjoyed it for many years. It runs well and has had only minor mechanical issues over the past 10 years of ownership. There was one minor problem with the retractable hardtop that was easily resolved by the local Cadillac dealer and I needed to replace a radiator several years ago. But other than normal maintenance item, no major problems. The car runs smoothly, it is an eye-catcher, and I always get "what kind of car is that ?" comments when I drive it. I own several other Corvette of various generations and you can see strong links to the later Corvette with the XLR. But the amazing retractable top and sharps body lines is the game changer for my XLR. You just do NOT see many XLR's on the road and it has a good home in my collection.
I came close to owning an XLR until I started pricing out parts that would eventually need replacement. I was SOL. I could afford the car the insurance the gas but, I didn`t feel that I wanted to afford the replacement cost down the road. It was a neat car to drive.
One of the Engineers I worked with at Boeing had one, and it was a hoot to drive. He never had any problems with his, but eventually sold it because he was starting to hear horror stories about them. He said he constantly got asked what it was becuase so few people had seen one.
as a former XLR owner, while i loved the car during my multi year ownership, parts for the most part were a very big problem unless you were comfortable going the salvage route. no one had stock of NOS head or tail lights for starters, and as you can imagine, it doesn't take much of an incident to render either in need of replacement. my other issue was that it was extremely difficult to find qualified dealer mechanical support for the vehicle since many of the techs trained originally had moved on or retired. i had an electrical issue that rendered my battery dead if the car sat for 3 or 4 days max. local dealerships threw up their hands after repeatedly trying a variety of "fixes" including new wire harness, etc. i suggested the BCM, but of course they ruled that out (correctly or not). the problem never was cured right up to the day i sold the car. one of the function buttons on the steering wheel failed, and it couldn't be repaired without a complete replacement of the steering wheel which was no longer available (NOS) except for one example at one US dealership in all black. of course that didn't come close to matching the wood pattern on my original wheel (which matched the rest of the wood in the car) and my dealer suggested that i pass on it, which of course i did. it's also really hard to train yourself to drive with one eye on the rearview mirror hoping the person behind you isn't on their phone or texting and about to run into the back of the car. i doubt you would be able to find the necessary OEM parts for the retractable top mechanism (which was german made) either. fortunately i never had to deal with that while i owned the car (which was a 2008 model year)..
Too bad...another example of GM's inability to follow through, develop what could have been truly marketable products...Pontiac's Fiero and Solara, '70s RV, Olds Toronado, come to mind in addition to the XLR. Introducing the the great looking Fiero, with no regard for it's poor performance was a real "toe stubbing".
It's my understanding that the XLR is extremely expensive to maintain. The rear taillight assembly has it's own computer system, very complex. Sadly, no longer available from GM. This is just one example.