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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Avoidable Contact #98: Suddenly, it's 1976! | Hagerty Media

In 1852, a fellow named Karl Marx wrote that history often happens twice: "Das eine Mal als Tragödie, das andere Mal als Farce." First as tragedy, then as farce. Far be it from me to disagree with Marx, especially as I think it's growing increasingly unwise to do so in public, but as I look [...]
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/avoidable-contact/avoidable-contact-98-suddenly-its-1976/
48 REPLIES 48
geozinger
Detailer

I was just pining for the Edward Whitacre era to return to GM again someday.
OptimusPrime
Intermediate Driver

To me, the Blackwing is the essence of "me-too-iguana thinking." Shove a hairy 600-hp engine in a so-so two-ton sedan, hype the hell out of it as a limited run and sell it for three times the price of the base model.
Rider79
Instructor

Hard to say it is "me-too" thinking, when there are not very many of this breed of cars out there - and none that I know of from an American maker. Hellcat Charger? Nice try, but it will likely have nowhere near the sharp handling or ride comfort of this new Cadillac.
Germanicus
Intermediate Driver

I don't think GM would've done anything better with the Bolt money if they didn't have anything to spend it on, because the story of GM for the last 40 years is a company that fails to make the most out of their resources. The Bolt would've failed on the market if it had a regular engine. It looked like a dorky European mini-MPV, it was smaller than even a VW Golf which is explicitly designed with the size constraints of European city centres in mind, and the interior, especially the seats, was a classic example of GM cost-cutting.

What modern GM shows us is that a car is more than its powertrain and chassis. If that's all that mattered (which according to Car & Driver that is all that matters) everyone would be driving around in Camaros instead of Mustangs and Challengers when in reality, the opposite is true.
ATLpaul
Intermediate Driver

I could be wrong, but are CT4 and CT5 not product of prior CEO who was trying to make Caddy a German car company than current CEO Mary Berra? To Mary's credit, she green lighted current Corvette, when chairmen of GM at other times were trying to kill Vette (see C5 and C6). Or Mary said yes to electric Hummer.
dhaugh
Intermediate Driver

Doesn't Mary host that BBC show with Paul Hollywood? I wonder what she'll bake up next!!
SirGalahad
Pit Crew

GM has a history of making the last vehicle in its model line-up the best and this is no exception. There will be no other sedan that will have a 6 speed manual transmission and a supercharged V-8 in the future.

2019 ZR-1 Best front engine Corvette and probably a little overkill
2002 Pontiac Trans Am WS6
2006 Pontiac GTO with the 6.0 L LS2 and T56
2006 Chevrolet SSR with the 6.0 Ls2 and 6-speed tranny
1988 Pontiac Fiero

The author makes a great point. We are going to miss these cars as Volkswagen, GM, Ford and others churn out appliances with no soul. There will be little to fault them since they will all look gormless and if you are in one you have to question what wrong turn your life made. I hope they all fail and we return to our senses and continue to refine the gasoline engine.
Flashman
Instructor

"psuedo-mandatory"? And if I'm feeling truly superior, I'd point out you need an "as" in the following phrase: "are just as fast, if not faster, than".

Btw, Nelson Vails is a pretty obscure reference. On the other hand, I always learn something from you.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

It took me a minute to realize that

* I misspelled it
* and so did you, in an effort to bring attention to my mistake.

I will fix that. Thank you!
Tim
Instructor

Psuedo would have been a better name than alcantara.
SJacobT
Detailer

I certainly agree that one has to put their money where their mouth and heart/soul/ego reside - so if I can find a leftover 2020 Hayabusa that’s not red I swear I’ll buy it!
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Sir, buying a Hayabusa, as admirable as it may be, will only result in you being thoroughly dusted by the author's ZX-14R!
keithw
New Driver

Another option to accomplish some of the same goals: the 2016 Honda Accord Coupe 6-cylinder manual. Bought on the Author's advice a couple years back. A rough and animal kind of noise that would be in no way improved by batteries, indeed.
Rider79
Instructor

As the owner of a 2017 Accord V6 coupe, I agree!
johnmarianmarks
Intermediate Driver

Dear Jack...

You keep winning! "Kill the body... kill the soul."

But, I already knew that you were Scripturally Literate.

For decades, I have been toying with the idea of reclaiming my purported paternal-ancestral name of "von Marx."

For at least three reasons.
(1) So people can hate me for being an aristrocrat.
(2) So people can hate me for having the same family name of--but superior social rank to--that dude who CO-invented Commieism. Or
(3) So they can hate me for being just as I am. (There's a hymn-title reference buried in there.)

BTW, in those Lost Decades when I successfully impersonated a Trial Lawyer, I was involved in some pretty heady GATT (General Agreements on Tarriffs and Trade) litigations. I chatted with specialists; I retained a former US Trade Representative as an Expert Witness; and I heard some great gossip. (I also helped that lying sack of plant food Alan Dershowitz get a new criminal trial for Claus von Bülow; but I am sure that you already knew that.)

ANYWAY, the laugh-out loud FUNNIEST GATT "anti-dumping" story I ever heard, was the claim that upon the release of the Lexus, which had undercut the price of the equivalent MBZ by circa $10,000, MBZ USA bought one, tore it apart, and made a meticulous parts-and-labor cost analysis to prove that the Lexus REALLY cost as much as the Mercedes. They hired a law firm and they asked the Mothership for permission to file suit in Federal Court.

I have always hoped that it all was a "False Flag Operation" dictated from Tokyo, but the Germans must have screamed "ARE YOU CRAZY???" so loud that no telephone was needed.

Yeah, had that lawsuit been filed, Toyota only needed to buy one full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal.

One of my mantras, learned over the course of more than 20 years as a trial lawyer, is "Never ascribe to Conspiracy, that which can completely explained by Stupidity."

BTW, Jack, has Genesis had an actual bounce in SUV sales, as distinct from Internet searches?

Ciao,

john
ygbsm
New Driver

Dumb article and you got the quote wrong.

It was from Car and Driver in 1990-1991 in an article about the Taurus police car, not Crown Vic. Not a rural dealer, but one from suburban Atlanta. "Send you readers to me, boy. Ford maybe don't like it, but I do."
AG1962
Detailer

The ugly, tinky Bolt, and all the other battery-powered whizz-gigs, are not only sold at a loss, they are subsidized by regional and federal governments the length and breadth of North America to induce virtuous behaviour among the progressive and green upper-middle classes. I am all for virtuous behaviour, but subsidized virtue is a bit of a sham, especially when governments transfer wealth from taxes paid by folks in the ’hood to pay the rich to drive EVs. Enough ’hood robbin’, I say. Rich people: pay for your Tesla vibrator-on-wheels on your own.
Islander
Intermediate Driver

Here, Here! and that virtuous behavior is faux, an illusion. Those half-ton (or more) batteries are toxic time bombs. Sure the claim is they will get recycled, repurposed, and so on, but the truth will be another problematic wasteland somewhere. EV production and Tesla in particular don't deserve to be subsidized, there's no virtue.
Instead subsidize developing an ICE that doesn't pollute, that will run on alternative fuels - It's possible.
Islander
Intermediate Driver

Whoops, I meant 'hear, hear! And thanks to Elon, a Tesla can be bought with Bitcoin, another illusion that uses up juice like it was free, a bubble that, so far, refuses to burst.
longan
New Driver

Whats with all the negative waves. That 21', 5K pound Eldo had 190 HP with a 8.2L engine. Talk about slow. The Arab Oil Embargo of the early 70's let the Japanese cars in, letting us see that there was such a thing as quality control in the auto industry, just not in Detroit. Lexus, MB, BMW, Audi quickly took advantage to jump on the quality luxury market while Detroit stayed in denial for 20 years; I think they still are. Unless you are too old to drive anymore you don't think of Cadillac or Lincoln as prestigious luxury cars. As far as performance why would you not buy a Mustang, Camaro or Dodge with more performance at half the price of the Caddy.
Greg,
Okey78
Intermediate Driver

Hey, Big & Little Ennis Burdette drove an Eldo convertible. What better endorsement than that?
MoparMarq
Detailer

An appropriate reference, Oddball, as back in the '70s the Eldo was just about as righteous as one could get. Even in a different Eastwood movie, he gets to drive off into the sunset in a convertible Eldorado. My how times have changed...
protodite
Intermediate Driver

Because the V Series cars really are terrific. I remember when the 2nd Gen CTS-V came out and I was young and thought, "oh now that's an awesome car." Then Top Gear took one on it's US special that year and even they loved it! Now, that said, in my 20s and drive an ATS-V, with a 6 speed stick. They're frankly one of the few companies left who will even offer that experience which is wild to me. But I've gone to V Club events and it's a lot of younger guys, and a super super diverse crowd. Never saw that at any other car events I've been to.
protodite
Intermediate Driver

Now that being said, I am also going to try to get my Uncle's '79 Mark V Bill Blass edition running this summer, so who knows haha
MajorTomB
Intermediate Driver

GM does something interesting for two generations or so. Gets it right. And cancels the model. That is the the CT5-V Blackwing in a nutshell. Good point about the inexplicably high price. I attribute that to the Barra era's killing of so many Cadillac dealers keeping volume down. Here in Western Massachusetts, I used to have two Cadillac dealers within 15 miles. Now it is 40 miles. I have a Mercedes dealership within 3 miles from my house. I would think that is an indication that a Cadillac dealership would do ok. Within that 15 miles that Cadillac used to enjoy, I have every mainstream or mainstream luxury brand except Cadillac. It's hard to give them a chance when they don't seem to want to play.
topside
Detailer

Perhaps when GM changed its logo, it should have been a caricature of someone shooting themselves in the foot. With the headlong rush to the Emperor's New Mediocrity, I'm beginning to feel a sense of wisdom that of my 7 (soon to be 😎 vehicles, the newest is a '97. While that car doesn't make anywhere near the power of these last few Halo Cars, I drive IT without the electronic interference, or Transformers-derived styling, of the new stuff.
Great to see aware and thoughtful writing like Jack's and Sam's, by the way; if either comes to Sandpoint ID, their beer is on me.
drhino
Instructor

Absolutely nothing to add; but I did have to give a review: Excellent.

Where did you get the “iPhones on wheels” line?
Swamibob
Instructor

Love the article, Jack.

While I'll likely never own a new car, not just because I don't need the NSA to have a direct line into my car and my behavior with it, but also because I just can't justify that sort of money! I'd much rather use my tools, my hands and brains, my friends brains, hands and tools; to build something just as fast and with a manual tranny.

I will consider one of these CBTZ%QHT Black duck's when they get older and I find a way to replace the NSA's computer with an aftermarket one. I think it could be a lot of fun then.
Or I could find a nice '64 Buick Sport Wagon, put a new Chassis from Art Morrison, Schwartz Performance or Roadster Shop, and a nice 800 hp engine and 6-speed, along with four wheel discs, AC, power whatever, and a far more comfortable interior, and still have about $ 75000.00 more to work with. And, in my opinion, a much cooler car. 🙂 And I will have the satisfaction of getting a group of friends in on it with me and be able to drive all of them to the Drive in or Diner or Power Tour with me.

Now if I cast my thoughts back to '76 along with you, I guess we could start with one of those Eldo's, or maybe a full size Cadillac and do the same thing, except I'd use the 500ci Caddy engine. Now that might be interesting... Hmmm... A 500 ci Caddy with 1000 lb ft of torque, with just a bit of boost; yeah that would be fun! That and it would give Marx and Nietzsche a serious kick in the pants. 🙂
Come to think of it: If we had more of the youth and even more of the Adult population, try that sort of thing (We would probably call it having fun) maybe they wouldn't be such a bunch of Nihilist's? It's a thought...
joemair
Pit Crew

I think your estimate of $75K was a good one. Based on the inflation calculator, $35K in 1990 (per the LS400 comparison), would be around $70K today. But $85-125K is unconscionable. I do think your wish of $60K is pretty unreasonable. To get 700 hp in a lowly Dodge Charger costs you $72K, and that is with an interior you'd expect in a Dodge.
Okey78
Intermediate Driver

If it goes the way of the Allante, you'll be able to pick one up for $7,500 in a few years.
MoparMan
Advanced Driver

(IMO) A sad thing is that those of us that feel a soul 'connection' to our cars, and are rewarded whenever we drive, are leaving the planet. A lot of the younger ones coming up perceive vehicles as appliances or at best, a means to an end. They won't bemoan the loss of the vehicular experiences that we hold dearly, because they will have never experienced them! If, by chance, they should somehow become infected with this "anti-societal" vibe, scratching the itch will undoubtedly be insanely illegal and expensive (taxation and fuel costs). The future doesn't look so bright, and I can't find my shades! 🙂
Okey78
Intermediate Driver

"Soul" and Marx don't mix.
Seisen
Pit Crew

Well that was quite a rant. I wont touch on the history of GM -- but I will admit I mourned the passing of Pontiac and the GTO that I wish I never sold. Regardless, even if i was remotely interested in the Blackwing, I have better uses of my money then the asking price (let alone the options that you might be tempted to check). We should all agree that the definition of a fun and engaging car is inherently personal. And some of us can see the attributes of a BEV while still being a car guy. My fleet today consists of a Porsche Boxster (manual trans) and a Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor which BTW is considerable faster than my '65 GTO ever was. I'm no fan of Elon but you need to drive a Tesla to appreciate the clean sheet of paper approach. Yes, it is something like a computer on wheels -- but truthfully it is very cool.
Carguy19
New Driver

Excellent article. Thank God Hagerty still has the pistons (balls) to print an opinion piece, which is shared by millions of car people. The Blackwings are the very type of cars, that the enthusiast loves. It's why we are into cars. Why we read magazines like this one, in print and online. As for those who like Tesla's. I've never met a Tesla owner who was a car guy/gal. They are tech people. The same lot who wait on line for four days to buy a phone. They also feel that buying an electric vehicle is their personal contribution to saving the world. They are simply the modern iteration of all the nay sayers, that have been anti-car over the last century. They maskarade as car lovers, but to buzz around in a huge battery-powered lap top, they are the furthest thing from. Hopefully they push this nonsense back to 2050 or 2070, or perhaps never.
DavidHolzman
Detailer

That Blackwing is the first Cadillac I've ever lusted after, although I do like the styling on Caddys of the '50s and early '60s. (Inflation-adjusted, at $72K, that 1990 Lexus LS400 is actually not all that much cheaper than the Blackwing.)

IMO, while the Model S, the only Tesla I've driven, is a tour de force, it's soulless, like all electronic things. I was happy to get back into my Civic (stick), and hear the sound of internal combustion (the engine may not be Mozart, but it is Salieri to the Boxster's Mozart). And, plotting a lengthy x-country drive for next year, I can't imagine having to search for chargers and stop for lengthy periods to charge when I could be driving or hiking.
MrKnowItAll
Detailer

Ah! A latter day Brock Yates, though I’m on the other side of life now, and nod knowingly instead of ‘gee whiz!’.
Funny you targeted the 1976 Eldorado, but forgot to mention that these were “the last convertibles”, and were squirreled away by “collectors”. There’s tons (literally) of them out there.
To me, ‘76 and newer means bi-annual smog checks in California. I regularly scan Craigslist with the caveat “1975 and earlier”.




JG1
Pit Crew

Outstanding article.......loved it.
TG
Instructor

That car is not terribly unattractive compared to the standard of the day... particularly if you exclude the throwback cars
I was having a philosophical discussion about electric cars with my sister who lives in the city. I said for folks in the rural or suburb areas EVs will never work, but for folks in the city, they should do fine. She said are you nuts? how many times do you see in the city where folks can actually park in front of their houses? how are they going to charge them??? Carbon is a problem. EVs are not the solution, and the sooner we get on the same page with that, the sooner we might actually find one
DavidHolzman
Detailer

I agree with you about the Blackwing's appearance. The teens were the worst decade ever for automotive styling, and the Blackwing--while not as good as '50s or '60s styling, or even as good as the best of the '90s--is a decent looking car--one I could see in my driveway.
Figgy308
Intermediate Driver

In my view the world is broken into 2 groups, car people and consumers and there are way more of the latter. Consumers care less for 6 speed manual transmissions and more for 6 cup holders. I live opposite a school and there is 1 guy who has a cool car that he occasionally brings. The rest are the usual mix of wagons and SUXs. Most couldn't tell you which wheels were driven. To them the choice between EV and ICE is largely moot.

 

So what is a car company to do? You could take the Dodge route and build wacky Hemi SUVs, or switch to electric motors which are much cheaper and more reliable. Bean counters will beat engineers every time in that battle.

 

So Jack would you have us rage, rage against the dying of the light? The 76 Cadillac is illuminating. GM could have built the 77 convertible, it is only a question of engineering it to meet the safety standards. That would push up the price (and probably the weight) and I'll wager that the market wasn't there for it. So flog it as the last of the breed and move on. 

 

But force them, through articles and purchasing to build some interesting EVs, not just SUXs with an electric motor where an engine once sat.

Jnick
Detailer

I had a neighbor who told me his mother traded a 1970 GTO Judge for a brand new Pacer in 1976. My point is that everyone wants a piece of the next new thing. My parents bought a newish Vega which was considered more “sporty” than our 1969 Impala,( it’s funny though I always thought it was weird the Vega only went 70 MPH) but we accepted it as the cost of being good citizens in an oil starved world and we felt somehow more Global for it, and that was not a compliment in those days.
In 1969 everything everywhere was lame compared to American stuff especially if you compared the price. Sure we were selfish but imagine buying putting a Road Runner against a BMW at the time and see who sees who in the rear view mirror!


Rider79
Instructor

Marx was not infallible. He's dead, isn't he? (Let's see if anyone gets that paraphrased sci-fi reference.)
psmith
Pit Crew

"Far be it from me to disagree with Marx, especially as I think it’s growing increasingly unwise to do so in public"
There, you've put it in print, and I responded.
See in in the Gulag.
We can draw pictures of CGKSWI15x-Blackbeard Caddies to entertain ourselves between shock brigade work building State Service Stations for the Electric Miasma.

omac
Intermediate Driver

The more I look at the BlackWing the more it grows on me. It would have to be the 10 speed Automatic though. The price point is too high for what you get. But owning a 600hp Caddy would be fun. But for now I'll stick with my 2006 DTS Performance.
GregH
New Driver

Your comments about the cost of the car are spot on, but the same trope about electric cars is getting tired. Yes, electric cars have the dreaded "range anxiety" fault. That will be solved within the next 10 years, but it is real - even though multiple studies have shown that the overwhelming majority of people drive less than 40 miles per day. Yes, there is something guttural about an ICE. I don't own an electric car, and I own four vehicles, two of which were built before the mid 50's, but I don't fear buying an electric one. However, the claim that "We could stop this pseudo-mandatory electrification dead in its tracks" is a foolish comment. Our world cannot survive long term relying on gasoline engines. If you don't care about the climate issues, then eventually it will be a supply issue.

It may make the Hagerty community cringe, but many people (including my adult children) do not care much about their cars. If I were put in charge (which would be a horrible mistake) I would make electric cars for the masses, for the everyday commuters, and offer new ICE models as limited production specialty cars. I think there will always be potential buyers. So, if you don't like all the new electric models, Hagerty can help you find an ICE model from the well-rounded supply created over the last 120 years.

The changes being made to the energy industry are key to living comfortably on this planet beyond the next 50-75 years. The changes people typically bemoan are minimal. Based on some comments you'd think electric cars look, feel, and perform like an early Model T.

It's a serious issue, and we need to do something, so ironically, "... it is far better to light the candle than to curse the darkness.", W. L. Watkinson.
Islander
Intermediate Driver

The notion that producing EVs will save the planet is a myth. The batteries, which at some future date will be a disposal problem, leave a huge footprint and the juice to charge them up is not carbon-free either. Too many suffer from tunnel-vision on the issue, the result of marketing and politics.
There are better solutions out there.
Gary_Bechtold
Instructor

I really wish this wasn't the end for Cadillac and V8's, turbos, etc. Sadly an all electric Cadillac has zero interest for me. I have had the chance to drive the 1st and second generation CTS-V and loved both cars. They drive fantastic. I never drove the ATS, the back seat was a joke in the sedan. Interiors were "meh" but I guess that is why they depreciated nicely. I have not had a chance to drive the 3rd and likely not going to get to try the upcoming "Blackwing" models. I still don't understand why the "Blackwing" moniker is a thing without the engine to go along with it, but I guess I never will. I still don't see why they have to be electric only. Why not some transition where there is both? I'm not going to go electric right now, they are nice but they still don't equal my least fuel-efficient car in terms of go anywhere and anytime. I think I'm going to go get a Lexus IS 500 and get the last of the NA V8's.

el_zato
Intermediate Driver

If I could afford both the AMG E63S or the CT5-V Blackwing, I'd happily pay the extra 10 grand just for the privilege of a manual transmission.

Or, the ability to drive an AMG engine with a manual transmission over an Aston Martin body...