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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

What If? 1970 Cadillac Roadster de Ville | Hagerty Media

Welcome to What If, a new feature from imaginative illustrator Abimelec Arellano and Hagerty. We'll be taking you back in time-and possibly forward into the future-to meet alternative-universe automobiles. Even better, our time machine is working well enough to bring "short take" reviews along with the photographs and advertisements.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/what-if/what-if-1970-cadillac-roadster-de-ville/
102 REPLIES 102
Oldmontedad72
Pit Crew

Ouch, what happened?
67CougGuy
Pit Crew

My "XLR ownership experience" did not start splendidly....

(I do recognize that it's unreasonable of me to "blame" Cadillac for the nightmare-experience involved in its cross-country shipment to my address.)
- The Toronto, Ontario-based selling Caddy Dealer arranged 'shipping',
- The front-end was badly damaged while in possession of the Shipper,
- 3-months (Yes! True!) lapsed prior to the car's delivery to my address,
- The 3-months included a period of "Auto Kidnapping", by the shipper,
- My specified Concours-quality bodyshop "Expertly" repaired the front-end,
- My specified Concours-quality bodyshop "Missed" the broken base-of-rad,
- Within 24-hours following delivery, my garage received a lake of rad fluid,
- The XLR sat in my garage, collecting dust, awaiting 'Spring',
- 2-months later, the XLR was fully-repaired and on the road,
- I sorta 'hated' the car by now, then...
- I discovered 2-areas on the exterior that did not receive paint during assembly,
- (Leading edge of Fuel Access Door & Area of Hardtop Below Rear Window),
- I also discovered that I wasn't in love with the XLR's front suspension.....

After a very-short period of actual ownership, I sold-off my XLR. I'm confident that my "XLR Experience", did nothing good for my overall "longevity"....
Pilott
Pit Crew

The answer to the question: Why Chevrolet & not Caddilac? was to bring excitement into the Chevrolet brand. A buyer came into the showroom to see the new Corvette convertible and left with a Bel Air 4 door station wagon to haul the family around.
red-on-red
Intermediate Driver

It looks like some kid bought an AMT 70 Corvette 3-in-1 model kit, and tried to use every part in the box. And a tube of filler putty. And a can of Testors avocado green metallic.
ilmor
Pit Crew

The author of this article apparently is unaware of the Cadillac XLR.
hoodlydoodly
Pit Crew

It's a "fantasy" article...
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

You might want to read the article all the way through and see if you still feel that way...
dreamingeagle
Intermediate Driver

i’m going to throw up;

looks as bad as the C8;
hoodlydoodly
Pit Crew

The C8 is an abomination. But the lemmings will flock to it...
bpar73
Intermediate Driver

I had an Elkhart green '72 Vette, so I say "No, thanks!"
Tinkerah
Instructor

Just curious if the posters who are so aghast at the idea of a sister division building a sister model feel the same way about Camaro/Firebird, Nova/Omega/Ventura, Maveric/Comet, etc.?
MikeSS
Pit Crew

The NOVA name was used to create the other division names. Using the last 3 remaining letters of NOVA: Omega, Ventura, Apollo, for Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Buick, although Pontiac did have a Ventura model earlier.
Tinkerah
Instructor

Hey I never knew that, and I damn near spelled it out in my post. Great trivia, thanks!
MikeSS
Pit Crew

I remember that GM executives were talking about moving the Corvette to the Cadillac division because they felt that the Corvette was too expensive for the Chevrolet division. Luckily that never happened.
Duramaxriley
Pit Crew

Because a lot of them were being damaged by technicians use to working on lower priced cars with non-picky owners. At one point Corvette was 2-3 times the price of the most expensive regular Chevrolet
llawrence9
Intermediate Driver

Build quality of Corvettes of that period was horrible. I had one, and god did it suck gas. It's insanity to expect a different quality from the same plant and workers. Cadillac was wise to pass. It would have only harmed their reputation.
dreamingeagle
Intermediate Driver

got news for you, friend..the build quality of Ferraris (from the 166 Barchetta to the F40) was not much better, nor was it on Alfas, Lambourghinis, Porsches (particularly 911s), and certainly anything French or British, including E-types;

 

you need to get away from the implied myth of European superiority, particularly if that time;

 

even today one can go to most any car show and see $100K Mercedes and $80K BMWs and Audis have every bit as much plastic inside and under the hood and in the boot as a lowly $60K Cadillac or $40K Honda or Lexus; 

Beestly
Intermediate Driver

The article was fun but the concept photos we’re a bit ridiculous. The XLR is a modern hint. Look at a 1970 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona or the Maserati Ghibli Spider and you’ll see something of what Cadillac would have done. Keep the windshield, cowl and doors. All the sharp body creases would have been smoothed, widened and blended. Hood bulge? Not on a Cadillac.
gt500
New Driver

Interesting article - agree build quality of those cars was iffy - wondering if Cadillac would have been able to address that. Having completed body work and painted a 72 twice back in the late 70's I can attest I will never own one now
Joee383
Pit Crew

Rear styling looks good for a Caddy. They could have done more with the front.
Good way to keep the rich non motorheads from driving the sacred Vett!
Historian
Detailer

Thanks for making me vomit!
dsmythe
Pit Crew

As the owner of a ‘72 454 Vette I’m glad Cadillac didn’t bother, that thing Is ugly!
win59
Detailer

Wow! What a bunch of grumpy old coots!! Has everyone had their sense of humor cancelled or is it just too much work to read the intro...?
Relax and have some fun, that's what we are all here for...right?!?

Nice job Abimelec, I enjoyed this.
DonT
New Driver

Cadillac did make a XLR roadster. Does that count?
Or how about the V-series? Would those be Corvette sedans?
Sk1959
Pit Crew

Too much like a corvette, I don’t think it would have survived if it had been offered. Overdone styling and Cadillac pricing would have killed it. I think a Cadillac Roadster with unique styling all its own might have stood more of a chance.
Bostwick9
Intermediate Driver

Allante.... still a four letter word.
All that effort and less attractive than a Beretta.
Hymie60
Intermediate Driver

That is one ugly car!!
stevecobb45
Detailer

The 69 De Ville convertible I had with a 472 consistently got 14 MPG on the highway & both the 72 & 73 Eldorado convertibles I owned with the 502 got 13 & these were way heavier cars. I think your MPG figures must be in error, especially since you say it had a very tall final drive. If I were in charge at GM I'd have opted for the 472. With 375 HP that car would be a beast & about not having good brakes, by 1970 disc brakes were quite common. How were these a problem? If it had drum brakes I can understand but with disc, I don't get it.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

I took fuel economy and brake performance from the contemporary tests done by R&T on a big block Corvette, then compared real-world economy figures of full-sized B-body big block Chevrolets and the 500ci Eldorado.
LamboEd
Intermediate Driver

I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but this car is just BUTT UGLY!
spoom
Technician

What was the over/under on how many different people would type, "XLR"?

Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Whatever it was, it wasn't set high enough.
Neville134
New Driver

I agree that the concept pictures shown with the article are “butt ugly”. As others have pointed out Cadillac did build a personal luxury roadster called the XLR that was powerful (looking) two seater similar in its physical proportions to the Corvette. Unfortunately it was a sales dud. Why? Because at the time the average age of Cadillac owners was 75 and they generally aren’t in the market for a low slung two seater because they are a) hard to get into and out of; b) don’t have enough room for two sets of golf clubs in the trunk and c) sporty Cadillacs are not aspirational vehicles (because the brands image has been under downward pressure for twenty years). If you live in Florida or Arizona you know that guys of that age who want a low slung two seater buy Corvettes (and a lot of them) because they have wanted one to drive on the weekend all their lives.
Bostwick9
Intermediate Driver

Exactly.
It's why a car like that suits a "youthful" brand like Chevrolet, which used to be the starting point for first car buyers and young families.
Surprised the question had to be asked, actually.
hoodlydoodly
Pit Crew

Fun idea - but it looks more like an Oldsmobile than a Cadillac!
TrustyRusty
Intermediate Driver

The headlights would have been illegal in California. I know because I built a "Bucket T Roadster" while in high school and the lights had to 24 inches about the ground...
55longroof
New Driver

FUGLY, FUGLY. That's all that comes to mind.
Oldmontedad72
Pit Crew

XLR anyone???
MATTMERICA
Detailer

Caddy did build a "corvette" - the CTS V. Actually anything in the V series counts in my book 🙂
Maestro1
Detailer

It has possibilities, not in its current form. I don't like the front end, this was not one of my favorite Corvette designs. The rear of the standard car was fine; it's the front that needs attention. Badly.
Hudson
Pit Crew

Yuck- no thanks.
chrlsful
Advanced Driver

I hated that model when 1st out - Mako Shark? or C3. My fav was the late C1 ( 1956 - '60 ) B4 the rear deck got the C2 rear treatment or 'duck tail'. I will admit the split window was a nice one too (1 yr of the C2). The C7 was 'of interest' too. That garish C3 is still effecting things thru the 8th gen 1968 - 2020 ie 50 yrs on. Ford changed from stang to GT in '05 but has not really made that a hi production car (10 yr gap in middle too). Cimmeron, regatta, T-bird, 6th gen mustang? What can be offered next. I'm hoping a hi performance EV that does not look like a space ship?
jsfury
Intermediate Driver

NO! NO, NO, NO, NO, NOOOOO! I'm sorry, that just looks awful.
adambravo
New Driver

An intriguing idea, but I'm definitely not sold on the name or the front end design (as that headlamp place is most certainly not legal). The rear end comes off a bit better...
Bostwick9
Intermediate Driver

What if Cadillac made a Cavalier ? Or a Tahoe ?
Yes why not? Looks like the same GM badge engineering heritage the company has used for the past 50 years.
Swamibob
Advanced Driver

To Jack, the artist (Abimelec Arellano) and the copy writer: This is a HOME RUN! Huge amount of response from the reading public. I think quite a few readers like to fast forward past the opening credits; (perhaps they are hardcore Netflix viewers and can't wait to get past the establishing shots and credits, so they just start reading after the opening), unfortunately, they miss some of the depth of the tongue in cheek of the article, but perhaps that's to be expected with people suffering from the cultural fatigue of 2020.
On the positive side, that missing the depth can make some of their hostility and disdain even more amusing to others who are reading the commentary later on, so that just increases the value of this type of article. I'm sure all of that was thought about and the final product dressed up with that in mind. All around a brilliant piece of work. The artwork alone is spectacular. But, the art when added to the copy on the old ad and the creation of the old ad and photorealistic images of the "imagined, What If?" subject... Amazing. I'd love to read, or create, if you like, more of the backstory to this model.

Regarding the Roadster de Ville itself: While I like the rear and side lines, the front seems too Oldsmobile for a Cadillac. I think the person responsible for the front fascia was spending a bit too much time with the Toronado crew in their paint booth and not enough time breathing fresh air. Well it was the 60's, so that, maybe, was to be expected. I did hear there was a slot of fussing about with spring rates, sway bar sizing and automatic transmission internals during the prototyping and pre-production stages. Something about being not so soft as to allow the rockers to scrape the ground, but to ride like a Cadillac should.
I have to say that BassFlake Apple Green, the BassFlake Apple Red, the BassFlake Banana Yellow and the BassFlake Orange Orange (really more of a copper than orange) color choices for the 1969 palette was inspired and really shook up the Marketing guys. There weren't sure what happened, during their several martini lunches when they got wind of those colors.
Sorry to hear your driver took it off a cliff. I'm sure our green party friends are interested in how much damage it did to the Chuckwalla saguaro?
Thank you to all for an inspired trip back in mythical time. .
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Really appreciate the kind words. The only frustrating thing about some of the comments is that I clearly allude to (and make a little fun of) the XLR within the article itself, but about 20 of the comments are along the lines of LOL DONT U KNO THEY MADE THE XLR
joetunick
Pit Crew

The performance advantage with the Caddy engine is not really surprising. The Caddy engine weighed about 100 pounds less than the large block Chevy. Probably handled better, too.

Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

When writing the "time machine" part of this, I looked for sources to confirm precisely this fact. It's generally thought that the Cad V-8 is, in fact, lighter than the big block Chevy, and only 50-75 pounds heavier than the iron SBC! Pretty amazing.
OldRoad
Advanced Driver

Cadillac should stay out of the roadster business and the XLR is the reason why. Not a bad looking sports car but that tiresome NorthStar package and automatic transaxle were the only option. Under powered and boring to drive. That car was another Cadillac failure for the same simple reason. Why buy an XLR when you could spend the same amount of money and purchase a more powerful and fun to drive Corvette?