Everybody who knows something about current automotive trends and industry knows that Cadillac is in trouble. Once “Standard of the World” and one of the most respected luxury brands on the globe has suffered from a decade of mediocre sales, mediocre cars and failed chances. Despite the fact it is still very respected and known, Cadillac has very little time to turn things over. We really hope that market planners at GM know this and that renaissance of the Cadillac brand is just around the corner.
We have already covered the best and most influential models that Cadillac build in its long history which spans an incredible 117 years, however, today we will show you something different. In today`s article, we will concentrate on Cadillac concepts, prototypes and cars which could be your next car but for some reason stayed on margins of car history. You will find some very influential shapes; interesting ideas and modes we are sure that could be big and save Cadillac from its current situation. So, let`s see 20 best Cadillac concepts of all times.
1. Cadillac La Espada Concept
One of the legendarily lost Motorama concepts was the beautiful Cadillac La Espada. Designed as an elegant two-seater roadster, La Espada featured several interesting and innovative features like power top which created curved surface when closed and four headlights.
The car was a perfectly functional prototype which was powered by Cadillac V8 engine with 230 HP, and like all other outdated concepts it was destined for a crusher. However, it looks like it never got there. The story is that the car was sold to a private party and it was stored in the garage and rarely driven. After that, it was sent to scrap yard and disappeared after.
2. Cadillac Le Mans Concept
Introduced in 1953, Le Mans Concept was named after legendary French racing track on which Cadillac raced in the late `40s and early `50s. This concept car was clearly designed as a styling exercise and the design of the car, lines, and details including four headlights all can be seen on future Cadillac models.
The car was conceived as a roadster with unusual three-seat configuration and made out of fiberglass, just like the first Corvette.
3. Cadillac El Camino
If the “El Camino” nameplate sounds familiar, you are right, Chevrolet used it for its light pickup model, produced from 1959 to 1987. However, Cadillac was first to use it on 1954 concept vehicle.
The Cadillac El Camino was the prototype of a sports coupe, with a low roofline and compact size. The company realized that Eldorado wasn’t a sports car and the Cadillac needs something smaller and nimbler to fight European competitors. Unfortunately, GM management didn’t approve the project.
4. Cadillac Die Valkyrie
The `50s were times of outlandish designs and crazy concepts and even though GM design department had some pretty wild cars, one of the strangest but most interesting Cadillac prototypes comes from Europe. Named Die Valkyrie it was presented in 1956 and used on show circuits mostly around Europe.
This car was a fully functional model, designed by famous American designer Brooks Stevens but built by Spohn body shop in Germany. Initially, the car was aimed at super wealthy customers who could afford extreme prices of coach built Cadillac manufactured at highest standards. However, the production never started and only a few cars were ever built, leaving this extraordinary Cadillac forgotten in corridors of time.
5. Cadillac La Salle II
The Corvette was a very influential car, not just for General Motors but for the industry in general and all of sudden all companies presented the concepts of small sports roadsters. The Cadillac presented the La Salle II concept in 1955 which should be Cadillac`s vision of Corvette C1. It was open top, light and nicely equipped but had a strange design not related to any other Cadillac concept or production model.
6. Cadillac Cyclone
Cadillac introduced many interesting cars during the `50s but the most memorable and influential is the 1959 Cyclone. Built on shortened chassis with very advanced independent suspension all around and with 390 V8 engine, the Cyclone was a functional car with performance much better than the regular model.
Interestingly, the Cyclone was allegedly fitted with radar, mounted in front cones, which was designed to detect the vehicles in front and help the driver avoid the crash. 70 years later, this technology is common in almost all new vehicles but back in the late `50s, it was science fiction.
7. Cadillac Jacqueline
In 1961, Italian design house Pininfarina stopped producing special bodies for Cadillac and wanted to make another contract with the company. In order to showcase its designers and unique sense of style, Pininfarina decided to produce a show car based on Cadillac chassis and running gear.
Called Jacqueline, it was a beautiful luxury coupe with modern and elegant styling, double headlights and nice silhouette. Interestingly, the Jacqueline didn’t have much chrome or big fins which were in fashion in the early `60s. Possibly, that is why the Cadillac management didn’t approve further cooperation with Pininfarina.
8. Cadillac La Salle XP-715 Concept
When you see this car you might think that we made mistake and feature Buick Riviera. But, in fact, this is not Riviera but Cadillac`s 1961 concept called La Salle XP-715. Originally intended to be Cadillac`s luxury coupe, this car was almost finished in development before GM bosses decided to give the project to the Buick. The reason was the fact that Buick division experienced bad sales and needed an interesting model to draw people back into the showroom. So, Cadillac La Salle XP-715 became Buick Riviera and the rest is history.
9. Cadillac XP-840 Eldorado
Although the XP-840 was pretty extreme in its appearance and everybody knew that it would never be produced, it paved the way for legendary 1967 Eldorado and future of Cadillac design. If you look closely you will see several design elements that Cadillac used in the late `60s and early `70s.
10. Cadillac NART Zagato
Back in the late `60s, the first sign of tightening emission laws threatened the import sports cars, especially exotics like Ferrari. Luigi Chinetti, exclusive Ferrari importer for North America realized that domestic customers will look for alternatives if foreign cars would not meet the emission regulations.
So, he thought of a plan of making exotic cars with domestic components and since Cadillac just introduced the mighty 400 HP V8 with 500 CID, Chinetti bought the Eldorado with that engine and sent it to Italy, to the famous Zagato design house.
In Italy, Eldorado was turned into a two-seater sports coupe with brand new styling and with the engine mounted behind the passengers. Front wheel drive was abandoned and the car was now a rear wheel drive coupe. Unfortunately, due to production delays and GM`s lack of interest for such venture, Cadillac NART Zagato was produced in a single egzample.
11. Cadillac La Scala Concept
In the early `70s, Cadillac was on the top of the world. It had the biggest engine in the industry (500 cid V8) and produced one of the longest cars the world ever has seen. However, the dark clouds were on the horizon with tightening government regulations and the oil crisis.
Cadillac`s designers realized that something has to be done and introduced La Scala concept. This coupe had smaller design, more elegant lines and looked beautiful but was every inch a true Cadillac. Unfortunately, GM didn’t approve the project.
12. Cadillac La Salle Concept
Over the years, La Salle name was used on several Cadillac concepts but one of the most interesting was 1972 La Salle, model which showcased the Cadillac future design language. Built on the smaller and more elegant platform than typical Cadillacs of the early `70s, La Salle was in fact, the concept of 1976 Seville, first downsized Cadillac model. The characteristic slant back design of the rear end appeared later on the production model.
13. Cadillac Voyage Concept
The first Cadillac crisis was in the late `80s when the division was no longer able to fight European competitors and remain the dominant luxury brand on the American market. The solution was to introduce new models and new design, ready for the `90s.
Cadillac Voyage was a very important concept since it introduced a new design to a wide audience and showcased lines and details that would characterize the brand in the last decade of the 20th century.
14. Cadillac Imaj Concept
Cadillac wasn’t very happy the way the things were in the late `90s and apart from European customers; there was a new threat in form of Lexus. So, the Imaj concept was conceived to present the automotive public with brand new design language which was characterized by sharp lines, angular shapes and wedge profile. This concept proved very influential since it was the predecessor of almost every Cadillac from 2000 onwards.
15. Cadillac Cien Concept
When Cadillac Cien was first shown in 2002, the automotive world was stunned. This concept of a super sports car with a mid-engine layout, aggressive design and brutal stance was something that nobody thought Cadillac could do. However, Cadillac proved them wrong with this fantastic car.
Built to mark the 100th anniversary of the company in 2002, Cien featured 7.5-liter V12 Northstar motor with 750 HP and was allegedly fully functional prototype. Unfortunately, GM never saw the potential of Cadillac which could beat Ferrari and this beautiful car remained just a dream.
16. Cadillac Sixteen Concept
Each one of concept cars we featured on our list survived the test of time and proven itself not only as showstoppers but influential pieces of modern art. However, in case of Cadillac`s Sixteen Concept car, we feel that GM should put this car into a museum of modern art where it would be exhibited as one of the most elegant creations of the early 21st century.
The Sixteen Concept was revealed in 2003 as a super luxury sedan with a V16 engine under the butterfly-opening hood. The car was thoroughly modern but felt classic and more in sync with legendary Cadillacs of the `20s and `30s than with contemporary models. The initial response was so good that Cadillac considered full-scale production but unfortunately, nothing happened.
17. Cadillac Ciel Concept
Presented in 2011 Pebble Beach Concourse the Elegance, Cadillac Ciel was the star of the show. This luxury convertible was exactly what Cadillac brand stands for and that is prestige, elegance, high class, and uniqueness. The concept promoted new design language and Cadillac intentions to become the world`s leading luxury brand once again.
The “Ciel” means “sky” in French and this concept car was powered by twin turbo V6 with 425 HP. However, there are no plans for production.
18. Cadillac Elmiraj
Possibly the most beautiful car Cadillac design studio ever produced is the 2013 Elmiraj concept. This luxury coupe with elegant lines and perfect proportions is powered by twin-turbo V8 with 500 HP.
The Elmiraj was the star of every show Cadillac entered and the public constantly asked when this coupe will be available. Although initial reports stated that GM will produce Elmiraj, nothing happened.
19. Cadillac Escala
Once again, in 2016, Cadillac presented the concept which showcased new design and a new look for the brand. Again, people were amazed by the exterior, design, appearance, and style. However, it looks like this car will see the daylight in some form and that the Cadillac will produce Escala as a regular model.
The car is powered by 4.2-liter twin turbo V8 with 10-speed automatic transmission.
20. Cadillac EV Concept
The latest in a long line of Cadillac concepts is EV Concept from this year`s North American Car Show in Detroit. This car is future, all-electric SUV model which could replace the Escalade SUV.
It looks like Cadillac as part of GM is preparing for all-electric future with a new design and new technology.