Editor Drew Winter and I agree on most issues. The key word is "most."
Sometimes we're totally at odds. This is one of those times. He thinks Cadillac is over the hill, a dodo bird surrounded by circling hawks (see Editorial, p.7). I think Caddy's on the comeback trail, like the no-longer-endangered American eagle.
Maybe it's because Drew is still a youngster - a boomer who never really knew Cadillac when it was king of the heap.
Read that "pre-import", when most Americans thought Mercedes was the first name of a famous actress, whose last name was McCambridge (OK, Drew, look it up on the Internet).
Lexus, a manufactured word, hadn't been invented yet, and if anyone had heard ofthey probably thought it was a toy chain, like Toyotas ' ' Us.
wasn't a household acronymn either. I'd thought it meant "Beautiful Michigan Women."
Jaguar? That was a big, fierce cat found in Africa.
And Infiniti? Another made-up word that I thought meant somewhere out there - you know, vaguely beyond the beyond.
As for the rest, I thought Audi was the first name of the most decorated GI of World War II, whose last name was Murphy.
I never could figure out other lower-luxury imports such as Volvo and Saab, although I always wanted to cry when I heard the latter.
And Acura sounded to me like a remedy for the common cold.
Then there's Lincoln, Cadillac's traditional rival. There've been some great Lincolns over the year, like Honest Abe, the Zephyr of the '30s and the '56. But try as it might, until the huge Navigator sport/utility (SUV) came along Lincoln couldn't come close to matching the Cadillac brand as the pinnacle of American luxury cars.
Not that Cadillac hasn't bumped against some pretigious U.S. competitors during its 97-year history. Packard comes to mind (no, it was never a part of high-tech Hewlett-Packard, Drew). So does Duesenberg and numerous other long-gone classics.
And maybe that's the point: Cadillac is a survivor, an icon that until very recently reigned for decades as the luxury-car champ in its home market. Although its famous wreath is a bit wilted, it's crowned crest a tad tarnished, I think it has a good shot of climbing back up the hill.
I base my stand on these observations:
n Cadillac has blundered so frequently during the last 20 years that even a few blunder-free years could trigger a meaningful comeback.
I've seen what Caddy has planned - at least in concept - out to 2006, and I couldn't spot a potential loser. No Cimarron. No Allante. No late-to-market Escalade. And no over-reliance on old folks to keep the brand alive.
n Turnarounds abound. Look atCorp., with the dumpiest cars and trucks on the road and empty coffers in the'70s and '80s. Most experts now agree it's the world styling leader, and it arguably has been the automotive darling of the '90s. Just ask Juergen Schrempp. Audi and its AG parent both are flying high after some rough sailing over the last decade.
Jaguar is enjoying a revival underMotor Co., after near death as the '90s began. Even France's long-ailing is enjoying a renaissance. It would have been inconceivable to think only a few years ago that Renault would take control of . Yet that's exactly what happened earlier this year.
n Cadillac is beginning to win some of the big accolades. In the latest J.D. Power & Associates owner satisfaction survey, Cadillac tied for first with Volvo and Jaguar. Not bad company. Mercedes was third, andtied for fourth with Lexus - and Saturn. Infiniti was fifth, Lincoln seventh (tied with Oldsmobile), Audi eighth and Saab ninth. Drew, my boy, you're just too cynical.
I agree it won't be easy for Caddy to mount a comeback. It has some marvelous competitors out there, and they're getting tougher every day.
I doubt Caddy would be playing the role of underdog if it weren't for a sorry lack of corporate vision and support in the '80s and '90s. To neglect and mismanage your premier line is unforgivable.
But that's history. I'd rather look ahead. And what I see is Caddy finally getting its act together - and Mr. Winter eating his words.