There’s nothing quite like having the man who designed the Corvette Sting Ray tell you, the interviewer, that you’re not giving GM’s larger-than-life chief designer Harley Earl enough respect.
My question: “Did you ever work with Harley Earl back in the day?”
Bob Veryzer: “He was around. It was never Harley Earl. It was always Mister Earl.”
To which GM’s VP of Global Design Ed Welburn added, “It was only until recently that people started calling him Harley Earl.”
Apparently, GM’s artistic duo hadn’t seen any of Buick’s “My name’s Harley Earl” TV spots. Nevertheless, at this gala in honor of Cadillac, clear respect for an icon was the order of the evening.
Last summer we drove up to Saratoga Springs, New York where instead of placing bets on horses we braved the worst tempests that the Hudson River Valley could throw our way to tape a story about Cadillac’s past and where it might fit in GM’s tomorrow.
GM had turned 100 years old and the Saratoga Auto Museum threw a party in honor of Cadillac. Many GM big wigs were there, including GM’s G.M. for Cadillac, Jim Taylor.
As grim as Caddy sales looked last July, the financial markets had yet to crash and the General was still almost a year away from filing for bankruptcy protection. We were in, if you like, the eye of the perfect storm.
In this segment with a T.R.T. of 07:15, we watch some of the best and worst of Cadillac’s past; hear comments from the marque’s fans; and get a real sense that in the midst of the celebration, GM’s top brass knew what was to come.
“This is a new world we’re going into,” Mr. Taylor notes, “Quite frankly I don’t think anybody realizes how big a difference there’s going to be. Until you wake up in four or five years and realized what happened.”
Executive Producers: Gunnar Heinrich & Neil Rogers
Editors: Michael Russell | Neil Rogers | Kevin Kusina
Camera: Joshua Schnitzer | Gregory Dwyer | Neil Rogers
Writer | Host: Gunnar Heinrich
Special Thanks: GM | Saratoga Auto Museum | Dres. Ward Heinrich, Sr. & Jr.| J.M. Ficca
By Gunnar Heinrich
THERE’S just no replacing Cadillac.
As GM files for bankruptcy today, it’s worth noting that the second of four divisions that GM intends on keeping is America’s last true luxury car maker.
Yes, Mercedes-Benz builds ML and GL-Klassen in Alabama. And true, there is still Lincoln whose Town Cars ferry America’s big shots from one city block to the next.
But neither count, really. Lincoln has no soul. And Mercedes-Benz is still very German. It doesn’t matter where they build ’em.
So, Cadillac is “ours”, for better or for worse. And in recent days, it’s been for better.
A quick recap of recent stock.
The CTS is the sharpest midsize luxury sedan on the market. It’s just too bad that only the limited production CTS-V truly performs.
And the Escalade still has its over-sized thumb on the pulse of the luxury SUV market. Everyone else (the Europeans, in particular) can’t match the large truck’s big pimpin’ cred. We should also be mindful that this is the only Caddy that still makes into pop culture’s lexicon.
The SRX and STS are both due for an overhaul. Hopefully, they’ll get just that. The DTS just keeps on tickin’ for Florida’s senior citizenry.
For its part, the General sees a certain value in a strong Cadillac and has sacrificed stronger divisions – Pontiac – to ensure that the crested wreathed logo lives on to float GM through another day or another bond(s).
Let’s hope in this brave new GM to come, the company in its leaner form will be able to further Cadillac by building fewer cars of greater quality that will exceed their rivals -not merely hope to match them.
What else should we expect from the “standard of the world?”
By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG Rob’s photostream on Flickr
GM, now widely derided as “Government Motors”, was, I fear, in need of a good purging.
Yes, it’s true.
Think of it this way: if you were a former all-star employee – long drunk on the volatile cocktail of your own binging excesses (truck platformed SUVs, anonymous rental cars) and belabored by the costs of your own projects (unions, pensions, expensive suppliers, etc.), and hammered by your rivals at work who were both sober and perky doing your same job only better, how well do you think you’d do yours if you showed up to the office hung over?
Hence to the vomitorium (C11) where you (GM) can at least be purged and then hopefully cleansed (vomit stinks) of your sinful ways.
The only trouble now, I fear, is being put under the probation of the division supevisor (Uncle Sam) who never liked your booze scented projects (Camaros, Vettes, Pontiac G8 GTs, anything cool) and will brow beat you into producing saintly products that he thinks every family should have but no family will want to buy.
Either way the market flies you’ll still take the heat. But, hey, it’s that or out on your ass, pal.
By Gunnar Heinrich
GM is wasting no time in washing its hands of Saab. And with that, Saab’s set to fall into a grey area should GM file for Chapter 11 protection. While Cadillac or Chevy warranties would be insured under the Federally backed GM Total Confidence Plan should GM go bankrupt, Premier Channel VP Mark McNabb has told Saab USA dealers that GM chose to exclude Saab from the government backed warranty plan. Love lost? The letter >>>