Cadillac debuts stunning Ciel grand-touring car concept


August 21, 2011

The Cadillac Ciel luxury open tourer concept car on the road.

The Cadillac Ciel luxury open tourer concept car on the road.

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A few years ago the very existence of parent company General Motors was hanging in the balance but the Cadillac brand has made a spectacular comeback with an edgy design vocabulary in the CTS line and a seriously powerful headline-grabbing variant in the CTS-V coupe. The house style is sufficiently distinctive and the handling sufficiently sorted (we'll ignore the soon-to-be-killed-off Escalade) that the CTS is attracting buyers in Europe, something notoriously difficult for US car brands. Cadillac is feeling confident and that confidence was evident at Monterey last week where it unveiled a concept convertible that showcases a design direction for the future and its desire to move further upmarket, which of course, is exactly where Cadillac should be.

The Ciel (french for sky) is an long elegant boat of a car with strong design hints of previous Cadillac glories. Mercedes Benz has shown how successful you can get by incorporating body cues from the past into modern vehicles in an almost comic "retro-fabulous" style, and GM has clearly got the message. Modern metal-bending allows for shapes that were impossible in that time and you can see how the massive front and rear light clusters of bygone Cadillacs have mutated into sharp blades whilst still retaining a flavor of their iconic forebears. That hood-hump has been a Cadillac trademark since the early 70s.

While the exterior is a beautifully proportioned cruiser suitable for the Pacific Coast Highway - even the 22-inch rims look correct - GM has really gone to town on the interior. Automated suicide doors reminiscent of Lincoln convertibles past provide access to individually adjustable armchairs. The complex but tasteful hand-made interior sculpture of Olive wood, nickel-plated metal and burgundy leather is beautifully executed and though this a concept vehicle there is actually very little that couldn't make it into production - the pull-out wool blankets and the aromatherapy controls probably.

Motivation for the 203-inch (5.175 m) long car is provided by a twin-turbo V6 producing 425 hp (317 kW) assisted, of course, by an electric unit capable of wafting the vehicle silently at low speeds.

This would be a very expensive vehicle to produce. The Converj/ELA that we covered a few days ago is the future direction of Cadillac mainstream cars but it might be that GM sees a time when a handmade and unashamedly luxurious Cadillac might make a great deal of sense for the brand. If this is the quality of design and execution that they are capable of then bring it on we say.

About the Author
Vincent Rice Vincent Rice has been an audio-visual design consultant for almost 30 years including six years with Warner Brothers Cinemas. He has designed several large retail installations in London and a dozen major nightclubs across the world from Belfast to Brno to Beruit. An accomplished musician and 3D computer graphics artist, Vince also writes for AV Magazine in the U.K. and the Loudscreen digital signage blog. All articles by Vincent Rice

Open wheel wells. Style over top speed and performance. The usual from Caddy.


Call me crazy but this isn\'t a new design at all. It simply looks like a 1961-69 lincoln continental convertible suicide doors and all. Yeah it has been freshened up, but its still a Connie knock off. It even has the scquared off front profile of the Connie. Don\'t get me wrong I love the luxury brands Lincoln and Cadillac, but don\'t try and pawn it off as a \'new\' design. It\'s just an updated design of a car that was made decades ago.


Love it! Can I order one with longhorns on the hood??


what a cool car

Ruth Butler

The next rapper,b-ball player, pimp,drug thug ride!

Doug Gardner

Stunningly ugly. The design doesn\'t \"flow,\" and it\'s a collection of bits from assorted other ugly cars. Too much \"bling\" and not enough \"soul.\"

William Lanteigne

the front seats are designed with heavy people in mind, with those seat bottom sliders, err, bolsters, the trim on the seat bottom outer won\'t break off like it does on BuMmerW and MickieBenZ with heavy people driving, always polite, I did not use the FAT PEOPLE words

Bill Bennett

Hmm I am too ignorant to know much about makes, models and reproductions.

All I think is stingy, tight arsed fuel consumption, and car = horseless carriage - designed to transport self and other people / things from point A to point B...

In effect, what has styling got to do with anything.

It\'s transport.

So I am not paying 10 or 20 x as much for a similar device that performs the same function at 1/3 the running cost.

Mr Stiffy

Looking side on and at the interior it is stunning... WTF happened to the front end, this car has no face and looks like a ugly Alien. If they were going to represent past Caddys were are the fins and buckets of chrome? And "buyers in Europe, something notoriously difficult for US car brands" thats because mainstream Yank tanks lost their car design taste in the going boxed shaped 70's... I say bring back art deco you guys were the masters!

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