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Cadillac Unveils Ciel, And Harkens Back To Its Land Yachts Of Yore

Inspired by joy riding along the California coast, the Ciel sports finely crafted details along with hybrid technology.

For years, the buzz out of Detroit has been a new focus on smaller cars, to compete in a market where gas costs $4 a gallon. Which makes Cadillac's latest concept offering bizarre, to say the least: The so-called Ciel harkens back to the company's massive land yachts of the 1960s and 1970s. You know, those massive "coupes" that took about seven turns of the steering wheel to back out of a parking space. But it's a credit to the brand's current designers that this whale, while reveling in some of the worst days of American auto design, actually looks pretty stylish.

As the press release helpfully notes, Ciel is the "French translation for sky," and the four-door monster is meant to be a sort of oversized picnic blanket for the open road. And while the French name seems a tad pretentious, the brand itself was named after the 17th-century French explorer Antoine Laumet de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac, who founded Detroit in 1701 — and French, for that reason, has marked many of the company's most memorable behemoths, such as the Coupe de Ville.

Just as the old Coupe de Ville was a premium car with deluxe details, Ciel flaunts the beauty of handcraftsmanship: plush leather and Italian Olive wood, harvested from a single fallen tree and hand-milled and finished by expert woodworking craftsmen. A cashmere blanket is stashed in the backseat; a rear center console holds a small humidor stocked with a few cigars. The four doors open French-style, with the back doors hinged at the rear— there is no B-pillar—to dramatically reveal a sweeping look at the lavish interior. And though the car is meant to renew the pleasure of grand touring, the eco-minded can be (sort of) consoled by the fact that it’s powered by a hybrid system using lithium-ion battery technology.

Could GM be signaling an ambition to recapture the luxury market? Given the uncertainty driving the stock market and the fragility of the American car industry, that’s a risky bid (although one that Caddy is hedging with a two-door hybrid built on the Chevy Volt Platform).

Let’s hope it all doesn't end in a contretemps — that’s French for "embarrassing mistake."

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  • Bill

    Interesting concept, and it's good that hopefully they are getting away from that dated edge style that they grew into in the past 10 years.  Cadillac needs everything it can get a hold of just to sell the rest of the remarkably average and "long of tooth" vehicles in its line.

  • Deltell

    contretemps means a problem that makes you late... this is a real car and if you cant afford one like that you diserve to take the bus please make less stupid cars and more like this one with hard tops please

  • Cemgerson

    Well, it looks like an answer to Mercedes-Benz's OCEAN Drive car... Both are perfect... Well, willing to know the price... 
    A Hybrid version will be more useful as the fuel is getting more expensive everyday...
    Wish to be able to buy and drive one soon... All the best to all!

  • Mightymorodgers

    Cadillac is back. I love it. Reminds me of my STS  Wonder how it looks with the top up?

  • vonB

    I applaud the design intent..but how about design restraint. This car suffers from design theme madness. Everywhere possible the crease/obtuse angle/chopped vertex is applied--necessary or not. The front seat (bottom) shows the elegance that I would like to see in the design. A counterpoint to the points.

  • Independentcontractorareus

    How is every thing Miss Lanks; The Coupe de Ville. set is nice;
    "I have Evolved".... I have some works... such as.... music & graphics & literture for publishing... "lets converse' Network" Editor of Metropolis

  • bob

    "while reveling in some of the worst days of American auto design,"

    The US auto malaise era happened in the 80's. Search google images for  Cadillac Cimerron.

    While I've never been a GM fan, this design study is quite elegant. It's not for me, but I'd rather see these designers working on this concept than another Impala...I'm sure they would too.

  • Mike

    $4 a gallon... LOL

    Do you know what a gallon costs here in The Netherlands??
    Almost $11!

  • W4politics

    I didnt even see a soft-top demonstration. What gives? Does Cadillac hope it wont rain when you take this car out??

  • Stef Marcinkowski

    This beauty elegantly bashes the luxo-barge aesthetic of the 1968 Eldorado with the luxo-barge aesthetic of  the 2003 Sixteen concept.

    Can't help but wonder whether a hardtop would ever be offered, and if so, what would it be called? Coupe de Ciel?