Cadillac: A Love Story

Above: Ward Anderson behind the wheel

I’ve never been a sports car kind of guy. For my twelfth birthday, my parents gave me a framed poster of a Ferrari and that sucker hung on my bedroom wall for years. This despite the fact that I didn’t care then about the exciting German vehicle and still couldn’t care less today. I actually saw one the other day and, rather than be impressed, thought to myself, Why would anyone own a Ferrari in this city?

It’s not that I never liked cars, mind you. Like most North American men, I fantasized about my share of sweet rides I hoped one day to navigate down the street or—better yet—on the highway at night while listening to Phil Collins’ amazing drum solo on “In the Air Tonight”.  I just wasn’t imagining myself behind the wheel of a ‘Vette or Porche.

No, I wanted to be cruising in a Caddy.

I’ve always had an attraction to luxury cars. When other boys my age were talking about Mustangs and Camaros, I was envisioning a cushy ride in a town car. When I began traveling for a living—sometimes driving as many as ten hours a day and as many as forty-eight weeks per year—I really started to appreciate the importance of a comfortable ride rather than one that was flashy. Spend eight straight hours in a tiny two-seater and you’ll suddenly long to be in your father’s Oldsmobile. Or your grandfather’s Caddy.

Growing up, there was no finer luxury car than a Cadillac. The guy in in the Trans AM wanted to party, but the guy in the Caddy meant business. This was a guy who knew how to dress, how to enjoy the finer things in life, and how to take his sweet ass time. He didn’t have to do doughnuts in the parking lot to get girls to pay attention. He merely stepped out of that machine, put his fedora on his head, and gave you a smirk. The guy driving the Cadillac had style. So did his car.

Sure, they were big. Look at a1954 Eldorado or a ’68 Deville. Both could carry an entire family—including two kids and at least one set of grandparents—and still have a little room left over for a set of golf clubs and the family schnauzer. Yet being on the road in one of those classics was like being Don Draper every single day. The man who drove that car wasn’t a horny teenager who hoped to get to second base with his girlfriend. He was Hugh Heffner, with his arm around Marilynn Monroe… and they went all the way, Jack.

With just a lot of luck and a modicum of success under my belt, I was recently able to have my very own Cadillac. This was no small feat, as I’d been busting my ass for years, eeking out a living and reaching for the elusive brass ring. Finally, after years of old (yet reliable) cars that got me from town to town during my Starving Artist days, it was time for a change. Channeling that young man I once was with the poster I never wanted, I felt the time was finally right.

As luck would have it, I kind of got the sports car and the luxury car rolled into one. Last year, Cadillac rolled out the ATS, it’s smallest-ever luxury car. Having never been behind the wheel a car the size of the classic Caddies, I was actually a bit relieved. Here was that brand I loved, the luxury I wanted, and the size I liked, all in one. The 272 horses under the hood and AWD certainly made it an extra treat, and it was a big change from my days spent living out of my car. The ATS is sharp, sleek…and kicks ass, even on those snowy Canadian roads I have to navigate these days.

Sure, the outside looks like a sports car with the famous Cadillac logo on the grille. But inside that baby is all luxury. Inside that car, I might as well be Sinatra cradled in the corner booth at his favourite supper club. Heated leather seats cradle me and remind me of the years I spent with a broken spring poking me in the crotch. The glow from the dashboard sooths me as that Phil Collins drum solo fills the cabin as if I’m at a concert. And the voice recognition software makes me feel as if I have my own personal assistant helping to guide me where I want to go. Finally, someone who actually listens to me.

The new system is called CUE—Cadillac User Experience—and it essentially is there to make a person like me feel spoiled. Everything I need—navigation, phone, music—is available through the sound of my voice or on the slick touch screen in the center of the dashboard. It’s a far cry from my days of fumbling for a cassette tape on the floor while balancing a hot cup of coffee between my legs. It’s way more than I need but it sure does feel nice to have. The irony is that the ATS can get you where you want to go fast, but you really wind up wanting to take your time.

Take out the whistles and bells. Take out the heated seats and the CUE system and the gorgeous dashboard and that toasty warm steering wheel (yeah, that’s heated, too), and what’s left over is what really counts: It just plain rides nicely down the street. My entire life I’ve waited not for the fancy sound system, but for a car that was quiet on the inside. Other people want to be surrounded by The Stones while flying down a dusty highway. I just want to enjoy the ride in peace as I make my way home.

It’s not a classic behemoth for me to step out of and, honestly, I look terrible in fedoras anyway. But—damn—it feels good. It feels like what it should, which is luxurious. Yet it feels compact and sporty enough to be my car.

So I won’t be driving any Porches anytime soon (I couldn’t afford one anyway), and I’ve never been one for the endless sea of interchangeable European cars I’m told smell of success. Instead, I’m taking The Rat Pack and Marilynn for a ride in the Cadillac as we take a comfy road trip to Vegas.

And we’ll be listening to “In the Air Tonight” along the way.

Tags: Ford

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