Cadillac enjoys some of the highest average transaction prices among premium auto brands operating in the United States. After years of Lincoln MKS disappointment, the new Lincoln Continental actually looks the part. Globally, Cadillac sales are rising month after month after month. In the U.S., Lincoln is rare among auto brands in a declining auto industry in 2017: sales at Ford’s upmarket brand have risen 3 percent this year.
Indeed, while discussing the apparent appeal of the Tesla brand last week, Jack Baruth said,Â “You might say that General Motors and Ford are going to build better, more reliable, and more thoroughly developed electric cars than Tesla can, and youâ€™re probably right.”
“But the world doesnâ€™t want an electric Cadillac or Lincoln,” Jack accurately points out, “for the same reasons it doesnâ€™t want gasoline-powered Cadillacs or Lincolns.”
Regardless of how you grade the momentum of Cadillac and Lincoln, they are mere blips in the global luxury automobile market and remain rather inconsequentialÂ players in their U.S. home market, as well. Will that change in your lifetime?
Ever notice how the 20 compliments your spouse paid you over the last week are cancelled out by the one cutting remarkÂ on a Monday morning on your way out to work? In a moment of Monday maturity, you’re able to overlook the sharp insult, but it stays with you far longer than any positive comment.
Cadillac and Lincoln had their fair share of outstanding vehicles, from the ’46 Sixty Special and the ’57 DeVille to the ’37 Zephyr and ’61 Continental convertible. They were symbols of success, emblems of elegant excess, cars of a high caliber.
The mystique of domestic luxury was lost, however, not only by one harsh barb but by successive generations of Cadillacs and LincolnsÂ that failed to compete with a European and then Japanese incursion.
Cadillacs that displayedÂ the proper on-road behavior lacked the requisite premium interiors. Lincolns that possessed proper exterior treatment failed to measure up to expected reliability standards. Cadillacs that produced NÃ¼rburgring-mastering performance looked comically edgy. Lincolns failed toÂ convince buyers that luxurious equipment levels counteracted obvious connections with regular Blue Oval machinery.
Cadillac and Lincoln are both building better cars, arguably perfectly competitive cars, evidently eye-catching cars. But does it matter?
Not now, not yet. Cadillac and Lincoln can’t undo the damage of decades in short order. In the minds of consumers in the duo’sÂ own home market, the obvious premium vehicle choices reside in the showrooms of Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, BMW, and Audi. Cadillac and Lincoln simply don’t provide the same status.
Will they ever?
[Images: General Motors, Ford Motor Company]
Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor ofÂ GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.