Cadillac readies import fighter

Originally published: Jan. 8, 1990

DETROIT -- Cadillac unwrapped its luxury-grade import fighter at the 1990 North American International Auto Show here last week. The only glitch is, it won't be ready until the 1995 model year, if at all.

Called the Aurora, it is almost a mirror image of Cadillac's LSS, a previous concept car that was never publicly displayed.

LSS, short for Luxury Sport Sedan, supposedly was Cadillac's best offense against Toyota's Lexus and Nissan's Infiniti, as well as European imports. Cadillac officials contend the division isn't being hurt by Lexus and Infiniti. The European imports, they say, are being hurt.

But John Grettenberger, Cadillac general manager, said the LSS has been scuttled.

He said Cadillac had categorized the LSS only as a "concept," not a car. He called the Aurora "an extension" of the LSS.

The LSS never received official corporate approval to go into production even though officials said it could be ready by 1992.

Grettenberger hinted strongly that the Aurora could be ready for production by 1994 and on sale the following year.

He said the company will conduct an extensive market research program during the next 12 months to decide Aurora's fate -production or the scrap heap.

"We want to know if current and potential luxury-car owners would be attracted to such a vehicle, and if it is in context with what Cadillac is and should be," he said.

He characterized the vehicle as "much more 'doable' " than either the Solitaire or Voyage, two other Cadillac concept vehicles.

The engine is the 4.5-liter V-8 currently used in the Allante, but Grettenberger said Cadillac would certainly make room under the hood if other powertrains become available in the future.

Cadillac has apparently realized the need for a vehicle that will appeal to the aging baby-boom generation -- those born between 1946 and 1964. It has also realized that its current buyers are dying.

Grettenberger said the average age of a Cadillac buyer is 56 years. He added that the average age of a DeVille buyer has dipped to 52, but the average age of Brougham buyer is 63.

"The new generation of luxury car buyers has changed, and sleek styling, performance, handling and a solid, distinctive packaging theme are important, especially to younger buyers," he said. "We think the Aurora is all of those things."

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