Casa de Cadillac's signage was a defining characteristic of not only the store, but of Ventura Boulevard. "That alone would have been a major departure from Casa de Cadillac," Fine said. The sign is as significant as the building itself, he said.Cadillac eventually agreed that the dealership could keep its two signs and add smaller signs that aligned with brand standards.
Drake added some limestone and a Cadillac tower at the side entrance rather than the main entrance Cadillac originally requested.
Another sticking point was covering the terrazzo floor, a staple of midcentury modern architecture, with black tile. Cadillac allowed Drake to cover two chunks of the floor with large black pads that wouldn't damage the terrazzo underneath.
"I know that the limestone hurt [Cadillac], but getting us to keep the existing sign, that was probably the hardest swallow they had to make," Drake said. "Every brand … wants their current signage. And I'm sympathetic to that."
Still, Drake added, "no one drives by here and doesn't know it's a Cadillac store."
Overall, Casa de Cadillac spent more than $4 million on updates related to the image program. Many of the enhancements were by the book, in accordance with Cadillac's vision. Others were designed to capture the intent of the program while maintaining the building's architectural integrity, Drake said.
"One of the ironies of Casa's whole ordeal is most of the time, dealers are asking for exceptions to save money," he said. "The vast majority of the exceptions we got cost us money."
For example, the store had a 4-inch stucco ceiling from the 1940s that no one liked, but everyone wanted to keep its stainless steel spotlights.
Cadillac suggested installing an egg-crate drop ceiling as a cost-effective way to preserve the spotlights and meet brand standards. But Drake's architect was opposed to the idea. So Drake decided to tear out the ceiling and replace it with a new one that maintained the original plane.
Drake also added a glass partition to the service drive to mimic an Apple genius bar, built a training office and completely revamped the building's infrastructure.
Drake purchased the furniture and interior wood, leather, stainless steel and glass that Cadillac wanted. He added more enhancements that didn't conflict with Cadillac's style. After the remodel, customer satisfaction scores were "sky high," Drake said.