The 1992 model year brought the European-inspired Seville STS sports sedan and Eldorado Touring Coupe, and the brand began getting real traction in the market with cars that appealed to younger buyers. The following year, Cadillac introduced the Northstar V-8, the company's four-cam, 32-valve aluminum V-8 engine.
But a small sport sedan Cadillac introduced in the mid-1990s, the Catera, a rebadged Opel Omega MV6 targeted at younger buyers, fell short of expectations.
Still, Grettenberger noticed consumers were spending more and more on pickups and SUVs, and he wanted Cadillac to lead the way for American manufacturers.
In 1987, British Leyland's Range Rover was finally introduced in North America. The vehicle, lauded as the first true luxury SUV, was introduced in 1970 and was a massive success in Europe. But it was never offered before in North America because British Leyland did not have the production capacity to meet expected demand.
Muniga recalls Grettenberger's product planners fighting for a Cadillac SUV years before Ford beat GM to the market with the 1998 Lincoln Navigator.
"In 1992 or 1993, I was asked to go into a staff meeting. They had proposed [an SUV] for Cadillac. There was a lot of conversation about it. We saw where the market was headed, but you still had the traditional Cadillac buyer," Muniga said. "There was a lot of discussion about whether the traditional Cadillac buyer would accept this. On the other side of the fence, we had to get younger people in our vehicles."
GM, beset with a host of financial, quality, manufacturing and other problems, did not approve Cadillac's request for an SUV.
In 1997, as Grettenberger was retiring, Lincoln introduced the Navigator, which became a big hit for Cadillac's biggest rival. That's when GM's board finally approved a Cadillac-badged SUV. In just seven months, the Escalade — a barely disguised GMC Yukon Denali — appeared in Cadillac showrooms.
After Grettenberger's retirement, he returned to Lansing and worked in his family's oil business. In later years, he served on the boards of directors for several companies.