Cadillacs of yesteryear were big, imposing expressions of American affluence and confidence. Mobsters, movie stars and other big shots loved them, and used them to extend their A-type personalities.

Then something happened during the 1970s. They lost their Mojo and starting hanging out with the wrong crowd — retired Floridians who favoured white golfing slacks and/or dinner theatre.

Cadillac gradually got its ‘cred back, mostly through a very successful new exterior design language called Art and Science, which debuted on the original CTS in 2002. Those sharp angles and crisp lines were not universally loved, but they definitely gave Cadillac a decisive and modern personality.

What’s next?


Well, we now have some idea, thanks to the unveiling of the Ciel concept, at last weekend’s Concours d’Elegance classic car show at the Pebble Beach country club in California.

I wasn’t there, which is just as well, because we all know that part of California just sucks (OK, maybe some sour grapes talking).

But we have pictures and they reveal that the Ciel — French for sky and pronounced “C-L” — is evolving Cadillac’s Art and Science design toward a more flowing direction. Not quite a river, but definitely less geometry class.

The other intent of Ciel is to announce that Cadillac is anxious to once again have a big halo type vehicle in its portfolio, which it could stack against the range-topping models from rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz (7 Series and S Class Sedans, respectively).

As such Ciel is big. It sits on a 125-inch wheelbase, and is 12 inches longer than Cadillac’s current biggest sedan, the CTS. The “open air grand tourer” body style, complete with suicide doors, is purposefully extravagant, as are the interior accoutrements and conveniences.

The hybrid powerplant is a sign of the times: 3.6-litre V6 with twin turbochargers, and lithium-battery powered electric motor.

“The Ciel is about the romance of the drive,” noted Clay Dean, Cadillac’s global design director.

“It emulates the great touring cars seen on the greens at Pebble Beach, but with a more modern flair that projects Cadillac’s vision for the future.”

Unfortunately the totally topless Ciel is a bit too out there for production.

Only the styling cues and some finishes, like the vintage wood treatment and Cabernet paint job will make it into production. (The latter inspired by the “rich translucence of a glass of red wine held up to the sunlight.”)

But good on Cadillac for shooting big. Ciel is a nice shot.

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