The 1988 Cadillac Voyage Concept Charged a Course for the 21st Century


By the late 1980s, Cadillac had locked itself in a corner, at least in terms of design. A decade of distancing itself from the excess land yachts of the previous era had led to downsizing, sharing front-wheel-drive platforms with its GM corporate cousins, and a distinctly boxy appearance for almost all vehicles in the showroom. The only car that deviated even slightly from that game plan was the Cadillac Allante roadster, which would end up failing for a whole different set of reasons. Simply put, things were getting stale.

(Editor’s Note: It’s easy to think of concept cars as marketing gimmicks and dead end design exercises. But every now and then, a company reveals the secret of its future without anyone noticing. With ever-grander promises on electrification, autonomy and the material advancements made by today’s concepts, I thought it would be useful to take a look at the archives to see how and when the major engineering and design trends that define the present were truly seeded. . This recurring column of the great Ben Hunting is entitled most Important concept cars you forgot everything about, and its goal is to give you the tools to understand what’s really to come. – KC)

Cadillac was not alone in this obsession with right angles. Almost all of the big cars (and most midsize cars) built by General Motors during the same period fell prey to the same boxiness. It wasn’t until the Ford Taurus arrived on the scene in 1986 that stylists from Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Cadillac were told the status quo was no longer going to cut it off among those looking for visual excitement. in a domestic automobile.

Not wanting to concede more on size, Cadillac mastermind decided it was time for a drastic change in the way it shaped its sheet metal. The end result was the 1988 Cadillac Voyage (by the way, that’s VoyAHHje, like have a nice trip), a monstrous luxury sedan that not only telegraphed the next 10 years of styling for GM’s biggest mile-eaters, but also previewed Cadillac’s foray into high-tech territory that would become a staple key to its changing image once the 20th century has drawn to an end. While Cadillac’s journey to a company capable of embracing something like Super Cruise didn’t start here, the Voyage was an aptly named quest for the mind that largely clarified what the future of luxury should be. American.

Technology first, design … also first

When the Cadillac Voyage Concept first hit the New York City scene in 1988, it did its best to draw attention to what was inside its eye-catching form. GM chose to unveil the car at its Teamwork & Technology show, which was a huge hype at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City in the vein of Motorama’s old technology and design exhibitions. He focused on promoting the various telecommunications and electronics features crammed into his cabin.

These included things like a dual-screen navigation system, a hands-free phone that can respond to voice commands, and even a rearview camera to help with both highway driving and the backing of the car. extended auto (which measured 212.6 inches long, roughly the same length as a Ford F-150 of the same year). The car also featured an ‘active’ four-wheel drive system that could activate the front axle by computer if a loss of traction was detected while driving, a novelty at a time when all-wheel drive was still out of the box. main stream.

And yet to focus on any one of those characteristics was to miss the real message of what Concept Voyage was suggesting about GM’s future. While they may have sizzled on the Cadillac’s highlight reel, almost every one of its gadgets (with the exception of a coded keyless access panel) was many years away from hitting the list. options of any production car.

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