Tonight at Pebble Beach, Cadillac unveiled their latest concept, the Elmiraj Grand Coupe. In a word, it's stunning. The deep blue finish plays with light in a way that accentuates the razor-edged metal origami of the Art & Science design language. More interesting, though, is the way the Elmiraj perpetuates themes that debuted at Pebble Beach just a few years ago on the equally beautiful Ciel. Both have an upright, regal front, knife-blade lighting, long, flat sides, a sweeping lower character line, and a distinctive vent just behind the front wheel well. Both have a look that futuristic but not outlandish, and distinctly American, distinctly Cadillac.
Where the Ciel was a four-door convertible, though, the Elmiraj is a long-hood, short-deck grand tourer in the style of the Eldorado, once the crown jewel of the Cadillac marque. In fact, Cadillac's Twitter account has been posting vintage Eldorado pictures all week, and Clay Dean, executive director of advanced design, specifically recognizes the 1967 Eldorado as a major influence. The Eldorado was the most Cadillac of Cadillacs - it was big, luxurious, glitzy, and powerful, holding the corporate record for both longest coupe and largest engine, at 500 cubic inches. The Elmiraj's twin-turbo V-8 displaces just over half of that monster's 8 liters, coming in at 4.4, but it replaces cubic inches with output, and is estimated to produce around 500 horsepower. Normally, the interior would be considered typical concept fare, but given the cockpit of Cadillac's most recent concept-to-production, the ELR, the envelope of possibility seems a bit wider than it used to.
Cadillac's press release points out quite clearly that Cadillac "approaches concept cars as a method for projecting design forward rather than ... future production models", which raises the specter that this is just another one-off, destined to be nothing more than an ornament for the foyer of Cadillac headquarters, like the Ciel and the Sixteen before it. Hopefully, this isn't the case, as Cadillac's Art & Science theme is producing some of the best looking, most distinctive cars on the market today. The Elmiraj would stand out parked next to an Aston Martin or Bentley Continental, which certainly achieves the mission of showcasing "the top of the brand's expanding range". Despite the Cadillac's emphasis on "design studies" and "vision", there is a light shining through. Buried within the press release, there is one very important detail: the Elmiraj rides on a rear-wheel-drive platform destined for future production models. Clearly, given the concept's size, this can only be the highly secretive flagship meant to slot above the XTS. Only time will tell, but if Cadillac's latest concepts genuinely do showcase the brand's vision, the best is yet to come.
Elmiraj Image © General Motors