2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport Review

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The Cadillac CTS Vsport edition is the top of the line CTS model and boasts a number of added features to the already impressive sport sedan which won Motortrend’s car of the year in 2014.  RedlineNorth recently took the CTS Vsport through its paces and we were seriously impressed with the experience.  Our test vehicle was a 2014 CTS 3.6L Vsport premium sedan.  The base price of the vehicle is $74,49 and with options the total price including destination charge, excluding taxes is $79,580 CAD.

The exterior styling of the CTS is a refreshing departure for Cadillac.  Stand out features of the CTS styling are the inlaid hood, more aggressively angled front windshield and the inlaid rear spoiler. In addition, the active aero grille shutters not only add to the styling, but automatically close to maximize aerodynamics when additional engine cooling is not required.  The most noticeable exterior difference to the CTS in the Vsport edition is the Vsport badge on the rear trunk. This little moniker tells you that you have something special under the hood.

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The 3.6L Twin Turbo V6 with an 8 speed transmission rockets the CTS to 96 km/h in 4.4 seconds.  Needless to say, acceleration is extraordinary making the car so much fun to drive.  Controlling all this power is an electronic Limited-Slip Differential (eLSD) that optimizes the torque split between the rear wheels.  This provides enhanced stability and traction control through the corners as well as offering a more precise steering experience. We were impressed with the overall responsiveness of the vehicle. With all the power available in the Vsport edition, the Brembo brakes with 345.4 mm front rotors and available high-performance brake linings are a welcome inclusion and offers an excellent feel when stopping.

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The interior of the CTS Vsport is well refined with lots of soft touch surfaces, 20 way adjustable seats, ambient lighting and a wealth of technology.  The vehicle utilizes a heads up display projected onto the front windscreen.  Drivers can customize the information shown to them including speed, RPM, current music selection, etc…  Even in bright sunlight the display is crisp and clear.  Once we started using it the display became invaluable while driving, allowing us to concentrate on the road and not the dashboard. The CTS Vsport has good all round visibility and offers a cabin that is remarkably quiet despite the monster under the hood.

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The integration of technology into the CTS extends to the front instrument panel which is a completely digital, configurable display.  It does take a little bit of getting use to staring at a screen, but after a while it becomes natural.  Shown below on the dash is the ability of the driver to choose from four driving modes Tour, Sport, Track as well as Snow and Ice.  Each mode adjusts the driving experience including steering and magnetic drive control.  For everyday driving we found the Sport mode provided a good all round experience.

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Another quality feature of the CTS is the ability to deploy a rear window sun shade at the touch of a button, this coupled with the keyless access which recognizes your key fob and automatically locks or unlocks the doors depending on if you are coming or going, are examples of features added by the engineers and designers that remind the driver you are driving a Cadillac.  Additional “nice to have” features are the parallel parking assist, heated rear seats, illuminated front sill plates and what Cadillac calls their Ultraview sunroof.  All told, Cadillac has provided a well rounded package in the CTS Vsport.

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Historically, there has been a perceived status benefit to owning a foreign made vehicle in the luxury segment, however, we think Cadillac has a winner here with the CTS Vsport edition that can break this perception. The combination of the interior cabin refinement, advanced technology integration and overall performance make the CTS Vsport a great option in the luxury performance sedan segment. Those features coupled with the fact it is just so much fun to drive make it a compelling option for target buyers.  Nevertheless, the CTS Vsport is up against some stiff competition in this segment, including the Audi A6, Mercedes Benz E class, BMW 5 series and the Jaguar XF. However, at the end of the day we feel it holds its own against the competition from across the Atlantic.

 

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2014 Cadillac ATS

The 2014 Cadillac ATS is a four door, five passenger luxury sports sedan made by General Motors.  It debuted in 2013 model year to much fanfare and won the North American Car Of The Year award that same year.  Having reviewed the 2013 ATS with the 2.0L turbocharged engine last year, RedlineNorth recently had the opportunity to revisit the ATS.  This time with a 2014, 3.6L engine with automatic transmission. How does this year’s ATS stack up? Read on to find out.

2014 Cadillac ATS

2014 Cadillac ATS

The Cadillac ATS is available with three engine configurations, a 2.0L turbocharged, a 2.5L and a 3.6L engine.  In addition, there are four trim levels depending on the chosen engine from standard, luxury, performance and premium. Our test vehicle was a white 2014 with the 3.6L engine, AWD and luxury trim. The standard ATS starts at $35,695 and reaches a base price of $51,480 at the premium trim level.  The starting price of our luxury level configuration was $46,675. Additional options, destination charge and air conditioning fee brought the total price of the vehicle to $54,885 CAD.

Notable features of the 2014 vehicle with options include:

  • A four year, 80,000 km new vehicle limited warranty with six years or 110,000 km of road side assistance
  • 6 speed automatic transmission
  • Brembo front brake calipers
  • 1 year of OnStar service
  • 18″ aluminium wheels
  • Dual zone climate control
  • Ambient LED based lighting
  • 10-way power adjustable front seat
  • Rear camera
  • Front & rear park assist
  • 8″ touch screen & 3 USB ports
  • The driver awareness package adds forward collision alert, lane departure warning, auto high beam control and rain sensing wipers to name a few.

In terms of style, the ATS shows its aggressive side with sharp angles and a bold appearance.  The sculpted headlights and the 18 inch polished aluminium wheels add to this look. The rear of the vehicle incorporates distinctive Cadillac chevron styling cues as well as dual chrome exhaust pipes.  All in all General Motors should be applauded for their departure from the traditional Cadillac look and feel.

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The 2014 ATS has an aggressive exterior style

The interior of the ATS has the fit and finish that one would expect in a Cadillac.  We particularly like the leather seats with precision stitching and embedded Cadillac chevron. The plethora of soft touch surfaces, along with the ambient lighting added to the luxury feel of the vehicle.

The dashboard is organized in a logical and ergonomically pleasing way. The haptic feedback on the CUE touchscreen is a great feature, however, we found that a number of the touchpad style buttons on the dash have to be pressed twice for them to engage.  After a while we figured out the exact spot that needed pressing, but this is something that requires improvement in the future.  Rounding out our likes of the interior was a frameless rear view mirror which blended into the front windscreen and looks great.

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Leather stitching and soft touch surfaces add to the interior quality of the ATS.

The back seat of the ATS does have somewhat limited leg room, and is best used for shorter distances, while rear headroom is acceptable. Trunk space is adequate and offers  a pass through for those longer items. Although Cadillac engineers have made efficient use of space overall we found the interior of the ATS a touch on the small side.

In terms of performance, the 3.6L V6 engine provides 321 hp and 274 lbs of torque.  Not surprisingly acceleration was plentiful with reported 0-60 mph times in the six second range. The ATS feels nimble and takes corners well with little body roll.  Breaking is responsive thanks in part to the Brembo front calipers.  Those in the market for a 6 speed manual have only one choice and that is the RWD 2.0L turbo model unfortunately.  It would be nice for the manual transmission option to be available across all engine configurations.

The stated fuel efficiency of the 3.6L engine with AWD is 11.6L/100 km city and 7.6 L/100 km highway, which is based on the current two cycle test.  Next year Natural Resources Canada will require reporting based on the more stringent 5 cycle test which translates into 13.1L city and 9.0L highway.  Note that the 3.6L engine in the ATS only requires regular 87 octane fuel.

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Key competitors to the ATS are the BMW 3 series, Audi A4/S4, and the Acura TSX and we think it does a good job stacking up against its German and Japanese rivals.  Despite having a slightly tight interior feel and touch sensitive buttons that could use a rework, overall the ATS is a blast to drive.  Throughout acceleration, cornering and breaking the ATS performs admirably.  We loved the look and feel of both the exterior and interior of the vehicle and with a $46K base price one can enter the world of the performance luxury sedan with some nice options for under $50K. We also look forward to a new ATS stablemate, the 2015 ATS Coupe later this year.

 

2014 Cadillac XTS Platinum Vsport AWD

Having recently reviewed several Cadillac models including the SRX, ATS and now the XTS we can honestly say they are all a treat to drive.  Over the last few years, GM’s top brand has truly undergone a renaissance as a result of GM’s heightened attention to detail, design and performance.  Seriously, as car enthusiasts what’s not to love when the car looks good, luxurious and fast?

Cadillac XTS Vsport

2014 Cadillac XTS Vsport

Designed to replace both the Cadillac STS and DTS, the XTS is slightly smaller than the DTS but larger than the STS. Production began in May 2012 at the Oshawa, Canada assembly plant and the model was officially launched in June 2012. The XTS is available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations.   Here in Canada, it’s very exciting that this beauty is made in our own backyard for the North American market.  In February 2013, GM began manufacturing the XTS in Shanghai, China for their domestic market.

Our XTS tester came in the top of the line AWD Platinum Vsport trim which includes GM’s new twin-turbo version of the 3.6L V6.  The new engine develops a whopping 410 horsepower and 369 lb ft. of torque.  All this power translates into a “pin you into the seats performance” but with the panache and demure of a 2014 luxury model. The six-speed automatic uses the same gear ratios as in the naturally aspirated XTS but with a shorter final-drive ratio resulting in a lively acceleration band. It’s so powerful I’m confident the XTS could go head-to-head with many of today’s twin-turbo V8’s offered by its German competitors.

And the truth is in the numbers, as the Vsport goes from 0 to 60 in 5.2 seconds and has a quarter-mile time of 13.6 seconds based on most tests. That’s super fast for a large four-door sedan.

In spite of its immense powerplant, the Cadillac is not a fuel hog by today’s standards with GM’s provided fuel economy ratings of (L/100 km): 13.2 city, 8.3 hwy. Now of course, the Vsport requires premium fuel but it’s totally worth it when you get behind the wheel.

Quite the booty

Quite the booty

As for pricing here’s the story.

Base price: $73,745 (XTS Vsport AWD Platinum)
Options:  Rear DVD ($1,995), Crystal Red Tintcoat ($1,295)
Freight: $1,700
AC Fee: $100
Price as Tested: $78,835 CDN

However, if all the Vsport’s power and features are not required you can purchase a base XTS model at a more reasonable price just above $50,000.

Plush leather interior

Plush leather interior

There is no mistake as the XTS interior is ultra luxurious with leather, wood and chrome trim blended together to create an elegant cabin environment. After driving it around town you start to feel you are commanding a rolling stateroom, only interrupted by the growl of its performance underpinnings. Some of these features include Brembo performance brakes, paddle shifters, electronic limited-slip-differential, magnetic ride suspension and an HUD (heads-up display) making the Vsport a bona fide luxury rocket-ship.

Cadillac interior

Cadillac interior

At the center of it all is the eight-inch touch screen seamlessly located in the dashboard and powered by Cadillac’s User Experience (CUE). Its features include capacitive sensing touch control with proximity sensing, haptic feedback, gesture recognition and enhanced voice recognition. This high-tech feature is very intuitive and designed for the younger tech savvy demographic Cadillac is targeting.

Cadillac XTS Vsport

Cadillac XTS Vsport

The XTS competes well with its big sedan brothers as its spaciousness is impressive with rear seat room large enough to do double duty as a chauffeur driven vehicle.  Also, it brings with it a massive trunk capacity of 509 litres/18 cubic ft. which is more than many of its competitors including the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8.

For those consumers who want performance in a full size sedan without reaching the over the top price tag of a Mercedes AMG or BMW M series, the Cadillac XTS Vsport is the car for you. As a Canadian made luxury cruiser with more ponies than you will ever need under the hood, the Vsport AWD Platinum model is an out-right bargain at $75,000 when compared to its European rivals.  Honestly, if I had the bucks I would love to wake up to the XTS Vsport in my garage.

Competitors

  • Acura RLX
  • Audi A8
  • BMW 7-Series
  • Infiniti M
  • Hyundai Genesis
  • Lexus LS
  • Mercedes S-Class
  • Volvo S80

We will be reviewing the XTS’ little sister the CTS Vsport later this summer so keep your eyes out for that review.

2014 Cadillac SRX

The year 2013 was pivotal in Cadillac’s recent resurgence and although it’s still early it’s looking like their incredible momentum will continue through 2014. As GM’s top luxury brand and iconic symbol of the American auto industry, the stakes are high for Cadillac to change the playing field and re-establish itself as a top global brand.

2010 Cadillac SRX (10) (1)

During the 90s and early 2000s, the brand’s relevance took a major hit as rivals such as Lexus, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz offered some very compelling models. However, over the last few years GM has focused heavily on bringing stellar new technology and designs to Cadillac which has resulted in a series of award-winning models such as the performance focused V-Series, CTS and ATS.

2014 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan

2014 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan

Last year, we reviewed the multi-award winning Cadillac ATS which was a dream to drive in the summer with its manual six-speed transmission. Well, now its winter and it made sense to take a look at Cadillac’s SRX crossover.

Cadillac SRX

Cadillac SRX

The SRX’s interior includes two rows of seating which provides ample space for five passengers.  The leather seats are very comfortable and include electronic extendable thigh bolsters in the front seats.  The wood trim and high-quality interior materials make for a high-end look and feel.

Interior of Cadillac SRX

Interior of Cadillac SRX

Under the hood all SRX models come with a 308-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine makes its peak torque at 2,400 rpm providing enough low-end torque to accelerate onto the highway or to overtake a slower vehicle. With a 0-60 time of 7.1 seconds the SRX is quick for a vehicle that weighs in the range of 4,500 pounds.

Our tester was an SRX Premium AWD model, the top of line trim level available and comes in at $55,640 CDN  MSRP.  This is significantly higher than the base FWD model which starts at $40,285 MSRP so you need to weigh the value of all the extra features. However, both prices are in line with its current competition and the SRX’s warranty is very solid.

Our tester came equipped with some amazing features; GM’s very slick CUE infotainment system which includes enhanced steering-wheel and instrument-panel controls, plus an eight-inch touch screen interface. The touch-screen is motorized and can flip-up to reveal a hidden storage cubby. CUE can pair up to ten Bluetooth devices, and incorporates all the latest technology including standard HD radio and Bose’s Centrepoint® premium 10-speaker surround sound system. In addition, other features include Ultra View sunroof, three-zone climate control; adaptive forward lighting that swivels the headlamps in sync with vehicle steering; on-board power with 2 USB ports, SD card slot auxiliary input jack and 12-volt power outlet; a power lift-gate with adjustable height setting; and a dual-screen video system for rear entertainment.

Rear seats

Rear seats

Cadillac remains one of the most iconic brands in North America and as a result its place in pop culture is immense. There are so many musical cultural references to Cadillac from both past and present (Elvis Presley, Jay LenoLudacris,Travis Barker). However, the biggest one recently comes from Seattle rapper and recent Grammy winner Macklemore’s song titled White Walls which chronicles the singers’s love and appreciation for this American icon. The song’s video captures this vibrant Cadillac spirit as it showcases different Cadillac’s from various eras in all their restored glory.

Efficiency

The SRX is rated at 13.2L/100 km city 8.8L/100 km highway AWD *based on Natural Resources Canada’s 2014 Fuel Consumption Guide

Storage:

The SRX includes 29.9 cubic feet of storage with seats folded forward or 61.1 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats folded down.  Our tester came equipped with the Cargo Management System which includes a U-Rail system, which uses a floor-mounted metal track and an adjustable cargo fence to help keep items in place. Also included are an innovative concealed under floor storage bin and an air-conditioned glove box.

roomy back area

roomy back area

Competition:

The North American mid-sized luxury crossover/SUV market is a crowded one and Cadillac continues to have many strong competitors including; Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Lexus RX 350, Infiniti QX50, BMW X3 and Land Rover Evoque.

Final thoughts:

Despite the ever-increasing stiff competition, the Cadillac SRX remains a top option for consumers looking for a luxury crossover. It brings so much with its five-seat, front-drive/AWD options, latest technology, many safety and road refinement features, all matched with a luxurious interior style. It also does not hurt that many of its styling cues are taken from a mix of the beautiful CTS and Escalade.

Side view Cadillac SRX

Side view Cadillac SRX

Driving the SRX you really notice the amount of engineering that has gone into this vehicle from its lack of body roll to the enhanced power steering which combine to offer a European feel. Along with this, a spirited 0 to 60 time, the SRX’s size and ride height make the car feel solid and safe in all driving conditions.

Overall, the 2014 Cadillac SRX’s unique blend of luxury, refinement and driver confidence provides a top-notch choice for those consumers looking for a luxury crossover.

New Details of “The Beast”

Autoweek has recently uncovered new details about the presidential limousine, otherwise known as “The Beast.”  Or should we say limousines as there isn’t just one, but rather twelve in the President’s motor pool, each cost more than $1 million.

Presidential limo otherwise known as The Beast

Presidential limo otherwise known as The Beast

Although it may resemble a Cadillac, there is very little in the car that is a Cadillac.  Rather the vehicle is a custom job built from the ground up in order to handle the extra load imposed by the operational features.

Some of those features include special locking mechanisms, communications and fire-suppression systems as well as Kevlar-reinforced Goodyear run-flats.  Other extras not found in your average limousine are a separate oxygen supply under the President’s seat, emergency medical equipment, including bottles of the President’s blood type and an encrypted satellite phone.  Finally, don’t forget its military-grade armor on the doors, fenders and fuel tank.

Autoweek has also provided a run down on some of the more interesting numbers on the vehicle:

BY THE NUMBERS

3.7: Average miles to the gallon

12: Number of actual Beasts in service

$1.5 million: How much each Beast costs

18: How long the Beast is, in feet

8: Thickness, in inches, of the doors’ armor plating

5: Thickness, in inches, of the windows–bulletproof, of course

15,000: Best guess on how much The Beast weighs, in pounds

Surprisingly, despite all the extra weight the vehicle apparently accelerates and handles quite well according to those in the know.  All in all, the vehicle is an impressive engineering feat, with much more than meets the eye.

Source: Autoweek

2013 Cadillac ATS Review

Having been crowned several key industry accolades this year including North American Car of the Year we have been eager to experience the Cadillac ATS first hand. Over a week in July, we had the opportunity to test out Cadillac’s new ATS model and it made an excellent first impression.

Based on GM’s new Alpha platform, the 2013 ATS features a front-engine, rear-drive layout along with a newly designed exterior. Primarily marketed to compete with the successful BMW 3 series, the ATS provides Cadillac with some new ammunition. Offered with three engine and powertrain options, including a manual transmission, automatic transmission and an all-wheel drive configuration it provides customers with lots of choice, a key differentiator in the luxury sedan segment.

Sitting pretty

Sitting pretty

Our tester came equipped with the manual 2.0-liter turbocharged, four cylinder engine that includes 272 HP and 260 lb-ft of torque. The best part of this configuration is the slick and sporty manual transmission. Since when was the last time you saw a Cadillac with a stick? Providing a manual transmission option is a testament to the renewed focus on making Cadillac products more sporty, which has been well received in the marketplace.

ATS-3

To experience the sportiness of the manual transmission we headed north to the beautiful four season resort town of Collingwood, Ontario. The Cadillac performed well on the winding backcountry roads and ate up the hills with its perfectly balanced sports suspension providing an authentic sports car feel but with all the creature comforts of a luxury sedan. The solid torque from the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine makes the ATS a blast to drive as it is (0 to 60 times are in the high fives) well in the range of its rivals in terms of performance. As for stopping power, our Cadillac came equipped with race inspired Brembo front brakes, a real plus in reducing overall stopping distances.

ATS-4

The Cadillac ATS comes loaded with all the bells and whistles associated with GM’s top marquee. With a base price of $35,195 and a total price as tested of $43,935 our tester included the following options:

  • Xenon High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights with Adaptive Forward Lighting and LED daytime running lights
  • Performance front bucket seats
  • 10-way power front bucket seats with 2-way power lumbar support and a 4-way adjustable head restraint
  • Full-colour Head-Up Display (HUD)
  • Electronic parking brake
  • Illuminated exterior door handles
  • Dual exhaust with outlets integrated into rear fascia
  • Sport alloy pedals
  • Bose® 5.1 10-speaker Cabin Surround® audio system
  • Rear outboard seat-mounted side-impact airbags
  • Lane departure warning
  • Forward collision alert
  • Rear vision camera
  • CUE communications and entertainment system

Fuel economy:

The 2.0T with manual transmission is rated at:

  • City 10.6L/100 KM
  • Highway 6.7L/100 KM
  • Combined 8.8L/100 KM

Interior:

Our tester came equipped with the optional Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system which includes a 8-inch touch screen that operates like a smartphone or tablet. Although the touch screen did require some initial acclimation, we did like it overall but we could see how it could be difficult for more mature drivers who may not be as familiar with smartphone technology. As well, the climate controls are included in this system and for the older demographic not having physical buttons could be problematic.

Front seats

Although not for everyone, we were partial to the sexy red interior and its plush leather bucket seats with lumbar support make you want to drive farther as you pull into your destination.

Cadillac ATS

The back seat is best designed for two adults and legroom is about standard for any sport luxury sedan. Having hot and cold ventilation in the back seats is a great touch, especially during a July heatwave where temps reached the mid 40s with the humidex.

Cadillac ATS

The ATS has 10.2 cubic feet of trunk space which is slightly less than some of its competitors, however, we found the space ample for our weekend cottage trip and really how much more space do you need in a luxury sports sedan?

Competition: These are some heavy hitters for sure.

  • Audi A4 sedan
  • Lexus IS sedan
  • BMW 3-series sedan
  • Mercedes-Benz C-class
  • Infiniti G37 sedan

Final thoughts:

With its sleek, sexy styling the Cadillac ATS is a real eye pleaser. So, it was no surprise throughout the week, people would come up and ask what Cadillac model it was – the ultimate compliment for any car owner. Having only the opportunity to test the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with the manual transmission we can only speak to the one model. However, we thoroughly enjoyed our time behind the wheel while experiencing first hand the fruits of Cadillac’s R&D labour to create this award winning new product.

Time will tell how overall sales do in comparison to its rivals as Cadillac has stiff competition with BMW, Audi and Mercedes as their brands are already entrenched and successful in this segment. Nevertheless, we are positive there is room for one more player in the segment and the 2013 Cadillac ATS should be able to hold its own among these German juggernauts.

ATS-7

MegaSpeed Custom Car & Truck Show 2013

International Center
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
March 22-24, 2013

This year was the 2nd year for the MegaSpeed Show and they came to play with a strong list of big name guests and legendary car personalities including; American Graffiti stars, Chip Foose, Ken Block and Formula Drift pilot Chris Forsberg. It’s no easy feat putting on a huge car show when the weather is essentially still cold and wintry. Hence, the show is held indoors in the sprawling complex made up of close to 500,000 sq. ft of exhibit space. The event draws a broad range of auto enthusiasts and provides something for everyone since the show cars span from all genres and eras of enthusiast styling.  Check out a glimpse of what the show offered and make sure you add it to your Spring calendar next year.

458 Italia Ferrari

458 Italia Ferrari

64 Impala

1964 Impala

1940 Dodge

1940 Dodge

1987 Buick GNX

1987 Buick GNX

Fiat Abarth

Fiat Abarth

Cadillac

1940s Cadillac

Crazy custom Ford Fairlane

Crazy custom Ford Fairlane

Ford 100

Ford F-100

Nissan 300ZX 2+2 with 800-1000 HP and Aston Martin DB9

Nissan 300ZX 2+2 with 800-1000 HP and Aston Martin DB9

Low rider Impala

Low rider Impala

1970 Ford Maverick

1970 Ford Maverick

Mini Cooper with Honda VTEC engine

Mini Cooper with Honda VTEC engine

Porsche Speedster

Porsche Speedster

1990s 993 Porsche wide body

1990s 993 Porsche wide body

Classic American Cars in Cuba

From a historical perspective you’ve got to love the old 1950s American cars that are still being driven all over Cuba. The Cadillacs, Packards and De Sotos running around are like a moving museum.

The following are a few links to various collections of pictures and videos of the cars that Cuba is famous for.

Flickr group dedicated to pictures of Cuban cars (about 6,500 photos)

Cuba’s Classic Cars Photo Gallery

Youtube video of the Classic Cars of Cuba

The following article points to a reason why some of these classic vehicles may start disappearing in Cuba. As of last year Cubans are now able to buy and sell vehicles of all ages (not just pre-1959 models). While the car buying process in Cuban won’t be the same as Europe or North America, it’s a step that’s probably very welcomed in the country. Let’s hope, however, those American classics keep on rolling for many years to come.