Cadillac Glamour concept: The new “Standard of the World?”

2013 Cadillac Glamour concept leaked image rear three-quarter viewThe Cadillac Glamour, a rakish concept coupe, will debut at an unspecified auto show sometime in 2013. Still, a couple of teaser images made it past the wreath-and-crest brigade’s security, thanks to forum GM Inside News. If the Glamour even hints at a future production car, it could have big implications for GM’s luxury brand.

The Glamour brings Cadillac back to what it does best: ridiculously huge luxury cars. Speaking at last week’s Pebble Beach Concours, Clay Dean, Cadillac’s director of advanced design, said the concept was an attempt “to reflect back not for nostalgia, but what made us great at the time.”

In keeping with that idea, the Glamour’s design has some retro cues, but isn’t a copy of a specific model. The proportions, with a mile-long hood and low slung greenhouse sitting almost over the rear wheels, reflect the big El Dorados and Fleetwoods of the 1960s, as does the clean sheetmetal with relatively little chrome trim.

The taillights are another retro allusion. They jut out like vestigial tail fins, and reflect the design Cadillac started using in the ‘60s, after full tail fins were outlawed. Nonetheless, the lights look they were taken right off a CTS Coupe; this is an impressive blend of retro and modern styling features.

Despite its name, the Glamour is not the first glamorous luxury concept from Cadillac in recent years, and that says something about the direction the brand wants to go.

Last year, Cadillac showed the Ciel, a four-door convertible that looked like a beached motor yacht, and had the luxurious cabin of one. Then there was 2004’s Sixteen, a sedan with a 16-cylinder engine under its piano-hinged hood.

Why does Cadillac keep building these outrageous concept cars? The brand used to be the “Standard of the World,” but in the 1980s and ‘90s it was surpassed by German and Japanese luxury brands and became the “Standard of Florida Retirees.”2013 Cadillac Glamour concept leaked image front view

For the past decade, Cadillac has been clawing its way back to relevance. The two generations of CTS have shown that Cadillac can build a credible BMW fighter, and the new ATS will challenge the German company’s all-conquering 3 Series.

Still, Cadillac lacks one thing: a flagship sedan to show off its technology and design capabilities. That’s what the Sixteen and Ciel were all about, and the Glamour seems to be carrying on that tradition.

Cadillac’s current big sedan, the XTS, isn’t really prestigious enough to carry an admiral’s flag. It’s smaller than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7 Series, and its front-wheel drive layout and V6 engine show that compromises were made.

GM’s bankruptcy and reorganization put any plans the company may have had for a Cadillac flagship on hold, but now that the General is back on its feet, the work can continue. The Glamour shows that, at least, Cadillac is thinking about it.