With the Celestiq, a million-dollar Cadillac suddenly makes all the sense in the world
When Cadillac first announced the hand-made, completely bespoke, all-electric Celestiq last fall, there were rumblings of skepticism. Those types of complicated, expensive processes are more suited to the Rolls-Royce crowd than they are to an American automaker—even one that, in its heyday, touted the phrase “the Standard of the World” as its motto. Before the Celestiq bowed, Cadillac’s most expensive model was the Escalade-V ESV, a hulking, three-ton-and-change luxo-yacht SUV with the supercharged heart of a C7 Corvette ZR1. Even fully stocked, it wouldn’t clear much beyond $160K out the door.
The Celestiq starts at more than twice that number, but here’s the kicker: Cadillac expects buyers to option up their commissions well beyond that. At a dinner in Monterey last month, John Roth, vice president of Cadillac, offered me a bit more context to those expectations. “The bespoke nature of the Cadillac Celestiq is attracting a new ultra-luxury client,” said Roth. “The blank canvas for the Celestiq starts at approximately $340,000 MSRP, but we expect some clients will personalize their vehicle to $1 million or more.”
It reads like a canned quote, sure, but Roth’s expectations here are almost certainly grounded in some very real orders that are already on the books. When the sky is the limit on how much personalizing one can do, so is the price tag.
The Celestiq feels like the first Cadillac in a very long time to harness the grandeur and opulence that used to drip from Caddies of yore, like the coachbuilt V-16 models of the 1930s, or the Series 70 Eldorado Brougham (1957-58). It’s long—some 5.3 inches longer than the short-wheelbase Escalade, 217.1 inches tip to tail—and low, proportions that are exaggerated by a swooping rear roofline that makes the cabin a positively cavernous thing to experience from within.
Parked next to a 1931 Cadillac Fleetwood V-16 at the dinner in Monterey, you could see the shared sense of “peak automobile” between the two, the rest of the world’s offerings be damned. (Fun fact: Interior designers carved Easter egg silhouettes of three Caddies—a pre-war model, a long Coupe de Ville-esque shape from the ’60s, and the new Celestiq—into the face of the center console cupholder. Clear indications of which models and ideals from the brand’s past the Celestiq is supposed to draw from.)
Ultra-high-dollar car companies like Rolls-Royce are using electrification to capitalize on the ultimate idea of quiet, supple comfort with new vehicles like the Spectre. It’s high time that we witness an American automaker attempt to catalyze the electric shift to vault into that same echelon of luxury. Cadillac has been there before many times in its 120-plus-year history; with the Celestiq, the brand looks ready to once again take its rightful place among this lavish crowd.