There seems to be a sizable surplus of very talented photoshoppers with too much time on their hands right now, for some reason. Multiple times a day my Google feed is bombarded by ‘shopped vehicles of two flavors; misshapen mid-engine “what-ifs” and face-swapped C8 Corvettes.
One of these pictures recently posted to autoevolution, the chief purveyor of vehicular photoshops on the net, really caught the eyes of the CorvetteBloggers and kickstarted our imaginations. It is a C8 that has been skillfully transformed into a reborn Cadillac XLR.
The XLR was a luxury hard-top convertible based on the sixth-generation Corvette that was built alongside Corvettes in Bowling Green, Kentucky from model year 2004 (even though C6 production started with MY 2005) until 2009, picking up the mantle left by the Allanté in 1993. The XLR featured several notable features that set it apart from its Corvette platform-mate. Aside from its unique retractable hard-top, it featured Caddy’s last exclusive V8, the 4.6L DOHC Northstar, Mag-Ride as standard equipment, GM’s first use of radar-based adaptive cruise control, eucalyptus wood trim, and a Bulgari designed instrument panel. Overall, 15,460 were produced throughout its run, including 2,188 examples of the most desirable, supercharged V version.
Since it bowed out of production during the recession of the late ’00s, there has been periodic speculation about a Cadillac having a third go at the modern luxury sports car market. This conjecture has been most prevalent when the General is readying a new Corvette generation. Seeing as the second Corvette line since the demise of the XLR recently went on sale, we wondered what the Corvette’s most loyal fans thought about GM resurrecting the Caddy roadster. The three options that we have been pondering are:
1. Bring it back like the rendering above
One of the easiest ways to bring the XLR back from extinction is to build it just like the last one. Take the C8’s new mid-engine architecture, pull a unique body over it (maybe get more creative than just grafting a new Escalade front clip on the thing), up the level of luxury, and fit that new Cadillac-exclusive V8 that everyone is curious about. There are several possible hurdles in the way of making this new XLR a realty though. First off, regardless of your feelings on the distinctive layout, the C8 Corvette is already in possession of the finest interior in GM history and upgrading it further might prove to be difficult. The C8 convertible also stole the previous XLR’s party trick with the folding hard-top; again, making it hard to see how General Motors’ engineers would differentiate a Cadillac version. Then there is the fact that the Blackwing V8 doesn’t seem to fit in the engine bay of any GM products.
One of GM’s favorite paired words give them a large incentive to chase the production of such a vehicle even with these serious obstacles standing in the way and those words are profit margins. A new XLR could print money for its parent company, just like the Denali line does for GMC.
2. Let it return but keep the engine up front
With the ‘Vette moving its motivator rearward, there is a seemingly gaping hole in the General Motors portfolio of vehicles. Could a front-engine XLR be the answer that closes this gap? We aren’t sure what would underpin this kind of reborn XLR but there are a couple of viable options in the recently discharged C7 chassis and the renowned Alpha platform that the Camaro and CTS-V ride on. The same complications mentioned in bullet point one still exist here but the different engine layout could be the distinguishing feature that makes the XLR desirable to a wider range of customers. Having the engine in front of the driver again would keep the drop-top Caddy in line with its peers like the Mercedes SL while also opening the door for some features that die-hard Corvette traditionalists still crave, namely, the return of the manual transmission. There is another rendering floating around from 2014 that still has us chomping at the bit.
3. Leave the XLR in the past
As we have already touched on, the C8 is so good that there might not be room for a “fancier” variety. The sports car market, especially the luxury convertible sector, is shrinking as the public’s hunger for Trucks and SUVs continues to take over the industry. This more than likely renders a greenlight on an XLR revival too risky for the brass at GM to consider.
Your turn, Corvette Nation. Let us know which of the three options discussed here best floats your boat or, chime in if you can imagine another path to rebirth for the XLR.