The early ‘90s was truly a different time for luxury cars. BMW and Mercedes-Benz were niche players in the U.S., selling around 84,000 and 75,000 Autobahn-tuned sedans, coupes, and station wagons respectively in 1994. By contrast, Cadillac moved over 210,000 DeVilles, Sevilles, Fleetwoods, and Eldorados. That's more than both German brands combined. The Cimarron was a fading memory, Lexus wasn’t posing an existential threat yet, and life was good. Just ask any of the fine folks at Williamson Cadillac near Miami, the subject of this candid showroom video shot 30 years ago.
If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to pick out a brand-new luxury car several years before the new millennium, this video is worth a watch. Just don’t listen to it with headphones on—mono audio, a high-pitched feedback whine, and your eardrums aren’t a good mix. (Ask me how I know.)
The six-minute clip takes us around the new models in Williamson’s showroom, plus an Allante convertible (discontinued in 1993). There are tailfins, tall, skinny taillights, and lots of chrome. But best of all are the interactions with customers. Around 2:10, a salesman describes the center console updates to a 1994 Seville to a shopper in a black suit. “It should be a compartment for a small handgun or something,” the customer says, to which the salesman replies, “smile, you’re on candid camera.” It’s a bit straight out of The Sopranos.
There are several, ahem, vintage models in the showroom, and I’m not talking about ‘59 Eldos. But it’s charming to see a brand know its audience and give them what they want. “I’ve had more than four Cadillacs already, and I am quite happy,” an older gentleman tells a salesperson in his office around 3:35. Toyota and Lexus are probably the best examples of automaker loyalty today, with their focus on reliability and customer service winning them many repeat customers.
Without Doc Brown’s time-traveling DMC-12, this video is probably the closest any of us will get to a Cadillac showroom in 1993. But 30 years later, it sure is fun to look back. Merry Christmas!
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