Cadillac vs. EDSEL?

Started by Walter Youshock, January 16, 2013, 11:12:52 AM

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Louis Smith

Quote from: Big Apple Caddy on February 07, 2013, 09:29:03 AM
Some dealerships compared Cadillacs to lesser makes but not to say why buy a Cadillac when you can get a similar Ford, Chrysler, etc. for less but rather why buy a Ford, Chrysler, etc. when you can get a Cadillac for about the same price.

It was a bit of a stretch as they were often comparing the price of a discounted Cadillac against the full sticker price of other makes.

I have always enjoyed the "Battle of Advertisements", especially when advertisers stopped using "Brand X" and started naming names! 

Makandriaco

There is no comparing the two of course, but I would not mind to have an Edsel right now...
1959 Series 62 4 Window Sedan

Always loved Cadillacs.

Big Apple Caddy

Quote from: Louis Smith on February 07, 2013, 02:52:12 PM
I have always enjoyed the "Battle of Advertisements", especially when advertisers stopped using "Brand X" and started naming names!

Me too.  One time mega-Cadillac dealer Potamkin in NYC sometimes got criticized that their marketing techniques were unbefitting of a Cadillac (they sure sold A LOT of them though, back in the 1970s and 1980s!!) but many other dealers especially in larger markets often ran similar types of advertising.  They weren't alone.

Louis Smith

Potamkin Cadillac is an interesting story.  Car kingpin Victor Potamkin, the former South Philadelphia fish truck driver who became the world's most successful Cadillac salesman, died Monday in Miami.

He was the 83-year-old patriarch of one of America's largest auto megadealers, with showrooms in five states. His roots were humble. He drove a truck for his father's fish market at 4th and Christian streets, then peddled cut chickens in Camden.

But he worked his way to the billionaire stratosphere, where he could rub shoulders with corporate titans like Lee Iacocca and William Levitt, mayors of Philadelphia and New York, judges on the federal and state benches, and regular people who wanted to buy a Chevy or Toyota. He was a master showman and salesman, a 1929 Wharton School dropout with a Midas touch in business and a soft spot for a gag. He kept gold Cross pens in his desk drawer that say, "STOLEN FROM VIC POTAMKIN" and once passed out one-dollar bills in New York that had his picture pasted over George Washington's. The bucks were encased in plastic printed with the slogan, ''Betcha a buck you can't beat our deal! Vic Potamkin."

His car empire started in 1946 in Wissinoming with a Lincoln-Mercury dealership. He and then-partner Matt Slap, both active in Jewish social circles, couldn't unload the fancy Lincolns to their pals because of Henry Ford's flirtation with anti-Semitic causes. In 1948, when Chaim Weizmann became Israel's first president, Potamkin gave him a Lincoln. Soon after that, he was the U.S.' biggest Lincoln-Mercury dealer.

Later, his empire expanded to include 17 brands of cars. His ads featured singer Sergio Franchi, who Potamkin made a star in 1962, and his late wife, Luba, a brassy blonde whose television presence made her famous as "the Cadillac lady."

The Potamkins moved from Philadelphia to New York in 1972, when he bought Manhattan's money-losing Cadillac franchise. By then, Potamkin owned hugely successful Chevrolet agencies in Philadelphia, Miami Beach, Newark and Burlington, N.J.

Back then, Cadillacs were the crown jewels of Detroit iron, the brand that people would liken to luxury, as in "Cadillac of shoes." Potamkin began peddling the highbrow gas guzzlers in time for the energy crisis. Not even that kept him from success.

He became the nation's biggest Cadillac dealer.

Walter Youshock

I remember the Potamkin commercials from the '70's on cable tv here in Scranton.  They were so convincing, my aunt and uncle, who always owned Cadillacs, made a "pilgrimage" to one of his locations.  Unfortunately, I didn't go with them.  They said there were acres of new and used Cadillacs in every style, color and option group you could imagine.  Being the mid '70's, there were a few late '50's cars on the back lot that had been taken on trade.  Most were probably scrapped regardless of condition.

They never did manage to sort out a deal on a '75 SDV they were considering. 
CLC #11959 (Life)
1957 Coupe deVille
1991 Brougham

Big Apple Caddy

Potamkin probably deserves its own discussion topic here at least as far as their 1970s/1980s era.  Back then, Potamkin was a Cadillac dealer icon of sorts.  Their television commercials were well known on NYC area stations and through the early 1980s frequently featured Vic’s wife Luba.  Print ads were prevalent too.  They sold new Cadillacs to customers far beyond just NYC.

The Potamkin dealership was sold to Penske in 1987 which didn’t do well and Potamkin regained ownership in 1991.  Today, the dealership is only a fraction of its former self especially regarding Cadillac sales.  The Potamkin GM dealership moved to new facilities a couple of years ago, their former Honda store, and Volkswagen-Audi moved into the old one time Potamkin flagship location.  Today, Potamkin isn’t even the #1 volume Cadillac dealer in New York State let alone America.  They stock about 1/10th the inventory of new Cadillacs that they did back in their 1970s/1980s peaks.

But remember...."If this nameplate isn't on the back of your car, you probably paid too much!"  :)

Louis Smith

I remember at one time reading that, where others failed, Vic Potamkin succeeded.  Before he opened his store in NYC, selling Cadillacs, no one else could be successful. 

I once had a friend that started off selling Chevy's then moved up to selling Cadillacs.  He said it was easier to sell Cadillacs, because the customers expected to pay more, and there was less negotiating. 

Walter Youshock

Cadillac was the car of DESIRE.  Chevy was a car of NECESSITY.

If you have to ask the price, you probably can't afford it...
CLC #11959 (Life)
1957 Coupe deVille
1991 Brougham

Louis Smith


I think in days gone by, when Cadillac dominated the sales of luxury cars, there was a lot of psychology, mostly promoted by GM, involved in the purchasing of a Cadillac.  GM used such slogans as "When a man is seen at his best", "Show people you have arrived" etc.  I would imagine, that when a perspective customer entered the showroom, he already qualified himself as being able to afford the car.  I remember many of the show rooms being intimidating with the salesmen attitudes, plus the usual nicer ambiance then other makes.  I don't think that most customers wanted to do something so pedestrian as to "haggle".

Walter Youshock

And Cadillac dealers usually sold Chevies or Oldsmobiles as well.  Rarely could a Cadillac dealership survive solely on Cadillac.  That relationship helped with selling optional upgrades on the "lesser" GM cars.
CLC #11959 (Life)
1957 Coupe deVille
1991 Brougham

Louis Smith

Quote from: Walter Youshock on February 08, 2013, 03:54:22 PM
And Cadillac dealers usually sold Chevies or Oldsmobiles as well.  Rarely could a Cadillac dealership survive solely on Cadillac.  That relationship helped with selling optional upgrades on the "lesser" GM cars.

I think that all depends on the era and location.  I think back in the 40's - 60's, most of the Cadillac dealerships near big cities exclusively sold Cadillacs.  Perish the thought that they had to rub fenders with the lowly Chevrolet.  In fact I remember most GM dealerships selling only one marque.  I think the Ford company, had Ford dealers, and Lincoln Mercury dealerships.  Not too sure about Chrysler dealerships.  They might have sold multiple brands.  Naturally there is always an exception to the rule, and I am sure there were more then one instance when Cadillacs were sold with other GM cars.

Eric DeVirgilis CLC# 8621

An old time Cadillac dealer once told me that in an effort to expand Cadillac's market penetration, Chevrolet dealers were primarily selected by GM to become franchised Cadillac dealers after WWII. He also recalled ex-servicemen were particularly favored applicants to become new car franchised dealers.

There had been numerous standalone Cadillac stores at one time. 
A Cadillac Motorcar is a Possession for which there is no Acceptable Substitute

Big Apple Caddy

Bigger cities could usually support one or more exclusive Cadillac dealerships while smaller markets typically seemed to have multi-franchise dealerships i.e. Cadillac with Chevrolet and/or Oldsmobile and/or....etc.

One of the advantages Cadillac had over Lincoln until the recent discontinuation of Mercury was that it could have exclusive dealerships while Lincoln was always tied to at least Mercury.

Louis Smith

I read somewhere, that at one time, Cadillac dealers didn't really get their cars directly from Cadillac.  I think they had to go through a district of regional distributorship.  Anyone have any information about this?

Big Apple Caddy

This is true and the regional distributor was often (always?) a retail dealership itself, sometimes with multiple locations of its own.  I think the distributor method of selling Cadillacs went away by the late 1950s.

35-709

#35
Our family Cadillac dealership was one of the last of the small town dealers under the distributorship program when we became a direct Cadillac dealer in 1964 and dualed with Pontiac at the same time.  Our distributor was Wendell Cadillac in Albany, NY.  I made many trips as a teenage driver to Albany to bring back a new Cadillac to our dealership.
1935 Cadillac Sedan resto-mod "Big Red"
1973 Cadillac Caribou - Sold - but still in the family
1950 Jaguar Mark V Saloon resto-mod - Sold
1942 Cadillac 6269 - Sold
1968 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible
1935 Glenn Pray - Auburn Boattail Speedster, Gen. 2

Louis Smith

Quote from: 35-709 on February 08, 2013, 10:15:28 PM
Our family Cadillac dealership was one of the last of the small town dealers under the distributorship program when we became a direct Cadillac dealer in 1964 and dualed with Pontiac at the same time.  Our distributor was Wendell Cadillac in Albany, NY.  I made many trips as a teenage driver to Albany to bring back a new Cadillac to our dealership.

Wow, what a fun job that must have been for you.