"The cars were always exceptionally high-quality and high-style," he says. "For many years, small boys would see a Cadillac go by and say, 'Someday I'd like to own one of those.' "
Mr. Sills, 54, is president of the Cadillac-LaSalle Club, whose members collectively own 12,000 Cadillacs and LaSalles (LaSalle was a second brand Cadillac produced from 1927-1940). Ownership isn't a requirement; members simply enjoy seeing and showing Caddys, whether they be the art deco classics of the 1930s or the tail-finned 1950s models.
The Cadillac-LaSalle Club counts 6,500 members and is the world's largest enthusiast group for the brand. The club has 42 regions and several overseas branches, as well as a Web site (cadillaclasalleclub.com) and a monthly magazine, The Self Starter. It sponsors a national meet at which cars are displayed and has several regional events.
Mr. Sills, a Bethesda, Md., tax attorney, says he can't judge Cadillac's new styling prototype, the Evoq concept car, because he has seen it only in photographs. But, he says, "the new models show that they're going to compete very vigorously."
Matt Larson, a 60-year-old retired naval officer living in Detroit, edits the club magazine -- and currently owns his 28th Cadillac.
Though a Cadillac loyalist, he's skeptical about the Evoq styling initiative. "I don't like the angularity, personally, and the car is not very practical," he says.
So much for "art."
But Mr. Larson, who faults General Motors Corp.'s cost-cutting efforts for forcing Cadillac in the 1980s into "cookie-cutter cars" that resembled other GM products, thinks better of Cadillac's re-entry into auto racing at Le Mans and its emphasis on technology -- the "science" part of the marketing equation.
That, he says, plays on important parts of Cadillac's heritage. For instance, Cadillac's introduction of the electric self-starter in 1912 was quickly adapted by other automakers because it "emancipated women" who had difficulty starting hand-cranked cars.
"Everybody followed it," notes Mr. Larson. "This totally changed the marketing