The Cadillac Cien Was The Ultimate American Hypercar, Put Together By Brits

The Cadillac Cien Was The Ultimate American Hypercar, Put Together By Brits

It seems that Cadillac is seriously debating putting a hypercar into production. Comments from GM’s head of design certainly suggest plans are in place for a road-going version of its V-Series.R prototype race car – it just needs the green light.

On the face of things, it would be quite a departure from Cadillac – a brand famous for big American luxury and being the aspiration of many a Florida retiree. Dive into the history books to the not-so-distant past, though, and the thought of it building a mid-engined hypercar isn’t all that far-fetched.

2002 was a fairly significant year for Cadillac, with the American manufacturer celebrating its 100th year. A centenary concept car wasn’t all that big of a shock, but few could’ve predicted how Cadillac would choose to celebrate it.

Cadillac Cien - front

Cadillac Cien – front

Instead of rocking up to the Detroit Auto Show with some kind of greatest hits luxobarge, it brought along the Cien – a mid-engined, 7.5-litre V12-powered hypercar, its name Spanish for 100.

It was to be the ultimate American hypercar. That naturally-aspirated mid-mounted engine was said to produce 750bhp and 650lb ft of torque, thumped to the rear axle through a six-speed automated manual.

The unit was quite a sophisticated bit of kit for the time too, featuring direct injection and cylinder deactivation that would allow it to operate on eight cylinders at a cruise to improve fuel consumption.

Cadillac Cien - interior

Cadillac Cien – interior

It looked the part, too. Recognisable as a Cadillac by its gigantic front grille and vertical tailights, the rest of the bodywork looked truly like a 12 year old had drawn it instead of paying attention to geography – as any great hypercar should. It was functional too, with active vents mounted on the side to cool the engine and a pop-up spoiler, again this being 2002.

Oh, and it was said to draw inspiration from the F22 Raptor fighter jet, because ‘Murica.

Only the car was more steak pie and tea than Freedom and Bud Light. This wasn’t an American car at all, instead designed, developed and assembled in Britain.

Cadillac Cien - rear

Cadillac Cien – rear

General Motors’ Advanced Design Studio in England styled it, before handing the job of making it a working prototype to the boffins at Prodrive. You know, the ones responsible for Subaru’s WRC entry and at the time Ferrari’s efforts at GT1 racing. They gave it its monocoque chassis, while legendary engine builders Cosworth were responsible for the V12 engine.

There was serious talk of putting the Cien into production, although it’s unclear if that would happen in the UK or if a production line in the US would come to fruition.

None of that mattered in the end – Cadillac couldn’t afford to sink the development funds into a niche project that, with a $200,000 price tag, was expected to have a very limited customer base. And so, it became another concept relegated to the big book of ‘What if?’.

Cadillac Cien with the Northstar LMP02 Le Mans prototype

Cadillac Cien with the Northstar LMP02 Le Mans prototype

We’ll hope this time around Cadillac makes it happen. It’ll surely be a better advert for its Le Mans efforts this time around – the Cien coincidentally coming at a time the brand had just decided to have another crack at prototype racing, albeit to about as much success as the hypercar itself. 

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