When Cadillac rebadged the Corvette. It kind of worked.
Cadillac made a bold move back in 2003 when it introduced the XLR roadster. This wasn't a new high-performance model built from scratch but rather a heavily restyled and re-engineered C6 Chevrolet Corvette. Both vehicles shared GM's Y platform and were built alongside each other in Bowling Green, Kentucky. But the XLR was intended for a different buyer who'd normally never consider a Corvette. While the Corvette was (and still is) all about affordable high-performance, the XLR bundled that together with luxury.
Its styling was also pure Cadillac inside and out, such as the "Egg Crate" front grille, High-Intensity Discharge headlights, those cool vertical taillights, and plenty of chrome trim. The retractable folding hardtop is a major highlight. The interior boasted real wood and aluminum trim. Cadillac also added unique seats to further separate it from its Chevy cousin.
It also received an era-appropriate dash with Bulgari-designed instrumentation but some felt Cadillac could have done better. Instead of the C6's 6.0-liter LS2 V8 with a standard six-speed manual transmission, the XLR received Cadillac's own 4.6-liter Northstar V8 paired initially to a five-speed automatic that directed power to the rear wheels only. Total output came to 320 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. The Corvette delivered 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of twist.
Not surprisingly the XLR was quite a bit more expensive than a C6 Vette, which started off at around $50,000. Cadillac kindly requested buyers to hand over at least $75,000. By the time the XLR was discontinued in 2009, the starting amount increased to over $85,000. How much was a re-skinned, less powerful, though more luxurious Corvette really worth? That was purely an individual decision.
Cadillac was clearly aware of this so it launched the supercharged XLR-V about a year after the base model debuted. Power increased to a more respectable 443 hp and 414 lb-ft. It also received a six-speed slushbox and the Z51 Corvette's bigger brakes. The XLR has since earned its place in Cadillac's long history and could soon become a highly sought-after collectible. If you're in the market then look no further at this low-mileage 2004 example.
Up for auction on Bring A Trailer, this 45,000-mile, accident-free XLR is offered at no reserve and is finished in Xenon Blue over a beige leather interior. It's had two prior owners and recently had an oil change specifically for the sale. The highest bid is just $7,000 as of this writing and the auction ends on October 28.