The concept is also a runner, with a twin-turbocharged version of GM's 3.6-litre, direct-injection V6 mated to a lithium ion-powered hybrid system
The concept is also a runner, with a twin-turbocharged version of GM's 3.6-litre, direct-injection V6 mated to a lithium ion-powered hybrid system
The four individual seats are split by a "floating" centre console that runs from the dashboard to the rear of the cabin
The four individual seats are split by a "floating" centre console that runs from the dashboard to the rear of the cabin

Sometimes even Americans forget what American cars are all about - long, luxurious and just a little over the top.

And then along comes something like this to remind us - a four-door convertible in the grand tradition with a waistline that seems to go on forever and bonnet and boot lids that could do duty for an aircraft carrier.

This is the Cadillac Ciel (say “C-L”; it's the French word for sky), a topless grand tourer concept shown for the first time at the weekend's Pebble Beach Councours d'Elegance in California.

Cadillac design director Clay Dean: “Large, expressive luxury is innate to Cadillac, and authentic luxury is driven by experiences, not just products. The Ciel is about the experience of the journey.”

The concept is also a runner, with a twin-turbocharged version of GM's 3.6-litre, direct-injection V6 mated to a lithium ion-powered hybrid system. It runs on beautifully finished 22” rims milled from solid pieces of aluminium (normal alloy rims are cast and then machined in a lathe) over carbon-ceramic brake discs.

Immensely strong horizontal design elements recall the Dodge Monaco and Lincoln Continental of Detroit's golden era - especially the rear-hung rear doors (there is no B pillar), polished aluminium windshield frame and long, thin lines of nickel-plated trim.

There's more nickel-plated trim inside, separating the body-colour upper sections from the beige lower interior, with accents in olive-wood, machined aluminium and hand-stitched leather.

Even the special deep-red metallic paint was inspired, says Dean, by a glass of wine held up to the California sun.

The Ciel has a 3.175-metre wheelbase - about 300mm longer than a CTS sedan - and the four individual seats are split by a “floating” centre console that runs from the dashboard to the rear of the cabin, giving each occupant their own space and concealing LAN ports so they can make dinner reservations, check the weather at their destination or even upload photos of the trip to Facebook en route.

The olive-wood trim isn't veneer, as on most luxury cars - it's milled out of solid planks, all of which came out of one fallen tree, sourced from a west coast olive-oil producer, and all the planks were split before milling so that the grain is mirrored from left to right.

Rear passengers can pull a leather tab, which stretches a cashmere blanket across the seating area, and the wood trim in the rear centre console opens to reveal a small humidor, stocked with a few cigars.