Who’s Your Caddy? The Cadillac Aurora Presaged Oldsmobile’s Flagship

Forget the Oldsmobile Aurora. Because years before Ransom Olds’s namesake brand introduced its sleek Aurora flagship sedan, Cadillac applied the name to a no-less aerodynamic-looking sedan, which it pulled the wraps off of at the 1990 Chicago Auto Show.

The all-wheel-drive Cadillac Aurora concept reportedly cribbed its underpinnings from the boxy front-drive Cadillac DeVille. Unlike its chassis donor, which mounted its engine transversely, the Aurora featured a longitudinally-oriented, 200-hp 4.5-liter V-8. 

While the Cadillac concept’s powertrain setup never made its way to a production car, its styling arguably did—albeit as an Opel that later found a home in the Cadillac model line. Yes, we’re talking about the Catera. You know, the Cadillac that zigged?

Initially introduced across the pond as the Opel Omega, the rear-drive sedan entered the United States market as the Cadillac Catera for the 1997 model year. Despite ditching the windswept looks, aggressively raked windshield, and integrated rear-wheel fairings of the Aurora, the Catera still cribbed a number of design cues from the concept Caddy, including its ovoid headlight shape, grille decor, distinct fender-to-fender bodyline, and full-width taillights. 

The Catera was a different beast under the sheet metal, though. In place of the Aurora’s V-8 engine, the compact Cadillac sports sedan featured a 3.0-liter V-6, which sent its corral of 200 horses to the car’s rear wheels. Although the combination of its Aurora-like styling and rear-drive architecture should have made the Catera a darling to enthusiasts, the entry-level Cadillac model never quite managed to make consumers’ hearts race.

Would the more sultry lines or V-8 engine of the Aurora have overcome the production Catera’s inherent deficiencies? Who knows. Fortunately, General Motors fans of the era looking for a relatively affordable luxury car with seemingly wind-tunnel-derived looks and a V-8 engine could find such features in the form of the front-drive Oldsmobile Aurora.

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