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Hi Joanne:

I'm a 29 year old male looking for new wheels. Many of my friends drive Hondas, Mazdas and other import cars. These seem to be good vehicles but I've always been interested in luxury and am thinking about getting a 2 or 3 year old Cadillac CTS. What do you think about a younger man driving a Cadillac - am I wandering into my Grandpa's territory?

I know what you're thinking. We've all glanced at a Caddy and seen two white-knuckled hands gripping the wheel and the brim of a fedora that barely clears the dash. But before you go dissing Grandpa's car territory, look back 50 or 60 years. Imagine Grandpa in his dad's skookum 1949 Caddy, with the top down on moonlit nights. He was probably 19. And remember, so was Grandma. Maybe it was a desolate prairie town with nothing but the stars and the distant sound of cattle and coyotes. But it really didn't matter where they were -- other than in a convertible Caddy.

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Then in the late 1950s when Grandpa was your age, and he had arrived, professionally, he probably bought his own Caddy - maybe a '59 Eldorado. With double bullet fins, it's easy to see why the 50s Cadillacs were Elvis's favourite cars. And in the mid-1960s, all those martini drinking execs who liked to throw clubs in the back of their Caddys and head to the golf course. But the buyer demographic slowly began to change. By the early 1990s, many had taken their last ride - in the hearse package version.

Ask most people and they'll agree that Cadillac design went under, too - but not until after '92. People like my Uncle Bernie, who has a 1990 Brougham - in white, with red leather interior - to support his eccentric west coast Gulf Islands lifestyle. It's missing more than a few emblems, and over the moon for miles, but still retains classic Cadillac elegance. And like Snoopy's dog house, somehow it's much bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside.

These days, Cadillac has re-emerged. GM has worked with a vengeance towards correcting their late-century faux-pas. They've done well, and not just in my opinion. The 2008 CTS received the Motor Trend car of the year award. And if it's luxury you're after, of course you've got options -- Mercedes, Jaguar, Infiniti and Lexus, to name a few. But if you want distinction, and something none of your friends drive? A newer generation Cadillac is a great way to go.

The CTS comes with the option of a manual transmission, which we all know is the most sensible way to handle a car. Speaking of handling, the capabilities of the CTS were well-proven at the infamous Nurburgring course in Germany. Why not push it is as far you can, and get one in cherry red or black-on-black? And I know we're talking used models, but new for the CTS in 2010 is the option of a 2-door coupe, which may have even more appeal if you're a single guy.

Which brings me to a question -- are you single? If so, what type of dates do you hope to attract? Instead of being afraid of the stereotype; why not reinvent it? Work it like Paul Newman did in his pink Cadillac convertible in Hud, and find someone who appreciates this vehicle for what it is. If you've already got a significant other, maybe you're planning to have a family. If so, is she going to pop the minivan question? The CTS will surely dissuade her from that kind of thinking.

Pound for pound, the second generation CTS costs much less than most luxury models. And for the money you do spend, you'll get better value. As stated in your question, find a good used model. Do your homework and get one with low mileage and remaining transferable warranty to cover any unmanageable surprises. Remember, the initial depreciation is substantial in this class. You can expect to find one two or three years old for a third less than the original sticker price.

To be fair - a Mercedes CLS is beautiful, and so are the Lexus IS-F and the Jaguar XJ. But as one 1976 Cadillac ad claimed (you weren't born yet, but wisdom is timeless) -- good judgment isn't a matter of age, it's a matter of recognizing real value.

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And if your mind wanders to Lincoln, consider the words of Lefty (Al Pacino) in Donnie Brasco, "Ain't no way you can say to me a Lincoln is better than a Cadillac. Fuggedabout it. Cadillac got more acceleration, it's got more power, it's got better handling, it's got more leg room for your legs."

So if you're in your late twenties, upwardly mobile -- and as Conrad Black once stated, you prefer luxury over speed when it comes to automobiles, the CTS is your car. But for the love of motoring, don't let Grandpa put a straw hat and a box of Kleenex in the back window.

If you need some auto therapy, e-mail Joanne your question at globedrive@globeandmail.com

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