Little known things about the 2002 Cadillac Cien: The manufacturer won’t tell you!

Tran Hanh
June 06, 2024

Cadillac is an American company founded in 1901, the second oldest car company in the world. Cadillac has claimed several industry “firsts” and made significant engineering advances, including introducing electric self-starters, significant advancements in engine technology, and developing sophisticated suspension systems.

What Happened With the 2002 Cadillac Cien Supercar

It has produced a lot of cars throughout the century, including a model Cadillac Cien, first shown at the 2002 Detroit Autocar show and intended to be a best-seller. There were even rumors that this car would be the future and change the world. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned, and as to exactly why, read on to find out more.

What Made The Cadillac Cien Concept So Special?

The Cien was created at General Motors Advanced Design Studio in England and built as a fully functional road vehicle in collaboration with Prodrive, a UK-based engineering and motorsport company. The Cadillac Cien concept car, designed by Simon Cox, was created to celebrate Cadillac’s 100th anniversary (“Cien” is Spanish for “one hundred”), and it did. 

The Cadillac Cien, officially unveiled at the 2002 Detroit Auto Show, was a spectacular vehicle powered by a massive 7.5-liter V12 engine producing 750 horsepower and 450 lb/ft of engine power. Reportedly, it had a top speed of 217 mph and could reach 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. The engine used direct injection and Displacement on Demand, which allowed it to shut down up to six cylinders under light load to save fuel. 

The Cien had an F-1-style semi-automatic transmission and a stunning design based on the F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighter Jet. The Cien’s body side incorporated electronically controlled air inlets and outlets. Similarly to the vents on the Lamborghini Murcielago, these active vents opened and closed as needed for cooling. 

The Cien’s blue glass was inspired by sports performance eyewear, giving the vehicle a more high-tech appearance. It even had an active spoiler that moved up and down in response to the vehicle’s speed. The wheels were 19 inches in the front and 21 inches in the back, complementing the overall aesthetics.

In short, the Cien had all the technological advances you’d expect, including Night Vision. 

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What Headway Did The Cien Make?

The Cadillac Cien first appeared in the 2005 action film The Island. Its unusual appearance made it an excellent choice for the film’s futuristic world and featured an exciting car chase scene. Michael Bay, the film’s director, clearly liked the car so much that he gave it another guest appearance in Transformers: Age of Extinction.

The Cadillac Cien can also be found in racing video games such as Midnight Club 3 and various versions of Gran Turismo. However, even though the car technically exists in some form, it never went into production. 

Why Didn’t The Cadillac Cien Go Into Production?

The Cadillac Cien was designed primarily in the United Kingdom by General Motors UK chief Simon Cox. It looked fantastic and sounded even better, but it was not produced. According to some reports, the whole concept proved too costly, and GM executives preferred to spend less on production. 

But according to General Motors Performance Division chief Mark Reuss, an internal review did not support building the $200,000 car at that moment. It didn’t necessarily kill the concept but shelved it for later until the company became more comfortable with manufacturing. But Reuss also stated that the high costs associated with Cien were not concentrated in any area. Other areas, such as the development of its specialized all-aluminum V12 engine and paddle-shifter six-speed semi-automatic transmission, need to be looked at and refined.

Overall, creating any model is a strategy, and GM is all about creating unique concepts to get people excited about their vehicles, then only delivering on half of them. Not all ideas can work out perfectly; if something is too risky for comfort, it doesn’t make sense to go through with it.


The Cien was indeed a novel concept in 2002 and had it reached the dealerships, it would surely be a best-seller. However, the manufacturer, GM, wasn’t comfortable with production-associated costs, and an internal review found that the overall sum needed to produce each model was unnecessarily high. It’s the main reason why we don’t see any Ciens driving around today. 

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