Slade InteriorClick to enlarge picture

Each leather-appointed Escalade—or 'Slade as Cadillac's SUV is often called in rap songs—gets customized with special Grammy logos inside.

very

The music artists—as well as more than 125 other selected Grammy nominees and officials—are being offered the use of roomy 2005 Cadillac Escalade sport-utility vehicles for the evening of the Grammy Awards.

Customized Rides
Stretching a minimum of 16.5 feet from bumper to bumper and with a powerful V8 under the hood, each leather-appointed Escalade—or 'Slade as Cadillac's full-size SUV is often called in rap songs—gets customized with special Grammy logos inside and out, sparkling 20-inch chrome wheels (known as DUBs in the world of customization), a mesh stainless steel grille, and polished stainless steel exhaust tips.

Cadillac also is providing a driver, assigned to squire the celebrity and friends around for the evening. They're not likely to get lost, because each Escalade has a navigation system. And if the celebs get bored, they can tune in to the vehicles' XM satellite radio or watch a DVD on the entertainment center.

This is the first time in the history of the auto industry—as well as the Grammys—that such a fleet of vehicles has been assembled, officials said, adding that half the Escalades are white and half are black. Three Escalade models make up the Grammy fleet: the Escalade SUV, Escalade ESV long wheelbase version and the Escalade EXT, which has a pickup bed at the back.

Musical Artistry and Cadillac Style
"When you think about the Grammys, you think about artistry, style and image," said Mike Colleran, regional marketing manager for Cadillac. "And I think a lot of people buy the Escalade because it conveys a sense of personal style . . . This is a natural fit for us."

Queen Latifah is being offered an Escalade because she's hosting the Grammys. Usher, Kanye West and Green Day are nominees for, among other things, album of the year. Lourdes Lopez, spokesperson for the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, said Grammy Awards attendees being offered vehicle use are expected to include presenters as well as nominees.

Colleran noted that many musical performers have bought Escalades for themselves since the vehicle debuted in 1999 as Cadillac's first SUV. Among the reported buyers were Pink, Brandy and Tyrese. Several artists, such as Ludacris, have even included the Escalade in their music videos.

Music Gave Escalade a Strong Start
According to Agenda Inc.'s American Brandstand study last year, Cadillac was the No. 1 brand mentioned in songs on Billboard's Top 20 charts, topping Mercedes-Benz which had been No. 1 in calendar 2003.

"When you think about it, it was the recording artists who really made the Escalade and gave it its [strong] start," Colleran said.

The exposure continues to be good for the Escalade line, which set a record in calendar 2004 with 62,250 sales. Manufacturer's suggested retail prices for 2005 models start at more than $53,000.

Cadillac officials hope the Escalades' role as Grammy vehicle provides a further boost for sales. "I know that the Grammys attracts a young, affluent consumer," Colleran said. "Cadillac wants that customer."

Own a Grammy Escalade for a Song—Sort Of
The music stars aren't the only ones who will enjoy the special Escalades. Cadillac plans to sell the 130 Grammy vehicles through Los Angeles-area dealerships after the event. Each Escalade model will retain the custom parts and Grammy logos, and will come with a commemorative plaque that includes the original vehicle sticker as well as the signature of the artist who rode in the vehicle.

Calling all music buffs . . .

Ann Job is a writer for T&A Ink and can be reached at annjo84@hotmail.com.

In the market for a new car? MSN Autos is pleased to provide you with information and services designed to save you time, money and hassle. Click to research prices and specifications on any new car on the market or click to get a free price quote through MSN Autos' New-Car Buying Service.