Lenny Kravitz Builds Out a “Futuristic” $300,000 Electric Cadillac
Lenny Kravitz grew up being transported—physically and metaphorically—by Cadillac cars. “My grandfather, he always had Cadillacs. He changed them out every few years,” the musician, composer, photographer, actor, and AD100 designer told VF during a recent visit to Metro Detroit. “He was a hard-working man, had five jobs, grew up in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. But Cadillac was his thing. And he used to pile all of us in the back, like five or six kids, and he would take us out of Brooklyn. He wanted to expose the neighborhood kids to art, to the museums, to theater, to sports. So the Cadillac was his vehicle to put us all in, and take us to expose us to all of these wonderful things.”
Inside the famed Eero Saarinen “Design Dome” vehicle-viewing stage at the General Motors Technical Center, Kravitz was in the back of a Cadillac once again. But this wasn’t one of the gas-guzzling Sedan de Villes or Fleetwood Broughams of his youth. It was the all-new, battery-powered, zero-emissions Celestiq sedan, the brand’s imminent flagship. Hand-built, the Celestiq is expected to cost around $300,000. And the price will go up from there thanks to available multifarious material customizability of nearly every interior appointment—fabrics, woods, leathers, metals, and carbon fibers can be individually selected, and pierced, etched, or 3D-printed to a client’s specifications.
Given Kravitz’s personal history, this notion of a range-topping electric Cadillac—particularly one as long as the marque’s snorting Escalade SUV, with a bulbous hatchback profile that resembles a Syd Mead fantasy—seemed anathema, initially. “When I first got here, it was a little jarring because it’s such a futuristic vehicle. And I’m very much into the classic, vintage cars and lines,” he said. But he warmed up. “As I spent more time with the vehicle, I see that it really does respect the heritage.”
As part of his collaboration with Cadillac in launching the Celestiq, Kravitz will be spec’ing his own custom version of the electric vehicle, in collaboration with Michael Simcoe—General Motors’ vice president of global design—and his team. Kravitz already has some ideas. “I think that this car is going to go to Paris, where I have my house,” he said.
His home in Paris is, like most of his residential designs, very eclectic. “It has a lot of African art mixed in with a more European sensibility,” Kravitz said. And he plans to take a similar approach to the car’s interior design. His mood board thus far includes exotic woods with strong patterns, mixed with colors like camels and chocolates and caramels. For the exterior, Kravitz says that he’s leaning toward a color that would “look sort of black in the dark, but it’s really a rich brown with a little bit of metal flake. A little bit of dimension.”
Not surprisingly, for someone who wore giant sunglasses and head-to-toe black leather during our interview, he is somewhat nocturnal. “I’m a day person too, but I come alive at night. That’s when I feel the most creative,” he said. So he envisions this engineless electric sedan as a silent chariot through the City of Light. “I want it to be sort of a nighttime vehicle going through the streets of Paris. I want it to just hover there at night. And I’m only going to go where you can park it right in front.”
Kravitz says he has never had an automobile in the 15 years he’s had his place in Paris, navigating the city instead on Triumph Bonneville motorcycles. But he has cars at his other current residences, including his compound in the Bahamas—near where his maternal grandfather was born. He spent the pandemic there composing three forthcoming records.