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Kolar in Hermantown adds Cadillacs to vehicle lineup

A man walks between a 2014 Cadillac ATS Sport (left) and a 2014 Cadillac Escalade at Kolar Chevrolet Buick GMC on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013. The Hermantown dealership is now carrying Cadillacs. It's the first time they have been available in the Twin Ports since 2009. (Steve Kuchera / / 3
A Kolar sign and the Cadillac emblem on the front of an ATS Sport. (Steve Kuchera / / 3
Peter Kolar pauses with a cardboard cutout of Peyton Manning by a 2014 Cadillac ATS Sport and a Cadillac Escalade. Kolar co-owns Kolar Chevrolet Buick GMC, which recently added Cadillac to its offerings. Manning, quarterback for the Denver Broncos, is a spokesman for Buick. (Steve Kuchera / / 3

The Duluth area just got a little classier.

Cadillac is back.

After four years without a Cadillac dealership in the Twin Ports, Kolar Chevrolet Buick GMC in Hermantown has added Cadillac to its lineup.

Just a week into the franchise, they have nine new Cadillacs on hand, including three on display in the showroom. More are coming, with a stock of 20 to 25 expected within two weeks. "Being an almost full-line GM dealer, we were asked quite often if we were going to get the Cadillac franchise," said co-owner Peter Kolar. "People expected us to have it. They were surprised it hadn't been in Duluth for four years. You could get them on the Range. It didn't make any sense to us, nor to the customers."

The closest Cadillac

dealerships have been in Virginia, Hibbing and the Twin Cities. That's how far local Cadillac owners had to go to get their vehicles dealer-serviced.

Since the Kolar Automotive Group acquired Luther Family Chevrolet of Hermantown in 2010 -- which became Kolar Chevrolet Buick GMC -- they wanted to carry a true luxury brand.

"Right from the start, we wanted Cadillac," Kolar said. "They have a full line of cars out there. They have all-wheel drive cars that are attractive with our climate. And they have sports utilities. All are very luxurious and very technically advanced."

So when the Kolar group -- owned by Kolar, Bernie Kolar and Dave Hammer -- built its new $6 million, 44,000-square-foot General Motors facility at Arrowhead Road and Miller Trunk Highway last year, they made it big enough to accommodate another, future franchise.

"We prepared for Cadillac when we built this," Peter Kolar said. "We have more service stalls and showroom space than we needed, in hopes that we could get it."

With a limited number of Cadillac franchises out there, the Kolar group bought the franchise held by Ranger Chevrolet in Hibbing for an undisclosed sum.

"That was the only way we could get it back to Duluth," Kolar said.

So when the first Cadillac was driven into the showroom last week, the excitement level was high.

"It was quite a sight," Kolar said.

The Twin Ports has been without a Cadillac franchise since 2009 when the General Motors Corp. pulled Cadillac franchises from Krenzen of Duluth and DeVinck's in Superior. The automaker was in bankruptcy and was shedding dealers as part of its reorganization. It claimed U.S. sales didn't justify so many dealers.

A year later, GM offered to reinstate Krenzen's Cadillac franchise, but Krenzen turned them down. Because Krenzen also was a Honda, Nissan, Lincoln and Mercury dealer, GM wanted a stand-alone facility. Scott Krenzen, one of the owners, said then that he didn't think the market warranted it.

Since Kolar Chevrolet Buick GMC sells only General Motors cars, a stand-alone facility isn't required, though some interior treatments and exterior Cadillac signage will be done.

Kolar staff has been undergoing training on the Cadillac line, and its technicians are ready to service the line of luxury cars.

Cadillac currently offers six models, but is expected to grow to 10 by 2015. Current prices range from $33,000 for its ATS sedan to about $80,000 for its Escalade ESV sports utility vehicle. Its centerpiece car, the CTS mid-size sedan, was named Motor Trend Magazine's 2014 Car of the Year. In choosing the CTS, the magazine said it represented Cadillac's comeback.

All the more reason why Kolar wanted Cadillac.

"It brings another offering to the Duluth market," Kolar said. "I thought it was awful when we didn't have a true luxury brand. A community the size of ours should have a luxury brand."

The Kolar Automotive Group also owns nearby Kolar Toyota and Scion and Kolar Hyundai.