Heritage in the car industry means everything and nothing. Ferrari has heritage oozing out of every hand-beaten aluminum pore, er, molded carbon fiber pore (heritage is highly flammable ad causes immolation). Racing pedigree has propelled Ferrari to the point it is today, well, that or Montezemolo. No company leans on its heritage like Ferrari, and so every car manufacturer looks at it like it's the way it needs to be done.
Let's start with Cadillac; this one is a little easier to articulate. Cadillac made opulent luxury cars when America oozed car companies out of every pore. Then as these companies got swallowed up, shut down, or immolated and the war changed everything for industry in America, Cadillac came out the other side with huge American land-yachts. The Golden Age of American Cars. Cadillac flourished when gas cost nothing, there was no replacement for displacement, and emissions standards were lower than those Cadillacs have been modified to be today. As the emissions standards became stricter and gas became more expensive, Cadillac faltered, making worse and worse cars that I won't even talk about. Then, the Germans ruled.
German sedans became the standard of luxury. From compact luxury to ultra-luxury, the Germans owned every segment. Now, with Germany as the standard (because, ya know, German engineering) everyone tries to be the Germans. Jaguar is doing a very good job of it. It's shaken off it's British roots and basically because a fourth German car. Lexus and Acura are trying to do the same thing while trying to retain Japanese economy. Cadillac, with the CTS, became competitive. They had learned the formula: make a solid car, make a version that can lap the Nurburgring quickly, and wait to dominate the segment. Only, not everyone can rule the segment. With everyone being German, who is there to be genuine competition? Cadillac just keeps cranking out German sedans, and that won't win over everyone that's looking at the safe, simple German cars.
Cadillac needs stand out. Cadillac needs to make a modern land yacht. An Elmiraj body would set them apart. A name would set them apart. Throw in the twin turbo V6. Throw in the plug-in hybrid. Hell, you can run it on old growth forests and manatees if it looks like the Elmiraj and is as comfortable as the old Caddies.
Cadillac, pay homage to your heritage, but move forward too. You can't ride on heritage alone (a harsh lesson of the 1990s), and forward progress is a must in today's world.
Now onto Lotus: oh no. Lotus, from a business standpoint, seems to be founded on the principle of always being deep in financial trouble. Between their Italian business strategy, their British electronics (which seem to ooze electricity from every pore), and their built-in-a-shed volume, Lotus is always barely keeping it's head above water.
In terms of racing heritage, Lotus is pretty strong. Even if they don't have nearly as many wins as McLaren or Ferrari, the name instantly brings up Formula 1. Colin Chapman once said, "Simplify, and add lightness." Aduh. Even after this wealth of obvious objectives dried up, Chapman was always pushing the envelope. Using the half-shaft as a wishbone, wobbly-wheels, the Cosworth DFV (not that he designed it or anything, but he asked for it), and ground effects were all his ideas (or at least implemented by him). Without Lotus Formula 1 would be different game.
In terms of road cars, Lotus really only has two that are especially worth mention. The Elan and the Esprit. Some might argue that the current lineup is worth mention. THe Elise is almost 20 years old, meaning the Exige is as well. The Evora is exceedingly pretty and is a pretty good performer. But the quality with current Lotuses isn't exactly... adequate. The lack of quality, old designs, and change of hands has made Lotus need a new, refreshed lineup.
Lotus has said there will be a crossover/SUV and no Esprit.
At least Lotus says that they will make the crossover a performance crossover! Finally the world will get a performance oriented crossover. How has no one thought of that?
Lotus is trying to enter a saturated market with sub par quality and no history in the segment. Once again, heritage is the key. In this case, Lotus needs to lean on its heritage quite a bit. I've commented with this on several Jalopnik articles: Lotus needs to make a new Elan. Make it competitive with the Miata. Slip between the Miata and Z4 in price. Somewhere around $30000 would compete with the Miata, FR-S, 4C, and Z4. It's somewhere in between without being super expensive. Just high enough to justify splurging for the badge and performance. This would be their volume car. Not crossover level volume, but more volume than Lotus can probably currently handle. Then, if, and hopefully when, they turn a profit, make a new Esprit. This would compete with the 458, Huracan, eventual NSX, and whatever else you can throw in that segment.
Lotus needs to lean on its heritage. Cadillac needs to honor theirs. Heritage is both powerful and dangerous. How a car company uses it can build or destroy it.