The cars we loved.
In the grand world of Cadillac Style, the Eldorado reigns supreme as a symbol of personal luxury and excess. The 6th generation front wheel drive Eldorado represents the last in the line of that proud American big coupe tradition. New angular styling added a sporting edge while maintaining the classic proportions of previous Cadillac’s. The new Eldorado shared it’s chassis with the Buick Rivera and Oldsmobile Tornado, while its frame was shared with the Seville. Standard engines were smaller Oldsmobile 350 at first, a 170hp engine that dated back to 1986.
From a mechanical point of view the Eldorado was a solid car, but was plagued with early engine problems. First there was the short flirtation with the ill-fated V8-6-4 engine that first made an appearance in the Seville. That engine almost killed the Seville and fortunately it was not used in the Eldorado as long, but later another larger engine problem with the 4.1 HT-4100 V8 of 1982 caused more grief due to faulty engine blocks. The problems ware quickly repaired. The 1981 model year saw yet another nagging problem, this time a balance issue had severe effects on drivability in certain conditions. GM corrected the problem by installing a metal plate under the car. Sales remained strong throughout the years despite intermittent setbacks, reaching over 100,000 units by 1984.
Cadillac sold a Touring Edition with bolstered suspension and different wheels. The Touring car had better steering response and handling, but all Eldorado’s handled respectably due to their independent rear wheel suspensions. Horsepower peaked at 325 with the addition of a 6.0 liter V8 in 1985, a mere shadow of what it had been during the pre-fuel crisis of the early and mid seventies. The loss in power was made up for by being significantly lighter than previous generations, making the Eldorado a respectable 0 to 60 car, even with its 3 speed automatic transmission.
The ultimate Eldorado’s were the Biarritz convertibles. Cadillac never built a factory convertible of the Eldorado during this generation. The conversion was done by ASC with Cadillac’s blessing. They were offered for a limited time and after 1985 production stopped, effectively making that year the last for all Eldorado convertibles. As a new car the Eldorado could reach into the $30k mark, a staggering amount for a Cadillac in the 80’s. Today good examples can be had for as little 3 to 4k. Showroom examples can be significantly higher. Cars from this era have become very popular in certain subsections of the Hip Hop world.
In 1995 The Robert De Niro film Casino featured a Eldorado (that gets blown up), sparking renewed interest in the Eldo as an urban pimpmobile. Travel to any large American cities ‘hood’ and you’re likely to see restored examples with large wheels and obnoxiously loud stereos. Perhaps a fitting end for a car that was all about 80’s flash and luxurious excess. The 7th generation Eldorado was a soulless box. Demasculated and downsized, it was modern but lacked the distinctive design flair Eldorado’s were known for.