By on December 1, 2011

As part of the ongoing “What Could GM Have Been Thinking?” series of Junkyard Finds this week, we’ll follow up the ’89 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo and the ’90 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais International Series with a car that really makes you wonder what sort of weird Malaise Era drug The General’s marketing wizards must have been huffing, snorting, smoking, or maybe mainlining in order to stand up at a meeting, pound fist on table, and proclaim “Cadillac must slap its badges on the J Platform!”
Cadillac’s image was already in decline by the early 1980s, thanks in large part to the hot-selling but brand-cheapening Nova-based Seville, but there was still plenty of brand-value capital banked from the era when Cadillac scared the shit out of rival manufacturers with its engineering, design, and build quality. Why not throw Cadillac emblems and a leather interior at the Cavalier? Cimarron!
Does a Cadillac come with an Opel-sourced engine? Sure, if it’s a Cimarron, or a Catera.
We really don’t need to beat this dead horse any longer, because Cadillac somehow recovered from the Seville/V8-6-4/Cimarron/Catera debacle and has returned to its pre-1970 business of selling cars to rich people under 80 years of age. For me, the Cimarron is special, because a Cimarron d’Oro was my very first Down On The Street car.

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80 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1982 Cadillac Cimarron...”


  • avatar
    philadlj

    Heh, I just looked back at Paul’s Curbside Classic of a particularly rough-looking Cimarron yesterday. I guess talk of which wheels will be driven in the ELR got me thinking about past Caddy…mishaps. Serendipity!

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      The inspiration for the cygnet

      • 0 avatar
        VanillaDude

        1980 Ford Thunderbird
        1957 Packard
        1977 Lincoln Versailles

        Sometimes a car is a placeholder within a brand’s line up. Studebaker had less than a year to present a Packard, and the Packardbaker was the result. Studebaker had hoped the car would buy the manufacturer enough time to launch a car that would have been a real Packard in 1960. The 1957-1958 Recession killed those plans. That recession forced Studebaker into launching the Lark and nothing else.

        The 1980 Thunderbird was a placeholder for the 1984 Thunderbird, which radically changed Ford and reinvigorated it.

        The 1977 Lincoln Versailles was a placeholder for a smaller Seville-fighting 1982 Continental.

        The Cimarron is one of those placeholder cars. The place it was holding was one GM hoped to fill within a few years; a small Cadillac that would appeal to buyers under 50. In 1982 Cadillac was not capable of producing a real small Cadillac, but had planned to do so within a generation. Many GM decision makers did not want Cadillac to use the J car this way because there was not enough time to turn the J car into a decent Cadillac. On the other hand, there were many who saw that Cadillac could use the J car as a launching pad for a smaller, real Cadillac.

        The risk takers won the argument, and the 1982 Cimarron was launched – half baked. Had Cadillac waited for the real placeholder vehicle – the 1988 Cimarron, we would not be pounding GM for this vehicle, because by 1988, Cadillac did produce a Cimarron that was a Cavalier that was decently upgraded into a different car from the Cavalier. Cadillac launched the Cimarron too soon.

        They knew they made a mistake and tried to market the car as a “Cimarron, by Cadillac”, in order to separate it from the Cadillac brand.

        When a placeholder car works, we don’t remember it as a failure, when they fail, the dream dies with them and we don’t usually remember what the dream was, but only remember the failure. Not every car like the Cimarron should be seen as some kind of fraud perpetrated upon the public, but should recognize that this kind of car is testing a market.

  • avatar
    Syke

    A lot of the B&B should be very greatful for the Cimmaron. It gives them a real packed-fish-in-a-barrel target to justify their constant hate for (and belittling of) GM.

    • 0 avatar
      morbo

      Well, beyond W-Bodys with leaky body seals, C/K trucks where a a quarter of the wheel bearing go early, bad fuels sensors on Blazers, caadillacs with sparky heated winshield washer fluid resorvoirs, Cobalts without power steering, Cruzes where the steering wheel falls off, GM piston slap (Like a Knock), and NUMMI Vibes with a littany of problems (though to be fair that’s more of a Toyota quality problem).

      Other then that, the Cimmaron was defintiely the only GM vehicle worth hating.

      As a footnote, I bought a new 2003 Bonneville. I ate $7,000 worth of depreciation to trade out of it after 6,000 miles for a used Mitsubishi, I had so many problems with this new car – body seal cracked/leaking roof, 2 fueld injectors bad, heater motor blown, rusting door hinges, snapped transmission cable. Within the first two months.. GM-philes may not like it, but I’m part of the never again crowd for GM, new or old.

      Now I return to my shiny new 300C.

      • 0 avatar
        damikco

        I doubt you are being truthful about the Pontiac at only 6k. I dont even know where to start on Toyota products with there problem from sludge filled motors to rusty tundra frames and these are all modern problems. Guess my point is we can come up with a list of bad cars from ALL brands.

    • 0 avatar
      Lokki

      You forgot the Vega, the Citation, and my (new) 69 Camaro which broke its engine mounts locking the throttle wide open, and which also broke one of its single-leaf rear springs. Before the Gm defender starts claiming these happened because of the awesomeness of the mighty SBC I should point out that the engine was a 2bl 200 hp gross 307 with an automatic. By the way the engine mount problem was very common on ALL their V8’s not just Camaro’s -GM was finally forced to issue a recall.

      Then there was my parent’s final GM purchase – a 76 Caprice which came from the factory with the rear axle misaligned.

      So, yeah, the haters have absolutely no reason beyond the Cimmaron to be wary of GM cars. Oh except may the Catera, or the recent disasterous CVT Saturns the”new” GM won’t take responsibility for.

      • 0 avatar
        morbo

        2003 bonneville, 37 miles new. Traded at 6,023 miles. Delaer agreed it was a POS. GM rep quote “We meet New Jersey’s requirements for new car purchases under our 3 eyar / 36,000 mile warranty and will not repurchase this vehicle”.

        My problem wasn’t necessarily that I bough a lemon. It’s that GM refused to own up to a bad car and make it right. Which is why Ford, Mitsubishi, Chrysler and Honda have received mine and my family’s business in the intervening years. this is coming from someone that was once a GM only guy: Sierra, Scottsdale, Caprice. That Bonneville broke me of my blind loyalty to mediocre (at best) vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        GarbageMotorsCo.

        Wow, I thought my Sierra and Silvy were bad.

        At least GM was consistent tho and didn’t limit the appetite for Intermediate Steering Shafts that would also be required early on alot of if cars from the Rentibu to the Impala as well as all their full size trucks like mine. And premature brake failures, that one was a doosy!

        My Envoy had a “Do not Drive” order put out on it when it was discoved that the lower A-arms were weak and would fracture and snap prematurely.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Reasonably knowledgeable consumers looking from the outside clearly see that GM = Chevrolet, but a generation later GM still insists on trying to sell a combination of honest cost-optimized Chevrolets plus dishonest faux luxury brands. It’s possible to simultaneously respect a cheap car at a low price while heaping ridicule on the “luxury” version of a cheap car that sells for more.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Another reminder of how bad automotive life was in the late 70s/early 80s..just look under the hood at that stone knives and bearskins engine compartment. Note the “dryer duct” heated air inlet and the paper fiber air intake on the snorkel…All those under 30 have no idea how sucky it was to have these crap cars…

    • 0 avatar
      drylbrg

      With the ubiquitous tangle of vacuum hoses they weren’t even that easy to work on. I’ll take either a pre-smog motor or an electronically controlled one over this crap any day.

  • avatar
    texan01

    Well it at least made the drive from Dallas to CA at least once since it has a Dallas Museum of Art sticker on the back window.

    Back when I worked parts, a lady came in asking for a part for one, and I looked it up and it wasn’t listed under the Cimmaron name so I called it up as a more pedestrian J-car to try and find the part. the lady saw the screen and was outright furious with me for looking up the ‘wrong’ car and stormed off. I had the part for it, I think it was some minor sensor or something, but it wasn’t listed for the Cadillac version.

    i also wanted to spice up my sisters 84 Sunbird with Cimmaron parts, she wanted none of that, course big sis was cool with it, but gave it to my twin sister after she got her Olds Sneeze. Twin sister drove me nuts with NVH issues on the ‘turd, and she dislked the little car, but not as much as she disliked the 76 Chevelle that we had been given. I was happy with a car that ran, and the Chevelle could leave the turd in the dust.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    In 1982, you walked into a Cadillac Dealer and your choices were this, or a big boat powered by the best engines Cadillac had to offer. A 125hp Buick V6, HT4100, LF9 Diesel, or the V8-6-4…..

    This was the GOOD one! Hahahaha.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Actually only Limousin/livery purchasers could have the 8-6-4 engine as this motor ceased production after the 81 model year in the passenger car lineup. No the rocket science so called engineers at Cadillac replaced the 8-6-4 with the powerhouse High Tech 4100 V8 that managed a tire shredding 125 HP and 190 torque in 3800-4100 LB full size cars and was the std mill in all but the Cimmaron. The funny thing is that the Buick 4.1 liter 4 BBL V6 actually made the same HP and 20 more LBS Ft of torque or a total of 210 compared to the marvel HT4100 “power system” as the brochure proclaimed. The V6 was a $165.00 credit option. Even the lesser Buick Electra/LeSabre, Olds 88/98 and Chevy Caprice offered a superior optional V8 in the form of the 307 and 305 which were far more durable, powerful and reliable than the rushed into production Caddy mill. 83-85 saw the V6 dropped and the HT4100 gained 10 HP and torque for a total of 135/200 and the diesel was still available. I’m not even going to bring up the car in the headlines. If there ever was an era of malaise for a car maker this was it!

  • avatar
    friedclams

    Well, if you want a J-body (with an automatic), that’s the one to have.

    A world where this is a Cadillac is a world where Soylent Green is people.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Still waiting for Lexus ES250from the 1980’s. Oh wait, the emblems rusted off and was mistaken for a Camry. What about an Accord same era in thge NE? Rusted so bad it went to the crusher?

    • 0 avatar
      200k-min

      Cue the standard GM fanboy response for build quality when talking about Japanese cars of the 80’s. Who cares if GM’s sheet metal was 1/2″ thick tank plating, it doesn’t excuse the fact that their vehicles were terribly designed and their reliability was far from what it should have been.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      On the other hand, Honda is still doing well with Accord as a model.

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      A Lexus from the ’80s? In what alternate universe were those made? In any case, those second-generation Camrys were very well made – a friend’s mother has a V6 sedan that is still in excellent shape. Accords of that era, on the other hand, did indeed rust easily – at least my sister’s American-made ’84 hatchback did.

      • 0 avatar
        mac

        Don’t kid yourself – the 2nd gen Camry rusted just as much as the Accord. Of course, mine’s lived all its life in Minnesota, so maybe it’s had a harder life than most…

  • avatar
    MarkP

    A coworker back in the ’80s had one of these. I think it was less than two years old when someone hit it and totaled it. He was left with no car but still with a car payment, because he was way, way upside down on it.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    I knew a woman at church who was pretty proud of the fact that her husband was a named inventor Oma patent for getting chrome plating to stick to the alu bumpers used on this car. Looking at the pics and how the finish has held up I think her pride was not misplaced. Oddly, the fruits of his technical labors have outlived him.

    If I think more on this conversation of 25 years ago, I think part of the pride was, besides being a great technical challenge of electrochemistry, was that the car itself was developed on a very compressed time schedule with engineers like her husband working weekends to meet timing.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    A college buddy of mine drove THIS car through school in the early 90’s. Same color, options, everything. The heater never worked, so he was always wearing his snowmobile suit to class in the winter. He liked to tell the girls he drove a Cadillac. It worked as a line, and then when he picked them up, they either appreciated his humor, or he didn’t get a second date. Upon graduation he bought a new Cavalier Z24 so I guess he wasn’t completely down on the J-cars after enduring the Cimarron.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    This was the worst Cadillac other than the archaic and disgusting V8-6-4.

    Between the two, how was Olds phased out a couple decades later and not Caddy?

    At least Olds attempted to redeem itself post-Malaise.

    RUBBISH!

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The V8-6-4 was not archaic it was bleeding edge tech at the time and is now a relatively common thing. It just took a couple of decades until the control system was up to the task. Now that the power train controller is up to the task besides using it for slight increases in MPG other mfg’s use a descendent of this tech to provide “fail-safe” cooling.

  • avatar
    missinginvlissingen

    I’m starting to like this “junkyard find” feature. Looking back on bygone cars and trying to appreciate what they did well (or did NOT do well) in the context of their era is a worthwhile exercise. It helps us gain perspective on how far most of today’s cars have come.

    I like the fact that we’re willing to see the good in cars that were often deeply flawed, and would be nearly intolerable as daily transportation by our current standards.

    Having said that, I think this Cimarron had no redeeming features, even in 1982. And I see from the comments that the car doesn’t have many defenders.

    Well, I just found one redeeming feature: at least the speedometer (0-85 mph) is honest. Am I the only one who winces at the sight of an econocar with a 140-mph speed limit dial?

    • 0 avatar
      morbo

      My recent Elentra rental does 160, according to the speedo. My complaint about modern cars is the need for an oversized tach. or even having a tach at all. It was useful for MT cars like 20+ years ago. Now it just eats dashboard space. This information has never benefitted me, except when I hit the autostick accidently and am doing 25mph at 4000 rpm.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        “except when I hit the autostick accidently and am doing 25 mph at 4000 rpm.”

        That’s why you have a tach!

      • 0 avatar
        potatobreath

        But some people can’t even read a tachometer. “I thought it was some kind of weird clock.”

        I don’t really see the point of a manual shift gate for a family car or an economy car. Just give me an O/D off button or Tow/Haul mode and call it a day.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        All Hail Morbo!

        Seriously, the only way an Elantra will do 160 MPH is with a Lamborghini Gallardo towing it.

        Much like my kid’s used Saturn Aura, it came with a speedometer that read to 240. When I looked around the car further, noticing a rather large label on the passenger side window that said “Objects may be closer…” in French, I realized she’d bought a Canadian market car. The scale has no units printed on the gauge itself, usually there’s a switch somewhere that adjusts it to MPH or KPH.

        Even my US market G6 has a speedometer that reads to 160, but it is never going to reach 160 MPH without a Lamborghini Gallardo towing it…

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        Thought the tacometer was for when one felt the need to make a run for the border … Some kind of vector-like burrito finding device…

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      My sister’s 84 Sunburn with the equally anemic OHC 1.8 could top the 85MPH speedo out and then some. I think we figured it had to do about a buck ten before it ran out of breath — thanks to the 1 barrel throttle body EFI on it.

      Course you get it that fast, and then the head gasket would die.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      The 85 MPH speedometer had nothing to do with truth in advertising. During this era it was regulated that all speedometers have 55 MPH significantly highlighted and show a maximum speed of 85 MPH; the rule was passed starting in the 1979 model year. It was wrongly believed it would improve vehicle safety. The rule was rolled back in late 1981, but because parts are in the hopper and it costs money for redesign, the speedometer to 85 MPH didn’t finally disappear for years to follow.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Maximum_Speed_Law#85.C2.A0mph_speedometers

      The Cimmaron, even with the 1.8 would easily get over 85 MPH given enough flat surface in front of it. I did some searching on the web and it put top speed around 110 MPH (your sources may vary). Now how the car would behave at that speed, or the impact to the driveline for traveling at those speeds – well that’s a different issue.

  • avatar
    DenverInfidel

    This car brought back some funny memories. In High School, I had a teacher give me her keys to go get something out of her “Caddy”. Several of my friends parents drove big Caddy’s, so I of course was looking for a big seville or broughm or something.

    I had to go back in and tell her I didn’t see her Caddy anywhere. Then one of my buddies piped up and said its the gold cavillac. I knew exactly what he was talking about then. She didn’t think it was quite as funny.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    I think the reason that the Cimmaron outrages so many of us who were there when the Cimmaron came out was that it constituted a public admission by GM that all its cars really were the same no matter how they were badged – that the Cadillac name meant nothing special to them.

    The best analogy I can think of is that the impression it left was like when that kind of pretty girl who hung out at your favorite bar (who you used to think was beautiful and whom you’d slept with a couple of times) no longer pretended to ask for a little money afterwards to tide her over till payday – she started blatently demanding a fixed price up front and you could no longer kid youself that she wasn’t a whore.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      The Cimarron debacle mirrored one of the biggest automotive blunders, ever, exactly 20 years before: the downsized, Valiant-based full-size 1962 Dodges and Plymouths. That little faux pas nearly put Chrysler out of business. IOW, while basing a lower-tier car on an upscale one will usually work, it’s quite a dicey proposition to try and make an upmarket car out of a low-line one. It was more than a little ironic since the 1962 mistake by Chrysler was based on the misinterpretation of an overheard comment on GM’s future of their full-size cars.

      The Cimarron wouldn’t have been so bad except the disquise was done so poorly and it was so painfully obvious that a car from GM’s flagship marque had been based on a bottom-feeder Chevrolet. In one, fatal stroke, GM’s bean-counters (i.e., Roger Smith) managed to irrevocably cheapen and nearly ruin the cash-cow Cadillac brand from which, to this day, hasn’t fully recovered.

      I have no doubt that had the Cimarron been a success, there would soon have been a Chevette-based Cadillac, as well.

  • avatar
    damikco

    today Cadillac is light years away from cars like this.

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    Looks very luxurious.

    The Cavalier was always an ahead of its time solid, and well engineered platform and had much better driving dynamics than many of the best cars of Europe at the time. So it was only fitting to grace the J-body with some caddy emblems.

    The 1.8 screamed in these things and loved to be revved and was very very underrated as far as output. And the 1.8L in this matched to one of the very best auto transmissions in the General’s history, the solid tracking of the Chevy suspension coupled with the suppleness of an affirmative Cadillac ride equals a solid success.

    One could do a lot worse than one of these if looking for a classic Cadillac to hoon around in or just have fun.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    This car alone made the Catera look good. Keep moving, nuthin’ more to see here…

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    As an Ascona C (or Vauxhall Cavalier) the J-car was not a bad compared to it’s competition in Europe, like the VW Jetta, BMW E30 and Ford Sierra, although it felt (and was) cheaper than the Sierra. Offcourse the Sierra and BMW E30 were right wheel drive, so they had better driving dynamics, and the Jetta had better build quality, so it’s (the J) probably the car from it’s segment that has the least enthusiastic following today. It was not a bad car though, just boring, (and if built before they added the auto-choke)reasonably quick and reliable. However the mere thought of trying to make it a luxury car is to be honest maybe the stupidest idea since, well, the Lincoln Versailles….maybe even worse :O

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      We rented an Ascona 1.6S to drive around Europe in 1984. It really wasn’t a bad car, and was finished about as one would have expected a mid-range VW to be at the time. US J-cars were never as nice, a conscious decision made in Detroit and well-documented by Brock Yates book, “The Decline and Fall of the US Auto Industry,” which used the development process for the J-cars to illustrate why Detroit refused to build good cars. The target was the first generation Accord, and the development team put all their best efforts into rationalizations for not needing to reach parity with the Honda. Then the 2nd generation Accord arrived right after the J-cars, and the Accord that was superior to the Cavaliers, J2000s, Skyhawks, Cimarrons, and Firenzas was obsolete.

  • avatar
    nikita

    I think it may have been a test drive in one, or whatever its Oldsmobile sibling was, that sent my father over to the Toyota dealer. He ended up with a Cressida, no prestige badge, but a near-luxury small sedan.

  • avatar
    cfclark

    “Cadillac” and “1.8 Liter” should never have been used in close proximity to each other unless it was to describe the capacity of the windshield washer fluid reservoir.

    I’ve said this before, the day the Cimarron was introduced was the day GM’s eventual bankruptcy became a certainty, even if the date wasn’t certain.

  • avatar
    jellybean

    I saw one of these a few days ago, here in Vancouver. It stopped me in my tracks, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was in pristine condition. Who would coddle one of these things? It was surreal.

  • avatar
    MattPete

    That second picture demonstrates GM’s wheel-itis of the 1980s.

    GM had this thing for putting wide, yet high-profile tires, on their cars. Competitors — Toyota, Honda, BMW — would use narrower tires with larger diameter wheels and lower (absolute, not relative) profiles.

    GM’s wheel on their small cars reminded me of those strange bulbuous baloon tires that F1 cars used in the 70s.

  • avatar
    greaseyknight

    Amazing timing, I just helped some friends junk a Cimarron. We made their day, not because it was a Cadillac, but because we hauled horizontal in the back of my truck (drives side down, passenger side up). A very stupid idea that actually worked. It was even a “rare” 5 speed model, that will only be remembered because of how it took its last ride.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    That 30 year old interior would be in stunningly good condition for a car sitting in a garage and still plying the roads, let alone a scrapper destined for China.

    I’m really amazed as we walk down the malaise era walk of shame for GM on how good all of these interiors look decades later. The paint isn’t in all that bad shape either on this pathetic example of horrific marketing and engineering.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Perhaps the engineering wasn’t all that bad after all, then…

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      I had that same thought too. My mother-in-law had an ’84 Cimarron with the same leather interior and I remember it as being both well put together and comfortable. The rest of the car was a mess.

      One of the things I have never understood is why GM didn’t at least use the Buick/Olds J car dash in the Cimarron. It had four equal sized round dials, which could be equipped with full instrumentation, and it looked a little BMW-esque, well at least if you squinted. If nothing else, at least it didn’t scream CHEVY.

      • 0 avatar
        Dynasty

        Because… You see, it cost X amount of dollars to produce the Cavalier. The Cimmaron team was only given X + $99.00 to produce a Cimmaron.

        The dash in the Buick/Olds J cars cost about four dollars more than the Chevy dash.

        It just didn’t pencil out.

        F’n GM…. I don’t think there is one company in the world who has alienated and destroyed their customer base more than GM has. I’m hopeful they’ll turn around, but… I may just be fooling myself.

  • avatar
    alan996

    I worked with a guy who used part of an inheritance to buy two of these, new, so he could say he and his wife drove Cadillacs. Never trusted his judgement again.

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    This article about the Cimarron makes me so sad I am praying for the Buick Verano which will carry the torch.

    Exactly 30 years later too! What a coinkydink!

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Who cares if GM’s sheet metal was 1/2″ thick tank plating, it doesn’t excuse the fact that their vehicles were terribly designed and their reliability was far from what it should have been.”

    Honda or Toyota didn’t build a car in ’81 that I would have traded even-up for my RWD Olds Cutlass. Reliable and easy to work on when something did break. I got rid of mine when it was 12 years old. Should have kept it. With a 197K on it the original 260 V8 in it still ran like a top and was as indestructable as the rest of the car.

    The Cimmarron should have been a car like the Chevy Volt, which drives better than pretty much any Caddy ever made minus maybe the CTS.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      The problem is that, in 1981, the Cutlass was the exception, rather than the rule, regarding durability and reliability among GM’s line-up. And that only applied to the models with the V-8. The V-6s were known for self-destructing well before 100,000 miles.

      The 1978-83 GM intermediates – particularly the Chevrolets and Pontiacs, along with the cheaper Buicks and Oldsmobiles – were notorious for cheap interior plastics that cracked and faded, and sagging headliners.

  • avatar
    roger628

    “Does a Cadillac come with an Opel-sourced engine? Sure, if it’s a Cimarron, or a Catera.”
    At no time did these have Opel sourced engines-They had the same 1.8 & 2.0 pushrod abominations as the first Cavaliers, which BTW have no relation to the Iron Duke.The Opel Family 2 was only in the BOP versions of Js. They can be spotted by the obvious OHC style cam cover and the distributor sticking straight out of the head, driven by camshaft, a la 944.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    This is the CAFE Cadillac. I’m sure this car was a response to the minor oil crises at the end of the 70’s early 80’s and also helped compliance with CAFE standards.

    At that time, we were being threatened with $3/gallon gasoline and a future where a whole host of other awful possibilities awaited us. However, it didn’t happen that way. But, once these things get into production, they’re hard to stop from happening.

    FWIW, my favorite among these cars was the late model V6 powered ones. They did get a nicer interior, especially compared to the Z24 Cavalier versions. But by the time these cars were axed, the damage was done.

    There are cars that are known by their model names only, Corvette, Mustang Prius, Edsel… Cimarron is one of them too, but not in a good way.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      @geozinger:
      “At that time, we were being threatened with $3/gallon gasoline and a future where a whole host of other awful possibilities awaited us. However, it didn’t happen that way. ”

      Well, it did, 25 years later…

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @FreedMike: True.

        But to put this in perspective, in 1981, I remember paying $1.20/gallon for gasoline. Two years previous to that, I was paying $0.69-0.75 gallon. That’s a ~45%+ increase in cost. Locally, gasoline is ~$3.25. If the price went up 45% to ~$4.50, we’d be back to the levels they were in 2008 when everybody about pooped themselves over fuel prices.

        I’m not even going to do inflation adjusted numbers, because the fuel prices now would be even higher than the 2008 numbers (but not by a great amount, tho).

        I remember those dire predictions rather vividly. But thankfully, the world didn’t turn out the way it was predicted.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Welcome to the Clubbing Baby Seals Hour…next up, the Beating Dead Horses Hour…

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    While this was a bad idea, it is nothing compared to the Aston Martin-badged Toyota IQ.

    Sooner or later we’ll have Ferrari Jukes if this keeps up.

  • avatar
    ajla

    How could you not want a Cimarron today? It’s pure automotive infamy!

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      I am still SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO mad that I didn’t get a crack at the late build Cimarron that sat in front of my neighbors house for many years. Deep brown, leather interior, tinted windows, all the options, V6 – sold it to one of the guys that was roofing his house after the car sat there for years only getting driven once a week. I know he would have taken less than the grand I spent on a 150cc Chinese scooter (purchased shortly after that)as an alternative transportation to my gas pig F150. The Cimarron is a piece of history! Even though we mean that in a negative sense.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @EdDan: There are legions of people who collect all sorts of orphans and failed cars. Just try and buy a roadworthy Edsel these days. You’ll need a minimum of 5 Chinese scooters.

        Like I noted before, the V6 late model Cimarrons are the ones to get if you were interested. By the mid 80’s, most of the early J-body bugs were worked out and the Chevy V6 could motivate that little leather lined economy car.

        Me, I’d rather have a V6 powered Olds Firenza Hatchback.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Cadillac should have priced the Cimarron above the Sedan De Ville and Eldorado. It worked for their version of the Nova.

    • 0 avatar
      chrisgreencar

      C’mon — the Seville only shared underpinnings with the Nova. It was a completely different, and much more beautiful and refined, car. The Cimarron was literally a Cavalier with different trim and nameplates. You can’t compare them this way fairly.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    My best friend’s Mom drove a white 85 Cavalier 4 door sedan and it wasn’t a bad car. Now I said, not bad, I didn’t say it was great.

    While I don’t recall hearing anything egregiously wrong with it mechanically and it seemed to hold it’s interior trim bits fine too, unlike their ’77 Buick Regal that had problems with its trim though I don’t recall anything major mechanically with it either.

    That said, it was pretty cheeky of GM to try and sell a tarted up Cavalier as a Caddy and not even disguise its lineage in any way, shape or form.

    This one looks to have had a reasonably easy life early on and was cared for but at some point, it was handed down or sold and it then got a MUCH rougher life, judging by the dings and small dents in the corners as the paint and interior is still in pretty good shape with the leather upholstery still intact and not badly cracked. The dash is not cracked and the paint still in decent shape too and still sports its original tape deck, the EXACT same model my parent’s had in their ’83 X body Skylark they bought new and boy did they sound like sh*t.

  • avatar
    fozone

    I don’t know if i’m too late to comment, but I think I must be one of the few (only?) TTAC readers who actually drove one of these. For years. Most of the 80s in fact. It was a 1982 just like the heap in the pictures. And whereas other people look at those photos and are disgusted, my first reaction was to smile… the car was terrible, but my memories are sweet.

    I truly wish readers could go back in time and experience first-hand just how terrible and uncompetitive GM cars were. There wasn’t some sort of anti-GM bias or conspiracy — the cars really were that bad.

    It wasn’t just that the car was unreliable and slow. That was expected. Its flaws were deeper and more subjective – it was unsatisfying to the senses, and that was its ultimate sin.

    Some highlights:

    * It was ugly.

    * The leather had a funny, otherworldly smell (even when new).

    * The doors weighed a ton and wouldn’t open smoothly — they’d move easily for the first 1/3rd of their travel, then abruptly stop, then move easily again for the next third.

    * The throttle had a high degree of resistance in the pedal, and even when you’d mash it, you would get lots of noise but no forward thrust.

    * The gigantic, pencil-thin steering wheel was hard and ridiculous — the steering was so overboosted you could drive the car with your pinky. Road feel was terrible (especially when compared to its competitor, the audi 4000.) And despite its small size and sporty pretensions, it handled terribly compared to its other chief competitor, the 320i.

    I could go on… but you get the picture. The car seemed deliberately designed by GM to give the appearance that they sweated absolutely NONE of the details. Bravo!

    The executives and engineers responsible deserve every bit of the heat that they got for the cars they produced in the 80s.

    • 0 avatar
      greaseyknight

      I guess we are part of that exclusive club of people who will admit to driving a Cimarron. I did have fun in the one I drove, only because I was hooning it in a friends woods. However the Chevette they had was better. RWD is always better then FWD when playing with junkers.

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    “The executives and engineers responsible deserve every bit of the heat that they got for the cars they produced in the 80s.”

    As punishment for their mistakes, those responsible for this and every other cardinal sin GM made, will be forever tormented day in day out for eternity in their afterlife to being subjected to the scornful comments on TTAC.

    Seriously though, I wonder if whomever responsible for this is still alive? Actually, I don’t believe there is one person or even a group of people responsible for this. What to blame is bureaucracy, process, and price points. Then anyone who cares just gets to the point of, “F it.. I don’t care anymore. Just build the damn thing or don’t build it. I don’t care.”

  • avatar
    gslippy

    This is why Cadillac shouldn’t build the Converj.

    Turning a $40k Chevy product of questionable value into a $60k Cadillac with worse performance (range & mpg), and you have a modern Cimarron. If they still try it, at least they should give it a name that doesn’t start with the letter “C”.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Back in he late 80’s I worked for a company that had a 86 Cimmaron as one of it’s company cars. It was loaded with most if not all options, basically the Z24 of Cimmarons with the 2.8 MPI. Occasionally I would take it out and it was not a bad driver,far better than any X-Body of the era with good power and better than average handling with the optional sport suspension on Chevy’s it was the F41. If only Cadillac had the sense to give it it’s own unique body it could have been much more than a rebadged Cavailer and been able to play on 3-series turf.

    I remember one of the auto mags at the time had a picture of a Cimmaron convertible prototype. Basically a Cavalier Z-24 convertable with a psudo rollbar and Cimmaron trim.

  • avatar
    chrisgreencar

    I actually think these were good-looking cars. They may have gotten a lot of things wrong, but the styling was clean and simple (much like its near-twin, the Cavalier). I love the color on this one, too. If one presented itself in low-mileage condition, I would be very tempted. You may laugh, but as a collector car, (yes, collector car) it’s nothing if not interesting!


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