By on July 16, 2011


Sajeev rambles:

Damn that Jack Baruth and his uncanny ability to awaken the latent spiritual needs and carnal passions sorely missing in my life.  I’m talking about the love of owning a 99-cent Caddy Limo from a strong bloodline, sporting a nearly perfect black leather interior.  With 25 years of historical flaws in full sight, this 3800lb lightweight is still a charmer in the Cadillac Tradition. The designation as “The Cadillac of Tomorrow” holds true, have you driven the latest poseur sedans to wear the Wreath and Crest? Torqueless V6 motors, tall buffalo butts and Euro-wannabe interiors only above that of a Hyundai Sonata.  I can hear it now:

“LULZ OMG you are nuts because the CTS-V is awesome and that thing’s a POS. The new Caddies even come in a wagon with a stick!  Who wouldn’t want a Cadillac that can do all that?”

My bad, they still make one coupe/sedan that’s somewhat worthy of the Fleetwood 75’s halo effect, but don’t be talkin’ that Euro-Caddy station wagon mess to me.  This Houstonian spends too much time watching southern hip-hop music videos with proper American Iron getting the respect it deserves.  Where else can we embrace the best remnants of Detroit in popular media? But I digress…

Sajeev writes:

So, a coupla years back, I got “us” an almost free Cadillac Limo. Hell, it even inspired my only GM Deathwatch Article where I dubbed it the “Turd Blossom” in honor of…well that’s not important.

Unfortunately, little changed since I got it:  a brilliant rebuild on the Delco/BOSE cassette deck aside, the 1986 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75 Formal Limousine (F75) still won’t run.  Won’t you give us a hand?

After a newer (junkyard) TPS sensor was installed and the throttle body was de-coked with a bit of carb cleaner (as per TTAC commentator skor’s recommendation) the car drove better.  That ingenious little self-tester on Cadillac’s HVAC-cum-Mission Control panel now registered far smoother numerical transitions from idle to WOT in TPS testing mode.  Lumbergh from “Office Space” would be proud.

Of course, that’s only when the F75 would run. Sometimes it runs, then dies when put in gear.  Re-crank.  Run on 4 cylinders then die.  Re-crank.  Run on all 8 smoothly. Then die again when going into gear. After significant Caddy forum analysis and a little junkyard prodding, the F75’s distributor is definitely the problem.  There’s more “non-committal slack” in its rotor than a carefully worded speech by (insert the politician you most hate here).  So I was going to order a new distributor to fix its problematic gear design.

The F75/Turd Blossom was well on its way to being my Judgemobile for every LeMons race. The mean muggin’ from my fellow judges meant approval.

But here’s the rub: no way I can install a new dizzy now that the frickin’ hood cable won’t release. The grille won’t pop out and its impossible to get the hood latches removed from the body.  Sort of punching a hole in a perfectly good hood or grille, I am completely dumbfounded.  So what do you recommend?

You have a mission: to save the F75/Turd Blossom from itself.  Thanks and have a great weekend.





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48 Comments on “Super Piston Slap: Loving “The Cadillac of Tomorrow”...”

  • avatar

    Where in the run did the cable break? If it wasn’t at the latch itself, which unfortunately is the most common place, you can cut the end that attaches to the release lever bracket and use a piece of coat hanger to fish out the cable housing shorten it until you can grab a piece of cable and use some pliers to yank the cable. If it is at the latch itself then you can sometimes use the wire that holds a gas strut in it’s collapsed position for shipping to pop it through the grille, a coat hanger just isn’t strong enough. Another option it is to raise the vehicle as high as you can and use a looong screwdriver to more the lever. You could also remove the front bumper for a little more access. Worse comes to worst you could sawsall out some of the grille to gain access. It will work better than trying to cut the hood and if you do a careful job you can duct tape, zip tie, bondo, or JB weld it back together then paint it with some gold spray paint from the $1 store for that proper pimping bling. If that isn’t acceptable then replacing the grille will be easier, cheaper and won’t need painting to match, heck you could even make a custom “billet” grille.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Two options. As Scoutdude notes, start scouring the junk yards for a grille or find a custom one. Go in through the grille. Or raise the car up on ramps and jack stands and see if you can go in through the underside. I have no idea what short of room there is under there to say find a teenager with long skinny arms and see what you can do. Those are likely your best options. BTW I still vote engine swap and don’t wait for 5.3V8 prices to drop – go the cheap route get the 4.9V8, drive it for 5 years – then the 5.3s will be cheap enough to justify. Besides you’ve got a stable of other cars to take care of.

    • 0 avatar

      The 4.1 in here is adequate, it runs strong enough and has oodles of torque. It feels quick under 20mph, unlike the new V6 Cadillacs.

      Whenever it breaks is when we worry about a new motor. Because this is one of the redesigned, second generation, 4.1s, I suspect it will essentially run forever given proper cooling system upkeep and the limited use it will receive.

  • avatar

    Have you checked to see if the cable has become disconnected from the handle? If it has, you may be able to use some pliers to pull on the cable. If the problem is under the hood, you might be able to go under the car and use something long to pop the hood latch, or see if you can unbolt it. I don’t know if it would work, but it might. Good luck and much success!

    I too think you should have a gold grill. And replace the caddy emblems with gold ones that say pimp, for the proper bling effect. And don’t forget gold rims!

  • avatar

    Umm, I believe this type of Cadillac has about a foot of empty space between the engine and the front of the car. Maybe you could manipulate the hood latch from the bottom through this space with the car raised?

  • avatar

    This is nothing a can of gas and a match can’t fix…
    I get it, I’ve owned a few “turd blossoms” simply for the laugh factor. I get it.

    When this happened to mt XR I had to go from underneath. No way was I destroying the facia or hood. I lifted the front up as high as I could get it and grabbed a 24″ screwdriver, 2 insanely bright drop lights and went to town. It took about an hour of fiddling with what I could see of the latch but it popped.

  • avatar

    Torqueless V6 motors…

    -None of these V6 engines will match a LS-Series V8 for torque.

    -The 3.0L is torqueless and I don’t like it.

    -The LY7 3.6L was not torquelesss. It was tuned for 253 ft-lbs @ 3100 in the CTS, 254 ft-lbs @2800 in the old SRX, and peaked as low as 2100RPM in the G8 and Vue Red Line. I believe even you said you liked this engine way back when Berkowitz reviewed a CTS so equipped.

    -The LLT is not torqueless (it produces over 270 ft-lbs), but it is tuned to be high-revving in the CTS. All the power is up high, which I agree is unfortunate for that brand. In the Cadillac torque peaks at 5200RPM, but in the Enclave it peaks at 3400RPM and stays fairly flat from 2200-5000.

    -The new LFX is lowering the torque peak on the CTS to 4900RPM. The RWD CTS sedan is also getting a 3.73 rear end (used to have a 3.42 with the LLT). This should help the CTS’s weak feeling off the line. FWIW, The LFX in the SRX is tuned to peak at 2400RPM.

    • 0 avatar

      I seriously doubt I said I like that engine when Berkowitz was here, I just re-read the only 3.6L GM product I reviewed back then:

      Interesting to know it did peak so low on the G8. While the the LY7’s torque peak isn’t terrible on paper, I’ve only driven the LLT…but just like the CTS itself…I have my doubts as to its “Cadillac-ness” compared to the F75 and Talisman I’ve driven.

      “None of these V6 engines will match a LS-Series V8 for torque.”

      You just made my point: tell me how frickin’ hard it would be to put a far less complicated, de-stroked 4.8/5.3L LS motor in the CTS as the standard motor. That reason alone is why today’s Cadillac is a joke.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        The peak torque rpm number doesn’t really mean much by itself. A lot of that stuff is just variations in cam timing these days.

        I wonder why GM never bothered to bore/stroke the HF V6 out to 4 liters for Caddy?

      • 0 avatar


        Here’s your comment on the LY7 from the Berkowitz CTS review:

        But the CTS’ base engine sure has the torque thing down: IIRC its torque numbers are similar to the DI 3.6L but the peak comes at 1000revs lower. Definitely more Cadillac-like. Nice.

        The rest of your comment shows that you didn’t really like it powering a Cadillac, but you weren’t faulting the V6’s power delivery either.

        You also reviewed the Saturn Aura XR, which housed the LY7 (Cadillac exclusivity FTL!!!), for TTAC. Here’s what you said about the motor then:

        The powertrain’s refinement and performance-oriented tuning speak volumes about Saturn’s interstellar rocket-sedan. The XR-grade Aura’s 3.6L V6 sets the tempo for variable-valve timing. Hit the gas and a flat powerband with strong mid-range torque pours on the power all the way to redline. Unlike many foreign competitors squeezing every last pony from torque-steer-happy six-pots, Saturn provides real-world performance pleasure over peak performance pride.

        And here’s what you said about the LY7 in Liberman’s Suzuki XL7 review:

        That 3.6L is awesome in the Saturn Aura. It makes the Aura better than the sum of its parts. Its a great motor that’s obviously not worthy of the XL7 underpinnings.

        Our opinions actually don’t differ that much. Both of us wish that Cadillac would offer a mid-level V8, and both of us agree that the high-rev tune of the LLT was a poor fit for the Cadillac brand. It looks like both of us liked the LY7 too.

        I just think it’s an unfair statement to call the LY7, LLT, and LFX “torqueless V6 motors”.

      • 0 avatar

        Ajla, that was frickin’ impressive. I bow down to your attention to detail. And yes, we are pretty much on the same page.

        1. Regarding Berkowitz’s article, yes I will gush over the lo-po 3.6L in context to the CTS and the hi-po engine option. That said, I should actually drive one to see if it really matters in my Panther-biased Journo style.

        2. I loved that Saturn Aura XR, but that positive press is meaningless in the luxury market. But since we’re on the subject, the Aura XR will be missed even if nobody bought it…and we all knew the Saturn business model was pretty terribly flawed in the current decade. Most def it’s a great motor for a Camry type of sedan.

        3. It is still *totally fair* to say these V6s are torqueless wonders because it is confined to a Piston Slap post regarding old school Cadillacs. Yes I am being mean, but Cadillac deserves such disrespect. This brand used to be The Standard of The World…and then at least the Standard of America…not a half hearted, chromed out alternative to an Infiniti.

      • 0 avatar

        Side Note: if you told me 10 years ago that I would (indirectly and borderline) gush over the HT4100’s power delivery/torque curve in my writing, I’d call you some sort of awful liar.

        But with the demise of so many traditional American platforms/powertrains comes bizarre changes to one’s mind.

      • 0 avatar


        I’m just keeping you on your toes, and I certainly see where you are coming from- just read some comments I’ve made about the new SHO.

        But, yes, do try out a non-DI 2nd gen CTS some time. LY7+RWD+FE2+LSD+sharp styling= a sweet car. Although maybe not a good Cadillac. Try to imagine it as a Cutlass or Regal. Or, drive a 3.0L CTS right after, then you’ll really appreciate the old motor.

      • 0 avatar

        The “high rev tune” DI LLT is in no way inferior to the LY7 down low. The LLT is stronger down low. It’s just more stronger up high.

        The real problem is it’s sitting in the engine bay of two tons and $45,000 of Cadillac. Different cams for 10 more lb-ft down low won’t solve a 60 lb-ft deficit.

      • 0 avatar

        Ajla: you (and others) are precisely why I tell people I’d write for TTAC for free, if I really had to. Thanks for everything. :)

      • 0 avatar


        For the Lamda CUVs, that is correct, the LLT is stronger than the LY7 at all points.

        However, with the CTS, GM’s published power plot shows the following:

        @2000 the LLT makes a considerable amount more torque and horsepower than the LY7.
        @2400 both engines make the same torque
        @3000 the LY7 makes slightly more horsepower and torque than the LLT.
        @3800+ the LLT makes more horsepower and torque than the LY7.

        The major difference between the daily feel of the two engines in the CTS is that the LY7 is strongest from 2000 to 3100 and doesn’t really have a weak point across its rev rang. OTOH, the LLT has a soft spot from 2800 to 3800 and is at its strongest after 3900.

    • 0 avatar

      I didn’t realize they had downgraded the base engine in the CTS, which caused me to check the Cadillac website. The 2011 CTS is only available in four colors, two of which cost almost $1000 extra. WTF?

      Also, the larger V6 is only available with AWD.

      • 0 avatar

        According to the USA Cadillac site, you can get the CTS with either 2WD or AWD and the 3.6 V6.

        Also, the higher-cost colors have been available for years and are either pearl or highly metallic. Furthermore, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche have been charging 4-figure prices for fancy paint for decades.

        I agree that the 3.6 in the CTS feels weak. It’s the main reason why I bought an STS with the Northstar instead. There’s a world of difference. Although it will never happen, Cadillac should offer a normally-aspirated LS in the CTS as a $2500 option. They would sell a ton of them. I’ll bet that it costs less to build an LS than it does the high-feature V6.

  • avatar

    I vote for a Viking funeral.

  • avatar
    Eye Forget

    Nice to see it weighs less than a new BMW 5-series. Which, by the way, won’t last a fraction of 25 years.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Ebay. It will cost you between $30 and $100 for the grille. But it’s better than making the thing a proverbial paperweight.

    You can always make a barter arrangement with the powers that be at LeMons. Or even award a small lap bonus for the team that’s able to keep the thing running for 10 minutes.

    Don’t feel despondent about the distributor cap issue though. I once had to track it down on a 1977 Mercedes 350SE. The crack bordered on the microscopic. But the mini hairline dint was enough to disable the two ton vehicle.

    It only took me 5+ hours to figure that one out!

  • avatar

    Cut the Grille… RockAuto claims to have 6 new ones in stock at $40.99 plus shipping.

  • avatar

    If you can’t save F75 sell it as is to the movie shoot crowd – they harp not enough survives from the 80’s. Let them trailer/push static blossom around like the Morse Jag or Columbo Peugeot.

  • avatar

    Sajeev, as you know, I’m still amazed that this car is real. That one buck auction had mega scam written all over it. Go ahead and cut out the grille; they can’t be that hard to find. Worst comes to worst, upgrade the car with a later (1989-92) front clip. Once you can get at the engine, if it doesn’t respond to a moderate amount of additional fiddling, stop wasting time and swap in a 4.5 or 4.9. It’s worth it; after all, your initial investment was a buck!

    • 0 avatar

      Good to hear from you once again! That reminds me, you mentioned there was a white F75 from the same seller but I never saw it. Assumed it sold before we checked on eBay. Well guess what, occasionally a white F75 pops on eBay that’s for sale in Houston! That has to be the same one!

  • avatar

    Sajeev, unless the limo has a different grille than other Caddys of similar vintage I’d say go through the grille.

    Plastic “billet” replacement: 60 bucks:

  • avatar

    Here’s one that’s even cheaper, $43.

  • avatar

    Sajeev, the 4.9 is the hot tip for V8 Fieros and they’re not expensive.

  • avatar

    I posted the following on Jack’s site yesterday, but now believe it is better targeted at those like you who want to turn back the clock on one car maker while the rest of the world moves on. In the thirty years since your limo was built, cars and their owners have changed 100x more than in the fifty years before 1986. Stop saddling Cadillac with its past.

    “It’s hard not to think about these Cadillacs without considering how much the USA was changing from its post-WWII status of singular economic power to a competitor with others on the world stage. After the War, only the US could supply cars to Americans and those elsewhere who could afford them. We were the envy of the world in the 1950′s and 1960′s as we easily considered owning two cars, with a new one every three years or so. And the variety of styles and colors was mind-boggling, even if the mechanicals underneath were largely unchanged from the 1940′s.

    “Our cars, like many of our other products, had few competitors and sales success came (too) easily. It was a golden age where good jobs were available for all, and even high school grads were assured of a good life if they simply offered a good day’s work. By the 1970′s, the Cadillac line was the epitome of this kind of American success: Easy, isolated floaters for the western highway. Meanwhile, the rest of the world rebuilt and the next generation of Boomers looked beyond their parents’ notion of luxury.

    “What they found were the Germans and Japanese with driving dynamics and quality of assembly, respectively, neither of which were important to Americans before. I think that the Cadillacs of the 1950′s through 1970′s were the perfect car for the American nabobs of the “greatest generation” and proof of what happens when a national economy at its most democratic attempts to build aristocratic machines.

    “I still hold on to those American post-war sensibilities as I fondly recall looking forward as a kid to the new Detroit iron every September. Today, at 58 years, I drive a black 2011 CTS-V coupe (stick shift) in an effort to retain a sense of both the old and new luxury of Cadillac. (My license plate: CPE DE V). It mostly works, but we’re also in a different time. Cadillac must now carve out a niche in today and tomorrow’s crowded and international luxury car ranks. They are about five to ten years away, if GM has that much time.”

    • 0 avatar

      And the variety of styles and colors was mind-boggling, even if the mechanicals underneath were largely unchanged from the 1940′s.

      That’s simply not true. The average American car in the late 1960s was far different than the first true postwar cars like the ’49 Ford or the postwar Studebakers, Hudsons and Kaiser Frazers. Suspensions had evolved, with independent front suspensions based around A arms and balls joints, and rear suspensions that sometimes used coil springs and on all the larger cars, track bars and sometimes other links. I’ll have to check at Ate Up With Motor, but automatic transmissions really didn’t start becoming widely available until the early 1950s. In terms of engines, I believe that the first modern high compression OHV V8 engine was Cadillac’s. By the 1960s V8 engines were commonplace in other than luxury cars. Brakes had also improved dramatically from the 1940s, first with common power boosting, then dual braking systems, and later with front disc brakes. In terms of luxury features, I don’t even think that a/c for cars was available before the war and in the first decade or so after WWII, only high end luxury brands even offered it. By the late 1960s A/C was getting to be common. Power steering, stereo radios and tape players, and other common features in the late ’60s were just not available in the 1940s. Plus, and this can’t be underestimated, by the late 1960s, tires had gotten much better. To begin with, they were using much more advanced cords, including modern polymers like aramids and steel belts. Then Michelin introduced the radial ply tire. Comparing a late 1960s, nylon or aramid belted bias ply tire with modern rubber compounds and tread design to a 1940s era tire is just not fair and going to radial ply construction made the difference that much more dramatic.

      The 1949 Ford was a revolutionary car, but it had a pushrod straight six, a three speed manual transmission with a column shifter (three on the tree), single circuit manual drum brakes, an ox cart suspension in the back, and a front suspension that needed frequent service and lubrication (along with the rest of the chassis – lots of “zerk” fittings back then), and bias ply tires. A modern Toyota Yaris has better vehicle dynamics.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t disagree with your examples of the improvements made to cars over the post-war years. But many of your citations were more the exception than the rule.

        MacPherson struts were probably one of the great improvements in suspensions, invented by Chevrolet engineers in the 1930’s but shelved. The Depression killed the Chevy Cadet project, and by the post-war years the American brands didn’t need what it offered: compactness. The older suspensions continued to serve as the cars just got bigger.

        Disc brakes? Rare (and optional) until the late 1970’s. Independent rear suspensions? Unheard-of until the 1963 Corvette and then not widely adopted until the 1980’s. Let’s not even start on over-head cam engines. The overhead valve six or 8 was a product of the 1930’s and the small-block V-8 continues to serve America’s brands (and no one else’s).

        The automatic transmission is the arguable exception, with the Hydramatic introduced in 1949 and continuously improved over the post-war years. But it’s inherent design has continued to serve.

        I don’t mean to indict the post-war American cars, but claim that the styling and brand status were more significant to the industry and the public than the mechanicals. I also mean to recognize the incredible engineering feats that were accomplished by these same companies in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s.

    • 0 avatar

      alexndr333: while I do see the other side of the coin, you also need to understand that people much younger than yourself do quite love traditional Detroit values in their vehicles. Go ahead and peep the young fools in the video link I posted. Go ahead and look at the Panther Chassis’ evergreen success even with zero marketing from Ford. Look at the disturbingly loyal and young land yacht followers in the used car market, because they will have more money in the future…and they would LOVE a “real” Cadillac when they can afford one.

      How does this grab ya? Easy things like making all Cadillac CTS models have a standard LS-series V8 would make everyone happy: young and old, euro-centric or Dirty South Traditionalist.

      And if you think Cadillac’s present and future is so great, how are they doing? After 10-ish years of brand reinvention with the Art+Science schtick, are they a credible threat to the imports? Do they sell well without incentives?

      When will EVERYONE realize that the best thing about Detroit is their history? This isn’t a cut and paste retro thing, this isn’t about selling Panthers in lieu of Fusions, its about being true to where you come from and differentiating yourself from others with a proven concept. PROVEN.

  • avatar

    If possible, I would take a more surgical approach to this problem. Find another car like this one, open the hood and analyze where you would have to drill a hole from, going thru one of the openings in the grille, or from underneath the car, to be able to reach with a screwdriver, or loop a piece of cable around, to lever or pull respectively on the release lever to open the hood. Only in the last instance would I wreck the grille with such brutality as suggested by others.

  • avatar

    Use a hole saw to make a hole in the grille. Then cover it with a big Cadillac wreath.

  • avatar

    I had the privilege of driving one of these factory stretches back when it was brand new. The Chicago Film Festival had Cadillac sponsorship, and they’d use volunteers in donated Caddies to drive VIPs around. I drove for them for several years. Great fun.

    But I got an ’85 (and a half – the introduction model) limousine up to 87 mph on Lake Shore Drive, just to see what it would do. No VIP on board. Fast, solid and silent. I loved that car.

  • avatar

    Sajeev, if you want to see a real Cadillac Seventy Five Limousine, check out this ’76. 252+ inches long and with driver on board it weighs more than 3 tons.

  • avatar

    I believe you can unbolt the splash pan, lower cover on that car, then get someone with skinny long arms, and a 13mm ratchet wrench, and just unbolt the latch assembly from the core support, then you can cut the cable just long enough to stick out the grille, and you have an old school ‘from outside the car’ hood release. At least that’s how we open ’em at the junkyard when we don’t want to cut the hood/grille and the cable is broke.

  • avatar

    Ok, forget what I said before, I checked one out today, and the bolts face the rear, and you can’t get past the A/C condenser. Nor will cutting the Grille do you any good, that won’t get you to the latch/cable. However, if you go under the car, on the driver side, the hood release cable runs on the inside of the frame, under the battery, etc. You’ll probably have to undo the cruise control cables to have enough room, but there’s only one bolt holds that to the frame. Then you can pull the cable from it’s channel, and cut it to get to the inner cable, and, if the cable isn’t broken between there and the latch, you can pull it to release it. If it’s broken from the latch…. well then, can I make you a deal on a hood? Good luck

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