Junkyard Find: 1988 Cadillac Coupe De Ville GT

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

By the late 1980s, the Coupe de Ville had become a not-so-imposing front-wheel-drive machine, sharing the C-body platform used by the Buick Park Avenue and Olds 98. GM had squeezed much of the remaining value out of the Cadillac name by that point, and the average age of the World War II vets who aspired to Cadillac ownership had crept up to close to 70. We don’t really notice these cars today, though quite a few are still on the road, but this one caught my eye because it is a very rare GT version.

As we can see in the 1988 ad above, GM was desperate to woo some younger buyers to the marque. As the 1980s ground on, conspicuous greed became increasingly fashionable, so the marketers imagined that successful American 30-somethings would drive to the polo championship in shiny new Coupe de Villes instead of those damn German cars. Hey, if they want something European, there’s always the Allanté!

These things weren’t bad to drive, but they just didn’t radiate luxury the way their predecessors did. It took Cadillac a long time to come back from the dark days of, say, 1972 until the Escalade Era.

I didn’t see any Landau emblems, but the padded vinyl landau roof is in full effect.

Cadillac never made a factory Coupe de Ville GT, of course; this one boasts some enhancements added by what I assume was its final owner.

The pinstripe decals on the marker lights were likely applied by the same owner.

The HT4100 V8 engine gets a bad rap, but the half-dozen or so we’ve seen in 24 Hours of LeMons racing have been very reliable. Perhaps the problem with this engine on the street is the lack of cornering G forces to massage the engine oil properly.

I may have to go back and buy these crypto-opera interior lights for my van.

170,125 miles on the clock, which was pretty good for a late-80s GM product.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • RatherhaveaBuick RatherhaveaBuick on Feb 01, 2013

    The 80s weren't a good time for Caddys. I love the early 80s Devilles, Broughams and Eldos but the engines were supposedly really unreliable. I think this generation Deville is one of the worst Caddys, as it looks like a slightly shorter version of a Park Avenue of the same vintage, which, due to some design elements, was a much easier car on the eyes. These Devilles look shortened and stubby because of GM's whole downsizing effort at the time. Same with 86 Eldorado restyling. At least the 98s and Electras of those years seemed proportional. Cadillac fixed it with the 89-93 Devilles though, as those are much nicer looking. Broughams will always be the best of that time period though.

  • And003 And003 on Feb 18, 2013

    I could see this Caddy getting a V-Series restomod treatment, perhaps something along the lines of what Jay Leno did to his 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado.

  • Canam23 My old boss had a Seville STS with the Northstar that he would lend me when I wanted to drive from LA to Vegas. I have to admit that I loved it. Compared to my father-in-laws FWD Deville with the 4.1, the Seville was smooth, fast, comfortable and nice handling. It also was stingy on gas. Fortunately he never had a problem with his Northstar motor and I still think fondly of that car today.
  • V16 I'm sure you could copy and paste most of the "NO" responses to 1960's Japanese sourced vehicles.
  • Canam23 I believe the Chinese are entirely capable of building good cars, BYD has shown that they are very forward thinking and their battery technology is very good, BUT, I won't buy one because I don't believe in close to slave labor conditions, their animosity to the west, the lack of safety conditions for their workers and also the tremendous amount of pollution their factories produce. It's not an equal playing field and when I buy a car I want it made with as little pollution as possible in decent working conditions and paying a livable wage. I find it curious that people are taking swipes at the UAW in this thread because you can clearly see what horrific labor conditions exist in China, no union to protect them. I also don't own an iphone, I prefer my phones made where there aren't nets around to catch possible suicide jumpers. I am currently living in France, Citroen makes their top model in China, but you see very few. BYD has yet to make an impression here and the French government has recently imposed huge tariffs on Chinese autos. Currently the ones I see the most are the new MG's, mostly electric cars that remind me of early Korean cars, but they are progressing. In fact, the French buy very little Chinese goods, they are very protective of their industries.
  • Jerry Haan I have these same lights, and the light output, color, and coverage is amazing!Be aware, these lights interfere with AM and FM radio reception with the stereoreceiver I have in my garage. When the lights are on, I all the AM stations havelots of static, and there are only a couple of FM stations that are clear. When Iturn the lights off, all the radio stations work fine. I have tried magnetic cores on the power cords of the lights, that did not makeany change. The next thing I am going to try is mounting an antenna in my atticto get them away from the lights. I contacted the company for support, they never responded.
  • Lou_BC Are Hot Wheels cars made in China?