Junkyard Find: 1998 Cadillac Catera

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1998 cadillac catera

The Cadillac Catera, a rebadged Opel Omega that was supposed to entice car shoppers about 50 years younger than the typical (non-Escalade) Cadillac buyer of the time, disappeared from the streets of North America without leaving much of a trace. Sufficient Cateras remain, however, to ensure that examples will show up in wrecking yards from time to time; in this series, we’ve seen this ’97, this ’98, and now today’s find.

Just 77,582 miles on the clock— that’s just about new!

With a 200-horse twin-cam V6 under the hood and rear-wheel drive (but no manual transmission option), The General hoped to claw back some formerly Detroit-centric car shoppers who’d switched to BMWs in the 1980s.

“I’d been doing the BMW thing for a while. I just thought I’d see what else was out there.”

Sadly for GM, their German-built Cadillac didn’t break any sales records. The interior does seem nice, though.

“Ziggy,” the Catera’s cartoon-duck mascot, didn’t help the car’s image as much as GM had hoped.

There’s a Catera racing in the 24 Hours of LeMons, and we always have high hopes for it. On paper, it should be able to compete with the BMW E30s and Alfa Milanos.

However, the Catera’s weak points (engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, electrical system, ECU, fuel system) have conspired to limit the car’s on-track time. Maybe its next race will be different!

The good news for Catera racers is that parts are cheap and plentiful— you can find them in the junkyard or just buy a whole parts car on Craigslist for 300 bucks.

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  • Superdessucke Superdessucke on Jul 07, 2013

    Couldn't zig and zag its way out of an early death I see...

  • Stereorobb Stereorobb on Sep 19, 2013

    Caddys second attempt in recent times to build a cheap compact fast luxury sedan, much like the cimmeron it was a epic fail. I don't see too many of these anymore and there fading away pretty fast. Kinda interesting cars though. Also they offered v8s in limited numbers of these but I've never seen one in the wild. They fall apart easy so there are not many of them left, and will probably be extinct in a few more years

  • MaintenanceCosts We hear endlessly from the usual suspects about the scenarios where EVs don't work as well as gas cars. We never hear the opposite side of the coin. From an EV owner (since 2019) who has a second EV reserved, here are a few points the "I road trip 1000 miles every day" crowd won't tell you about:[list][*]When you have a convenient charging situation, EV fueling is more convenient than a gas car. There is no stopping at gas stations and you start every day with a full tank.[/*][*]Where there are no-idling rules (school pickup/dropoff, lines for ferries or services, city loading, whatever else) you can keep warm or cool to your heart's content in your EV.[/*][*]In the cold, EVs will give you heat from the second you turn them on.[/*][*]EVs don't care one bit if you use them for tons of very short trips. Their mechanicals don't need to boil off condensation. (Just tonight, I used my EV to drive six blocks, because it was 31 degrees and raining, and walking would have been unpleasant.)[/*][*]EVs don't stink and don't make you breathe carcinogens on cold start.[/*][*]EV maintenance is much less frequent and much cheaper, eliminating almost all items having to do with engine, transmission, or brakes in a gas car. In most EVs the maintenance schedule consists of battery coolant changes and tire maintenance.[/*][*]You can accelerate fast in EVs without noisily attracting the attention of the cops and every passerby on the street.[/*][/list]
  • MaintenanceCosts Still can't get a RAV4 Prime for love or money. Availability of normal hybrid RAV4s and Highlanders is only slightly better. At least around here I think Toyota could sell twice the number of vehicles that they are actually bringing in at the moment.
  • Tree Trunk Been in the market for a new Highlander Hybrid, it is sold out with order time of 6 months plus. Probably would have bit the bullet if it was not for the dealers the refuse to take an order but instead want to sell from allotment whether it fits or not and at thousands over MRSP.
  • AKHusky The expense argument is nonsense. My mach e was $42k after tax credit. Basically the same as similarly equipped edge. And it completely ignores that the best selling vehicles are Rams, F150s, and Silverados, all more expensive that a bolt, MAch e or ID4. As an owner, I'd say they are still in second car territory for most places in the country.
  • Johnster I live in a red state and I see quite a few EVs being purchased by conservative, upper-class Republicans (many of them Trump-supporters). I suspect that it is a way for them to flaunt their wealth and that, over time, the preference for EVs will trickle down to less well-off Republicans.