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.
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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