Junkyard Find: 1982 Cadillac Cimarron

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1982 cadillac cimarron

Sometimes I just have to choose a Junkyard Find car based on its potential for a good Crab Spirits Story™, and that’s what’s happening today. The Cadillac Cimarron— well, there’s not much we need to say here about the image-tarnishing disaster that finished the brand-devaluing job GM started a few years earlier with the Seville (other than the fact that it took many years to undo the damage and convince car buyers that Cadillacs weren’t just badge-engineered bait-and-switches. The Cimarron never sold very well, and the J-body cars weren’t known for longevity, so Cimarron sightings are extremely rare today; we’ve seen this ’82 and this ’83 Cimarron d’Oro, plus the very first Down On The Street car. Here’s an ’82 that I found during a recent trip to California.

Yes, it turned out that Cadillac badges on a Cavalier just wouldn’t translate into a thick stream of pure cash for The General.

Leather or Pleather? Does it matter?

You couldn’t get the Iron Duke in a Cimarron (Cadillac Division execs probably expended all their remaining political capital to keep the raspy, shaky half-a-Pontiac-301 out of their J-Car); instead, the base engine in ’82 was the developed-for-the-J pushrod 1.8 four-banger.

Would a Coupe Deville buyer have slapped this Chevron Travel Club sticker on a side window?

Cimarron By Cadillac!

Why not start the day with a Cimarron promotional film, while Crab Spirits works on the real story of this fine automobile?

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4 of 216 comments
  • Big_gms Big_gms on Feb 11, 2014

    Someone ought to grab all the Cimarron specific bits (grille, taillights, etc.) off that thing just for the hell of it. Not that anyone would truly want them, but they've got to be scarcer than hen's teeth by now. I'd be just nutty enough to do it, if I were in the area. That steering wheel should be saved too. I'm quite certain it's the same one Pontiac used in '70s era Grand Ams, with different emblem of course. And I have to confess, I'd love to have an '87 or '88 Cimarron, just for the hell of it. Very rare, and a much better car by that time.

  • Allan850glt Allan850glt on Mar 03, 2014

    I had a thing for these little Chevrolac's back when I was a teen. Prior to moving back to North Buffalo we had lived in Medina NY, a rural town where a car was necessity if you wanted any sort of life. After initially purchasing a very worn '80 Caprice Classic with 398,000 miles which my father objected over and subsequently had it junked, I had received hand-me-downs from my folks, respectively an '86 Taurus LX Wagon and an '85 Subaru GL-10 4wd Sedan. When my folks informed us we were moving back to the city, Dad also informed me he would be selling my Subaru as I wouldn't need a car in the city (B.S.). Over much objection on my part the Subaru was sold and we moved back to Buffalo in late '94. I immediately began to gripe, as teenagers do, about having to bus it out to the burbs for mall trips or having to beg and borrow Dad's '91 New Yorker or hope that friends' beater rides were operational so we could cruise. My dad was cool and felt my situation, since he never went without a car since 16 years of age, so shortly after relocating he surprised me with an '88 Sunbird GT Turbo, red and black with the corny fender flares and covered headlamps. It only had 49,000 miles on it but it was previously owned by a young woman who must have had no idea of how to maintain a car. It was clean and presentable but both the engine and transmission showed their true colors very quickly and I was in just as big a hurry to be rid of it. As long as it was still cool, the tranny slipping issue wasn't evident and I sunk enough $$ under the hood to keep it going well enough for the time being, so off to the small private dealers I went. I knew enough what to and what not to look for. Yes I understood the Cimarron was also a J-car but understood it had some additional refinements and at least did not have that awful 1.8 OHC Turbo engine that my Sunbird had. I drove two of them, both '85s. The first a 2.0 litre in a burnt-orange color and pukey tan leather interior. Analog gauges. Full power. It was a decent little car and well maintained but felt too underpowered and being a base model it looked just like a regular Cavalier. The second was an '85 Cimarron D'Oro. 2.8 MPFI V6. White with lower body cladding, front spoiler, nicer alloys and the previous owner had it repainted in a monochromatic scheme including the alloys and got rid of all the cruddy gold tape-stripes. Only gold was the grille. Had a nicer light-tan leather interior, digital dash, up-level stereo with the full-logic tape deck and equalizer. Also had a little luggage rack/spoiler combo on the trunk. It was a most cool little car, felt far sturdier than the 2.0 base model but it wasn't as clean as I cared for and I could see bubbles coming through around the windshield seal and a few other spots that meant cancer coming through..so I passed. Essentially it was a gussied-up Cavalier RS V6 sedan, but there were definite and apparent upgrades compared to the Cavaliers or Sunbirds. I won't say the initial price hike was justified at all and sadly used, they didn't go for much more than a Cavalier. My friend and classmate did have hers for a good few years, until her junior year in College and it still looked great and rode well. They were cheapies loaded up but not the worst thing built during the time and if you saw through the ruse, then you knew what you were getting into and what NOT to expect out of a subcompact. Laugh if you will, I decided to go with a clean and low-mileage '87 Escort GT in burgundy with the gray lower body effects and interior. I actually cleaned it up further, sold it and made a few bucks off it. Took those extra bucks and bought myself a beautiful '87 Mercury Sable LS Monochrome Edition (yes it's a legitimate special edition, google or wiki it) just in time for Senior year. I forgot all about Cimarrons once I got that smooth Sable!

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    • Allan850glt Allan850glt on Mar 03, 2014

      @28-Cars-Later It's my old '93 945 Turbo. Was Volvo number two out of the six I've owned and the one I kept the longest. It was a total tank and I loved it. Sold it to a buddy pretty cheaply when I bought a '96 960 Wagon and then eventually bought it back. He briefly drove it and then parked it for a couple years. Did it no good whatsoever. I brought her back home and got her running again but she had too many gremlins about her to make it worth going any further so I scrapped her with the hope that her many good parts (lovely body 'til the end) will save others. As we speak, I push my '95 855 GLT 5speed on a daily basis..bought her from the original family that picked her up from the factory through the Volvo Tourist and Diplomat program. Spent her first two years in Germany and the remaining seventeen pounding away the potholed, frequently snowy Buffalo roads. Yes I love my old Volvos. Out of six, only the '93 got scrapped. The others are still around town, even my first '88 745 GLE.

  • Ollicat I have a Spyder. The belt will last for many years or 60,000-80,000 miles. Not really a worry.
  • Redapple2 Cadillac and racing. Boy those 2 go together dont they? What a joke. Up there with opening a coffee shop in NYC. EvilGM be clowning. Again.
  • Jbltg Rear bench seat does not match the front buckets. What's up?
  • Theflyersfan The two Louisville truck plants are still operating, but not sure for how much longer. I have a couple of friends who work at a manufacturing company in town that makes cooling systems for the trucks built here. And they are on pins and needles wondering if or when they get the call to not go back to work because there are no trucks being made. That's what drives me up the wall with these strikes. The auto workers still get a minimum amount of pay even while striking, but the massive support staff that builds components, staffs temp workers, runs the logistics, etc, ends up with nothing except the bare hope that the state's crippled unemployment system can help them keep afloat. In a city where shipping (UPS central hub and they almost went on strike on August 1) and heavy manufacturing (GE Appliance Park and the Ford plants) keeps tens of thousands of people employed, plus the support companies, any prolonged shutdown is a total disaster for the city as well. UAW members - you're not getting a 38% raise right away. That just doesn't happen. Start a little lower and end this. And then you can fight the good fight against the corner office staff who make millions for being in meetings all day.
  • Dusterdude The "fire them all" is looking a little less unreasonable the longer the union sticks to the totally ridiculous demands ( or maybe the members should fire theit leadership ! )