By on September 12, 2014

20 - 1986 Cadillac Cimarron Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhen will Cadillac’s long Cimarron nightmare be over? You’d think that the Caddy-badged Chevy Cavalier would be just a bad memory, but no— actual real-world examples of Cimarrons keep popping up all over the country! In this series, we’ve seen this ’82, this ’82, this ’83 Cimarron d’Oro, and now I’ve found this white ’86.
10 - 1986 Cadillac Cimarron Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStarting with the 1985 model year, Cimarron buyers could have an optional 2.8-liter V6 engine. Yes, the same engine that was optional in the Fiero.
03 - 1986 Cadillac Cimarron Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car is a super-rare 4-speed model. Yes, even lowly Toyota Tercels came with 5-speeds in 1986, but the original purchaser of this car felt no need for that extra gear.
19 - 1986 Cadillac Cimarron Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMSRP of the ’86 Cimarron was $13,838, or a few hundred bucks more than a brand-new Nissan Maxima. Meanwhile, the nearly identical ’86 Cavalier coupe with V6 cost just $7,316.
12 - 1986 Cadillac Cimarron Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe last owner must have been a big Catan fan.


Smaller dreams. That’s for sure.

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144 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1986 Cadillac Cimarron...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Interior doesn’t look too bad. I’m sure V6 + leather + manual is a very rare combo indeed. How long was the d’Oro offered? That’d be even more rare if manual, I think.

    And since we’re here, and this is now, and we’re talking about old Cadillacs. Who can tell me about Couronne?

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/291233659523?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    No rust – no evidence of an accident.
    What killed it?

  • avatar
    danio3834

    A manual transmission, V6 Cimarron? Y U NO SAVE THIS CLASSIC?

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Notice the 3rd brake light ‘slapped on’ to the panel behind the rear seats. You would have thought that GM might have found a way to integrate that in a ‘luxury’ car rather than resorting to what most of us were doing while retrofitting our old Dodges, Fords and Chevs.

    Do like the look of the interior (with the exception of the dash). Something that rare deserves to be kept on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      So I wanted to explain that back in ’86 no one was really doing anything but tacking on 3rd brake lights, even Mercedes was just sticking them on the trunk lid of the SLs. I was going to explain that it took a couple refreshes and redesigns to get to a point where they could seamlessly integrate the TBLs in most cars.
      But while looking for Mercedes TBL pictures to link to, GIS came up with a bunch of 560SEC pics and I got distracted.

      http://germancarsforsaleblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/1990-Mercedes-560SEC-Wald.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Land Ark is correct, and for Cadillacs, the C-body MY86+ Deville tacked it on. I had an MY85 Coupe de Ville without it, apparently it was required for CY1985 and mine was an early model assembled in CY1984.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Interesting combination of 7-up and Cimarron ads. They could have used the same slogan: “Never had it, never will”.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    While most readers here, like most intelligent people, mock GM for this POS, keep in mind that despite the Vega and the X-car, not to mention the overweight and slow J-cars, in the 1980s there were still many people who preferred GM, and many of those aspired to, or wanted a “Cadillac”, because of the name.

    In the late 80s, I remember an old friend of my dad’s had retired from the Air Force, around 50 yo then, and moved to Virginia, near where I was stationed. They had 3 cars–a 77 Sedan DeVille with 100k miles in great shape, no rust, that was his prized car, and a 84 or 85 Cimarron, 4-cyl, 4-speed. He was so proud of his ‘small Cadillac that’s great on gas’ and I remember thinking to myself “he can’t be seious”, but he was!

    So GM got those folks–but how many of them stayed? And how many are lost forever? Maybe their offspring will do the opposite (and return to GM)?

  • avatar
    NN

    Today you can buy a small Cadillac that costs twice as much as it’s near-identical small Chevy cousin, also. Long term, it will likely prove to be more rare than this stick-shift Cimarron.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    The fact that Cadillac STILL gets badgered about this car is strong evidence that people have VERY long memories if you completely take a $hit on your brand. Far longer than if you merely produce a vehicle that is merely an unreliable rust-bucket.

    Consumers aren’t always super-perceptive, but they do usually notice if you try and gussy up a Penalty Box as a Luxury Car. Toyota can get away with calling a Camry a Lexus, but notice they’ve never produced a Lex-i-fied Echo.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    If GM had just put a little more money in….

    A DOHC V6, an IRS, etc… they could have kept this thing from being a complete joke.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’m not sure GM had a DOHC V6 in this time period.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      There’s absolutely nothing you could have done to make a J-body feel refined. The mistake was building the “small Cadillac” on the J-body platform.

      They should have made it an A-body (think Chevy Celebrity) with a 3.8L (pre-3800) Buick V6 and loungey leather seats, and then it wouldn’t have been nearly as much of a laughingstock.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      I agree that this could have been much better with just a little more effort. Not that it would have been a “great” car but at least not the punching bag it is today. Prime example of good idea, really bad execution.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      If this car came with a GM DOHC engine it would have been in the junkyard by 1997.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I still see some 3.4 DOHC Luminas and Grand Prix!

        Can’t really tell with the Cutlass Supremes though.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          My uncle had a 30th anniversary Cutlass W-body Convertible. Maintained religiously and intended by him to be a collectors item. It had the HO 3.4 DOHC engine.

          After several years of ownership he noticed it was “eating” coolant but he couldn’t find any in the oil. The local shop gave him the bad news, the dreaded 3.4 DOHC head gasket issue.

          His cousin who owns a body shop traded him for a Monte Carlo SS (3800 non supercharged) with a salvage title. The cousin proceeded to drop a 3.1 V6 into the Cutlass and give it to his son.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Those are unicorn survivors. The “Twin Dual Cam” was not particularly reliable and a nightmare to service. It also wasn’t nearly powerful enough for a 3.4L DOHC six. Just a dog of an engine, although it sounded nice.

          When a DOHC engine is worse in every respect than a 3800, you know it’s a bad one.

        • 0 avatar
          CobraJet

          I had a 94 Z34 Lumina with the 3.4 DOHC. My daughter drove it all through college and I drove it for a couple of more years. When we bought it, it had fairly low mileage and I drove it up to about 120K miles. I spent way more in maintenance than I should have in order to keep it running. I replaced two timing belts, a couple of alternators, and two intake manifold gaskets. There seemed to always be something wrong engine-related and was expensive to work on. It was not that great of a performance engine either.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Did GM even have a SOHC V6 in those days??

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        None of the Big 3 had a SOHC V6. Chrysler didn’t have a V6 at all and Ford and GM’s V6s were OHV.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          The Mitsubishi six that showed up in mid-80s K-car variants sorta counts for Chrysler, but otherwise the domestics were pretty slow to mount the cams up top.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            I think the first actual “American designed” OHC sixes (not counting short-lived unicorns like the Pontiac Tempest Sprint engine or the Jeep Tornado engine) were the GM 3.4 DOHC V6 launched in 1991 and the Chrysler “EGE” SOHC V6 launched in 1993. And only the Chrysler engine really became a mass-market engine, since the DOHC 3.4 was only fitted to certain models of W-body and (as far as I know) nothing else.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Ford had the Mondeo/Duratec engines in the mid-90s that were DOHC. I don’t know how much was taken from Mazda though. Probably alot. The Cyclone V6 didn’t replace the Cologne V6 in the F150 until 2011!!!!

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Apparently the Duratec 25 started off as a Porsche design (!) before being sold to Ford and Cosworth. That’s interesting.

            The Ford Probe V6 of the same displacement was all Mazda though.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I’ve come to like the 3.5L and 3.7L Cyclone engines. It’s too bad that once they have been made excellent, they will soon be replaced.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “The Ford Probe V6 of the same displacement was all Mazda though.”

            The 2.5L V6 in the Probe wasn’t Mazda either, it was the same Duratec as the Mondeo.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            The Mitsu V6 didn’t show up in Chrysler products until ’88 or ’89 IIRC. Until then, Chrysler made V6 powa with the Turbo 4 bangers. Turbo Caravans FTW.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I think the Caravan may have had the Mitsu 3.0L V6 in 1987, but now we are splitting hairs. The 3.5L SOHC V6 didn’t come around until the LH cars in ’93. I’m sure somewhere, there is a 3.5L Intrepid that hasn’t had its oil changed since 2009, has 5 different colors, and riding on a donut spare while passing people on the freeway.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Danio,

            The Probe does in fact use the Mazda KLDE 2.5L v6, a pretty sweet little unit, which many people toss in favor of the higher compression JDM variant, the KLZE. Now that’s a little screamer!

      • 0 avatar
        Exfordtech

        Yamaha/Ford DOHC 3.0L V6 in the 1989 SHO

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Sigh, nobody lists the features and breathlessly says “front wheel drive” like that anymore. Is this really progress???

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Another 15 years, and we’ll see ELRs in the same Cimarron junkyard pen.

  • avatar

    …and now I know about the Yazaki Group. Learn something new everyday.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    V6, 4-speed, leather! Whoooooooooooo this is the one I would have wanted!

    The 2.8 can sound pretty mean with the right exhaust set up.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    I’m surprised you could still *order* the four speed manual with a “Cimarron by Cadillac” in ’86… that even one would have been built is, um, impressive. You could still order those (or at least they were mentioned in the owner’s manuals) for lots of “Big 4” vehicles that year, but anyhoo. Still, stranger things have happened in autodom.

    This is a four speed with a direct drive top gear, right? If not direct then pretty close to 1:1, ie., not an overdrive ratio. Gotta mock the stereotypical Caddy customer here- even with such short gearing, the engine in this car probably hardly ever saw more than 2,000rpm. That and the turn signal flasher relay is probably broken from being left on and forgotten so many times. Hehehe.

    I wonder if was built as a five speed and maybe a later owner lost the shift knob and replaced it with whatever fit?

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      I’m a little suspicious as well. I can’t find a brochure for the ’86, but the brochure for the ’83 only lists a 5-speed manual (or 3-speed auto) as an option:

      http://www.lov2xlr8.no/brochures/cadillac/83cima/83cima.html

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Foley

      This was the same 4-sp Muncie transaxle that came in the V6 Fiero. Fourth gear was an overdrive. GM did not have a 5-sp transaxle that could handle the outrageous Hellcat-like power this 2.8 made until 1987, when they introduced the 5-sp Getrag transaxle.

      This car was a lousy Cadillac, but a really nice Cavalier. The best FWD luxury sedan you could buy in 1986 was the Nissan Maxima. This Cad-avalier couldn’t touch the Maxima in refinement, but I bet it would have given the Max a run for its money in the stoplight grand prix.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        Oh, got it. So a four-speed on the V6 (which wasn’t available in ’83) and a five-speed on the I4.

        Pity the Maxima didn’t come in a “Black Gold” edition to compete with the Cimarron D’Oro.

      • 0 avatar
        dingram01

        In 1986 the best FWD luxury sedan would have been either an Audi 5000 Turbo (non Quattro was available, and even in manual guise) or more likely the then-brand-new Saab 9000 Turbo. Either of those cars by a mile over the bordello-clad “your lights are on” talking Maxima.

        Or are you thinking of the vastly better “4 door sports car” Maxima that debuted a few years later? I’d agree more readily with that sentiment, though the Saab was still a better car. Except it broke a lot more.

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          Wasn’t the 9000 only available as a hatch for the first few years?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Correct.

            “The 9000 was launched in 1984 as a five-door liftback only sharing much of its appearance and bodywork with the Type Four platform relatives—the Fiat Croma and Lancia Thema. Later in 1988, Saab released a sedan variant of the 9000 known as the “CD”.”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saab_9000

          • 0 avatar
            dingram01

            Splitting hairs. In Saabland, a 5-door was Saab’s version of a sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        Exfordtech

        I’d say the best FWD sedan in 1986 was the Honda Accord. Double wishbones all around, could even get PGM fuel injection, although most had carbs. Dead nuts reliable (which eliminates the Germans/Swedes/French/Italians of the day), great handling, good fuel economy, decent power for the era, easy to service, roomy for their size, and a greenhouse like you dream about. These made the K-cars, Tempo/Topaz, and J-cars feel like poorly conceived go carts by comparison. Rust has claimed most, but I don’t think anything of the era could touch them. Taurus wasn’t bad, but nowhere near as reliable, especially the AXOD. As a side note, I’d also include the H-bodies with the 3.8L V6 in the group as well. Unloved as they were, they did alot of things right.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          My Mom shopped FWD sedans that year, so I remember it well.

          With 20/20 hindsight, the Saab 900 and Audi 4000 were best in class. The 626 and Accord were good, but rusted-out by 1990.

          An honorable mention goes to the MkII Jetta. A classic design, and very competitive for the time.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        I’d say the class winner for ’86 was the Acura Legend, though you’d definitely pay more for it than a Cimarron.

    • 0 avatar
      william442

      If you knew someone at GM>< you could get anything you wanted.

  • avatar
    Duaney

    I had one in my junk yard for years, not one person looked at it. It was the D’oro package. Went to the crusher a couple of years ago. Regarding the comments of saving this 4-speed car, once they go into these salvage yards, NO one can buy it. There are many desirable vehicles that end up in these places, but it’s the kiss of death when they get there. If this car was donated to a charity, and was “too old”, didn’t pass emissions, needed any work whatsoever, they go straight to the salvage yard.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      It is in a junkyard, but the can of Tecate in the passenger footwell might explain the story. Crabspirits?

      • 0 avatar
        Crabspirits

        The profiles of a Tecate drinker and a nerd board game player clash.

        The can was probably tossed in there at the junkyard by a scavenger. Many cars have received my Mr.Sub wrappers, but I’ve never thought to bring beer…until now.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          You’ve gotta do a special on this one. How often does a stick-shift Cimarron come along?

          • 0 avatar
            greaseyknight

            I’ve got a Engine/Trans/Computer/Shifter from a 5 speed I-4 Cimarron that I’d sell for CHEAP! Friends where scrapping one and a snagged the parts to build a go-cart.

            Oh wait, its all the same parts as a normal J-body and worth about 5 bucks in scrap.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Throw it up on Craigslist and make sure to detail it as a Cimarron drivetrain and make no mention of the Cavalier. Hey, it worked for GM. Sorta.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        +1 to Gearhead & Crabspirits.

        LULD hard!

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I was joking about saving it. Some yards will let you buy a whole car outright but the vast majority won’t even entertain it once it’s been drained of it’s fluids and put up on stands. They stand to make so much more by parting out as much as possible than considering some random enthusiast’s below shredder value lowball offers.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    It was the most attractive of the J bodies, which isn’t saying much. Digging the colors on this one, even beat to sh!te and back. I kinda miss interiors that weren’t all black,grey or beige. My 84 Eldorado was all dark blue, my 81 Regal was all green, with matching 1/4 vinyl roof of course!

    This would have been a way better set up than the 3 spd auto that was optional. This car might have even been fun, for a Cimmarron.

    Those luggage racks! I had a 95 Cougar V8 with one of those. What a pain to clean or wax around! Could you (did anyone) actually use those or were the strictly ornamental? I know they have their place in automotive history, but by 86(or 95!) they couldn’t have been functional.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    A luxury appointed J-Body.

    Ha!!

    Hopefully they put in extra sound deadening and did something to the ride, cause boy, did my 86 Sunbird GT ride like sh*t. Don’t get me started on the noise.

    But the 4-speed is interesting. With a V6! GM, you make me smile, even with your travesties.

    I bet it’s an ever so precise, short throw through those gears. :)

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Wow, what an interesting little junky morsel! Back in ’86 this would have been way cool, and probably a lot of fun to drive despite it’s humble origins. Basically an upscale Z24. Sweet! I doubt they made many with manual, much less V-6s with manual. Unfortunately this one got ridden hard and put away wet instead of preserved for posterity.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      Preserved for posterity?

      No, Sir. Hoonage. Until it blows!!

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        I think it needs a unibody up restoration and then wheeled out into the limelight of the Barrett-Jackson stage. This is a historically significant little vehicle here. Too bad it’s been sullied by the elements and a few rather haphazard owners. It would probably be a b-tch to find restoration parts tho.

        • 0 avatar
          raresleeper

          Meh.

          I think it needs contact with a nice hefty sledgehammer for a little tenderization.

          But first, it must be running and operating :)

          • 0 avatar
            Superdessucke

            I admit that sounds fun too. I’d want to hook that digital cluster up to a car battery to get it to come to life first. Like they did with Bishop in Alien 3.

  • avatar
    carve

    Wow- I had no idea the Cimmaron cost almost double that of a comparable Cavilier! Almost $14k is a lot of money in ’86- about like $30k today. Who’d pay that for a Cavilier? What are the differences besides leather and badges? Maybe standard AC, power windows, digital dash, better stereo and cruise?

  • avatar
    craiger

    I can still remember when I saw a Cimarron for the first time. I was just a kid, delivering newspapers. One day I was riding my bike down the block, and I noticed the car. I had read about it in the car magazines, but I was still shocked at how little GM did to differentiate it from the Cavalier. Naturally, I had to stop and take a long look, just so that I could fully appreciate the craptasticness of it. Anyway, a guy comes walking over, big smile on his face, and said “That’s the new Cadillac!” I said it’s not really a new anything, it’s just a rebadged Cavalier, and at twice the price. The guy got a little steamed and insisted “It’s not a Chevy, it’s a Cadillac!” I didn’t back down, because I was getting a little annoyed myself, realizing that I was arguing with a grown man who knows less about cars than a little kid. Finally he shook his head and walked away.

  • avatar
    craiger

    I haven’t been able to find a link but I remember print ads from the time touting the Cimarron as “America’s BMW.”

    I knew GM was in trouble even then.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    If I owned a scrap yard I think it would be cool to mate a Cimarron front clip with a Cavalier wagon for something really unusual. Or maybe not. There is always the Jag X Type estate to think about.
    Back in the day, we called these Cad-a-liers.

  • avatar
    zach

    I always wondered why they didn’t use the Skyhawk dashboard in this car, with it’s nifty change holder, maybe the cavalier dash looked more cadilac because of its size, but I agree they had to make this car It should have been on the A platform with a standard V6.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Well I’ve hit writers block two paragraphs in to the Cimmaron’s story, does anyone really want to read one for this model?

  • avatar
    April

    Such a sad time for cars.

  • avatar
    bd2

    The Cimarron definitely marked the nadir of Cadillac and maybe of all of GM.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Maybe it’s a coincidence, but almost everything that comedian Jim Gaffigan says about Cinnabons in Beyond the Pale, with slight modifications, you can say about Cimarrons.

    Did you ever eat a Cinnabon?
    Did you ever drive a Cimarron?
    You have to take a nap halfway through.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The Cadillac of small cars!

  • avatar
    Joss

    Iseemmaron Woodrow Wilson’s 14 pointer, glove-fisted by horseshoed Clemenceau.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    1981 was supposed to be ‘from now on its all MPG all the time’.

    Anyway, a 30+ year grudge, will it ever get forgotten?

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Back in he late 80′s I worked for a company that had a 86 Cimmaron as one of it’s company cars. It was loaded with most if not all options, basically the Z24 of Cimmarons with the 2.8 MPI. Occasionally I would take it out and it was not a bad driver,far better than any X-Body of the era with good power and better than average handling with the optional sport suspension on Chevy’s it was the F41. If only Cadillac had the sense to give it it’s own unique body and drive train (Opel Omega or Senator?) it could have been much more than a rebadged Cavailer and been able to play on 3-series turf.

  • avatar
    fozone

    Time is an interesting thing. Over the course of a couple of decades, the Cim has become an embarrassing legend. But I suspect that most folks here have never driven one. Or weren’t around when they hit the showroom floors.

    I was blessed (cursed?) enough to drive one of these things for a number of years, and i’m here to tell you — they weren’t that bad. Seriously. They were bad in the same way most cars in 1986 were bad — slow, unreliable, too small, etc. Expectations were low across the board. Remember one of its chief competitors was the Audi 4000, a car which was also slow and would shed parts if you just looked at it funny.

    The Cim was a J-Car, so it was somewhat reliable (1986-reliable that is), repairs were cheap, and clem the corner mechanic could easily keep it running, which is probably why you still occasionally see survivors to this day despite the low production numbers.

    It was however no caddy. I remember that there was some degree of extra soundproofing (even stuffed under the hood on mine), as the car seemed noticeably quieter to me than the contemporary Cavalier. And the leather was real and somewhat durable — but that’s where the differentiation ended.

    Its deadly sin really was the price — 2x a Cavalier is a bridge too far, even for the most stupidly brand-loyal. If they’d called it “Cimmaron by Olds” and marked it up a few grand, it would have worked. But at $14k…. not a chance.

  • avatar
    turboprius

    https://www.iaai.com/Vehicles/Search.aspx?Keyword=cimarron

    When IAA, the home to wrecked 2015 WRXs, pink Toyotas, and graffiti covered vehicles doesn’t have a Cimarron anymore, the Cimarron is indeed a rarity.

  • avatar
    dana

    can you plz tell me which junkyard this..? i really need a certain part of this car…thnx

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