By on September 16, 2015

01

I wanna live with a Cimarron girl

Life would be crappy, on the side of the road

With my Cimarron girl

Apologies to Mr. Young. Even more apologies to anyone who has ever heard my attempts to sing. And more to those enthusiasts at j-body.org, who might consider punishing anyone who dares slander the pride of Janesville.

Today, we look at possibly the lowest mile, cleanest car to wear the Crapwagon tag. We all know that the Cadillac Cimarron was and is widely panned as a remarkably bad decision by GM product planners. Turning the lowly Cavalier into a entry-level luxury car was a misstep. The car was not competitive with the Germans, and overpriced compared to the functionally identical J-body stablemates.

That said, I come not to bury the Cimarron, but to praise tolerate it, and perhaps appreciate it a bit. This one for sale, with fewer than twelve thousand miles, is a remarkable time warp. Trunk-mounted luggage rack and overwrought badging aside, the styling looks pretty clean, and the blue leather interior wouldn’t look too out of place in a period Seville or Eldorado.

Knowing that underneath the frills lies a Cavalier would turn just about anyone off. We all know someone who limped a J-body along for years, with failing wheel bearings, rusted exhausts, and oil-spewing engines. I rather doubt anyone will pay $8,900 for this nearly 30-year-old car, either, though I applaud the chutzpah of the dealer. Maybe, just maybe, someone, someday will decide this is the next hot collector car.

I rather doubt it.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

84 Comments on “Crapwagon Outtake: 1987 Cadillac Cimarron...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    That price is loony. It’s not a special D’Oro with the upgraded interior. It’s a very boring blue two-tone, and the correct color is black and grey two-tone, over black or red. If this were a black D’Oro, I can see the price maybe at $5,500.

    What made them think they could sell a Cadillac without wood in it? That dash is just horrid. Perhaps they knew it was bad, hence it got no wreath.

    PS. When new, it was $15,000. This is $500 less than a Fifth Avenue with Mark Cross package. I know which I’d have.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      $3,500 tops is what its worth this isn’t a period Acura. Dealer should be committed for no less than 30 days at $8,9.

      I saw a Cimmaron in the junkyard at the end of July and shot it on my phone. I would have totally owned it. Maybe.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I have no idea what the going price on something like this would be, but I LOVE the time-machine thing here. It’s not often you see a relic of the ’80s in this kind of condition.

      Very cool!

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Because of its condition its worth something, but these are not sought after or collectible. For instance a first year Allante (87) with 12K miles would be worth at least $8,900 because some fools like to collect them, but not a Cimmaron (whose last MY was 1988 even).

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Agreed, this thing is in no way collectible, and there’s no way I’d buy it.

          But you RARELY see “everyday” cars of the time – particularly GM cars from THIS time – in this kind of condition. Corvettes, Firebirds, Camaros, Regal GNs, maybe…but a J-car? This is a total time warp. Just awesome.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            I can’t recall the last time I saw a Sunbird or the Buick/Oldsmobile J car twins. Someone find one of those in pristine condition, that would be a sight.

            http://www.ebay.com/itm/Pontiac-Sunbird-CONVERTIBLE-/141774905238?forcerrptr=true&hash=item2102715f96&item=141774905238

            Well, I found a Sunbird convertible, but I was looking for a Sunbird GT…

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Who keeps a Cimarron this pristine?! Now that they have, I kind of want it just for the unadulterated 1980s novelty, but there is no way I would have expended the effort or even storage space for almost 30 years.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Probably a very old woman, who sold her whatever when her husband passed, and kept ol’ Roy’s car. His retirement present to himself after all those years working accounts at Eastern Airlines.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          “His retirement present to himself after all those years working accounts at Eastern Airlines”

          Aww, I know this is a First World Problem thing to say, but that makes me very sad.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            It was a sad little image in my head when I thought it up.

          • 0 avatar
            blppt

            I agree. I got a wave of nostalgia every time I hear Eastern or TWA mentioned. Not because they were any good (cant remember one way or the other), but they do trigger happy childhood memories of trips to Florida.

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        It was driven less than 500 miles per year, on average. Most likely the gas was half soured the entire time.
        This would be a good item for a street scene in a movie set in the late ’80’s, though.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    Makes me a bit more optimistic that I can get a few grand for my parents’ 2006 Saab 9-3, at least. :P

  • avatar
    gasser

    This Cimmaron should be in the lobby of the GM offices to remind them what happens when a company jumps the shark. Marketing does not replace engineering. There won’t be a second bailout.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree.

      “There won’t be a second bailout.”

      Oh, but there will be. Our nation jumped the shark some time ago and the show must go on.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I don’t think so Tim. Bernie’s plan to take our debt to three times GDP will bring us to the point that tax receipts don’t cover debt maintenance. Any of the other likely next presidents will just get us there a day later. Nobody will be accepting the toilet paper that the next clown tries to bail the UAW out with.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I don’t think Caddy jumped the shark – the whole idea of a compact sport-luxury sedan was absolutely correct for the times.

      They just failed epically using the J-car as the basis of the car.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        I’m not sure they even failed choosing the J-car. They definitely failed with the execution. The engine should have been a top-notch V6 or best 4 they could make, the independent suspension sport tuned, all the cheap bits upgraded with quality materials, and enough sheet metal work to make it look less like a J and more sporty. Pulling cheap bits from the GM parts bin was no way to compete with the E21.

  • avatar

    This car is reason #1 for all the insipid comments in the ATS thread.

    For some people, it’ll always be 1987 when it comes to anything good currently coming from the General today.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Did you ever see the Simpsons episode where Bart finds a pair of beer glasses? He slips them on and and fat chicks turn into slender babes. I think DW and CJinSD have a pair of glasses like that and when they put them on the CTS-V turns into a Cimmaron.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I haven’t been in the latest CTS-V, but I checked the CTS-Vsport out when the lease was up on my company’s Audi. The interior was a mixture of some good quality stuff, some stuff where money had been spent to silly effect, and some complete garbage. Seat controls were cheaper than most packing material. Dash seams were random. Stuff was shiny in a chintzy way and technology was used to dazzle people that don’t think about driving, or the repercussions of trying to control anything while driving. The damping on the console lids was positively decadent, but I’d have much rather had seat controls that didn’t feel like they were in the process of breaking. Even once the front seats were adjusted, they weren’t a match for the seats in the Audi or my Honda. The back seat was roughly on a par with the Honda Civic, but that isn’t what I’m looking for in an expensive mid-sized sedan. I opted not to test drive it, because I had no interest in spending another minute in it. It really wouldn’t matter how it drove, because most of the time I’d be in traffic regretting the sub-par interior and ridiculous CUE system.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Well, I agree the CUE sucks. And that GM is not uniform in the tactile feedback from controls. Maybe I’m a luddite but what the hell is wrong with knobs and buttons for basic functions. Leave that touchscreen stuff for the “infotainment”

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            The original impetus for i-Drive(while you try to tune the radio) was that cars had become so feature-laden that there wasn’t enough room for physical controls associated with each function. Personally, I would rather have a car with fewer gimmicks and more switch-gear.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I’d say that Cadillac should buy it, just so they would never forget, but clearly they have already forgotten. Their current stuff is worse than anyone in the infomercial business(aka automotive journalism) has even touched on. It seems like most of their desired customers know it.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    There’s gotta be a hipster out there who wants an ironic ride. Oh, what’s that? Hipsters are over? Too bad for the seller.

  • avatar
    WhiskeyRiver

    Time magazine did an article titled “50 Worst Cars of All time” in which the Cimmarron ranked 35th.

    A direct quote from the article: “Everything that was wrong, venal, lazy and mendacious about GM in the 1980s was crystallized in this flagrant insult to the good name and fine customers of Cadillac.”

    I hope a neighbor buys it. Particularly the neighbor that isn’t allowed on my property because he’s too stupid to be associated with. All the old stupid things he’s known for and we laugh about at our block parties is growing old. New material to laugh at him about would be a blessing.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    The price is insane, but it is a collectors quality testament of how GM went wrong. To me, any car that has survived this long in showroom condition should be preserved, no matter the awfulness. $5k tops and only for the miles, rarity factor.

  • avatar
    chris724

    “Engine: 2.8L V6 12V OHV”

    Woo-hoo! No timing belt to worry about!

    • 0 avatar
      blppt

      Actually should be pretty peppy with that engine in what is basically a Cavalier body. The 2.8 had lots of oomph right off the line, even in the heavier Century/Celebrity/6000.

      • 0 avatar
        SaulTigh

        You’ll need to drive it only in cool climates. One of the mags I subscribe to a couple years ago (Automobile or Motor Trend) found one and drove it cross country to auction to see if it was as bad as we all like to think it was. They found a nice clean one with all original papers (but not as pristine as the one above). The owners manual basically apologized in advance for the car overheating, and sure enough they had issues with this throughout their trip.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    My J-Body.org profile is still up. The site has changed a lot. I’d link to it but it has too much personal info. Suffice to say, when I owned my Sunbird I aspired to one day own a fancy Z24.

    Edit: I was able to log in to my profile and change things. So here you go. It was previously last updated in 2003. Warning, it is a bit ridiculous.
    http://www.j-body.org/members/brisbrd/garage/1/

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Pretty awesome, actually…

      What’s with the Impala badge?

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        The Land Ark was/is my first car, a 1967 Impala, owned since the early 70s by my step dad’s family and I restored in ’93. I put the quarter emblem, which we removed, as homage to it in all my cars throughout the 90s.
        You could also see the sticker on the old radio face that says “Chevrolet Impala” and I placed various badges I scavenged on the parcel shelf which I arranged to say “Classic Chevrolet Impala.”

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      There is a fan club for J bodies? It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around that.

      I need to see if there are websites for fans of Montgomery Ward, beige paint, and Muzak.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I did find a website detailing the history of a company that sold rototillers through Montgomery Ward…so I guess that sorta covers the first one.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Muzak is actually called smooth jazz, it just becomes Muzak when played at a low enough level for an elevator. There are many fans of smooth jazz, including me.

        • 0 avatar
          RHD

          Corey, Muzak was an horribly mediocre product piped in to retail stores and, stereotypically, elevators, which was simply instrumental versions of outdated popular songs.
          The idea was to subconsciously get the shoppers to start humming some familiar tune and as a result, spend more money. In reality, it was torture to listen to, especially for people like me who worked their way through college by working retail. The same tape would loop over and over for several weeks, until it was replaced. The workers would play “Name That Tune”, but some of the stuff was so old that we had no idea what it was. (Hearing bad instrumentals of Christmas music for two months straight was worse than old Carole King and Sonny & Cher melodies.)
          Smooth jazz isn’t a tenth as bad as genuine Muzak. If you haven’t been subjected to that banal mediocrity, consider yourself blessed.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Haha, no I have not been subjected to bad music, except for the old Motown crap the manager at Kroger played when I was 14-16 and worked there. The problem was the repetitive nature of Motown, as well as the fact that the track had about 9 songs total, and they were almost always in the same order.

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        Being desperately into cars and having no money can result in strange bedfellows.
        Especially in the late 90s Super Street era.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    Lest we forget…

  • avatar
    Pch101

    At least the Chevy had an appropriate name. GM’s attitude about the car was certainly cavalier.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    The Cimarron – the car was 30 years ahead of its time. Either that, or it’s still a miserable excuse for an entry-luxury car. Probably the latter, as the smaller Cadillacs aren’t selling that well.

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    Chris,
    no need to apologize for your singing voice.

    Just pinch your nose and sing it again, you’ll sound just like him.

  • avatar
    lon888

    Who in their right mind would keep one of these pieces of crap in excellent condition? Makes no sense…

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    Proof GM has made some pretty JANKY stuff for decades. The 86-91 Seville/Eldorado was no prize either. Only the RWD Cadillacs, during that period, were decent. We all knew what the Cimarron was when it came out…a sad state of affairs.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    This dealer is only slight less out of his mind as the guy trying to sell a 1989 Ford Probe in Portland, Oregon with 49 miles for — $10,000.

    But there is something strangely almost awesome about owning such a horrible car in such pristine condition.

    Not worth the Cheddar — but at a lower price — this would move fast.

    Shame really, part of me says this really belongs with a collector, even historically bad cars need love. Will likely end up getting thrashed out.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Probe would be worth much more than the Cimmaron and with 49 miles its ready for museum life.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn sometimes looks for less collectible cars to display. Apparently they had a heck of a time finding a ’78 Dodge Omni. Ronnie wrote an article about it too.

      http://www.rokemneedlearts.com/carsindepth/wordpressblog/?p=9270

      http://blog.thehenryford.org/2015/02/dodge-omni/

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Here it is.

    1989 Ford Probe LX automatic. 49 miles (allegedly). I’m going to guess complete with failed seals, rotted hoses, and death trap tries. It can be yours for the bargain basement price of $10,000.

    http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5192294720.html

    Original MSRP would be around $13K for this model, with the automatic, sunroof, power windows, locks, tilt wheel and cruise control. Can’t tell if this has the power driver seat or not. Because it does not have a rear window wiper, it does not have the trip computer, digital dash, upgraded stereo or a list of other equipment that escapes me. The rear wiper was bundled together in that package.

    $13K in 1989 dollars would be worth $25K today.

    Sad ROI – this car is worth $3K MAYBE – and if the above mentioned critical work to keep it maintained didn’t happen, far less. If all the fluids are still original – especially the gas — YIKES!

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      That’s awful. That’s a poor people LX, got to be a base model right? The desirable one was the GT manual IIRC. Someone round here was searching for an 89 GT manual cannot recall who it was.

      It looks like it has not been maintained, even though it has no miles on it. Parked outside perhaps. If I’m at $10K, it needs to have BEEN IN THE MUSEUM already, and they’re the ones selling it to me.

      • 0 avatar
        crtfour

        Craigslist, the Wal-Mart of auto advertising. You would think that the seller could at least remove the trash and block of lumber from the interior before taking picutres of this “museum ready” piece.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        I’m the one looking for the manual GT.

        It appears the train wreck of a car I saw last year was bought by someone and restored. Now for sale for $4.5K.

        After buying the new house, the wedding, the honeymoon, and $3.2K in unexpected repairs on the Subbie — we’re holding off right now on adding to the motor pool.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    As you ponder Apple without Steve Jobs and the MBA’s and accountants now (finally!) in charge, cast your eyes on the ultimate accountant’s vision of automotive profits, the Cimmarron. Cheap as heck to build, the badge guarantees the proles excitement levels will be high to finally be able to buy a Caddie. Easy money. Frankly I would send a picture of that to the mavens at MB and BMW and ask them what they are doing differently. What is that Greek thing, hubris to nemesis, or something like that?

  • avatar
    70Cougar

    I worked as a car jockey at a Cadillac dealer in 1989-90, and these were seemingly as rare as Allantes. I remember thinking that the leather seats were surprisingly nice. It also had a firm Z-24 style ride.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Then that makes two of us who’ve actually driven one. An aunt had an ’87 or ’88 (leased, I believe), and I got to drive it in ’88 while running errands for her.

      In the context of its MSRP and Cadillac’s pre-1965 prestige? Not a good car. Removed from that context? A more understated, better-appointed Z24. The later MPFI V6’s were a good engine for this platform.

      Cadillac’s fundamental problems were multifaceted and included (1) any number of issues affecting all GM divisions, not just Cadillac, and (2) the division’s decision to chase volume. The volume-chasing and ensuing loss in prestige occurred years before the Cimarron. The Cimarron didn’t solve those issues, but it didn’t create them either.

      It would be interesting to see what would have resulted had Cadillac expended the time and effort that they did in morphing the X-body Nova into the K-body ’76-’79 Seville. In addition to unique sheetmetal, that car received a boatload of anti-NVH measures. See http://ateupwithmotor.com/model-histories/cadillac-seville/

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    As a Cavalier Z24, this wasn’t a bad car for its time. I drove a 1988 Z24 once, and would describe it as “Volkswagen GTI meets Dukes of Hazzard.” A lot of fun in a rough and noisy way (like your mother, Trebek!).

    But as a Cadillac…nope. No way. Not then, not now, not ever.

  • avatar

    By today’s standards it’s actually a fairly nice looking car. Relatively clean styling, which is something where most contemporary manufacturers fail. No, I don’t want it. And with that little mileage, it probably had a lot of very short trips, which could mean–with apologies to Sajeev and Sanjeev–PISTON SLAP!!!

  • avatar
    acesfull

    “We all know someone who limped a J-body along for years, with failing wheel bearings…”

    My wife was one. Both front wheel bearings went bad on her ’01. What a racket the bad bearings made at highway speeds! What finally did the car in for me was rotting power steering lines, brake lines, and fuel lines. After replacing the left rear brake line in the dead of winter, at night, I’d had enough of that car. I do miss the engine, though. It was a 2.2l pushrod motor that had a real slow idle, something like 550 RPM. I liked the novelty and simplicity of it. I can’t think another 2000’s small car in the US with a pushrod motor.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “…apologies to anyone who has ever heard my attempts to sing.”

    Don’t worry, your singing voice can’t be much worse than Mr. Young’s.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    The idea of an entry level, luxury compact for Cadillac was a good idea, it was just horribly executed. The arrogance of basically slapping some plastic woodgrain on a Cavalier really showed what a bubble GM was in and how they regarded their customers.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    Devil’s advocate here: I always thought that a later example with the V6 and leather would be a decent sleeper, once you upgrade the suspension bits. I remember those J-bodies being featherweights (my Cavalier sure was).

    I make no claims of this car having ANY luxury cred, however.

  • avatar

    If I recall, this car is a direct result of CAFE standards. If anything, the government made GM do it.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    probably wouldnt have been as bad if there had been a way to change the roofline. and the flippy floppy door handles. and that horrid dash.

    and the drivetrain is wrong for a luxury sports sedan

  • avatar
    Jezza819

    Ah yes the Lincoln Versailles of GM. Another one of those answers to a question nobody asked.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      The Nova-based Seville would be more akin to the Granada-based Lincoln. The only reason it doesnt get as much crap is because it was successful compared to the Lincoln. The Fox-platform Continental was just as bad, but it sold better. I always thought it was uglier.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        My issue with the Versailles has always been the front-rear dichotomy.

        It has a Continental front end and a Ford back end! Why the hell didn’t they give the back end the “finlets and full-width light bar” treatment?!

      • 0 avatar
        kmars2009

        Mom had a ’85 Continental Valentino edition. Great looking, and loads of attitude. We thought we were bitches driving it. Mom was a Lincoln girl…after that first Continental, Lincoln was all she drove until the end in ’05. Her last was a Town Car Signature Series. I think she would turn in her grave if she knew the Town Car was no more. Knowing her, she would keep waiting for the all new Continental. It looks bitchy! LOL

  • avatar
    Joss

    Cadillac may have caught the concept from Longbridge.

    Vanden plas 1500/1750. A Leyland beauty that thankfully didn’t make it this side of the pond.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I doubt the dealer is that interested in selling this car if it is priced at $8,900. Some dealers collect odd ball cars or classics and put them in their showrooms at ridiculous prices. If someone is willing to pay the price they are asking they will sell it otherwise they just as soon keep it.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Even more confounding are those PA inspection/emission stickers. J bodies didn’t survive in the Rust Belt and I saw more than a few of these and their lesser brethren full of Rust in their day.

  • avatar
    415s30

    My grandmother went out and bought that exact car back then, my grandfather died in 83 and nobody told her what to do. She had a hug Lincoln wagon before it and then showed up in this. No explanation.

  • avatar
    Jeff in Richmond VA

    I know the history of this car—-it came from Albany NY…an old woman’s car. This guy bought it on e-Bay and had it shipped to him. He DOUBLED the price and is expecting to make a killing. I doubt it will happen…anyone paying $9K for a Cimarron is nuts. We found an ’86 in Florida, a real cream puff with only 24,000 miles and only paid $2500. I think this seller will be sitting on it for quite a while. $9000?? HAHAHAHAHAHAA!!!!

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ajla: I haven’t been to Chicago since 2012 so I can’t speak to the direct situation, but electing a...
  • SCE to AUX: Chicago has not had a Republican mayor since 1931; (Pittsburgh – my nearest city – since...
  • slavuta: You forgot medications. Many medications that people take can cause driving side effects.
  • slavuta: Dur’
  • James2: Anyone know if Cali *really* enforces noise regs. Here in HNL we have noise and tinted glass regs which are...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber