By on April 20, 2016

00 - 1990 Cadillac Allante in ColoradoJunkyard - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Yes, from the Volaré to the Troféo, Detroit marketers of the 1970s and 1980s knew that an accent in the car’s name meant “no need to buy one-a-them fancy imports with no pushrods in the engine, we got your class right here!” to American car shoppers. Unfortunately for General Motors, the Cadillac Allanté cost much more to make than those other accented cars, what with flying the bodies (on customized Boeing 747s) between the Pininfarina shop in Italy and the Hamtramck assembly plant in Michigan, and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class-grade price tag on the Allanté scared off most buyers.

That makes this car one of those Holy Grail Junkyard Finds, so it’s a stop-the-presses moment when I find one. Here’s a snazzy gold ’90 I spotted over the winter in a Denver yard.

1990 Cadillac Allante in Colorado Junkyard, engine - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Allanté’s biggest weakness was the 4.5-liter HT4100 pushrod V8 engine beneath the hood. This wasn’t a bad engine, really (though it suffered from some well-known reliability problems), but an old-fashioned pushrod V8 driving the front wheels wasn’t going to steal many buyers away from high-end European statusmobiles. The Allanté got this cool-looking tubular intake that boosted horsepower up to 200.

1990 Cadillac Allante in Colorado Junkyard, shifter - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Allanté’s second-biggest weakness was the lack of a manual transmission option. Instead, all Allanté buyers got the same 4-speed automatic used in the Buick Riviera.

1990 Cadillac Allante in Colorado Junkyard, Pininfarina emblem - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

On the plus side, the Allanté was a very good-looking car with its Pininfarina body and hand-stitched leather interior. However, the $57,183 price tag (about $104,000 in inflation-adjusted 2016 dollars) put it in direct competition with cars such as the $62,500 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL, the $53,000 BMW 735iL, the $47,450 Audi V8 Quattro, the $52,975 Maserati Biturbo, and the $57,000 Jaguar XJS. With the (rear-wheel drive, overhead cam, V8-equipped) Lexus LS400 and Infiniti Q45 debuting in model year 1990 with sub-$40,000 sticker prices, luxury-car shoppers that year had two more good reasons — on top of the many good reasons they already had — to walk right by that shiny new Allanté in the Cadillac showroom.

1990 Cadillac Allante in Colorado Junkyard, digital instrument cluster - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Allanté had a reasonably futuristic digital instrument cluster. I thought about pulling this one, but I already have one from this ’89 that I found in Oakland last year.


That’s right, Cadillac took home the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for 1990.


“Designed and handcrafted in Europe, by the designer of Ferraris and Rolls-Royce.”

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108 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1990 Cadillac Allanté...”


  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    This is why I laugh when someone defends their latest Detroit mistake by saying how much they overpaid for it. Expensive isn’t the same thing as valuable.

    • 0 avatar
      Stumpaster

      Yawn. Have you checked depreciation on a BMW lately?

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        The BMW of 1990 is long dead. They’re strictly long-term rentals now, driven by people that don’t want to be caught lying about details of price, since everyone in their clone litter is leasing the exact same car.

        • 0 avatar
          PolestarBlueCobalt

          Todd, you hit the nail on the head. BMW’s are so generic. Like the Corolla or Camry of the upper middle class.

          They lease it for the badge and that’s about it.

          • 0 avatar

            The real meaning is “I have too much money for an Accord”, which applies to all the “Sales Manager Special” 3 Series. (premium package, autobox, first leather upgrade, nav for another $50 per month)

            These folks aren’t buying the Enthusiast editions, (Sport pkg, manual ? bigger engine/brakes) so comparison to those cars is apples/oranges.

            I read somewhere BMW had a returns issue with the e46 M3 car, as it was too tight and too peaky for the badge buyers…..and these folks have the money to get out of cars they don’t like, but it messes up the financial calculations….

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            I didn’t know that the E46 M3 was a common return, but I had a coworker who Lemon-Lawed her SMG one, as she did the 335i that followed it. She liked the cars, but she liked having the newest one more and not paying for them even more than that.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Neighbor one block over has one. I see it moving when walking the dogs. Sharp looking design that has aged nicely.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    sharp looking car, I doubt not having a stick was a big deal in that segment and esp to caddy, give them credit they swung for the fences vs the top of the line cars of the day. Yes the MB was better and the Lexus as well but I would have taken this over some of the other choices of the day,

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      I don’t recall seeing any contemporary Mercedes-Benz convertibles with sticks…all the ones I saw were automatics. The manual transmission equipped European (or Japanese) sports/roadsters of that era would not have been direct competitors to this car.

      • 0 avatar

        I seem to recall (hopefully accurate information) that the SLK230 Sport of the late 1990s was the first MB available in the US with a manual transmission for a decade or more. None of the r107 (1972-1989) SLs were available stateside with sticks. I tend to believe that none of the successor 500SLs sold in the USA, which were in direct competition with the Allanté, were manual…but this is not something I can quote from known historical data.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          Yes. A few grey market six-cylinder SLs slipped in during the ’80s with sticks, but that was it for manual convertibles between the 280 SL pagoda and the SLK. The last MB before the SLK to have a stick from the official importer was probably the 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth of about ’86-’87. There was much talk of the W124 300E being available with a manual transmission, but I’ve never actually seen one beyond a top speed entry in the brochure.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            There were a few 190E’s with a stick and the 2.6L in the early ’90s.

          • 0 avatar
            baconator

            I’ve personally touched *2* US-spec W124 300Es with a manual transmission. They’re ridiculously hard to find but they did exist.

            For a time I was lucky enough to own a 190E 2.6 with the 5-speed manual. The smoothness of the inline-6 was really emphasized by the ability to hold a lower gear and let it rev. The shifter was sloppier than an 3-series of the same vintage, but the 190 was a lot more comfortable and a better long-distance cruiser than an E30, too. Great car.

        • 0 avatar
          I've got a Jaaaaag

          They brought over very few r129 (1990-2002) 300sl models with a 5 speed. The total number was around 300 IIEC

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Good point. I thought about that car, but a quick search suggested that what I remembered about 5-speed availability actually was about the 6 cylinder being the first cars with the 5 speed automatic. Haven’t actually seen one of those with a stick either, but they’re out there.

          • 0 avatar
            porschespeed

            The R129 5 speed was rather ubiquitous in Europe, but yeah rather an odd-duck here.

            The W124 E-class was available in 4 and 5 speed manuals, but again, an odd duck stateside. I’ve driven both, Benz manuals aren’t as slick as BMW boxes of the same period but they ain’t bad either.

        • 0 avatar
          porschespeed

          The R107 was available with the 6 cylinder and the 5 speed, if you chose European delivery anyway. The V8s (107) were never factory with the manual, that I’m aware of. Though there may have been early 350s that had a 4 speed, I’ve never seen them.

          The Allante was never a competitor to the R107 let alone the R129. It was another disposable piece of American dreck, you certainly didn’t show up at the club behind the wheel of that without getting ribbed. Hard. It was viewed as a car for people with money, not taste.

          Meanwhile, A clean R107 still brings $10K+ and looks right. An Allante will be found unmolested at Pick-and-Pull.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Weren’t the vast majority of Allantes driven by Cadillac dealers’ wives? I suppose it came down to whether or not car dealers were welcome at your club.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Seth1065, I would certainly take this over the mentioned Maserati Biturbo. If there ever was an overpriced, poorly built, unreliable piece of crap, it was the Biturbo.

      • 0 avatar
        porschespeed

        Todd, wasn’t my club. Just had the “right” friends as it were. I can do the genteel thing but not for long. Too much snobbery for me, but it was really fun to watch.

        Golden, You just needed to get the CA-spec car. It had EFI not a blow-thru carb. That was 80% of the problems. (The rest is that it’s a Maser, but that’s expected..)

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I’m pretty sure the only Pininfarina designed Rolls Royce is the Camargue.

    Not something you want to be associated with!

  • avatar
    mrentropy

    MY happiest Allante memory involves Kelly Bundy.

    • 0 avatar
      jameslw2

      mrentropy,

      I salute you sir. A great memory indeed.

    • 0 avatar
      tanooki2003

      Yep who can forget the stolen “Bundy Bounce”. I still chuckle at the end of the show when Kelly finds out that Bud gave away her secret Bundy Bounce to another girl that he tried and miserably failed to get lucky with and the way how Bud gets slugged in the stomach by Kelly right at the ending of the show. Classic Lol

      The NuuuUUUuuuuu….Allanteeee

      Lol

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      That was the first thing that came to mind upon seeing this article!
      :)

  • avatar
    MBella

    They spent all that money flying the custom bodies in, but stipl decided to make it front wheel drive, and have it share it’s fwd powertrain with other cars 8n the fleet. Why not use the Corvette drive train of the era?

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      It had Cadillac’s unique engine in a unique state of tune. Unfortunately, Cadillac’s unique engine was only good at being smoother than the V6s used in other GM cars with the same platform, and it wasn’t all that much better at being smooth than the 3800 V6 anyway. The last Allantes had the first Northstars. The Northstar had a spec sheet to die for, and most of them did after a few years.

    • 0 avatar
      BobinPgh

      I read, maybe in Popular science at the time, that it was actually more economical to fly the bodies to the US rather than having them come by boat because there was less chance of damage that had to be repaired when the bodies arrived. Also, because there were only a few of this car, it was not economical to make the bodies here.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        Precision machinery gets shipped all over the world in 20-40′ shipping containers by the millions every year. If GM had covered the bodies in bubble wrap and put them on racks they could have easily put 4 in a 40′ container with a shipping cost 1/10th (or less) that of shipping by air freight.

        But hey, it’s not like GM of 1990 could ever have run out of money to waste.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      Well, that was the bright idea behind the Cadillac XLR: A Corvette convertible with “Art and Science” bodywork and lots of overstuffed leather. Sounds darn good, but they didn’t sell any better than the Allante.

      I get the feeling that people who buy a Mercedes SL just lease a new one every 3 years without even checking what else is on the market.

  • avatar
    Hydromatic

    GM execs really thought something like the Allanté could honestly compete with the latest from Benz, Jaguar and BMW. It’s like wearing a white leisure jacket with matching white trousers and white patent leather loafers to a black-tie event where everyone else is wearing Giorgio Armani. This just shows how blinkered and out of touch GM really is.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      Those cars were a flaming bag of crap, that someone set on fire on your doorstep. They were laughably bad, brand spankin’ new, and the price was just a joke. The interior was utter GM garbage from the parts bin, the leather was sourced from the downed cattle that McDs bought on weekends when the USDA inspector was off. There were parts in that interior that would actually cut you they were so third-world. (Seriously, there was a storage bin, that when the hinge wasn’t failed, the edge would cut you.)

      Not to mention the cheeze-fest of high school electronics project for a dash. Everything you touched felt like GM garbage, because it was. Those cars were a rolling embarrassment to the US.

      You never would have convinced me that Cadillac would ever make things as attractive as they are right now. Sure, most of the engines belong in farm equipment from the 1950s, but other than that, I might actually buy a CTS coupe once the used value is next to nothing.

      • 0 avatar

        Go now. I spent $16k for a 70k mile CTS Sedan with performance pkg and even after some minor catch up work, I can’t find anything remotely as good for $17.5…period. 2010 Sticker was 49k. You want the Bose/Nav system, and avoid the early CTS4, as there were some issues with the transfer case. Look for the 3.6, too. Beyond that, I’d pay over 3x as much for my ideally ordered BMW, and it wouldn’t be 3x better. You want to see that the oil was changed on the regular and buy 2010 or later (bluetooth and the engine was revised)

        There are a lot of low mileage cars out there, too. Amazingly low mileage….old folks….mine didn’t even use the Aux In or Bluetooth modules !

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Does it blow your mind that the new 4-banger CTSs sticker for around $60,000?

          And Johan is scratching his head as every Cadillac save the Excesslade & SRX are in terminal sales death spirals.

          • 0 avatar

            Mind Blown. I still think a four has no business in a 50k plus car, no matter how nice the turbo or posh the makers of the car. The second gen is striking, like it or not, the third is a lozenge and does not make any statement-last one I saw I nodded off.

            You’d have loved the epic fail of the Caddy exhibit at the NYIAS. They showed an ATS-V, and a CTS-V sedan. Good Start, but…they didn’t show the VSport, which is what most folks who like the V will actually buy. The V sports come one way, on summer tires….nice for magazine testers and collectors, but not for the typical DD. They didn’t show the normal versions, save one ATS.

            The hoods didn’t open. One car has a supercharged V8…the other a twin turbo V6, each a halo motor….and the hoods didn’t open. There was a beautiful cutaway model of the 6 turbo, but still.

            If I wanted a Luxury Car, I’d have seen two clown cars. There was nothing for the Trad buyer to see, save CT6. Limo guys had one XTS on the other side, and the SRX replacement was definitely “meh”. Not the segment killer they need for mama to want for the school run.

            Bonus Fail: In all cars, the seat motors didn’t work. Lumbar supports were broken fully out, and the movable side bolsters were broken fully tight. You could not comfortably sit in any of the cars (I’m an average almost six foot male person in size). The seats are labeled Recaro, look like no Recaro I’ve ever seen or owned (two sets), and I couldn’t tell if they were any good due to broken and uncomfortable adjusters.

            The one normal ATS had both front seats fully back in the rails. The back seat was inaccessible-the front seats were frozen in place. I wonder how many kids tried to sit there, and a spouse looked over, with that uh-uh look.

            If I had anything to do with the Caddy exhibit, I’d have fired the guys who set it up. Cars you can’t sit in. Two cars that sell 1% of your volume, and nothing else. Clearly the staff in NY is too busy enjoying the fact in NYC you can drink all night and taxi home with ease.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I truly could see the division either being shut down or shrunk to three models someday at the current rate of fail.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        So… Allante = bad, a fair criticism, but today Cadillac’s got it all together save rough drivetrains?

        Forget to take your meds, friend?

        • 0 avatar
          porschespeed

          I said “attractive”. Caddy quality is better than ever, but it will never be all that.

          It’s still cheapish interior, it’s still not knowing ergonomics from feakanomics at times.

          I had no idea they had any sales issues. I see more Caddies every day than I saw in the 1970s. I can’t go a mil without seeing at least one of the current models.

          But still, CTS coupe is an excellent piece, if only visually.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I think we will have to agree to disagree on “attractive” as I believe the Allante is light years ahead of any Cadillac after about 2005 in terms of visual aesthetics. Interior quality/ergonomics I hope have improved from 1987ish to 2010ish, but this isn’t necessarily the result of the brand improving but could be the industry and suppliers overall improving. I have had serious seat time in Allantes (so I know they are problem kids) and some in an MY11 CTS, and cheezy as some of the plastics were in the former it felt weirdly flashy and premium to me where the CTS felt and drove more like an cubist Oldsmobile.

            I personally don’t see many Cadillacs of any stripe in my commute, when I do its typically in order: 00-11 Deville, 10+ SRX, Escalade of any year, then 07+ CTS, and later Seville/Eldo. Where I drive though is not indicative of the Soho crowd supposedly beseeched by the brand.

          • 0 avatar
            porschespeed

            28 Days. You likey, you likey. Taste is subjective and I shan’t argue with what works for you. I would argue that I don’t know a soul personally who still (ever) looked at an Allante as attractive, but just because you’re the odd man out, doesn’t make you wrong.

            Not sure where you’re at, but I’m in an uppermiddle border neighborhood in STL. I can’t swing a dead cat and not hit a CTS coupe. Or CTS. They are freakin’ everywhere. Escalades a plenty, the newish 4 door is spreading.

            I would certainly agree that GM interiors aren’t really better due to design, just that suppliers don’t make things as bad as GM would likely spec them. I’m sure Caddy would have velour, if only someone sold it cheaply enough.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “just because you’re the odd man out, doesn’t make you wrong.”

            I disagree as I am always wrong, I can present at least half a dozen ex-girlfriends to testify on my behalf.

            I live in Western PA which when I was growing up, was “Cadillac Country” along with an overall heavy GM presence. Everybody’s dad/granddad worked in the mill at one point, and everybody wanted or had a Cadillac at some point. This town wasn’t just blue collar, it was navy blue collar for a long time which started to change in the 80s. Where I personally drive though is suburban and a short commute so I’m not a great example to prove whats popular and what is not these days.

            Comparing a 1980s designed Cadillac to 2010s is not exactly apples to oranges due to mission IMO, but they are literally designed by and catered toward two completely different groups of people. You sprinkle in technological or industry advancements and well I hope something has improved in the interleaving decades. You’re right on suppliers though, if GM had designed or spec’d better plastics or carpet, the supplier would have delivered but they chose to cheapen some things up a tad on their inflation adjusted $100K E-body, which is unforgivable at the price point.

          • 0 avatar
            porschespeed

            “I disagree as I am always wrong, I can present at least half a dozen ex-girlfriends to testify on my behalf.”

            I hear you there…

            Guess my rustbelt isn’t quite as rusted as yours. Seriously, they are everywhere, and in only a few miles of my commute, I’ll see a dozen.

    • 0 avatar
      thattruthguy

      The “latest” two seaters from MB and Jag were 10 + years old when the Allante was introduced, and BMW didn’t have a two seater in the states.

  • avatar
    319583076

    “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

    2017 Lincoln Continental, meet 1990 Cadillac Allante!

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      That would be a valid comparison if Lincoln was selling the Continental for a $100k+. At its current price, it might not be that bad

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        What an incredibly reductive perspective – you haven’t considered any attributes of the cars themselves while simultaneously considering only one attribute of the market in which they compete.

        That’s like asking what the weather will be like today and accepting “68 degrees” as a suitable response.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          No, you dont understand. Its the badge that means its a good or bad car. If its a badge from an American manufacturer, especially a luxury marque, its awful. You dont need to drive it or even sit in it, no, that stuff means nothing, its the name that matters.

    • 0 avatar
      STS_Endeavour

      Insert suspicious Phillip Fry meme here.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’m a former Allante owner. These 4.5L versions aren’t bad cars, and other than maybe the Benz they are the only member of their competitive set that could be on the road in 2016 without costing their owner a small fortune in upkeep.

    However, the price when new can’t be justified for what you got. So pretty much the same issue as with Cadillac today.

    Operating the top also sucked.
    youtu.be/Pj-tOH866z0

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Why did you sell yours?

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I just felt like something new. I replaced it with a ’94 Seville. That will probably be replaced by a B/H/E- body or a Panther. Maybe a 1st or 2nd gen Taurus/Sable.

        I also sold my Electra about two weeks ago so I’m without a Buick V6 for the first time in my life.

        I’m down to just a Northstar Cadillac and an FCA product for now. I get to send the Charger back to hell in about 24 months, so next year I’ll start shopping for a well-maintained “detective edition” 6.0L Caprice PPV. If I can’t find that in a reasonable amount of time I’ll stretch for a garage queen G8 GXP or SS sedan.

  • avatar

    That’s a LOT of pushbuttons on the dash. You hardly notice the SEEK button’s mounted upside down.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    These were a shortened E-body (FWD Eldo, Toro, Riviera) called V-body. A quick and dirty attempt to compete with European rivals for 40% of the true development costs but prestige would be made up for by the most ridiculous assembly process in automotive history. Given the fact Cadillac had pretty much been building junk for about eight or nine years to spin up this model in the midst of it with the modified HT-4x was almost a dare. Allanté jumped the shark and the brand has never recovered despite zoom zoom faux German aspirations.

    • 0 avatar
      Hydromatic

      All of Cadillac’s decisions seem to stem from GM’s efforts to avoid the Gas Guzzler tax and the wrath of the EPA/CARB at all costs. If the 14th floor simply resolved to have Cadillac simply eat the added costs, it might not have gone through the FWD downsizing of the other marques (or it might have done so much later, when the design and engineering were better worked out).

      So Cadillac keeps the Deville and Fleetwood on the RWD C-body chassis, holds on to a fuel-injected 368, eschews the diesel, HT4100 and 4.1 V6 options and dismisses the idea of building a compact Caddy from a Cavalier. And maybe instead of downsizing in 1985 with those short, ill-proportioned breadboxes, it waits until 1988-1989 to debut their FWD C and H-body cars (with better proportions). Cadillac swallows its pride and uses a 3800-derived V8 for its FWD applications. The word “Northstar” never enters the marque’s mind.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I do not disagree except on Cimmaron. Between GM hubris and the fact zee Germans were becoming a real threat I think this model would have still existed in some form and given the position of the rest of the division, it would certainly come from C-P-C.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        The V8 that the Buick V6 was derived from was sold to Rover in 1964. I suppose they could have tried buying it back, as they bought back the Buick V6 from AMC.

        The Northstar was built to the same template as engines released by Lexus, Infiniti, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi during the era. The problem was that GM couldn’t build an engine like everyone else’s without screwing it up even worse than BMW did with their eroding cylinders. There’s nothing from the variable displacement, HT, or Northstar programs to suggest Cadillac could have built any type of engine and made it work.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I think the best engine solution for Cadillac would have been to stick with the 4.9L (offer a supercharged version for the STS/ETC/Concours) up until ’97 when they should have replaced it with a transverse member of the LS family.

          Some of the money they spent on the N* program could go to improving the NVH of the LS for luxury car duty and reducing torque steer.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        What is really weird is that Cadillac could easily have met mileage and emissions targets for 1981 and beyond with the 368 engine with the digital fuel injection system and the new for 1981 overdrive automatic transmission that the other B and C-body cars got. Why they went through all the trouble and expense of developing the problematic 8-6-4 variable displacement tied to the ancient 3 speed THM 400 transmission is beyond me. Fuel injection would cut the emissions levels down and made it run better and the overdrive tied to a 2.56 or 2.73:1 rear end would have increased highway mileage to above 22.5 easily. Even if that didn’t quite work out they could easily have fuel injected the Olds 307 tied to the 4speed transmission for all the remaining large cars up to 1985 and later on the Brougham. I mean it’s not like Cadillac didn’t have a fuel injected Olds motor before in the form of the Seville.

        • 0 avatar
          porschespeed

          Carburetors were cheap, and most Americans will buy whatever crap you sell them.

          Bendix had an electronic system in the late 50s, that found it’s way onto a few DeSotos IIRC. Bottom line is the bottom line – working out EFI might have cost a few bucks, and why bother, why would we need EFI?

          So Bendix sold the EFI dev stuff to Bosch (already into mechanical injection). To this day, most people buy Bosch EFI, have Bosch develop their proprietary stuff, or use some Bosch patents or is based on Bosch innovations.

          Coulda been Bendix, but that might have cost a few bucks and taken R&D time.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Carburetors were cheap, and most Americans will buy whatever crap you sell them.

            I guess that must be true. Say, is it also true that Porsche used an engine design that required and IMS bearing and shaft so it could use the same cylinder head casting on both banks, ostensibly to save money? Maybe they got that idea from GM with the Twin Dual Cam engine….

          • 0 avatar
            baconator

            The really odd thing is that Cadillac was selling a Bendix EFI on the ’76-79 Eldorados. It worked decently well, too – certainly less finicky than the 1st-gen mechanical FI on VWs and BMWs.

          • 0 avatar
            porschespeed

            golden, Porsche has many bad ideas when it comes to keeping that horrid powerplant alive. IMS bearing failure is only one of a long list of failures for the flat-engines.

            I don’t have anything to do with UberBeetles, though I do kind of like driving the Cayman.

            I deal with clean-sheet, real Porsches with their engines where they belong – up front.

            baconator, Are you talking about CIS (K-Jet)? Because before that became semi-ubiquitous on Euro cars of the early 70s there was D-Jet which was electronic. It was on 67-69 Beetles IIRC (optional) and was on my ’73 450SEL. Not sure what you mean about CIS being finicky – it’s usually reliable as dirt. If something goes bad, then it can be fun to diag, but that’s odd.

            Granted Caddy enthusiasts are not the most mechanically saavy, but you might want to troll their boards. That Bendix injection has some issues.

          • 0 avatar
            porschespeed

            Oh, and point of order, K-Jet is not mechanical injection. It’s ‘Air Flow Controlled’. Yes, it was originally built with few electronics, but it wasn’t actually “mechanical injection”. That was the Rochester fuelie ‘Vette from the early 60s, or early Lucas constant flow, or Spica from ALFA. They have a positive displacement pump, and continuously shoot fuel out of injectors on an rpm and throttle (alpha N) basis. K-Jet is far more advanced.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Hey remember that M-Body from CL which the guy wanted $3600 or something? Way out in Randoplace, Ohio. Well now it’s on Ebay, with more pictorials.

      http://www.ebay.com/itm/Chrysler-New-Yorker-Fifth-Avenue-5th-Avenue-/131783819255

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Doubt that anyone would have paid anything near the MSRP for these. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s The Old Man leased Cadillacs from the same dealer all on one year leases.

    His favourites being his Northstar powered STS’s.

    On a number of occasions they tried to get him to instead take an Allante at a ridiculously reduced rate.

  • avatar
    rpm1200

    I like how Hi and Norm got their own buttons. If only Max had one too.

  • avatar
    SMIA1948

    I owned a 1993 Allante in the early 2000s. The unique charm of these cars was space. The interior was huge, and try and find another 2-seat convertible with a 16 cubic foot trunk.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Contrary to popular belief the HT 4100/4.5 in these cars was nowhere near as troublesome as the 1982-85 4100 motors. About the only real issue an owner might have experienced with one of these Allante motors was a problem with the factory intake manifold gasket if the owner didn’t follow the service schedule provided by the owner’s manual. They also sounded better and ran really smooth and the 4.5 version provided more get up and go than any of the Buick 3800’s during that time.

  • avatar
    01 Deville

    Never owned or drove one of these, but here to respond to some N* comments. Having owned a 95 fleetwood with 350 chevy, a 2001 deville with N*, a 2000 E38 740il and 2000 S500, I think I have a good perspective on contemporary lux V8s.
    I would say that GM needed N* to compete with the Germans. 350 Chevy has awesome low end grunt but does not rev as much and can come across as unrefined. N* is smooth, powerful if a pain to work on yet it is way more reliable than BMW M60/62 in 7 series.
    Overall winners is probably MB 5.0 as it is bullet proof, has nice low end torque and can rev when needed.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Well, the GenIII V8s did have improved refinement over the GenII version in your Fleetwood.

      Still, you are correct that GM could not have just dropped a sideways version of the LS1 from a Firebird into a Deville and expected that to work.

      My idea is more that you take that pile of money spent creating the Northstar system and make a luxury version of the LSx with a major emphasis on NVH.

      I’m not saying it would have taken down the Mercedes V8, but Cadillac doesn’t really play in the S-class’s sandbox anyway.

      I do agree that the N* is better than a pit of despair BMW V8, but that isn’t a hard bar to beat.

    • 0 avatar
      SMIA1948

      GM would have definitely been better off forgetting the Northstar and developing a transverse version of its pushrod V8. What people don’t realize is how (physically) small the oversquare pushrod V8s are compared with DOHC V8s. The 7.0 liter Chevy pushrod V8 is much smaller and lighter than the 4.4 liter BMW V8. Also, the pushrod V8s are much cheaper to build than DOHC engines of equal power, and that money could have been spent to upgrade the quality of the rest of the cars in which Cadillac used the Northstar engine.

      • 0 avatar
        01 Deville

        I do not dispute that upgrading LT1 was a valid idea, I just wanted to comment on difference in refinement level of northstar vs. 350 Chevy.
        Don’t know a lot about engine design but behind the wheel northstar feels most comparable to the Germans, if a little bit soft on a lower end.
        If I had the option of a Deville with LS1 and northstar as a new buyer, it will be a hard choice, as I love how you can hit 80MHP in 2nd gear In northstar in once continuous surge, plus that engine was built to be redlined all day, on the other hand an LT1 equipped fleetwood would be barely off idle cruising at 80MP and you can’t even hear the engine!
        While buying used, I would probably go for LS1, as only changing a frigging alaternator on a N* is a 4 hr job.

    • 0 avatar
      jacob_coulter

      I just don’t think the average Cadillac buyer in that era would have cared one bit if the engine had pushrods or was not as smooth as an overhead cam engine. In fact, I genuinely think they could have sold more if they had used a Corvette derived engine and would have been able to undercut the competition on price even more.

      Or that could have simply designed a better Northstar that didn’t have all the issues, but this is GM we’re talking about.

      But Buick continued to sell their highest end luxury car (Park Avenue Ultra) with an ancient 3.8 liter V6 (supercharged) all through the 90s and beyond, and nobody really complained that it was not smooth enough for a “cocoon” luxury vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        Spartan

        The Buick Park Avenue Ultra with the SC 3800 was arguably smoother than the N* Cadillacs. I’ve had some seat time in one some years ago and I remember it being butter smooth and dead quiet.

        But to your point, I’m not sure if you’re right. A Cadillac, particularly a big Cadillac, without a V8 during those days would have been suicide for the brand. Cadillac was printing money in the 90s and a SC 3800 would have put a stop to that.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Yeah, it’s no surprise the Allanté didn’t sell. This was—albeit nicer—in the same vein as Chrysler’s TC by Maserati. The engine to have was the 4.6-liter that was only present for the 1993 model, the Allanté’s final year. A friend of mine had a 1993, and he sold it for about $600 more than he paid for it after five months, or $6,200. All I can say, having driven it, is “Holy torque steer, Batman.”

    The Buick Reatta was a less-upscale—but still overpriced—version of this car, essentially.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    One of the best looking cars of that era, they looked especially sharp with the hardtop roof installed. I’m sure they were absolute junk in the quality department and absurdly over priced, but every once in a while GM could hit a home run in the style department, at least in my eyes.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    The bodies were built in Europe and flown over for final assembly, so it’s quite possible the cars logged more time overseas than many of their customers. I used to sell parts for these to a guy who was a real enthusiast. He bought and sold them, even had a vanity plate that read “MR CADDY.” He was a real character and nice guy. You could tell it was the first day of springtime because he’d show up in a fabulous white suit, white cowboy boots and Panama hat with hat-band that matched his tie. One of those guys you maybe don’t want to know about his other business interests?

  • avatar
    e30gator

    I worked at a south Florida Cadillac dealership in college and saw many Allantés come in for work. The repair bills and the length of time needed to get the parts and do the repairs was ridiculous.

    That said, these were beautiful cars even if the engines left a lot to be desired…just like the XLRs a decade later.

  • avatar
    agent534

    Allanté’s problem was the car was a rattle trap flex box pos compared to the competition. I car jockeyed at a Cadillac dealer back in the day. There was a horrible railroad crossing on the road to the dealership, and the Allanté would almost flex in 1/2 when I drove over it. I always just thought it was to be expected in a convertible UNTIL the owner came by and had me take his Mercedes convertible to gas station for a fill up. NO flex or rattle over those same tracks and in an instant I realized what a pos the Allanté was in comparison.
    Don’t get me wrong, with a NorthStar they were a decently fun car and all, but they compared against a Lebaron (TC lol) or other non-luxury domestic.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    So this is what one investment of 57k looks like now. If you put that same amount in a mutual fund that performed on par with the S&P 500 in 1990, you’d have about 600 grand right now, instead of a 60 dollar pile of trash.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      This is true of just about any car I’d suppose, even one that was actually worth the $57K back in the day. Unless you’re buying something with collector cachet, a car is a depreciating asset. You either make the choice to drive cheap and reliable and invest the rest, or enjoy life in a different way and drive something you like, regardless of the cost.

      I did have a collectable car dealer tell me once that certain collector cars cost virtually nothing to own because of their popularity. We were speaking of a very nice ’66 Mustang GT at the time. He said I could buy that car, put a couple thousand miles a year on it over a few years, and then sell it for as much or more than I had paid as long as I kept it pristine. I was tempted, but I prefer modern vehicles with modern safety equipment, because drivers get worse and worse every day.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      If only you could travel back in time to the early 1990s, you could warn Allante buyers that they really should stash away a Toyota Supra or 300Z if they wanted to make money!

  • avatar
    redliner

    I feel like I’m looking at the Cadillac ELR of 25 years ago. Nice body, nice interior, acceptable power, insane price.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Yea, if we could fire up a time machine to 1990 and approach the poor leisure suited sap drooling over this thing’s shiny gold paint, dazzling dashboard, and shit-ton of buttons, we’d tell him to buy: 1) an E30 M3; 2) an early air cooled 911; 3) a Supra Turbo (but tell him to wait 3 years for the A80 because the A70 would become worthless and unwanted junk); or, 4) if he wanted to be really smart, and keep his toupee from rattling off his head, a good mutual fund and a Geo Metro to get from Point A to Point B.

    Beyond those, I don’t see any cars he could have bought which would have even approached being good investments. That’s why I laugh when I see things like a 1998 Indy Pace Car Corvette with like 7 miles on it for $29,999 BIN on e-bay. We’ve had enough time to learn that cars are to be enjoyed, not mothballed.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      I’d tell him to go buy a 2 year old 560SL. As long as he kept it clean, it’s still be worth $10K+. And could be driven today with pride.
      As much as 911s bore me, that’s the easy money shot, though unlike the Benz, your maint bill will be atrocious. More of a driveable piggy bank.

      There’s several others, but save for something really rare, a Caddy is never a good bet.

  • avatar
    hifi

    The lack of an automatic transmission was no big deal. But being FWD was a huge disadvantage compared to the Germans. It just screamed “Soooo close, but clearly GM doesn’t quite know what they’re doing.” And the absurd manufacturing process that included them to be partially built in Italy, then flown over in specially configured 747s and finished in the US, ensured that every one was sold at a loss.

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