By on March 29, 2018

Believe it or not, a long time ago the Cadillac brand was associated with elderly, moneyed customers. They chose Cadillac for comfort, luxury, and for the stately vulgarity which came standard when you purchased the pinnacle of General Motors. And as the pinnacle personal luxury offering from the Cadillac brand, an Eldorado was the de facto choice for many an American septuagenarian.

But Cadillac desired a younger customer, and a change was due for Eldorado. Presenting the 1983 Eldorado Touring Coupe.

First, a brief history. Cadillac’s first attempt at getting younger buyers into its cars (to rescue a shrinking market share) came with the brand new Seville for 1976. A midsize offering that was light on brougham but not on performance, the Seville was GM’s answer to the threatening sporty sedan offerings from German manufacturers Mercedes-Benz and BMW.  The plan worked, and the Seville was a success. Perhaps then, more traditional Cadillac offerings could also appeal to younger buyers, if given a sporting chance. Time for trim!

The eighth-generation Eldorado debuted for the 1979 model year, replacing the much larger and more thirsty seventh generation (1971-1978). New engines powered tidier proportions in an Eldorado which shrunk in length by 20 inches. Starting in 1982, the standard and full-fat Biarritz trims were joined by the Touring Coupe.

Other models in the Cadillac lineup would wear a Touring trim at various points in time, but the Eldorado was first to get such a treatment. Exterior ornamentation was minimal, and chrome was found in many less places than the standard version. Buyers selected from a limited number of paint colors; it seems most of them picked black. A formal, upright hood ornament was not welcome here, so Cadillac created a flush, cloisonne badge just like one would find on those sporty BMW cars.

Special alloy wheels held up the newly sport-ified body, and a sports suspension helped keep the tires planted to the road in the corners. Said tires lacked Cadillac’s hallmark whitewalls, but would generally have the white letters showing.

This earlier ETC has the HT4100 engine, and that’s all we really need to say on the topic of engines.

A reworked interior featured plush bucket seats, reflecting the sports-oriented nature of the ETC. Notably lacking is the staid button-tufted seats of other trims. A center console pulls the front room together. How European.

The Touring Coupe trim initiated here became a staple of the Eldorado, paving the way for other “sporty” Cadillac offerings like the Seville and DeVille Touring Sedans. The trim carried all the way through to the final generation ETC, which wrapped up production in 2002.

Today’s sample is located in Connecticut, and an optimistic owner is asking $17,500.

As a bonus, you can watch this review of the ETC by MotorWeek, where the sporty coupe found the slalom to be a bit much.

[Images via seller]

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67 Comments on “Rare Rides: A 1983 Cadillac Eldorado Touring Coupe, Looking Sinister in Black...”


  • avatar
    01 Deville

    Not sure of the going value, but this generation is the sorriest looking Eldo. Park this next to a 1958 and you will see the reason why Cadillac as a brand is where it is.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    It looked like a large Cutlass. Uniroyal Tiger Paws, lol, the snow tire of choice if you wanted to start a chain reaction pile up.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    My high school self liked these. The Riviera even more.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Yeah, I’m partial to the ’79-’85 Riv, especially the T-Type.

      • 0 avatar
        spookiness

        Or any convertible. And I’m not even into convertibles that much. My first car was a hand me down family car ’77 Regal, so I guess have I have a soft spot for big useless coupes with long hoods and no interior or trunk room.

  • avatar
    DEVILLE88

    This is what cadillac needs to get back to. without the bs “european trim” Cadillac is making quite a few mistakes nowadays and they don’t learn from their triumphs. As great as Cadys are now………..nobody wants a bmw chasing cady. Besides the Escalade and the 2003 cts……they have not much after that makes me feel like when i was growing up and wanted to have and earn my way to a Cadillac. i’ve been driving a bimmer for 4 years straight…………love it……but needed a cady for the ride and what it USED to mean. this eldo is beautiful would look real good next to my new daily driver……a 1988 sedan deville!!

  • avatar
    DEVILLE88

    BTW I still have my bimmer. it’s too much fun to drive to get rid of it.

  • avatar
    MeJ

    Wow I don’t recall ever seeing one of these in Black. Looks pretty good.
    I had a White on White leather ’80 Biarritz version of this when I was in my twenty’s. I felt like a pimp driving that thing.
    Still, it was a good looking car with an extremely comfortable ride, but that 4-6-8 engine was worse on gas than any car I’ve ever owned.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    A lot of hate here, but I think this looks bada$$, and could look even more so with a couple light modifications. Paint the bumpers the same black as the rest of the car and add a dual exhaust system with subtle tips poking out from under the rear bumper.

    The interior color of this particular example is the worst possible choice, though. Any other color available on an ’83 Eldo would have looked better.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The HT4100 delivers poor horsepower, poor torque, power reliability, and even low novelty value.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      E-body can accept the Olds 403, Olds 350, and Chev 383. Still a $400 car, but much monies can be wasted Making Cadillac Great Again.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        If you want it to be FUN and don’t care what it costs you or if it worth more than what you started with – there are many routes to MCGA.

        Personally I’d love a 1977 to 1996 RWD Cadillac knowing that the options for re-powering are only limited by imagination.

        As far as FWD descendants of the old UPP system the 1979-1985 are my favorites. Right size and I’d really love a Toronado with Olds 350.

        • 0 avatar
          01 Deville

          I had a 95 fleetwood. Those were imposing machines but far behind in terms of engineering compared to contemporary BMW and Mercedes.

        • 0 avatar
          gearhead77

          I didn’t love my Eldo that much to MCGA. But I’d love to find an 81-85 Regal coupe like I had and bring it to modern life. Not even a V8, but a 3800, perhaps even an S/C to keep it all Buick. Considering it was only 110 hp, even a bump to 170 would bring it to life, 220 or better would be fun.

  • avatar
    ernest

    I bought my wife a new ’84 Eldorado with the plates “B4 30.” Not a Touring Coupe, but a regular model with the optional suspension. Loved the looks (still do), but wish I had followed my gut and bought a used ’79-’80 (pre-4100) instead.

  • avatar
    swaghole

    Brings back memories of the car chase in Terminator. You see the car driven by Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor spinning its front tires.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Yeeesh… this looks like a poverty-spec Caddy more than anything else. Doesn’t help that the refreshed A-body coupes more or less stole its lines.

  • avatar
    86er

    Have never understood monochromatic.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I would drive this so I could look like James Caan in the movie Thief. Though his was a 1980 model – not sure if there were any changes between ’80 and ’83 (and too lazy to look it up).

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    This is truly one of GM’s Greatest Hits, and it doesn’t get enough credit. So much better than the pimpmobile it replaced, and looked best when unadorned like this. It’s a shame GM panicked and turfed the 368 V8 which should have stayed with the Eldo. A styling refresh could have carried the same platform through the Eighties but instead we got the horrible, horrible 1986 version which was a downsize too far.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Oh dear God.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    This trim looked so silly on this car, but it does show how good it looked without the vinyl roof.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    These as well the Rivera T-type were always tops with me.
    Interesting factoid: the bucket seats in the Touring Coupe were out of a Cimmaron. quelle horreur! Actually quite comfortable.
    With the touring suspension they handled quite well though they could have used more power.
    As a former E-body Toronado owner the quality of these was a bit better than other GM vehicles of the era.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    There’s oversteer.
    There’s understeer.
    Then there’s psychosteer.

    https://piledriverz.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/psycho-steer-2a.jpg

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “Today’s sample is located in Connecticut, and an optimistic owner is asking $17,500.”

    Optimistic? No, more like delusional.

    It’s like an ad I saw pinned on a bulletin board at work (this was probably like 1987), where someone was asking $6500 for a ’77 T-Bird (a ten-year-old T-Bird). Someone else had written on it (yes, including the misspelling), “your on drugs”.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      He’s probably asking 17,500 thinking some fool will talk him down to 16,000 and think they negotiated a good deal.

      A friend of mine (on Social Security Disability) was given one of these after it was donated to a local church. It didn’t have a lot of miles on it, but it drank gas like crazy and always had something breaking or not working. They were not built to last at all.

      The asking price is about 17 grand too high, in my opinion. Almost any other car on Craigslist would be a better choice for someone who needs actual transportation.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    The styling of these were ridiculous, but it does look kinda badass in monochromatic black.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    A 1993 Eldorado is a helluva lot better looking, even if it’s still wrong-wheel-drive.

    • 0 avatar
      01 Deville

      Agreed. Came pretty close to buying one but got scared by NS.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      My ex-neighbor had a ’94. It looked so nice on the outside and so ’90s GM on the inside, complete with rounded plastic buttons and cheap hard leather.

      • 0 avatar

        The build quality of the 92-02 Eldorado was pretty much garbage.

        • 0 avatar
          Middle-Aged Miata Man

          I vaguely remember a 1996 interview in one of the car magazines with Cadillac’s interior design chief, in which she repeatedly compared the appearance of the recently (and mildly) updated “gage” cluster and center console in the Eldo/Seville to Lexus. Sad commentary, but also pretty damn funny.

          • 0 avatar
            gearhead77

            I remember sitting in an Eldo at the local auto show around 2002. Same awful, heavy and rattly doors my 84 had. Same basic(now dated) interior my folks 94 Deville had. And it was 42k in 2002 money.

            Considering that competition that was also dying (Mark VIII, SC300/400), those cars were still better than the Eldorado. And it outlived them somehow.

  • avatar
    DEVILLE88

    All three of these cars eldo,toronado and riviera were and are great cars. they did what they were supposed to do with luxury,really great style and the convertibles(especially a white eldo with red interior and true wire wheels)are hard to top. stop hating!!

  • avatar
    el scotto

    What is this supposed to be exactly? A Mark-whatever fighter? Something to take on those “Fancy European Nancy Boys”? Something to show blue-collar plebs you’ve made it? So many swings and misses in one car. Not John Shaft approved.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I think it was an attempt for a large domestic and confused industry being pummeled to put lipstick on their pig and say to America: Look Detroit can compete!

      Back then there were a number of foreign and domestic coupes being offered, but this most directly competed with the Lincoln Continental Mark VI and Chrysler’s bustleback Imperial. By the time the Continental Mark VII came out, the Imperial was gone and this was toast in the PLC game.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Here’s a MW test of an ’84 Mark Series. I think you would have needed to be a GM employee to go for the Cadillac over the Lincoln.

        youtube.com/watch?v=wZ9Vnh8cLF4

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Sweet! Any chance for a spiritual successor? The ETSUV – Escalade Touring SUV.

  • avatar
    Dutcowski

    Black baby IKE pram for Catholics.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    If we’re proclaiming our love for GM vehicles that wore a “Touring” nameplate, I’m sticking with either generation of the Ninety-Eight Touring Sedan.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Brings back memories. Mine was a blue and white 84, with blue 1/4 landau roof and blue leather interior with about 70k on it. It was not an ETC and the trouble-prone 4100 did not last long under my 19 year old right foot. My folks replaced the engine at “Dr. Motorworx” which went under about 6 months after they replaced the engine. And about 1 month before the new engine developed problems. Sold the car and shopped around, eventually buying an 89 Acura Legend L with only 55k on it and that car pretty much turned me to imports, rarely looking back.

    The Eldo was a barge and drove as such, but it was a comfortable car. All that weight on the nose made it go with no issues in the snow. It was a better car than the 81 Regal it replaced, but not by much. I put at least 9 people in it one night.

    Watching that Motorweek video makes me realize how far we’ve come in terms of, well, everything. 13 seconds to 60! Wallowing and plowing to a stop, with the back end locking up in the land before ABS. And it wasn’t any cheaper than anything today adjusted for inflation. And someone said it, you’d have to absolutely love GM and Cadillac to get this over a Mark VII in any form.

    I owned one more personal coupe, a 95 Cougar V8 (which was a stellar automobile compared to this thing) before giving up for wagons, hatchbacks and sedans. I’d still like to have a Mark VII LSC because I loved those cars, but no more Cadillacs or GM products.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    I still have my 1985 Cadillac Eldorado “Business Coupe”, meaning no vinyl top but with wire wheel covers, since replaced by the red center discs many years ago (1992). I knew about the TC but they were not available as used cars when I searched.
    I bought the car from McLean Cadillac in Tustin, California in May 1987. I was disgusted with the downsized 1986 and thought I better get a fine 1979 – 1985 before they were hard to find. I had stopped by seven Cadillac dealerships and no one would talk to me. I guess 29 years of age was too young to be a Cadillac owner. Our family had already had three Cadillacs: 1956 Sedan deVille, 1967 and 1968 SDVs.
    After I got the Cadillac home I found several credit cards in the ash tray, so I contacted the original owner, a physician, and asked him why he traded the car. His answer: “It was two years old. I buy a new car every two years!”
    The 4100 blew up in 1994 at 93,000 miles and I had a new engine installed at Renick Cadillac in Fullerton for $4,300.
    It still looks great and has only 12,000 miles on the new engine.
    I also have the 1983 Toronado I got at Copart in San Jose in January 2017.
    The OTHER Eldorado, a 1983 Biarritz, was bought in 2016 ($125 from Copart!) . The color was Columbia Blue with the deep blue leather interior and the car had only with 64,000 verified miles. I traded it to the transporter who brought me my 1984 Buick LeSabre from Copart in Iowa, the Eldorado in exchange for the transport fee! He let a “friend” borrow it. That “friend” drove the Biarritz to Texas and it was impounded.
    I keep most of my fleet locked in the back storage yard we have in the high desert.
    Looks like a classic GM dealership!

  • avatar
    TheEndlessEnigma

    My wife and I had the Olds Toronado version of this (1981), full leather, power everything and some digital display components. Was a wonderfully riding car with some pretty string power under the hood.

  • avatar

    +5 for the S.S. United States reference in the Motor Week review….

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    How the hell do you see anything given the size of the C-pillar?

  • avatar
    delerium75

    I love how these looked. These along with the Buick T-Types ushered in a whole slew of low volume special editions of various GM cars. While some of these specials received meaningful power train and suspension upgrades (Century T-Type with 3.8L, Ninety-Eight Touring Sedan, Ciera International Series, Celebrity Eurosport VR, Deville Touring Sedan for example), they had to make due with their donor cars basic shape and dash which, while it was an interesting look, kinda nullified whatever upgrades the driving dynamics received. The specials were priced notably above standard models to the point that, say, a loaded ’86 Taurus LX was priced neck and neck with an ’86 Century T-type…basically a much older design. They did provide some much needed flavor to whatever vertical rear-windowed car they were applied to but it just underscored how wrong the basic car was.


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