By on December 30, 2020

They say all good things must come to an end, and so it was in 2002 with the Cadillac Eldorado. Today’s Rare Ride was the last in a long line of flagship coupes from Cadillac, and one which saw the name exit with a whimper instead of a bang.

The Eldorado name debuted in 1953 as the most expensive car on offer from General Motors’ most exclusive brand. It was first a convertible, then a coupe and the extremely costly Eldorado Brougham sedan. After that, it occupied the second most expensive space in the lineup, next to the Series 75 limousine. It was a rear-wheel-drive offering through 1966, at which point it converted to front-drive and shared the new E-body with the Oldsmobile Toronado and Buick Riviera. It was much more popular in personal luxury coupe guise than ever before.

Eldorado remained front-drive and went through various downsizings, ups and downs, and modernization. It remained on the contemporary version of the E-body platform for the rest of its days and entered its 12th generation for the 1992 model year. At the time, Cadillac was in the process of creating stylistic excitement, adding European flavor to its models, introducing the revolutionary new Northstar V8, and generally attempting to become America’s version of BMW.

The ’92 Eldorado drew inspiration from the design of the 1988 Solitaire concept car and was new inside and out. It was also considerably larger than the outgoing 11th generation car which was criticized for its less than full-size dimensions. Cadillac designed a body that was three inches wider and 11 inches longer than the outgoing coupe.

The Northstar was supposed to power the 12th-gen Eldorado at introduction, but delays with the complex engine meant that debut models in ’92 were all powered by the trusty 4.9-liter V8. The standard 295-horsepower L37 Northstar was ready for 1993 and was fitted into the Eldorado Touring Coupe, while the Eldorado Sports Coupe used the 4.9 again. In 1994, the ESC switched to use the LD8 Northstar, which had less power at 275 horses, but five more torques (300) than the L37 version. All examples used a four-speed auto shared with many other GM front-drive cars.

Interiors on the new Eldorado featured copious power equipment, real wood trim on the dash, power seats, climate control, digital gauges, and suspension which adjusted with the speed of travel. Upscale ETC versions added to the visuals with unique alloys, quad exhaust tips, “Touring Coupe” embroidery inside, and ruched leather seating. Standard seating on ESC was cloth, though your author has never seen one so equipped.

Once the Northstar was ready, the Eldorado saw incremental changes through the rest of its run. As the North American market had largely turned from the personal luxury coupe class by the late Eighties, the Eldorado was the last of its type and outlived Lincoln’s Mark VIII by four years when it ended in 2002. To commemorate its demise, GM built 1,596 special Collector Series models. Available only in red or white to match the Eldorado’s debut colors in 1953, their theme carried through to a special two-tone interior. Each one had its own plaque on the dash which indicated which number it was in the series. Carbon fiber look trim replaced wood, to make it even more true to the Fifties unique. Perhaps most notably, the Collector Series had a tuned exhaust that was meant to sound like a Fifties Cadillac. The last one was built in April of 2002 at the Lansing Craft Center, just before it was retooled to make the new Chevrolet SSR.

Today’s Rare Ride was listed in Michigan until very recently, but the posting expired. It was number 894 of 1596, and asked $7,500.

[Images: seller]

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32 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 2002 Cadillac Eldorado Collector Series...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Yummy.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Eldorados certainly have run the gambit from unique special bodied Cadillacs to a low point of being just a higher trim DeVille, then resurrecting itself to become the front-drive personal luxury coupe/convertible that most of us know. But the greatest of all Eldorados was the ’57 Eldorado Brougham with it’s stainless steel roof, suicide doors and a price tag that exceeded a Rolls Royce @ $13,074 with no available options

    https://www.supercars.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/1957_Cadillac_EldoradoBrougham5.jpg

  • avatar
    ajla

    I like the exterior but the interior should have kept the wood and also be seering-eye red (seats, plastics, carpets, everything) instead of going with the GTP design.

    Overall I’d rather have a Silver Arrow Riv or a “normal” ETC.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree, normal ETC for me. Diamond pearl and ivory probably.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I saw a very clean Diamond Pearl and ivory one yesterday. In the late 00’s I had considered a pre owned one but the Northstar was a concern so I bought a MN-12 Thunderbird with the reliable 4.6 modular.

        • 0 avatar

          The Initech 4.6 had issues didn’t it?

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Not as many issues as the Initech copier had (eventually).

            We’re putting cover sheets on all TPS reports now before they go out…

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I’m not sure if the Ford engine had issues. I can’t imagine they are as infamous as the N* though.

            However, the InTech was only going into Lincolns, SVT Mustangs, and some 3rd party stuff. The T-Bird was using the 2v version out of a Crown Victoria.

          • 0 avatar

            LOL one letter, got so close.

            RE: T-bird, yeah that’s what I meant. Only reason to choose the T-bird instead of the Mark!

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            [@Corey, some say I should’ve said printer instead of copier – since the printer (“PC LOAD LETTER”) was singled out for special treatment. But then again, the copiers (all of them) perished in a fire…]

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “PC LOAD LETTER”

            What the f*** does that mean?

          • 0 avatar
            eng_alvarado90

            Intech 4.6 was solid. Out of the last generation of PLCs I’d give the nod to the Eldo for its exterior styling while I’d go with the the Mark VIII for its powertrains and being RWD. The interior is a toss up…

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            More flare needed!

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            The MN-12 had the same 4.6 2V that was in the Mustang GT and Panthers was quite reliable. Apparently the Initech 4.6 that was in the fwd Continental had some issues however the 32V version in the Mark VIII was ok. Apparently Ford had plans for a 32V Thunderbird SVT before it was dropped after the 97 model year.
            You’re right on the subpar interior furnishings on the MN-12. I dealt with the occasional creak and groan. Taking some of the interior trim pieces off and using double sided tape did the trick. The interior on the Mark VIII seemed to be better.

      • 0 avatar
        eng_alvarado90

        Emerald green looked dope on those as well. I’d go with that

        • 0 avatar
          Firestorm 500

          I had one from 2001-2004 that I bought used. Beautiful ETC Emerald Green with shale leather interior. Every possible option. My first eBay purchase. Unfortunately, I hadn’t heard about the Deathstar engine yet. It was bad at 97,000 miles when I bought it drove it until 133,000 miles. I sold it for $8,250 so I think I came out good all things considered.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    What was someone thinking buying this special edition in red with red-striped seats? My dad had a ’95 Eldorado Touring Coupe dark green with oatmeal interior and that was a sharp looking car. I wish we had preserved and kept that car since pre-Northstar I would imagine that it would be a nice daily driver even today.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Back in the ’90s, I made a business trip to the northwest. The rental car agency offered me a Cadillac for $2 a day over the price of something forgettable. I took them up on it. I finished my business and was about to return home when we got the news that the company’s union labor was contemplating a strike. Non-union labor, which included me, would be distributed through the company on strike duty. Basically, that meant serving as a watchman. Thus, on the day the strike was supposed to begin, I rolled onto the property in a white Eldo. Fortunately, nobody noticed.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    The starter motor is in the valley of the engine. Doable with hand tools but it takes a few hours. My Caddy’s starter motor replacement took eighteen minutes on a hoist.

  • avatar
    insalted42

    Growing up, an elderly couple down the street had 2 of these. One Black and the other in a less racy shade of metallic red.

    At the time, (early-00s) they were easily the most interesting cars on my block–the rest being contemporary vans or 3-row SUVs.

    I never rode, or even sat in, either of the cars while they were there. But seeing them everyday of my formative years, I can’t help but have a soft spot for these final ElDorado coupes.

  • avatar

    Another in a long history of Cadillac naming fails…etcetera ?

    Yes, that makes me feel important and want to buy this trophy car to show how special I am.

    &etc

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I sometimes wonder about a counterfactual history where the Northstar ends up being world class in reliability. If that was the ONLY change in Cadillac’s history in the last 30 years – would the brand be in better shape than it is today?

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      A counterfactual history of the Northstar would have to have a larger supercharged version in the Escalade.
      The 4.0 Northstar in the Oldsmobile Aurora was quite reliable same with the 3.5 aka Shortstar V6 that was offered in the second generation model.

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