By on June 21, 2021

We’ve featured two special Eldorados in the Rare Rides series previously. Most recent was the final Collector Series of the ETC, or Eldorado Touring Coupe. Long ago we also featured the very first Eldorado Touring Coupe from the Eighties.

Today we’ll have a look at the ETC in the middle, and complete our collection with the smallest Eldorado generation of all.

The Eldorado was an early adopter of front-wheel drive at the 1967 model year, alongside the Oldsmobile Toronado. Very much the full-size coupe it had long been, it reached a zenith of length in 1971 when its overall size increased from 221 to 224 inches with a 1971 redesign. The end of the Seventies meant more downsizing and a 10th generation that lost almost 20 inches over its predecessor.

In the early Eighties, as the 10th-gen was about due for replacement, GM made a critical error. Projecting a fuel price spike through the rest of the Eighties, it downsized the vast majority of its car lineup for the 1985 and 1986 model years, including Cadillac. The Eldorado lost another 16 inches for its 11th generation, just around the time the fuel price spike didn’t happen.

Cadillac hit a weird middle space with the Eldorado, where it was then too small to appeal to the America-centric personal luxury coupe buyer, and not sporty enough to attract the customer Cadillac really wanted, who was a BMW man. Sales plummeted immediately, and Eldorado production dropped to about a quarter of what it was at the end of the 10th generation two years prior. Dousing sales even further, GM hiked the price of the Eldorado in ’86 by 16 percent over the prior year. More money, less car.

Part of the blame fell to the lame HT 4100 V8, which was the only engine offered in 1986 and 1987. It was known to be unreliable and underwhelming. The 4.1 was swapped for the 4100-sourced 4.5-liter (a better engine) from 1988 through 1990. The ultimate evolution of the 4.1 arrived in 1991 for Eldorado: the 200-horse 4.9. All engines were paired to the same four-speed automatic used by so many front-drive GM cars from 1986 to 1993.

The Eldorado Touring Coupe version returned for ’86 after its debut on the prior generation, as Cadillac attempted to sway more Euro car buyers into its brown tile and brass railing showrooms. The Touring had a special suspension and featured much less brightwork than the standard Eldorado. There was no hood ornament, no whitewall tires, and no carriage roof. Simplified chrome trim surrounded the tidier bumpers of Touring Coupe, along with special polished alloy wheels, and three-section dual exhaust tips. Rear lamp clusters featured amber lenses, and badges aft of the C-pillar were cloisonne like the prior Touring Coupe. Sporty body-colored front and rear air bumper trim aided the cohesive look, and door handles were also color-matched.

Inside the Touring were sport bucket seats that lacked the ghastly button tufting of other trims. Real wood replaced the wood panel, and there was less of it than in the standard car. A floor shift also replaced the traditional column shift loved by elders. The look was overall much better than the standard Eldorado, but buyers paid a hefty premium for the Touring Coupe: The standard car was over $31,000 by 1991. Buyers were not lured from their European cars, and GM gave the E-body one more try in the final 12th Eldorado featured here previously. You know the rest.

It’s hard to find a Touring of this generation for sale at all, much less with good photos. Today’s Rare Ride was for sale recently at a dealer in Pennsylvania. The final year of its ilk, it had the 4.9 and just 14,000 miles on the odometer and sold for an undisclosed sum.

[Images: Cadillac]

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66 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1991 Cadillac Eldorado Touring Coupe...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I know I’m gonna get hate, but if you want to know why Cadillac ended up in the deep, dark hole it did, look no further than this car. It’s a top of the line car that would go for a base of $62,000 today, based on a FWD chassis, with craptastic interior plastics, and styling that is basically indistinguishable from that of a Cutlass Calais.

    Meanwhile, this was the first year the Lexus SC was available. Why would anyone buy this over the SC?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “I know I’m gonna get hate”

      Correct on that part.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      WWII vets and their wives loved them and wouldn’t touch a Japanese or likely German car (I could see some Pacific vets in a German marque). Boomer sales built Japan Inc.

      “if you want to know why Cadillac ended up in the deep, dark hole it did, look no further than this car.”

      This and the E-body that followed gave false hope that Cadillac got its stuff together, which we now know never happened and will never happen. The precipice to the black hole started in the early 1970s and was confirmed by the Seville in 1977, but the marque wasn’t first sucked in until 1980 and the 368 fiasco. Doubling down on failure, the 4100 was rushed for MY82 to be mounted longitudinally in heavy RWD chassis it was not designed to propel. Somehow though a decent amount of buyers took that beating and came back until MY86’s downsizing. I’d say by the late 80s it was the WWII vets who were left, Boomers who had negative experiences mostly moved on, while upstart early Gen X skipped Cadillac altogether. Rest is history.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        If not for the Escalade, Cadillac would be deader than Julius Caesar.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        When I interviewed at GM Central Office [building completed in 1922] in 1990, after the mature HR lady broke my hand and pointedly inspected the state of shine on my wingtips, I saw that she had this advertisement (written in 1915) prominently displayed in an elaborate frame on her office wall. The attitude it represents explains a lot of what happened since then.

        “In every field of human endeavour, he that is first must perpetually live in the white light of publicity. Whether the leadership be vested in a man or in a manufactured product, emulation and envy are ever at work. In art, in literature, in music, in industry, the reward and the punishment are always the same. The reward is widespread recognition; the punishment, fierce denial and detraction. When a man’s work becomes a standard for the whole world, it also becomes a target for the shafts of the envious few. If his work be mediocre, he will be left severely alone – if he achieves a masterpiece, it will set a million tongues a-wagging. Jealousy does not protrude its forked tongue at the artist who produces a commonplace painting. Whatsoever you write, or paint, or play, or sing, or build, no one will strive to surpass or to slander you unless your work be stamped with the seal of genius. Long, long after a great work or a good work has been done, those who are disappointed or envious, continue to cry out that it cannot be done. Spiteful little voices in the domain of art were raised against our own Whistler as a mountback, long after the big world had acclaimed him its greatest artistic genius. Multitudes flocked to Bayreuth to worship at the musical shrine of Wagner, while the little group of those whom he had dethroned and displaced argued angrily that he was no musician at all. The little world continued to protest that Fulton could never build a steamboat, while the big world flocked to the river banks to see his boat steam by. The leader is assailed because he is a leader, and the effort to equal him is merely added proof of that leadership. Failing to equal or to excel, the follower seeks to depreciate and to destroy – but only confirms once more the superiority of that which he strives to supplant. There is nothing new in this. It is as old as the world and as old as human passions – envy, fear, greed, ambition, and the desire to surpass. And it all avails nothing. If the leader truly leads, he remains – the leader. Master-poet, master-painter, master-workman, each in his turn is assailed, and each holds his laurels through the ages. That which is good or great makes itself known, no matter how loud the clamor of denial. That which deserves to live – lives.”

        https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/290586

        If you had a problem with this vehicle in 1991, the problem was with you, not with the company at the very top of the Fortune 500:
        https://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500_archive/full/1991/

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @ToolGuy – awesome piece.

          Hubris at it’s finest.

          Vehicles just like any other “designed” or “stylized” item produced for mass production have to meet the needs and desires of as many people as possible. Those desires and needs change over time.
          A “Mona Lisa” or “The Starry Night” aren’t mass produced and the term “masterpiece” to this date has stood the test of time.
          Leadership is a dynamic term. The best definition I’ve seen: “Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.”
          In a car manufacturer’s case, that would be for leaders to encourage designers and engineers to produce a product that the masses want and influences other companies to emulate.
          Ford did just that with the Model T (mass produced car),the SuperCrew F150 (1/2 ton crew pickups dominate the sales charts), and the Mustang (Pony cars).

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        The all new for 1976 Seville was well regarded by the automotive press at the time and its sales figures backed it up. If only GM had some foresight afterwards and not gone down ill conceived rabbit holes like the 8,6,4, Cimarron and shrunken C-bodies.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Seville was a Nova which as I recall was the most expensive model that year outside of the top Deville or Fleetwood. It gave GM mgt some ill conceived ideas, “we can sell them Chevillacs and they just say moaaarr”. As much as Cimmaron was a quick half assed effort to counter the Europeans, had Seville been a flop I doubt it would have gone down the way it did. More akin too: “We can’t sell another tarted up Chevy as a Cadillac, look at Seville”.

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            The Seville was based on the Nova X body platform.
            When they were designing the all new for 1980 Seville they actually considered using the G-body platform off of a 4 door Century or Cutlass Aeroback. However controversial the bustle back was at least it was on the E-body platform.
            Instead of the Cimarron they should have just rebadged the Opel Omega, a pre Catera that zigs. Then we could have gotten the Lotus Carlton.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      100% correct. And the sad reality is that Cadillac is still peddling similarly subpar, off the mark designs to this day.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I think they came fairly close with the last-gen ATS and CTS – good looking cars with great chassis setups, hampered by subpar interiors, CUE, and the inexplicable decision to cull engines straight from the Chevy showroom floor. None of that was particularly hard to fix, but the product flaws stuck around for both cars’ entire production runs. I don’t get it.

        And I think the “Chevy engine” sin was the most unforgivable one – everyone here says “stuff a V8 into it,” and that’d have been fun, but they’d have been OK if they’d just redone the more basic GM 2.0T and 3.6 V6 engine designs to put a “Cadillac spin” on them. Tune them and build them on a separate line so that you’re not getting the exact same engine in your $50,000 ATS that you’d find in a Malibu.

        Just stupid execution…like the car in this story, with its’ silly digital speedo trying to pretend it’s a Mercedes alternative. Who do they think they were kidding?

        • 0 avatar
          bufguy

          The ATS and CTS were great cars. Unique bodies and platforms not shared with other GM marques. The problem was no one was buying cars. If the Xt4, XT5 and XT6 had received the same attention as the sedans with their own rear wheel drive platforms, Cadillac would be in much better shape. Instead they used the Equinox and Traverse

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            They were great in some ways, head-shakingly poor in others. I’m not spending $50,000 on a car that has the same engine as a Malibu.

            But you are right, I think – the key thing that killed the ATS/CTS was the shrinking sedan market. The only real survivors in that segment are from Ze Germans and Lexus, and those brands got to that game a lot earlier than Cadillac did.

            Also, the ATS/CT4 is on the same platform as the current Camaro.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            The ATS was fine in a bubble but the Jaguar XE was the only thing in its competitive set that I thought the Cadillac really beat.

            The 3G CTS was priced high enough I never bothered looking at it.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          “Who do they think they were kidding?”

          Everyone who bought one

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          @FreedMike

          Agreed, ATS and CTS came close – the CTS closer than the ATS. The biggest sin of the Alpha ATS sure wasn’t the chassis. I never ready anything but praise about the chassis (the 2.5 base engine was a stupid mistake, but they ditched that base engine pretty quick).

          The biggest sin of the ATS was the wretched interior and the cramped back seat. From a driving dynamics, the ATS finally achieved what Cadillac had chased for almost 40 years – something that drives like a BMW.

          That was in part because BMW has slid so far away from the “ultimate driving machine” to the lowest common denominator lease special.

    • 0 avatar
      C5 is Alive

      Far be it for me to defend Cadillac, then or now, but it’s not as though Mercedes, BMW or Lexus didn’t also have predominantly plastic interiors, and Cadillac dashes and door panels used plastics that were noticeably thicker and of (arguably) better quality and feel than those in contemporaneous Olds or Buicks. I’d daresay there was more differentiation between a Cadillac interior and a Buick interior in 1991 than there is today.

      The rest of your points are spot-on, though.

    • 0 avatar
      Oberkanone

      This is relevant https://testdrivejunkie.com/1991-cadillac-lineup-dealer-training-video/

      Earn your commission!

    • 0 avatar
      boowiebear

      I totally agree. Cadillac got greedy and just tarted up low end cars.

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    “The Standard of the World”.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I pined for one of these, and nearly bought a broughamized black/black with gold and E&G grille in 2003. Wish I had, would have been better than the Coupe de Ville I ended up with a year later (though much more expensive). In the intervening years I’ve seen a handful of these ETCs in the wild, the Seville was also sold with a similar euro style package as STS.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    This was a lot prettier than the geriatric-aimed standard car, but FreedMike is right: it just wasn’t worth what GM was asking for it.

    With that said I adore these wheels and wish wheels like them would make a comeback.

  • avatar
    Dan

    What a sorry piece of crap. I don’t care how much they thought gas was going to cost.

    If you could wave a magic wand and erase the Cimarron and the Olds diesels and the X-bodies even GM’s B-Reel debacles would still be enough to make the all time books of brand killing.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    ERROR! ERROR!
    The Buick Riviera did not go FWD until 1979. It was on the same E-platform as the Toro and Eldo but used RWD. In 1977-78 the Riv was just a dolled-up LeSabre 2-door.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    The Eldorado was an early adopter of front-wheel drive at the 1967 model year, alongside the Buick Riviera and Oldsmobile Toronado.

    I know the Eldo and Toro were FWD in ’67, but wasn’t the Riviera RWD until the 1979 downsizing?

  • avatar
    4runner

    Let’s face it – the car sucked, even at that time, but the name RULES.

    El Dorado, Seville, Fleetwood, and Deville – those were great names. It’s too bad that Cadillac’s electrification didn’t bring these names back.

    Instead, we are stuck with sucky names like Lyriq, which we be joined by Optiq and Symboliq (if the trademark filings are any indication). (Yes, I know those names have the letters IQ in them indicating they are the “smart” choice. That just makes me want to barf.)

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    What can I say, my old man took out one year leases on STSs from 1987 on.
    Prior to that Sevilles. Prior to that a couple of Fleetwoods.
    In the 1970s’ he was predominantly a Lincoln guy. With the exception of a 1977 Eldorado which compared very poorly to the previous Mark IVs.

    He switched permanently to Cadillac in 1980 when the 5th generation Mark arrived as a ‘downsized’ vehicle.

  • avatar
    crispin001

    I love these cars…would take a gray, ‘91 non-ETC in a heartbeat.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    It just occurred to me that, in 1991, you could have bought a base LS 400 for the same money that Cadillac at least pretended to charge for this ETC.

    Pretty much says it all.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Great point, although Lexus did sell the LS400 as a loss leader while this was not (though I read Allante was).

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        If you’re looking for non-loss leader cars that still make this Eldo look like an embarrassment at the same price, you don’t have to look any farther than the E34 525i or the second-gen Legend. (Fortunately for Cadillac, the W124 300CE was pricier.)

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Oh the Germans absolutely blew this away, probably first generation of the Legend as well. However American buyers benefitted from the appreciating Yen/Dollar since the Japanese were importing near JDM spec models but making less and less on them. Eventually they moved manufacturing here and materials fell more in line with what the domestics were using.

          https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/051515/impact-exchange-rates-japans-economy.asp

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      Also in 1991 you could have purchased the very excellent Lincoln Mark VIII LSC. I still have a soft spot for its E-body cousin the 90-92 Oldsmobile Trofeo.
      By the time GM improved upon these E-bodies with the styling enhancements and the Touring package many of its customers moved on though its 92-2002 replacement was a vast improvement, short of the N* issues and is what GM should have introduced back in 86.

  • avatar
    jensenajj

    I had a 92 deville with a 4.9 – I can’t imagine the same general size and weight with the 4.1.

    Cadillac and GM seemingly threw away the ideas that made them appeal to Americans. Unique products that appealed to different buyers. Everything continued to become more generic. Sure they said Cadillac or Oldsmobile, or Buick, but they were all just basically “Chevy” underneath.

    Their big cars weren’t as big or comfortable. Their “sporty” cars were held back by vestiges of their big cars. Everything regressed the mean.

  • avatar
    TheEndlessEnigma

    There is ONE good attribute this car offers…it’s doesn’t have a Northstar engine in it unlike the Crapillac’s of 2 years later.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Nothing wrong with a Northstar that some proper head bolts won’t solve.

      • 0 avatar
        TheEndlessEnigma

        You’re right, however it doesn’t have proper head bolts therefore the engines are complete trash. Nothing quite like building an engine that is guaranteed to suffer catastrophic failure.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          How is it guaranteed? Buy one that works now, replace the head bolts, and you should have an engine good to go for years.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            To do a Northstar work over (headstuds , new gaskets, starter, timing chain) is a fairly difficult job. It’s definitely a major step up from doing brake pads and oil changes.

            Now you can pay someone to do it, but you need to go to a knowledgeable, worthwhile mechanic and although it isn’t Italian car expensive it’s still a lot of money to spend on something that isn’t worth much money. Plus, you’ll still have 20+ year old HVAC, plastics, electrics, etc.

            Unless you are really *in love* with those Cadillacs it is hard to recommend. Better off either buying something more reliable or spending repair money on something more desirable.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        https://imgflip.com/i/5e5wld

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    I look at that interior and I’m reminded, and not in a good way, of how the exact same equipment installed in my dad’s old (and long gone) Olds Touring Sedan failed in almost comical ways.

    The information center would spout random characters, gibberish, and then freeze up. The stereo, which sounded good during those rare times it worked, would also seize up, volume would become tuning and vice versa, sometimes we would hear all of the sound move to one speaker, and eject was a suggestion at times. The “automatic” function on the a/c was broken – it just set everything at full throttle before takeoff speeds. Power seats that gave up the ghost making the passenger seat feel like Middle Ages torture devices. The sunroof leaked far more water than Corey’s Golf could ever imagine.

    It was just total, unrelenting, unequaled, unholy, pure and total, 100%, hot and steaming garbage.

    And as others have pointed out, the Lexus dealer down the road was selling a damn near flawless vehicle for not much more money.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Piece
    Of
    $#!+

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I will say the reliability was far better by this point with these cars. The steering rack, HT4100 and 440 trans-axle issues were all well sorted out and styling was a bit better by the added rear girth out back and the power dome hood up front.

    If I was going to buy American during this time I would have headed right over to my Lincoln dealer and purchased the still nice looking Mark VII coupe in LSC trim of course with the hot rod version of Ford’s 302 SFI engine that was rated for 225 horses.

    • 0 avatar

      For the money, this gen Eldorado didn’t make sense. Clearly it didn’t fool too many people, and the Mark was clearly superior.

      Now, the lesser versions from Buick and Olds, could possibly make a case for those with their 3800 goodness.

  • avatar
    sckid213

    As someone who roots for Caddy who considers 1986-1992 the brands “blackout years,” I appreciate what they were trying to do with the ETC, even if it came across about as authentic as the Lumina Eurosport. These ’80s ETCs were actually much more “Euro” style sport than the following ETCs of the ’90s.

    I think Caddy can make up for the sin of the 1986 Eldo by coming out with an all-electric showpiece of a PLC called the EldoRODo.

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