Junkyard Find: 1988 Cadillac Fleetwood D'Elegance

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1988 cadillac fleetwood delegance

1988 was an interesting year for The General’s Cadillac Division. The Cavalier-based Cimarron was in its final year of sales, the Hamtramck/Turin-built Allanté was in its second year (and priced about the same as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class), and the “traditional” rear-wheel-drive Brougham sedan shared showroom space with the front-wheel-drive De Villes, Eldorados, and Sevilles. The old Sixty Special name was still being used, along with such slightly newer titles as Elegante and d’Elegance. While the Allanté lived at the top of the GM prestige pyramid for ’88, the Fleetwood was the car of choice for those very wealthy Cadillac shoppers who insisted on four doors and zero Pininfarina nonsense. Here’s one of those cars, found in excellent condition in a Denver yard last spring.

The Fleetwood came in two flavors for 1988: The $28,024 d’Elegance and the $34,750 Sixty Special (that’s about $67,320 and $83,480, respectively, in 2021 frogskins). Both lived on the same platform as the ordinary De Ville (not to mention the Olds Ninety-Eight and Buick Park Avenue), but the Sixty Special had another half-foot of wheelbase.

The Northstar V8 was still a few years off, so the Fleetwood (as well as the De Ville, Eldorado, and Seville) got the 4.5-liter version of the High Technology V8, rated at 155 horsepower in 1988. The Allanté had a 4.1-liter version of the HT with 170 horses, while the Brougham received an Oldsmobile 307 with just 140 horsepower but a mighty 346 pound-feet of torque (the venerable Olds V8 continued in production all the way through 1990).

All the doors were locked (a common tactic by junkyard shoppers who wish to prevent others from buying interior parts before they can sell a few pints at the blood bank and come back) and I didn’t feel up to coat-hangering a lock at that time, but you can see through the glass that this car’s interior was close to mint when its career ended. There’s a bit of torn upholstery plus some tape on the driver’s armrest, and that’s about all the damage.

One owner? Probably.

The padded vinyl landau roof shows some sun damage, but nothing too severe.

The “wire wheel disc” hubcaps came as standard equipment on the Fleetwood d’Elegance, with aluminum 15″ wheels available for an additional $435. Real wire wheels could be purchased for 940 bones; those are much sought-after today by owners of Houston-style SLABs.

Yet another junkyard example of the Rare But Not Valuable phenomenon.

This is your life and you’re the only one who’s livin’ it. The Cadillac owners shown in this commercial appear to be one-third to one-half the age of your typical Cadillac buyer of the immediate pre-Escalade era.

The 4.5-liter HT engine was so revolutionary that it got its own TV ad.

The state of the art in six-passenger luxury, as seen on Matlock.

For links to better than 2,100 additional Junkyard Finds, visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

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3 of 26 comments
  • Akear Akear on Jan 04, 2022

    This was from a time when GM cars were all basically boxes on four wheels. This was the era of the GM look-likes, which was parodied by Ford at the time. Still GM was twice as large back the than it is now.

    • Jeff S Jeff S on Jan 04, 2022

      True and GM is losing even more market share. This Cadillac looks to have been well maintained but it is not much different except the V8 and being a Fleetwood from the Buick Electra and Olds 98 of the same year.

  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Jan 14, 2022

    For a car series that is often dismissed it's surprising how many of these are still on the road some as daily drivers and some as Summer driven machines. They worked quite well in the snow belt areas such as Upstate, NY where I live with 14" tires and FWD and the V8 did give this car a smoothness and torque edge over the less smooth Buick 3.8 when the 4.5 debutted. We were selling these cars at our dealership right up until around 2017/2018 but now they are very thin on the ground at the auctions. Its more Devilles from 00-05 and DTS's these days. And yes we still occasionally have folks coming in looking for these types of cars but not as much as years back.

  • GrumpyOldMan The weather protection of a motorcycle plus the bulk of a car.
  • Kcflyer in a world where Miata doesn't exist this still seems like an expensive limited use choice
  • Verbal Crusher bait.
  • Rick T. When my wife was practicing law in Chicago back before our move to glorious TN about 10 years ago, several of her clients did quite well investing in parking spaces there.
  • Jkross22 This might just be me, but the times that I've driven an EV, I use the brake regen paddles to quell my inner MT/control freak nature.