By on May 2, 2022

1985 Cadillac Cimarron in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWay back in 2007, I kicked off the Down On the Street series (which was supposed to be a one-time reference to the title of a Stooges song beloved by me and the late Davey J. Johnson) with the first of what would turn out to be hundreds of interesting street-parked cars: a 1984 Cadillac Cimarron d’Oro. That led to something of a Cimarron obsession, and I’ve spent the past 15 years documenting every semiintact Cadillac J-Body I find during my junkyard adventures. You’d think they’d all have been crushed by now, but such is not the case; I found this loaded Brown Overload Edition ’85 in a yard near Pikes Peak earlier this year.

1985 Cadillac Cimarron in Colorado junkyard, emblem - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Cimarron was the Cadillac-badged version of the Chevrolet Cavalier (or, if you prefer, the Cadillac-badged version of the Isuzu Aska), and it cost about twice as much as a Cavalier. Sales spanned the 1982 through 1988 model years.

1985 Cadillac Cimarron in Colorado junkyard, emblem - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Cadillac Division had scored a big sales success with a Cadillac-ized Chevy Nova in the late 1970s, and something had to be done about small European luxury sedans stealing Cadillac sales.

1985 Cadillac Cimarron in Colorado junkyard, emblem - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsUnfortunately for The General, there’s only so much you can do to turn a cheap transportation appliance into a credible swankmobile, and now nearly everyone jeers at the very idea of the Cimarron.

Fran Whibbs Cadillac keychain - ©2022 Murilee MartinMy wife’s Wisconsin family stayed loyal to General Motors products for most of the 20th century, with her parents working their way from Chevrolets on to Buicks and her grandparents climbing Sloan’s Ladder of Success from Oldsmobile all the way up to the pinnacle: Cadillac. Upon retirement in the middle 1980s, it seemed prudent for Grandpa to trade in the Sedan DeVille for a new Cimarron. So, he took the DeVille from Milwaukee down to Francis A. Whibbs‘ dealership in Chicago and picked up the new Caddy… which turned out to be a disappointing lemon that spent more time in the shop than on the street. At least they saved the Cimarron’s keychain, which I now own.

1985 Cadillac Cimarron in Colorado junkyard, interior - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis brown and maroon-ish brown interior appears to be the “Ripple cloth and Sierra Grain leather seating area combination” and was far nicer than anything you could get in the prole-grade Cavalier.

1985 Cadillac Cimarron in Colorado junkyard, instrument cluster - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe digital gauge cluster added $238 to the Cimarron’s $12,692 price tag (that’s about $650 on a $34,590 car when reckoned in 2022 dollars). It wasn’t as cool as the digital dash of the Subaru XT, but still futuristic stuff for 1985.

1985 Cadillac Cimarron in Colorado junkyard, radio and HVAC controls - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsUnlike most other J-Bodies for 1985, the Cimarron came with an AM/FM radio as standard equipment (or you could get a $151 credit for deleting the radio). This “Symphony Sound” cassette deck with AM stereo and a five-band equalizer added 299 bucks (about $815 today). If you wanted this radio with a built-in CB (so you could give a big 10-4 to the trucker man), it cost $895 ($2,440 now). In 1985, I was paying $1,296 for that year’s tuition at the University of California (plus $50/month for rent at the on-campus trailer park, where students could perform engine swaps in their front yards), so the idea of a CB radio for nearly as many frogskins as a quarter’s tuition would have seemed shocking to me at the time.

1985 Cadillac Cimarron in Colorado junkyard, emblem - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe base engine in the ’85 Cimarron was the same 2.0-liter four-banger found in the Cavalier, but with 88 horses instead of the Chevy’s 85. This car has the optional 2.8-liter V6, rated at 125 horsepower and adding $560 to the car’s price tag. I’d have shot photos of the engine, but the hood latch mechanism was broken and I didn’t feel like messing with it in order to see an engine I’ve photographed many times before.

1985 Cadillac Cimarron in Colorado junkyard, gearshift - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBelieve it or not, the base transmission in the 1985 Cimarron was an old-timey four-on-the-floor manual, though nearly all Cimarron buyers spent the extra $350 ($955 now) for the automatic. I’ve managed to find a junkyard Cimarron with the rare V6/4-speed combination, amazingly.

1985 Cadillac Cimarron in Colorado junkyard, wheel cover - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis car also has the optional 14″ alloy wheels, which cost just 40 additional bucks.

1985 Cadillac Cimarron in Colorado junkyard, DALE sticker - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis DALE sticker probably dates back to the car’s early days on the road.

The keys were still in it when it showed up to its final parking spot.

1985 Cadillac Cimarron in Colorado junkyard, LH rear view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI picked up a 2009 Hyundai Accent radio for a car-parts boombox project that day (late-2000s Hyundais are among the few junkyard cars that offer factory radios that have AUX jacks but no CAN Bus requirements), and you can see it sitting next to my trusty junkyard toolbox in this photo.

1985 Cadillac Cimarron in Colorado junkyard, front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Cimarron was done after 1988, though its Cavalier/Sunfire platform-mates carried on well into our current century.

For links to more than 2,200 additional Junkyard Finds, please visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

[Images courtesy of the author]

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63 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1985 Cadillac Cimarron...”


  • avatar
    ravenuer

    This car is exactly where it belongs.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Back in he late 80′s I worked for a company that had a Cimarron like this as one of it’s company cars. Essentially the Z24 of Cimarrons with the 2.8 MPI.
    Occasionally I would take it out and it was not a bad driver,far better than any X-Body of the era with good power and better than average handling with the optional sport suspension, on Chevy’s it was the F41 but not worthy of the “standard of the world” moniker.
    If only Cadillac had the sense to give it it’s own unique body and drive train (Opel Omega or Senator?)later known as the ill fated Catera. If done right it could have been much more than a rebadged Cavailer and been able to play on 3-series turf.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Fight me but the Catera was worse than the Cimarron.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        Reliability wise the Catera “Lisa Catera” was way worse. They were replete with timing belt and head issues as well as electrical gremlins. There are some folks who gave them LS or LT swaps turning them into the Aussie GTO/Monaro.
        At least with a Cimarron you could get well over 100k out of it with normal maintenance and few issues as good or even better than other GM vehicles of the era.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Trying to figure out the “winner” of the Catera/Cimarron loser battle is like trying to decide whether “Plan 9 From Outer Space” or “Mars Needs Moms” was a worse movie. Both were atrocious, but for different reasons.

        I’d say the Cimarron wasn’t awful mechanically, but selling an obvious Cavalier clone was a huge middle finger to Cadillac buyers – the company figured no one would be smart enough to tell the difference. Boy, were they wrong.

        The Catera wasn’t all that bad conceptually – at least no one in the U.S. knew it was a badge-engineered Opel – but it was built like crap.

        Bottom line – both were absolute disasters. I’d argue the Cimarron did more damage to the brand, though – if nothing else, by the time the Catera came out, people had become accustomed to Cadillacs that sucked, but in the early ’80s, that was still something of a novelty.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          What do you think a Lexus ES250 was? Yup, a Camry with gold trim.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Dude, talk about denial…

            That’s platform sharing. Nothing wrong with that if it’s done right, which Toyota did in this case – the ES was thoroughly restyled and upgraded from the Camry.

            Then there’s slapping Cadillac badges and leather seats on a Chevy economy car and thinking luxury car buyers are going to be dumb enough not to notice.

            Plus, I’d say the worst late-’90s Camry was probably twice as good as the best J-car Cavalier Chevy ever made.

            That’s why the ES and Camry are still on the market 30 years later and the Cavalier and Cimarron are both long gone.

        • 0 avatar

          Opels were built like crap. It was by design.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “This DALE sticker probably dates back to the car’s early days on the road.”

    Considering that the lower text reads “Godspeed to the Intimidator” the decal is from 2001 or later. So the car would have been at least 16 years old.

  • avatar
    SavageATL

    ajila: I owned a 2001 Catera, bought new. I can tell you that you are 200% correct and the Catera was a FAR worse car than the Cimarron. Let me explain what owning a Catera was like. Last week, I had to go to one of my rental condos and clean out a fridge in which meat had been rotting for three weeks. It’s gone from bioweapons grade stench to lingering, what the hell happened here stench. Owning a Catera was like handling three week old rotten meat and eggs and liquified vegetables.

    I think the Cimarron gets an unfair bashing. No, it wasn’t a Cadillac, and yes, it should have been better differentiated from its lower echelon brethren, but consider a Cadillac showroom in 1984/1985. Everything else came with your Scylla or Charybdis engine choices of a 135 odd hp fragile 4100 or a 135 odd hp fragile diesel. Imagine that in a 4300lb Deville/Eldorado/Seville. The Cimarron wasn’t a great car, and it especially wasn’t a great Cadillac, but by itself it was a decent car. No, it wasn’t TWICE as much as a COMPARABLY equipped Cavalier. It was more expensive, but back then power steering, power brakes, automatic, air, power windows, locks, mirrors, and upgraded interior were all expensive extra cost items. The Cimarron managed to sell 132k units over its 82-88 run, none of which went to fleets, and more profitably for GM and more than whatever RCQV7 they are trying to sell now.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I think the Catera is the worst Cadillac ever and #3 on the worst GM vehicles ever (behind the Vega and Citation).

      I don’t consider myself a Cimmaron defender but I’m largely with you on it. Using a fancy J-Body to compete with Golden Era German cars was ridiculous and deserves derision, but at least it could exist as functional transportation.

    • 0 avatar
      ravenuer

      Your story about the fridge in your rental condo brought to mind my 2017 Lexus RX in which a package of fresh chicken fell out of the bag in the back. It was in Florida and I didn’t have to go out for 3 days. Three 90-degree days. You could imagine the smell!

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    I thought that’s what all J-bodies looked like after one winter in the lake effect snowbelt cities or the Rocky Mountains.

    And who needs a silky smooth German 4 or 6-cylinder purring under the hood. Why, head on down to your local Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet, Pontiac dealer/front for your local mafia organization and instead we can wedge you behind the wheel of this purrs like a rabid mountain lion getting its tail run over while gargling broken glass and you can say you bought ‘murican! Just don’t get it wet, leave it in direct sunlight, rev over 3,000 rpm, miss a shift on the ultra notchy 4 speed manual, or call it a bad name. Its feelings will get hurt and it’ll never start again.

    Dear Lord, what a piece of hot, reeking, putrid, moldy, unadulterated crap. This car is always going to be held high as the shining example of why GM deserves death by fire.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      The Cimarron should have come with the V6/slushbox standard. Not very sporty, but most Caddy buyers wouldn’t really care, and it wouldn’t be too terrible to drive.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Normally I would pan the Cavalier Cadillac but with the V-6 this Cimarron would not be a bad car and if you added a 4 speed there would have been some modicum of fun.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      This is also true for the 1/2-price Cavalier.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff S

        A manual transmission can help even the suckiest vehicle. Adam on Rare Classic Cars (Adam worked for GM for years) explains how the Cimarron was developed and much of the final plans of adopting the J platform had to do with using the manufacturing facilities available to make the Cimarron. The X platform was dismissed because all the plants making X cars had no capacity to make a Cadillac but the J platform which was newer had the extra capacity. Designers were limited by having to use the same body panels and doors not only to save money but to accommodate production in J platform plants therefore saving having to retool and reconfigure these plants. Drive trains for the Cimarron were limited from the start giving engineers no freedom to vary from the J car power trains. The only place where designers had more freedom was designing the grill and the taillights and some of the interior but even then GM wanted to share interior components with the Chevy, Pontiac, Olds, and Buick derivatives. Cimarron was a car designed on a strict budget and limited by the capacities of existing manufacturing plants but with the task of competing with Mercedes and BMW. Too many constraints put on the designing and planning of the Cimarron to ever ensure it would be a success.

      • 0 avatar
        zerofoo

        My 87 cavalier Z24 was a hoot. I beat the hell out of that car as many teens like me also did. Ran the nuts off of it through college and then sold it to a friend.

        I was very surprised at the durability of that thing.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          I was going to say the J-body Beretta GT was very fun to drive or that it had 160 lb-ft propelling 2,600 lbs of car.

          • 0 avatar
            eng_alvarado90

            Weren’t the Corsica / Beretta L-bodies?
            I recall my mom had a Corsica with the V6 as a company vehicle and it was much more relatable in size and suspension to the N-body vehicles like the Grand Am and Skylark

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Have a friend who ran a Z24 until last year. It kept running and running, despite parts falling off, rust and minimal maintenance.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      I knew 2 people who owned them. #1 was a h.s. classmate who got an early MY version between h.s. and college, bought used with low miles. I think it was the first year or two with the wheezy 1.8. He had a lot of problems. This would have been late 87 or 88 timeframe. #2 was a housemate circa 1994 after I’d moved to the city. His was a late model, 87 or 88, with composite headlights and the V-6. He was older, also bought used, he said it had been the best car he had owned up to that point.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “The Cimarron was the Cadillac-badged version of the Chevrolet Cavalier…, and it cost about twice as much as a Cavalier.”

    My sentiment about the Cadillac ELR applies here as well – the problem with the Cimarron and ELR was not the price, but the product. Everyone expects to pay more – even substantially more – for a Cadillac, but they expect more than nicer seats for the effort.

    Both the Cimarron and ELR would have benefited from stronger drivetrains and markedly better handling, but the Cimarron was so obviously a badge-engineering exercise that it was doomed from the start.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “My sentiment about the Cadillac ELR applies here as well – the problem with the Cimarron and ELR was not the price, but the product.”

      As the owner of a Volt completely have to disagree with your statement. You could tell from a 100 yards away the Cimaron was nothing more than a poorly badged Chevy. Good grief the doors and just about everything else were completely interchangeable. The ELR on the other hand is an absolutely stunning car & doesn’t look anything like a Volt. The interior is easily one of the best you’ll find in any Cadillac made in recent years and again looks nothing like the interior on the Volt. The dealership where I got my Volt also had an ELR and I’d of taken the Caddy over the Chevy in a heartbeat if I didn’t have 3 kids. Of course I do have the Cadillac paint on my Chevy so not all bad!……LOL

      And absolutely the price was the problem with the ELR, the car itself was fabulous and heads and tails more luxurious than the Daewoo/Chevy it was based on.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        As I said above, the Cimarron was clearly badge-engineered, but the ELR was not. However, the ELR’s astronomical price didn’t buy you a faster or more efficient car – it bought you a Volt with nicer clothes.

        For me, nicer clothes alone aren’t worth double the price.

        I’m certain the ELR wouldn’t have garnered any more respect if it had been $50k instead of $75k, versus the $37k for the Volt. In fact, Cadillac was discounting ELRs to $49k at the end of its 2500-unit run just to get rid of them.

        The ELR never had any market respect because it wasn’t a better car.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    i grew up on the lower east side of aurora, near montgomery. the only time wed head to farnsworth was for the computer store we got our appleII at, or take the tollway. ohyeah- or to visit the girls in batavia, geneva, or st charles.

    • 0 avatar
      cardave5150

      To SoCalMikester – I grew up on the east side of Batavia, right off Kirk/Farnsworth. And my girlfriend was from the lower east side of Aurora!

      We passed this Cadillac dealer on our way to the Apple II store also!

      And, I worked at Funway for several years, for what that’s worth.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    You’re one of the old trailer park people, huh? With all the hoopla around needing to reclaim the space, almost all of it is still just a parking lot (that bathroom building is still there) with plans for a parking structure. But these days it’s more AMGs and Maseratis than rusty VWs and, well, J-bodies there. For a short time last year, my office (ironically enough in a trailer) overlooked that space.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    WHO’S GONNA SAVE IT!!!

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It succeeded in ways less obvious. Monkey See Monkeys Do works out way better for gm.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    I’d love to find a mint one of these for cheap bucks and drop a 240-horse LZ9 3.9l in it (the 2006-2011 version of the ancient 2.8 V6 that’s in the featured car). It’d be a real sleeper that no one would expect.

  • avatar
    islander800

    THIS is what you get when a once-proud and world-leading auto corporation with the talents of an Ed Cole, an engineer’s engineer and creator of the most significant engine of all time (Chevrolet small-block V8) and most beloved vehicle in American history (1955-1957 Chevrolet), descends into a self-loathing basket case run by the likes of clueless bean counters like the acknowledged worst American CEO of all time, Roger Smith (God, it hurts to even type his name!).

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I think Smith’s legacy is a bit more complex than that. He definitely failed, and hard, but it wasn’t from “business as usual”. In fact, I’d say Smith’s main problem was that he failed as a bean counter.

      I’d call his tenure an “ambitious failure.”

      Far as Ed Cole is concerned, he also had his share of derp during his time at GM. Remember the Vega?

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    Adam on youtube channel Rare Classic Cars and Automotive History has some wonderful videos on the background story and reasoning behind the Cimarron. Parents had a Caterra. I was DD’ing my 96′ Caprice at the time and had to drive the Catera from Fort Collins to Phoenix. I kept saying, this is a German Cadillac, what rubbish. The catera was totalled out by a stationary truck rim in the middle I-10 outside of Globe, AZ. That was a lucky deal. Still got my Caprice, so all is good.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      @CaddyDaddy-Adam is really knowledgeable about the car industry. His latest interviews with Bob Lutz are worth a view. Adam’s collection of 60’s and 70’s pristine cars are worth a view as well.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      I enjoy Adam’s videos. So informative and well-narrated. Soothing in a way, no b.s., no stupid music, and no hyperbole. He’s like the Bob Ross of youtube car videos.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Cimarron vs Catera vs full-size HT4100 vs V8-6-4 vs early Northstar vs BLS vs 2nd gen SRX vs ELR

  • avatar
    thornmark

    GM saw Cadillac hit the jackpot, turning the Nova into the gorgeous Seville and selling it for far more than any other Cadillac – HUGE success, so

    why not see if lightning strikes twice – instead they struck out and outrageously so

    like the Lincoln Versailles, the Cimarron was a crapfest

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The original Seville wasn’t really badge-engineered, though – it rode on the Nova’s platform, but they reworked it thoroughly enough that no one would know they were so similar mechanically.

      Meanwhile, the Cimarron and Versailles were both obviously both badge jobs, right down to the dashboards.

      So, as you say, Cadillac wanted to re-create the Seville’s success, but ignored what made it successful.

      • 0 avatar
        conundrum

        Yeah, they spent a fair few bucks structurally improving the Nova for that first Seville, then blighted it with early 1950s bustle-boot rear end like an Austin Princess, and retained the ever-popular cart leaf springs for the rear axle, same as a ’50s Roller. Mmm, mmm, smooth, man. Until you hit that dip in the road where someone just tore up the new pavement to put a culvert across it, and filled in the hole with $200 worth of the cheapest asphalt that immediately sagged. I could never decide which was the biggest fake, the Lincoln Versailles or the Seville, Both made me laugh. The cynicism of the product development teams in palming off these rolling heaps of technically inferior junk on unsuspecting customers as the latest and greatest was what told me all I needed to know about people who gave not a single darn about truth. Corporate cigar-chomping nihilists who knew a fool was born every minute who trusted the blue-chip stock companies not to rip ’em off. Heh, heh, sure.

        By comparison, the Cimarron was so blatantly obviously a Cavalier, only people who fail a spatial test in identifying the same object rotated through 90 degrees were fooled. And paid a handsome price for being that way, and believing the salesman’s patter that “Yes Ma’am! Yes indeed! This here is a genyooine Cadillac. Best car in the World! Just a bit smaller for handy maneuvering. Can’t go wrong. They’re on sale today, too! Sign here. No, use MY gold pen. You’re going to love this vehicle!”

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          The bustleback Seville looked horrid, but it was on the E-body platform, which purpose built for luxury vehicles. The Versailles was nothing but a Granada in disguise. Ford did the same thing with the mid-80s Continental, which was a glorified Fairmount.

          Lord knows the E-bodies had their issues (engines, primarily) but GM put effort into making them pretty legit luxury cars for their day. I’d take a cherry Riv convertible.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Yes, the bustleback Seville was at least on a solid (albeit aging) platform.
            That gen Seville also had 4-wheel independent suspension, with coils and electronic shocks in the rear so I’m not sure what he’s on about with leaf springs stuff.

      • 0 avatar
        islander800

        One could certainly start from a far inferior platform than the Nova to massage it into a Cadillac. I think the 1968 and later Novas are now getting a lot more respect than new. Many don’t realize that it essentially shared the same platform with the 1st generation Camaro, with the same front subframe bolted to a unibody – they even shared the same firewall. The Seville quite successfully hid the Nova/Camaro front subframe rails in side view with a simple rubber skirt running along the rocker panels from front to rear wheel openings. Nobody really claims the first-gen Camaro is a bad vehicle. As you state, the platform was extensively upgraded for the Seville in most respects but it was a very competent base they started with. I bought a 1976 Olds Omega hatchback new with the 260 Olds V8 and 5-speed Getrag transmission – it was one of the most solid cars I’ve owned. (I wish I still had that now-likely rare car!)

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Versailles had that elusive 9 inch, disk brake equipped rear end that was the right width for early Mustangs though.

    • 0 avatar
      wjtinfwb

      No car made me madder than the Lincoln Versailles. GM and Cadillac did a fantastic job of starting from a humble base and developing a great looking, unique and solid performing smaller luxury car in the Gen 1 Seville. Ford/Lincoln; totally mailed in their response, taking a V8 Granada/Monarch, adding some deeper carpet and a fake spare tire trunk lid and pronouncing it done. It was an embarrassing effort, as mentioned barely disguised from the Granada it sprang from and having rear disc brakes as it’s sole chassis innovation. I worked for an Executive Leasing company in Miami at the time, we had lots of Town Cars and Marks out on lease so our fleet dealer gave us a Versailles to drive and show to clients for a week. Several customers were eager to see it and immediately wrote it off as a cheap imposter. I don’t recall us leasing a single Versailles. The Seville owned Lincoln during that period, the marketing and design groups that signed off on that turd should have been sent to work for Daihatsu or Lada as they clearly had given up on their careers.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        “The marketing and design groups that signed off on that turd should have been sent to work for Daihatsu or Lada as they clearly had given up on their careers.”

        Given the article, I’m going to say GM scooped them up for this turd.

  • avatar
    You betcha

    This belongs in a museum. Doodoo brown and shares the body of a Pontiac 4 door long forgotten or buick. There was a point and time Cadillac was putting out epic failures in automotive creativity. This is proof. I wonder how many “tote the note” “inhouse financing” lots this sat on before meeting it’s final fate at the salvage yard. It had the 10/10 warranty. 10 miles or 10 days. Whichever came first from the lot.

    This had to be direct competition for an Aries K Chrysler 4 door.

  • avatar
    sckid213

    So what’s the closest modern-day equivalent to the Cimarron? I vote Integra (and outgoing ILX was even more Cimarron-like)

  • avatar
    wjtinfwb

    One of my friends in S. Florida in early 80’s was the youngest of a wealthy family that loved their cars and boats. Kids all had 320i’s and Boston Whalers, dad drove a S-class. Their mom, a lovely and regal woman was a staunch Cadillac driver. She had a series of deVille’s, a Seville when introduced and when the new Bustle back Seville came out, turned up her nose at it and selected a Cimarron. Her’s was an early version with the wheezy and agricultural 4 banger and automatic. She picked it up a Williamson Cadillac in S Miami, half way home the Check Engine light came on. That was fixed, then the A/C died. In Miami, in July. That was repaired then other problems cropped up. The transmission wouldn’t shift out of 1st gear. Another Check Engine light. Within a year she no longer trusted the Caddy and was using their old Wagoneer as reliable transport. Last straw as it left the dad on the side of the Palmetto Expressway in rush hour overheating and belching coolant and steam. My buddy had to go pick up his dad ata seedy gas station in Hialeah, the Cimarron was towed to Williamson and never seen again. A new 300D Turbo Diesel took its place and she never bought another Cadillac again.

  • avatar
    Tim Healey

    Seeing the key chain from the defunct dealer in Aurora caught my eye, since I grew up nearby and spent time working in Aurora delivering auto parts during the Aughts. I don’t remember that dealer — was before my time. Googled and it looks to be a Walgreen’s now.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Guidelines for Living:
    a) Don’t buy small cars from GM (go bigger, more truck-like and RWD-ish — bonus points for a frame vs. unibody)
    b) Don’t buy ‘entry’/’discount’ models from any ‘prestige’ brand (1998 Mercedes-Benz W163 ML320, anyone? No)

    With all the dislike aimed at this particular vehicle, let us make two observations:
    • In the second picture, the red elements of the Cadillac crest haven’t faded away (compare to many Cadillacs built since this one)
    • This vehicle has a key cylinder on the passenger door (I wish the two sedans in my driveway each had this feature) – also the keys are nice and compact

    Bonus: Those audio controls are way more usable while driving than any menu system

  • avatar
    SavageATL

    Ok, so here’s my armchair quarterback solution to what the Cimarron should have been. This thing came out simultaneously with the A car. the 6000 STE came out and was thoroughly lauded by the buff book types, right? (please make imagining sounds in your heads) Imagine the rear quarter window blanked out or the rear pillar pulled back over the trunk to give it a slanted rear window v the formal window (that should be cheap and easy), put the 3.8 in it (the Century already came with the 3.0 related v6, make one German style version with austere functional interior, all the gauges, driving lights, super touring suspension, and one version with slightly softer suspension, lots of electronic toys, button tufted seats, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      The last time Murilee found one of these, I posted that something using the AWD A-Body platform with the Buick 3.8 V6 could have been the reboot of Seville, provided that they did more to distinguish it from the rest of the As.

      Perhaps if they could have convinced the dealers to wait one more year, which is when the Olds Firenza and Buick Skyhawk debuted, complete with a different interior, Cadillac could have taken that and used that as a starting point. Using the Chevy/Pontiac dash was a dead giveaway, even if it was given a little more visual heft; leather seats and Twilight Sentinel were just the lipstick on the pork-chops-to-be.

      Adam Wade’s video on the Cimarron gives the reasons why the Cadillac engineers and designers were locked into the constraints in which they were. Obviously, the first-year engine woes were a factor, which are noted in a MotorWeek Rewind video of an episode which aired probably sometime around the 1983 GM model introduction in which the myriad changes to the 1983 Cimarron over the 1982 were detailed.

      As for badge-engineering gone amok, as noted in here, the latest one is the Acura Integra, in which Honda engineers did almost nothing to hide its Civic origins, even using the same IP and dash, just like the Js of old, along with the same powertrain, as I mention below! (And they decontented the Civic Si from which the Integra is copied—if an Si hatchback were available—just so it couldn’t steal the Integra’s thunder!) Only the Canadian-market Acura CSX was more of a blatant copy, but I think it pulled the trick off better than the new ‘Teg, because it seems like Acura didn’t pull any punches trying to convince people it was something it wasn’t! But they bring back a nameplate with all kinds of clout, and don’t even find twenty more horses, or have the canastas to put an Accord-tuned K20C3 in the car, but the identical engine in identical specs to the Civic SI, and then pi$$ on it even more by using the damned CVT!

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Love these things, they reek of the 80s. Iconic, really. As a 14 y/o with a C&D subscription I already knew what they were even if the owners didn’t. I got to ride in an identical brown/maroon example in Monett , MO. V6 manual. Owner was a family friend was a family doc, and it I suspect it was more of a business decision to support the local GM multistore than drive 1-2 hrs one way to the import store in Springfield or STL for every malady.
    Being immigrants, every gesture meant something to ingratiate themselves with the locals, even if it meant rolling in one of these. Heck their son drove a Chevy 1500 w/t.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I forgot about the Versailles. It’s not really forgivable, but the Ford equivalent would’ve been a Lincoln pimped out Escort.

    I’m sure the Versailles came with a basic V8 though and could look the part. It’s no worse than the 5th Ave/Fury/Dip, especially today as clean 5th Aves are still around and Fury/Dips long gone and forgotten.

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