Junkyard Find: 1982 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Cadillac began using the Biarritz name on the high-zoot Eldorado in 1956, dropped it after 1964, then revived it for 1976 on an Eldo distinguished by its extra-squishy "Cabriolet" vinyl half-roof. The definitive Biarritz came a bit later, though, with the downsized 1979-1985 generation of Eldorados. Here's one of those cars, found on the outskirts of my very favorite Colorado car graveyard.

Yes, parked next to a two-tone Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 Ford Econoline pickup, it's the flashiest new GM personal luxury coupe (a lot of) money could buy in 1982.

What really made the 1979-1985 Eldorado Biarritz distinctive was this stainless-steel roof panel, inspired by the roof of the 1957 Eldorado Brougham.

The rear portion of the Biarritz's roof got the vinyl semi-landau treatment. The vinyl on this one has not fared well in the High Plains sun.

The rest of the car looks nice, if dusty.

With a mere 80,016 miles on the odometer, it must have been driven just to church on Sundays.

This car was a foot shorter and 1,200 pounds lighter than the preceding generation of Eldorado.

The MSRP on the 1982 Eldorado was $18,716, about $59,709 in 2023 dollars (and more than 374 times as much as what I paid for the car I was driving that year).

The Biarritz package made it much more expensive, with a price tag of $3,335 ($10,639 today). That made the Eldorado Biarritz the most expensive new Cadillac you could buy in 1982, other than the Seville and the Fleetwood limousines.

That made this car about the same price as a new Mercedes-Benz 240D with automatic, and just a bit less than a new BMW 528e.

A price worth paying… for serenity.

This car purred out of the showroom with plenty of costly options, including one of the coolest of all Malaise Era GM upgrades: A factory AM/FM/cassette/CB radio.

Yes, a factory CB built into the in-dash radio! The cost was a cool 560 bucks (a cool 1,787 bucks now), and it allowed your voice to be stepped on by linear-amp-equipped sociopathic trolls when you tried to give a big 10-4 to the truckin' man.

Rickenbaugh Cadillac is still getting car shoppers to sign on the line which is dotted. I find a lot of cars with these badges in Front Range junkyards.

I couldn't get the hood latch to open, but we know that the 1982 Eldorado came with the new High Technology 4.1-liter V8 engine and its 125 horsepower. Flawed as the HT4100 was, it worked better than the V8-6-4 that went into some other Cadillac models of the era.

It may well have been a runner when it arrived here.

Someone must be interested in restoring an Eldorado Biarritz of this generation, especially one this clean. Unfortunately, the value of a near-perfect low-mile example isn't particularly high right now.

They make good race cars, especially with an Ace Rothstein theme.

You were right all along. Eldorado is the car that dreams are made of.

Cadillac kept the Biarritz package alive for the following generation of Eldorado, but it wasn't the same without the stainless roof. After 1991, the Biarritz was gone forever.

[Images: The author]

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Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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2 of 15 comments
  • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Mar 20, 2023

    This Eldorado looks very restorable. They tend to be popular with the low rider and donk crowd or just fans of 79-85 E-body cars.

    Replace the problematic HT4100 with the Oldsmobile rocket 307/350 or the non 8-6-4 368 Cadillac V8 and buff out the paint and you’ll be good to go.

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Mar 20, 2023

    "What really made the 1979-1985 Eldorado Biarritz distinctive was this stainless-steel roof panel"

    • It is not possible to manufacture automotive parts from stainless steel. It must be true because I read it on TTAC.

    Also, Debt is Amazing and never causes any problems, ever. (Also read this on TTAC)

  • Billccm I think history is repeating itself. In the late 1980s the French acquired AMC. They discovered no easy money in that deal, Chrysler took AMC and Jeep is all that remained.Present day the French acquired FCA, discovered no easy money in the deal, and some Asian manufacturer will take what remains of Chrysler, and Jeep and RAM will be all that survived.To understand the future study the past.
  • Jalop1991 "why did the governor veto a bill to give me free gummint money?"
  • Jalop1991 absolutely. I'm probably coming into a 31 Model A, and there's a great retrofit system for that. It makes a bunch of sense.
  • TMA1 Been thinking about getting one of these for my mother. Skip the AWD and DSG, the FWD comes with an 8-spd. Good size vehicle for a woman who wants a SUV and has a small garage. Much better view outwards than the Mazda CX-30 I was looking at. Wish it had a power tailgate though - she's short.
  • Ajla Mustang.