Cadillac's string of missteps in the early 1980s has assumed their place in the automotive hall of shame. From the unreliable diesel V-8, through the untenable variable-displacement V-8-6-4, to the unseemly Cimarron, Cadillac seemed to be striking out every time it stepped to the plate.
Thus, it's a testimony to the enduring power of the Cadillac name and the image it still projected for many buyers that sales actually rose steadily from 1982 through 1985, from about 235,500 units to nearly 335,000.
Though Cimarron and troublesome engines may have blotted its enviable engineering record, Cadillac still dominated the U.S. luxury-car market.
Which brings up another 1982 Cadillac surprise, yet another new engine. This was a small V-8, just 4.1-liters (249-cubic-inches) with a cast-iron head atop a lightweight aluminum block, plus digital fuel injection. Dubbed "HT4100," it was standard for all '82s (save Cimarron and limos).
The Cadillac 4.1 V-8 initially was rated at 125 horsepower, same as the Buick 4.1-liter V-6, which remained a Cadillac option for 1982. However, the V-8 actually produced a bit less torque than the V-6. It was certainly far less torquey than the old 425-cubic-inch V8 or even the V-8-6-4, so the full-size members of the 1982 Cadillac line were far from rapid.
A happier 1982 Cadillac development was the addition of an optional Touring Coupe package for the 1982 Cadillac Eldorado. This dressed the 1982 Cadillac Eldorado with black-finish body moldings (replacing chrome), fatter tires on aluminum wheels, and standard buckets-and-console interior with unique trim.
Traditionalists shopped the 1982 Cadillac catalog still had their usual choices of two- and four-door De Villes and Fleetwoods in plain and D'Elegance trim. There were also standard and Biarritz Eldorados, and base and Elegante Sevilles -- all available with fake wire wheels and convertible-look tops.
Although 1983 was a relatively quiet year for Cadillac, 1984 brought the first Cadillac convertible since 1976. The next page of this article has more on these model years.
For more information on Cadillac, see:
- Cadillac: Learn the history of America's premier luxury car, from 1930s classics to today's newest Cadillac models.
- Consumer Guide New Car Reviews and Prices: Road test results, photos, specifications, and prices for 2007 Cadillacs and hundreds of other new cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVs.
- 1970-1979 Cadillac: See how Cadillac maintained its hold on the premium market by adroitly addressing changing consumer demands.
- 1990-1999 Cadillac: Import competition and a stale image rock once-proud Cadillac. Here's the low-down on Cadillac's come-down.