Smaller full-size Cadillacs, like this 1985 Cadillac Fleetwood, outsold the rear-drive models.

1985 and 1986 Cadillac

The 1985 Cadillac De Ville and 1985 Cadillac Fleetwood offered two-door coupes and four-door sedans. They were built on a new C-body platform shared with that year's similarly revised Buick Electra and Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight. This rode a 110.8-inch wheelbase and had all-independent coil-spring/strut suspension and power rack-and-pinion steering.

Dimensionally, the 1985 Cadillac De Ville and 1985 Cadillac Fleetwood were the trimmest De Villes and Fleetwoods ever. The 1985 Cadillac De Ville and 1985 Cadillac Fleetwood were two feet shorter and some 600 pounds lighter than their rear-drive predecessors.

The 4.1 V-8 was turned sideways to preserve cabin space within the smaller package, but necessary manifolding changes reigned horsepower back to 125 and torque to 190 pound-feet. Still, Cadillac could claim the world's only transverse V-8.

Though some expected otherwise, the smaller full-size Cadillacs -- Coupe de Ville, Sedan de Ville, and lusher Fleetwood counterparts -- fast outsold the popular rear-drive series. Cadillac built over 197,000 for the first full model year, versus an annual 137,000-175,000 of the 1981-84 C-bodies.

But even before buyers gave their approval, Cadillac had decided to retain some rear-drive models as a hedge. This proved a shrewd move once the market began its strong recovery from the doldrums of '82. Badged Fleetwood Brougham through 1986, then just plain Brougham, these cars retained their basic 1977 design with few changes through the end of the decade.

Despite the sameness, sales were about 50,000 a year, each one pure gravy.

At the high end of the 1985 Cadillac line was a redesigned Seventy-Five limousine, though it too, was downsized, losing a full 10 inches of wheelbase aboard a new 134.4-inch platform.

We should note that 1985 was the final model year for the big Brougham coupe. It also was the swan-song season for the diesel V-8 option. The diesel wouldn't be missed. Nor was it really needed for CAFE, since the government had relaxed those requirements somewhat.

Indeed, the 1986 Cadillac lineup switched its rear-drive cars to a 5.0-liter (307-cubic-inch) Olds V-8 with 140 horsepower. Other changes to the 1986 Cadillac ensemble were subtle.

The bread-winning 1986 Cadillac De Ville and 1986 Cadillac Fleetwood got a slight power increase, from 125 horsepower to 135.

The interior of the 1986 Cadillac Sedan de Ville Touring edition featured special trim.

Also added were Touring versions of the 1986 Cadillac Coupe de Ville and 1986 Cadillac Sedan de Ville. Touring editions of the 1986 Cadillac Coupe de Ville and 1986 Cadillac Sedan de Ville with firm suspension, husky blackwall tires on aluminum wheels, a front airdam with built-in foglights, plus less chrome outside and special trim inside.

On the next page, we'll look at two all-new Cadillac models for 1986.

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.