Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

1980-1989 Cadillac


1987 and 1988 Cadillac
Extended rear fender caps lengthened Cadillac's 1987 full-size models, like this 1987 Cadillac Fleetwood d'Elegance.
Extended rear fender caps lengthened Cadillac's 1987 full-size models, like this 1987 Cadillac Fleetwood d'Elegance.

The 1987 Cadillac full-size models got new grilles and grew 1.5 inches longer via extended rear fender caps.

In addition, the 1987 Cadillac Sixty Special was introduced as a stretched, 115.8-inch-wheelbase Fleetwood four-door -- a nod to the "executive car" market.

The 1987 Cadillac Seventy-Five front-drive model was in its last year. As Chrysler had lately realized, factory-built limousines were unprofitable and thus better left to aftermarket converters, of which there were plenty.

Committed to shared engineering and assailed by critics for styling, size, and sizzle unbecoming a legend, there was nothing  for Cadillac to do but soldier on, so changes to the 1987 Cadillac Eldorado and 1987 Cadillac Seville ran to little more than minor suspension tweaks

The 1988 Cadillac lineup was treated to a larger V-8 and standardization of several former options including the timed "Twilight Sentinel" headlamp system, tilt/telescope steering wheel, illuminated entry system, and cruise control. The 1988 Cadillac catalog also included first-time availability of an antilock brake system (ABS). 

For the 1988 Cadillac Eldorado and 1988 Cadillac Seville, stylists tried to rectify their mistakes via the time-honored practice of appearance revisions intended to bring some back some of the lost Cadillac identity.

The 1988 Cadillac Seville thus gained a "power dome" hood and a more "important" grille. The 1988 Cadillac Eldorado was similarly treated, but also received new squared-up lower-body sheetmetal that stretched overall length by three inches at the rear -- shades of the 1950s.

In an attempt to reestablish its identity, Cadillac restyled the 1988 Cadillac Eldorado.
In an attempt to reestablish its identity, Cadillac restyled the 1988 Cadillac Eldorado.

Along with other members of the 1988 Cadillac line, the 1988 Cadillac Eldorado and 1988 Cadillac Seville shelved their  4.1 V-8 for a version enlarged to 4.5 liters (273 cubic inches). This plus a new two-stage intake manifold, larger throttle bores, and other changes lifted horsepower by 25, to 155 total, and torque by 40 pound-feet (to 240).

All 1988 Cadillac entries, the 1988 Cadillac Eldorado and 1988 Cadillac Seville in particular, were thus usefully quicker off the line than the 1986-87s, and ABS made panic stops shorter and more controlled. For 1988 Cadillac Eldorado and 1988 Cadillac Seville, a "touring" suspension package was still available for those seeking crisper handling with little sacrifice in ride comfort.

After revamping some of its 1989 models, Cadillac was rewarded with a boost in sales. For more on the 1989 model year, continue to the next page.

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.