As has been consistently proven here at RG over the past year and a half, I am a big fan of Cadillacs (and Lincolns, and Imperials, and Olds 98s-never mind, we’ll be here all day!) I am especially enamored of the triple-yellow Cadillacs that were available between the late ’70s and early ’90s. And while the 1986-1991 Eldorado and Seville are a favorite target for half-baked blogger hit pieces, I do have a soft spot for these Mini-Me Eldos. Especially the restyled and re-engineered 1988-91 models. So when I saw what may be the best ’91 Eldo in existence, and in triple Cameo Ivory, I could not help but share its Broughaminess with all you fine folks.
Yes, GM stumbled, scrambled and raced to redo their cars in the Eighties, thanks to changing tastes, CAFE and myriad other things. The second-gen downsized Eldorado got off to a rocky start, with shrunken proportions. Of course, when these cars were designed circa 1981 gas was expected to hit $5 per gallon. If that had indeed occurred, these cars would likely have found far greater success. But gas got cheap, GM kept their biggie B-and C-body luxocruisers in the line, and the E-body coupes saw lackluster showroom interest.
But added length and a more robust 4.5-liter V8 debuted for ’88, and made the Eldo so much better. The 1986 chassis was quite sound, providing great handling and good interior room. With the 1988 model, the tepid 4.1L V8 disappeared for good, and we all said hooray. As a result, production of the 1988-91 Eldos increased, and the revised edition of this generation carved a nice little niche for itself.
These cars were exceptionally peppy with the 4.9L V8. Back in 1999, when Facebook, smart phones and American Idol didn’t exist, and mastodons were still occasionally spied outside of Des Moines, I test drove a Garnet metallic 1989 Eldorado at Mills Chevrolet in Moline. It was a blast to drive, plush and fast. The burgundy leather seats were terrific, and there was ample glass area as well. Should have maybe gotten it, but I had no place to put it and no reason to have it.
Model year 1991 was the swan-song for this Eldorado generation, but the new multi-port 4.9-liter V8 was a fresh talking point about for all front wheel drive Cadillacs. It did result in even more spirited performance, although the Eldorado’s older buyer base may never have noticed. The king of the Eldos was the Biarritz, with its button-tufted leather seating, extra chrome and landau roof. 1991 was the last year for the Biarritz; starting in 1992 the top of the line Eldorado would be the Touring Coupe.
Amenities included such traditional American luxury car features as the aforementioned Saul Goodman office interior decor, electroluminescent opera lamps in the C-pillar, chrome side spears that wrapped over the roof and down the fenders, wire wheel covers and the uplevel Delco-Bose sound system.
My friend Carmine had this to say about this generation of Biarritz:
What I find funny about these is that there is a battle royal (Royale?) between looking modern and techy and slightly sporty with traditional and Broughamy going on in this car, its like “Brougham to Future.”
Buckets and operating console, next to button tufted pillow seats? Its like a white patent leather Nike running shoe with gold buckles. Same on the outside, where they tried to hold on to ALL of the traditional Eldorado styling cues, on a 1/4 scale car, even down to the little angled lamp monitors mounted much higher up on the fenders that ever before on a Cadillac, so they could still be seen even though the nose was lower and rounder. The Biarritz top is a study on its own, with its 2 foot long electroluminescent coach lamp, as if this car came from an alternate future where all that bric-a-brac that was still hip.
I spotted this showroom-new example on eBay in September 2013, and was smitten. I immediately added the pictures to “The Vault,” as my digital Brougham photo collection is commonly referred to. It was a real time capsule with 65,000 miles.
It appears the back seat has never been used, being just as nice as the rest of the car. Only 16,212 Eldorados were built in 1991. As previously mentioned, 1991 was also the final year for the Biarritz trim level, a Cadillac name that went all the way back to 1956, when it designated the Eldorado convertible when the Eldorado Seville hardtop joined the Cadillac line.
When all was said and done, this fine example sold for a mere $5200. A steal, by any standard. I hope the owner preserved it!