The 1979 to 1985 Cadillac Eldorado was downsizing done right. So many times, when emission standards, fuel economy and plain, simple customer tastes change, the results can sometimes be…awkward. But in the late ’70s, GM had it down pat, thanks to Design VP Bill Mitchell.
Mitchell was one of the best. He took over as head of GM Design when Harley Earl retired in 1958. But Mitchell was an old hand by then. He’d been with GM for decades, and produced some great designs decades before he was awarded the helm.
The 1938 Cadillac Sixty Special was Mitchell’s first bona fide hit. Its fresh styling and clean good looks, albeit closely supervised by Earl, was a revolution.
He always had a knack for clean, attractive design. Think Sixties Cadillacs, for instance. Coupe de Villes, Eldorados, Fleetwood limousines, and the like. But when regulations started to ramp up, he was not fond of the alleged progress. He loved doing classy, big cars.
But despite his famous quote that “Doing a small car is like tailoring a dwarf”, those first downsized General Motors cars were attractive, starting in 1977 with the B- and C-body full-size cars. Then in 1978, the midsize cars came next, along with the A-Special Monte Carlo, Cutlass Supreme, Regal and Grand Prix.
In 1979, it was the personal luxury cars’ turn-The Cadillac Eldorado, Buick Riviera and Oldsmobile Toronado. And while they clearly were smaller, they looked great. And buyers responded.
One thing I liked about these cars is Cadillac didn’t do any changes just for the sake of change. As a result, the same clean lines persisted right to the final model year of 1985. Sure, grilles, tail lights and upholstery styles changes, but nothing drastic.
Yes, they looked good right to the end. Round Two of downsizing was about to begin, and the personal-lux cars were going to be drastically shrunken. But to celebrate the current Eldorado, a special edition was announced: The Commemorative Edition.
Announced towards the end of the 1985 model year, it celebrated the success of the 1979-85 Eldorados. According to my Encyclopedia of American Cars From 1930, 2,463 Commemorative Edition examples were produced. This fine example is owned by Steven Aaron, and has only 27,400 miles on the odometer.
Special features of the Commemorative Edition included:
- Choice of Commodore Blue or Cotillion White paint
- Two-tone navy/white leather seating with matching door panels
- Factory gold package, which included the hood ornament, deck lid wreath and crest and all Cadillac and Eldorado emblems
- Special pinstriping: gold/white on blue cars and gold/blue on white cars
- Commemorative Edition C-pillar emblem, steering wheel badging and center cap emblems
The standard Eldorado coupe based at $20,931. Despite being in its sixth model year, sales were still healthy, with a total of 74,101 coupes and 2,300 convertibles made.
The Eldorado Biarritz was still available too, and the Eldorado Touring Coupe for those desiring some sport with their Broughamage. All rode a 114″ wheelbase.
Standard engine was, like most 1985 Cadillacs, the 4.1L V8, with 135 horsepower. Though demand was not what it had been earlier in the decade, the 5.7L diesel V8 remained on the option list.
Steve’s car was sold new in Merrillville, Indiana, and has just about every option, for a grand total of $27,958. The Commemorative Package alone was a $1478 option.
This particular car is a little unusual in that it has an Astroroof and painted metal roof-or a ‘slick top’ as they’re commonly called.
Many of the Commemorative Edition coupes came with the full cabriolet roof option instead. But I think it looks better without the top on it. Smoother.
Interesting thing about this car, it was originally found by Robert Reed, who owns the triple white 1985 Fleetwood Brougham coupe I wrote about earlier this year. Steve drove it, but it wasn’t the right time for another car then, so it went to another new owner. Four years later, he contacted Robert to let him know he was selling it. Robert called Steve, and he immediately got it! Pretty cool to have a second chance at “the one that got away!”
Needless to say, this Eldorado is a permanent part of the collection now. Special thanks to him for taking these most excellent pictures, and sharing the car’s story!