Do you remember the GM 5.7-liter Diesel? Even those of a certain age who haven’t directly experienced one undoubtedly have heard of them. My parents’ friends down at the marina had a Dark Jadestone 1982 Delta 88 Diesel coupe, and I can distinctly remember its lud-lud-lud-lud engine beat. The Werthmanns had good luck with that car, and kept it for 10 years. While theirs ran like a top, that wasn’t exactly the most common experience…
Oldsmobile was the pioneer in engineering GM’s Diesel V8. The engine was also available for the Cadillac Seville in 1978, and for the Eldorado, Fleetwood Brougham, Coupe deVille and Sedan deVille in 1979.
Despite many horror stories over the years, the much-maligned 5.7 Diesel, when properly maintained, could be reliable. However, many of the buyers of GM cars fitted with this engine were quite unfamiliar with the additional care and feeding diesel engines required vis a vis the gasoline V8s many of them traded off for one of these. As a result, many of them experienced headaches from their cars. The whole GM Diesel V8 episode turned many Americans off to Diesel engines for years. Though by 1982 they had been reengineered and as a whole were much less needy. But by them it was too late; people were staying away.
Ah, but what of the newly-downsized Eldo? Well, in a word, it just worked. It lost none of the imposing presence of its larger predecessors. And if the “plain” Eldorado didn’t do it for you, you could always move up to the über-flashy Biarritz.
Yes, the Biarritz had every luxury feature your heart could possibly desire: button-tufted leather (White with red carpet? No problem!), a stainless-steel roof cap, a landau vinyl roof, coach lamps, and your choice of wire wheel covers or aluminum road wheels–with whitewall tires, of course.
Among the very few changes made for 1980 were a restyled, more vertically-oriented grille–and behind it, a new, Caddy-only 368 that succeeded Oldsmobile’s gasoline-fueled 350 V8 that Eldorados carried in 1979. Here is the ’80 Eldo, from that year’s brochure, looking quite natty in Colonial Yellow. I have always had a thing for Cadillacs in this color, with the matching pale-yellow leather. Perfection!
I saw this rare birdie back in March of 2012 in uptown Moline, IL. The car I spotted was not quite as brilliantly hued as some of the amazing colors available on 1980 Cadillacs, but it was still attractive in Sheffield Gray Firemist, an extra-cost color. It had a matching top, red pinstriping and dove gray leather interior. Subtle, but an elegant combination.
I really like the aluminum wheels that were available on these, but it seems like at least 90% got the wire wheel covers instead. Which is a shame.
While weathered, overall, this car was in pretty solid shape. Sure, there was a little rust. The paint was sunburned somewhat on the hood, roof and trunk lid, but all the little chrome trim bits were there, the chrome bumpers shone brightly, and all four wire wheel discs and all four whitewall tires were present and accounted for.
The interior is also restrained–at least as much as is possible on a button-tufted Biarritz–with Light Antique Gray leather. Look at all that soft leather. Cadillac really knew how to do plush seating back then.
Still classy in 2019. I last saw this car parked in Silvis, around 2013. I wonder if it’s still on the road today?