Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: Cadillac Allante 1987-1993

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,720

    Cadillac Allante 1987-1993


    If General Motors eventually goes bankrupt, it won't be for lack of imagination and innovation. Rather, it will be for lack of successful innovation - an altogether different thing.

    The Allante project is a case in point.

    It began with high hopes -- and an audacious plan. By the mid-1980s, Cadillac was still the "standard of the world" -- if by "the world" one meant nursing homes and the parking lots of Florida retirement communities. GM's premier division -- once purveyor of coach-built V-16 masterpieces in the 1920s and '30s -- had been reduced to vinyl-roofs, fake wire wheels -- and the "early bird special."

    It certainly had nothing competitive with ultra-luxury grand tourers like the Mercedes SL560 and Jaguar XJ-S.

    And so -- like a faded athlete determined to whip himself back into fighting trim -- GM execs conceived the Allante. It would be a winning combination of European elan and American muscle; a no-compromises tour-de-force of elegance, speed and technology. The goal was nothing less than putting together the finest ultra-luxury coupe GM had ever produced -- and perhaps, that the world had ever seen.

    Styling was turned over to Pininfarina -- the world-famous Italian design studio where so many automotive legends first took form. The relationship was not entirely new, as Pininfarna had been involved previously with Cadillac on the cosmetics of both the 1931 V-16 Phaeton and the '59 Eldorado Brougham.

    This third collaboration would also turn out brilliantly -- at least insofar as the initial curb appeal of the finished car was concerned.

    The Allante was universally acclaimed as a gorgeous piece of work when it made its debut in 1986 as a 1987 model. The two-seat roadster -- Cadillac's first such car since 1941-- was dramatic, sleek and expensive-looking. It came with two tops,
    10-way power Recaro sport buckets wrapped in hand-trimmed leather and a dashboard with partial electronic/lLCD display -- impressive equipment for 1987.

    And for an American car, especially.

    The standard engine was Cadillac's HT4100 V-8, which featured sequential electronic port fuel injection (an upgrade over the throttle-body style then in common usage), roller cam/lifters and high-flow cylinder heads -- good for 170-hp. The engine drove the front wheels through a specially calibrated 4-speed Turbo-hydramatic automatic transmission with overdrive.

    Performance was crisp for the times -- 0-60 in 9.5 seconds, with a top speed of 125-mph (although the Allante's primary rival, the Mercedes-Benz 560SL, was quicker and faster). With four-wheel-disc brakes (10.25-inch vented up front; solid 10-inch discs in the rear) and VR-speed rated Good year tires, stopping power and handling dynamics were much-improved over the grumpy grampa "starter caskets" Cadillac had been selling up to that point.

    A seven-year warranty was standard, too -- unprecedented for GM -- and each car was given an extensive pre-delivery inspection and 25-mile test drive by a team of dedicated technicians, who signed off on the car before it reached the customer.

    Base price in '87 was a stupendous $56,533 -- making it by far the most expensive Cadillac since the virtually hand-built V-16 cars of the pre-war era.

    Pininfarina not only penned the car's exterior, it built (and finished) the actual bodies, too -- at least, partially so. While the exterior panels (including the lightweight aluminum hood, trunk lid and removable hard-top) were unique pieces not shared with any other GM vehicle, the Allante's underlying platform was derived from the same-year Eldorado -- albeit in modified, shortened-wheelbase form. This meant it was necessary to ship partially assembled Eldorado under-bodies to the Pininfarina factory near Turin, Italy -- where the Allante-specific exterior panels were fitted. Once this work was complete, the fully assembled and painted shells (56 at a time) were transported overseas in specially built cradles; these were were loaded onto Boeing 747 "air bridges" for the return trip to the U.S. and GM's Hamtramck assembly line in Michigan. Here, the running gear -- engine and transmission, suspension, brakes, etc. -- were bolted to the chassis, completing the cars.

    It was, as Cadillac PR self-described it, the "world's longest assembly line."

    It was also hugely, horribly complex -- which almost foreordained quality control problems -- as well as horribly inefficient, which helped boost the Allante's end-cost to an amount equivalent to a six-figure sticker in today's money.

    Minor (and a few major) niggles plagued the cars from the very beginning -- including problems with the convertible top ranging from malfunctioning latching mechanisms to water leaks to fabric wear resulting from the material rubbing up against the body while stowed.

    While the Allante looked great, it wasn't living up to its promise -- or its price tag. First-year sales reflected buyer's cool reception. Cadillac had hoped to sell 4,000 cars in '87; however, only 1,651 found homes. Allantes languished embarrassingly at dealers -- and hefty rebates had to be offered just to clear the inventory.

    This, in turn, caused values to depreciated rapidly -- Allantes lost as much as a third of their value the moment they were driven off the dealership lot. Automotive News scathingly called the '87 Allante the "Flop of the year."

    The fact that the second-year '88 models were basically carryovers -- with no significant updates or improvements to tempt buyers or, more significantly, deal with the significant problems and weaknesses revealed during the first-year run -- only made matters worse.

    Just 2,569 were sold.

    GM was no stuck in the unhappy role of playing catch-up -- desperately trying to fix a car whose image had already probably been mortally wounded. Flaws and defects people may forgive in a lesser car can be (and often are) the kiss of death for a vehicle with pretensions to greatness -- and a price tag to match.

    1989 saw minor but noteworthy changes, including an increase in engine size to 4.5 liters -- and a respectable bump in output to a full 200-hp. This gave the car more top end (135 mph) and cut its 0-60 time to a more sporty 8.5 seconds -- enough to nip at the heel of the Benz SL. But it still wasn't enough to make the necessary impression.

    GM tried to lower the price point in 1990 by making the removable hardtop optional -- and thereby trimmed the base MSRP to $50,900. But that didn't help much, either. Total production barely crested 3,000 that year -- despite the cost-cutting and the addition of new safety/performance equipment such as Bosch II traction control and a driver's side airbag. The Allante was very clearly in trouble. Yet inexplicably -- unforgivably -- there were no major changes for either 1991 or 1992, by which time production had slipped calamitously to a mere 1,931 cars.

    The Allante was now almost five years old -- a geological epoch in the car business. The initially favorable impression made by the dramatic Pininfarina styling had long since dissipated; by this point, Allante had become just another compromised coulda-been.

    Then came 1993 and the major updates which might have saved the car -- had they been effected back in 1987 or '88. Chief among these was the installation of an all-new powerplant that was, at last, up to the car's potential and promise. This was Cadillac's excellent 4.6 liter/279 cubic inch DOHC Northstar V-8, rated at 295-hp. The addition of nearly 100-hp transformed the Allante into the exotic GT it might have been at the get-go. Zero to 60 times dropped by more than two full seconds to just over six seconds -- while top speed climbed to nearly 150 mph. A revised suspension with speed sensitive steering, auto-adjusting road sensing ride control and upgraded brakes rounded out what had, at the 11th hour, finally become an impressive package. So impressive, in fact, that a mechanically stock 1993 Allante was able to serve as Pace Car for the Indy 500 race that year -- with only the addition of track-required safety equipment differentiating it from a standard model. There was also a new power-assisted optional hardtop, one-piece side windows and a new Delco-Bose premium audio system with high-frequency speakers. Most of the quality control problems had been fixed, too.

    But though it wasn't "too little" -- it was definitely too late. GM had already decided to euthanize the Allante. So even though sales of the '93 model were by far the best to date (4,670 were sold -- despite a base price that had by then climbed to $61,675) there would be no more Allantes after this final hurrah.

    GM would not attempt another ultra-luxury roadster for a full decade (when the Allante's spiritual descendant, the XLR roadster appeared in 2004), ceding the market to the established European players.

    The sad thing is that the Allante was by no means foreordained to be a short-lived lemon. The success of the '93 model proves it didn't have to turn out the way it did. Like the Chevy Corvair (and later, Pontiac's ill-fated mid-engined Fiero sports car) the basic concept was sound and though the production cars were fatally flawed, anyone could see what might have been.

    Instead of what, unfortunately, was.

    END

  2. #2
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Sunshine Coast, QLD, Australia
    Posts
    2,072

    Re: Cadillac Allante 1987-1993

    It certainly had nothing competitive with ultra-luxury grand tourers like the Mercedes SL560 and Jaguar XJ-S.


    My feeling is that Cadillac of any model has never had the build quality of Rolls or Mercedes, and perhaps Jaguar
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,720

    Re: Cadillac Allante 1987-1993

    I think there were some contenders - for example, the Eldorado of the late '60s . You're absolutely right though that the Allante suffered horrible quality control/reliability problems; that - and the high cost - are what ultimately doomed the project...

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Minneapolis
    Posts
    1,429

    Re: Cadillac Allante 1987-1993

    Eric, I have a different Cadillac story.

    I was raised by my grandparents. They were quite well off (my grandfather was a mechanical engineer that designed heating/cooling systems for large buildings and ships).

    In 1957 (I was 8) my grandfather (Al) bought a Fleetwood Broughm. It was huge. I remember it had a cylinder like drum clock, an auto seeking radio, and cup holders. It was a beautiful car.

    A year later it was stolen when we were in Miami Beach.

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,720

    Re: Cadillac Allante 1987-1993

    Hi Doug,

    I also dig Caddies; the late '60s Eldorado especially. And any big boat from the early-mid-70s. Remember the 511 V-8? I believe it was the largest displacement V-8 ever built (at least in the modern era)!

    We had big Oldsmobiles growing up - basically the same as the Caddies albeit toned down styling and smaller (but still huge) "Rocket" V-8s.

    -Eric

  6. #6
    Staff
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    3,126

    Re: Cadillac Allante 1987-1993

    I grew up with some pretty cool cars myself. My parents had a 1965 Buick Special which we traded for a 1969 Olds Vista Cruiser with the 400 V8. They bought my oldest brother a 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass S (red w/black vinyl top) and a 400 as well. (He subsequently traded it for a ... get this... a 1971 baby blue colored Toyota Celica.. I was only 7, but all I could do is shake my head!!!)

    My dad oddly enough didn't really like big cars and traded the Olds for a 1973 Hornet Sportabout with a 360 V8. We also had an 1969 Opel GT which he traded for a 1974 AMC Gremlin (go figure that one.. I shook my head again).

    In general, we had cool cars during a time when American prosperity (and ours) was at its peak.

    Today, all I drive is a 5 year old Saturn

    But I haven't totally given up. My goal is to own a 2004-6 Cadillac CTS in the next couple of years. Cadillac has done some great things in the last few years and I think they are again a viable brand. Beginning with the CTS, Cadillac has finally come of age... and the new XLR is a beautiful car. Too bad, with few exceptions, I only like sedans.


  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Raleigh NC, USA
    Posts
    3,628

    Re: Cadillac Allante 1987-1993

    I liked the look of the Allante. And... like you said, the last year was the one to have.

    Same as with the Fiero, the Reatta, and any number of other GM cars which were proclaimed to be flops.

    It makes me think that the marketing & planning people were intentionally crippling the early model cars so as to not affect the sales potential of cars built in the following years.

    Chip H.

    BTW: the XLR is beautiful. I just need to win the lottery first!

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  8. #8
    DennisWG
    Guest

    Re: Cadillac Allante 1987-1993

    If GM goes bankrupt it will be because of the massive pension obligations. How long can GM go on paying 30,000.00 pensions plus full benefits to a million people who are not producing anything? GM is today a pension company that has a relatively small work force building cars.

  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,720

    Re: Cadillac Allante 1987-1993

    Quote Originally Posted by DennisWG
    If GM goes bankrupt it will be because of the massive pension obligations. How long can GM go on paying 30,000.00 pensions plus full benefits to a million people who are not producing anything? GM is today a pension company that has a relatively small work force building cars.
    Agreed - but let's not forget or ignore that GM has also lost about half of its market share - from around 60 percent in the late 1970s to around 25 percent today. That is the fault of GM's years of producing spotty/shabby/mediocre product and alientating customers, who fled to Toyota and Honda - and haven't looked back.

    I am not discounting the effect of union short-sightedness and the expenses associated with pensions; but at core, GM's woes are the result of poor product and poor customer service. Had the company maintained 50-60percent market share it would have the money to meet its obligations - or at least, to not be on the verge of bankruptcy!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Mase's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    840

    Re: Cadillac Allante 1987-1993

    I like Cadillacs. And big Chryslers. Took my driver's test in my Dad's 57 Imperial, big boat. Dad had 53, 57, two 60's, and a 62 Imperial. Then he went to Caddies. Had a 62 and a 64, and his last car was a 1974. In between Chevies and Toyotas I had a 1977 Deville and now have a 1989 Fleetwood.
    A man's greatest mistake is to think he is working for somebody else.

  11. #11
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,720

    Re: Cadillac Allante 1987-1993

    Quote Originally Posted by Mase
    I like Cadillacs. And big Chryslers. Took my driver's test in my Dad's 57 Imperial, big boat. Dad had 53, 57, two 60's, and a 62 Imperial. Then he went to Caddies. Had a 62 and a 64, and his last car was a 1974. In between Chevies and Toyotas I had a 1977 Deville and now have a 1989 Fleetwood.
    Hi Mase,

    Me too! Though mostly the older models; the current crop don't do much for me - though they are powerful and otherwise impressive. Give me a '68 Eldorado instead!

    Good to see you on the boards, by the way...

    Eric

  12. #12
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1,783

    Re: Cadillac Allante 1987-1993


    I posted this article on the main site with pictures:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...1&Itemid=10899


  13. #13
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    2,131

    Re: Cadillac Allante 1987-1993

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Hi Doug,

    I also dig Caddies; the late '60s Eldorado especially. And any big boat from the early-mid-70s. Remember the 511 V-8? I believe it was the largest displacement V-8 ever built (at least in the modern era)!

    We had big Oldsmobiles growing up - basically the same as the Caddies albeit toned down styling and smaller (but still huge) "Rocket" V-8s.

    -Eric

    I had a 1975 Eldorado. The engine was 500 cubic inches. GM called it an 8 liter engine though. It wasn't my first FWD car but it taught me what torque steer was. I was booking up a rural highway to my then girl friends house. I hadn't had the car long but was already happy with the power that puppy had. I punched it coming out of a sharp curve and it pulled severely to the left. I pulled it out but almost ended up in a corn field.
    Honk if you love Jesus.

    Text if you want to meet him.

  14. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1,783

    Re: Cadillac Allante 1987-1993

    Quote Originally Posted by grouch
    I had a 1975 Eldorado. The engine was 500 cubic inches. GM called it an 8 liter engine though. It wasn't my first FWD car but it taught me what torque steer was. I was booking up a rural highway to my then girl friends house. I hadn't had the car long but was already happy with the power that puppy had. I punched it coming out of a sharp curve and it pulled severely to the left. I pulled it out but almost ended up in a corn field.
    Those Eldorados were sweet, especially the convertibles. They had only 210 horsepower but felt a lot more powerful due to the 380 lbs/ft of torque.

    Love to get my hands on a red 1975 or 76 Eldorado convertible with a white or red leather interior and white top.

    Pete


  15. #15
    Emerald117
    Guest

    Re: Cadillac Allante 1987-1993

    Great summary of the Cadillac Allanté. Existing today is the Allanté Club of America which puts out four issues of its INSIDER magazine. We also have AllantéNet, a forum with the history of fixes to these cars with over 50,000 postings and gets many daily postings. Technicians specialized on the Allanté regularly contribute.

    The Allanté is a Classic Car.

    John

  16. #16
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,720

    Re: Cadillac Allante 1987-1993

    Quote Originally Posted by Emerald117
    Great summary of the Cadillac Allanté. Existing today is the Allanté Club of America which puts out four issues of its INSIDER magazine. We also have AllantéNet, a forum with the history of fixes to these cars with over 50,000 postings and gets many daily postings. Technicians specialized on the Allanté regularly contribute.

    The Allanté is a Classic Car.

    John
    Hi John,

    Thanks!

    I also like the Allante a lot; it was (and still is) a beautiful car.

  17. #17

    Re: Cadillac Allante 1987-1993

    A friend of my father's bought an '88 Allante brand new. Big mistake.

    He spent the first two months bragging to all his friends about how great it was. After that we saw very little of the Allante. My father and his colleagues spent the next 3 years razzing him about the time it spent in the shop for warranty work. They had worked it out that GM posessed the car 4 days out of every week he had it. Repeated engine problems, a leaking top and a host of curious electrical issues were the three major culprits.

    In the end he would up selling the car to my father at a huge loss (it was literally nickeling and diming him to death with a host of non-warranty related issues). My father didn't even own it a month before he decided to sell the car to some big shot producer out in Toronto. Luckily it was a very profitable sale as the car had only logged 15,000 miles (22,000 kms). A year later the big shot producer tried to sell the car back to Dad. He wasn't interested. I remember taking one drive in it as a passenger. It was a nice looking car and I found myself drawn to it's appearance. It drove well and ran smoothly in my opinion. And the ladies loved it (my mother wanted to keep it). I asked why we weren't keeping the Allante the day he sold it. Dad just looked at me and said "She's beautiful, but it's a dog with fleas. You wouldn't want it. Trust me." He proceeds to open the trunk and show me a full box containing the entire repair history on the car.

    I do recall my father used to own a black '76 Eldorado convertible (8-track equipped!!). It was a huge, beautiful and impressive car. I still remember sitting in the driver's seat pretending to drive it almost every evening. My friends used to come over just to get a chance to sit in it. When it got too late outside my friend's parents would come to take them home and they would always wind up asking my dad questions about the car or looking the car over. He used to beam with pride as he pulled up to the house in it. He used to sound the horn every evening to annouce he was home. And to this day I remember one of the three 8-tracks that ALWAYS played as he arrived - Barry White, Beethoven or America. I can't remember one day he owned that car that the top was up - it was ALWAYS down. My memories of that car are several solenoid starting issues and some overheating issues that were never fully resolved no matter how many trips he made to the GM dealer. One of these problems always happened when travelling on a long trip - never a short distance.

    But what an amazing car.

  18. #18
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,720

    Re: Cadillac Allante 1987-1993

    Quote Originally Posted by ReasonOne
    A friend of my father's bought an '88 Allante brand new. Big mistake.

    He spent the first two months bragging to all his friends about how great it was. After that we saw very little of the Allante. My father and his colleagues spent the next 3 years razzing him about the time it spent in the shop for warranty work. They had worked it out that GM posessed the car 4 days out of every week he had it. Repeated engine problems, a leaking top and a host of curious electrical issues were the three major culprits.

    In the end he would up selling the car to my father at a huge loss (it was literally nickeling and diming him to death with a host of non-warranty related issues). My father didn't even own it a month before he decided to sell the car to some big shot producer out in Toronto. Luckily it was a very profitable sale as the car had only logged 15,000 miles (22,000 kms). A year later the big shot producer tried to sell the car back to Dad. He wasn't interested. I remember taking one drive in it as a passenger. It was a nice looking car and I found myself drawn to it's appearance. It drove well and ran smoothly in my opinion. And the ladies loved it (my mother wanted to keep it). I asked why we weren't keeping the Allante the day he sold it. Dad just looked at me and said "She's beautiful, but it's a dog with fleas. You wouldn't want it. Trust me." He proceeds to open the trunk and show me a full box containing the entire repair history on the car.

    I do recall my father used to own a black '76 Eldorado convertible (8-track equipped!!). It was a huge, beautiful and impressive car. I still remember sitting in the driver's seat pretending to drive it almost every evening. My friends used to come over just to get a chance to sit in it. When it got too late outside my friend's parents would come to take them home and they would always wind up asking my dad questions about the car or looking the car over. He used to beam with pride as he pulled up to the house in it. He used to sound the horn every evening to annouce he was home. And to this day I remember one of the three 8-tracks that ALWAYS played as he arrived - Barry White, Beethoven or America. I can't remember one day he owned that car that the top was up - it was ALWAYS down. My memories of that car are several solenoid starting issues and some overheating issues that were never fully resolved no matter how many trips he made to the GM dealer. One of these problems always happened when travelling on a long trip - never a short distance.

    But what an amazing car.
    I, too, have some great memories of those huge Eldos of the '70s! Loved 'em!

    511 cubic inches and FWD... what could be better?

Similar Threads

  1. Cadillac Allante, 1987-1993
    By Eric in forum Classic Car Corner
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 12-18-2010, 06:20 AM
  2. Cadillac Allante
    By Eric in forum Classic Car Corner
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 12-27-2009, 05:32 AM
  3. 1987 Suzuki Samurai
    By Eric in forum Piece of sheet cars
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 09-04-2009, 09:22 PM
  4. 1983–1993 Mercedes-Benz 190
    By Eric in forum Piece of sheet cars
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 09-01-2009, 07:18 AM
  5. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 12-03-2007, 02:11 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •