• Jan 30, 2007


It seems that our Future Classics posts have spurred readers into dreaming up their own nominees. This time around, our Future Classic post was written by Autoblog guest writer Derek Kreindler. We know our choices are often offbeat, but Derek has taken a dive off the deep end. The piece has been edited by Autoblog staff for grammar, spelling and general spunkiness.


Who Killed The Entry Level Caddy?
(By Derek Kreindler)

In the history of the automobile, there have been many cars inexplicably authorized for sale: the homely Edsel, firey Pinto, and who could forget the TC by Maserati, synonymous with "unholy alliance"? There is one car, however, that is met with sneers, jeers and other remarks so disparaging they would make a French waiter blush with embarrassment. That car is the Cadillac Cimarron.

In the post-oil crisis era, Detroit released such sexually arousing automobiles as the Chevy Vega, Mustang II, and the Dodge Omni (the official car of 40-year-old males living in their parents' basement and drooling over Princess Leia in Star Wars bikini garb). GM decided the Arms Race of Inadequacy was reaching critical mass. It was decided that Cadillac, in an effort to draw customers from the "yuppie" market, would release its own version of GM's new and exciting J-Car. What began as a noble effort to bring luxury to the bourgeoisie ended as an automotive abortion, sending Cadillac shuffling back to the retirement home, catheter trailing behind.

The year was 1982. Hip-hop was just invading the suburbs, Ghandhi and E.T. were in theaters, and Cadillac roared into effete locales with the brand new "European-inspired" Cimarron. Powered by a carbureted 1.8L 4-cylinder featuring the power and refinement of a two-stroke Toro, enthusiasts longed for something a bit more sophisticated, like the Iron Duke. Inside, the third-rate drive train was complemented by a generous helping of leather(ette), wood (grain imitation trim), and Cadillac badges glued on in place of the more proletarian brands. When equipped with whitewall Uniroyals the car screamed "klassy" louder than Tonya Harding modeling the Sears Activewear catalog.

The Cimarron was not warmly received by the car-buying public. Over the years, a series of upgrades were carried out to make the car more palatable. These consisted of a mild facelift to erase any lingering notions of rental cars, a 2.8L V6, and a so-called "touring suspension" from OEM supplier Jet-Puffed. None of this stopped the car from being total crap, rejected by even the most ostentatious of the new money set. The Cimarron visited Dr. Kevorkian in 1988, six years past due.

The automotive world has since expunged this hack job from its collective memory. When queried about the history and the ultimate fate of the Cimarron, GM reps kindly ask one to never mention its name again, and offer generous healthcare and pension packages to incentivize vacating the premises of the Renaissance Center.

After the Cimmaron was stricken from the record books, GM rounded up nearly all examples in existence and crushed them unceremoniously at its Arizona proving ground. Actually, we have no proof of that, although we have heard the little buggers were prone to catching on fire... or maybe we heard that people were prone to setting them on fire. Either way, the vacant hole left by the Cimarron's demise wasn't filled until the Catera, the Caddy that zigged, arrived in 1997. Then, it wasn't until 2003 that Cadillac actually learned how to produce an entry-level luxury model people wanted to buy with the CTS. Can you imagine that this counts this as one of its kindred ancestors?


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 43 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      National Association for Design and Talent Challenged Vehicles
      75 Corky Road
      Out of It, Montana BR549

      Dear Sirs,

      We at NADTC have fond appreciation for automobiles of a lesser kind - the badge-engineered remakes of American classics (and Hondas and Acuras and Toyotas and Lexi).

      Seeing the Cadillac Cimmy brought tears to my eyes. Some of us looked upon the day when we could finally afford to buy a Cadillac with all the tin cans we collected. It was tough work lugging Hondas and Toyotas from that day into the Alcoa recycling center.

      But we strove to get that Cadillac Cimmy.

      We still remember longing for a Lincoln version of the Pinto - the Mark Fire. Oh, the glory of seeing a glistening continental grill, of seeing a continental kit plastered to the smoldering rear decklind, and a vinyl roof complete with authentic landau bars and a fully functional opera light augmenting a Lincoln opera window.

      Sounds hot, eh?

      Wouldn't it have been just a blast in the past to have had a Chrysler variant of the Plymouth Cricket? Imagine an Imperial built upon that platform - three speed automatic lavish corinthian leather bucket seats with color keyed lap belts, and a genuine am/fm radio with five channel preset! Top that Imperial Cricket with wire wheel covers, chrome wheel well trim, and color-keyed bodyside molding and you've got wheels that would make your date get all hot and bothered!

      So, let's all celebrate the Cadillac Cimmy and the wheels that should have been. And while you are cruising in your Lexus, er, Toyota, er, Lexus, know that you are just riding in a pimped up Camry that could really use some crushed velour and a half vinyl roof!

      Yours truly,

      Roberto El Lutzo
      President and Chief Executive Officer
      Designs Gone By Division
      NADTC
        • 6 Years Ago
        I totally agree. Most Lexus, Acura and Infiniti's are luxury versions of their respected makers. Seems like people tend to forget that. My best friends Mom bought a new silver Cadillac Cimarron in 1985 and I thought the car was awesome. Sure it had humble origins, but it had everything on it that made a luxury car a luxury car. Aside from not having Bluetooth and Navigation, it had very nice features in a smaller package. I suppose I was a fan of the car!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Two weeks ago on Ebay, someone was selling an Olds Firenza Hatchback with a Cimarron front end and dash. It was...interesting.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The "Cavalac"
      • 5 Years Ago
      I AM A RICH CAR COLLECTOR!who doesnt care for the car personally
      BUT!!!!!!!!!!!it served it purpose i agree with those who covet them
      leave the little caddy alone its COOL in its own rite..
      GREG BERLIN RENO NV.
      • 8 Years Ago
      My grandma has a cherry '88 sitting in her garage in Dallas! Doesn't even have 30k miles on it. Tends to vapor lock if the temp gets above 88 degrees and has some interesting braking habits, but otherwise she's a beaut. Any bids?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Please lest us not forget the Catera and the omg what is the name... oh yeah the Allante...


      At least the catara gave us the holden Monero aka the GTO.
      • 8 Years Ago
      It's fitting they retained Borat as their marketing model in the top pic.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Are you kidding me?

      How many of these tinfoil sedans with slag engines are still on the road?

      future classic my skinny white azz
        • 7 Years Ago
        Quite a few are still on the road. I have an 88 and it runs and looks great. They are great used values, as few people realize how many upgrades are installed. My first one was an 84 and it did get sold off after being rear-ended by a truck. I see them all the time, but before buying one I didn't know what they were. Same thing happened when I had a Buick Skylark-- didn't remember seeing them anywhere either but after owning one they were seen everywhere. Not many Cimarrons were sold but it's a very rare sight to see one in a Junk yard.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Mike -- the G20 was emphatically not related to the Sentra. Not only was it a full size class larger (the early-90s Sentra was a subcompact; the G20 was a large compact), it didn't even share a platform with any Nissan sold in the US.

      The only Infinitis that were dressed-up US-market Nissans were the I30/I35, QX4, and QX56 (based on Maxima, Pathfinder, and Armada, respectively). That's it. M30, Q45, G20, and J30 were completely unrelated to any Nissans sold in the US (considering that Infiniti is a US-only brand, the JDM models have to be badged as Nissans...). Actually, the first-generation Q45 was a US-market exclusive, as it had a shorter wheelbase than its closest JDM relative, the Nissan President. And while the G35, M35/M45, and FX35/FX45 share a chassis with the 350Z, the chassis is the only thing that even resembles the Z.

      As for Lexus, the only Lexii that are share a platform with US-market Toyotas are the ES, LX, RX, and GX (related to Camry, Land Cruiser, Highlander, and 4Runner. respectively). Furthermore, the RX and GX share no body panels with Highlander and 4Runner, and for the last two generations, the same is true for the ES/Camry relationship. IS, GS, LS, and SC are all unique for the US market.

      Now, I'm not saying that Toyota and Nissan don't practice badge engineering. They do a whole ton of it. Especially Toyota. Premio/Allion/Avensis, anyone? It's just that Lexus and Infiniti have nothing to do with the badge engineering.
        • 7 Years Ago
        To say that Lexus and Infinity or Acura or any of the many Japanese "Luxury wanabees" are not re-badged versions of their cheesier counterparts can be answered by the Japanese people themselves. I've spent some time in Japan while active in the USAF and most locals laugh when you mention names like Lexus or Infinity. Those cars are not sold there as such- simply badged differently for the "Foriegn" market. I've had Japanese locals tell me they thought Americans were stuped for paying so much for the re-badged cars and I tend to agree. I sat in a Lexus model before buyiny my Eldorado and there was no way I could call it (Lexus) luxary.
      • 6 Years Ago
      As always, performance or luxury derivatives of a mainstream platform only serve to confirm how good or bad that platform is. And the Cimarron only confirmed how bad the J-Body was, and how far Cadillac and GM in general had fallen- the descent had started in the 70s from building quality cars to junk, or an array of perfectly well-intentioned but shoddily-executed products.

      I'll argue, for instance, that the downsized B/C-Body of 1977 and A-Body the following year (later G-Body) were tremendously influential because they made the traditional American car smaller, more efficent and better-packaged.

      Of course, in the early 1980s, you only had to look at what Opel were building in Europe and you'd think GM were two completely separate companies. Even the European J-Body (Ascona) felt like a Mercedes compared to its American counterparts, whilst many would have loved to have seen the Opel Senator and Monza (which was actually a credible competitor to the W123 and E28 5-Series- something the Omega of the 90s which spawned the Catera never was) make it across the pond.

      I'd agree, though, that the '86 Seville/Eldorado/Riviera/Toronado was one of the biggest flops in modern GM history, eclipsed only by the Aztek and Cimarron in receiving a cold reception in the showroom.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think I just busted a gut from ROFLOL
      • 7 Years Ago
      To: Gloria Hull's Message: Hello there. I see you have a Cimarron for sale. I live in Canada, and could be interested. Would you have a pic to share of this fine car of yours? Email me at: markos1@xplornet.com. Thanks, Mark S.
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