Hemmings Motor News published an extended discussion on the Cadillac Cimarron today in their always interesting Hemmings Daily blog, so I figured I’d bring one of my first posts up to a more current location.
“A new kind of Cadillac for a new kind of Cadillac owner.”
Ah—the poor Cadillac Cimarron, rushed to market for CAFE and other reasons without much thought as to who would actually buy it. When released in 1982, it was really just a nice as possible, fairly well equipped Chevrolet Cavalier.
The only engine available for 1982 was the 88 bhp L46 1.8 liter/112 cubic inch inline four with Rochester Varajet II 2-barrel carburetor. When paired with the standard four-speed manual transmission, mileage was an impressive 26 city/42 highway by the standards of the day (about 21/31 by modern standards), but the car was slow, slow, slow—0-60 mph took a little under 16 seconds. A three-speed automatic transmission was optional and presumably even slower. The 13.7-gallon fuel tank gave a range of between 330 and 420 miles with a 10% reserve.
The $12,181 base price (about $29,600 in today’s dollars) included standard exterior and mechanical features such as power brakes, power steering, power mirrors, intermittent windshield wipers, and 13-inch aluminum wheels. Air conditioning, leather seating areas, a leather steering wheel, a tachometer, and an AM/FM stereo radio with four speakers were all standard in the interior.
Options included a sunroof ($261), cruise control (about $150), power door locks ($12—why bother making it an option?), power windows (yes, the base 1982 Cimarron came with roll-up windows—power windows were an extra $216), six-way power seats ($366), tilt steering wheel ($88), and an AM/FM stereo radio with cassette ($153). It wasn’t hard to load a Cimarron up to almost $13,500—real money in 1982 and about $35,100 in 2015 dollars.
In typical General Motors fashion, the Cimarron definitely improved each year (sometimes significantly). However, the stench of that horribly failed initial release stayed with the car until Cadillac finally stopped selling them at the end of the 1988 model year. By that point, the Cimarron had upgraded from the fairly awful four-cylinder to a decent (and standard) V6 and had exterior styling that was at least somewhat more differentiated from Chevrolet’s.
So, the Cimarron remains a spectacularly easy target—routinely making those “worst 10 cars of all time” lists and suchlike.
I have yet to see a Cimarron at a serious antique car show, but I’m betting some intrepid soul will save one and bring it back. I can’t remember ever seeing one for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds—they’re treated by Cadillac folks like Ford folks treat the Mustang II from the 1970s. You do occasionally see them on eBay Motors.