1986 Cadillac Eldorado coupe

“Imaginatively new. Decidedly Cadillac.”

Is it possible to miss the market more than this? For, 1986 Cadillac downsized the front wheel drive Eldorado coupe again. This time, wheelbase dropped to 108 inches, and overall length was down by over 16 inches to 188 inches—what was supposed the top of the non-limousine Cadillac line was now about the size of a 1986 Chevrolet Celebrity (or only about six inches longer than a 2014 ATS) and a full three feet shorter than the (admittedly massive) 1978 Eldorado.

Predictably, Eldorado buyers didn’t go for it. Sales collapsed from about 74,000 in 1985 to about 21,000 in 1986—definitely not what would be expected from a complete model revision.

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So, what did those relatively few buyers get with their $24,251 (about $52,600 in today’s dollars) 1986 Eldorado? Standard exterior and mechanical equipment included power four-wheel disc brakes, power steering, and aluminum alloy wheels. Inside, front bucket seats, power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, a power trunk release, cruise control, electronic climate control, and an AM/FM stereo radio with power antenna were all included, so the Eldorado was at least pretty well equipped.

Moving up to the Biarritz (almost always the top if the line Eldorado since 1956) cost either $3,095 (with cloth seats) or $3,495 (with leather seats) raising the price to either $27,346 ($59,400 today) or $27,746 ($60,200 today). Standard equipment on the Biarritz included nicer seats with power lumbar support, two-tone paint, and real walnut accents.

Options included a power Astroroof ($1,255), a nicely integrated cellular phone ($2,850), the FE2 touring suspension with 15-inch aluminum alloy wheels and 215/60R15 Goodyear Eagle GT tires ($155), and the Delco-GM/Bose Symphony Sound System ($895).

The Eldorado’s engine was Cadillac’s 130 bhp HT-4100 throttle body fuel injected 4.1 liter/249 ci V8 paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy was 17 city/26 highway by the standards of the day (15/24 by today’s standards). Since the engine and transmission remained the same and the Eldorado was smaller and lighter, performance was better but still not very impressive: 0-60 improved to about 11 seconds.

Page from the 1986 Cadillac Eldorado brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1986 Eldorado in #1/Concours condition is $10,400, with a far more typical #3/Good car going for a mere $3,900. Eldorados of this age come up for sale often in Hemmings Motor News, so folks are saving them. As I write this in June 2014, four 1986 Eldorados are for sale, with prices ranging from $7,750 to $11,995.

1985 Buick Somerset Regal coupe

Welcome, Jalopnik readers! We have many meh cars at Eighties Cars—the unloved category covers most of them.

I saw a reasonably original Buick Somerset Regal with Dark Gray Metallic paint on a side road in Philadelphia about a week ago. It was the first one I’d seen in many years.

“There has never been a Buick quite like the Somerset Regal”

Buick’s Somerset Regal was a new model for 1985. Available initially in coupe form only, Buick’s version of the N-body (Oldsmobile had the Calais, and Pontiac had the Grand Am) was designed to at least partially replace the Skylark. It failed miserably, only surviving for three years before being subsumed into the Skylark product line. Respectable first-year sales of 86,076 declined to 75,620 in 1986 and 46,501 in 1987.

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1985 Buick Somerset Regal Limited, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

The Somerset Regal was not a big car by today’s standards. With 180 inches of length and a 103.4-inch wheelbase, it is within shouting distance of a 2014 Honda Civic coupe, which is 177.9 inches long and has a 103.2-inch wheelbase. Of course, cars, in general, have gotten a lot bigger in these thirty years—the Somerset Regal was notably more substantial than the 1985 Honda Accord.

The standard powertrain was a 92 bhp Tech IV 2.5 liter/151 ci inline four with throttle body fuel injection (a slightly upgraded Iron Duke) paired with a five-speed manual transmission, but I believe most buyers went with the optional ($425) three-speed automatic instead. The hot set-up (if you could call it that) was the optional ($560) 125 bhp LN7 3.0 liter/181 ci multi-port fuel injected V6, only available with the automatic.

Mileage for the inline four and five-speed manual combination was an impressive 24 city/34 highway by the standards of the day (21/31 by 2014 standards). Choosing the more realistic three-speed automatic cost two mpg while upgrading to the V6 dropped you all the way down to 20 city/26 highway.

For the Somerset Regal’s $8,857 base price (about $20,300 in today’s dollars), standard equipment included power brakes, power steering, tungsten-halogen headlights, and body-colored bumpers. The interior included bucket seats and electronic digital instrumentation (somewhat upmarket at the time). Moving up to the Limited trim added dual horns, chrome bumpers, and courtesy lamps, along with snazzier seats and steering wheel.

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1985 Buick Somerset Regal interior, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Standard features that date the Somerset Regal included the Delco Freedom II Plus battery, front and rear ashtrays in the console, and the P185/80R13 tires (now considered a trailer size).

Options included the $645 air conditioning (in the mid-1980s not yet standard on most cars), cruise control ($175), leather seats ($275 and only available with the Limited), power door locks ($130), power windows ($195), Vista-Vent sunroof, Delco GM/Bose Music System AM/FM stereo cassette ($995!), cast aluminum wheels ($229), and a Gran Touring suspension ($27).