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|1979 CADILLAC ELDORADO
Sanity in the design of the Eldorado returned. Soon after the '71
Eldorado appeared, GM -- to its everlasting credit -- decided that its cars
had become too big and thirsty, and embarked on a corporate-wide
downsizing program beginning with the 1977 standard-sized models. The
Eldo's turn came for 1979, and none too soon: virtually on the eve of a
second fuel crunch.
But this "New Breed of Eldorado" was well worth the wait. Trim and
tailored on a new 114-inch wheelbase, it was smaller than even the '67;
against the '78 it was 20 inches shorter, eight inches narrower, and a
whopping 1150 pounds lighter, yet roomier inside. And it was the most
sophisticated Eldorado yet, boasting a new independent semi-trailing-arm
rear suspension with coil springs and standard electronic leveling, plus the
Seville's fuel-efficient 170-bhp 350 V-8. Standard and ritzier Biarritz
models were offered at starting prices above $14,000, yet sales set an
Eldorado record at better than 67,000 units -- nearly 18 percent of total
division volume. Cadillac was obviously on to something.
Buyers sure thought so, for sales remained strong over the next six
years despite only evolutionary changes, a deep early Eighties recession,
and some difficulties of Cadillac's own making. Notable among the last
was 1980's new 6.0-liter/368-cid V-8 with advanced digital electronic fuel
injection (DEFI). For 1981, this became a "V-8-6-4" through the magic of
an electronic control system that shut down two or four cylinders to
conserve fuel in low-effort driving. Though a grand idea, this
"modular-displacement" engine was plagued by as many problems as the
Olds-built 350 diesel V-8 offered optionally for Eldo since '79. Both
caused Cadillac no little embarrassment.
That was short-lived, however, for 1982 brought a new HT4100
V-8-"HT" for "High Technology." A 4.1-liter/250-cid gasoline unit, it was
unusual for having a cast-iron head atop a cast-aluminum block. Though a
bit short on horsepower -- 125 versus the 6.0-liter's 140/145 -- it proved
utterly reliable, which was what counted. Just as nice, it mated to a new
four-speed automatic transaxle with a gas-saving overdrive top gear.
That same year brought a somewhat surprising new model to increase
Eldorado's enthusiast appeal. Called Touring Coupe it started with the
firmed-up "Touring Suspension" option (also offered since '79), but tilted
more strongly toward the tweed-cap-and-driving-gloves set with a sporty
buckets-and-console interior and a more subdued exterior in Teutonic
Silver (telling, that name); it even lacked a vinyl roof and stand-up hood
ornament. Color choices expanded for 83 to include metallic Sonora Saddle
Firemist and Sable Black, and an extra 10 horsepower made for more
More glamorous still was the 1984 return of the Eldorado Biarritz
convertible. A conversion engineered and carried out by ASC,
Incorporated, it wasn't strictly "factory-built." But it had Cadillac's blessing
-- and most every convenience imaginable, including a full power top with
glass rear window, full headliner, and rear side windows that raised and
lowered in concert. It wasn't cheap -- over $31,000, versus $20,000 for that
year's base coupe -- one reason only 5600 were built through 1985.
Two years after other full-size Caddies were downsized, the personal-luxury coupe received similar treatment.
Eldorado shrunk drastically in its new front-wheel drive form, down some 1,150 pounds in weight and 20 inches
in overall length. Wheelbase was over a foot shorter at 114 inches, width narrower by more than 8 inches. Head
and leg room managed to grow, though, in both front and rear seats. As before, Eldos included standard
four-wheel disc brakes. But independent rear suspension was something new. The new space-efficient design also
featured electonic level control. Eldo's upright rectangular rear side windows also brought back the look of the
recently-abandoned pillariess hardtop. Wide, squarish, closed-in rear quarters also helped give Eldo a distinctive
appearance. Standard luxury touches included Twilight Sentinel headlamp control, automatic climate control,
illuminated entry, and side window defoggers. New 50/45 Dual Comfort front seats came in eleven shades of
leather, or pillow-style seating in new Dante knit cloth (six colors). The new instrument panel with driver-only
controls on the left was simulated burl walnut. Steel-belted whitewall radial tires rode match-mounted wheels. A
new flush-mounted windshield reduced wind noise. Standard dual outside mirrors were remote controlled (right
mirror convex). New permanently-sealed wheel bearings never needed lubrication. Eldorado's boxy-looking
crosshatch grille had rectangular openings and extended down into a cutaway portion of the bumper (not in two
separate sections as on other full-size Cadillacs). Quad rectangular headlamps sat above horizontal park/signal
lamps, with wide cornering lamps on the forward portion of the front fenders. An Eldorado script was on the
trailing segment of the front fenders, as well as on the decklid. Narrow three-sided vertical taillamps were an
Eldorado exclusive. Eldo still sported a familiar long hood and rather stubby trunk, and fender lines were similar
to before. Lamp monitors and the instrument panel were restyled. Inside was a new Dual Comfort front seat with
fold-down armrest and new seatback pockets, a new dome light with dual spot map lamps, plus a two-spoke
steering wheel. New cast aluminum wheels were optional. So were wire wheel covers with locking device and
electrically-controlled outside mirrors with lighted thermometer on driver's side. The optional Cabriolet roof was
offered with or without padding. Base powerplant was now Seville's fuel-injected 350 cu. in. (5.7-liter) gasoline
V-8. For the first time, the Olds-built 5.7-liter diesel V-8 was an Eldorado option. Eldorado Biarritz had a
number of exclusive accents, including a Cabriolet roof treatment with new brushed stainless steel front roof cap
and padded vinyl at the rear. The wide chrome crossover roof molding continued forward to the front fenders.
Also in the package were new cast aluminum wheels, accent stripes, opera lamps, "Biarritz" script, a tufted
pillow-style interior in five shades of leather or in light blue Dante cloth, fur-like Tangier carpeting, individual
rear seat reading lamps, and leather-trimmed steering wheel.
|Feature||Base engine||Optional engine|
|Type||90-degree, overhead valve V-8. Cast iron block and head.|
|Displacement||350 cu. in. (5.7 liters)|
|Bore & stroke||4.057 x 3.385 in.|
|Brake horsepower||170 at 4200 rpm||125 @ 3600 rpm|
|Torque||270 lbs.-ft. @ 2000 rpm||225 lbs.-ft. @ 1600 rpm|
|Fuel supply||Electronic fuel injection|
- Wheelbase: 113.9 in.
- Overall length: 204.0 in.
- Height: 54.2 in.
- Width: 71.4 in.
- Front Tread: 59.3 in.
- Rear Tread: 60.5 in.
- Standard Tires: P205/75RI5 SBR wide WSW
- Transmission: Three-speed Turbo Hydra-matic transmission with column shift.
- gear ratios: (1st) 2.74:1; (2nd) 1.57:1; (3rd) 1.00:1; (Rev) 2.07;1.
- Standard axle ratio: 2.19:1
- Steering: recirculating ball.
- Front suspension: independent transverse torsion bars, link stabilizer bar
- Rear suspension: independent trailing arm
- Brakes: four-wheel disc
- HEI electronic ignition
- Fuel tank: 19.6 gal.
- 5.7-liter diesel V-8 engine: ($287)
- Heavy-duty cooling system ($49).
- 80-amp alternator ($54).
- Engine block heater ($21).
- California emission equipment ($83-$150).
- High altitude pkg. ($35).
- Trailering package ($49-$103).
- Eldorado Cabriolet ($350)
Eldorado Cabriolet w/Astroroof ($1488)
Eldorado Cabriolet w/sunroof ($1278)
Eldorado Biarritz: leather seating ($2600); cloth ($2250).
Eldorado Biarritz w/Astroroof: leather seating ($3738); cloth ($3388)
- Astroroof (painted): ($1 163).
- Sunroof (painted roof): ($953).
- Cruise control ($137).
- Rear defogger, grid-type ($101).
- Six-way Dual Comfort power passenger seat adjuster ($125-$160).
- Power driver's seat recliner ($122).
- Power passenger seat recliner with six-way adjuster ($221-$280).
- Tilt/telescope steering wheel ($130).
- Automatic door locks ($121).
- Fuel monitor ($31).
- Theft deterrent system ($137).
- Guidematic headlamp control ($91).
- Trumpet horn ($22).
- Electric remote left mirror w/thermometer ($90).
- Lighted thermometer on left mirror ($28).
- Lighted vanity mirror, passenger ($52).
- Electronic-tuning seek/scan AM/FM stereo radio with 8-track tape player ($195); w/8-track and CB ($480);
w/cassette ($225); w/CB ($380).
- Two-tone paint, partial Firemist ($361).
- Firemist paint ($171).
- Front bumper reinforcement ($9).
- Door edge guards ($13-$20).
- License frame: each ($10).
- Leather seating area ($330-$350).
- Carpeted rubber front floor mats ($33-$36); rear $16).
- Trunk mat ($13).
- Locking wire wheel covers ($189-$292).
May 12/00; March 8/03
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