Cadillac Allante

megasuvownermegasuvowner Member Posts: 64
What a great car by cadillac. I forgot why production of this great car stopped, it was either poor sales or something wrong with production. I thought it looked very sleek and nice for a caddy, maybe because its body was built by pinifinera, the designers for Lamborgini and Ferrari. Another interesting thing about this car was that the "shells" were built in Italy and shipped to the us in 747 jumbo jets. Oh well, heres the place to voice your opinion on this little 2dr convertible.


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I think the car failed not only due to typical GM quality issues but also that it was matched up against the Mercedes SL, which just bested it in every possible area. GM picked a pretty difficult opponent for the Allante, so no wonder.

    The 1993 models carried the Northstar V-8, which greatly improved performance and reliability. Unfortunately, way too late to save the car.

    Poor marketing, poor quality control, poor positioning against a formidable competitor it couldn't possibly beat, (should have tried the luxury sport coupe market) , and poor engineering development.
  • sweetjeldoradosweetjeldorado Member Posts: 94
    Also, the Allante was marketed in the wrong time, or lets say wrong era. It may have been a great car to some Allante enthusiasts but the car, somewhat, was underpowered with a dismal 4.1 liter engine set-up with poor quality control problems such as leaky convertible roof, squeaks and rattles and etc.

    Cadillacs loyal age group back then was over 60 and was successful with that age group statistically. The Allante looked fresh and more modern than most of the current Cadillac line-up at that time but hardly no one noticed the car and thought that the Cadillac image was less significant. The idea was great but execution of the car was way off base and could not influence anyone in the Cadillac showrooms. The Cadillac line-up has abundant amount of chrome externally everywhere except for the Allante' If GM invested money in marketing such as Lemans and NASCAR, commercials and advertisement in mags. and newspapers, it would get some publicity but didn't.

    Did you remember that on Married with Children in '87 when Christina Applegate a.k.a. Kelly Bundy trying to win the contest and did won dubiously trying to be a model in front of the Allante' in the showroom. To be honest, they never "mentioned" Cadillac on the show and I did not know that it was a Cadillac back then.

    Might be one of the reasons why the car did not sell either because it did not look like a regular Cadillac and the car was just too sporty compared to the limo-like Cadillacs back then. All the apples to one fresh orange does not work.

    If Cadillac was fortune tellers, they should had marketed the car as first production in '93-'02 since it looks apart of the sporty '92-'97 Seville (touring sedan) and Eldorado (touring coupe) to set off the upcoming Cadillac CLR (Evoq) nicely as a halo car. I think this time, the CLR will be a success since the other Cadillacs(upcoming fusion of design and tech. edgy-chiseled design models) will look just as sporty back of the CLR. The Evoq this time around will match the next gen. SL and other high end two-seater (and two-seater and a half) in every which way particularly in performance, technology, quality and so on.

    J "CaddyLac"
  • ineto6ineto6 Member Posts: 161
    The car was sweet but overpriced. People rather buy the Eldorado instead - more practical.
  • merckxmerckx Member Posts: 565
    It's easy to be an armchair quarterback,but I would say the biggest problem was that GM was asking Mercedes 560SL money for the Allante-they probably had to though with the air freight and cutting Pinninfarina into the profit loop.But think of it-the Merc should have been easy to beat,having been designed in 1971.But at least at first Gm had to undercut it in price,but they didn't.Obviously,the Benz became an icon,because the driving expierence was not really that great-at least compared to a much more modern car like,say,a BMW 3-series convert.But after so many years on the market(and not all that up-dated either)many non-enthuesists lusted for one,without having any real interest or even knowledge about cars.
    Gm needed to be patient-with time the Allante could have given the Mercedes a run for its money,but not right at the beginning,and not at the same price.
    It was hubris that made GM price the Cad that high.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Yes, good point. Cadillac's big mistake was to design a car to compete with an OLD Mercedes design, so it was obsolete the day it hit the market. Benz already had a replacement for the 560SL in the cooker. Allante couldn't match the old 560SL and was completely outclassed by newer Benz models. It would be the equivalent say, of some company entering the 2001 SUV market with a copy of a 1985 Chevy Suburban.
  • BushwackBushwack Member Posts: 258
    I own a '93 Allanté and for what the car was designed to do, it does very, very well. The car was designed to cruise down the interstate with power readily available when needed. It rides like a Cadillac - as intended.

    The Allanté should have been marketed the same way Ford will market the new T-bird - a high horsepower highway cruiser with a firm yet gently ride.

    Aesthetically, the Allanté's interior is (imo) a love/hate relationship. Aside from the instrument cluster, the car could have used some subtle contemporary styling. I think the upcoming Evoq will very much what the Allanté was intended to be. Now if the boys at GM would just market the car correctly, it will be a success from both an aesthetic, engineering AND marketing perspective.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    You have the Northstar V8? MUCH better car than the older ones. As an appraiser, I award considerably more value to a Northstar Allante.
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Member Posts: 4,883
    The Northstar is the one that's going to be a collectible IMO.

    You guys also forgot another thing... Staggering depreciation (93s Excepted). Allantes often were advertised for $15K or so off original list when they were a year old.

    As a dealer, I can't think of a nice thing to say about 87-89s... By the time they fixed the car it was too late.

  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,876
    Our neighbor's "boyfriend" (I feel weird using the term "boy", because he's gotta be in his 80's!) had an Allante. I remember he said that he got it new for something like $10,000 off the advertised price. I forget what year it was...but it was late 80's (definitely pre-Northstar)

    He didn't keep it long though, I guess because it was too hard for him to get in and out of it.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I remeber one issue with the earlier cars was waterleaks at the car wash. Never heard the end of that.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    Heard the same thing, they leaked like an old MG.

    The dealers advised against car washes for that reason.
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Member Posts: 414
    Do any soft top convertibles keep the water out in a car wash? I thought car washes were generally not recommended for soft tops.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I think this was with the hardtop installed that the leaks were the worst. That really shouldn't happen.
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Member Posts: 414
    Ah, forgot about the hardtop.
  • smumforsmumfor Member Posts: 1
    First of all get your facts straight And the water leaks you are talking about were on the early 87 models. I own an 89 Allanté and only during a hard driving rain here in Florida have I had any water leak in, and this is an 12 year old car. The cars were built by Pininfarina in Turn and there were no GM quality issues. They were brought over without engine/transmissions. The 4.5 litre engine in mine is as fast as the northstar up to about 60 miles an hour. The Speed Dependent Damping suspension is wonderful but was not on the 87-88 years. When I wear this one out I will get another one because it is a great car that most people know nothing about. I would say that the only thing I would like to have is a Power Top, But that's not a real problem as I can put it up and down in seconds


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well, I'm glad you enjoy your car. I think calling the Allante "great" is at odds with the car's patchy history and ultimate withdrawal from the market. This is not to say it wasn't a nice car in many ways...but it suffered from poor marketing, too high a price tag, being rushed to market before it was ready, and of course the old "Italian-American Car Curse" that has bedeviled every US-Italy hybrid effort (Pantera, Iso, Chrysler TC, etc.). If the 1993 Allante had come out in 1987, who knows, things might have been different. The list of both owner praises and laments is well-known to most of us I think.
  • tomregantomregan Member Posts: 1
    It is interesting to read the comments of so many people who have never experianced the delights of an Allante. "To hard to get into." The reason that I bought it was ease of entry and egress. No comparison to 560 SL. Much bigger and more comfortable. Top was much easier to use. Especially later ones. Classic design. The only problem with the Allante was it's total abandonment by GM and Cadillac. Shame on them. I have personally owned two Allante's a 90 and a 93. Both wonderful cars. And Mr. Shiftright, your comments on value will be interesting to review in 20 years.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    My main evidence to suggest a sluggish value in the future for the car is based on the fact that no car that was a failure in the public eye (no matter what the car was really like) ever became highly collectible--so I would guess Allante prospects are...well...not grim....but not particulary rosy either. I'd peg it with Reatta, , '76 Eldo, C4 Corvette for future value. One not so good indication already is that the Allante is behaving like a used car in value, that is, the NEWER ones are worth more than the older ones. A collectible behaves the opposite, the older the more valuable. I think it will behave similarly to the Mercedes V8 SLs from the 70s, which are now over 25 years old and selling in the $12-14K range for excellent examples. For big bucks in a collector market, a car needs POWER, GLORY and PRESTIGE. I don't see the Allante with any of these in any significant way....not like Dodge Hemis, '57 Chevies, fuelie Corvettes, or even the '59 Cadillac Eldo, which have at least one or more of those three characteristics.

    Here's an interesting quote from Business Week, 1993 issue, that I think is a fair and balanced assessment: Perhaps you would like to comment on it pro or con?

    For starters, the car, with its 170-horsepower engine, was underpowered compared with foreign rivals. The body, handcrafted at the Pininfarina workshop in Titrin, Italy, was attractive, but not especially distinctive or well made. The roof leaked, and squeaks and wind noise marred the luxury-car hush.

    These were all clear signs that the car's handlers should have waited and ironed out the bugs. But signs work only if they're heeded. One executive who worked on the Allante later on says that Cadillac couldn't bring itself to delay the launch. "They had made a big hoopla about the introduction of this car, and when the car wasn't ready, they didn't want to make the hard choice anti hold hack," he says. The result was a car too small anti expensive for core Cadillac buyers. hut not really good
    enough to lure import buyers. No wonder Cadillac sold fewer than half the expected 4,000 Allantes in the 1987 model year. And it never sold even half its goal of 7000 cars in subsequent years.

    By the time GM decided to pull the plug, Allante (now priced at $61,075) had finally become the ultra smooth, high-performance luxury coupe it was originally intended to he. Cadillac had added the 295-horsepower multi-valve V8 Northstar engine and an electronically controlled transmission. But buyers were thoroughly confused. It was five Years too late.

    Taking a different view, Cadillac's general manager. John 0. Grettenberger. says: "The car was a victim of economics, not a failure."
  • jonvjonv Member Posts: 1
    Failure? How about a front wheel drive car in a rear wheel drive marketplace? I like the Allante alot, but there are plenty better car, albeit for 10 to $20,000 more. This is a car to drive, repair, & enjoy.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    Why are the Allantes so disliked in the motoring community? I do know that the early '87s had the same sort of problems as our '87 Cutlass Ciera, but hey, Allantes are Cadillacs. I'm not sure why they don't get a lot of respect, even though their build quality was never that good.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I think because they promised so much more than they finally delivered. I think people felt disappointed.

    I don't know that they are "disliked" so much as generally ignored except by a small group of dedicated enthusiasts.

    That's my own feeling about them. I don't really pay much attention to them one way or the other.
  • dennisjhsdennisjhs Member Posts: 15
    I read some of the posts on this board here and have an interesting perspective about the vehicles. I work with Allantes from time to time and can tell you that most of them aren't bad vehicles per se, the largest difficulty is that many Allante specific parts only are becoming close to impossible to source out. Most if not all of the early vehicles 1987-1989 have had the various updates to improve the water leaks, top concerns etc. The later vehicles, especially those built 90 or later had much improved workmanship and Cadillac had slowly gotten the hang of re-designing various aspects of the vehicle. As a daily driver, its not a bad choice.
    But as an investment, well, probably not a good choice. The 1993's, which are highly prized, are more powerful, best built, but, in my thoughts, I'd pick a 1992. The early Northstar engines are not all the reliable compared to the 4.5/4.9 choices and the Northstar engine tends to be expensive to repair.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Tahnk you, Dennis, that was an interesting and informative post.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    Why does the Northstar engine tend to be expensive to repair/fix? I'm of the thinking that it would be really cheap and simple to maintain, just like the old 4.0 straight-six in my '92 Jeep.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,876
    ...well, it's a DOHC engine, so it's just going to be inherently more complex than the older pushrod 4.1/4/5/4.9 Caddy engine. And as things age and wear out, complexity can work against a car in the long run.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Yes, it's kind of like those ads that Buick used to run plugging the simplicity of their V6. The idea was that an engine with no moving parts had fewer things to fix ;-).
  • dennisjhsdennisjhs Member Posts: 15
    I work with the Northstar motor from time to time and can answer the question about why its expensive to fix. The main problem with the Northstar engine is that it is an all alloy block and head. These engines need regular maintenance and don't take kindly to missing regular service. Personally, I feel that GM recommendation of 5years or 100K coolant changes on some Northstars (up to 7/150k now?) is not doing the engine any favours. The Northstar by its nature can run up to 228 degrees before the cooling fans kick in and reduce the temp back to 192-200 degrees (depending on vehicle equipment and year). When these engines overheat, they pull the threads out of the alloy block and it becomes time to install brass inserts into the block to hold the headbolt threads. This usually requires the removal of the motor to repair it.
    The other two issues are that the Northstar and to a lesser extent, the Ford OHC v-8's, use a fair amount of oil and owners don't check the oil level often they run low and guess what happens...The Northstar is a strong performing engine, but, like some imports it needs to have the right audience who can both appreciate its strengths and respect the maintenance it needs.
  • sweetjeldoradosweetjeldorado Member Posts: 94
    Is the current revised Northstar for 2000/01? which runs on regular gas more reliable or can most of us can expect some trouble down the road like the older northstars that use to run on premium gas in terms of regular maintenance and arm-and-leg type expenses and labor after so many miles put on them?

    J "CaddyLac"
  • dennisjhsdennisjhs Member Posts: 15
    Dear Sweeteldo:
    The fact is that we don't know if the "re-designed" Northstar on 2000+ models will run or last any longer than the "previous generation" Northstars. Only time will tell. But, given the GM history "of design improvements," don't hold your breath.
  • anthonyp1anthonyp1 Member Posts: 27
    I owned one and I can say it was a very tiring car to drive. About eight hours and you were beat tired. The drive was very un sophisticated. After numerous repair trips , sold it and had to sue Cadillac, as the value had declined below the guarantee(as I remember) They would not settle as the contract stipulated, so after I got lawyer, they paid up. It seemed so stupid not to honor what was in writing, and just admit their error. Tony
  • green7970green7970 Member Posts: 1
    I am thinking of buying a 93 Allante (Northstar obviously) Pearl White/Blk top/Tan Int.--car has 52k miles and is in just shy of exellent condition, though not concours, a (it has a ding in the chrome strip in the bumper and has been driven though very well cared for no visible chips in paint). Analog dash, no hardtop, seats covered with sheepskins since new--car but in 1994 and undert the 7/100k warranty till last year. Owner as Bentley, Cornice and New Tbird. So my guess is it was driven often enuf to avoid seals drying out. All service done by CAddy dealer.

    I have two questions --what do you think would be the range of good prices for this for me as a buyer.

    Secondly what tests would you have done on the car before buying--compression, radiator flow, cooling system pressure, etc etc. Do you know of anyone reputable to perform the tests and work on the car in the Southern Calif area.

    Thanks for your help.

    [email protected]
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Apparently the '93 model is the one everybody wants, since it has the NOrthstar engine. Looks like the range for really nice ones is $19K-25K. I'm sure there are any number of competent shops in southern Cal. Perhaps you could use a search engine to find the Allante Club in your area (that is, members who live in your area) and aks them who they take the car to.

    It's too bad there is no hardtop as this helps to stabilize the chassis and makes for a better riding car.

    One thing I'd certainly to is take the car through a car wash to see if it leaks. This was apparently a big problem.
  • mminerbimminerbi Member Posts: 88
    To clarify the engine issue further, there's no question that the 4.1 engines ('87 and '88) were problematic. However, it's my understanding that the 4.5 and 4.9 engines are greatly improved, in terms of reliability and durability, over the 4.1. Unfortunately, the image of the larger OHV engines was tarnished by the reputation of the 4.1.

    This is supported by dennisjhs' statement in message #23 above...

    "The 1993's, which are highly prized, are more powerful,
    best built, but, in my thoughts, I'd pick a 1992.
    The early Northstar engines are not all the reliable
    compared to the 4.5/4.9 choices and the Northstar
    engine tends to be expensive to repair."

    Dennis, do you happen to know what specific changes in design or manufacturing accounted for the improvements in the 4.5 and 4.9 over the 4.1?
  • stronghorseusastronghorseusa Member Posts: 1


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Also a rather flexible chassis. It doesn't have anywhere near the solid feel of a Mercedes SL, and I think this discourages buyers as well.

    Still, 19K for a 12 year old Cadillac is pretty darn good considering how much the other Cads of this era depreciate to almost nothing.
This discussion has been closed.