Weekend Edition – Two Cadillac Cimarron Sedans from the same seller; Cringeworthy or Not?

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Alright then… Audience participation is mandatory this time… When thinking of the worst Cadillac ever produced, does the name Cimarron come to mind? If you answered yes, let me tell you why you are wrong. The Cimarron really wasn’t a Cadillac at all, nor was the Catera that followed, nor was the Europe only BLS. These were cars produced at desperate times from other, more pedestrian models to fill a need within the Cadillac Division. They were not any worse than their contemporaries, just a bad marketing decision. My take is that the real damage to Cadillac was Cadillac only engineering that almost doomed the mark, from the horrible V8-6-4, to the 4100 V8, and the forgettable styling during the 1980s. The Cimarron was actually a very good Cavalier, especially when equipped with the 2800 V6. So let’s take a look at two Cavalier er Cimarron Sedans to see if they have any redeeming value.

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I have read a great deal of articles within the Automotive Blogosphere, and when it comes to the Cadillac Cimarron, most writers simply use the same old, tired, and rehashed fluff counter-culture statements that the Cimarron was a failure, that it was laughable as a Cadillac, and it always finds a spot on any of the “worst” lists that seem to be a staple on the web. Mark my words… These will become Collectible Curiosities in a few short years. Why do I say this? Because so many of them have already been recycled into Chinese Refrigerators or Micro-Wave ovens, and there are very few left in any relevant condition. Well, there are at least two fairly nice survivors for sale right now…

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The seller states that this is a 1986 Cimarron, but curiously it looks to have a 1985 front end (Separate Headlamps instead of single composites on true 1986 models), and this one is dressed with all the overwrought details almost every mid 80s Cadillac seemed to be dressed in. According to the listing:

These are great cars. You get the best of both worlds with these cars. You get the luxury of a Cadillac but you also get the size and fuel economy of smaller compact car. This car has the 2.8L V6 engine which makes this car plenty powerful but also allows the car to get over 30MPG’s. This car is a 1 Owner that only has 70K Original Miles on it. That is super low on a car like this. This car fires right up and runs, drives, and shifts great. It just cruises down the road very nice and rides like a Cadillac. Under the hood and undercarriage are clean and dry as can be. Make sure to watch the video I do a complete walk around of the car inside and out and even take it on a test drive.

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The exterior of this car is very nice but not perfect. It is a metallic bluish silver in color and has red pin striping and a very nice darker vogue top. The paint is nice and has a nice shine to it. The top surfaces do show some signs of fading. Other then a dent on the back passenger side this car is straight and clean. All of the chrome and trim on the car is nice and the chrome just shines in the sun. It has the chrome racks on the trunk lid which I think look cool and it has a full vogue top. This really is a nice looking car. The factory wire wheel covers are in very good condition and show very little road wear and look great on the car.

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With over eight days to go for this auction, the Buy-It-Now price is $3,650. It really is a cartoon character of what a real, full-sized Cadillac should be, from the Wire Wheel Covers, Whitewall Tires, and Carriage Roof, but that’s what makes this car so interesting. The V6 and Automatic are proven to be quite dependable, and it would make a great fashion accessory if you’re a young retrospective urban hipster with a sense of humor. See the listing here: [sc:ebay itemid=”310710471967″ linktext=”1986 Cadillac Cimarron Sedan” ]

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This is a 1986 Cadillac Cimarron D’Oro, which was a very poor attempt at an upscale Gold Package. It was marketed as a higher trim package to the standard Cimarron, and was first introduced for the 1983 model year, still two years before a proper V6 would be offered. The D’Oro package did away with your typical Cadillac Filigree, and was equipped with Gold and Silver Alloys, a toned down exterior, and a muted color pallet of either Black, White, or Silver. No White Wall Tires, No Wire Wheel Covers, and unless the dealer installed one, no Carriage Roof. According to the listing:

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You get the best of both worlds with these. You get the convenience of driving a smaller compact car that gets really good gas mileage but you also get a fully loaded luxury Cadillac. This is a very nice car that hardly has any miles on it. It is a 1 Owner Car that only has 38K Original Miles on it. That is hardly broke in on a car like this. The gauge cluster didn’t always work so we replaced the dash cluster and it now works perfectly and the miles show about 1,400 miles less then the car actually has. It reads 37,080 now and the actual miles are 38,500 miles. It has the 2.8L V6 engine which gives this car plenty of power and still gets over 30MPG. This car fires right up and runs, drives, and shifts great. It just cruises down the road nicely and everything on the car feels tight. Someone definitely took care of this car over the years and kept it maintained. Under the hood and undercarriage are clean and dry as can be. Make sure to watch the video I do a complete walk around of the car inside and out and even take it for a test drive.

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The exterior of this car is beautiful. It is white in color with the gold package. The paint is in very good shape and has a very nice shine to it. The car looks like it was parked in a garage most of the time. These are very nice looking cars. This Cimarron is straight as can be. All of the trim and mouldings are in very good condition and and dry and look great. The factory wheels are in very good condition and don’t show a lot of road wear. The car has a mismatch set of tires, the backs are different from the fronts. The tires are very nice and have I would say about 85% tread left.

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With over eight days to go for this auction, the Buy-It-Now price is $5,200. Not quite as cartoonish as the other Cimarron, this still has a unique air of desperation, but i think this is a very unique vehicle. See the listing here: [sc:ebay itemid=”310710472284″ linktext=”1986 Cadillac Cimarron D’Oro” ]

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Driving a Cimarron is like driving an Edsel or a DeSoto during the 60s… Everyone knew they were automotive failures, yet they were still a serviceable Chrysler or Ford under the unique styling, and there are certain individuals that get off on being noticeable. Look, there isn’t a chance in hell that there are other V6 equipped GM J cars that are as nice as these two, and the only thing that comes close to being automotive “Conversation Starters” would be something a little more exotic. So, what do you think of these “Not Real” Cadillac Models now?

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29 responses to “Weekend Edition – Two Cadillac Cimarron Sedans from the same seller; Cringeworthy or Not?”

  1. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    The white one fascinates me, because I didn't know they made any without a vinyl roof. The other one looks better, but the sparkling engine makes me wonder how it's come to be cleaner than the rest of the car. They might be the best Cavaliers ever, but that's hardly a reason to purchase one.

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      My mom bought an 82 Cimmaron back in 81, about 3 weeks after they came to market. My sister got it as a college car. It never had a vinyl roof, nor did the majority of the other ones I recall seeing on the roads.
      It had more than its fair share of collisions, all of which were faulted to other drivers, and it was severely underpowered, but it was fairly reliable. My sister sold it in 1990 with about 110K miles and Bondo in every conceivable panel for just a few hundred bucks less than the cheaper one here.

  2. Bryce Womeldurf Avatar

    You are correct, the Cimarrons and Caterras were not what nearly doomed Cadillac. Building cars only for a generation that was dying out was, similar to what Harley Davidson faced. But even if these aren't the worst things in the world, I'm more likely to collect Miatas. Something that's more fun to fling around a corner.

  3. dukeisduke Avatar

    The grey car (the price has been reduced to $3,175) needs some paintwork (hood/roof/trunk), and both cars need some leather replaced. The white car has a pretty good dent in the oil pan, and it looks like it was pretty greasy and leaky underneath before someone did some cleaning.

  4. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    I'd totally rock one of these in the UK, If only for the name, and then only for the scarcity of that marque over here. I would also like to own products by Ling-Temco Vought, Westinghouse and Vickers.

  5. Devin Avatar

    While I kind of love the d'oro for the pure gaudy ridiculousness of the enterprise, I wouldn't pay $5,200 for it, especially since you could buy a Cavalier of that vintage and some gold paint for about $520.

  6. boxdin Avatar

    Another of the X car series where the drivetrain was in the cradle subframe, but the steering rack was mounted to the body, resulting in constant steering changes whether in a straight line or a corner. We had two like this yrs ago and were just terrible to drive.
    This cars cousin the Citation X-11 has somehow become collectable as are the sport version of the Phoenix, Omega, Ventura, and Apolo, all the same car.

    1. salguod Avatar

      The Ventura and Apolo names died with the RWD platform. The Olds J car was the Firenza, the Pontiac was the J2000, then the 2000 and later the Sunbird and Buick's was the Skyhawk. The X bodies were Citation, Omega, Phoenix & Skylark.
      I really like the early 2 door hatch personally.

  7. boxdin Avatar

    Guess I should say the J-car as the Cimarron is was the second version of the
    x-car, but none better w the exception of a fairly attractive wagon version.

  8. racer139 Avatar

    Id rather have a J firenza hatch, two tone burgandy and silver with burgandy guts a five speed and f41 suspension, I believe thats what the olds hqndling package was called.

  9. stigshift Avatar

    I'd take a late model one with the V6 and a 5 speed, but neither of these does much for me. Especially the grey one. Egads…

    1. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

      Five speed Cimarrons were the first manual Cadillacs since 1953.
      Unusually for GM, I think these early J-body sedans are reasonably good looking cars. Often, the coupes looked fine and the sedans were awful. See; Lumina, Cobalt, last-generation J-bodies. Although the 2 versions of the latter were hardly less horrible.

      1. stigshift Avatar

        Minor correction- the Cimarron was introduced for '82 with a 4 speed. The five speed came along a soon thereafter. But they were the first manual Cadillacs since '53.

  10. Maymar Avatar

    I'm really intrigued to try out a Cimarron. After owning a '97 Cavalier (admittedly, it had the benefit of an extra decade of lazy development and a 5-speed), I'm not opposed to the J-Bodies. I'd have to pick the D'Oro over the awkward gray car though (the AARP-approved detailing just doesn't work on a compact GM tried to sell against the E30).
    That said, for more than $3000, there's no shortage of bigger, newer Cadillacs available. Admittedly, most of them are unreliable, burdened either with the Northstar or the undersupported Opel V6, but they're also far superior cars compared to this oddity.

  11. mac350 Avatar

    I actually bought one new from the local Caddy dealership at a huge discount – they didn't know what to do with them. It was ice-blue with blue leather, no vinyl roof, alloy wheels. It drove good, was quieter than the 3 series BMW (but no way near the power or handling), and had a pretty smooth ride. The only issue, as I recall, was the tire size was odd and it required a size that seemed to be unique to the car and tended to be expensive. Of course I've slept since then and have had a lot of cars since then. Oh, and I didn't consider it a Caddy back when I bought it – I thought of it more of an upscale Cavalier in Caddy livery.

  12. mallthus Avatar

    Back in 1981, my dad worked at the GM South Gate plant that was retooled to build J cars. There was a lot of initial demand for the vehicles, so production of the Cavalier Wagon my dad ordered was pushed back. After this had happened twice, my dad got a line on a Cimarron that was in service as a company car. From day one, the Cimarron failed to sell, so although it was going to be at least another month before we could get a Cavalier, we could get the Cimarron right away.
    It was an '82 with the four cylinder, a three speed automatic and neither wire wheels or vinyl roof. The paint was a deep metallic red and the interior was also red. After a long succession of Oldsmobiles, I recall the following:
    – It was slow. Really slow. Scary merging into traffic slow.
    – It wasn't as slow as my dad's '75 Monza Town Coupe.
    – The stereo was the first in our family to be of GM's then new 1.5 DIN size and had the little graphic equalizer built in.
    – The backseat was really tight. Of course, I was a newly minted teenager going through a growth spurt, so I might have had a bias.
    – The luggage rack on the truck lid was actually both functional and visually appealing.
    – The seats were among the best automotive seats I've encountered, either before or since.
    – Despite being utter crap from a materials and build standpoint, my grandmother drove it for almost 10 years after my parents' one year dalliance without major mishap.
    I can speak to the way it drives in large part because of that latter point. I frequently chauffeured by grandmother in that Cimarron until she replaced it with an Oldsmobile Calais International Series which, being bright red with a whale tail spoiler, suited my then mid-80s grandmother perfectly.

    1. Kogashiwa Avatar

      I can testify to the slow. My father had a Cavalier wagon with the same "power"train. I timed it 0-60 once. Don't recall the exact figure, but it was over 20 seconds.

  13. Rover1 Avatar

    Has anyone 'made' a Cimarron wagon or 2 door hatch using other J car components? I bet the wagon could be cool.

    1. mac350 Avatar

      I always thought a Cimarron convertible would be cool, too. A Cavalier convert with the caddy front sheet metal would be pretty easy. The wagon idea would be cool as well.

    2. LTDScott Avatar

      If I won the lottery, I'd do stupid stuff like this. I'd take a Cavalier wagon with a 3800SC or Northstar V8, slap a Cimarron nose on it, and call it a CTS-Wee.

  14. bsphillips Avatar

    "The Cimarron was actually a very good Cavalier…"
    Hahaha hoo hoo waaaahahaa, oh Jeez, you got me all teared up from laughing so hard!! That's a good one… Oh, I need to catch my breathe…

    1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      "Good", in this case, is relative… but then, so is incest.

  15. cruisintime Avatar

    At $3650. the gray one is a deal not so much as a collectible,but for a daily driver. In my area transportation cars in this price range are scarce.

  16. Bsphillips Avatar

    Iffin I remember correctly… The Cimarron was badged a Cadillac because the brand needed to bring their "average fuel economy" up to snuff with Fed standards for the '81 model year. I don't think it was ever meant to sell in droves… Most everyone I have known to own one bought it at HUGE discounts or it was given to them. I don't think I have ever known anyone who actually went to a car lot and bought one for the style, comfort, quality, ride, etc… If I did know a person like that… Boy, I got a lot of stuff to sell them 🙂

  17. nanoop Avatar

    Why I like h'verse: bring up a mediocre, now rather irrelevant and rather dull car, and the comments will point out why it's interesting and cool!
    Mercedes tried to downsize a couple if times, too, but rather successful (190, a-class), but in the early 80ies, all they had was a slow, no-creature comforts version of the w123, that looked and felt pretty spartan in comparison to these two here.

    1. MVEilenstein Avatar

      I tell people we like old, weird, ugly cars, and we're proud of it.

      1. bsphillips Avatar

        I LOVE old weird ugly cars!!! I like old AMCs, Studes, Scouts, Datsuns/Nissans, and even the begrudged Pontiac Aztec… But the Cimarron is just boot polish on a turd! There is nothing even remotely interesting and/or quirky about them…
        To further prove my point… I find value in rather odd things, such as; Geo Metro drop-top, Le Car, hearses & funeral cars ( El Camino-ish luxo-conversions), and the 70's-80's AMC/Eagle 4×4 coupes/sedans/(& especially) wagons. (I say screw Subaru and their "1st Sport Utility Wagon!" AMC had it it and Jeep before that and Willy's before that…)
        Speaking of Subaru… I love all the air cooled front/all wheel drive cars… Made several AWESOME buggies from those!
        My point is… The Cimarron is a lousy vehicle in all possible conceivable cognitive perceptions… It was based on a bad car (Cav) gussied-up without any thought about fixing/addressing the bad car it was based on… Even the Cosworth Vega made efforts to improve what was bad before tweaking it. I believe the Cimarron is by far the worst American made car ever, simply cuz it was a glossy version of the second- worse American car ever… I am gonna shut- up now 🙂
        You are welcome…

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          You've made a pretty good sales pitch, but Cimarrons are still a little too mainstream for me. Maybe if parts availability was more of an issue….

  18. salguod Avatar

    I like how he says about the gray one "Other then a dent on the back passenger side this car is straight and clean."
    Yeah, except for the ill fitting wrong-year nose with the wrong, color mismatched bumper end caps, all of which add up to a front end collision at some point in its past.

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