OLD CARS: Allante’s mission was to raise the profile of Cadillac


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The Cadillac Allante is not remembered with much affection today, but it is a mistake. If you happen to spot one of the two-seater convertibles, you will probably be pleasantly surprised by its good looks. The Allante’s overall design has aged better than most cars of the same era.


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What is important to understand, however, is that Allante’s overarching goal 30 years ago was to help restore the luster to Cadillac’s crown and attract a whole new set of younger Cadillac buyers.

At the time, however, Allante was not well received by the automotive public. The car was underpowered – but only underpowered when you consider that GM designed and built its two-seater to compete with the two-seater from Mercedes Benz and Jaguar. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until its final model year that Allante received Cadillac’s Northstar V8, which produced 290 horsepower.

The other problem was the price. For 1993, Allante had a base sticker price of around $ 50,000 – an incredible amount of money for this era and about $ 3,000 less than Mercedes was asking for its well-regarded SL500. And the Mercedes was superior in power and handling.

Cadillac wanted to build 6,000 Allante cars per year, but never reached that number. In total, he built 21,430 over seven years. Its best year was its final year, when 4,670 units were built and sold for 1993.

The two-seater was launched in 1987 and was created primarily to provide Cadillac with an ambitious model for the 1980s. Such a car would be luxurious, exceptional, well-powered and superbly designed. It would also be incredibly expensive and therefore beyond the reach of everyone except a few well-heeled potential buyers.

Allante’s four purported goals were characteristics that Cadillac had carefully developed and promoted from early in its formation. A few years after its launch in 1902, the name Cadillac would become synonymous with all of these characteristics. Indeed, by the 1920s its reputation was so finely developed that the word “Cadillac” was used by advertisers to express the excellence of the product they were promoting.


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Cadillac has almost always been one of the earliest beneficiaries of new technology from GM. And although mostly conservative in design, stylists have often stretched out to enhance the appearance of the luxury car through the use of subtle but rarely surprising innovations. Cadillac was one of the first cars to develop a defined trunk and hide its door hinges. But it was also the first car in Detroit to come out of the fins.

This cautious growth in Cadillac’s reputation began to pay GM dividends in the 1950s. Even as the price of a new Cadillac car continued to soar high, its sales paradoxically increased, as the new economy after. -war brought unprecedented prosperity to the United States and Canada. For 1955 Cadillac sold 140,727 new cars and for 1956 it sold 154,577 – and was the ninth most popular nameplate in America.

It was still an expensive car, but there was so much new wealth in the country that the illusory Cadillac experience was becoming available to more potential buyers.

Cadillac ultimately leveraged its name to increase sales, and often to the detriment of its reputation. Its leaders campaigned in the early 1980s to be included in GM’s J-car program, which produced a series of four-cylinder cars designed to compete with Honda and Toyota. The result for Cadillac was Cimarron, built from 1982 to 1988. Even to the most casual observer, Cimarron was not much different from Chevrolet’s J-Car, Cavalier, although much more expensive.


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But Cadillac’s initial foreign competition never came from Honda or Toyota. He came from Mercedes Benz and BMW. Cadillac first assumed the strength of this German competition in the early 1970s. It responded by designing a rather remarkable car, the Seville. Introduced for 1975, Seville was an immediate success, receiving both commercial and critical praise. It was the smallest Cadillac available for 1975, but the most expensive and arguably the most technologically advanced. Seville was certainly the most beautiful.

The introduction of the Seville was the first of many cars to be downsized by GM in the 1970s, as it sought a solution to rising fuel prices and a response to the US government’s new CAFÉ standards, which sought through legislation to increase the fuel economy of American automobiles. .

Cadillac first benefited from the downsizing program. His full-size models remained as beautiful as ever in 1977 when he lost about 700 pounds and several inches in length; and her legendary Eldorado, when she was downsized for 1979, saw her sales improve.

But the company’s downsizing program continued until the mid-1980s. Cadillac’s full-size sedans, its Seville, and the Eldorado were further downsized to such an extent that they became , in some cases mostly ignored by buyers who were looking for a luxury car and increasingly found satisfaction with the Germans.

In addition, Cadillac was concerned about the aging of its customer base. We had to develop a car that would attract young buyers.


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It was in this climate that Allante was born.

The new two-seater was based on a new platform called V-body. It was front-wheel drive and its engine mounted transversely.

The Allante’s wheelbase was 99.4 inches and its overall length was 178.6 inches. Its width was 73.5 inches.

It was initially fitted with Cadillac’s 4.1-liter V8, an engine it used for 1987 and 1988. This engine would be replaced for the 1990-92 model years by a 4.5-liter V8, and eventually by the Northstar. for 1993 only.

The beautiful dashboard and dashboard of the 1993 Cadillac Allante were bristling with new electronic technology.  Pierre Epp
The beautiful dashboard and dashboard of the 1993 Cadillac Allante were bristling with new electronic technology. Pierre Epp jpg, California

The most interesting thing about Allante was her production, which was very unusual. Cadillac retained the services of Italian designer Pininfarina for the styling and manufacturing of the bodies.

It was an expensive installation. Allante bodies were built in Italy and then returned to Detroit for final assembly, which included an American-made chassis and engine. Shipment of the bodies required a Boeing 747 specially equipped to contain 56 bodies.

As might be expected, Allante received the best technology GM had to offer then. Much of this was showcased in the roadster’s dashboard. The instrumentation was completely electronic, with no buttons or manual controls. The instrumentation was similar to what was made available to buyers of the new Reatta, Riviera and Tornado Trofeo.

Among the critics of the Allante was Car and Driver. In February 1989, he compared the Cadillac roadster to the Mercedes Benz 560SL. Overall, the writer praised General Motors for putting in a good effort. He suggested that the Allante should not be judged after two model years, and further suggested that great cars are developed after many years of production and continued focus on excellence. But the writer was happy with the new Cadillac.


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Allante may have been underestimated, but he didn’t immediately upgrade his engine until 1993. It was a lost opportunity for Cadillac.

Overall, sales never met GM’s expectations. A total of 21,430 roadsters were built over seven model years. As already mentioned, the best selling year was 1993 when the Northstar V8 was introduced. Cadillac sold 4,670 Allante cars.

The big question is whether Cadillac managed to make itself known to Allante. This was the original purpose of the new car. For several years, GM’s luxury car division struggled to renew its identity and attract young buyers. He didn’t quite accomplish this in the 1990s, but seemed to have established himself after the turn of the century with an aggressive styling theme based on his Evoq concept.

Cadillac retained the services of Italian designer Pininfarina to style its Allante roadster, and Pininfarina was also responsible for the production of manufacturing.  Pierre Epp
Cadillac retained the services of Italian designer Pininfarina to style its Allante roadster, and Pininfarina was also responsible for the production of manufacturing. Pierre Epp jpg, California



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