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Category: Cadillac

Junkyard Gem: 1991 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz


GM’s Cadillac Division introduced the ultra-swanky Eldorado as a 1953 model, and the Biarritz name was first used on the Eldorado convertible three years later. After that, Eldorado Biarritzes in various forms were built intermittently through the following decades. The end finally came for the Biarritz in 1991, when the last eleventh-generation Eldorados rolled off the Hamtramck line. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of those cars, found at a self-service yard near Denver, Colorado.


Biarritz is a resort city on the Atlantic coast in France’s Basque Country, just the sort of place where a high-living oil heiress might have flaunted her new Eldo during the late 1950s. The Biarritz title was used to designate Eldorado convertibles through 1964, then got dropped until its revival as the name of a gloriously rococo trim level for 1976.

For me, the definitive Eldorado Biarritz is the 1979-1985 version, with its stainless-steel roof panel inspired by the one on the 1957 Eldorado Brougham. When Robert De Niro as pink-suited Ace Rothstein falls victim to a bomb in his car in the 1995 film “Casino,” that car is a 1983 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz.


The Eldorado got a radical downsizing for the 1986 model year and its next-to-last generation, losing 16 inches of overall length and a corresponding portion of general bulk. The Biarritz version stuck around, but with no stainless-steel roof. 


The 1991 Biarritz package did get you two-tone paint, “Tampico” carpeting, birdseye maple wood on the dash and console plus 10-way power front bucket seats.


Also included were “wire wheel discs” aka faux-wire-wheel hubcaps.


The padded landau roof with slick-looking integrated opera lamps also went onto the 1991 Eldorado Biarritz.


All 1986-1991 Eldorados got a full digital instrument cluster.


This generation of Eldorado never got the DOHC Northstar engine. Instead, all were powered by a member of the Cadillac High Technology pushrod V8. The Northstar went into final-generation Eldorados from 1993 through the end in 2002.


This is the 4.9-liter HT engine, rated at 200 horsepower and 275 pound-feet. If you want to enrage engine-name purists you should call it the “HT4900” within their hearing range. Earlier versions displaced 4.1 and 4.5 liters, with 1991 being the first year for the 4.9.


When this car was new, no manual transmission had been available in a new Cadillac since the last three-pedal Cimarrons were built as 1988 models. The gearbox in this car is a four-speed automatic.


The final year for the Cadillac Eldorado was 2002, after which it was replaced by the CTS coupe. The 1986-1991 eleventh-gen Eldos ended up being the smallest of all the generations.


This one had an MSRP of $34,425, or about $80,326 in 2024 dollars. That was a bit cheaper than the cost of the similarly sized 1991 BMW 525i, which listed at $34,900 ($81,434 after inflation). Meanwhile, the costliest Cadillac of 1991, the Allanté hardtop convertible, cost $61,450 ($143,384 today).

Winner of the 1990 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award!



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Junkyard Gem: 1998 Cadillac DeVille Tuxedo Collection


Cadillac began using the de Ville name (which means about the same thing as “town car” but is more French and thus classier) in the late 1940s, becoming a model name in its own right for the 1959 model year. The seventh generation of the Cadillac de Ville was sold for the 1994 through 1999 model years, and many of these cars received dealer-installed aftermarket packages to increase their general opulence. Here’s one of those cars, with the E&G Classics “Tuxedo Collection” treatment applied, found in a South Carolina car graveyard a few rows away from a Toyota Avalon with nearly a million miles on its odometer.

Cadillac went through many variations of this model name over the decades, including de Ville, De Ville, DeVille and Deville. For most of the 1959-1993 period, the two-doors were named some version of “Coupe de Ville” while the “Sedan de Ville” name went on four-doors. The two-door was dropped after 1993 and eventually the model ended up being simply the DeVille. After the DeVille name itself got the axe in 2005, production of what amounted to the same car continued with DTS badging through 2011.

The 1994-1999 DeVille lived on the same platform as the front-wheel-drive Seville, after a decade of being a cousin to the Buick Park Avenue and Oldsmobile 98. It weighed just a hair over two tons.

For 1994 and 1995, the DeVille was powered by the 4.9-liter version of the pushrod Cadillac High Technology V8 engine, then received the DOHC Northstar V8 until the final DTSs were sold as 2011 models. This one is a 4.6-liter rated at 275 horsepower and 300 pound-feet.

Padded roofs, landau or otherwise, had fallen out of mainstream car-shopper favor by the late 1990s, and even the Brougham name had been dumped by Cadillac by that time (as far as I can tell, the final Brougham-badged car available in the world was the early-2000s Nissan Cedric VIP Brougham). That’s where Cadillac dealers stepped in, and Washington D.C.-area-based E&G Classics provided a Tuxedo Collection by E&G kit for those dealers to install.

E&G wasn’t the only outfit providing such services for dealers selling seventh-generation Cadillac DeVilles; I found a 1995 Sedan DeVille St. Tropez Edition, featuring non-padded landau roof and special badging, a few months ago in Denver.

Both today’s Junkyard Gem and the St. Tropez DeVille were sold out of Don Massey’s mighty Cadillac empire.

The E&G Tuxedo Collection DeVille got this body-color grille.

The heyday of the full padded vinyl roof for Detroit was the 1970s, and owners of the E&G Tuxedo Collection DeVille were able to flaunt their style in true 1979 fashion.

You’ll find one in every car. You’ll see.

The average age of Cadillac buyers plummeted the following model year, when the Yukon Denali-derived Escalade hit showrooms.



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Junkyard Gem: 1997 Cadillac Catera


GM’s Cadillac Division was having a tough time in the early 1990s, with an onslaught of Lexuses and Infinitis pouring across the Pacific to steal their younger customers while high-end German manufacturers picked off their older customers. Flying an S-Class-priced model between assembly lines in Turin and Hamtramck hadn’t worked out, so why not look to the European outposts of the far-flung GM Empire for the next Cadillac? That’s how the Catera was born, and I have found a rare first-year example in a North Carolina car graveyard.

Across the Atlantic, GM’s Opel and Vauxhall were doing good business with prosperous European car buyers by selling them the sleek rear-wheel-drive Omega B (whose platform also lived beneath the Holden VT Commodore in Australia). Here was a genuine German design that competed with success against BMW and Audi on their home turf!

So, the Omega B was Americanized and renamed the Catera. Opel wasn’t a completely unknown brand to Americans at the time, since its cars were sold here with their own badging through Buick dealerships from the middle 1950s through the late 1970s (for a much shorter period, American Pontiac dealers attempted to sell Vauxhalls). Even after that, plenty of Opel DNA showed up in the products of U.S.-market GM divisions.

The Catera was by far the most affordable Cadillac for 1997, with an MSRP starting at $29,995 (about $59,113 in 2024 dollars). Being a genuine German car, it looked much more convincingly European than the DeVille ($36,995), Eldorado ($37,995) and Seville ($39,995).

Inspired by the ducks on the Cadillac emblem (they were really supposed to be martlets, mythical birds with no feet and occasionally lacking beaks), Cadillac’s marketers went after youthful car shoppers with a whimsical animated duck named Ziggy. For the 21st century, the birds were removed from the Cadillac emblem in order to attract California buyers under 45 years of age.

As we all know, the Catera flopped hard in the marketplace. What sold well in Europe turned out not to translate so well in in North America, especially when bearing the badges of such a historically prestigious brand.

The Catera’s engine was a 54-degree 3.0-liter V6 rated at 200 horsepower and 192 pound-feet.

Just as had been the case with its predecessor, the Allanté, no manual transmission was available.

Americans tend to not maintain their cars as meticulously as their European counterparts, and they drive much longer distances in harsher weather conditions on worse roads, so the Catera proved much less reliable than its Omega counterparts across the ocean.

A Holden-ized version of the Catera’s chassis returned to our shores in 2004, underpinning the Pontiac GTO. This means that LS swaps into Cateras shouldn’t be too difficult…

After 2001, the Catera was gone. However, the suits at Cadillac had learned by then that pasting their badges on the GMC Yukon Denali was like having a license to print money. Rappers were rhyming about the new Cadillac truck, and the under-80 crowd flocked to Cadillac showrooms. During the 2000s, new Cadillac car models (some using members of the Catera’s 54° V6 engine family) continued the Cadillac revival, and the shameful memories of Ziggy faded.

But the junkyard never forgets, so let’s watch some more Catera commercials.

Hey, Cindy Crawford listened to Ziggy the Duck!

Ziggy also worked as a personal trainer.

Isn’t it time you took a test drive?

Wait, Opel says it should survive 10,000 miles of abuse in Arizona.

Those Omega owners sure have fun.

The Vauxhall version had 69 billion possibilities in its security codes, and it was pronounced “OH-muh-guh.”

Just the thing to drive around a surreal desert.



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