The Cadillac Cimarron was introduced to help combat
against the growing popularity of imports such as the BMW 320i, Audi 4000,
Datsun Maxima, and Toyota Cressida. By 1980, these imports had captured 19
percent of the luxury market, up from 13 percent in 1979.
The name Cimarron was personally chosen for this car by Cadillac's General Manager, Ed Kennard, during its development. Cimarron is a river in the southwest United States stretching across Northeast New Mexico, parts of Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
The Cimarron was initially planned on a Buick X-chassis, but was later swapped to a J-chassis because the President of General Motors, Pete Estes, felt that this car should have the latest technology. The use of the J-chassis meant that not much could be done in regards to styling. The one piece body build of the J-chassis meant that nothing could be changed. The beginning of the front fender all the way to the rear quarter had to remain the same, thus the little diferentation between a Cimarron and a J-car. The only items Cadillac could change were the hood, grille, taillights and rear panel. To insure that the Cimarron at least performed better than the J-cars, Cadillac used a specially tuned suspension, front and rear stabilizer bars, a four speed manual transmission, quick ratio power steering and forged aluminium wheels. Cimarron would be the first Cadillac since 1914 to have a four cylinder engine and the first since 1953 to have a manual transmission.