: Would a 1983 Cadillac Sedan DeVille be a good first car for a college student?

Mellow Gold
02-09-09, 11:02 AM
Well, my question is exactly what I wrote in the thread title. I'm going off to college next year, and my parents kind of forgot that if I took the family car, that they wouldn't have anything to drive. So, lately, we've been looking for a used car, and I got what seems like a really nice deal on a 1983 Cadillac Sedan DeVille.

I'll post pics of it later, but it seems to be in really nice shape externally. It has really only two or three faded spots in the paintjob, and one rust spot on the roof. All the chrome looks like, and the interior is pretty much immaculate.

The car has a little over 100,000 miles on it and has had its anti-lock brakes and alternator recently replaced.

The guy wants to sell it to me for $1700.

Now, I really, really like this car, but I'm not sure an old Cadillac is right for me. My biggest concerns are that parts will be hard to find and expensive. I'm also concerned about the reliability of an older car like this, even though it has very low mileage.

What do you guys think? Would you send your son off to college in an '83 Sedan Deville?

02-09-09, 11:20 AM
1983 Sedan de Villes did not have anti-lock brakes. (In 1983, the only car that might have had ABS would have been the Mercedes S-Class.) Do you mean a '93?

Be sure you know how to drive a car w/o anti-lock if you get the '83. (i.e. pump the brakes)

If it's an '83, it would have the HT4100 engine which was a dog, but if it's got 100000 miles on it, maybe it will be OK....(?) Hopefully the engine was replaced w/something else in the meantime.

I don't think mechanical parts would be too hard to find on these, and pretty much any shade tree mechanic could fix it. It's an old car, so things are going to break on it -- so don't be surprised. However, they will (except for the engine and transmission and A/C) be pretty easy and cheap to fix. Alternators always go, so if that's been replaced you should be OK on that for a while. Starters, radiators, battery -- all those things are going to go at some point or other.

I personally would want a car w/ABS and airbags for my kid. But I'd rather have them in an '83 SDV instead of an '83 Corolla.

02-09-09, 12:13 PM
cheap parts
easy to work on
low insurance (don't take collision)
won't get stolen

questionable motor reliability
poor gas mileage
Price might be a bit high

Mellow Gold
02-09-09, 12:15 PM
I'm definitely talking about an '83 Sedan DeVille here. I must have remembered it wrong. All I know is that he told me that he replaced the brakes and alternator.

I'm used to driving without ABS, as the car I've been driving (1998 Ford Escort with pretty much zero optional stuff) doesn't have them either. Of course, it's about half the size of the Cadillac, so there will still be quite a learning curve, I guess.

Yeah, I'm wary about that engine. I've done a little cursory research about this car, and apparently that's been everyone's biggest complaint. If it still has that engine, would I really have to worry a lot about the reliability of the engine? Because, if the worst thing about it is lack of power, I'm totally cool with that. My friends are always complaining about how slow I drive (of course, seeing them drive, I'm not sure their complaint is valid).

We don't have a lot of money, so my budget for a used car is about $2000. Just to flesh things out, my other options for a college car so far have been a 1993 Geo Metro and a 1989-1993 (we're not sure yet what year) Dodge Ram 250 Diesel that was (ab)used as a farm truck by one of our family friends. To me, who's always been a big fan of American land-yachts, the old Cadillac looks like solid gold.

Now this probably seems like a stupid question about a 3-ton old Cadillac, but does anyone have gas mileage numbers for this thing? The EPA's numbers on their website only go as far back as 1985, and for that year's model, they're showing about 15/20. I was reading a review of the '83 Coupe DeVille on this site, and the guy claimed he was getting 16/26, which sounds fantastic for a car of this size. Can I expect similar numbers in the Sedan?

02-09-09, 01:16 PM
I'd be surprised if you got 15 in the city, but I would think you'd get better than 20 on the hwy. But it won't be good. If you drive slow, that will help.

Others here might know more on the specifics of the engine. If the engine is fine now, after 100000 miles and 25 years, I would think it would be more likely to hold out. I would think if it was going to fail, it would have already done so. And again, GM used to bring in tractor trailer loads of these engines to each Cadillac dealer to swap these out when they were new, and a lot of them had engines swapped to something else.

That Geo is a deathtrap -- no. I have no advice to give on that truck. I mean, it might go another 20 years, or it might die tomorrow.....and it would be a nightmare to drive and diesel is more $$$ than gasoline now.

I agree that it might be a little high on the price. I'd try to get him down to $1200 ish instead of $1700 ish. If he had the brakes done, that's worth several hundred (if it was all 4). And a few hundred for the alternator. Any old car you get is going to have things break and need to be repaired. If you can get him down to say $1500, then you'd have $500 left for repairs. If you could add a little bit to that every month, you'd soon be able to cover anything that would come up except for the engine and trans.

If you could find a 1980, it has a much more reliable engine and the same body style. The '81 had the V864, which I think is OK if the computer cylinder control has been deactivated. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

02-09-09, 01:54 PM
For a daily, I would go newer. Look for an 86-92. The 307 Olds is more powerful, and far more reliable. Also, it gets better mileage. Better yet would be the 305 0r 350 Chev in the 91/92 (350 was optional starting in 90). All will be more reliable, more powerful, and return better mileage.

My mother's MINT, well maintained 4100 struggles to get over 21 highway. That little engine just has to work too hard...

Where are you? We can help you find a car.

Forget the truck. The Geo will get amazing mileage, but you better not get in an accident...

02-09-09, 03:52 PM
You can talk him down a bit from that price, maybe $1400. As said, the 4100 is a DOG! My friend has an '85 Fleetwood with that engine and it is slower than you can imagine. He gets roughly 15-16 city and 22-24 highway at about 65. That car is a dream to drive though. Rides like a cloud and you can turn the steering wheel with your tongue if you wanted to.

Parts will be easy to find since the car barely changed through the years (body style ended in '92). It will be much harder to drive in snow than the Escort though. It is a very heavy car with skinny tires and will slide extremely easy. However, it will do some great donuts if you are ever inclined to do so. :)

For a first car I would highly recommend a 1988 - 1993 DeVille. They are slightly smaller cars (easier to park) and they can be found just a cheap as the ones you are looking at.

02-09-09, 04:50 PM
These are beautiful cars but that motor is awful, and these years have a weaker tranny which is known to fail often. You'd have to keep up on your oil changes if you bought it.

There are exceptions that we've heard of on this forum, regarding the HT4100, however. There's a guy with one around here that is beat to hell but it keeps going...

but most of the time? These things are junk. Few are still driving around, and you will have to baby it to coax any more miles out of it. My father has worked at a garage for many years and has nothing but horror stories to relay when this motor is mentioned.

If you want one of these cars, and need it be rock solid reliable go for the '80 as mentioned above. Looks the same, but has a 368 true-Cadillac engine and a heavy-duty THM400 tranny. The '81 can be a beast too if you want fuel injected. Chances are any that are still out there have the horrendous 8-6-4 system disconnected, so if you find one running good, you shouldn't have many problems.

I prefer the carb to avoid sensors/injectors/computers etc. Simple is sometimes better. Consider any '77-'79s as well, as they have rock solid motors (in 425 form), as well as that THM400.

A newer Brougham might be a good choice, too. '87 to '89 with an Olds 307 4bbl or '90-'92 if you prefer the euro-look, and TBI.

I had terrible luck with my '89 Brougham. The engine never ran well, and the trans shifted like a peice of garbage compared to the '80 Coupe deVille, or hearse I've got now. I have two '79s and my brother has a '76 too.

The suspension/brake parts on these cars are cheap, and durable. You will rarely pay out the nose. I never considered anti-lock brakes on these cars before. I forgot it was offered, and it may make brake parts more expensive.

I drive a '95 2-door Toyota Tercel all late fall-winter-spring to save the Caddies. This is its second winter with absolutely no repairs except for oil changes. It's a good vehicle, and parts are cheap for it too. It can't be stopped!

And to those who say these old beasts aren't reliable every-day transport, I say out with ye. My brother has been driving a horribly beat up looking, high mileage green '81 Parisienne (bonneville/caprice pretty much) "Brougham Sport Coupe" for a year now. He's training to be a mechanic, and this car has better compression, oil pressure than any of his classmates' waaaay newer Hondas etc. This car has posi, a massive sway bar, heavy duty cooling/suspension and it kicks @ss. The only repairs so far were front wheel bearings and a tailpipe. We had the tailpipe and the bearings were a couple of bucks. This car is a tank in the winter, and people comment on it every where he goes. It has the factory sunroof which leaks horribly in the rain, and that's the only downside, I suppose. Has the original Chev 305 4bbl.

GM boats like these are the best cars out there.

Anyway sorry for rambling, this car would be great, but I worry about you getting it for a first car. I foresee trouble with the motor/trans in the future, and we don't want your first experience with these Cadillacs leaving a bad taste in your mouth, and turning you off of 'em forever.

My opinion? Best case scenario: you find an '80 SDV or something similar.

Or B: go buy a one owner, last gen, lady driven toyota tercel, and buy a this Caddy for summer cruising and babying.

Good luck! :duck:

Mellow Gold
02-09-09, 05:33 PM
Thanks for your help, everyone! It's just too bad that I happened to stumble on, from what I'm hearing all over the internet, is one of the worst Cadillacs I could have reasonably found.

Well, at any rate, here's the pictures of the thing. All of them were taken on my cell phone, so they're not very good.


Comparison with my current car


The interior (the glare makes it very hard to see in)


The paint damage and rust spots





Eh, it's really too bad that such a good-looking cheap car sucks so bad. I would be fine with driving a really slow car, but not an unreliable one.

Thanks for the advice, but I probably won't end up with a Cadillac (yet) unless I come across a really sweet deal on one. I didn't start out looking for one, it just happened that a friend of mine at community college (who takes care of his cars uncharacteristically well for a community college student) was selling his to get something more fuel-efficient. If I do see a cool deal on a Cadillac, I'll make sure it's either an '80 or older or '87 and newer.

I really wish I had the kind of funds to buy a cool car for summer cruising, but unfortunately, I don't yet. I'm a big Cadillac fan though, I checked out their new cars at an auto show recently and I felt that they were nicer than the BMWs and Mercedes-Benzs I sat in. I love the bold look they have.

Thanks, guys!

Oh, to jayoldschool, I'm in Missouri if you know of any good, sub-$2000 used cars going around there.

02-09-09, 08:02 PM
Stick with a 1990-1992 model, you can easily pick them up for under $3K.

Or if you really like this type of vehicle, start looking at the Buick Roadmaster and Chevy Caprice.

Buick Roadmaster prices have really plummeted and they are very nice cars.

Here is an example of one by me:


Best of luck!

02-09-09, 08:48 PM
The Roadmaster would be your best bet. The 5.7L engine is bulletproof, seats are more comfortable, and it will get 25 on the highway.

02-09-09, 09:12 PM
I would buy it for sure, I would get him down on the price, maybe $1 500.00 would be a bit better, so your not broke and if it needs work on safety, you can do it, I love these Big old Cadillacs, I own a 1988 cadillac brougham D'elegance, I don't know what they share in the same, but getting use to driving it well not be heard, as soon as I got in it I was use to it, and before it I drove a 1988 Chrysler New yorker, that I still have, it's allot smaller, the gas mileage well not be great like 15mpg city, maybe 20 high way, parts are easy to get, and not expensive, if it like mine, it is a slow car for sure, but you don't buy these for speed. it is going to brake now, for sure, the best you can hope for is that it dose not brake down all the time, kinda depends on the past owners if they were looking after it, and keeping the Maintenance up,
but if you don't want to buy it is your choice I would get it, you only live once, so get the car you like, or maybe keep looking and get a newer one, I would not buy a car till I got one I wanted. let us know what you chosen to do.

02-09-09, 10:49 PM
Dude, if you are really set on this Caddy, offer the guy $1000, in my eyes that is all the vehicle is worth.

I have 2 Fleetwood Broughams, an 85 w/ the 4.1 (same motor as the one you are looking @) and the other is an 89 w/ 5.0. The 4.1 is a dogg (as mentioned before), but they are easy to work on. The 5.0 is a better motor as far as power. The 4.1 does have digital fuel injection (throttle body) which is responsive but the 4.1 is just too damn small of a motor to pull these heavy cars. The 5.0 gets the job done but it is still a strugle.
Look at 1986 and up Fleetwood Broughams because these have the 5.0 and the same body style as the 84 deVilles.

As a first car, go with a 91-93 Sedan DeVille, they have a solid engine, the 4.9. Those things are rockets and they get good gas milage; the only bad part about these is they require 91 octane gas.

In the end, think about it and don't rush into getting vehicle.

Just my 2 cents, good luck w/ the car search.

02-09-09, 11:38 PM
As a first car, go with a 91-93 Sedan DeVille, they have a solid engine, the 4.9. Those things are rockets and they get good gas milage; the only bad part about these is they require 91 octane gas.

Agreed, the 4.9 is a great motor, but in any event watch out for water pump failures on ANY of the 4.x engines. Btw, the 4.9 was also available in the base model 94 & 95 SDV's

Mellow Gold
02-10-09, 11:06 AM
How has the 4.1 in your Cadillac been as far as reliability, AElayyat?

I'm just wondering, because on one side, I hear about mechanics having nothing but horror stories about them, and others saying theirs is alright and easy to work on. I guess it's just hit or miss and partly how you drive it.

Because, like I said, I could care less about how slow it is as long as its capable of reaching highway speeds eventually. Really, my slow driving is legendary. (my favorite story is that whenever my male friends ride with me, they always complain about how slow and cautious I drive, but my female friends often thank me for not driving like an idiot to impress them like my other friends do. Smooth.)

I think I just need to slow down. Nobody's going to be rushing out to buy that old Cadillac with today's fear of high gas prices. I think I've just caught the "ZOMG, I CAN BUY A CADILLAC FOR REAL?!?!" bug. I won't be going off for another 6 months yet, so I have plenty of time.

I can deal with the usual old car stuff going out (brakes, alternator, etc.), but if the engine and transmission are bad, I can't justify the purchase. I mean, that's the most important part of the car, in my opinion. My Dad is very practical about buying cars (he still thinks I'm joking about this Sedan Deville business), and I certainly couldn't pitch it very well to him knowing that it has an unreliable engine and transmission.

I'll see if I can talk him down. He said the price is negotiable, but I'm not sure how much lower he's willing to go, because I'm seeing some Pioneer stereo stuff in the car... Plus, he probably doesn't know how bad of a model he has.

So, is it really the slow speed or reliability that I have to worry about this car? If its the former, I can deal, but if its the latter, I'll have to pass this up.

I don't know if this helps, but the colleges I'm looking at are at max 100 miles away, and I would only plan on driving home about twice or three times a month, and I'm not the type who goes out every night (or much at all), if that helps anything.

My Dad has a friend who can go to car auctions, so I'll see if he can take me to scope out what kind of stuff goes up for auction and for what kind of price. I'm a bit wary about auction cars though, because I'd hate to buy any car without test-driving it first to see if the engine falls out when you take off or anything crazy like that. Plus, if I saw a Cadillac at an auction, its not like I could log onto here real quick and see if its a reliable model or not.

Thank you for all your help!

02-10-09, 12:15 PM
I say get something newer for the same amount of money.

That car is in bad shape for the money, it is worth $750 in my eyes. I bought a 1991 Brougham 4 months ago for $1,600. It had the 5.7 liter and 130,000 miles. At least that one had some power and was a TBI motor.

Here is a picture of my 1995 Buick Roadmaster sedan I had last year next to my 1995 "SS" wagon:


'92-93 Buick Roadmasters had the 5.7 liter TBI motor. '94-96 Roadmasters had the 5.7 liter LT1 Corvette based motor. You can get these cars all day long for less than $3K.

02-10-09, 12:30 PM
I won't be going off for another 6 months yet, so I have plenty of time.

Keep shopping. You will find a better car for the same (or less) money.

02-10-09, 01:18 PM
That car is a piece. Keep looking.

02-10-09, 07:05 PM
Sorry sir, to dash your enthusiasm, but after seeing the pictures there's no way I'd spend that much on it. There's no doubt that you could get a car with no blemishes, a better motor, and more desirable body/trim or color for $2000.00 or less. Good examples of these cars aren't expensive if you know where to look and have patience.

I wonder what's under that paint job after seeing the blemishes and the fact that no one even put a pinstripe on this car... but at least they put the body moldings back on, and that sought-after HT4000 DIGITAL FUEL INJECTION emblem... :suspense:

Also, if you bought it I'd have to send you a spare passenger headlight bezel. There's a section broken out of it!

I see keep looking my friend, and I'll keep and eye out for you too! :)

02-10-09, 07:35 PM
I say get something newer for the same amount of money.

That car is in bad shape for the money, it is worth $750 in my eyes. I bought a 1991 Brougham 4 months ago for $1,600. It had the 5.7 liter and 130,000 miles. At least that one had some power and was a TBI motor.

Here is a picture of my 1995 Buick Roadmaster sedan I had last year next to my 1995 "SS" wagon:


'92-93 Buick Roadmasters had the 5.7 liter TBI motor. '94-96 Roadmasters had the 5.7 liter LT1 Corvette based motor. You can get these cars all day long for less than $3K.

Listen to '96' -- he knows the RWDs...

02-10-09, 08:55 PM
I would buy the car. The 4100 isn't as bad as everyone makes it out to be. The main problem it had was that it has an aluminum block and cast iron cylinder heads, which would cause coolant to leak into the cylinders. I've got a friend who works for GM and he told me that as part of a recall, Cadillac replaced the heads with aluminum, and odds are that if that 83 has been on the road for this long, the heads have been replaced for you.

Other issues were related to improper maintenance. The oil drainbacks in the cylinder heads were under sized and would clog with dirty oil. Also, not changing the coolant regularly promotes galvanic action (corrosion between two dissimilar metals) in the water ways, which the engine was having a problem with anyway. Because of the vehicle's age, and the fact that Cadillac made the same car for 12 years (body and frame wise), parts are readily available and therefor would be cheaper than most other cars.

And if worse comes to worse and you find that the engine is a complete lemon, you can always replace it with a .350.

02-10-09, 08:58 PM
Did you see the pics??

02-10-09, 09:45 PM
^Of course I saw them. It's a car with no expectation, a beater, the perfect car for a student. Is it not better to buy a crappy, but once prestigious car and find out that you care about it and are willing to restore it to it's past glory, than it is to buy one in pristine condition, only to have no interest in it and eventually have it laid to waste?

02-10-09, 10:10 PM
No what, if you are still thinking about the cadillac in any way, find a good mechanic and ask him to check it out, first ask the guy if you can take it to a mechanic, if he says no I would this let it pass by, but if he is okay with it do it, pay a little and find out if it worth buying, if the mechanic comes up with this big list of expensive problems stay away, if he says it a good car, buy it.
maybe try that some time.

02-10-09, 10:37 PM
I'd pass. As much as I love the early '80s deVilles, this one's not worth the potential headache. It's not in great cosmetic shape, it's got high miles, it's priced too high, it's got a poor track history when it comes to reliability, etc etc. When I was 17, I bought a '92 Sedan deVille with that 4.9, had it though college and loved it. It was fast, it was reasonably good on gas, it handled a lot better than anything from the '80s (a HUGE difference there), and it was easier to manuver and park, had most of the modern safety/luxury features I wanted. I test drove an '84 Sedan deVille once, it looked kinda like that, was triple (a slang term us Caddy guys use to describe a car with matching roof, paint and interior :) ) navy. I liked looking at it, LOVED sitting in it (it had the deepest, softest velour seats), but good god for slow and SLOW. The 0-60 dash took twice as long as it did in my deVille (that Geo you mentioned would probably outrun it), and for me, that alone would push it into the "no" pile.

In summary, I liked looking at and riding in the '84 more, but my '92 was more modern, more economical, faster and more fun to drive.

02-11-09, 12:20 AM
^Of course I saw them. It's a car with no expectation, a beater, the perfect car for a student. Is it not better to buy a crappy, but once prestigious car and find out that you care about it and are willing to restore it to it's past glory, than it is to buy one in pristine condition, only to have no interest in it and eventually have it laid to waste?

In principle I don't necessarily disagree, but not that car at $1700 (or whatever it was).

If it were cheaper and the interior was truly mint, then maybe. But that is close to being past beater and moving into heap territory (exterior wise).

Mellow Gold
02-11-09, 01:09 PM
Man, I love the internet. If it wasn't for you guys, I would've probably bought this thing at his price.

I'll do my best to ignore this car unless I can talk him down below $1000. It will be hard for me, though. Like you said, I~LUV~Caddys8792, those velour seats are awesome! They feel nicer than my living room couch.

You are right though, with a little searching, I'm finding a lot newer and nicer cars out there. Unfortunately, most of them are on ebaymotors, and I'd never buy a car based solely on pictures. Maybe I'll get lucky and find a nice one on craigslist or at a live auction. My Dad works at a medical supply store, and he's keeping an eye out for any low-mileage, only-driven-on-Sundays-by-an-old-lady cars that his customers might be selling.

Heh, judging from what I'm seeing of the used car market right now, it looks like anything fuel efficient and reliable (90s Honda Civics, Ford Escorts, and Cavaliers) have either 150,000+ miles and are really beat up, or are out of my price range. Oh, and I can forget about anything that's fuel efficient and cool (Honda Civic Del Sol, Acura Integra, Ford Escort ZX2). I still might see myself in a Cadillac though, because it looks like there are plenty of low-mileage, 90s luxury cars out there cheap because of the fear of high gas prices. I don't drive very much at all, so the mileage shouldn't effect me too much.

I'll take a look at those Buick Roadmasters. I'm not too fond of the 90s bulbous look the Buicks had, but I'll take reliability over style any day.

So, about that HT4100 recall deal, I'll ask him if he knows if the cylinder heads have been replaced. Would it be fine if it had that? If all it needs are consistent oil changes and coolant changes, I could deal with that. My Dad taught me how to change all the fluids and stuff, and I know how important that is on any car, because almost all the cars that have failed in my family have been from not changing the fluids. Seriously, I had an Aunt that would never change the oil in her car. She would just buy a new one when it broke down. I hate it when people don't take care of their cars like that.

So... how are the 80's through '92 Fleetwood Broughams as far as reliability? I looked at them, and all the way up to '92, they have the body style I like (I love the square, long look with lots of chrome finish). The few extra miles per gallon because the bigger engine doesn't have to work as hard is nice too.

I think I'm in love (although it's way outside of my price range).

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-Trucks___1991-cadillac-brougham-cream-puff_W0QQitemZ230323765639QQddnZCarsQ20Q26Q20Truck sQQddiZ2282QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUS_Cars_Trucks?hash= item230323765639&_trksid=p4506.c0.m245&_trkparms=72%3A317%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C240%3A1318

But, who couldn't love a car named the "Fleetwood Brougham d'Elegance?"

02-11-09, 01:19 PM
'90-92 Broughams are very reliable.

1990 had the 307 carb'd motor as the base and the TBI 5.7 as an option

1991-1992 had the 305 TBI as the base motor and the 350 TBI as the option

1993 was the first year of the last model Brougham and had the 350 TBI as well.

1994-1996 had the LT1 Corvette based motor.

All are very reliable cars, easily able to go 300K plus miles. The downside of these cars is the transmission, usually 150K is the lifespan.

The TBI motors are simple yet offer fuel injection.

Feel free to ask any questions, this forum is great. I browsed for 2 years before I bought my Fleetwood.

02-11-09, 02:17 PM
That Brougham you found on eBay has the best interior colors in my opinion. Nothing is more striking than that factory bright red and white. Can't buy that in a Cadillac today.

I know the right car will come along. Just wait for it. :highfive:

02-12-09, 11:08 PM
I'd counsel patience, and say let this one go. Def look at 1987 and up or 1980 and back. The 4.1 was not the highpoint of Cadillac engineering, and even with meticulous maintanence, the early units (pre-85) nearly always failed early. They are also horribly overstressed in these cars, which contributed to their quick demise. Keep looking, though, you'll find a good one. Or, consider a contemporary Buick Park Avenue or Olds 98, which used the 350 and are far more reliable. The Olds even has rear fender skirts, which is very cool IMO.


425 Dual Quad
02-13-09, 07:19 AM
OK let's focus!!!
You're going to college, you want a cool car. Geo Metro I don't think so.
Its a long way from home 1000 miles or so - fly or cruise? In a Geo? You'd need back surgery.
You want something huuuge you can fill with friends and paarty!:bouncy:
Something you can fit a monster ipod stereo hidden in the glove box, a big amp in the boot and the speakers hidden under a rock solid MDF parcel shelf so no one can see it and break your windows to nick it.

Gas mileage - who cares! Walk or split the gas bills for the party lounge on wheels.
You're going to college, live life! Make a statement! Get yourself known!
You've seen all the detail and technical arguments.
The good thing about a big Caddy is it doesn't have to be fast to be cool. So you won't wrap it round a tree or someone else's car. But fill it with friends and have fun. That will please your parents too!
Find a clean one in a nice bright colour. You can get the wire wheel caps on ebay easily enough if you're worried about that.
Above all enjoy!

Mellow Gold
02-13-09, 12:27 PM
That's what I'm talkin' about!:thumbsup:

I'm not too sure how many college students I'd be comfortable with driving around in my land-yacht, unless of course I get into one of my top-choice schools, which has a 72% female student body. :thumbsup:

Well, I'll be on the lookout for any '87-92 Broughams on the market, preferably the '90s models.

By the way, has anybody had any experience with car auctions? Like I said, my Dad knows somebody that can get into them, I would like to know before I go with him if I could even expect to find anything fairly nice Cadillacs there.

Speaking of that, I actually dreamed of buying a white with red interior Fleetwood Brougham d'Elegance last night. I don't know if that's a good omen or if I'm just going crazy. I wonder if I could get my name on here changed to "Dreams of D'Elegance" or something...

02-13-09, 12:34 PM
I actually dreamed of buying a white with red interior Fleetwood Brougham d'Elegance last night

Welcome to a lifetime affliction of being car crazy. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about working on, or buying something for my cars. Or, looking for more cars to buy :D

By the way, has anybody had any experience with car auctions? Like I said, my Dad knows somebody that can get into them, I would like to know before I go with him if I could even expect to find anything fairly nice Cadillacs there.

Most auctions have lists available in advance as to what is going to be there. Have your dad talk to his buddy, and see if he will give you access to his online account so you can check what's coming up. That way, you only go to the auctions that have something you actually want to bid on.

02-13-09, 02:22 PM
As a first car, go with a 91-93 Sedan DeVille, they have a solid engine, the 4.9. Those things are rockets and they get good gas milage; the only bad part about these is they require 91 octane gas.

When I was 17, I bought a '92 Sedan deVille with that 4.9, had it though college and loved it. It was fast, it was reasonably good on gas, it handled a lot better than anything from the '80s (a HUGE difference there), and it was easier to manuver and park, had most of the modern safety/luxury features I wanted.I can also recommend the 91-93 DeVille. I paid just $999 for my '91 Sedan de Ville 3 1/2 years ago. It had almost 200,000 miles on it, and after I took car of some neglected maintenance/repairs that are a given with any old used car, it's proven to be very reliable. It has 256,600 miles on it now and is still going strong. The 4.9 has tons of torque, and despite claims by some that it has no top-end, I have no trouble passing at highway speeds. It'll get up and go.

Gas mileage is decent for a V-8, and better than the 4.1 in the '83 since it's a much lighter car (only about 3,700 lbs.), and the engine doesn't have to work nearly so hard. I average in the high teens on a mix of 70% highway/30% city driving and will easily get in mileage in the low 20s in steady highway cruising. When I drove from Oregon to Iowa for a club meet, not only did the car run flawlessly on the 4,000-round trip, I averaged 23 MPG with a full trunk, the A/C going most of the time, and the cruise set between 70 and 75 MPH.

I don't know much about the big RWD Cadillacs, having only driven an '84 Coupe DeVille once (and that was 23 years ago). If you prefer that body style, I agree with others that 77-80 or 87+ are the way to go. The '91-'93 DeVille is less floaty and boaty, probably less cushy, but certainly more responsive and agile. ABS and airbag are standard. I still see lots of these cars on the road, so one in decent shape shouldn't be hard to find. It sounds like you have some time, so be patient and shop around.

Stay away from the Geo. As others have said, it's a deathtrap. A friend had one years ago, and I pretty much refused to ride in it, it was so tinny. On a rare occasion I did, I leaned on the door, and the dome light came on. True story. That's how flimsy that car is.

02-13-09, 02:25 PM
Welcome to a lifetime affliction of being car crazy. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about working on, or buying something for my cars. Or, looking for more cars to buy :D

Couldn't have said this better myself. :yup:

02-14-09, 11:45 AM
If your search includes the 86-90 Broughams, try and find a DeElegance. That package will include the 3.23 rearend ratio which greatly enhances the performance of the 307. That package includes a lot of nice comfort and convenience amenities as well.

02-15-09, 01:15 PM
I'm in Missouri if you know of any good, sub-$2000 used cars going around there.

$2000 is a difficult budget. I spend a lot of time looking at St. Louis Craiglist ads and most sub $2000 cars are either wrecked, have engine/transmission problems, or are generally pieces of junk. There are very few cars out there that won't require more expensive repairs very soon down the road.

You might want to ask yourself if you absolutely need a car your first year in college. You might be better off saving a little more over the year and then get something decent - doesn't have to be a lot of money. I got my 93 Brougham with 93k miles on it here in St. Louis for $3k. Almost nothing wrong with it and the interior was very clean. I gave it a simple 100k-mile tuneup and I was good to go - just took it on a 2500 mile road trip for Christmas. Everyone that rides in it always comments "nice car". You get a lot more bang for your buck if you can save up and increase your budget a little - and fewer headaches down the road!

Mellow Gold
03-15-09, 04:11 PM
Hey, I just wanted to give an update on my car search. Me and my father cruised the used car lots this weekend and we didn't really like what we found for the most part. Our best bet so far has been this 2002 Saturn SC-1 coupe we found that a Ford dealer where one of my Dad's friends works. Anyone know if these are any good?


Heh, my used car budget seems to magically increase when I'm not looking at a Cadillac. I'm kind of digging it. It's no Cadillac, but it drove well and looks kind of cool in its own right. That third suicide door behind the driver's door looks really handy too.

Anyways, when my mother heard that the best deal we could find was a car with 80,000+ miles for $6500 (that's the initial, negotiable price he offered my dad) she actually asked, "Well, what about that old boat your friend was selling?" I think its funny because she was the most opposed to it. She used to not even want to hear about it.

Speaking of the 83 Sedan DeVille itself, I asked the guy if the HT4100 ever gave him any problems, and he told me that the previous owners had it swapped out for a completely different model engine and drivetrain during the recall. He's not quite sure what they replaced it with, because he never bothered to ask. Today I'm going over to his house to test drive the car with my dad. Is there any way we could tell what engine is in it? Are there any other trouble-spots specific to this model year that we should look for when we drive it?

Oh, and what do you think would be a reasonable offer that I could give assuming the engine was replaced with something decent?

03-15-09, 06:10 PM
Hey, I just wanted to give an update on my car search. Me and my father cruised the used car lots this weekend and we didn't really like what we found for the most part. Our best bet so far has been this 2002 Saturn SC-1 coupe we found that a Ford dealer where one of my Dad's friends works. Anyone know if these are any good?That Saturn is way overpriced in my book. I paid $7,750 for an '01 Seville with 72,000 miles from a Cadillac/Buick/Pontiac/GMC dealer a month ago. With the base 100-hp engine, the Saturn is not going to be much faster than the '83 DeVille. Keep shopping.

03-15-09, 08:38 PM
I don't know what's up with the big box car dealers here and marking up their used cars twice the current market value. Run far away unless you can talk them down to like $4500. Seriously - look at what's out there on Craigslist:


And that's a fun little 5-speed manual.

And as far as Cadillacs go, there are Eldorados, Devills, STS popping up all over the place that are even cheaper:

http://stlouis.craigslist.org/cto/1076542000.html 94 Eldorado Touring with 91k miles, $3300.

And if you want to avoid the Northstar motor this Fleetwood has been for sale for a while in St. Louis:
Might be kind of weird to drive a limo around. Or might be kind of cool?

03-23-09, 03:28 PM
There are PLENTY of caddys under $6500...most of which are in good shape. From a college student to another college student, I recommend any cadillac with the 4.9 engine. Mine has been good for the most part, minus some easy repairs which were resolved with help from this forum. The handling is good, and it's definitely got power, along with more modern features too. The fact that it's from around 90-93 instead of 83 also means there's less of a chance for something to go wrong with it.

Spend some time looking through craigslist and see what you like. Dealers are no good unless you can talk them down a lot, most of the time the cars are over priced and you get charged "documentation fees" on top of that (A $4000 car comes out to like $4500 with dealers around here...if you go private it'd be more like $4250) I have found that a private sale tends to be better because depending on who you see, the seller is probably going to be more honest than the dealership, and if they care enough to sell the car personally, then they've probably taken pretty good care of it too. However, there are still a bunch of slime out there, but just practice common sense and you'll be fine.

If I had $6500, i'd spend about $3k on a good caddy, and save the rest in case a repair needs to be made, or to cover regular expenses such as tires (which can be pretty expensive) and stuff down the road. That way you're not dying to get your pennies together to fix those damn brakes that won't stop grinding.

Get the caddy...I looked at those saturn seats and I cringed at the discomfort. Once you get the caddy, drive it around for maybe an hour or two, and then jump into a Civic or something with those awful cloth seats. I did that once and I was damn proud I got the caddy once I felt the difference in comfort.

03-25-09, 11:20 PM
Alow me to shine a little light on this poor Cadillac. Firstly, I'm 19 years old. I'm a collage student. My car (and has been for 3 years now) Is a 1982 Cadillac Fleetwood broughm D'elegance. 4.1 v8.

First thing first. You don't buy an 23 year old Cadillac without expecting problems. They're gonna happen. It's just the nature of the beast. Make sure you can do your own repairs. I did all mine.

This car handles like slop, slow as hell, but the ride... There is just something about being in a big rear wheel drive Cadillac, seats down low, tunes pumpin, and people flippin you off left and right for driving so slow. But do you know what? You just don't care! That's the best thing about this car. Doing 30 miles an hour on the freeway just doesn't bother me one bit.

I've put 30,000k on my Cadillac since i got it, actually no, closer to 40. I moved out of city to go to school, and drove it back and forth from Regina to Saskatoon every weekend. (300km orrrr 200 miles ish?) These cars are truely the highway kings. Set the cruise to 100k, steer with your pinky finger, and just enjoy the scenery as you float down the road. The road is sea of pleasure, and and your the captin of the ship.

I love to drive this thing, I even love parralelle (screw it I can't spell), parking. It is an art form to say the least. Even though my car outlengths most mini vans and half tonnes, i believe this car is truely easy to drive.

My car has started in -45 degrees celcious or if your American -49F. And, I think it handles well in the snow for a ocean liner. Our Canadian roads are rarely covered in less then 6 inches of snow, and stick to the ruts, and you wont have any issues. Have good rear tires, and maybe a sandbag or two in the back.

Now for the bad. First off, I'm absolutely Insaine with my viechals. Oil changes every 2,000km, Trans flush every thirty. Speaking of which I need a trans flush again. Coolant and least once a year.

I'll start with the Maintenace Items.

1. Alternator
2. Shocks front and rear.
3. Air filter.
4. New breaks front and rear, rotors, lines, flush.
5. Tires
6. Belts

Now, for the biggies.

1. PCM
2. BCM
3. Some funkey computer that has vaccume lines and controlls the climate control.
4. Stock stereo died.
5. Throttle Position sensor
6. Spark plugs + wires
7. O2 sensor
8. Exhaust
9. Thermostat
10. Water pump
11. Climate controll module.
12. Cruise control switch, both of them.
13. Power seats innop.
14. Window regulator.
15. Valve cover gaskets
16. ICS (idle control solenoid)
17. Wheel bearings

Future plans/repairs

1. The 4100 will die. I know this.
2. The Transmission should be ok for a while yet. It's new.
3. Paint.
4. Ujoints
5. Upper and lower balljoints
6. Inner outer tie rods
8. Wheather stripping.

Recomend either A you do your repairs yourself, or know someone close who will. I did all mine myself, but I went to school to be a Mechanic. I think its still a solid car despite my repairs. I also like to tinker way to much, and sometimes get a little carried away.

He want's too much money. As everyone else here has said. Bring em down to the grand mark. The millage to me, anyways is just right. High enough to know it's been maintained, a 4100 with 150k that wasn't maintained, well doesn't exist. Ask him about oil changes, how many coolant flushes he has had, how many break flushes, power steering, transmission flushes. Ask when the alternator was replaced. Bring him down accordingly, because 2k is top dollar for a 4 door seville. That's no top dollar car given the dents and rust.But don't dismiss it right away. I'm definatly predjuce towards this car.. But i'll sacrifice some reliability for a totally cool original ride.

An 81 with the 368 would be a wiser choice, better built enigne. But don't go nineties, sure they're better in every single way (aside from looks and ride) but they're not as cool. My opinion. ROCK ON.

03-29-09, 12:45 PM
^ Wisdom. If you can't do you own repairs, be prepared to spend a lot of $$ and, if you don't know any trustworthy mechanics near your college, to be ripped off. I spent my college years and law school years driving a 1987 Crown Victoria and the 1987 Fleetwood Brougham I still have. I can do very little myself, have no technical training and--while I probably would have been fine fixing stuff on an older non-computerized car, I can't even begin to figure out how to remove the hoses and connections on these 307 engines. So I pay somebody else to do it but believe me I pay for that privilege.. It's cost me a lot to keep that car. Now, I happen to think it's worth it because even with the $1000s I've dropped on it, it still amounts to far less than any decent new car would have cost me off the lot and the character of the car and the looks and comments you get are worth that to me. I treat it like a lot of old-money rich people treat their old Mercedes. Expensive electronic repairs but they keep bringing it in to the shop, because they love having it. You have great stretches where everything works very well. It never lasts, though. Every couple of months it comes in for a repair.

If you can't figure out how to fix it yourself and can't drop a lot of $$ on keeping it up, buy a used Camry and wait until you can afford to pay to keep an old Cadillac on the road.

PS: If you are the sort of person willing to drop $$ at the mechanic as I am, be prepared for their attitude that the slightest bit of work on the car beyond an oil change is not worth doing. Like insurance adjustors, most will see the car entirely in terms of its fair market value. I can't remember how many times for repairs varying from tie rods to shocks to brakes, some mechanic has said "man, you shouldn't keep wasting your money on this car, it's not worth it." One man's trash is another's treasure, I guess. I look around and see what's available today and I say, how is any of it worth this kind of money when I could spend a little here and there and keep a car like this one running.

Mellow Gold
05-07-09, 09:50 PM
Hey guys, my car search has kind of stagnated over the past few months, but its picked up in a big way this week.

Down the street from me, a guy is selling a 1998 Chevrolet Tracker for $5000. We took it to a Car-X to get it inspected, and it's mechanically all there. The drivetrain is great, the interior is in good shape, all the power stuff works, it has new tires, it's just in good shape all around. My Dad is pushing me to make a decision right now about whether or not to get it, most likely because he's sick of looking through all these used car lots and finding lots of overpriced cars with laundry lists of problems being covered up. Right now its between this and that old diesel truck I talked about in that first post. Do you think I should go with the Tracker, fix up the truck, or just hold out for something better? The Tracker looks like a really fun car to drive, and it was really nice to drive it with the top down. The ride's a little rough, but the four wheel drive will be nice for when I have to commute to school in the snow (I'll be living at home and the college I'm going to it notorious for never closing for snow).

We took another look at the diesel truck last night, and its as grungy as ever, but it has a certain masculine appeal to it. I'm going to blame my fascination with it on a semi-truck toy I had as a kid that made really loud diesel engine sounds.

I'll post pics of both cars later.

05-07-09, 10:02 PM
The Tracker is quite a departure from a Cadillac, but if you think it would work for you, go for it.

Mellow Gold
05-07-09, 10:14 PM
Heh, yeah , I know, but for some reason, my Dad seems to have something against these big luxury sedans. Really, he just laughs whenever I show him these things. Unless we find some old lady selling a barely driven Cadillac for next to nothing, I'm very unlikely to find myself behind the wheel of one during my college years.

Oh, and if anyone is wondering what happened to that '83 Sedan Deville my friend had, it's really a funny story about what happened on the test drive. I won't go into all the details, but it turned out, unsurprisingly, to be a hunk of junk. It was the greatest drive of my life though, as far as I'm concerned. As soon as I'm out of college and I have my own job and everything, the first thing I'm saving up for is an '87-'89 Fleetwood Brougham d'Elegance. I'd like to maybe get a mid to late '70s Eldorado as a cruiser if I get addicted to these things. The more that I look at these beautiful cars, the more I can see that happening.

05-08-09, 02:53 AM
IMHO, it would be an excellent car for anybody :)
If you're still looking for something like that, cars.com and craigslist.com both can produce interesting leads. I love my '89 Brougham, it's the best car I've ever had. Nothing here against econoboxes, so long as they keep out of my way. :grin:

05-11-09, 06:13 PM
America's best kept secret is a Buick or an Olds. 3.1 and 3800 engines go for 200,000 miles. Two potential problems:

1. Learn how to replace an alternator--very simple. They go out occasionally.
2. have mechanic check car if you smell anti-freeze. GM's yellow anti-freeze sometimes eats up intake manifold gaskets.

That is why everyone's grandparents drove the Buicks and Oldsmobiles. They are safe, reliable, comfortable, and quick. Highway gas mileage approximates 28 to 30 mpg.

05-11-09, 06:51 PM
we put over 200k on one of our 4.1's....how its driven and maintained is absolute key....unless you can get the history its probably not worth more than 1k. If you shop around you should be able to find a decent 5.0 liter (86+) in your price range, but then as others have said the 91-93 sedans (4.9l front wheel drive) are rock solid...One of them in our family just turned over the 300k mark, all original, and here in az you can find decent ones for about a grand, the other day I almost bought a loaded 60 special with 75k for $2500.

as far as milage, our 4.1l coupe (RWD 84) would pull about 11-16 in town, and 22-24 highway (although at 55 it would go up to 28). my 4.9l cars get about 14 in town, and around 25-28 on the highway when driven lightly...and they have a hell of alot more power than the 4.1

On all of the 4.x engines cooling system maintenance is key, on any cad with that motor, check the coolant, and if its really rusty walk away, not maintaining the system is common, and that will lead to the whole motor breaking down

05-12-09, 05:30 PM
Down the street from me, a guy is selling a 1998 Chevrolet Tracker for $5000.

Price is too high - how many miles are on it? Blue book lists $4300 TOPS for that car, and blue book is usually high.

06-06-09, 07:46 PM
I have a 84 SDV it only 55K orig miles on it and it is running strong except the fact that it failed emissions because it was missfiring! I changed the plugs and wires so I just need to do the cap and rotor and it should fix that. I would stay away from this car if you are a college student. I am also a college student but I do that part time and work fulltime but I have three cars so this is not my daily driver! I love it sooooo much but would not have it as a daily driver cause you would go broke in gas alone. I live in Phoenix and we have traffic and a street light every 100yards so I would be lucky to get 13 miles a gallon but on the freeway I have knocked out about 25-26 doing about 55-60 MPH. Good luck with the car hunt but try to get something with a V6 for now and wait till you graduate to get a caddi!