: Test drive review: 1985 Eldorado.



I~LUV~Caddys8792
09-22-10, 07:58 PM
So, as stated before, I really like the 1979-85 E-Bodies, the Riviera, Eldorado, Seville and Toronado. I have a large independent repair shop that I call on weekly and they sell cars on the side too. Well they've had this white '85 Eldorado Coupe for sale for a few months and I asked today if I could drive it and they let me do it.

http://i83.photobucket.com/albums/j313/Chadillac8705/2010-09-22_11-11-52_976.jpg

First off, I'll just say that I always loved the way these Eldorados look. Their design is so well balanced, well thought out and handsome. They made lots of headway after the '78 Eldorados; much more interior & trunk room, better handling, better driveability, much better fuel economy, etc etc. The 79-85 Eldorado and 80-92 Broughams are IMO the best overall designs Cadillac has ever put out. This one wasn't in the best color combo, with that red half top striking harshly against the white paint. I would have opted for a full metal roof or a white half top if it were me. But I suppose, with the red leather interior, the red half top was a logical choice.

Exterior design: 9/10. I'd give it a solid 10/10 if it were a triple black Biarritz, but oh well...

The interior of these, much like the exterior, is one of "old Cadillac's" best IMO. Even though the wood is fake (and very clearly so), I love how Cadillac drenches the interior with it. It covers the dashboard, steering wheel hub and door panels. The dashboard is very logicially laid out, and the controls are all easily reached and easily read. The big thing that I didn't like about the interior on these is how the digital readouts for the trip computer work super slowly. I was going through the fuel economy readouts, between instant and average, and I had to push the button a few times before it would change function, and I can only wonder how precise they are, as the technology behind the algorithms is atleast 25 years old. Oh well....

The 1984 and 1985 Eldorados have different seats than the 1979-83's. The base '79-83's have a pillow top look to them, and they're very deep and comfortable (especially for the Biarritzes), and the 1984-85's have a horizontal pleat, and they're not nearly as deep nor as soft as the older ones. The 1984 & 85 Biarritzes still have those awesome pillow top seats though. What I thought was odd was how the driver's seat did not recline at all, aside from the tilt function.

So yeah, if it were up to me, I'd totally ignore the 1984 & 85's, aside from the Biarritz models.

It offered great legroom front and rear. The rear legroom did not feel like a modern coupe, but rather a modern full size sedan, and it didn't require serious aerobics to get into the back seat either. Love those big long doors! The front floor was almost entirely flat, except for the smallest hump in the middle. That's very cool! It didn't offer the massive headroom or glass space that the Broughams and Town Cars do, but that wasn't the point. These, while still roomy, are a little more personal than their full sized counterpoints. I like it though. :) The 92-02 Eldorados have the same feel behind the wheel too.

Interior: 8.5/10. It would have been a solid 9 if it were a Biarritz. Especially a 79-83, before they switched all the vents and controls from chrome to black plastic.

So, how does it drive?

Aside from the tremendous lack of power, I really like the way it drives. Like I said before, with having less size and room than the Broughams, it feels more personal and sporty. It's still got a long, wide hood (albeit not as much so as a Brougham), and I really like how the fenders rise above the hood, so you know where the car ends and makes parking easier. The steering, while light, is much more direct and firm than a Brougham, so it's more "fun to drive", light on it's feet and spright. It's a great balance of old school luxury and a bit of handling. It rides smooth and soft, but not nauseatingly so and it's never unnerving. If the Broughams and Town Car's ride is a 10, this would be a solid 9.

But.....there's the HT4100.
When I started to drive it, my mentality was to compare it to my Astro. On paper, the Vortec 4.3L makes a lot more power than the HT4100 (190hp v. 135, and 250 lb/ft v. 200), but the Astro has probably 1500 lbs of product in it at any given time, so it's weighed down and SLOOOOW (I timed 0-60 at 14.7 seconds), but that 4.3, being a Vortec, has good throttle response and always feels fresh. The HT4100, having only two fuel injectors (or is it one?) and without having the more modern intake & heads, feels doggish when compared. First gear is OK, but after about 30 mph, the power really drops off and even at 1/2 throttle, it feels like you're just toeing into the gas. It didn't make a difference. I could go WOT at 20mph on a city street and not worry at all about the car kicking down a gear and taking off. It simply won't.

But, maybe it's not so bad. Maybe it's because the engine was so quiet and the speedometer was so small, it was hard to justify the speed against the Astro. One didn't really seem much faster or slower than the other, but the Astro definitely had better throttle response.

Would I buy one?
Yeah, but it would have to be a 79-80, but that limits my selections quite a bit and makes it much harder to find a nice one. I'd just much rather have a 307 Riviera or Toronado. I think I'd really like that one.

There's a dealer in Rochester that's got a '79 Mark V for sale. If I have time on Friday, I'd like to go test drive it and compare to the newer E-Body while it's still fresh in my mind. Stay tuned....

drewsdeville
09-22-10, 08:22 PM
Don't forget about the 350 diesel rigs. There are actually a few out there still.

It's fairly surprising how much your review of this previous gen describes a lot of the following gen, though it's not as respected. Really, a lot of it sounds just like how I'd describe my old '89 and '90. The '86-'87 weren't exactly great looking, but the sheetmetal changes to the '88-'91's really made them sharp looking cars. They just weren't the big traditional sized Cadillac at the time.

Sort of related, size of the shrunken Eldo's is something I've really grown to appreciate on my '90. I had been driving full sized Oldsmobiles and Deville's since I could drive. Then I got this '90 and it was a world of difference in maneuverability and the "personal" feel as you describe it. Just makes it a PLEASURE to drive rather than a CHORE, especially in the city. There's a BIG difference between my current Deville and Eldo when cruising/parking in downtown Milwaukee.

Unfortunately, the '92-'02 models grew bloated again, losing some appeal to me.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
09-22-10, 08:28 PM
I had been driving full sized Oldsmobiles and Deville's since I could drive. Then I got this '90 and it was a world of difference in maneuverability and the "personal" feel as you describe it. Just makes it a PLEASURE to drive rather than a CHORE, especially in the city. There's a BIG difference between my current Deville and Eldo when cruising/parking in downtown Milwaukee.

Exactly! The 85 Eldorado is just as long as my '92 deVille was, but it didn't feel as big, maybe because the side windows are so long and the cabin is pushed so far back, but it definitely didn't feel 204.5 inches long. I'd imagine the 86-91 Eldorado would feel a lot smaller than the 79-85 or the 92-02, as they were about the size of a Corsica or Grand Am. I'd actually wager that the 88-91 ETC would probably be the best handling Eldorado of all time, considering how much smaller it is than the others, even though it doesn't have the electronic struts.

drewsdeville
09-22-10, 08:30 PM
Exactly! The 85 Eldorado is just as long as my '92 deVille was, but it didn't feel as big, maybe because the side windows are so long and the cabin is pushed so far back, but it definitely didn't feel 204.5 inches long. I'd imagine the 86-91 Eldorado would feel a lot smaller than the 79-85 or the 92-02, as they were about the size of a Corsica or Grand Am. I'd actually wager that the 88-91 ETC would probably be the best handling Eldorado of all time, considering how much smaller it is than the others, even though it doesn't have the electronic struts.

I put new struts and bushings on the front end of my '90 2 years ago. It IS, by far, the nicest handling Cadillac I have driven to date. What's neat about it is that it still retains the classic smooth Cadillac ride.

And yes, the proportions are quite outrageous, in a good way. There's so much car in front of you...the car still has a "big car" hood with the big hood ornament on top, the "powerdome" bulge, and the raised fenders. It looks like a big fullsized Cadillac looking out the windshield. Then you look in the rear view mirror and realize the trunk lid is only a few feet away...

Jesda
09-22-10, 09:31 PM
Those early 80s Eldos sold very well, even though they were slow and technologically behind. The 86-91 Eldorados and Sevilles sold quite poorly as they lost the prestige and feel. The later cars weren't bad cars by any measure and were much better in several real ways, but they should never have been sold as Cadillacs.

As collector cars, the 86+ Cadillacs arent worth anything, but they make better everyday cars.

92-02 was a compromise between larger size and modern technology with sharp styling, and they sold enough of them to keep them rolling off the assembly line until 2002.

Chad, we need interior pics!

orconn
09-22-10, 09:44 PM
I would have to agree with those that think the '92-'02 Eldorados were second only to the 1967 Eldo's for beauty and technology. Jesda is right the '86-'91 Eldos and Sevilles may have been OK cars, but they never should have been sold as Cadillacs. Just another example of Cadillac management's lack of sense of what a Cadillac is or was!

I~LUV~Caddys8792
09-22-10, 09:44 PM
http://www.larryscars.com/cars/interior2.jpg
http://www.larryscars.com/cars/interior1.jpg

This is the 79-83 base interior that I really prefer.

http://bringatrailer.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/1979_Cadillac_Eldorado_For_Sale_Interior_1.JPG
Looks much comfier, is much comfier.

billc83
09-22-10, 10:57 PM
Hey! An '85 Eldorado Biarritz was my first car! I really did like that car...

Ahh, nostalgia...

hueterm
09-22-10, 11:03 PM
I do like those seats better......

Ranger
09-22-10, 11:09 PM
I had 3 of those. An '81, '83 (Biarritz) and an '85. One diesel and 2 HT4100. Nice cars (especially the Biarritz), but none of them could get out of their own way.

Destroyer
09-23-10, 12:19 AM
I had an '81 (if memory serves me correct). This is going back to '86 or '87. Anyway I bought the Eldo in non running condition from a mechanic friend. I also bought a 425 powered '77-'79 (I forget, it happens with age) Coupe Deville that was wrecked. So, I swapped the 425 from the Deville into the fwd Eldo. It ran beautifully.......but for a very short time. It's maiden voyage after the swap was a 100 mile+ trip into NYC from Long Island. It took me to NYC but there were problems on the way back. During that trip the oil filter hit the frame or k member on the Eldo, leaked out all the oil. I knew this was happening but I pressed on and made it home regardless of the consequence. The consequence was that I blew the motor. Once I turned it off it seized, never to come back again. I wondered if that would happen when I put the 425 in. I knew the oil filter was not sitting right in this FWD car. I wish I had paid more attention to it but that is in hindsight.

About 8 years ago when I moved into my second home, my older neighbor had a "mint" condition '85 Eldorado. It was a cream color with light tan (cloth) interior and only 26k miles on the odo. He cherished it. I helped the old man with it. I waxed it, did the oil changes on it (and his '94 Astro). Anyway, I drove his Eldo all the time as he asked me too because he wanted it to be driven but his back hurt. At the time I had my '87 FWB (shortly afterward my '91). I can honestly say I'd rather have the Brougham. The 4.1 was WEAK! I wouldn't wish this pile of crap motor on the lowliest of Honda's. I'd almost rather it had a Northstar (gulp!). It didn't compare at all to my '81. BTW, my '81 had an S/S roof and it was blue with blue leather interior and the old man with the '85 died 4 years ago (R.I.P Sal).

hueterm
09-23-10, 01:05 AM
A N* in an E body Eldo (especially Touring Coupe) would ROCK!

Night Wolf
09-23-10, 01:39 AM
That reminds me - my '79 Sedan DeVille d'Elegance seats, including the drivers seat, did not recline, only tilt.... that really bugged me about the car, but they were darn comfortable.

I've really liked this style Eldorado... just couldn't justify buying one. My Eldo of choice is a 1995 ETC.

As for the HT4100 power... in another thread you compared it to the 528e.... which I would have to disagree with..... it just dosen't compare. If you and the car are ever in the same spot, you can drive it and see for yourself :)

Aron9000
09-23-10, 02:33 AM
What other wheel options could you get on those Eldorados?? I always thought the spoked hubcaps looked bad on zero offset, FWD applications.

Anyways, I'm more of a Coupe Deville type of guy. Always loved the styling of that generation Eldo, but I prefer the RWD layout, hubcap options, and bigger size of the Coupe Deville/Fleetwood.

77CDV
09-23-10, 03:41 AM
Yeoman's job defending the 4100, Chad. Whenever you're truely ready to pull the trigger, there are still plenty of 79-80 Eldos here in sunny SoCal.

Reclining seats, driver or passenger, was optional. Hell, at this point, I think a power passenger seat was optional, at least on the Devilles. Remember, they were just getting away from bench seats at the time.

I must confess that this is my second least favorite vintage Eldo (86-91 being the least favorite). I don't really care for any of the three 79-85 E-body triplets, but if pressed, I'd opt for the Toronado by virtue of it's less-complicated styling. I much prefer the contemporary Seville.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
09-23-10, 08:29 AM
I don't really care for any of the three 79-85 E-body triplets, but if pressed, I'd opt for the Toronado by virtue of it's less-complicated styling. I much prefer the contemporary Seville.

I really like the 80-85 Seville. As I was standing next to this Eldorado yesterday, I was thinking to myself "I really like the way the Seville looks, might I prefer it? It certainly looks more interesting in profile..." The only problem with the Seville is that there was only one year when it had a good drivetrain, and to find an '80 in good shape would be almost impossible without traversing the country and paying top dollar. So in all reality, the Toronado or Riviera would be the one to buy. I'd just want to compare them to a Brougham and a Mark IV/V.


As for the HT4100 power... in another thread you compared it to the 528e.... which I would have to disagree with..... it just dosen't compare. If you and the car are ever in the same spot, you can drive it and see for yourself :)

Yeah, that would have to be one slow BMW to even compare to the HT4100. I mean 121hp and 170 lb/ft isn't much nowadays, but it's only 15 hp behind the 4100, but it's a 2.7L I-6 v. a 4.1L V8, plus your car is a lot smaller and lighter, and you've got a manual transmission...


The 4.1 was WEAK! I wouldn't wish this pile of crap motor on the lowliest of Honda's. I'd almost rather it had a Northstar (gulp!). It didn't compare at all to my '81. BTW, my '81 had an S/S roof and it was blue with blue leather interior and the old man with the '85 died 4 years ago (R.I.P Sal).

So was there a big difference in power between the 1981's 368cid 8-6-4 and the HT4100? Pretty neat you could do the 425 swap into the Eldorado. I bet that had good power....

Atleast with the Northstar, you've got one hell of a powerful engine before it decides to take a dump on you. :)

mhamilton
09-23-10, 10:34 AM
I love those downsized E body Eldorados! I'd love to get a '79 with the Olds 350ci and EFI. Back when (lol), my parents had an '81 Toronado... white/cream paint with the maroon landau roof, and a maroon velour interior :D I still remember that car quite well, I think my father got it in '83 with a broken rod or something, fixed it, and sold it 10 years later still running strong.

Robert DeNiro drove an '81 Eldo V864 in Casino, too lol

HAZZARDJOHN
09-23-10, 11:29 AM
These are probably my second least like caddies, Sorry Chad. Granted I am not fond of any caddy from 81-89, and I hate FWD enough that I just couldn't buy one as anything but a D/D.

~HJ

Bro-Ham
09-23-10, 01:47 PM
Chad, when we first met 5 years ago, one of my employees had a 1980 Eldo Biarritz that you saw, it was in nice shape, from Oregon with no rust, and he practically had to give it away a year ago when he finally found a buyer for it. Good cars exist, even good cars for sale at very reasonable prices. We're all here to help, I'd advise you to consider taking Craig up on his offer to keep an eye out for a nice So Cal car for you when you're ready.

Believe you'll find exactly what you want, at the price you want to pay, when you want it, and you'll be surprised at how it will come to be. :)

Night Wolf
09-23-10, 02:15 PM
Most important thing, IMO on an older car (or any car for that matter) is no rust.... especially the nasty caner rust from the North. Pretty much everything else can be delt with over time.

gdwriter
09-23-10, 06:11 PM
I'd advise you to consider taking Craig up on his offer to keep an eye out for a nice So Cal car for you when you're ready.I agree. There were still a decent number of people driving Cadillacs in Beverly Hills and other tony parts of Los Angeles in the late 70s/early 80s. There are plenty of hidden gems out there.

orconn
09-23-10, 06:25 PM
Maybe Craig could find you one of the "Gucci" 80's Sevilles that were so popular in Beverly Hills at the time ... those double Gucci belts down the trunk lid were "to die for" along with the green and gold paint! Guaranteed to stand out in Minneapolis!

hueterm
09-23-10, 07:38 PM
A gen 1 Gucci Seville is on eBay now...

I~LUV~Caddys8792
09-23-10, 07:47 PM
Maybe Craig could find you one of the "Gucci" 80's Sevilles that were so popular in Beverly Hills at the time ... those double Gucci belts down the trunk lid were "to die for" along with the green and gold paint! Guaranteed to stand out in Minneapolis!

No thanks, I'd like to be a little more subtle than that, lol.

However, I could totally go for a nice designer edition (perferably Bill Blass) Mark IV/V.

orconn
09-23-10, 08:12 PM
^^^ Yeah, Chad, those '70's Continental were the epidome of subtlety!

77CDV
09-23-10, 08:27 PM
Maybe Craig could find you one of the "Gucci" 80's Sevilles that were so popular in Beverly Hills at the time ... those double Gucci belts down the trunk lid were "to die for" along with the green and gold paint! Guaranteed to stand out in Minneapolis!

:ill: Only if Chad can get a licence plate frame that says PIMP IN TRAINING. :vomit:


^^^ Yeah, Chad, those '70's Continental were the epidome of subtlety!

They were more subtle than those Gucci Sevilles! A Bill Blass Mark V could at least make a mildly creditable claim to being tasteful.

Anyway, Chad, whenever you're ready to buy, I'm ready to search.

gdwriter
09-23-10, 11:43 PM
A Bill Blass Mark V could at least make a mildly creditable claim to being tasteful.Certainly in the context of its time. I've often referred to the 70s as the decade that taste forgot.

orconn
09-24-10, 12:15 AM
The Continental Mark V had to be considered "garish" even for the '70's. As I have said before I ordered one in 1977, Dark blue (vinyl roof delete) with tobac (medium tan) interior. In retrospect I don't know what I was thinking, must have been somekind of mid seventies collapse of taste. Since Ford was in the throws a strike for three or more months they couldn't deliver the car and I finally cancelled my order. Perhaps I was still under the influence of the great "Personal Luxury Cars" of the sixties (Eldorado, Riviera, Toronado and Continental Mark III). At anyrate very soon after cancelling my order bought my series one Seville, which I happily kept as my personal car for over eight years.

I will be interested to hear how Chad likes the driving dynamics of the Mark V he hopes to try out soon.

77CDV
09-24-10, 12:18 AM
He was deeply underwhelmed by the Town Coupe he tried. My guess is the Mark V will leave him just as cold.

Jesda
09-24-10, 12:19 AM
The way we see these cars now is how I imagine we'll look at the 02 BMW 7-series in a decade -- garish, uncivilized, pornographic in a Ron Jeremy way.

77CDV
09-24-10, 12:20 AM
Still hatin' on the Bangle Butt, eh Jesda?

hueterm
09-24-10, 12:36 AM
The second gen Seville looks better than the '02 7... To go from the classic that was the '95-01 to that jellybean monstrosity is just wrong...

greencadillacmatt
09-24-10, 12:48 AM
that jellybean monstrosity is just wrong...

mmm... Jellybean Monstrosity...

I~LUV~Caddys8792
09-24-10, 12:56 AM
He was deeply underwhelmed by the Town Coupe he tried. My guess is the Mark V will leave him just as cold.

I've driven a few '79 Mark V's before, and I liked them more than I did that '77 Town CAR. :) Because they were a coupe, and not a sedan, they seemed a little smaller, especially in terms of narrow. Also, the V's have steering that's a little bit more tight and communicative (although when compared to a '77 Town Car, anything is more communicative), but there was a noticeable difference. I do remember the 460 in that '77 Town Car being a lot more potent than the 400 in the Mark V's, especially at highway speeds.

My prediction is that I'll like the way the Mark V looks more, and I'll like the way it feels behind the wheel more and it's interior design more, but the Eldorado will simply drive better and feel less nautical and more tight and modern. While the 400 isn't anything for power (159hp), it's got the torque (316 lb/ft) that the HT4100 never could come close to, even taking the weight differences into consideration.

greencadillacmatt
09-24-10, 01:01 AM
^That, and the 400 won't blow gaskets every time you look at it sideways.

Night Wolf
09-24-10, 02:26 AM
BMW really did ruin a beautiful thing IMO...

http://www.autointell.com/european_companies/BMW/bmw-7-01/bmw-7-2001.jpg

http://pictures.topspeed.com/IMG/crop/200512/2002-bmw-e66_460x0w.jpg

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_lsyt_wQ2awY/SKH9Epu7c3I/AAAAAAAAGSE/SeXmoVpfvBg/s400/BMW-7_Series_2002_800x600_wallpaper_02.jpg

http://carsinamerica.net/bmw/2002-7-Series-rear.jpg

While the quality droped since the 80s and into the 90s along with a bunch of cheaper materials used.... atleast I can really apperciate the styling of the e32 and e38 7-series and e34 and e39 5-series... they really were a clean, sharp but not loud design that flowed so well.

Bro-Ham
09-24-10, 12:07 PM
I agree with Jesda, the 02 7 Series isn't my cup of tea either, it's just frumpy. To my eye the 88-94 7-Series was it as far as any semblance of true BMW identity and prestige in their luxury cars.

It's funny to hear the howls about how American cars from the 1970's, especially luxury cars, that they are somehow some sort of bad dream. When I was young the cars from the 1950's and 1960's were regarded the same way. That quickly changed as people who grew up with those cars started to strongly embrace them and these old cars started to go to Barrett Jackson instead of the crusher.

I predict it won't be long before the big boat cars of the 1970's, especially the outlandishly long and garish luxury cars, are recognized for their uniqueness in our American automotive history, especially by those folks, like me, who grew up with these old heaps, and have fond childhood memories of when these cars were everywhere in our neighborhoods and on the roads, and they really were a sight to see as every day cars. I'm proud to drive my 79 Cad with its big engine, bordello interior, and original 1970's inspired styling. I know, I'm a nut, but it's so much fun. :)

I~LUV~Caddys8792
09-24-10, 06:48 PM
I love the '70s and '80s. Aside from the dour economy and lack of cool technology, I think it's superior to today in a lot of ways.


I didn't get a chance today to drive that Mark V. It wasn't at the lot it was listed at. I'll try again next week.

77CDV
09-25-10, 02:39 AM
Lack of cool technology? We had 8-tracks, rotary phones, and Betamax! And let's not forget the Walkman! Hell, we even had cable! How much more technology do you need, boy?!? :p

Aron9000
09-25-10, 03:22 AM
Lack of cool technology? We had 8-tracks, rotary phones, and Betamax! And let's not forget the Walkman! Hell, we even had cable! How much more technology do you need, boy?!? :p

You forgot the best part of the 70's, the hi-fi stereo wars!!!!

I recently bought a late 70's Pioneer receiver. For two channel stereo, they haven't made anything better since that doesn't cost mega bucks. And I love the simplicity of it all, can't stand scrolling through menus on newer surround sound receivers to just adjust the bass.

77CDV
09-25-10, 11:52 PM
Quiet, Aron! You'll get Rick started! :D

gdwriter
09-26-10, 02:20 AM
You forgot the best part of the 70's, the hi-fi stereo wars!!!!

I recently bought a late 70's Pioneer receiver. For two channel stereo, they haven't made anything better since that doesn't cost mega bucks. And I love the simplicity of it all, can't stand scrolling through menus on newer surround sound receivers to just adjust the bass.My parents still have and use all the stereo equipment my Dad bought on his return from Vietnam in 1972. Two big Pioneer speakers that also serve as end tables in the living room and a Pioneer receiver/amp with all kinds of switches that I'd never decipher. And everything still works and sounds good, too.