: The 585k miles Guiness Record Holding 1979 SDV



lacville78
04-30-13, 10:54 PM
I've done reading in the past about the old Big Block Cadillac engines, and heard of this car several times. I finally decided to look it up, and found the article.
Here it is: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=69orAAAAIBAJ&sjid=YWQFAAAAIBAJ&dq=don%20champion%20cadillac%20kentucky&pg=1715%2C4466422

Here is another article where the owner mentioned using Quaker State 10w-30 which was changed every 2k miles:
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=dYpEAAAAIBAJ&sjid=g7UMAAAAIBAJ&dq=don%20champion%20cadillac&pg=4668%2C5323579

Pretty interesting stuff. I wonder if that car is still going and how many miles are on it now.

SafariOne
04-30-13, 11:05 PM
Not Cadillac related but a neat story non the less. There is a guy in my city that owned s fleet of concrete pumper trucks. He had his original truck from when he started pumping concrete and it had over one million miles on it. He used Quaker State in all his trucks,so when he tole QS of his truck mileage the put in a brand new engine for free just so they could have the old engine for a tear down and inspection in their labs. He was one happy camper and the truck is still on the road doing what it does.

1980coupe
04-30-13, 11:18 PM
Had I not bought a new car and parked my 80 coupe, I probably would have passed his mark by now or maybe close to it..
It has 350, xxx miles on it, 3 owner..me 3rd owner, duh. Lol...
Like that old lady and her 60s mercury, I believe has way more and last I heard she retired from driving???

lacville78
04-30-13, 11:26 PM
I also wonder if that guy had a carb or injection.

YoshiMan
05-01-13, 12:35 AM
It would be hard to give up on a car Like that with those kind of miles on it, especially if you had it since new! IT seems the 77-96 RWD C and D-bodies would be one of the best automotive platforms as far as servicability goes, just because of the parts available

I have an 89' 4Runner as well with 278k on the clock that my dad bought new in 89, i feel that i am familiar with every single solitary part of that car, and when it does blow, it's hard to imagine letting it go as opposed to putting a new engine in it... I guess it just depends on my finantial situation when it happens!

MoistCabbage
05-01-13, 10:46 AM
http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/northstar-performance-technical-discussion/3521-high-mileage-northstar-thread-who-can-23.html

Post #335.

Cadillac Giovanni
05-01-13, 12:52 PM
Yowza. A Northstar with that many miles? Is it without a rebuild, though? I'd have a hard time believing that.

We've got a Ford E-350 van at work with a V-10 that has 480,000 miles on it, no rebuild. It hauls a couple of tons of tools about 600 miles a week and never complains.

MoistCabbage
05-01-13, 04:12 PM
AFAIK, no major repairs to the engine. Not to start a debate, but Northstars are pretty bullet proof and hard wearing. It's not uncommon to see a disassembled one with over 100K, with honing marks still on the cylinder walls. Most never see that mileage, because the rest of the costly to maintain vehicle starts to nickel and dime the owner to death. But the drivetrain outlasting the rest of the car is pretty much how it is with all modern vehicles.

Aron9000
05-01-13, 07:35 PM
AFAIK, no major repairs to the engine. Not to start a debate, but Northstars are pretty bullet proof and hard wearing. It's not uncommon to see a disassembled one with over 100K, with honing marks still on the cylinder walls. Most never see that mileage, because the rest of the costly to maintain vehicle starts to nickel and dime the owner to death. But the drivetrain outlasting the rest of the car is pretty much how it is with all modern vehicles.

You should put a * in there.

*If the headgaskets hold. It seems to me that its just a roll of the dice with those 90's/early 00's FWD Northstar Caddies. Some people get great service and others end up with a lemon in the shop every month for something, or headgaskets blown with under 100k miles on them.

As far as longevity, my neighbor's early 90's v6/5 speed/4wd Pathfinder had over half a million miles on it before the orignal engine let go. It sat for a couple of years, now it has a new engine, lifted, big knobby tires and his son is driving it.

lacville78
05-01-13, 09:24 PM
You should put a * in there.

*If the headgaskets hold. It seems to me that its just a roll of the dice with those 90's/early 00's FWD Northstar Caddies. Some people get great service and others end up with a lemon in the shop every month for something, or headgaskets blown with under 100k miles on them.

As far as longevity, my neighbor's early 90's v6/5 speed/4wd Pathfinder had over half a million miles on it before the orignal engine let go. It sat for a couple of years, now it has a new engine, lifted, big knobby tires and his son is driving it.

The difference between the N* and the Cadillac Big block is that this type of service is typical for the Caddy Big Block. The N* requires special care, and even then you have a gamble on your hands.
As for the Pathfinder, I bet someone had to change that timing belt multiple times. Not fun!
It is very hard to beat the parts and drivetrain on the 77-79 Caddys. Rolls Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, Ferrari, and Mercedes even borrowed a part or two from them.

MoistCabbage
05-01-13, 10:23 PM
Special care? A "tune up" on a Northstar is a plug and wire (if applicable) change every 100K.

Aron9000
05-01-13, 10:49 PM
The difference between the N* and the Cadillac Big block is that this type of service is typical for the Caddy Big Block. The N* requires special care, and even then you have a gamble on your hands.
As for the Pathfinder, I bet someone had to change that timing belt multiple times. Not fun!
It is very hard to beat the parts and drivetrain on the 77-79 Caddys. Rolls Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, Ferrari, and Mercedes even borrowed a part or two from them.

Didn't even think about how many times he'd changed the timing belt and water pump on that truck. If its a 60k interval like most imports and he did it by the book, it would've been 8 or 9 times. Although I'm sure the timing set was replaced at least once, if not more times on that 1979 Sedan Deville. The chains do tend to stretch over time/miles.

lacville78
05-01-13, 11:23 PM
Special care? A "tune up" on a Northstar is a plug and wire (if applicable) change every 100K.

I'm not a N* expert, but from what I understand there is the matter of adding special tablets or powder to the cooling system, and the oil consumption problem, and the carbon build up problem that occurs when you drive your cadillac like a cadillac and not a ferrari.

Then there is the matter of replacing the head gasket when it goes out. I am sure there are a few that have made it without it, but let's not act like that engine is without head gasket issues.

The Big Block Cadillac engines were designed for durability, and serviceability. The N*s were designed to race.

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Didn't even think about how many times he'd changed the timing belt and water pump on that truck. If its a 60k interval like most imports and he did it by the book, it would've been 8 or 9 times. Although I'm sure the timing set was replaced at least once, if not more times on that 1979 Sedan Deville. The chains do tend to stretch over time/miles.

I wish I was there to see if he had it changed or not. But from what I understand age is the biggest killer. Also this guy probably never raced or towed with the car, and it was pretty much all highway cruising miles, plus that chain and gears were designed to be long lived in a car that was 1,000 lbs heavier, it was a bit of an over kill. So, if I had to bet, I would say he ran that engine all those miles without any major work, including the timing chain and gears.

Aron9000
05-01-13, 11:41 PM
I'm not a N* expert, but from what I understand there is the matter of adding special tablets or powder to the cooling system, and the oil consumption problem, and the carbon build up problem that occurs when you drive your cadillac like a cadillac and not a ferrari.

Then there is the matter of replacing the head gasket when it goes out. I am sure there are a few that have made it without it, but let's not act like that engine is without head gasket issues.

The Big Block Cadillac engines were designed for durability, and serviceability. The N*s were designed to race.

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I wish I was there to see if he had it changed or not. But from what I understand age is the biggest killer. Also this guy probably never raced or towed with the car, and it was pretty much all highway cruising miles, plus that chain and gears were designed to be long lived in a car that was 1,000 lbs lighter, it was a bit of an over kill. So, if I had to bet, I would say he ran that engine all those miles without any major work, including the timing chain and gears.


I'm sure on that 425 all the timing chain, tensioners, gears, guides and stuff were metal. On newer cars they've started using plastic parts on the timing set with disasterous results. The 3.6 DOCH GM motor that is in everything from Cadillacs to your mom's Chevy Traverse use that engine, and there have been some catostraphic engine failures when those plastic parts broke and the engine jumped timing. Even the "unkillable" 22R and 22-RE 4 cylinder Toyota truck engine uses plastic parts on the timing set, but on those you are given plenty of warning(horrendous racket of the chain hitting the timing cover) before anything catostraphically fails.

Cadillac Giovanni
05-02-13, 12:10 AM
My mother had a 1995 Deville Concours with a Northstar. Despite the bad rap the engine got, it ran well right up to 175,000 miles when she got rid of the car due to other problems. It had a slight hesitation on take-offs, but I assume it just needed a little tune up.

On the other hand, a friend of mine once purchased a 2000 STS. He asked me if I knew whether or not it was a "good" car before he went to see it. I simply warned him that there were a couple of things that could be major issues. One is faulty electronics, and the other was the head gasket on the engine blowing. He bought the car without having a professional look at it, and he loved it, but within weeks, the electronics were so whacked out he had difficulty starting the car, and soon after the head gasket blew. One of the most severe cases of bad luck I've ever seen with a car.

MoistCabbage
05-02-13, 01:14 AM
there is the matter of adding special tablets or powder to the cooling systemThat started with the 4.X engines. No longer recommended, and not necessary in the Northstar anyway.


the oil consumption problemA small amount if consumption is by design. Excessive consumption is caused by...


carbon build up...between the pistons and rings. Some WOT once every month is all that's needed. And come on, who would buy a 275/300 HP luxury car, and not want to have some fun once in a while? ;)


Then there is the matter of replacing the head gasket when it goes out. I am sure there are a few that have made it without it, but let's not act like that engine is without head gasket issues.IF it fails. MANY more cars without an HG issue than with.

Don't get me wrong, I won't try to tell you it's not an issue. The shorter head bolts, fine threads, and casting issues were problems, And GM took way too long to resolve them. However, the number of engines that have issues is MUCH lower than most "car guys" will lead you to believe.

In '00, changes were made to the casting process, and there was a switch to longer head bolts, substantially reducing the failure rate.

In late '04, a switch was made to course thread head bolts, virtually eliminating the problem.

lacville78
05-02-13, 03:02 AM
Don't get me wrong, I won't try to tell you it's not an issue. The shorter head bolts, fine threads, and casting issues were problems, And GM took way too long to resolve them. However, the number of engines that have issues is MUCH lower than most "car guys" will lead you to believe.

In '00, changes were made to the casting process, and there was a switch to longer head bolts, substantially reducing the failure rate.

In late '04, a switch was made to course thread head bolts, virtually eliminating the problem.

Thanks, for informing me of GM’s updates to the N*. I have always been interested in them, and even owned one in a 97 Concours. That being said, I still think that we are comparing apples to oranges here.

The 77-79 Cadillacs were designed with durability, and serviceability in mind.
This record holding 79 Sedan went over 585k with NO major repairs. While EVERYTHING on the N* cars tend to be a major repair. This is important over a long period of time. Eventually both car's parts will wear out. Starter replacement, alternator replacement, valve job (oh wait better buy new heads for the N*), timing chain, oil pump, ABS module and pump,A/C Compressor and evaporator, and ultimately engine and transmission rebuild will be ridiculously expensive and time consuming on the N*, while cheap and easy on the 77-79.

If you plan to own a N* car for a long period of time be prepared to preform nightmarish type repairs, or have a really fat wallet.
For these reasons and more it becomes clear that the N* car does not age gracefully compared to the 77-79. It is by far easier, and much cheaper to keep a 77-79 on the road for many years and miles than a N*. For this purpose the N* car isn’t fit to hold a candle to the 77-79 Cadillac.

MoistCabbage
05-02-13, 04:18 AM
Apples to oranges, absolutely. Modern cars with more features/parts, and drivetrains packed tightly into a relatively small space, are always going to be more expensive to own. Any make, any model.

.....I'm always on the lookout for my ideal '71/'72 Sedan Deville. When I find it, I have no doubt it will be cheaper to maintain, even being 40+ years old.

turbojimmy
05-02-13, 06:17 AM
Apples to oranges, absolutely. Modern cars with more features/parts, and drivetrains packed tightly into a relatively small space, are always going to be more expensive to own. Any make, any model.

Which is why I moved to the Fleetwood after I totaled my DTS. But that '01 DTS was hands down my favorite car (daily driver) ever. The Northstar engine is an awesome powerplant - very smooth and deceptively powerful. The FWD and Stabilitrack made it great in bad weather. We've had 4 Northstars in the family so far ('95, '00, '01 and '07). One (a 2000 base Deville) had bad head gaskets. All 4 leaked oil at the rear seal and 3 of 4 had the TCC solenoid go bad (not the engine, I know, but a repair expensive enough to total the car). If you can afford to maintain them properly, they will treat you well. Heck, my '01 was completely submerged in a flood. I basically just drained the fluids, replaced them, and drove it for years until the Unfortunate Incident.

Bro-Ham
05-02-13, 08:34 AM
I believe a properly sorted 77-79 Cadillac with the silky smooth 7.0/425 is the epitome of solid. The 425 can take wear and tear and/or use and abuse and never miss a beat. In addition to the awe inspiring reliability and durability, there is also the inexpensiveness of parts, and simplicity of repairs. All of this taken into consideration makes me feel that somewhat lower fuel mileage is almost inconsequential. :)

YoshiMan
05-02-13, 07:00 PM
I flirted with some of the N* cars when i was looking for another daily driver. I've always been a big fan of those late model Eldorados, ever since i played Midtown Madness as a kid and that was the car i always selected in the game.

The only thing I couldn't get over is the fact that I LOATH having to work on transverse mounted engines!

Once i get some things paid off i would like to invest in a 77-92 RWD, i love how they look and the parts availability is astounding!

drewsdeville
05-02-13, 10:32 PM
Meh... N*, 425, 350, or a 12hp Briggs - they're all machines, and they all break. I used to consider perceived reliability a lot more than I do now - at some point, I realized that considering reliability too much inherently closed my eyes to some amazing machines - and I just can't let everyone else have all that fun while I putt around in the same old boring vehicle for 585k as this thread represents. You only live once, and you gotta pay to play, right? Besides that, even the most unreliable modern vehicles aren't all that unreliable anyway... certainly much more reliable than a 30 year old Cadillac, though many would never admit it.

Cadillac Giovanni
05-03-13, 11:50 AM
There's a difference between regular breakdowns head gasket failure. I agree, though, I wouldn't let general perception of an unreliable vehicle keep me from driving it, especially if it's a car I really like. I can't say that for any of the 90s Northstar Caddies, they never particularly thrilled me. I'd rather pick up a Fleetwood. Bigger, bolder, almost as fast and RWD. If the LT1 was considered a less reliable engine than the Northstar, I'd still gravitate towards the Fleetwood just because I like it more as an entire package, so I see where you're coming from.

drewsdeville
05-03-13, 01:22 PM
There's a difference between regular breakdowns head gasket failure. There's little difference - "regular" (whatever that is) or other, they are all an inconvenience and they all need fixed. I've replaced plenty of head gaskets, bearings, and complete engines - and Chebby's are definitely no exception. Recently took care of a 3800, PERCIEVED to be GM's reliability king, that leaked coolant into the oil and trashed the entire rotating assembly. Is that somehow different (better?) than a head gasket replacement? S*** happens, we all have to deal with it.

Cadillac Giovanni
05-03-13, 01:56 PM
Well of course. No engine is perfect. Nobody ever made the claim that a reliable engine will always work perfectly forever with no repairs, or that a "less reliable" engine will start blowing gaskets if you look at it funny. There's always exceptions to the rule.

Gman1023
05-03-13, 09:30 PM
Some WOT once every month is all that's needed. And come on, who would buy a 275/300 HP luxury car, and not want to have some fun once in a while? ;)


Old people. Or should I say, old people who drive like such. I've known of 90+ year old guys who have no problem lighting up the rear tires in their classic.

jamespowers
05-03-13, 10:06 PM
Old people. Or should I say, old people who drive like such. I've known of 90+ year old guys who have no problem lighting up the rear tires in their classic.

I would if I was 90. :p I hope to reach that age to try it out---lots of times. :p

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You only live once, and you gotta pay to play, right? Besides that, even the most unreliable modern vehicles aren't all that unreliable anyway... certainly much more reliable than a 30 year old Cadillac, though many would never admit it.

Interesting to have that point of view and post in this section of the forum. :rofl: I'll take the 30 year old Cadillacs every day of the week. I'll even take a 60 year old Cadillac even better. Anyone who doesn't think their old Cadillac is as reliable as the newer N*. You can always give them to me. I'll take them off your hands. lol lol lol

YoshiMan
05-04-13, 07:42 PM
I'll be the first to admit my 75' Coupe Deville has actually given me FAR less problems than my 03' Escalade ESV, however that works!

jamespowers
05-04-13, 09:59 PM
I'll be the first to admit my 75' Coupe Deville has actually given me FAR less problems than my 03' Escalade ESV, however that works!

My 75 Eldorado has given me less problems than my 2008 Escalade. Fortunately the Escalade problems have all been everything except the running gear---so far. back up camera, radio and Nav, window trim flaking, pillars cloth sagging, door latches, window regulator, door handle, passenger side electrical harness for windows, tow hitch cover, center console, faded emblems(front and back), luggage rack and a host of other problems all fortunately within the warranty period(except the tow hitch cover which cost a fortune to replace after it fell off). Now, the engine is running a little rough and I am just cringing over whatever the heck else might be wrong. The Eldorado has needed none of those things fixed. Ridiculous....:rolleyes: