: Ten years with the Caddy that Zigs



investor74
11-13-06, 10:27 AM
Hi

Ten years ago today (Nov 13, my wife's birthday), we took delivery on our '97 Forrest Green Catera. I remember when I first saw it in the dealer's garage on that day, I thought it was one of the most beautiful cars I had ever seen, certainly competely different from other Caddys at the time. Even today, I like the styling inside and out. Still a great car on the highway - great handling, smooth ride, decent MPG.

Our car has been running better the past few years at any other time. I have 88K. Just a minor oil leak (there have been very few periods when I didn't have something leaking) and a pesky check engine light.

Looking at my fairly thick folder of ten years of repairs, most repairs had been in the first few years, and many were for the same repair over and over again. If they could have fixed, for example, my coolant leaks the first time, and permanently, my repair folder would have been much thinner. The Caddy dealers certainly play a large part in the unreliable reputation the Catera has earned.

Also, the unusual parts seem to confuse independent mechanics. I remember a year and a half period when I played "musical alternators" when I decided to try an independent rather than the dealer.

So much about this car exudes quality. Our leather interior looks as good today as the day we got it. The paint job is first rate - once again looks as good as new. I have no squeaks or rattles. Its just a shame that a few nagging problems like the timing belt and water pumps gave it such a bad reputation.

Barry
'97 Forrest Green Catera

CateraSport2000
11-13-06, 10:42 AM
Amen! It's so good to read something that is (mostly) positive. I also blame the Caddy dealers but some of them so rarely see Cateras that I see why they don't know what they are doing. Cateras are common here in Florida so I've never really had any bad dealership experiences and they've fixed my problems right the first time.

Keep on trucking!

guardian
11-13-06, 11:22 AM
Hi

Ten years ago today (Nov 13, my wife's birthday), we took delivery on our '97 Forrest Green Catera. I remember when I first saw it in the dealer's garage on that day, I thought it was one of the most beautiful cars I had ever seen, certainly competely different from other Caddys at the time. Even today, I like the styling inside and out. Still a great car on the highway - great handling, smooth ride, decent MPG.

Our car has been running better the past few years at any other time. I have 88K. Just a minor oil leak (there have been very few periods when I didn't have something leaking) and a pesky check engine light.

Looking at my fairly thick folder of ten years of repairs, most repairs had been in the first few years, and many were for the same repair over and over again. If they could have fixed, for example, my coolant leaks the first time, and permanently, my repair folder would have been much thinner. The Caddy dealers certainly play a large part in the unreliable reputation the Catera has earned.

Also, the unusual parts seem to confuse independent mechanics. I remember a year and a half period when I played "musical alternators" when I decided to try an independent rather than the dealer.

So much about this car exudes quality. Our leather interior looks as good today as the day we got it. The paint job is first rate - once again looks as good as new. I have no squeaks or rattles. Its just a shame that a few nagging problems like the timing belt and water pumps gave it such a bad reputation.

Barry
'97 Forrest Green Catera

Congratulations on your ownership anniversary. Your excellent and balanced review should be read carefully by existing owners, and by anyone interested in owning a Catera.

The Catera was FAR, FAR from a lost cause. But that's how Cadillac treated the car. I think this says much more about General Motors than it does about the unfairly maligned Catera.

Cadillac's failure to put right Catera's short list of problems can be attributed, I suspect, more to politics and mismanagement than to lack of engineering and/or design ability.

And the Catera was, and remains, a splendid looking automobile. Certainly it's striking appearance outshines and outclasses anything Cadillac has brought to market since 2002 in an effort to replace the Catera.

CateraSport2000
11-13-06, 02:27 PM
I recently purchased these two items on ebay that were information for dealerships that were going to sell the catera:

1) A kit introducing the Catera: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=160042680143

2) Information for dealers on how to advertise/sell the Catera: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=160042681417

It was really fascinating to read through this stuff and see how much thought and effort went into the marketing of the Catera. GM really did do its homework and I think they put together a really good marketing campaign. Some people may have throught the cartoon duck was silly and childish but the car was aimed at a younger market. It worked on me... I was 20 years old at the time and I really wanted a Catera.

Something happened along the way and GM, like it does with most things, botched everything up and the car became a failure. Whether it was failing timing belts or poor customer service, they did something that really messed things up because the car did sell well at first. I think one big mistake was keeping the 200hp 3.0 for 2000 and not using the 3.2L that appeared in the CTS and European Omegas. The overweight Catera could not keep pace in its class with all of those 250HP+ cars.

I think someone should write a book on this car and analyze the multitude of ways GM screwed up with this. Look at what they did to the Pontiac GTO! That is a beautiful car (loosely based on the Catera) but they should not have called it a GTO because it does not appeal to "real" GTO lovers.

Now Saturn is building more Opels in the US and basically selling US versions of the European cars. We'll see if they can have success with that. Personally, I'm glad my car was made in Europe but I see that it's not feasible to import European built cars due to currency exchange rates and other issues.

Please excuse the rant... I would love to help GM save themselves.

Jeff

JRau
11-13-06, 04:45 PM
Well, I used to think the Catera was a pretty cool car. I still think it looks pretty good. However, after reading about all the disaster stories in this forum, I'd be scared to death to own one. Cadillac mismanagement or not, I don't need anymore headaches in my life.

JRau in central Iowa

caterashaker
11-15-06, 07:20 AM
I bought my '98 Catera about 4 1/2 years ago from a friend of mine who has a small used car dealership. I was there the day his nephew brought it in from the original owners who were literally a little old man and his wife. I had never really paid too much attention to Cateras but this one caught my eye. When I looked inside and under the hood, this thing was the epitome of immaculate. The thing was that at the time, I wasn't in need of a car. I had owned Caddys in the past but nothing like this. I didn't give it much thought until about 3 weeks later when I stopped in again to see my pal. Well, the '98 Cat was still there and still immaculate. Seems no one wanted to take a chance on a car that had 109,000+ miles on it. He told me to take it for the weekend and if I liked it I'd come back on Monday ans work a deal; if not, no hard feelings. I think the first thing I was concerned about was that the oil pressure gauge kept swinging up and down. Also, this little car ran hot. I found out later from a very dear friend( and ace mechanic )that this was normal. Both my wife and I loved the car but like I said earlier, I didn't need one. I ran a VIN search and found out that the original owners had EVERYTHING done at the dealership where they bought it, I'm talking oil changes, recalls, brake jobs, everthing. I took it back to my buddy and thanked him but told him that I didn't need a car; the Cat was very cool but I didn't need it. Well, a few days later when I got home from work, I found out my lovely wife went and bought it fro me as a surprise birthday gift. Since then, it has been one of the BEST cars I've ever had and I've owned quite a few. It now has 167,000+ miles on it. Every time I go to the dealership the guys tell me that it should be in a museum. I've replaced the brakes(the front brakes twice which is why I ALWAYS spent the extra money and buy Lifetime Warranty anything) gone thru a couple of sets of tires, replaced the Crank Position Sensor, replaced the radiator and last week I replaced the Heater Control Valve and I credit reading posts in this forum for being able to diagnose that problem.

caterashaker
11-15-06, 07:26 AM
Also, everyone kept telling me how bad these cars are in the snow. Well, I guess they just don't know how to drive because mine is terrific in the snow. The first year I had it, I didn't even put snow tires on. I bought a set of Blizzaks and let me tell you, my little Cat has big time claws in the snow. I never get stuck or slide around. I feel very safe in it and don't think twice about letting my loved ones drive it. Everyone whom I've loaned it to love it as do I.

Elo
11-15-06, 10:39 AM
Congrats on a decade with the Cat!

A little TLC goes a long way with these cars... With all their quirks and gremlins, I've yet to once regret purchasing my 2000... It's fun to drive, it's comfortable, and it's appealing to the eyes...

I've yet to let anyone other than myself drive it though... She's my baby and I don't trust other people... LOL

-Elo

caterashaker
11-18-06, 09:39 AM
Good one Elo; I grit my teeth everytime I have to loan it to someone and I'm very selective about whomever is driving it so I know what you mean and I agree with you, I have no regrets about buying mine.