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Cadillac Cimarron (1982-1988): the fate of an outcast

Cadillac Cimarron (1982-1988): the fate of an outcast
In the American mentality, “loser” is a grave accusation. Worse than a scoundrel, a scoundrel. Even being a criminal is not so shameful. But “pathetic little loser” is extremely derogatory. The Cadillac Cimarron model somehow fell into this number by accident, due to an oversight of a reputable manufacturer.

The people were amused! “Loser”, “freak”, “product of cynical badge engineering”, “fruit of laziness”. The rankings of the most disgusting cars without the Cimarron are incomplete. Although, let’s make a reservation right away, we do not always agree with the “experts” who make up the top worst products in the auto industry.

In relation to Cimarron, there was, on the one hand, the schadenfreude of competitors. How did the great, arrogant “Caddy” himself, the high priest of the automobile Olympus, goof up like an ordinary mortal. On the other side, fans of the brand were genuinely grieving. Why did this happen?

We explore the reasons for the failure of the Cadillac Cimarron (1982-1988)

In a nutshell: the premium guru has fallen into the budget segment. Cadillac taught the public to perceive it as the first in innovation: electric starter, power steering, synchronized gearbox, V16 in cars, cars with interchangeable components. And many other things for which the industry thanks the manufacturer.

Cadillac Cimarron (1982-1988): судьба изгоя Cadillac Cimarron (1982-1988) is the same “freak” that lists of the most unsuccessful models cannot do without. Photo: YouTube.com

And he, who throughout its history was known as the personification of luxury and prestige, sat on the same bench with the modest Chevrolet Cavalier, Buick Skyhawk, Oldsmobile Firenza and Pontiac J2000. For the listed manufacturers, their sedans and hatchbacks are premium, but for the Caddy, creating a compact car, albeit a luxury one, meant almost degradation.

The Cimarron model is regarded as an attempt to “step into the people.” The goal, laudable in itself, was not accepted by the public. I thought it was unbecoming for a great and inaccessible mechanical engineer to flirt with ordinary people. This is like a slap in the face to brand adherents. And the fans are those who are called the cream of society, the elite. Shorten the car to four and a half meters! Have you heard? But that's not all...

Other "sins"

Not only did they cut down the body, but they also took the GM J platform, on which these pathetic Chevrolets, Buicks, and, even worse, Pontiacs are built.

Chevrolet Cavalier, a common platform and similar features with which users have not forgiven the “Caddy”. Photo: YouTube.com

However, the dimensions of the Cadillac Cimarron depended on the “cart”:

✅ Length - 4516 mm
✅ Width - 1684 mm
✅ Height - 1372 mm
✅ Between axles – 2570 ​​mm
✅ Curb weight - 1200 kg

Okay, the short Cadillac is unacceptable, but whatever. Also, to the horror of the fans, they installed an engine with the following characteristics on the 4-door sedan:

✅ Volume - 1,8 l
✅ Power - 88 liters. With.
✅ Number of cylinders – 4, in-line configuration

The last time an engine with a volume of less than 2 liters was installed was in 1908. And the in-line “fours” disappeared somewhere in 2014. A year after the start of the series, they realized it and installed a 2-liter power plant. But fuel injection in the throttle body took away two “horses”. They've improved it, it's called...

Cadillac Cimarron (1982-1988) is a victim of badging engineering. Photo: YouTube.com

In 1985, the V6 Chevrolet with an output of 130 hp was included in the engine range, and then optionally. With. However, the model's authority was already far behind. All that's left is bias.

What happened to the mighty GM and its flagship Ceddy division? Impoverished? Not at all!

What did the management of the enterprise proceed from?

By the 80s, company planners looked around, assessed the market, and saw the following picture: the compact niche was empty. Well, or it requires filling, expansion. At that time they had a very good mid-size luxury Seville (1976-2004) on their assembly line.

Cadillac Cimarron (1982-1988): admirers of the brand were offended by the 4,5-meter length of the model. Photo: YouTube.com

But one Seville was missing. And the sales of 215 units over 639 years suggested that the focus on this segment was correct. What stimulated the promotion of the line and pleased the manufacturer’s pride was the fact that rivals stirred up: Lincoln released Versailles, and Chrysler released the LeBaron model.

The Old World was flooding America with neat, economical cars. But Cadillac management noticed an important thing: fellow citizens are more willing to buy domestic brands. It would take some time to get the new product onto the market by the 1982 model year. So they decided to take a radical, daring step: they boldly went beyond the limits allowed for premium, they abandoned “land yachts” in favor of short ones.

What happened

Note that the hero of our review was Cadillac's first post-war compact car. The car was created to compete with sedans and hatches of a similar size. One of the managers came up with the slogan: “Do more, strive for less.” The latter meant a model even more compact than the Seville, which was 5,1 m.

Inside the Cadillac Cimarron. Photo: YouTube.com

Pete Estes, GM's president, warned general manager Edward Kennard that there was no time to turn the J-car into a true Cadillac. But the work was already in full swing: the model was developed in a record 10 months.

Of course, they borrowed this, that, and the other from single-platform games. The Cimarron shared most of its exterior with the Chevrolet Cavalier: they boiled in the same pot, as they say. This moment confused the audience the most: where is the Ceddi, where is the Chevy. Badge engineering, whatever you want! “Cynical” at that.

What did you bring?

The courage of the manufacturer cannot be denied. Well aware of the reputational risks, he packs the car in full. Otherwise, the “Caddy” will not be one.

Leather-wrapped steering wheel and Cadillac Cimarron instrument cluster. Photo: YouTube.com

On the small front-wheel drive J-body platform, the manufacturer is developing a competitor to BMW and Audi. But he immediately makes a mistake: he puts the “Cimarron” nameplate on the first models without mentioning the manufacturer. Look, it’s different from the Chevrolet Cavalier, when it has the same door handles, similar sidewalls, and the same glazing.

The user saw a catch: a cheap, slightly retouched product is passed off as a luxury compact, and sold at twice the price. Indeed, the price of Cadillac's new product was $12. But it was worth the money, since the optional functions of single-platform vehicles were already included in the basic versions of the Cimarron. And this included air conditioning, radio, fog lights, additional sound insulation.

Luxury rear bench seat Cadillac Cimarron (1982-1988). Photo: YouTube.com

The salon was strikingly different from the original. The owner was met:

✅ Leather chairs and the same door panel upholstery
✅ Deep pile carpets even in the luggage compartment
✅ Three-spoke leather steering wheel
✅ AM/FM stereo system
✅ Wipers with intermittent driving mode.
✅ Heated rear window

The list of options was much longer. It included cruise control, electrically adjustable seats, dual-illuminated rear-view mirrors, and a 3-speed automatic transmission (the base had a 4- and 5-speed manual transmission).

In 1983, the word “Cadillac” was already emblazoned on the grille. But the people felt deceived. I didn’t pay attention to the efforts that the company made to make the car comfortable and safe. It didn’t work out fast: acceleration from zero to 100 km/h was “painfully slow” – 15,9 seconds.

130-horsepower V6 engine "Cadillac Cimarron", 1986. Photo: YouTube.com

The driving characteristics, however, did not cause ridicule. For the simple chassis, the developers selected a suspension consisting of MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear. But they apparently set it up well, since the journalistic reviews were not full of insults.

We summarize

The efforts went to waste. Sales in the first year alone were on par with the Buick Skyhawk and Oldsmobile Firenza sedans. Then they went down shamefully. Over 5 years, 132 Americans bought a Cimarron. In 499, the assembly line where the car was born “in convulsive convulsions” was closed without appointing a receiver.

One of the brand's veterans said:

It's not such a terrible car. But definitely not a very good Cadillac

We are inclined to agree with this point of view. We are ready to understand both the manufacturer and the buyer. The first was in a hurry to offer his compatriots a compact. But he “licked” everything from the Chevrolet Cavalier too much to reduce the cost of the product. And then habit kicked in, he swung it like a Cadillac and made the model incredibly expensive.

The consumer was disappointed, as if the Armani suit turned out to be consumer goods from underground sewing workshops. And it fits smartly, and the label matches. But…


Photos used: youtube.com

Do you also think that the Cadillac Cimarron (1982-1988) belongs on the list of the most unsuccessful models of the century?

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