Junkyard Gem: 1991 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz


GM’s Cadillac Division introduced the ultra-swanky Eldorado as a 1953 model, and the Biarritz name was first used on the Eldorado convertible three years later. After that, Eldorado Biarritzes in various forms were built intermittently through the following decades. The end finally came for the Biarritz in 1991, when the last eleventh-generation Eldorados rolled off the Hamtramck line. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of those cars, found at a self-service yard near Denver, Colorado.


Biarritz is a resort city on the Atlantic coast in France’s Basque Country, just the sort of place where a high-living oil heiress might have flaunted her new Eldo during the late 1950s. The Biarritz title was used to designate Eldorado convertibles through 1964, then got dropped until its revival as the name of a gloriously rococo trim level for 1976.

For me, the definitive Eldorado Biarritz is the 1979-1985 version, with its stainless-steel roof panel inspired by the one on the 1957 Eldorado Brougham. When Robert De Niro as pink-suited Ace Rothstein falls victim to a bomb in his car in the 1995 film “Casino,” that car is a 1983 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz.


The Eldorado got a radical downsizing for the 1986 model year and its next-to-last generation, losing 16 inches of overall length and a corresponding portion of general bulk. The Biarritz version stuck around, but with no stainless-steel roof. 


The 1991 Biarritz package did get you two-tone paint, “Tampico” carpeting, birdseye maple wood on the dash and console plus 10-way power front bucket seats.


Also included were “wire wheel discs” aka faux-wire-wheel hubcaps.


The padded landau roof with slick-looking integrated opera lamps also went onto the 1991 Eldorado Biarritz.


All 1986-1991 Eldorados got a full digital instrument cluster.


This generation of Eldorado never got the DOHC Northstar engine. Instead, all were powered by a member of the Cadillac High Technology pushrod V8. The Northstar went into final-generation Eldorados from 1993 through the end in 2002.


This is the 4.9-liter HT engine, rated at 200 horsepower and 275 pound-feet. If you want to enrage engine-name purists you should call it the “HT4900” within their hearing range. Earlier versions displaced 4.1 and 4.5 liters, with 1991 being the first year for the 4.9.


When this car was new, no manual transmission had been available in a new Cadillac since the last three-pedal Cimarrons were built as 1988 models. The gearbox in this car is a four-speed automatic.


The final year for the Cadillac Eldorado was 2002, after which it was replaced by the CTS coupe. The 1986-1991 eleventh-gen Eldos ended up being the smallest of all the generations.


This one had an MSRP of $34,425, or about $80,326 in 2024 dollars. That was a bit cheaper than the cost of the similarly sized 1991 BMW 525i, which listed at $34,900 ($81,434 after inflation). Meanwhile, the costliest Cadillac of 1991, the Allanté hardtop convertible, cost $61,450 ($143,384 today).

Winner of the 1990 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award!



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