779-Mile 1978 Cadillac Biarritz Survivor

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Reader Ryan A runs a restoration shop in Iowa and was tasked with getting a Cadillac Biarritz ready for auction by a friend from college. It turned out, the car had traveled just 779 miles and was purchased new by this friend’s grandfather. Ryan was so impressed by the car’s condition, that he had to share it with us!

From Ryan A – This Caddy was purchased new in 1978 by a friend’s grandparents, the wealthy Horne Family. Once owners of a very large cattle ranch in north-central Nebraska and founders of Midstates Bank in the midwest. The owner was my roommate in college and was left to him by his grandfather.

The car is headed to Barrett Jackson Palm Beach next week to be sold Thursday lot number 38. I own and operate a small restoration shop here in Iowa. I was tasked to breathe life back into this time capsule after being in storage its whole life.

Here’s a little history from the owner in their own words: My grandfather bought the car as a part of a pair new from the Cadillac dealer in Omaha in 1977. The other car was light yellow but otherwise was identical to this car. He had bought the car as a pair for him and my grandmother and unfortunately, my grandmother passed away in February 1978.

Per his custom, he ‘broke-in’ the car by driving it from Omaha to Kansas City to see his mother. That has been the only major trip for this car. He wanted to purchase this model because Cadillac had previously said that the ’78 Eldorado was to be the last of the “bigs”. They had downsized other models in ’77. He was accustomed to not only purchasing Cadillacs but buying the best models. He had two ’76 Fleetwoods that had the top trim packages as well. These Biarritz models were right in line.

The Eldorados were his town cars. This red car, however, stayed in his heated/air conditioned garage for most of the ’80s. It was on jack stands all-year, except when it was taken down every 6 months for conditioning.

It was one of the icons of my childhood. Every time we went to Grandpa’s, there was this beautiful, like-new Cadillac. I was able to ride in a few times as it was transported to the dealer, or driven around the neighborhood to warm it up.

Our thanks to Ryan for sharing the story of this Cadillac with us! It sure cleaned up nicely, but with so few of miles and such diligent care given to it, it isn’t a surprise. It will be interesting to see

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  1. Superdessucke

    Time to break out the compound interest calculator again, LOL! According to the NADA, the original MSRP was $12,401. If you would have put that money into a mutual fund in 1978, and it averaged 8% per year, you would have about $270,000. I hope those were fun miles!

    I don’t post these calculations to bash our hobby. I think cars are great. But I just want to show that it’s better to drive your vehicle than salt it away as an investment. Rarely, if ever, will storing a car with delivery mileage beat what you could get by simply investing the money in a mutual fund account and forgetting about it.

    Like 34
    • Raymond

      100% I totally agree and understand where you are coming from. Drive it and Take care of it.

      Like 14
    • grant

      And restoring costs a fortune that doesn’t usually return that well either. So either way, old cars aren’t investments.

      Like 10
      • Karl

        Pimps are crawling out of the woodwork for this baby!

        Like 6
    • Miguel

      It doesn’t sound like the original owner bought this car to make money down the road though, or am I mistaken?

      Like 13
      • dweezilaz

        Nothing in the article described that intention, Miguel, you’re dead on correct.

        I don’t know where Superdessucke pulled his assumptions, but nothing was said about preserving this Eldo as a future collectible.

        Plus an 8% return has been a fantasy for the past 20 years. It’s that sort of projection that has retirement funds and pensions completely in the red

        Like 4
      • Superdessucke

        @ Miguel – “He wanted to purchase this model because Cadillac had previously said that the ’78 Eldorado was to be the last of the bigs.” the article also talks about the steps he took to maintain it all these years.

        That to me implies he was buying it for collectability. If he just wanted a big Eldorado before they got small, he would have driven it. Instead he bought it and stored it. Why do that if you’re not buying it for collectability?

        @ Dweezle – 8% would actually be a rather poor performing mutual fund over that kind of span of time. 12% would be more realistic. The stock market on the whole’s done great between 1978 and the present, with some downturns of course but it has overall performed well.

        Like 1
    • Mark Lindstrom

      Can you average 8%. Bernie Madoff gauranted 5% return on your money year after year and you know where he is. I will give $100,000 if you can guarantee me 8% return year after year for 20 years.

      Like 0
      • Dave Mazz


        (1) Check out any reasonably-run S&P 500 Exchange Traded Fund. (2) Move to some country where they don’t tax income. (3) Buy a bicycle for everyday transportation. (4) Make sure the fund you select is *not* managed by someone named Madoff. :-) :-)

        Like 1
    • Dave Mazz


      Throw in the cost of garaging, insuring, and maintaining this car over 40-plus years and you would likely double that $270K estimate. As they say, collecting old cars is a great way to make a small fortune…..provided you started out with a big fortune :-) :-)

      Like 3
  2. DavidMember

    Forget B&J, from what I’m seeing the only folks making $ on clean originals like this are B&J. After the premiums and listing they’ll make 20%. There’s many other smaller auctions that are much more reasonable.

    Like 4
    • Miguel

      Mecum lists the buyers fee at 18% plus they make money on the sellers side too.

      You are right, it is the auction making the money there.

      Like 7
      • DavidMember

        Barrett Jackson charges the seller 7%, the buyer pays 10%, and the bidder pass was $750, I don’t know what they charge to enter a vehicle – I do know they charge high premiums for key timeslots as well. I also was told by a buyer that BJ sent a 1099 to them for the sale. It’s bananas – overall 20% which IMHO will affect the bidding price. I would use Craigslist, Hemmings and or Autotrader. I think you’ll get a higher return. Bring a Trailer is also much more reasonable – $99 to list, and 5% premium to buyer. Although BaT seems to have more imports – there’s more classics coming through. BJ is a scene, but not a great place to sell lower priced classics.

        Like 2
    • Rod444

      A quick scan of the crowd will reveal that Barrett Jackson is where retired “car guys” go to win a contest to impress their trophy wives. Love of cars is useful but not compulsory :)

      Like 3
  3. P

    I rather have that car …now

    Like 2
  4. Matt R

    What a dream boat. What’s going on in that first photo behind the front bumper on the passenger side?

    Like 2
    • CJinSD

      That is standard GM bumper fill panel disintegration. Even leaving the car in climate controlled storage couldn’t preserve them. The good news is that reproductions are available for many models including this one.

      Like 6
      • Jim ZMember

        You are correct. When I did my 74 Eldo, I was able to source a complete set front/rear of ABS plastic fillers from a place in Pompano FL called Plastic Parts. There were actually quite a few pieces in the kit, and about $400 if I recall….

        Like 3
  5. R Zukowski

    That’s a spacer (made of bendable plastic IIRC ) that frequently needs a bit of work, which the restorer had completed by the time of a subsequent pic. I’ve rarely seen a Caddy from the 975-993 (I think) era that didn’t need one or more of these replaced, which has gotten more difficult recently.

    Like 2
    • Matt R

      Thanks guys. That’s interesting. Kinda like the pad in an eight-track tape. :)

      Like 3
    • Miguel

      R Zukowski, it is odd that I don’t remember this problem back in the ’80s and ’90s unless the car was in an accident. It is only now that I see a lot of cars missing these pieces.

      Like 1
  6. Will Fox

    ? Not sure which RF corner image is most recent; the one where the filler panel broke apart (as usual for these Eldos) or the outdoor shot showing it prestine & in one piece. The Omaha dealer this came from was Novak Cadillac that was at 2525 Dodge st.; I used to work there in the 80’s before Ron Huber got the Cadillac franchise in `87. Locally here in Omaha, we have an orig. owner of a triple white `76 Bicentennial cvt. (one of the last 200 built) That got mothballed like this one–complete with plastic-wrapped cvt. top, and all checkpoint inspection stickers on the windows, shipping plastic over the seats & carpets, etc. and about 9 miles on it. The owner refuses to entertain offers, saying it will never be sold outside his family. I don’t blame him.

    Like 1
    • nessy

      Pardon me friend, are you the Will Fox who was once the Automobile Research Editor for Collectible Automobile Magazine at one time? I believe you also were involved with American Sunroof Company, ASC? We spoke several times about the Prototype Toronado XSR Power T Top Project. I still have your business card.

      Like 4
  7. ccrvtt

    Superdessucke’s comments are absolutely true, no argument here.

    But I sort of doubt that the original owner was hurting for cash at any time during the intervening years. If his wife passed shortly after its purchase he may have hung onto the car for sentimental reasons.

    Which he could certainly afford to do.

    Like 8
  8. rod444

    I absolutely love the style and lines on this mega-barge. Was the first car I drew when I fell in love with car design at about 14. I’ve sat in a few but never had the pleasure of trying to negotiate a turn with a hood that extends beyond the horizon.

    Probably my favorite feature is a front bumper with 6 ‘push bars’ which I always understood to mean that if you thought some car in front of you needed to get out of your way, there was nothing stopping that torque monster from *pushing* it out of the way.

    Not that you ever would in such a glorious ego machine, but it’s the thought that counts :)

    Like 1
    • Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac DivaMember

      I’d be more interested in the pair oof ’76 Fleetwoods mentioned in the post.
      I had a ’75 Fleetwood in the mid ’80s

      Like 4
      • nessy

        Me too. I have a 76 Fleetwood Talisman with a moonroof. Forget the Eldorados.

        Like 4
  9. RichOne

    This is a gorgeous car! It is one of Cadillac’s finest creations! Especially nice that it has the factory “Astroroof” as part of its equipment. But doesn’t the engine compartment look a bit dirty for such pampering? I would like to some interior photos . . .

    Like 1
  10. MartyMember

    The soft parts are called “bumper fillers” that fill the spaces between the bumpers and the body. Originally they were very flexible rubber, but eventually turned hard as a rock and crumbled away, and it doesn’t matter how well the car was kept.

    These bumper fillers are currently being reproduced in complete sets, and are available for most years of Eldorado, deVille, and now even some of the Buick, Pontiac, Chevrolet, station wagons and other GM car models. Depending on size and number of pieces, the complete sets cost around $400 (as previously mentioned). These reproductions are not made of flexible rubber, they’re made of a much more hard plastic like PVC.

    As with most reproduction parts, the fitment of them is not entirely satisfactory. They are however, considerably more desirable than the huge holes left behind in the body when the original fillers have crumbled away.

    I installed a complete set of repros on a ’73 Eldorado I had a couple of years ago. They require lots of modification to get them to fit, filing, shaving, heating, bending, enlargment of mounting holes, etc. They ended up looking presentable, but of course, matching the original paint is always key to getting them to look good too.

    These parts are available on ebay and elsewhere on the interweb and are not hard to find.

    Like 1
  11. zemario

    No comments yet;)

    Like 0

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