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Barn Cad: 1985 Cadillac Sedan deVille

031416 Barn Finds - 1985 Cadillac 1

Get the hose out, this 1985 Cadillac Sedan deVille listed here on craigslist in Topeka, KS will need a good wash. And, once you’ve done that you can figure out why it doesn’t run; hopefully it’s an easy fix. The seller is asking $1,000 “firm” for this solid barn Cad.

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1985 was the sixth generation deVille and the first year for the resized Cadillac deVille models. To top off that revolutionary change it went to a FWD platform, also. These cars were over two feet shorter than the previous deVilles yet their interior dimensions were almost exactly the same. The wheelbase was about eleven inches shorter on this car than on the 1984 deVille, maybe giving up a bit of that famous Cadillac big-car-feel on bumpy roads.

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A good, deep vacuuming and a grocery-store-hot-water-carpet-extractor rental and this interior would probably look like new again, other than the headliner which the seller does mention is falling down. I hope that there aren’t any mice in this barn Cad. The car was left after an eviction procedure and the seller doesn’t have the title or the keys. So, there’s that to think about too.

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Then there’s this to think about, a non-running, transverse-mounted, 135hp 4.1L V8 HT-4100 engine. HT = High-Technology, but they were known to blow intake manifold gaskets and maybe that’s what happened here? The other two engine options that year were even less popular: the V8-6-4 and the Olds diesel. The regular Oldsmobile V8 was a popular conversion, but maybe you have a different engine in mind?

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I rented one of these cars for a week when my LeBaron convertible was in the body shop after being t-boned by someone who ran a stop sign. I thought that it was so nice, quiet, and smooth compared to my K-Car LeBaron, but of course it should have been. I’ve always liked this generation of deVille much more than the full-sized version, I just don’t need that much car to wield around in traffic. These did feel spacious and luxurious though. At $1,000 this one would be a good buy if someone could troubleshoot the engine woes and figure out the missing title and key issues. I’m sure both of those can be figured out, but the engine is a wild card. What did you think of the “new” deVilles in 1985, were you a fan or did you prefer the more Cadillac-sized Cadillacs?


  1. Avatar photo Fred

    Why would anyone buy a car with no title? It’s like buying real estate with no deed- you don’t really own it, and in the car’s case, you can’t drive it.

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    • Avatar photo Dan h

      In California, you just fill out a “statement of facts” form and “lost title form” and boom, you get a title in a few weeks.

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  2. Avatar photo Rick

    Never liked these. Looks like a Cadillac a Smurf would drive.

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  3. Avatar photo Donnie

    In some states getting a title for an older car is not to hard.

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  4. Avatar photo Mike Astringer

    I drove an 88′ that belonged to my boss in 88′ Brown with tan leather. I was 18 at the time and my biggest dream was to drive a car like that. I’ve now owned several Cadillacs including my current CTS and Allante. Seeing this one brought me back.

    Like 1
  5. Avatar photo Charles

    A non-running 85 Cadillac FWD with no title. It is clean, but sounds like a parts car to me. My stepmom had a 1994 with the FWD V8. When most old cars nickel and dime the owners to death this one would cost $1000.00 to $2500.00 on it’s frequent trips to the garage. You name it. Anti-lock brake system, thermostat controlled AC, Air suspension. It all broke on a frequent basis. More luxury than a K-car, but no quality! With all of those cheaply made high-tech gizmo’s those cars can be a nightmare when they are old enough to need work. The old car did not have many miles on it and it was clean. She had an emotional attachment to the car because my Dad bought it for her before he died. Finally it caught fire. Everyone got out of it unharmed and the FD put out the fire before it burned up. It’s a good thing because it caught fire at the gas pump while she was fueling the car. Either way that POS finally went to the wrecking yard. This is a clean old car, but No thanks! Now stepmom drives a late model Camry, and we don’t have to worry about if she will get somewhere safely or not.

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  6. Avatar photo Mike H

    These loved to rot from the bottom; the body panels looked mostly okay but they were rusty lace underneath. Coupled with the 4100 that doesn’t run I’d probably crush this one, but pop told me once that there’s an ass for every seat, and I’m sure that some enthusiast out there will fall in love and have to have it.

    The 4.9L was a better motor, by the way.

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  7. Avatar photo Nessy

    How would this be a good buy at a thousand dollars firm with no title, no keys and a bad 4100 engine that was trouble from day one? Plus, the guy who left it could also come back looking for his car, although he would be crazy to want it back. Oh, Scotty, the 6-8-4 was only offered in 1981. The entire thing sounds fishy. Some guy is just looking to make a buck here on something that is not even his to sell.

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    • Avatar photo Scotty G Staff

      Dang it, you are correct, Nessy; my apologies. I knew that but it still came out of my fingers for some reason; sorry about that gaff.

      Like 0
  8. Avatar photo geezerglide85

    I had one of these an ’86. Bought it in ’94 got a good deal on because it needed a motor.
    Great looking car only had 70,000 miles on it. After i replaced the motor I think I replaced
    the rest of the car one piece at a time. Brake calipers, radiator, computer, a.c. comp, alternator, steering rack, and more i can’t think of. It also threw those 35.00 dollar serpentine belts about once a week. After motor no. 2 went (threw a rod) I just said thank God because I finally knew to quit shoveling money into it! Although it was a beautiful riding car and my wife loved it, I ended up just giving it away. Worst car I have ever had!

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  9. Avatar photo boxdin

    Years ago I was assigned one of these stretched 48″ as my limo to drive clients. It was my favorite car but the quality of the mechanicals was terrible.

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  10. Avatar photo Wayne Thomas

    Cars like these NEED to be saved for proof of just have bad cars were during this period.

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  11. Avatar photo Charles

    No doubt the quality control poor for most cars built during this period poor, although these cars seem to be the worst of the lot. If this car had a title and some history it might be worth it to someone to rehabilitate it. My wife had an 89 Fleetwood when we first got married. That car never gave any problems other than normal wear and tear.

    The wife always traded cars at 100K, and her Fleetwood was traded for a new Crown Victoria. The funny thing we were first married she said, ” I only drive Cadillac’s” I told her that I was not fond of the late model Caddy’s, however if she wanted a 50’s or 60’s model we could see what we can find. I have always wanted a 53 Eldorado… After her first Crown Vic, she has never wanted anything else. She currently has an 08 LX that we purchased new that has 39K miles on it.

    I still own an all original 1982 Trans AM WS7 (with a145 HP 305) and an all original 1986 Trans AM WS6 (with a 305 TPI, 215 HP version), and both are holding up very well. Both car’s computers are in working order and they both will pass emissions testing. Being GM cars, these two Pontiacs share some technology with similar year Cadillac’s, but are no were near as complicated. Both cars live for the show circuits these days and are trailered to and from shows. I don’t consider them trailer queens, as they are both flogged regularly on club cruises. It’s not uncommon to run 200 to 300 miles on a show weekend, and neither has ever broken down. They are sort of an anomaly since most of the cars have been modified and are no longer running the original drive trains. It’s actually rare to find a car of this era that is still stock, original, and running. Neither car has exhibited much if any mechanical issues, and often go for several years with no repairs, just general maintenance and upkeep. All service is done based on time not mileage.

    I believe that the big issues for Cadillac’s of this era are the combination of poor quality control, cheap parts, and the unlimited number of gadgets integrated on these cars.

    Again, this car does look clean. If it is not a rust bucket, if they could provide a clear title, and some history, I could see someone trying to get it back on the road. Otherwise, I believe that it will provide parts for similar cars

    Like 0
  12. Avatar photo Spankymcfairlane

    I had an 85 sedan Deville that was a cream puff when I bought it and when I sold it. There was no way I was ever going to put enough miles on it to wear it out, because we couldn’t keep it running long enough to wear it out! The car blew a head gasket on the west side of Snoqualmie pass outside of Seattle in October of 2000. As I was driving along I thought I was kicking up a lot of dust behind me but anyone who knows that area this area knows there is no dust there in October. After getting the car home to Idaho (a week later) the next nightmare was that nobody wanted to work on it. One shop said if I bought a crate motor they would put it in. We finally got a friend of mine to fix it but it took forever. The dealership was completely out of the question. The last straw was 6 months after having the AC compressor replaced it quit working. I took it to a shop close by and the owner said these cars were God’s gift to the Lincoln dealers back in the 80s. He called it an over engineered POS. I called him that night and asked how it was going he said his diagnostic machine blew up when he plugged the car into it. I told him I had gone straight to the Honda dealership and we were buying a 99 accord, he replied “I will never see you again.” He was right, we still have the accord today and have never had a problem with it.

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  13. Avatar photo Steve

    Just say “no”.

    My mom traded an 83 olds 88 with a little iver 100k miles that had a tebuilt olds 307 for one in the early 90’s. Only issue with olds was we hadnt rebuilt the stock q jet yet and the car would “diesel” when you shut it off. I had moved out and my dad was working a lot and didnt have time. They would have been way abead to pay the $250 a shop wanted to femove and rebuild the q jet, but as they say, hindsight is always 20/20. About a year after they bought it, the Engine blew. Installed a reman. Then a year or two later the trans went when i was driving it. I felt guilty at the time, but later found these cars had junk drivelines. My dad knew when to say when and sold it for $500 to a guy who had one with a blown engine. I alwYs thought it would have made a good “pro street” cR converted to rwd.

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  14. Avatar photo Marty Member

    I was at the St. Louis City Police impound car auction two weeks ago.

    Coincidentally, I saw a gold 1986 Cadillac that was cleaner and looked to be in better shape than this one. The only bidder was a scrap metal dealer, no one in the crowd of 50-plus people standing around bid against him, and he bought the car for $100.

    This thousand-dollar car is overpriced by at least nine hundred dollars.

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  15. Avatar photo AMCFAN

    The seller has no right to sell this vehicle with no title. Despite being left behind by the former owner. The property owner may file for abandonment and go before a judge and have the court system issue the proper paperwork to obtain title. Which he should do anyway. No one in their right mind should ever consider it unless they wanted only a parts car.

    It is really a shame that the mighty Cadillac, The standard of the world would have put out such a sad vehicle. My experience with an 80’s Cadillac was simply hanging out at the local shop. Saw the owner hand a man in his 70’s a bill for $700. just to fix the climate control. After these 4100’s and the infamous 4-6-8’s and the typical antics of GM it is a wonder the brand is still making cars. The premium paid for them one would think they would last forever. At least I would expect so after paying the cost of most peoples homes.

    There was a time when it was quite a big deal to own a Cadillac. My family scrapbook contains a picture of my grandfather posing with his new 1956. He always dreamed of owning one my father said. The day he came home with it had to be one of his best days. He was a big man and picked up my grandmother and carried her out to it and took her a ride. Later that evening he had a severe stroke that left him in a wheel chair. He was left with a mind of a child. Never drove the Cadillac again. The car was parked in the garage and soon afterward my grandfather passed. The car sat several years when the decision to sell it was made. My father drove it to town for one last ride and along the way it dropped a valve into the piston.

    My father contemplated on getting a new Cadillac STS when he retired. He bought a Camry instead.

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  16. Avatar photo ClassicCarFan

    I have a soft spot for “old” Cadillacs, but by that I mean up to about the later 1960s.Once upon a time they really did stand for something and Cadillacs from that golden age are so gloriously over-the-top that they are cool and they were well built.

    Sadly by the eighties they were a lame embarrassment. The quality was gone South, their attempts to down-size often poorly executed and some of their engineering innovations were disasters. The had really lost their mojo. I don’t see any value in this as a collector car or desirable classic?

    I can see how a good running titled one of these might have some value simply as a pizza-delivery hack for someone who didn’t have much to spend? A non-running non-titled one I’d say is next-to-worthless other than as a parts car, as others have said. The u-wrench-it yards are full of these here in the South. I’d say $1,000 is too much.

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  17. Avatar photo Metalted

    Had a 83 Seville. 4100 was an aluminum block, iron head motor.
    And yes they were a pos.

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  18. Avatar photo edh

    These will be collectable in 100 years, but probably not.

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  19. Avatar photo Joe Cadillac

    I had an 56 with the HT4100 engine. Yje engine failed at 50,000 miles. I installed a new factory engine which also failed. The car was in beautiful condition, but I ended up giving it to charity. I would not want any part of this car.

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  20. Avatar photo Royal Ricci

    This is an old post but I just bought one of these down in Baltimore with only 50K.
    I knew going in that the power bench seat was not working and it would need a headliner, But upon taking delivery, I have found the driver’s window won’t go up, the A/C doesn’t work and the heater core is leaking. Otherwise it starts right up and took me home 400 miles without incident. Body is clean as a whistle for a 33 year old car. I am told to swap the motor with a 4500 V8 when this one goes. However, if anyone can tell me how to drop a 307 5.0 Liter in this, I would be interested.

    Like 0

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