Garage Find: 1990 Cadillac Allanté

In the mid-1980s, Cadillac decided to go after the two-seat sport-luxury market that the Jaguar XLS and Mercedes SL dominated. By shortening the chassis of an El Dorado and importing precision-made bodies from Italy, the Allante was born. It ran between and 1986-93 and wasn’t a big seller and not likely to be at twice the price of a ‘Dorado. This 1990 Allante can be found in Fremont, Ohio where it doesn’t appear to have been on the road in a while. It’s available here on Facebook Marketplace for $3,900.

Once Cadillac decided to go down the Allante path, they recruited Pininfarina in Italy to build and paint the bodies, which is said to number 21,395 over an eight-year period. The finished bodies were then flown by 747 from Turin to Michigan for final assembly at a Cadillac plant. That expense alone added tremendously to the price tag of the Allante. Cadillac experienced some quality controls problems with the car early-on and the 4.1 and 4.5-liter engines that were in the Caddy through 1992 weren’t exactly powerful. They did come up with the 32-valve Northside V-8 for 1993, but that was probably too late as the car was discontinued after that. A weak economy in the early 1990s just exacerbated Cadillac’s problems. Despite their low production numbers (avg, 2,675 copies per year), the Allante doesn’t seem to command big bucks today, perhaps because the folks that bought them new were senior citizens at the time. For a summary on the Cadillac Allante, check out this Hagerty article.

We don’t get much history and just three photos of this 1990 Allante. It’s said to have 90,000 miles on it and needs a new master cylinder, of which one is provided for the buyer to install. We presume that non-working brakes are what took the car off the road as no other comments are made about its drivability. With all the dust and dirt cleaned off, there may be an attractive black-on-black combination below. The convertible is said to come with both hard and soft tops and the interior looks to be in very nice condition. Hagerty says the average resale value of this car should be $6,500, so if the brakes are the only problem, this could be a reasonable buy if an American-made Jag-Benz is what you’re looking for.

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Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    The Cadillac Allante was the first car for GM to use multiplexing in their electronics. Being a low volume car it gave GM the chance to try the new technology. Multiplexing is where you send commands over a 2 wire (usually) network for other control modules to carry out commands reducing wire harness bulk All new cars use this technology now.

    Like 13
  2. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    Black on black is a great look for these. I’ve always wanted one, but never bothered. They sound like high maintenance.

    Like 4
    • george Member

      Once you get the Bosch brakes sorted out, Allantés are pretty reliable cars. I bought one for this kind of money a few years ago, and it’s a wonderful daily driver

  3. IkeyHeyman Member

    I once thought this would be an interesting car to own, but then a guy who had experience with these suggested that I buy 2 so I could use one as a source for body and interior trim parts. That killed my interest pretty quick.

    Like 5
    • george Member

      There are three or four Allante specialists around the nation that can supply almost everything you might need.

  4. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    I like it.

  5. Smokey Member

    A good friend was offered an Allante to drive for the weekend or more if he wanted. He was not a real car guy at all, so he was very unimpressed. Told me to come and take it for the rest of the demo drive if I wanted. I was curious so I got it, and drive it a whole lot that weekend. I was not impressed. especially when considering its price. Fit and finish could have been a lot better.

    Like 1
  6. Milt

    Why would someone spend over $100 for a photo ad on either BarnFinds or BAT, yet unwilling to first spend a few bucks for a car wash?

    Like 7
    • Phlathead Phil

      That’s a really good question.

      Heck, granny probably has some dish soap, an old towel and a mop bucket for the clean-up.

      I don’t get it either.

  7. davew833

    It was the Northstar engine introduced for ’93, not the Northside.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northstar_engine_series

    Like 5
  8. Bruce

    Check out HOVIES GARAGE web site concerning the NORTHSTAR engine. One of the worst designs ever. Expect to pay an additional 5 to 6K for the kit to fix the problem and the labor required. They all tend to fail about 100-120K in terms of mileage. These are grand touring cars and NOT sports cars. For their use they are not bad and do compare with the Jag and Mercedes of the time. Both were also more boulevard cruisers than sports cars. They are however both beautiful and comfortable. My one friend that had one was 6′-6″ tall and he loved his as it was about the only convertible that he was comfortable driving. To each his own.

    • Paul Willson

      the Northstar made for the atlantes did not have the problems of the regular car. the intake manifold was different. and had no problems

  9. Bozo

    These were not precision body fits. Go look at one or two and check the gaps and flush ness of body panels as well as door fits.

  10. Paul in MA

    I love these cars and am always tempted. Then I read up on them and that ends it :(

    Like 1
  11. DON SICURA

    Having owned a 91 Allante, I feel that I have to offer my two cents. As far as the car goes, it is beautiful to look at & a pleasure to drive when performing properly, my complaints in regards to the body are with the aluminum panels that were prone to corrode & just like rust on a steel car, it eats away the metal, only faster, another problem is with the brake system in that the power brake booster fails often requiring a replacement & system overhaul, (try finding one) and at that time (1999) the cost for a rebuilt unit alone was well over $1,000 not including labor. The interior was beautiful to look at, but of such inferior materials that within a few years, it would crumble to pieces. It’s a damned shame, GM came so very close to building a timeless classic, but instead built a car that was beautiful to look at but outrageously expensive & far too much trouble to keep on the road. In my opinion, this is exactly why this car has sat for so many years, the brake system failed & the current owner could not afford to repair it.

    Like 3
    • Arthur

      That has me thinking that maybe a hot rod builder of today should buy this Allante. Many such enterprises do metal fabrication, mechanical updates, and custom interiors.

      I could easily see Roadster Shop or Pure Vision giving this car a custom chassis, a Corvette Z06 engine, a Tremec T-56 Magnum transmission, and a custom interior with newly-designed dashboard with either the stock gauges or new gauges.

      Like 3
  12. Bill McCoskey

    Shortly after the Allante’s introduction, Herb Gordon Mercedes-Benz of Silver Spring, took in a VERY low mileage, all black version, that had been traded in on a Mercedes-Benz SL roadster.

    The company placed that nearly new Allante on the showroom floor, parked next to a black SL roadster. This allowed the salesmen to point out all the fit and finish problems on the Cadillac [and there were plenty!]. Mr. Gordon told me that this Cadillac in his showroom helped him sell more SL roadsters than any M-B sales aids!

    Like 3
  13. charlie Member

    I bought a ’93 six years ago for $3000. It had 132,000 miles on it, and had always been in New England. It now has about 148,000 miles on it, It has a few dimples and dings, and one rust bubble in the edge of a rear fender, and a rip in the driver’s seat. Knobs and buttons have gotten crisp and break. It has an aftermarket sound system using the original speakers. But it is a joy to drive other than the wind noise, top down, top up, or “optional” hardtop installed. Maybe the Northstar had already had its issues before I bought it, and the transmission did have issues (and off and on continues to), but for a toy you can use and enjoy and not worry about “diminishing its value” it is fine. There is a good support network for parts and advice, one guy in NJ, one in CA and one in FL. Mechanically it is a Caddy. Why they are worth so little is a mystery, it just shows the herd mentality of people in general. Allantes are not worth much because they are not worth much. The other really underpriced, but really fine car, is the bean shaped Chrysler LeBaron convertible of the same era, with the V6 and leather. A $2000 car when a much lesser Mustang would be $25,000. Go figure.

    Like 3
  14. Captain RD

    My family had one for many years — extremely comfortable road trip car, huge trunk, very stylish and parked it was an eye catching looker.We drove it and enkjoyed it start to finish.
    Sold it with over 100K miles, reasonable Cadillac mechanics, electronic gremlins, good club support- has never been appreciated as a collector car so should remain affordable for a nice luxury Italian roadster.

    Like 1
  15. PairsNPaint

    Does Kelly Bundy come with it?

    Like 2
  16. Maestro1 Member

    I agree with Charlie. The one to watch for is a LeBaron with a V-6.
    I’m also not a GM fan at all, even though my family was a two generation
    GM family. I think they have made some really stupid mistakes. The only reason the company was saved from bankruptcy was because the workers were at the time 240,000 voters.
    This car: Although I would not want Black over Black in my climate the car
    has always been appealing if only they could cure some of its mistakes, mentioned above.

  17. Ike Onick

    Cool hood ornament

  18. moosie moosie Member

    Convert it over (RWD) to a late model Z06 drive train (std. shift) and call it a day.

    Like 1
  19. charlie Member

    The ’93 with the Northstar would reputably do 0-60 in 6.1 seconds, with the GM 4 speed automatic of the day. No need to add power, it has plenty. The exhaust system, unfortunately, sounds like the GM V6’s of the day, but at least it is real, not a fake soundtrack like some of the current BMW’s.

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