Solid Gold: 1987 Cadillac Allanté

030416 Barn Finds - 1987 Cadillac Allante 3

I’ve always liked the Cadillac Allanté, this one is no exception. This golden beauty is found here on craigslist in Winter Park, Florida. The asking price is a very reasonable $4,200, saving you more than enough doubloons for several trips to Disney World, just a few short miles to the southwest of this car’s current location. Family vacation anyone?

030416 Barn Finds - 1987 Cadillac Allante 1

There is a ding in the front bumper and a couple of other small ones around the car, but overall it looks great for being twenty-nine years old. The Florida sun hasn’t baked the finish to a dull, cloudy mess so this must have either been garaged its whole life or is from another area of the country where they don’t get the sun.. at all.. ever.. like in Minnesota..

030416 Barn Finds - 1987 Cadillac Allante 7

I usually run across Allantés in the classic ivory white, but I really, really like this gold version, especially with the red stripe on the bottom. The seller says that the car has a “removable fiberglass top..”, but I think these were aluminum tops, if I’m not mistaken. The folding top is there but it will need to be replaced, although the mechanism works.

030416 Barn Finds - 1987 Cadillac Allante 4

I wonder what the classic dark red Allanté interior would have looked like in this gold car? Maybe that would be too much, but I love the ivory white Allantés with that dark red leather interior, that’s a great combo, in my opinion. Maybe gold over red would be too crazy, even for me. This interior looks like a million bucks, and look at that automatic shift lever! It’s like a Soviet-era jet control stick!

030416 Barn Finds - 1987 Cadillac Allante 6

Here’s where a Soviet-era joystick-type power seat knob might have been a good idea, but these power seat buttons look cool and they fit in with the era of the car. These buttons have always intrigued me, they’re so ordered and one-dimensional, sort of like the 1980s were.  There might be enough room for your golf clubs in the compartment behind the front seats (of course you’re going to play golf, you’re buying a gold Cadillac Allanté!), but not much else will fit back there; although it’s carpeted and it’s as posh as the rest of the car is. The only option in 1987 was a “cellular phone” built-in to the center console. I got my first cell phone in February of 1987, coincidentally enough, and it seemed about as big and heavy as this car is.

030416 Barn Finds - 1987 Cadillac Allante 5

The 4.1 liter GM V8 had about 250 hp and along with a 4-speed automatic with overdrive, it had more than enough power for smooth cruising; exactly what this car was made for. The Allanté was designed by the same folks who brought us the 1967 Datsun Wagon, no really! The bodies were designed and built in Italy and were then flown back to Detroit on 747s, for real! Once the body shells arrived in Detroit they were attached to GM-designed and built chassis and drivetrains; perhaps the very definition of oxymoron, but it worked. It was quite the process but the result was one fantastic looking car, one which I hope to own someday. How about you, do you have gold fever as much as I do?

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Comments

  1. Dominic

    I like these, but I think I like Buick Reattas more.

  2. Mike Astringer

    As the owner of a 92′ Allante (white with red interior by the way) I’m glad to see you feature an Allante although I’d hoped it would be mine (I emailed you guys a month or so ago). There is a passionate following for the Cadillac Allante and several very active clubs.

    Here is a little more data on the Allante. The Allante was produced by Cadillac from 1986 until 1993. Roughly 21,000 Allantes were built over the production run. Manufacturing of the Allante was called The World’s Longest Assembly Line. The bodies were designed and manufactured in Turin Italy by Pininfarina then shipped 4,600 miles in specially designed 747s to Cadillac’s Detroit / Hamtramck assembly plant where they were connected to Cadillac drivetrains. My 92′ Allante is equipped with a 4.5 L V8 producing 200 hp and a 0-60 time of 7.9 seconds. The top speed is 122 mph.

    This is the second time Cadillac turned to Pininfarina for production bodies. Pininfarina also designed the bodies for the 1959 Eldorado Brougham.

    I don’t know the original MSRP of an 87′ Allante without looking for it but the MSRP of my 92′ was $58,470 plus the optional digital instrument cluster at $495. As you mention the car was so well equipped for it’s time that the only other available option was a cellular telephone.

    • Mike Astringer

      Here is mine (in white) along with the Allante belonging to the President of the Cadillac Allante / XLR Club

    • dave

      They also built special enclosed tri axle trailers to haul to the dealers. They would hold 9 of these cars.

  3. Howard A Member

    This isn’t the 1st time Pininfarina has shown up on US cars. Nash had several models designed by Pininfarina in the ’50’s. ( which I never could understand, what, no talented designers in the US?) While these were very nice cars, kind of the personal luxury car for Cadillac, they weren’t very popular. Not sure why, it sure was a nice car. I had a BIL that had one. I guess the main concern for me, would be aging electronics could be a problem. While they may have been “cutting edge” at the time, I’m sure more than one owner had trouble. Even still, it embodies what a Cadillac should be, and not what they’ve become lately.

  4. Keith

    Had a chance to pick one up on the cheap a couple years ago. Black on black with a bit of brown (rust) for good measure. I might have plunked down the $1000 they were asking, but its main issue was a Teves ABS system that was FUBAR.

    I did some research, and found that brake components on these fail often, and aren’t exactly cheap to replace. Nothing else appeared to be a close match. I briefly entertained the idea of trying to retrofit a standard brake booster setup from something else, but (thankfully) dismissed it before getting too deep into the concept.

    With no other Allantes around to contribute the needed parts – and knowing that the lack of parts wasn’t going to get any easier with time – I decided to walk away. Though I’m pretty sure I made the right choice, I still wonder…

    • Keith

      Picture

    • Keith

      Another

    • Keith

      Interior

      • Mike Astringer

        You are right. Parts are not cheap but they are out there. There are a few resources for any part you’d need including the club I belong to in NJ.

  5. Nessy

    I had a silver 87 with red interior. Bought it for 1500 4 years ago in fair shape but missing it’s hardtop. Sold it a year later for 3000. Had a black 88 with tan interior. Bought it not running with a broken windshield for 800. Got it running, cleaned it up and sold it for 2200 last year. Nothing bad to say about these cars. I like them. Now is the time to buy one. Many are going cheap. The final 93 Northstar would be the one to have.

    • Bob

      Before going to buy one of these, read up on the self-diagnostic protocol, take it for a test drive,pull into a park, and let the Allante tell you what is wrong with it..There are problems with the ABS…but if the battery is a little low, the car will start but give you an ABS Fail warning…Before springing for a new ABS system, take bronze wool and clean up the battery cables and put in a fresh battery..
      I love my ’88..As soon as I got the insurance bill for collision coverage I bought another and put it in the pole barn..A taillight runs $500.. a bumper can be $3000.
      Tom Rohner in California has 40 he has parted out and can get any parts…
      Fun car!! Original owner was Mary Kay AshI have trouble distinguishing colors…My daughter say “Dad, did you notice it’s pink?

  6. dj

    These seem to fall into the same catagory as the Oldsmobile Trofeo. They were heavily computerized cars for the time period. When car computers weren’t at their best. I worked on several of the Olds cars at the dealership. They were a nightmare when problems happened. I was back at my old dealership last month and a beautiful red Trofeo was there. Computer had went bad and there wasn’t one to be found in the US. I’d make sure everything works on one of these cars before purchase.

    • AMC STEVE

      Dj, I’m looking at a nice black on black 92 trofeo now with 118,000 miles on it. It’s a VIC car and everything works. It’s been babied and the guy out a new intake gasket on it.
      My question is he’s selling for $4000. Do these cars have a lot of problems for daily driversL

  7. grant

    Well I’m in the minority, but I wouldn’t pay 4k for any 80’s GM product. Who cares who designed the body, it’s still an 80’s GM product., although it’s pretty. And that shifter doesn’t look anything like any jet fighter stick, it looks like a 1980’s GM parts bin shifter. Looks the same as in my sisters 87 Cavalier.

  8. Keith Matheny

    Actually like these, and the Gold over Fawn is nice, but the “electronics” scare me.
    Is that engine one of the aluminum blocks?
    Just dealing with my ’97 Ranger’s “accessory” computer was a rude awakening on the problems that will come with the newer cars as they reach “collectability”. Hey, the Bosch engine unit from my ’81 124 Spider (that PF quit building to do these, by the way) is unobtanium, save from the P-a-P! Or that one in Mass. from the other day is worth the $750 ask just for that and the Bosch AFM, Yoo-hoo!
    And 8k for the computer to fix a fellows later Jag XKF (I think it was, good looker too), whew baby!
    What have we got ourselves into, anyway?

    • Keith Matheny

      Op’s, RI, and only yesterday too!
      Damn memory!

  9. dave

    Go for a 5 min ride in this 1987 Buick GN.
    https://youtu.be/mF9NXK466A0

    • AMC STEVE

      Not to bright drinking while driving, but yep that brought back some memories

  10. joe

    Always reminds me of the “Bundy bounce”.

    “The neeeeeeeew Alante”

  11. PaulieB
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      Why are all cars here in NH overpriced compared to everywhere else? From Miatas to Corvettes, it seems everyone wants top dollar for what they have.

      • PaulieB

        Could be the proximity to Boston.. fishing for high rollers.. lol I haven’t seen anything reasonably priced when it comes to older cars.. even with rust!

      • Keith

        Sadly that’s pretty much the whole east coast. You should see what they want for piles of rust here in NJ

  12. charlie Member

    I have a ’93, 146,000 miles, appears to have been garaged and not driven in New England winters, no rust, Northstar engine, “throttle body” which consists of a plastic thing with three hoses, got brittle, not a standard Northstar item since the hood is lower than other Caddy’s of the day. It is unobtainium. Replaced it with one my mechanic and I made out of tubing and epoxy. In theory it does 0-60 in 6.1 seconds, I don’t quite know how one does that without spinning the front tires, but it is solid at 80 mph, corners flat (some kind of magnetic suspension system), and with the exception of parts peculiar to it, which wear out, like the throttle body, there are three sources for every other part you need, other than the standard GM parts, like the radiator, engine and transmission, brakes, etc. things like fenders, seats, power window controls, and tops, one in NJ, one in San Diego, and one in FL. It is my daily driver once the New England salt has been washed off the roads. I paid $3000 for it, replaced every belt, hose and gasket (including both ends of the transmission, oil pan gasket, etc.) except the head gaskets, replaced the radiator (plastic ends but standard GM radiator) rear brakes, and bought a hard top (yes they are aluminum, not fiberglass) and the gaskets around the windows. So I am now into it for about $7000, have driven it for about 9000 miles, and plan on doing many thousand more. They are at the bottom of the market now, as are other 25 year old cars, but they are attractive, fast, and repairable, like the Reatta, and the Trorfeo, and watch, the Chrysler LeBaron convertible, with the V6, the bean shaped one, not the boxy one, really cheap but really fun to own and drive, drive, drive. And if it is not a museum piece, which mine is not, you can drive, drive, drive cars like this. No problem on Interstates, top goes down, handles well, comfortable, trunk is big enough for luggage for two, original cost ($64 grand for mine, but most were sold at a big discount, next Caddy down in ’93 was about $32 grand) but for less than $10 you can have a great collector car, destined, if you live long enough, to be a full classic.

  13. Clay Byant

    I have an 89 I just brought back from California that I’ve been getting small things done to it in the last couple years. Made a nice ride back over 1800 miles to Nebraska. I’ve driven Corvettes for over 40 years and this is a good graduation car from them. The 87s were the only ones with brake problems. Fairly good performance and gets looks. Mines red with a saddle interior and comes off well as a good combination. They have Ricarro seats in them and are fairly comfortable. I do suggest a battery cutoff as they use a deep cell Marine battery and the dry drain back off the alternator can run a battery down if it sits for a few weeks and it being heavy on electronics doesn’t help matters either. They were made from 87 to 93 not 86. Glad to have it back in Nebraska where it’s a lot cheaper to maintain. I’ve had fun and a real life with cars over the last 55 years and this is a fun car that occasionally needs a little attention. I always keep in mind that it’s 27 years old.

  14. Don

    The car that finally killed the Fiat Spider.

  15. Reg Bruce

    I went to the GM training center class on the Allante when they first came out. Seems like I remember the instructor saying that the “basic” body shell / platform was made in the US (possibly the same as a Riviera?) then flown over to PF for shortening and other mods. The semi-completed vehicle was then flown back for drivetrain fitment.
    Any truth to this story?

    • Clay Byant

      You would think they would have used Corvette frames like the second series Cadillac roadsters but they didn’t. I don’t know where the frames were shortened but when they were flown back the engines, transmissions AND the dashes were installed over here. The dash “equipment” is one of the last things I have to straighten out but have all the majors functioning. I’d like to go back 27 years on mine and find out if all the dash problems were caused by installing or engineers. Also the sunvisor droop…………I paid a hundred bucks for the “kit” to repair it and when I saw what it consisted of, I could have built one myself in 20 minutes.

  16. Dolphin Member

    I don’t know the financial bottom line story of the Allante for GM, and maybe GM got a cut rate from Pininfarina on the bodies, but with specially equipped Boeing 747s flying them from Italy to Detroit, then going back for another load, and GM having to design and build chassis and then complete assembly of the cars, I can’t think that it was a very profitable venture for GM. I could not find any information on that part of the story, so that’s just a guess.

    Maybe you would need to factor in the prestige factor when GM/Cadillac were battling other brands like Mercedes for the luxury ‘personal car’ market.

    I believe Pininfarina built the whole bodies/interiors, which were flown over and mounted of chassis/drivetrains that Cadillac built.

  17. charlie Member

    Worse than that. Full size Eldorado chassis/floor pan and minus engine, transmission, brakes, wheels, were flown to Italy. Pininfarina shortened the chassis by 18″, and fabricated the bodies, and mounted them. The seats except for the ’93’s were Recaros. Then the car was flown back to Hamtramak Michigan, where the engine, transmission, brakes and wheels were put on. Pininfarina could not get the soft top right, leaked, but GM rushed them to ship anyway, so the early ones leak. The hardtops were OK, and still are. The dash is pure Eldorado, the only two options were an “analogue” dash, white on black instead of the carnival color dash that was standard (but the “analogue” is really electronic) and chrome wheels instead of the dullish grey ones.

  18. wagon master

    93 with a Northstar? From what I hear you can’t fix.the cylinder head stud issues when you have to remove that engine to replace the cronic blown head gaskets. They apparently overheat easily.

    • Rando

      I *think* there is a fix for the stud issue now. I have an ’01 Olds Aurora with the “short star” V6 and I have read about this on the ‘net. Knock on wood, my Olds has 200K miles on it and still running well. I may be wrong though – may be a different generation engine.

  19. AMCFAN

    Grant, You are not the only minority. I agree with you 100 percent. It is an interesting footnote if that but still an 80’s GM. This car really set the bar for what was to come. I would have to pass as well and would include a Buick GN also. They run great…..for awhile but don’t beat on them for long because the Turbo V6 can’t and will not take it. I know of several that were driven moderately and turned into grenade at 60K miles and less .Awesome if you just drive it to car shows on the weekend though.

    Back in the day like the Quad 4. GM had one hell of a running motor. My friends mom had an Olds Quad 442. At the time it was like NO other 4 cylinder motor. Not saying much but it put the hammer on a 78 L82 Corvette one night. My buddy loved driving it but it seemed like every damn time we were in it coolant light came on. It averaged two head gasket changes under warrantee then about $1000. a whack at a local garage after 36K miles. Good bye Quad 442. Thanks GM.

    America caught on to how GM works. (I guess that would be considered “Old GM”) Tell the media this is the newest latest. Add too many engineers. Rush development, Let the dealership take care of poor build quality. Let the customer do real world testing for free. sell a half million units. Never fix the initial problems. Quietly discontinue production. Get sued. Repeat

    • Clay Byant

      Right on the Quad 4. I had an office 16 miles away over Nebraska “racing turf” and had a Whale tail Porsche pass me at the start and I pumped up the volume and stayed on his butt for the next 15 miles. He pulled in for gas and I stopped to get my morning fix of Joe. He asked me “What in the hell did I have in that?”, I told him stock GM and he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Anyone wanted to build a cool streetrod that would be my choice of weapons for an engine.

  20. Dennis Oates

    My 1992 Allante in Pearl Flax,(light yellow) The only on produced in 1992, there were 88 of these in 1993.

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