“Best of all . . . it’s a Cadillac,” declared the 1982 full-line catalog. Perhaps so, but long-time Caddy fans must have been startled by the company’s latest offering: the four-cylinder Cimarron, with manual floor shift yet. Introduced several years earlier than originally planned, this drastically different breed of luxury was intended to give Cadillac a toehold in the rising market for smaller, fuel-efficient designs.
On all except Cimarron, a new lightweight Cadillac 249 cu. in. (4.1 liter) HT-4100 V-8 engine with Digital Fuel Injection (DFI) became standard, coupled to overdrive automatic transmission. The Oldsmobile-built diesel 5.7-liter V-8 was also available. So was a Buick 4.1-liter V-6, offered as a credit option.
A new Fuel Data Panel (standard with the HT-4100 engine) displayed instantaneous MPG, average MPG, estimated driving range, and amount of fuel used. Electronic Climate Control had a new outside temperature display, available by touching a button. New reminder chimes used different tone patterns to warn of unbuckled seatbelts, headlamps left on, or key in ignition.
Body mounts, springs and shocks were revised to give a softer ride. All Cadillacs except Cimarron had standard
tungsten-halogen highbeam headlamps
power windows and door locks
twin remote-control mirrors
automatic power radio antenna
six-way power driver’s seat
electronic-tuned AM/FM stereo radio with signal seeking/scanning
an underhood light
dual-spot map lamps/courtesy lights
steel-belted wide whitewall radial tires
gas cap holder on fuel filler door
All except Seville with cloth interior had front seatback map pockets. New to the full-size option list was a remote-locking fuel filler door. The HT-4100 V-8 engine had an aluminum block for light weight and chrome-plated valve covers for looks. During manufacture, it received individually balanced components and automatic in-process gauging, and had to pass a 78-step “stress test” before installation. Features added to improve fuel economy included fast-burn compact combustion chambers, digital fuel injection, and bearings designed for low-drag lubricants.
Standard with the HT-4100 engine was four-speed overdrive automatic transmission, helping to improve mileage further. EPA estimates reached 26 highway/17 city for Fleetwood/DeVille models, 27 highway for Seville/Eldorado. A Fuel Data Panel computed average MPG on the road. On-board computer diagnostics warned of engine problems and helped the mechanic locate the trouble quickly. The digital fuel injection included automatic altitude compensation, determined by a microprocessor, plus constant idle speed. The HT-4100 replaced the troublesome V8-6-4 modular-displacement engine, helping to boost both gas mileage and sales. That new engine was installed in some 90 percent of Sevilles, DeVilles and Eldorados. An HT-4100 nameplate went on front fenders of all models with that engine under the hood.
Introduced: September 24, 1981 except Cimarron, May 21, 1981
Model year production: 235,584 (including early ’82 Cimarrons)
That total included 17,650 V-6 Cadillacs and 19,912 diesels
Only 1,017 Sevilles and 3,453 Eldorados had a V-6.
Calendar year production: 246,602
Calendar year sales by U.S. dealers: 249,295 for a 4.3 percent share of the market
Model year sales by U.S. dealers: 237,032; also a 4.3 percent market share.
In Cadillac’s 80th anniversary year, it was the only GM division to show a sales rise, though not a gigantic one.
A depressed economy typically affects luxury-car buyers the least
The new Cimarron, on the other hand, sold only one-third of the predicted output, and Seville also fell below expectations
Heavy dealer orders for the new models in September 1982 caused officials to add a second shift to the Livonia Engine Plant operation
Cadillac had considered selling the new HT-4100 4.1-liter engine to other GM divisions
As Cadillac’s engine plant manager said: “There aren’t many V-8s left, and ours is a highly efficient, light-weight, high-quality power-plant.”
Until a light-weight V-6 engine could be developed, Cadillac planned to use Buick’s 251 cu. in (4.1 liter) V-6 in the new Cimarron, which was built in South Gate, California
But that would not happen
Cadillac’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rating zoomed up to 22.1 MPG this year, from only 18.7 in 1981, largely due to the improved efficiency of the new 4.1 V-8
In September 1982, Robert O. Burger replaced Edward C. Kennard as Cadillac’s general manager.