The 1987 Cadillacs, energized by what was regarded as “The new spirit of Cadillac,” as well as the introduction of the Allanté, featured engineering, convenience and styling refinements. A major effort was made to provide the 1987 Cadillacs with enhanced security features. All major body components were now tagged with the car’s individual vehicle identification number. Cadillac’s door-into-roof design was regarded as “an access through otherwise vulnerable window weatherstripping.” Another important security feature was a standard encapsulated door linkage system which enclosed all exterior-to-interior door handle hinges in single castings, thus rendering “slim-jim” devices ineffective. All models except the Cimarron were also offered with a theft deterrent system using the underhood horn as an alarm, and the front door lock cylinders and electric door locks to activate itself. The historic nature of the Allanté’s debut was established by John Grettenberger, who called it “General Motors’ new passenger car flagship.”
Cadillac’s introduction of the Allanté in 1987 highlighted what was called the “New Spirit of Cadillac.” In an effort to focus customer attention on the virtues of specific models, Cadillac subdivided its “spirit” into five sections. The Cadillac with a “Sporting Spirit” was the Cimarron, which had a more powerful 125-horsepower engine, an improved front suspension and the composite, tungsten headlights previously used on the 1986 D’Oro model.
The “Contemporary Spirit” was found in the DeVille and Fleetwood models that were slightly longer for 1987. The DeVille touring coupe and sedan models were continued. Both the DeVille and Fleetwood series were identified by their restyled grille, new hood header molding and revised side markers.
Both the Eldorado, Cadillac’s “Driving Spirit” model, and the “Elegant Spirit” Seville were virtually unchanged for 1987. As with all its 1987 models, Cadillac warrantied the Seville and Eldorado against rust-through for five years or 100,000 miles. The Seville/Eldorado braking system also carried a five year or 50,000 mile warranty. Larger Goodyear tires were fitted on the standard Seville and Eldorado. Replacing the conventional speedometer on both models was a new system using electric signals generated at the transmission by a speed sensor. The body computer module had a nonvolatile memory circuit that retained odometer information if the battery was disconnected.
The surprising popularity of the “Classic Spirit” Brougham (its sales had increased by over 30 percent during the 1986 model year) indicated that a significant market continued to exist for the last remaining rear-drive Cadillac.
Neither the carry-over Series Seventy-Five models nor the revised Series Sixty sedan received a Cadillac Spirit label. The Sixty Special’s return suggested that Cadillac’s efforts to reassert its status as a premier quality vehicle would entail both a forward-looking perspective and the reincarnation of concepts that had previously been very successful.
The Allanté had originated in 1982 in what was identified as the LTS or Luxury Two Seater project. In contrast to the criticism leveled at the Cimarron for its close proximity to less expensive versions of the J-car, the Allanté was recognized as a unique vehicle. The Allanté was based upon the GM-30 platform used for the Eldorado, Buick Riviera and Oldsmobile Toronado. But the specific engineering of the Allanté plus the role of Pininfarina in its manufacture justified its unique status among Cadillacs.
Indicative of the influence General Manager Grettenberger was exerting upon Cadillac was its declaration in 1988 that “we are guided by one vision-to design, build and sell the world’s finest luxury automobiles.” Although Cadillac’s share of the luxury market fell almost two percent in 1987 to 28.9% from 30.8% in 1986, it could still declare itself “America’s luxury car leader for 39 consecutive years.”
Once again, Cadillac’s price structure was capped by the Allanté, which Cadillac noted made use of German steel and Swiss aluminum. Cadillac also underscored the Allanté’s international character by reminding the public that its coachwork was by Pininfarina who was also the “designer of Ferraris and Rolls-Royce Camarque.” Although some critics had been uncomfortable with Cadillac’s depiction of the Cimarron as the “Cadillac of small cars,” few grumbles were heard about the claim that the “Allanté brings Cadillac comfort to two-passenger automobiles.” As in 1987, the Allanté’s only option was a cellular telephone.
Cadillac’s best-selling Sedan DeVille model was touted as possessing an “uncanny ability to reflect today’s new approach to luxury.” Like the other front-wheel drive Cadillacs (except for the Allanté) both DeVille models were powered by a more powerful V-8 engine which with over one million miles of reliability testing was backed by a six-year, 60,000 mile powertrain warranty.
Helping customers appreciate the higher trim level and exclusive nature of the Fleetwood models, Cadillac reminded them that the “Fleetwood name has always been reserved for very special Cadillacs.”
The Eldorado shared a new “powerdome” hood with the Seville. The Eldorado also received a new roof treatment and vertical taillights that helped reinforce the link that Cadillac was intent on reforging with earlier Eldorados.
The Cimarron was destined to be discontinued after the 1988 model year but in its final form it was at the peak of its performance and appeal. Only one version was offered with color-keyed body side moldings. The optional three speed automatic transmission now had a torque converter clutch.
Apparently possessing interminable appeal, the Brougham, said Cadillac, “continues to be among the luxury cars most in demand.”
Aware, however, of the need to attract younger buyers, Cadillac was not relying on the Brougham to serve as its attention-getter for buyers oriented toward vehicles with highly visible technical features and engineered to provide road feel, taut handling and precise control. Instead, it opted to publicize such features as the optional anti-lock brake system. In this context Cadillac noted that it “offers anti-lock braking on more models than any other American company.”
Also tilting Cadillac marketing toward a younger audience was the availability of the Touring sedan version of the sedan DeVille and the Touring Suspension option for both the Seville and Eldorado.
Cadillac also provided its customers with its “Gold Key Delivery System,” which continued a company policy dating back to 1926. This program offered nationwide automotive service, an audio cassette of information about the specific Cadillac model purchased, a full tank of fuel, two sets of 23-karat gold-plated keys and personalized Gold Key Identification Card. Cadillac also offered an exclusive, no-cost, Gold Key vehicle inspection of the new Cadillac at the owner’s convenience.
With the elimination of the Cimarron in 1989 Cadillac returned to its traditional position of offering automobiles powered exclusively by V-8 engines. Among the new model year highlights were longer, restyled DeVille/Fleetwood models, a more powerful Allanté and new functional and convenience features for the Seville, Eldorado and Brougham. Among these items introduced in 1989 was an express-down driver’s window, electrochromic inside rearview mirror, ElectriClear windshield and an oil life indicator.
Cadillac’s manufacturing operations included five separate units which either assembled vehicles for Cadillac and other GM divisions or provided parts, components and assemblies for GM plants in North American and overseas, as well as for outside companies.
The success of the 1989 models provided Cadillac with a strong plan for its 42nd consecutive year as America’s number one luxury car company. Among the highlights for 1990 were full time Traction Control on the Allanté (a first for a domestic manufacturer), anti-lock brakes on every model, and, except for the Brougham, driver-side supplemental inflatable restraints on all Cadillacs, a 25-horsepower increase to 180 for Eldorado, Seville, de Ville and Fleetwood, and an optional 5.7 liter V-8 on the Brougham.
Cadillac’s six distinct product lines, which ranged from highly expensive luxury vehicles such as the Allanté to the more conservative Brougham, marked the 75th anniversary of the introduction of the V-8 engine in Cadillac automobiles. This advantage over some of its foreign and domestic competition was compounded by the popularity of the newly styled and lengthened de Ville and Fleetwood models whose 1989 model year sales had been up more than 15 percent compared to 1988 levels. Sales of the Seville and Eldorado also posted strong gains in 1989, Deliveries were up 13.7 and 14.1 percent, respectively, for the two models compared to 1988.
In 1989, Cadillac also became the first domestic manufacturer to offer a Tourist Delivery Program. Under this program, which was continued for 1990, European buyers could order a new Cadillac through the General Motors International Export Sales office in their home country and save up to 15 percent by taking delivery of the vehicle in the United States. Cadillac arranged for shipment.
Cadillac’s commitment to quality enabled it in 1989 to continue to lead all domestic, and many leading import manufacturers in customer satisfaction. From 1987 to 1989 Cadillac led all domestic automakers in quality.
For 1990 Cadillac also enhanced its image as a safety-conscious company. The structural integrity of the de Ville/Fleetwood, Eldorado, and Seville were improved. In addition to producing better overall ride characteristics, improvements were made in roof crush performance, door operation after a crash, occupant kinetics and vertical steering column. The changes included longer ride rail reinforcement in the engine compartment, additional welding at the upper front corners of the engine compartment, reinforced windshield and hinge pillars and heavier reinforcement in the front floorpan.
The 1987 Cadillac had a 17-symbol vehicle identification number (VIN) stamped on a metal tag attached to the upper left surface of the cowl visible through the windshield. The code was as follows:
The first digit, “1,” represented the manufacturing country (United States)
the second, “G,” represented General Motors
the third, “6,” represented Cadillac
the fourth was the car line, GM body, as follows:
C-DeVille and Fleetwood
The fifth symbol was the series identification:
S-Fleetwood Sixty Special
Digits six and seven represent the body style:
69-Seville four-door sedan
The eighth digit identifies the engine:
“P” – L4-121
“Y” – 307 cu in. (5.0 liter) V-8
“8” – 250 cu. in. (4.1 liter) V-8
The ninth digit is a check digit
The tenth digit represents the year where “H” means 1987
The eleventh digit is the assembly plant
The last six digits represent the production sequence
Cimarron: 000001 and up
Seville: 000001 and up
DeVille, Fleetwood, and Sixty Special: 000001 and up