Frugal Friday 44 Or The Last Eldo

“The Last Eldo” sounds like the title of a novel about the end of some dynasty. Well, I guess in a way, the last Cadillac Eldorado was the end of an empire.

I have become quite taken with the last generation Eldorado that was manufactured from 1992 through 2002 with refreshes in 1995 and 1996. The first of the front-wheel drive, two-door Eldorados, the 1967 model, was part of my Ultimate Garage 2.0.

The Cadillac Eldorado debuted in 1953 along with the Oldsmobile 98 Fiesta, Chevrolet Corvette and Buick Roadmaster Skylark as top-of-the-line, limited-production specialty convertibles introduced by General Motors. By the mid-1970s, the ninth generation Eldorados had become quite popular. Model year 1973 sales exceeded 50,000; even with the OPEC oil embargo sales remained at over 40,000 for 1974. The tenth generation, running from 1979 to 1985, had the most sales of any Eldo model, reaching about 78,000 in 1984.

Foreign competition in the luxury segment and missteps by Cadillac (Cimarron, anyone?) changed the perception of the make, which hurt the Eldorado. Even with the advancements in the car, by the 1990s sales had fallen dramatically, dropping below 20,000 in 1997 and never recovering, leading to the end of the Eldorado five years later.

These last model years of the car have become a stealth contender (well, I guess not so stealth anymore) for being the Corvette companion/grocery car after the move to the desert. Neither my wonderful wife nor I has ever owned a Cadillac. While Cadillac is not defunct (not yet), the Eldorado is a defunct model with great history. In addition, these last-generation Eldos are “modern” cars with airbags, disc brakes, fuel injection, etc. They are also extremely inexpensive to acquire. Here is this week’s Frugal Friday car from this AutoTrader ad:

 

Used 1999 Cadillac Eldorado Touring Wantagh  Long Island, NY 11793 - 512019133 - 4

 

This 1999 model, which coincides with the year my wonderful wife and I married, has about 56,000 miles and the seller is asking $8,995. The ETC badge on the lower part of the trunk lid means the car was powered by the higher output V-8 that produced 300 HP/295 LB-FT of torque from its 4.6 liters/279 cubic inches. According to the Kelley Blue Book® valuation at the bottom of the ad, the car is worth much less than the asking price with a “Fair Market Range” of just $2,631 to $4,728. When the time comes to pull the trigger, a similar disparity in value vs. price might mean we could buy one of these for about $5,000. I think that’s the definition of a Frugal Friday car. The 1999 Cadillac ETC (Eldorado Touring Coupe, near the beginning of the awful Cadillac convention of three-letter names for their car models) had an MSRP of $43,495, $66,937 in 2020 dollars. From Car Gurus a better picture of a 1999 Eldorado:

 

See the source image

 

I’m pretty sure this car could easily serve as a grocery car with four seats and a trunk of 15+ cubic feet capacity. I think they are quite stylish and are hardly slugs. What do you think?

 

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16 thoughts on “Frugal Friday 44 Or The Last Eldo

    1. Thanks, sir. No, the V-8 won’t get 35 MPG, but it can get 25-ish on the highway and we don’t drive much, anyway. I’ve driven my Z06 3,200 miles in 14+ months. My wonderful wife has driven her 2018 Z51 convertible 3,600 miles in 11 months AND 1,600+ of those miles were accumulated during the trip to Bowling Green and back last August.

      Which Eldorado, specifically, would make your Top 100?

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      1. Not trying to put you on the spot…by earlier years, do you mean the 1950s? Those cars are quite stunning, but also not inexpensive to acquire or to maintain.

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  1. Nice choice for the grocery getter in my opinion. The 1999 had the Northstar V-8 engine which was a well designed engine. My particular tastes run to the early post-war Cadillac with the first V-8 but that is because I am a fan of Dagmars on cars.
    The Northstar engine had to have some major redesign for the XLR so it could be used in a rear drive car but it is a good engine. Like all engines there are some issues so be aware.

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    1. Thanks, Philip.

      The first iteration of the Northstar was infamous for head bolts that “cracked” wreaking havoc on the block with coolant leaks, etc. (In reality, they didn’t crack per se but would pull out of the aluminum block when the engine got hot.) In 2000 the head bolts were made longer, which alleviated but did not eliminate the problem. If we buy one of these, I don’t think we will buy one made before 2000, even though my wonderful wife and I married in 1999. I used that year and mentioned the wedding because tomorrow is our anniversary.

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  2. Dude, just get another GTO and be done with it: four seats-check; nice trunk-check; powerful engine-check. Although your gas mileage may vary.

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  3. Happy anniversary. 21 years is a lifetime marriage these days.

    I’m not a huge fan of that vintage Eldo, I also would prefer the mid 60’s vintage. But that’s mainly because I can thump and tinker on it, whereas newer vehicles not so much..

    I suspect when you go west, you will find more than a couple Eldos in your chosen area. The only caveat would be that unless they were religiously garaged, you would likely be looking at a repaint. Or even interior repairs given the desert environment. But I guess that would hold true for ANY vehicle purchased in that area. .

    Still better than something that has been exposed to the salty northern climes.

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    1. Thanks for the anniversary wishes, sir.

      I am the opposite on a practical basis in that I would prefer a more modern car. In a theoretical setting, though, I also prefer the 67-68 Eldorado.

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  4. A good friend of mine has one of this vintage Eldo in his fleet (2001 or 2002 I think, along with a 1965 Pontiac Parisienne convertible and a 2007 Mercedes SL55, all owned since new). The Eldo is his winter car, though he’s 84 and really doesn’t drive much in general any more. That said, he speaks highly of the car, and I have to admit it’s an attractive car from that jellybean styling era.
    And belated happy anniversary to you and your wife!

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    1. Many thanks, markcars2014. Glad to hear your friend likes his last-gen Eldorado. I think that’s the favorite, right now, to be purchased. Of course, who knows what the future holds. If you’re someone other than markcars2014 and are reading this comment, and you should be, please check out markcars2014’s blog; the link is in the first sentence in this comment and in this one.

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