Curbside Capsule: 1988 Cadillac Cimarron – Flagship Of Mediocrity

Someone joked recently that the administrators of Curbside Classic were doing such a good job that they would receive as part of their generous compensation package a company car, which would be one of CC’s fleet of Cimarrons. Well, that may have been tongue in cheek, but apparently there is at least one real person still driving around in Cadillac’s 1980’s Flagship of Mediocrity.

This is no garage queen hobby car or unused mint survivor, but rather appears to be a genuine daily, or at least weekly, driver. Impressive. Of all the cars one has to choose from in the last 30 or more years of automotive production worldwide, this owner somehow ended up driving a 1988 Cimarron. Maybe it’s the original owner or maybe it was inherited or maybe the price was just really, really good. In any event, here it is still running and with an admirable patina.

As a 1988 model, this car represents the seventh and final edition of the little Caddy. The good thing about GM in the 80’s is that they were diligent about continually improving their cars. Just about every year, they made positive refinements to the Cimarron. The ugly flip side to that, of course, is that it started out with so, so much room for improvement.

If you were one of the only 6,454 people who bought the 1988 version, you were getting a pretty decent little car. That’s providing you didn’t mind paying somewhere around $16,000 (34,800 in 2019 dollars) for a car that wasn’t the least bit fresh or stylish-looking and was still distinguished from the other four versions of the J-car pretty much only by the tasteful front end and well-trimmed seats.

Interiors showed their Cavalier roots just as much as the body panels. Digital dashes were standard by the end, though. Starting in 1987, the 2.8L V6 was standard.

It’s still hard to get one’s mind around the fact that GM and Cadillac thought it a solid idea to sell a Caddy that was so transparently based on a Chevy Cavalier. The internet picture above is so well-taken, though, it almost makes it look attractive. It was to 25,968 buyers in 1982, who laid down about $12,000 ($32,000 in 2019 Dollars) of their hard-earned money to proudly have one of these in their driveways.

*Not known to be the same actual car, but it could be!

Given an automotive lifetime of hard knocks and that pretty little car looked like this. But that lifetime was long and the advantage to being mechanically identical to a Chevrolet is that parts and service are always easy to come by. At least the 1988 example I found is still on the road and providing presumably reliable transportation.

Feel free to comment, but keep your powder dry because tomorrow I will present some contemporary Vintage Reviews on the Cimarron. We’ll try to answer that question of “what were they thinking?” Consider this an appetizer!

photographed September 11, 2018 in Houston, TX – a fittingly tragic anniversary