Curbside Capsule: 1994 Cadillac Eldorado – A “Faster” Roofline

1994 Cadillac Eldorado. Rogers Park, Chicago, Illinois. Saturday, September 24, 2022.

A few weeks ago, I had mentioned in an essay about a crimson-colored ’83 Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue that many luxury (near-luxury, luxury-leaning, whatever) cars of the ’80s featured upright rear windows.  It was pointed out in the comments that this was generally not the case among upscale offerings from European automakers, and also that General Motors’ own downmarket A-body midsized cars and N-body compacts also featured rear backlights with bluff-like angles to them.  It was a point well made, but as I think back to GM’s original 1975 Cadillac Seville, the first wave of downsized A-body specialty coupes that arrived for ’78, and also the premium E-Body personal luxury trio that were redesigned for ’79, I still stand by my impression that this look was introduced among domestic makes on more expensive vehicles before trickling down to more common types of vehicles.

The c. ‘88 Cadillac Eldorado was spotted downtown in The Loop on Thursday, March 14, 2019.

The redesigned ’92 Cadillac Eldorado was a sharp stylistic departure from what had immediately preceded it.  I wasn’t blown away by its beauty, per se, but as with many new fashions at first introduction, I allotted myself some time to get used to and appreciate the Eldorado’s new style, which did ultimately happen.  The newer car was bigger in almost every dimension, riding the same 108″ wheelbase, which helped its overall proportions and made it look more substantial as would better befit a Cadillac:

 19911992  
Overall Length191.4"202.2"
Width (Without Mirrors)72.4"74.8"
Height53.2"54.0"
Base Curb Weight3,470 lbs.3,604 lbs.

The related Seville, also redone for ’92, was really the looker of the two, but both cars represented stylistic leaps forward, and each jettisoned the bolt-upright rear window of their immediately preceding generations.  Even if you weren’t a fan of the new Eldorado’s thick, triangle-shaped C-pillars, if you squint (really hard), it’s not that difficult to see a little bit of the deftly styled ’67 Eldorado’s rear roof styling in the ’92, albeit with much larger rear quarter windows.  The effect isn’t quite the same as on the older car, owing much to vastly different proportions, but if someone told me one of the chief stylists of the ’92 had drawn inspiration from the ’67, I’d believe it.

The c. 1984 Lincoln Continental Mark VII was spotted in Bethesda, MD on Thursday, 11/22/2012.

The ’84 Lincoln Continental Mark VII was the domestic personal luxury coupe of the ’80s that first did away with a “formal” rear window, featuring a modern, daring fastback profile a la the ’83 Ford Thunderbird to which it was related.  Its success and public acceptance, with an average of 24,000 cars sold over its nine-year run, may have given GM stylists permission to experiment a bit more with what a modern PLC was supposed to look like.  My original assumption was that the Mark VII might have gotten a sales boost with the arrival of the smallest Eldorado for ’86, but the Cadillac actually outsold the Lincoln that year by about 14% and 2,800 units (22,800 vs. 20,000).  Even when Eldorado sales fell further the next year to 17,800 units, this was still a slightly stronger number than the Mark VII’s 15,300 tally.  By ’94, however, the year of our featured car, the newer Mark VIII would outsell the Eldorado by over 3,000 units.

1994 Cadillac Eldorado. Rogers Park, Chicago, Illinois. Saturday, September 24, 2022.

When the redesigned ’92 Eldorado arrived, its powertrain was a carryover from the previous package: a 200-horsepower, 4.9 liter V8.  However, for ’94, a 4.6 liter Northstar engine with 270 horsepower, previously optional for ’93, was made standard.  Just under 25,000 ’94 Eldorados found buyers, between the base model that originally listed for $37,290 (~74,500 in 2022) and the Touring Coupe that started at $40,590 (~$81,100).  A new, 2022 Escalade starts at around $77,800.

It will always make me smile to see a nicely kept, older luxury car from my early adulthood that I remember from its introduction.  Once possessing a progressive, new shape, this silver Eldorado now seems almost as traditional as the row of old, wood frame houses behind it.  Ten years ago, I might not have given it a second look, but on the Saturday afternoon of the first weekend of autumn, I was compelled to give this Cadillac just a little bit of the extra attention it deserved, even if only in passing.

Rogers Park, Chicago, Illinois.
Saturday, September 24, 2022.