COAL: 1991 Cadillac Sedan de Ville – Biiiiiiig Pimpin’


[Not mine, but the correct and rare triple white]

My Pop was born in 1925. That made him a member of the so-called “Greatest Generation”. Folks from that era loved, and aspired to, big American cars, and Pop was no exception. He was a GM man all his life. This car got old, and he went to trade it in on a 2002 Monte Carlo, and the dealer offered a lowball on the trade. That’s where I swooped in.

Pop always aspired to a Cadillac. At times in his life, good fortune allowed him a new one. At other times, he would buy a lesser GM product. But by 1995, he was retired and living in Florida. Florida had no shortage of older, low-mileage luxury cars, and he bought this one at 4 years old, but with only 22,000 miles. I have no idea what he paid, but I bet it was half the cost of a new one.

At 120k, he was done with it. The Chevy dealer offered him $2000 in trade. Pop wasn’t interested in selling it himself. He told me what was going on, and I jumped in and offered him $2100.

A one-way plane ticket to Florida, money and papers changing hands, and I was riding in style! Say what you want about General Motors (and I have a few choice words myself) but they always could build a beautiful highway cruiser. The 4.5 V8 had plenty of torque down low, and combined with tall gearing, the drive home to Michigan netted me 27mpg. The A/C, like every GM before or since, could make the inside of that car feel like a meat locker. It had been a long time since I had a car with working A/C, and even though a Cadillac was totally not “my style”, I learned to enjoy the nicest car I’d owned in a while.

I drove it all winter, into spring and summer, and I really enjoyed driving something totally out of my league. Then the autumn came, and the heater didn’t work. I diagnosed a stuck thermostat, and changed it. What I hadn’t known (because I hadn’t turned the heat on in a while, and because Cadillac owners can’t be bothered with a temperature gauge) is that it had been running cold all summer.

Then one day it drove slower and slower, until it finally stalled and refused to re-start. The diagnosis was beyond my skills, and I had it towed to my buddy’s shop.

The sad outcome, courtesy of the fuel injection of the era and the bad thermostat, was that the catalytic converter had become clogged solid. You see, the computer’s temperature sender saw the cold coolant and ran that engine with an over-rich mixture that wound up killing the cat. My buddy cut me a deal and installed a cheap replacement cat, and $400 later, the car ran better than it ever had during my tenure.

Within a few months the transmission started taking longer and longer to get into Drive, and a flush didn’t help. I saw the writing on the wall, and listed it for sale for $2500. It still had low miles for it’s age, and no rust relative to anything that old in Michigan, so it didn’t take long for me to receive an offer of $2000.

I got out while the getting was good, and I certainly don’t regret owning it or selling it. Nonetheless, I will cherish the memory of driving that pimpmobile, and probably the only car I will ever own with a white leather interior.