Curbside Classic: Cadillac Cimarron D’Oro Convertible – This Little Piggy Went To Market



(first posted 7/16/2014)

Once upon a time, there was a little car called Cimarron.


Cimarron was born to Cadillac, a car company founded in 1902 and named after Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, the co-founder of Detroit.  Earlier that year, Henry Ford had thrown a hissy fit and left the Henry Ford Company.  Henry Leland created Cadillac from the remnants, similar to a phoenix rising from the ashes.

1903 cadillac

Cadillac birthed its first of many offspring, the Model A, in 1903.  Sadly, its hard work simply acted as a magnet for those negatively inclined, ever pessimistic critics who derided the poor Model A for wearing clothes discarded by Mr. Ford.  The disappointment poor Cadillac suffered was quite like eating cold porridge.

Ever determined to improve their lot in life, in 1908 Cadillac entered into a grand competition sponsored by the Royal Automobile Club of England.  In a true test of mettle and quality, Cadillac was confident of its abilities amongst a sea of worthy competitors.  Their confidence paid off as Cadillac won the coveted Dewar Trophy, earning the crown of “Standard of the World” due to its ability to so easily interchange parts amongst three identical cars.

An accomplishment of this magnitude is quite remarkable for a five-year-old.


After much hard work, in 1909, Cadillac found its prince.  His name was William Durant.  It was a match so pure and robust, not even the best internet dating site could have done better.

As the years unfolded, Cadillac, under the keen eye of Prince Durant and his multiple progeny, continued to pen styling and achieve engineering feats of prowess in which there was never a pea under the mattress.  A truly formidable combination of Cadillac creativity and Prince Durant’s war chest, the force and reputation of Cadillac was not something with which to be trifled.


In 1912 Cadillac would win a second Dewar Trophy (named after Scottish whiskey maker Lord Thomas Dewar) and in 1915, Cadillac built its first V8 engine.

1937 Cadillac Fleetwood Portfolio-25a

During the 1930s, there were the breathtakingly beautiful factory and coach-built classics powered by engines ranging up to the legendary V16.  As competitors such as Pierce-Arrow withered away, Cadillac continued to dominate the American luxury car market.

1937 Cadillac Fleetwood Portfolio-03

For a number of years, Cadillac even offered a V8, a V12, and a V16 all in the same model year.  Has this accomplishment ever been duplicated?

1948 Cadillac-04

After the decline of the Classic Era, Cadillac continued to field models that were always just right for their moneyed customers, and continued to be a trendsetter with design elements such as the tail fin and engineering advances such as their overhead valve V8 engine.

1953 Cadillac Eldorado Folder-01

Continually reinforcing their aspirational qualities, Cadillac introduced the original, highly exclusive Eldorado in 1953…

1967 Cadillac-07

…and the front-wheel drive Eldorado in 1967.  A front-drive car was certainly a predictor of the future.

1976 Cadillac Full Line Prestige-04

Even in 1976, likely the pinnacle of Cadillac post-war size, Cadillac delivered with style and interior appointments that nobody has ever paralleled.  Go big or go home had become a motto of sorts for our hero Cadillac.


By the early 1980s, Cadillac had lowered the hair of its reputation too far from the bell tower.  The foibles of Cadillac, such as the V6 and diesel engine options plus the infamous V8-6-4, were being mistaken as Mercury poisoning.  However, this shoe of an accusation did not fit as Cadillac had never allowed itself to be anywhere near Mercury.

After much discussion, all the great minds in the Kingdom of General Motors convened for an extensive investigation as to what was happening at Cadillac.  The theories were many and diverse.


A renowned hallucinogenic chemist named Leary hypothesized the cause was a brew of noxious vapors, a cousin of radon gas known as obsceneous broughamide, that was emanating from the acres of vinyl being installed on the roofs of new Devilles, Eldorados, and Sevilles.


After intense interactions, an industrial psychologist named Holmes was convinced it was a matter of size insecurity, due to the recent downsizing of the entire Cadillac line.


A world renowned philosopher named Drucker said the answer was simple: Cadillac had gone mad.

Time would prove all our theorists to be sadly mistaken.

What was the manifestation and culmination of the nefarious and undiagnosed phenomena infiltrating itself into the minds of Cadillac designers?

1982 Cadillac Cimarron-03

The Cimarron.  In an attempt at self-defense and to answer pleas from dealers, this thinly veiled Chevrolet Cavalier helped Cadillac to fall down and break its crown–and, arguably, GM came tumbling after.

The problem?  Just like the Piss Boy looked too much like King Louie XVI and Tom Canty looked an awful lot like the Prince of Wales, the Cavalier and Cimarron looked and behaved way too much alike for Cadillac clientele to find palatable.  The attempt was insufficient to fool savvy buyers into thinking it was anything but a gussied up Cavalier.

When our little Cimarron was introduced in 1982, the evil twins of CAFE and High Fuel Costs were yanking the hair on the automaker’s chinny-chin-chin.  In an effort to appease this determined and dynamic duo, the Cimarron was created to help lower the average fuel consumption rates of new Cadillacs.  With a sales crest of 25,000 units in 1982, and settling at 15,000 to 20,000 per year thereafter, it didn’t greatly offset the 50,000 Cadillac Fleetwoods that were built annually.


Likely hearing the message from the mirror-mirror on the wall, in 1983 Cadillac brewed up an enhancement to the Cimarron–the D’oro package.  Adding $975 to the cost of an already overpriced 1985 Cimarron, it also brought the 2.8 liter V6 and a slightly firmer chassis.


One of the many criticisms of the Cimarron was it only being available in the single, four-door body style whereas the other J-cars were offered in multiple body styles.  Never was a convertible offered despite one being available on the Cavalier and Pontiac Sunbird.  So what is this ragged out mess sitting idly before you?

Not having seen the title or VIN, only speculation can tell us how it began life.   However, the front is definitely Cimarron and…


It matches the Cimarron treatment in the rear.  So while this mighty little cherry and burgundy colored Cimarron has obviously kissed something much larger than a frog, somebody went to a lot of trouble to source more Cimarron parts to complete the repairs of this chariot.


The interior, despite the “D’oro” plaque and all exterior styling, is still screaming “Cavalier” to all the land.

So while Cadillac never made any Cimarron convertibles, it is refreshing to see somebody somewhere tried to turn this pumpkin into a carriage.  It also shows how Cadillac set an example for being Standard of the World as its parts interchangeability had rubbed off onto other divisions.

Found in the exact same spot a Kaiser Dragon was once parked, this car is likely for sale.  With the right owner they could easily live happily ever after.


Related reading:

Curbside Classic:  GM Deadly Sin #10, A Big Bowl of GM Schadenfreude for Breakfast

eBay Find:  Cimarron D’Oro Convertible