Curbside Classic – 1980 Cadillac Eldorado Diesel – At Least One’s Left!

(first posted 8/12/2013)   Do you remember the GM/Olds 5.7-liter Diesel? Even those of a certain age who haven’t directly experienced one undoubtedly have heard of them. My parents’ friends down at the marina had a Dark Jadestone 1982 Delta 88 Diesel coupe, and I can distinctly remember its lud-lud-lud-lud engine beat. The Werthmanns had good luck with that car, and kept it for 10 years. While theirs ran like a top, that wasn’t exactly the most common experience…

Oldsmobile was the pioneer in engineering GM’s Diesel V8. The engine was also available for the Cadillac Seville in 1978, and for the Eldorado, Fleetwood Brougham, Coupe deVille and Sedan deVille in 1979.

Many of the buyers of GM cars fitted with this engine were quite unfamiliar with its type and the attendant needs; as a result, most of them proved troublesome. The whole GM Diesel V8 episode turned Americans off to Diesel engines for years to follow and, indeed, even today they are more or less a niche in the U.S.

Ah, but what of the newly-downsized Eldo? Well, in a word, it just worked. Despite losing several hundred pounds of blubber (blubbery ’78 Eldo CC here), it lost none of the imposing presence of its larger predecessors. And if the “plain” Eldorado didn’t do it for you, you could always move up to the über-flashy Biarritz.

Yes, the Biarritz had every luxury feature your heart could possibly desire: button-tufted leather (White with red carpet? No problem!), a stainless-steel roof cap, a landau vinyl roof, coach lamps, and your choice of wire wheel covers or aluminum road wheels–and with whitewall tires, of course!

Among the very few changes made for 1980 were a restyled, vertically-oriented grille–and behind it, a new, Caddy-only 368 that succeeded Oldsmobile’s gasoline-fueled 350 V8. Here is the ’80 Eldo, from that year’s brochure, looking quite natty in Colonial Yellow. I have always had a thing for Cadillacs in this color, with the matching pale-yellow leather. It just looks right. You can read all about my love of these yellow Caddys in my ’83 Eldo CC.

Today’s CC is not quite so brilliantly hued, but still quite attractive in gunmetal gray with a red pinstripe. I really like the aluminum wheels on these cars, but can’t recall ever seeing them in person. This one rides on the much more common wire wheel covers.

The interior is also restrained–at least as much as is possible on a button-tufted Biarritz–with Light Antique Gray leather.

This car appeared to be largely original–including the paint. I shot this car nearly a year and a half ago, and I finally figured I’d better get it written up lest I forget about it for another six months!

And, believe it or not, this is not the only Diesel Cadillac I have found in my rust-prone region–in fact, I’ve spotted two more, but they are CCs for another day. When’s the last time you saw a Diesel Caddy?


1978 Olds 5.7 L Diesel: GM’s Deadly Sin #34 – Premature Injeculation   PN