Curbside Classic: 1983 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz – “Garanimals Galore”


(first posted 5/7/2014)    You got to hand it to Cadillac. Although color coordinated paint and interior schemes were long de rigueur in Detroit, no one either took it to quite the same degree, nor executed it with as much precision as Cadillac. Even in the early eighties, when Cadillac was knee-deep in engine fiascos, they still knew how to make a car look stunning with a wide array of metallic paint finishes, color-keyed paint stripes, matching vinyl roofs and door guards, and a rainbow of interior colors tailored to specific exterior combinations. A healthy dose of chrome didn’t hurt their flash factor either.


This 1983 Cadillac Eldorado is a perfect example of Cadillac’s attention to detail regarding color. Finished in Briar Firemist over Briar Brown with matching Elk Grain vinyl cabriolet roof, this Eldorado is quite the looker. As a Biarritz model, it features wire wheels, opera lamps, and is topped off with a stainless steel roof cap.

IMG_3806Biarritz Briar Brown interior

On the inside, Biarritz buyers were treated to special button-tufted pillowy seats with embroidered Cadillac crests. Our featured car sports Sierra Grain leather and Tampico carpeting in matching Dark Briar Brown, one of six interior color schemes. In fact, everything, from the door panels to the dashboard to the headliner is color-keyed to the rest of the car. I couldn’t help but notice that the interior is an exact match for the Eldorado Biarritz featured in Cadillac’s 1983 deluxe brochure. I think it looks pretty darn good for 31 years old!


Rear-seat occupants were also treated like royalty, with the same seats as up front, adjustable Cadillac-crested reading lamps, wide armrests, and deep map pockets. The high rear-seating position and generous legroom look mighty inviting compared to the rear seats of most modern-day coupes. The rear window design with thick C-pillars gives passengers a reasonable view out while also providing them a great deal of privacy from curious outsiders.


Speaking of those engine fiascos, front fender badging indicates that under the hood of this Briar Biarritz is Cadillac’s problematic 4.1L HT4100 V8. With a rather leisurely 135 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque, the “High Technology” 4100 was highly susceptible to intake manifold gasket failure. As a result, many owners had their engines replaced under warranty. 


Within few years however, the Cadillac’s image would be tarnished by another, much more visible malady–the second wave of downsizing and the generic looks that came with it. This was also around the when two-toned paint schemes, matching trim, and color-keyed interiors began to disappear in favor of beige, beige, and more beige. None of those issues were problems for this car though. Even without the fifteen Cadillac emblems I’ve counted on this Eldorado, you knew this was a Cadillac. That’s Cadillac, Cadillac, Cadillac Style!