Don’t expect your Cadillac Allante to get top dollar any time soon

Love it or hate it, the Cadillac Allante inarguably makes for an interesting story. And no matter which side of the debate you stand on, the Allante stands out in an otherwise dim time for American cars.

Keen to go after the luxury two-seater market cornered by the Jag XJS and Mercedes SL, Cadillac shortened the front-drive Eldorado frame. Then, for some European styling flair went to who else but the Italians. And by that I mean they literally went to Italy. The crisp if not quite pretty bodies were all assembled and painted at Pininfarina and then flown—yes, flown—on specially modified 747s from Turin to Hamtramck, Michigan, for final assembly.

1992 Cadillac Allante engine
1992 Cadillac Allante Mecum
1992 Cadillac Allante interior
1992 Cadillac Allante Mecum

That little detail might have had a little something to do with the price being twice that of a standard Eldorado. And with early quality control problems, lackluster 4.1- and 4.5-liter engines, a front-wheel drive platform, and the fact that the shape isn’t exactly Pininfarina’s pièce de résistance, the Allante was a sales flop. The arrival of a 32-valve Northstar V-8 in 1993 as well as other major improvements came too late, and the bad early ’90s economy made it hard to sell pricey cars. Not even JR Ewing driving a silver Allante on Dallas could save it. The car’s sexy name, which sounds like a wealthy spa town on the Adriatic, isn’t even Italian, either.

Sometimes a car faceplants in the showrooms and eventually becomes a high-dollar collectible anyway. (Just look at the Plymouth Superbird or the Porsche 914/6.) So far though, that rosy fate doesn’t seem likely for Allantes. The Allante has a loyal following, they weren’t built in very large numbers, and a two-seater is a pretty rare thing in the world of Cadillacs, but it’s still hard to call them highly collectible at the moment.

Cadillac Allante values over time
Cadillac Allante values over time Hagerty

The best one in the world won’t even crack a third of what it cost new, and that’s not even counting for 30 years of inflation. In 2018 dollars, a 1988 Allante cost over 120 grand! Our current #2 (Excellent) value, meanwhile, is less than $16K. From 2010 through to the first half of 2018, Allante values have been pretty flat, although we’ve seen a five-percent average price drop in the last two months. Buyer interest is also down, and the number of Allantes added to Hagerty insurance policies is down 13 percent over the past year. Allantes make regular appearances at collector car auctions like Barrett-Jackson and Mecum, but the number sold at auction has fallen 24 percent over the past year.

Let’s also consider the fact that Allantes aren’t exactly popular with the kids. Of all the cars we track on price, Allantes have the 12th oldest group of owners on average, with most of them past retirement age. Given the lack of interest from younger buyers (unless they start pickup up cheap Allantes for candy-painted Donk and SLAB builds) and the recent drop in values, don’t expect Allantes to pick up in the near future.

1992 Cadillac Allante front 3/4
1992 Cadillac Allante Mecum
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    Nice article, and glad you mentioned the economy. Everyone seems to forget that we had a major recession in 1987. The stock market, and GM stock, tanked. Worse for the Allanté, between the time those contracts were signed with Pininfarina, the value of the Dollar tanked, making the car 40% more expensive to make before the first one left the factory. Worse, it gave an equivalent 40% price advantage to the SL and Jag.

    I think these economic factors had far more to do with the car’s poor sales than the product itself. It is far more comfortable than an SL or Jag, and probably has more trunk volume than those two combined, and that’s before the pass-through to the passenger compartment is opened.

    Who know? Had the economy been stronger and the dollar not crashed, it might have been a stronger competitor, especially if it had come out a couple of years earlier, and not been plagued by delays at Pininfarina……who notified GM that the top leaked a few months before launch date. Released in 1986, it would have had another year against the aging 380SL, and could have had the power top ready for 1994 when the new R129 was released, with modern (Allante inspired?) styling, and yes, a power top.

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