The 1985–’92 Cadillac Fleetwood is finding buyers
The term “classic Cadillac” has different connotations depending upon which collector is doing the shopping. Some may immediately think of a long, finned cruiser dripping with chrome and punctuated by bullet taillights. An increasingly large group of collectors, however, are after later models that, until recently, have been ignored, like the 1985–92 Fleetwood.
Cadillac had experience building front-wheel-drive, V-8-powered coupes ever since the 1967 Eldorado, but the 1985 Fleetwood was the first time the brand had used a transverse-mounted engine to get the job done, fielding both a coupe and sedan version of the Fleetwood on the new C-body platform that used Cadillac’s High Technology V-8 engine family. Like Cadillac’s current alpha-numeric naming system, its ’80s naming conventions were also not the most straightforward. For 1985 and ’86, the Fleetwood Brougham was an entirely different car than the Fleetwood and rode on an entirely different, rear-wheel-drive chassis. For the record, we’re not talking about that car. You’re better off calling it a Brougham to help eliminate confusion.
The 1985–92 Cadillac Fleetwood has seen a remarkable uptick in value this year as #1 (Concours) cars increased dramatically. The median #3 (Good) value of the base model is $5800, up 46 percent in the last year, almost double the percentage-point increase from January 2015 through January 2019. The Fleetwoods’ strong performance on the market —among the fastest rising we’ve noted this year— and moderate insurance activity have led to a Hagerty Vehicle rating of 74.
The Hagerty Vehicle Rating takes private sales results, auction sales, insurance quoting activity, and the number of new policies purchased into consideration, in order to sort hundreds of car models and compare them to the collector car market as a whole. Our valuation team then assigns a score from 1-to-100, with a 50 denoting a car that’s perfectly following the overall market trend. Popular cars that are gaining interest and value will score higher, those with flagging interest or sale prices score lower. A vehicle’s position on the list isn’t always a sign of future collectability, it’s more of a pulse of the current market.
In the last two years, the median #2 (Excellent) value of sedans has increased 82 percent and coupes 73 percent, and in some cases the sedan version has eclipsed the price of its coupe stablemate. Overall, those value increases have given this generation Fleetwood the third-highest increase in the median #2 value, by percentage, of all Cadillacs. Only the 1959–60 Fleetwood Special, and this generation’s immediate successors, the 1993–96 Cadillac Fleetwood, at 79 percent, have appreciated more rapidly.
Those later, rear-drive Fleetwoods aren’t an anomaly either. Of the top 10 Cadillac generations with the biggest percentage increases in the median #2 value in the last year, half of them are from the 1980s and ’90s. Hagerty valuation specialist James Hewitt explains, “While historically being the affordable buy, this generation of Cadillac is now creeping over the $10,000 median #2 value mark. This might be the logical max for the cars, but when the market for driveable, affordable classics is rising around it, it’s hard to play the substitution game. Allantes just might begin to fill the affordable void.”
These late-’80s and early-’90s Cadillacs might not have the grace and swagger of their block-long, finned predecessors, but they’re still finding interested parties who appreciate their place in history. As Hewitt noted, they’ll likely never rise to the heights enjoyed by their big-bored brethren, but for now they’re among the hottest cars of their generation.