$42,000 Cadillac Allanté: Were we wrong?
Thursday, February 4, a Cadillac Allanté sold for $40,000 ($42,000 with commission) on Bring a Trailer. Eyes popped. Heads exploded. Refresh page? Yup, still $42,000.
The result generated this sort of shock because, well, the Allanté is not a vehicle we’d anticipate to be caught up in the rising tide of ’90s classics. Allantés have been the cheapest way to get a “body by Pininfarina” badge for as long as most of us can remember. We published an article nearly three years ago with the headline: “Don’t expect your Cadillac Allanté to get top dollar any time soon,” with plenty of data to back it up. So, were we way off base, or was this single sale just a fluke?
The 1987–93 Allanté is an interesting car with a neat story and a loyal following, but it turned out to be one of GM’s more famous follies. Taking aim at the fancy European two-seater luxury convertibles like the Jaguar XJ-S and Mercedes-Benz SL, Cadillac shortened its front-drive Eldorado frame and then went to the designers at Pininfarina for some of that famous Italian flair. What Pininfarina came up was sharp and distinctive, though in the eyes of many not as lovely nor timeless as the Jag and Benz.
Pininfarina painted and assembled the bodies at its facility in Turin, Italy. Then, Cadillac had the bodies flown on specially modified 747 jets to Hamtramck, Michigan for final assembly. If that sounds like an unnecessarily expensive way of doing things, well, it was, and it was one reason the Allanté was twice as expensive as a standard Eldorado. That price tag of nearly $55,000 was hard to justify given the Allanté’s 170 horsepower (up to 200 hp in 1989) and front-drive platform. When the economy went bad in the early 1990s, the situation went from bad to worse. Even though the Allanté got progressively better as it aged, thanks to several updates, GM killed it after 1993 and a disappointing 21,000-car production run. It would be another decade before Cadillac had another go at two-seaters, with the XLR.
In the years since the Allanté bowed out they depreciated heavily, and these days they typically sell at four-figure prices. Even the nicest examples usually sell in the low-teens.
That’s why this car had us scratching our heads so hard it’s becoming uncomfortable. The $42,000 result is nearly twice our current condition #1-condition, best-in-the-world (Concours) price of $22,800. Granted, the car on Bring a Trailer does just about qualify as “best-in-the-world.” It’s a final-year 1993 model, which means it has the 32-valve Northstar V-8 that finally gave the Allanté some oomph: 295 hp and 290 lb-ft of it. The Caddy also shows just 4896 miles, is finished in a good color (Euro Red), and comes with all its original literature as well as the original CD-ROM owner’s manual. Other than some surface rust on the brakes and some loose upholstery, it looks just as clean as you’d expect from any pampered 5000-mile car. Nevertheless, 40 grand is still crazy money in the context of the Allanté’s recent market history. Although a 23-mile Pace Car Edition sold in Kissimmee two years ago for $38,500, no other Allanté sale has come remotely close to this one.
In the time since our story about Allantés languishing at low prices ran in 2018, auction sales, private sales, and Hagerty insurance data has proved us mostly right. The median #2-condition (Excellent) value for these cars is down 18 percent over that same time frame, and it’s a similar story with our online insurance quotes. The median quoted value for Allantés is just $9664, which is down 4 percent over the past three years. The number of quotes is also down 5 percent.
We may owe something of a mea culpa to this particular seller, but until we see more results in this neighborhood it would be a stretch to predict that Allantés are the next hot thing, especially given the propensity for low-mileage cars to command excessive prices on Bring a Trailer. Car collecting, don’t forget, is for many an emotional hobby; the bidders, who ran the car up from $21,000 to $40,000 in just one hour, may have just thrown caution to the wind in order to have the cleanest ’93 Allanté out there. $42,000 is staggering, but it’s only about two-thirds what the car cost at the Cadillac dealership back in 1993. That’s not even counting for inflation; in 2021 money, this car cost about $112,000 when it was new.
Will this result inspire more owners to put their cars up for sale? It’s very likely. Does this mean your father-in-law should expect a 40 grand windfall for his Allanté? Probably not.