1981 Cadillac Eldorado
8-cyl. 350cid/105hp FI
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Much like the rest of the American automakers, Cadillac downsized the 1979 Eldorado in response to rising gas prices and shifting consumer preference towards fuel economy. In addition to a smaller and lighter package (more than 1,000 pounds lighter, in fact, and 20 inches shorter), last year’s 425-cid V-8 engine was scuttled in favor of a 170-hp, Oldsmobile-built 350-cid mill with fuel-injection. A diesel variant of the 350 was also optional. New for this year was independent rear suspension. The 1979 Eldorado was available only as a two-door coupe, though the Biarritz package added a stainless steel roof over the front occupants.
The 1980 and 1981 models were mostly unchanged, though a complex V-8-6-4 engine system was optional. This unit governed the cylinders’ intake and exhaust systems in order to allow the engine to run on only those cylinders that were deemed necessary for the current driving conditions. The engine didn’t stay in the lineup long, and was replaced by a 4.1-liter V-8 and a V-6. The 4.1-liter V-8’s power was bumped up to 135 for 1983. The Eldorad’s base price at this point was $19,334.
The biggest change during this generation of Eldorado was the reintroduction of a convertible to the model in 1984—the first since the 1976 model. Priced at $31,286, 3,300 were sold. The 1985 model year was again largely unchanged as Cadillac braced for a drastic redesign for the 1986 model.
All Cadillac Eldorados of this generation had well-equipped interiors, with plush leather seats, climate control, and more. The long hood / short deck proportions are quite different from the more iconic Eldorados of the 1950s and 1960s, but the look has actually aged quite well, and these cars are beginning to see a level of interest they haven’t seen since they were new cars. The diesel engines were problematic when new, and only generate slight interest today from those looking for a more economical way to ride in high 1980s style. Instead, the better bet is to find a low-mile and coddled example of the injected cars, of which surprisingly many still exist.