Cars of Kevin Part 1: the Cadillac Cimarron

I realized that I have actually owned quite a few interesting cars in my life so far.  Let’s start at the very beginning.  My 1987 Cadillac Cimarron.  If you look anywhere on the internet, this car is guaranteed to be in the top 10 of any worst cars ever made list, and usually credited with the lowest point in Cadillac’s history, or the car that nearly killed Cadillac.  In my mind though, it was actually a really cool car for many reasons, needed competitor to Europeans, but poorly executed for the time.

The car is really a re-skinned Chevy Cavalier, and shared the same platform as a bunch of other GM cars of the time like Buicks and Oldsmobiles.  This was a huge turn off to the Cadillac buyers of the time, but common practice in the auto industry now.  For example, VW Touareg, Audi Q7, and the Porsche Cayenne uses the same platform.  This is really Cadillac’s first effort to get to a younger segment that they didn’t have before.  They are now doing so successfully with the Cadillac ATS (shares platform with Chevy Camaro BTW).  It’s a pretty good looking car.  Mine was in a lighter blue.


My family bought it used in the early 90s and I drove it in high school and first couple years of college.  The dash is awesome for 1987, all digital, aluminum look surrounding the instrument cluster, very 80’s futuristic. At the same time, everything is where it should be. The interior is a huge step above its Chevy cousin.  Against BMW, Audi, and Saabs of the same vintage that it was supposed to compete against, it set itself apart.

Cimarron dash

The car had a 2.8L V6 making a now absurdly low 125HP by today’s standards, but it did only weigh 2700 pounds.  3 Speed automatic, and 0-60 in 10 seconds or so.  In comparison, a 2016 Honda Fit is 2600 pounds and makes 130HP from a 1.5L engine.   The earlier models had a smaller engine and better MPG.  The V6 version MPG is around the low/mid 20s. The Cimarron cost ~$35,000 in today’s dollars, once again very much in the same segment where the Cadillac ATS is now, competing back then as now with Audis and BMWs.


The drivetrain of the Cimarron was very dependable, it did burn a little bit of oil, but the all digital panel was not.  We did not have any mechanical issues during the time we had it aside from regular maintenance.  Sadly, one by one, each display started to fail.  First it was the fuel gauge, then the oil pressure, then temperature.  Until eventually the entire main display died in mid 2000.  Getting the panel repaired would have cost much more than the car was worth, and we donated the car.  Mechanically the car was very sound after 20 years, alas, the electrics did not.

While the car is widely panned by the press, in my book on its own, without all the baggage of GM’s failures of the 80s, it was a unique, dependable, and fun car for any teenager and college student.  I will always have a soft spot for Cadillacs.  Maybe one day, a CTS-V wagon.

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