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TG
Gearhead

My Allante story, or Allante rant, ...or maybe a little of both

Every time I drive my Allante or get to messing with it, I always get to thinking about the Allante situation. I love it, the collector world hates it, and I have never really figured out why.

 

This particular round of Allante musing was during a brake line repair. During a particularly sunny winter day, after rain had washed all the salt away, I hopped in my Allante for a quick spin around the neighborhood. About halfway into the trip, a stab on the brakes revealed only one was grabbing, which resulted in a pretty conspicuous chirp. I limped my ailing car back to home base and discovered a nearly empty master cylinder and a wet spot on the rear subframe.

 

Allante.png

 

Digging into it further, I discovered that the crossover line from the driver side to the passenger rear brake had rotted under a retaining clamp. This line has about 20 bends in it and was clearly installed on the subframe before the subframe was installed in the car. I separated it in half at the break, and removed the two halves out each side of the car. I knew it was not going back in whole, so i saved the passenger half of the line, made up a new section for the driver side half, and spliced it after installation.

 

brake.jpg

 

Not a 4.0 repair, but good enough for me. Well, enough on that, back to the situation

 

My relationship with the Cadillac Allante stared where the Allante started back in the 90s. My first car was a Cadillac - a 1978 Fleetwood Brougham. It was not particularly nice car - faded silver with missing patches of paint revealing pink primer - but it was mine, and it put me in the Driving Elite in the high school world. It was impressively large, powerful, upholstered like a living room, rode like a cloud, and I loved it. I always lamented that no amount of money could buy a new version of that car, because they just didn't exist anymore. I understood why - the car got 12 MPG on a good day, did not fit in most parking spots even by 90s standards, and handling and this car did not belong in the same sentence

 

Even with this understanding, I was very disappointed in what Cadillac had to offer in the 90s... rebadged mid-sized V6 Buicks, a rebadged mid-size Opel, rebadged Caprices with Chevy engines... disappointing. Then I discovered the Allante. With exception of the drive wheels being on the wrong end, this car was everything I thought a 90s Cadillac should be. Sleek, attractive, nimble... and Detroit V8 rumble under the hood. Now there was no version of reality, beyond winning the lottery, where I was getting one of these, so the sticker price never factored into the equation

 

Time went on, I had a few more tuna boat Cadillacs before graduating to more practical transportation, and then time went on some more where I started dabbling in car collecting. The Allante was always in the back of my mind, but I always kind of steered clear of them because of the bad press, and because I knew they were rare and parts would probably be a challenge

 

A neighborhood acquaintance announced he was selling his, and it was my neighbor who was interested. I at the time had 4 cars and really wasn't looking to go up to 5. I went with my neighbor to look at it. It was a driven car and by no means a concours specimen, but it looked good and ran well. The seller wanted 4K, and I told my neighbor it was worth about that. My neighbor said he would buy it if the price came down. A couple of months go by, and the price dropped considerably. I talk to my neighbor, who informed me that his wife would not let him buy the car... and at the price I just could not pass it up.

 

I was always concerned that I would be disappointed with the car or that it would turn into a mechanical nightmare, but these things never happened. It is a sleek, attractive, european styled car with an amusing mix of Detroit growl emanating from under the hood. The power is more than adequate. The handling doesn't exactly stack up to my 1 Series beemer, but I would not call it inadequate, and screaming through turns just isn't how you drive that kind of car. Everyone who sees it loves it, whether they know anything about the car or not.

 

I get all of the bad press... for 1990s $55K, it doesn't deliver supercar handling and performance, the manual convertible is a bit sub-par for the price range, the drive wheels are on the wrong end... I get it. The notion that it was a big, huge GM mistake I'm really not aligned with. I still believe it was the car a Cadillac needed to be in the 1990s, and it set the pace for things to come. Manufacturers often make cars they never intend to wind up in the black and sell huge numbers. It made the right statement at the right time, and I have no doubt it got bodies into the showroom... to buy Cateras. The bottom line is that the 1990s are over, and when you take all of the 1990s car politics off of the table, it is just a great car. my 2 cents anyway 

14 REPLIES 14
hyperv6
Collector

This is a perfect example of why you buy a car because you love it not for investment or popularity. 

I own a Fiero and bought it new. It made me a celebrity for a few years then I was labeled the village idiot for over a decade. 

Today I am back to being respected by most but none of this matters as this is a car I love to own as it was my first new car. It got me on track at Indy and Mid Ohio at over 100 mph. 

I have loaned it to GM and Summit Racing for them to display. 

I generally place at most shows and too the top 5 award twice at the Pontiac Tri Power National the worlds largest Pontiac show. 

Made a cover of a magazine. 

Finally the car saved my life in an accident. The construction is such that I hit a Dodge van the pulled in front of me. He could not back in the drive. The body was tore up but I drove it home. 

You know I don’t care what anyone thinks as this car delivered memories and to make many friends and connections many other cars would never deliver. 

Like your car mine is far from perfect but it still has its own charm. 

Just enjoy it and keep rolling. 

TG
Gearhead

Iron Duke, or 6cyl?

hyperv6
Collector

I got the SE 2m6 with the V6 and WS6 suspension. I did my own ground FX. Not a fan of the GT nose. 

It is like the Formula before there was a Formula. Lighter too. 

ladycarlover
Intermediate Driver

For what it's worth...I always thought the Fiero was really cute!

dugboat
New Driver

I love the Allante, and convertible Cadillacs in general, but am scared to death of the tops with all the switches and solenoids etc…

Do not have the time or patience to fiddle f around with them….and could probably never find a mechanic that could fix.

JDHilton
Intermediate Driver

My sister-in-law worked at Cadillac engineering at the time, and said they never could solve the water leaks with the convertible top - they kept getting wet at the carwash. I always suspected that, like Jaguar and a lot of others in those pre-Six Sigma days, Pininfarina built no two bodies exactly the same. 

hyperv6
Collector

Pininfarina today still makes nothing alike. 

Often the chassis were so flexible it was hard to seal them up. So much cowl shake in this era. 

hyperv6
Collector

You want to have fun take a old TBird or Lincoln with all the micro switches. I got a degree in those the hard way. 

eighthtry
Advanced Driver

I always wanted a 67 Eldorado.  Just not enough to part with the money or the garage space.  Two classics is all I can handle, although classic may be a tad overused for this purpose.

 

And everything "brakes (in your case)" at a very inconvenient time.  I finally got one up and reliably running for several years until I wrecked it, surprise, because I literally had "no brakes".  But Hagerty paid the bill and it is back under construction.  And, it will never have "no brakes" again.

MartinAustin
New Driver

Allante?  Great looking car, wonderful blend of Italian stying and classic Cadillac look.  Plenty of power.  Cheap to  buy.

It ends there.

An endless succession of mechanical problems that no-one knew how to fix.  Culminating in an attempt to replace my dashboard (they warp horribly in the sun) by a character who shall be nameless but he came to my house to do so.  Turned out I wasn't getting a new or aftermarket replacement - there aren't any - but a rather clumsy attempt at restoration.  He started at noon and was still working in my driveway with a flashlight when it got dark.  When he was "finished" most of the dashboard and center console controls did not work.  Was lucky enough to sell it for what I paid, $4,500.  They are cheap for good reason.

Graham R

WorthFlorida
Pit Crew

I remember well that during the 1980's, Cadillac was losing sales because if no offering to compete against the likes of BMW and other European sport sedans. This was Cadillac's attempt but it never took off.  It was a wolf in sheep clothing. 

2shelbys
New Driver

As the owner of an example of your car‘s biggest competitor, a Chrysler TC by Maserati, I more than feel your pain. The TC has become a favorite target for criticism and ridicule by anyone and everyone in automotive media who apparently has never even seen, much less driven one. There are even still people out there who claim they’re just LeBarons with Maserati emblems on them, even though the third generation LeBaron didn’t exist when they TC‘s went into production. The LeBaron was intentionally designed to look like the TC, which was built in Italy by Maserati with base engines and transmissions, four wheel disc brakes, and electronics, supplied by Chrysler, suspension and ABS from Germany, and everything else manufactured in Italy. 

I liked the Allante.  The Northstar versions were just a little bit extra nice.  Definitely a misunderstood and/or under loved car.

JackVan
Detailer

I liked mine after I fixed all the broken stuff, but thanks to a special mission for LBJ, I could not get in and out easily, so it went away. The top lock down switch was a real problem. After reading about leaks, never took it through a car wash.