Cadillac Allanté

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Cadillac Allanté
Early Cadillac Allanté
Manufacturer General Motors
Production 1987–1993
Successor Cadillac XLR
Class Luxury roadster
Body style 2-door convertible
Layout FF layout
Platform V-body
Engine 4.1 L HT-4100 V8
4.5 L HT-4500 V8
4.6 L Northstar V8
Transmission 4-speed 4T60 automatic
4-speed 4T80 automatic
Wheelbase 99.4 in (2,525 mm)
Length 178.7 in (4,539 mm)
Width 73.4 in (1,864 mm)
Height 51.5 in (1,308 mm)
Curb weight 3,720 lb (1,690 kg)
Related Buick Reatta
Buick Riviera
Cadillac Eldorado
Oldsmobile Toronado

The Allanté was Cadillac's first venture into the ultra-luxury roadster market. The vehicle was sold from 1987 until 1993, with roughly 21,000 models built over its 7-year production run. The Allanté's production was planned at 6,000 units per year; sales figures, however, show that Cadillac only built about half as many.


Development and production

Originally designed under the code name "Callisto", the Allanté was intended to restore Cadillac to its position as a premium luxury automobile builder. Allanté's direct competitor was the very successful Mercedes-Benz SL, and to a smaller degree, the Jaguar XJS. Allanté's 4.1 liter V8 was shared with other Cadillacs across the line, but when specified to the Allanté, several changes were made. Unlike Buick's Reatta, which shared powertrain and underpinnings from the Riviera and the Oldsmobile Toronado, Cadillac borrowed very little from the Eldorado and Seville for Allanté.

The body of the Allanté was designed and built in Italy by Pininfarina (of Ferrari fame).[1] The completed bodies were shipped 3,300 miles (5,300 km) from Italy in specially equipped Boeing 747s, 56 at a time,[1] to Cadillac's Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly plant. The bodies were then mated to the chassis.[1] This led to a few interesting nicknames, such as "The Flying Italian Cadillac" and "The world's longest assembly line."

The car's front-wheel drive (FWD) powertrain was unique in its class, and brought the car in for serious criticism. FWD is rare among high-priced sports and touring cars, as the configuration's frequent tendency toward understeer under heavy cornering, torque steer under heavy acceleration, and a poor front-rear weight balance is not desirable. The Mercedes 560SL — along with the rest of the Allanté's competitors — was rear-wheel drive. Many car magazines and auto enthusiasts argued that no sports car, let alone one at the Allanté's price, should have been FWD.Template:Citation needed Early reviews cited Pininfarina and not Cadillac as the source of this decision, saying they felt it would make the car more versatile. Additionally, poor power-to-weight ratio in the early years also made the car perform sedately. This led the target market to conclude that by offering an underpowered car for US$54,700 (far costlier than contemporary Cadillac models) with no engine upgrade option, Cadillac was not serious in competing in the performance roadster market. This initial impression gave the Allanté an image ("all show, no go") from which it was never able to recover.


The 1987 Allanté, with its removable aluminum hardtop and the industry's first power retractable AM/FM/Cellular Telephone antenna, debuted with a multi-port fuel injected version of Cadillac's aluminum 4.1 L HT-4100 V8, along with roller valve lifters, high-flow cylinder heads, and a tuned intake manifold. The new roadster also showcased an independent strut-based suspension system front and rear. Bosch ABS III four-wheel disc brakes were also standard. Unique to Allanté was a complex lamp-out module that substituted a burned-out bulb in the exterior lighting system with an adjacent lamp until the problem is corrected. The Delco-GM/Bose Symphony Sound System - a $905 option on other Cadillacs - was standard on Allanté. The only option was the available cellular telephone, installed in a lockable center console.


For 1988, minimal changes were seen - including revised front seat head rests, and a power decklid pulldown as standard equipment. Analog instruments, in place of the standard digital dash cluster, were also now available as a no-charge option. The base price was raised slightly to $56,533, with the cellular telephone still being the only extra-cost option.

File:Red closed Caddilac Allante fl.jpg
Cadillac Allanté with close-up roof


In 1989, prices again rose slightly, now at $57,183. Allanté's engine, the new 4.5 L V8, produced 200 horsepower, and with 270 lb·ft (366 N·m), it provided the most torque from any front-wheel-drive automobile in the world. Unlocking the trunk also unlocked the side doors - similar to Mercedes-Benz and BMW. As a theft-deterrent, Allanté added GM's Pass Key (Personal Automotive Security System), utilizing a resistor pellet within the ignition key that has the ability to render the fuel system and starter inoperative if an incorrect ignition key is used. Allanté also received a new speed-sensitive damper system called Speed Dependent Damping Control, or SD²C. This system firmed up the suspension at 25 mph (40 km/h) and again at 60 mph (97 km/h). The firmest setting was also used when starting from a standstill until 5 mph (8 km/h). Another change was a variable-assist steering system.

Cadillac Allanté rear view


1990 brought about a second model, a lower-priced ($53,050) companion model that did not come with the removable aluminum hardtop, just the cloth convertible roof. The Allanté sticker price (with hardtop) was now $58,638. By mid-year, prices were dropped to $57,813 for the hardtop/convertible and $51,500 for the convertible - and this included a $650 Gas Guzzler Tax along with $550 destination charge. The fully integrated cellular telephone, which was equipped from the factory on just 36 cars this year, was available for an additional $1,195. Allanté's bumper-to-bumper new car warranty, 7 years and 100,000 miles (160,000 km), was three years longer than other Cadillacs, and an additional 50,000 miles (80,000 km) of coverage. Allanté owners also received a special toll-free number to call for service or concerns. Headlamp washers and dual 10-way Recaro seating remained standard, among other niceties. A driver's side airbag was added to the leather-wrapped steering wheel, which meant the loss of the telescopic steering wheel - although the tilt steering column feature was retained. The analog instrument cluster - introduced last year - was standard on the convertible (available at no extra cost on the hardtop/convertible), however, only 358 cars were equipped with the analog cluster. Technological news was the addition of traction control - the first front-wheel drive automobile in the world to be equipped as such. The elaborate system was able to cut fuel to up to four cylinders to reduce power and optimize traction. The electronically controlled shock absorbers were retuned to remain in "soft" mode for up to 40 mph (64 km/h). Previously, they entered "normal" mode after just 25 mph (40 km/h). A revised audio system allowed a compact disc player to be added as standard equipment, along with the cassette player. Of the 2,523 built for 1990, only five were exported - four to Canada and one to Germany. Allanté was available in eight colors this year, the most popular was Euro Red, found on 1,012 cars, while the least chosen was Gray Metallic, with only 28 made. Interior color choices (and production figures) were Charcoal Gray (1,343), Natural Beige (767), and Maroon (413).


In 1991, Cadillac added a power-latching mechanism for the convertible top, and the digital instrument cluster, featured in all but 275 Allanté models this year, was repriced (it was now a $495 option for the convertible model). Prices began at $57,260, although a mid-year price-drop brought the Allanté convertible down to $55,900, and the hardtop/convertible down to $61,450 (from $62,810). Allanté still boasted the most luggage room in its class; an astonishing 16.3 cubic feet of storage (when utilizing the pass-through compartment into the cabin area), more than twice the 7.9-cubic-foot (220 L) trunk of a Mercedes SL. Of the 1,928 models produced for 1991, only seven were manufactured for export - five to Canada, one to Italy, and another to Puerto Rico. Canadian models offered a kilometer-based instrument cluster, daytime running lamps, and an engine block heater as standard equipment, while the Italian model featured a list of European-mandated modifications, including breakaway side mirrors, specific European headlamps and turn signals, a front tow hook, rear fog lamps, deletion of the deck-lid mounted center brake light, a wet-arm windshield washer system, coolers for the power steering and transmission fluids, two-speed rear axle, and a revised steering column to compensate for the removal of the driver's airbag. The rarest factory color was 49U - Light Blue Metallic, of which 20 were made, while the most popular color (with 569 manufactured) was 47U - Euro Red. The most popular interior color, 171 - Charcoal Gray leather, was featured in over half (1,009) of the 1991 models.


The Allanté for 1992 was priced at $58,470 for the convertible, and $64,090 for the hardtop/convertible. Both prices included the mandated gas guzzler tax, which was now at $1,300. As it had been the custom for a few years now, price drops were announced mid-year, $57,170 for the convertible, and $62,790 with the removable hardtop. The optional digital cluster was priced at $495 (available at no charge on the removable hardtop model), however, only 187 cars were equipped with the standard analog cluster this year. Also available on the convertible at extra-cost, a pearl white paint group (option YL3) priced at $700 (found on 443 models for 1992). This was the last year of the multi-adjustable Recaro seating design, as 1993 would go into production with less expensive Lear-designed 8-way dual power seats. Of the 1,698 produced this year, only 4 of them were specifically built for export - all of them to Canada. As with the previous year, the most popular exterior, found on 549 models, was 47U - Euro Red, while only 15 were made in 49U - Light Blue Metallic. Three shades of leather were available for the interior, the colors and production totals are: Charcoal (859), Natural Beige (652), and Maroon (187).


Introduced in early 1992 for the 1993 model year, Allanté was scaled down to just one model this year, the soft-top convertible priced at $59,975 (not including a mandatory $1,700 gas guzzler tax for vehicles sold in the United States). The removable 60.5 lb (27.4 kg). aluminum hardtop was now a separate option, as well as the $495 LCD digital instrument cluster in place of the standard analog instruments. The $700 pearlcoat paint option (in Flax or Canyon Yellow, with Hawaiian Orchid** added mid-year) was available. Also optional: chrome squeeze-cast aluminum wheels. For its final outing, Allanté received the 4.6 L Northstar DOHC V8. This engine was initially rated at 290 hp (216 kW), but Cadillac upped the rating to 295 hp (220 kW) at 5600 rpm by the time the first models were sold. Torque output was 290 ft·lbf (393 N·m) at 4400 rpm. A new unequal-length control arm rear suspension, shared with the Seville and Eldorado, was also introduced that year, improving handling. Also new for the small Cadillacs was Road Sensing Suspension, an active damper management system, and improved disc brakes. The Bose name was no longer associated with Allanté's sound system, as the '93 model went into production using GM's Delco Electronics "Premium Symphony Sound System". Other changes for the Allanté included a revised variable-assist power steering rack, deeper front spoiler, and single-piece side windows, which did away with the stationary forward vent window. Production was at the highest ever for the model run, but still short of the planned 6,000 per year. Of the 4,670 Allanté models manufactured for the 1993 model year, 115 were made for export - France (1), Austria (2), Belgium (5), Germany (5), Switzerland (6), Japan (11), and Canada (85). In comparison to the U.S.-destined Allanté, the Canadian models differed little, aside from the kilometer-based instrument cluster, but were equipped with daytime running lamps and an engine block heater as standard equipment. European-destined models held break-away side mirrors, a front tow-hook, and rear fog lamps - among other specific features.

Production ended on May 28, 1993

(** Of the 8 paint shades available for 1993, Hawaiian Orchid - Pearlcoat (84U) was the most popular color choice this year, with 1,089 models manufactured. The least chosen of the standard colors was Mary Kay Pink - Special Order (08U), with just 17 models.)

1993 Cadillac Allanté with single-piece windows and revised seats


A 1992 comparison test of the Northstar-powered Allanté by Car and Driver placed it above the Jaguar XJS V12 convertible and the Mercedes-Benz 300SL in North America. Although the Cadillac roadster got big points for its new engine, Allanté was criticized for its handling, which was an inherent result of the front wheel drive layout. Ultimately, it was the rapid rise in the retail price of its competitors due to changes in exchange rates that won the test for Cadillac. At that time, the Allanté's price seemed a bargain compared with the $71,888 Jaguar and $90,335 Mercedes-Benz.


Year Engine Transmission Power Torque 0–60 mph (97 km/h) 0–100 mph (161 km/h) 0–.25 mi (0.4 km) Top speed Braking from 70 mph (113 km/h)
1987–1988 4.1 L HT-4100 V8 4-speed F-7 auto 170 hp (127 kW) 235 ft·lbf (319 N·m) 9.3 17.4
1989–1992 4.5 L HT-4500 V8 200 hp (149 kW) 270 ft·lbf (366 N·m) 7.9 26.3 16.3 at 83 mph (134 km/h) 122 mph (196 km/h) 183 ft (56 m)
1993 4.6 L Northstar L37 V8 4-speed 4T80-E auto 295 hp (220 kW) 290 ft·lbf (393 N·m) 6.4 17.7 15.0 at 93 mph (150 km/h) 140 mph (225 km/h) 189 ft (58 m)

Production numbers

Model Year Total Production
1987 3,363
1988 2,569
1989 3,296
1990 3,101
1991 2,500
1992 1,931
1993 4,670
TOTAL 21,430

See also

  • Chrysler TC by Maserati - Another Italian-American front-wheel drive convertible released to compete with the Allanté.

The National cadillac Allanté club


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Schuon, Marshall (April 19, 1987). "THE FEW, THE RICH, PININFARINA". The New York Times, April 19, 1987, Marshall Shuon. Retrieved April 28, 2010. 
  • Daniel Charles Ross. "Cadillac Allanté". Motor Trend (February 1989): 88–93. 
  • Kevin Smith. "Cadillac Allanté, Jaguar XJS, Mercedes 300SL". Car and Driver (July 1992). 
  • Don Schroeder. "Cadillac Allanté Northstar Preview". Car and Driver (February 1992). 
  • Eric Peters Automotive Atrocities-cars we love to hate
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