Owners: Joe and Linda Pinson
Welcome to the world of Italian American design philosophy at its finest. The time frame is the early 1980’s and Cadillac was looking for a car to compete with the likes of the Mercedes SL’s, Jags and so forth. So the powers in Caddy Land got together with some former friends over in the Pininfarina Studios in Italy and after many conversations, a small roadster to be named Allante was born. The body was designed by and assembled the Pininfarina Studios and Factory along side the likes of Ferrari and other great Italian motor cars. A custom 747 was created to transport parts which would be made in to the bodies and interiors, to Italy on what would be known as the longest assembly line in the world – 7,500 miles. Once assembled, 51 units would be carefully loaded on the same 747 and shipped back to Cadillac in Detroit. There they would be married with an Allante specific power train and chassis and upon completed assembly and proper testing, shipped to various Cadillac dealerships.
This was no cheap effort on the part of Cadillac/GM, so they decided they had to start with something they already had. That would be the newly downsized Eldorado from which the dash and firewall were copied. It also had to be powered by what was already available so the not so famous 4.1-liter V8 would be slightly modified to increase horse power and to fit under the newly sloping hood of this new car. It would come fully equipped with just about anything anyone could dream of – the only option being a then not so common car phone. It would be a convertible AND have a removable hardtop in addition to the soft top. The best leathers, electronics and whatever else would be put in this car.
When it hit the showrooms in the fall of 1986, as a 1987 model the Cadillac Allante was not necessarily the success they’d hoped for. They were underpowered and the to fit and finish wasn’t always what it should be. And they were from Europe – not a “traditional” Cadillac. The biggest complaint besides the power was the lack of a power convertible top – they were totally manual and for a cost of over $50,000.00, a Cadillac owner felt he or she should be able to push a button and nothing else.
In 1989 Cadillac started modifying the problem areas. The engine was enlarged to 4.5 liters and horsepower was increased. The standard hard top became an option because of its cost and people had said they really didn’t’ need both. In the middle of 1990, the phase two body was introduced which meant some differences in the interior, top or boot covers and equipment. The car now came with BOSE Symphony Sound, a cassette player AND the first CD player to be standard in an American car. Performance was again improved by making a few adjustments to the engine and transmission. Prices now approached $60K, but the cars were slowly finding a following.
Phase Three came in 1993, which was the largest volume year in sales. Most were built in 1992 because GM announced after making numerous modifications, including the addition of the Northstar V8, that the car would not be produced beyond the 1993 model year. Toward the end of the run the 1993s were being assembled with whatever parts were left even if they were visibly different or from another year. The last Allante was built in June of 1993. One problem with the ’93 is that the newly designed Northstar engine had some issues of its own. The 93 Allantes which were built in 92 would often have catastrophic engine failure. GM replaced the engines but evidently didn’t keep good records of which cars got those engines.
The car you are looking at is “Luigi” – a two-owner 1991. Luigi was originally purchased in Boston at R. H. Long Cadillac and eventually moved to Naples where my wife and I purchased him in April 2022 with 55,000 miles. He currently resides in Rockledge, FL. Allante Source in West Palm Beach has overseen his maintenance needs for close to 25 years. He received his National Historical Preservation of Original Features (HPOF) Certification from AACA in January, 2023.