Disclosure: This site may receive compensation when you click on some links and make purchases.

75k Original Miles: 1990 Cadillac Allanté

Releasing an entirely new model is a practice that automotive manufacturers avoid where possible. It is a high-risk venture, and carrying over as many components as possible from other offerings within the product range reduces the risk of sales of engineering disasters. Cadillac ventured into unknown territory with the Allanté. While the finished product was eye-catching, it cost the company a fortune and didn’t sell in sufficient numbers to justify the program’s expense or effort. This 1990 Allanté is an original survivor that presents superbly. It has 75,000 miles on the clock and would suit someone seeking a luxurious and affordable drop-top. The Allanté is listed here on Craigslist in Elk Grove, California. The seller set their price at $9,900, and I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder ToddK for spotting this beauty.

The concept behind the Allanté seemed sound, with Cadillac aiming to create a car to compete head-on with two-seat Convertibles produced by Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW. The finished product wasn’t a bad car, but its convoluted production process meant it hit showroom floors at a price many potential buyers were unwilling to pay. Initial construction was performed at a dedicated facility in Italy, with incomplete cars flown by specially equipped Boeing 747 jets to North America for final assembly. The aircraft could only carry fifty-six bodies during each trip, partially explaining the high sticker cost of each vehicle. There was also friction within the company when Management handed design duties to Pininfarina, leaving Cadillac’s loyal design team in the dark. This Allanté rolled off the line in 1990, with its original owner ordering it in stunning Dark Maple with a Black power top. I’m going out on a limb because I believe the Allanté is one of those models that looks more elegant with the top down rather than raised. Finding anything to criticize is challenging because this classic carries the hallmarks of a car that has been treated respectfully. The paint shines beautifully, with no evidence of significant flaws or defects. It is a similar story with the panels, while the single underside shot confirms this Caddy is rust-free. The soft-top and exterior trim look flawless, and the distinctive 16″ wheels are free from stains and physical damage.

Cadillac employed three different V8 engines during the Allanté’s production life. The 4.1-liter HT-4100 V8 was the powerplant of choice upon release in 1987, but this car features the 4.5-liter “LW2” engine that became standard from 1989 until 1992. It produces 200hp and 270 ft/lbs of torque which feeds to the front wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission. Traditional Cadillac buyers are typically unconcerned by outright performance with their new purchase. However, with the company targeting a new demographic with the Allanté, this suddenly became a consideration. The curb weight of 3,470 lbs wasn’t exceptionally high, allowing these cars to cover the ¼-mile in 16.3 seconds on the way to 134mph. This compared favorably with the competition, which was the aim of the whole Allanté exercise. This survivor is numbers-matching and has 75,000 documented miles on the clock. It has always been appropriately serviced and maintained, with the seller recently performing a list of tasks to ensure it is mechanically healthy. It features new injectors, plugs, a serpentine belt tensioner, an ABS pump and pressure line, valve cover gaskets, and an intake plenum gasket. This Allanté runs and drives perfectly and is a turnkey classic needing nothing but a new owner.

Cadillac pushed out the boat with the Allanté, equipping its interior with almost every bell and whistle to justify the sticker price. Occupants sank into Recaro ten-way power bucket seats trimmed in supple leather, with the driver grabbing a tilt wheel with an airbag as they gazed at the funky digital gauge cluster. An analog version was a no-cost option, but few buyers ticked that box on the Order Form. Other power features include the windows, locks, mirrors, and trunk release, while the cruise control, Twilight Sentinel, climate-control air conditioning, and a premium stereo system ensure a relaxed driving experience. This Allanté’s interior is as impressive as its exterior. There is no evidence of wear or abuse on any of the Red upholstered or plastic surfaces, the dash is spotless, and there is no wheel wear. The carpet and mat below the driver’s right foot look marked, although professional attention might improve its appearance. The seller recently addressed a known weakness with the stereo and replaced the passenger-side power window motor and the Twilight Sentinel photocell. The A/C has been upgraded to R134a refrigerant, receiving a system purge, a new compressor, seals, and a receiver/dryer. It blows ice-cold, meaning the buyer won’t need to spend a dime on this interior.

The Cadillac Allanté falls within the “seemed like a good idea at the time” category, and probably deserved to be a sales success. However, there were issues with the execution that virtually guaranteed low buyer appeal. It received limited acceptance from traditional Cadillac customers who preferred larger vehicles that isolated them from the outside world. It was attractive to those considering a luxurious European drop-top, but the sticker price was significantly higher than the opposition. That is why sales totaled a mere 21,430 cars during a seven-year production run. This 1990 example is a pearl, which appears to have been its owner’s prized possession. It has a documented history and presents superbly, but it isn’t a trailer queen. The seller’s price is close to the top of the market for a survivor in this condition, but its history justifies that figure. It has only been on the market for a few days. If luxury and a wind-in-the-hair classic motoring experience seem like an irresistible combination, it might be worth pursuing this Allanté further.


  1. Jake Thesnake

    Oh boy, an overpriced piece of GM drek from the malaise era! Who wouldn’t want that??

    Like 0
    • Fox Owner

      You think $9900 for a car with 75000 miles is overpriced? Those are used car prices for ten year old Subarus with175000 miles. Anyway the Malaise era was ending in the nineties as manufacturers figured out how to squeeze more power out of smaller more economical engines. And, it’s a Cadillac convertible. What’s not to love?

      Like 25
  2. courtney

    the Malaise era ended in the late 1980s around the time this model debuted the color on this particular Allante looks like Maroon Metallic. I personally have always had a soft spot for red cars probably because my late maternal grandmother’s first Toyota Camry was Dark Pearl Red which could look maroon in poor lighting situations

    Like 4
  3. George Member

    1. not one Allantè was ever produced with an HT 4100 engine. That is wrong. The Allantè engine is 4.1 L, but that’s about it. They have entirely different blocks, heads, and fuel induction systems. It is an entirely different motor, although it was based on the same architecture.

    2. People go nuts about the Italian assembly.

    When the car first was proposed in the early 1980s, the dollar was very high and this was much cheaper than building a new factory for a new product in an untested segment.

    It looked like a great idea, but when the dollar collapsed in the mid 80s, the car suddenly became far more expensive to build in Italy than it would’ve been in Detroit. This is probably one of the biggest reasons for its failure. General motors had no pricing flexibility once the dollar collapsed.

    Allantés are actually very good cars, They is far more spacious, comfortable and practical than any R107 derivative. It’s only real failure is Pininfarina’s cumbersome, leaky top

    Like 5
    • mustang melvin

      It’s only real failure was not one single good looking wheel was attached to these cars. Nice looking example here.

      Like 2
      • George Member

        I agree.

        Pinninfarina actually did a lovely five-spoke wheel that was not used. A lot a local Allanté maven has some on his car and they are striking.

        that said, the design is ever so slightly top-heavy, and the larger wheels chosen tend to minimize that effect

        Like 1
    • CCFisher

      Even without changes in exchange rates, the cost of air freight would have easily wiped out any cost advantage provided by overseas assembly. The Allante’s V-body chassis was heavily based on the E-body Eldorado, so the cars easily could have been built at GM’s Hamtramck plant. The capacity was there – the shrunken Eldorado, Seville, Riviera, and Toronado weren’t exactly setting the world on fire. Just like the Italian design, the Italian assembly was a vanity item for Cadillac

      Like 0
  4. Brad chipman

    A lot of car for the money. I drove one a friend had in the ’90 thru the mountain roads in North Carolina. Loved it

    Like 6
  5. Azzura Member

    Pininfarina discontinued the Pininfarina Azzura Spyder to build the Allante. Mistake. I own a 1985-1/2 Azzura, one of the only 150 made. Wouldn’t trade it for two Allante’s. The biggest problem with the Allante was the digital dash, was prone to failure very early. I guess the best thing going for the Allante was Kelly Bundy.

    Like 6
    • Jake Thesnake

      Now there’s an endorsement for the Allante, Kelly Bundy. The quality of that car was probably only slightly better than my infamous 1989 Buick Regal. Boy, was that a turd of a car!

      Like 0
  6. George Member

    Halfway through 1990, Cadillac modified the top. A deeper well was installed, making it much easier to secure the folded top under the hard tonneau

    Like 1
  7. Joe Haska

    I am in the market for a car and I have a car on a verbal agreement, and it could fall through. Right now I almost wish it would, because I would buy this car.

    Like 4
    • George Member

      I acquired my ’87 from a neighbor, almost by accident. I always liked the Pininfarina design, but it was never on “the list” of cars I wanted.

      Its combination of elegance, comfort, practicality, and suspension tuning is hard to beat. Would it set lap times at the race course? No. Did any Cadillac customer in history look for that? Absolutely not……and R107 owners didn’t get a race car, either.

      If they made a 2024 with all the new modern frills, I would buy it in a heartbeat.

      Like 2
  8. Greg

    I’ve always loved the styling of the Allante. I’ve always felt the Allante, Riviera, El dorado and Servile would have been much better sellers if they had rear wheel of that era. GM did them a disservice by making them front wheel drive cars.

    Like 1
    • George Member

      General Motors was on a crash program to improve its fuel economy, which they feared would reach eight or nine dollars a gallon after the second oil crisis,

      front wheel drive allowed GM to provide American customers with the space that they were accustomed to within a smaller car and on that level it was a great success.

      back in those days, before electric nannies, front wheel drive was vastly better, incomparably, better in bad weather than rear wheel drive as well

      I often wonder as I look back if the prejudice against front wheel drive was as strong in the late 80s as it is now, and actually, I don’t think so.

      This platform may not be the best for a road rally, but for the General Motors customer, it is actually ideal. It is also a refined chassis that provides excellent handling in normal, driving and bad weather, and remarkably smooth ride.

      I have read that it was actually Pininfarina that wanted to use that particular chassis because of its packaging advantages

      with the XLR, they use the Corvette platform and it did not sell as well as the Allantè so there’s that, too

      Like 0
  9. Greg

    Good insight George.I can see that perspective. Thanks

    Like 0
    • George Member

      Greg, I want to thank you so much for such a thoughtful note. You get so used to knee jerk anger on the Internet that it was really refreshing.

      Cadillac has never been in the business of building race, cars for its customers.

      In many ways, the Allante is the perfect car for a Cadillac customer who wants something that has moved beyond the styling of the 1960s and wants a sporty car.

      and while front wheel drive might not be the best choice for the Nurburgring, I grew up on Volkswagen Rabbits, Scirrocos, and Lancia Betas all of which were entertaining to drive. The Allantè is very pleasant to drive with excellent chassis, tuning and very direct steering.

      Like 0
    • Greg

      George l Still wonder how sporting that 93 Allante with the more powerful Norstar engine and rear wheel drive could have been and you are most welcome my friend.You have a logically factual way of putting things.

      Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.