Cadillac AllantÚ / XLR Club
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AllantÚ History

In the early 1980s Cadillac wanted a car to compete with other automakers like the Jaguar XJS, and the Mercedes Bens SL. So in 1982 they went to the offices of Sergio Pininfarina in Turin Italy. Mr. Pininfarina agreed to build their flagship car, which was then named the "Callisto". Cadillac granted Pininfarina creative license design the car with only one restriction, which was to preserve their trademark grill, and emblem. In 1983 the Callsito went into development.

The AllantÚ as we know it is built on a shortened Eldorado frame. So the first logistical issue for Cadillac is how to transport the chassis, and miscellaneous other components to Turin so Pininfarina could assemble their body to it.

Their solution started a flow of red ink that totaled more than twenty four billon by the end of the AllantÚs production.

Three special Boeing 747 aircrafts were customized to hold 56 AllantÚs each. The AllantÚs had to be flown over the Atlantic Ocean twice. The 747's left Detroit with Eldorado chassis halves, instruments, air conditioning, steering column, and most of the electronics. When the parts arrived at the Pininfarina plant, they cut and welded the two sub chassis together, installed the bodies and interior, painted them. The cars were then attached to special carrier racks, loaded into the planes, and flown back to the Hamtramck Detroit assembly plant. In Detroit Cadillac installed the front and rear sub frames, suspension, drive train, steering box, brakes, fuel tank, wheels and the tires. Final system tests were run on the Bosch III ABS braking system, and each car was test driven for 25 miles. This entire process was called the "AllantÚ Air Bridge", and has also been referred to as "The world's longest assembly line".

Now the brand new 1987 Allante was ready to be shipped to the dealers. This was done by having quite a few specially design car carriers made to haul these Italian / American babies to their specified Cadillac dealerships. The trailers were covered in blue canvas to conceal the unique appearance of Cadillac's new flagship automobile. The "Callisto" no, The "LTS" (luxury Two-seater) no! The "AllantÚ" Yes! By the way the word AllantÚ has no meaning. It was one of 1,700 computer generated words that they chose from. I did a little research and I think since many Cadillac's have had Spanish names, the word "Adelate"(ADD-A-LANTE) in Spanish means to move forward. Makes sense to me.

In September of 1987, The Brand new Cadillac AllantÚ hit the showrooms. The price of these beauties was to start at $50.000, and GM forecasted to sell 6,000 units a year. Now they had to market them. This was going to be very hard and expensive to do. If you were in the market for a sports car, would you go to a Caddy dealer? Think not! So Cadillac tried to market them in commercials, TV shows, and in the theaters. There was even a movie called "Terminal Velocity' that featured the AllantÚ from the beginning to the end of the show. This was not helping because in the introduction year they had only sold approximately 3,000 cars, and the same in 1988. By year two, sports car buyers were learning that you could go to a Caddy dealer and get a luxury sports car. But news spread fast. They Leak.

Now we need to back up a little, Cadillac wanted The 1987 AllantÚ ready for sale in September 1986. Pininfarina said they needed to hold back one more year due to problems with the soft-tops. They knew that they would all leak. Pininfarina need to make the soft-tops bigger. Cadillac said no, so out they came, leaking all over the place, damaging window switches, seat switches, carpet, etc. As fast as they sold them, Cadillac got them back. Now they had to fix every Allante weather seal. Now they had to redesign the weather strips. They changed from rubber to a foam / rubber strip. This did help, but as you know almost every AllantÚ leaks at one time or another.

1989 and 1990 were great years for the AllantÚ. Cadillac improved it, with the re-tooling of the soft-top, 4.5 engine with 200 + horsepower, 16" wheels, lower headrest, telescopic steering wheel, electronic suspension. But still failed on sales because of its reputation of the 87-88 models. Cadillac needed to do something. And they did. In mid production on the 1990's, they redesigned the Allante again. Thus being the 1990.5 also known as the Phase 2 added a little more to the car and took some things away like the chrome strips around the headlights, the telescopic wheel and the hard top. New to this year was the drivers side airbag, CD player, better suspension and handling, different soft-top boot cover with better mini covers, better sound to the Bose audio system, better designed to the seat switches, And power front latches for the soft-top.

For those of you that have a 1990 Allante, check the built date on the drivers side door jam to see when it was built. This year Allante is the hardest to determining if its a 90 or 90.5 because we have came across some built in late 90 but had manual latches on the top. Were thinking that when they redesigned it, they came across extra parts of the 89 to 90 years and used them up. But one of the best ways to determine a 90.5 is if you have a 1990 Allante with an air-bag most likely it is a 90.5.

Now in the year 1990, this is where Cadillac again gets a bad rap. Because in this year the Mercedes-Benz's 500sl was introduced with a one button automatic power top. ( prior to 1990 the Benz also had a manual top.) So if Cadillac was competing with the 500sl, why didn't the $65,000 AllantÚ have one? Money! They did not want to invest in it at this time. But they will have to soon. Read on.

Now in 1991 Cadillac thought they had a winner. But the soft top was holding them back also with the reputation from past years. They stayed with this designed through 1992 (which was the least produced year for the Allante, only 1,931 made.) Now this is where the big problem started. The Bosch Anti-lock brake ABS control units started to break down. Cadillac had their share of replacing the defected units at their expense. If your Allante was out of warranty the cost was 3,000 to 4,000 to have replace. This is where, in my option that Cadillac goofed, in the ALLDATA reports on September 1993, Bosch has ask Cadillac numerous times to send back the defected parts so they can properly evaluate the product performance and work toward correction of the products concerned. Cadillac did not comply with this order. This is why were having the brake problems that we are witnessing. And if this was not enough, Now the Bose sound system in all 87 to 92 Allante's are starting to malfunction. Speakers are starting to act like a bowl of rice kipsies (Snap, crackle and pop) reason, there is an amplifier at each speaker and the capacitors go bad on the circuit board. Now it time to retool!

TA-TAD (drum roll)..... The New 1993 ALLANTE

Most say that this is the best and it was the last year for the Allante. Cadillac almost got it right. They replace the 4.5 Liter engine with the Northstar engine. 300+hp. gave it a great ride control (rides like a Caddy) changed the braking system, and installed a new and improved Bose speaker system and did away with the flimsy door lock flappers, no caddy crest on the center brake light, put the mirror controls on the door handle. And still no one button soft-top. This was a killer for Cadillac. Now that the Mercedes SL's had the one button convertible now for 3 years, Cadillac was under pressure for not coming out with it. The 1993 Allante had a sticker price of 60,000 they had a problem selling them. Some lucky customers got it for $45,000. This was their biggest production year with 4,670 of them. Most dealerships could not sell them, so Cadillac asked to have them shipped back to Detroit. Where they were stored and wholesaled out, or just waited for orders.

After the release of the 1993 AllantÚ, sales were still not picking up.Cadillac knew they needed to installed the one button convertible. So plans were made to hold up production for the 1994 Allante and redesigned the whole car for the 1995. Changes were to be a retractable hard top that folds in the trunk, a new grill and taillights design with a few changes in the interior. These changes did take place in the prototype Allante that resides in the private Cadillac museum that not open to the public. After a profit loss of 24 billion on the Allante, Cadillac scraped this idea and figured the 1995 AllantÚ would not take off.

Now 8 years later (2004) Cadillac is at it again with the new Cadillac luxury Roadster the "XLR" Some will see these on the streets by June 1, 2003 with the Neiman Marcus Limited Edition. I'm sure this is going to be a success even with a price tag of 85,000. I only have to wait till 2012 so the car will be 8 years old for me to own one. But as for now, I'm very happy with my 1989 and 1/2 Allante. I think it is the best car Cadillac ever produced. Those of you that own one (even with the problems that occur) know that it's the greatest driving, most comfortable sports car ever made, with enough trunk space to hold 2 suitcases and a set of golf clubs, and more. For a car being 10 years + Pull up to a stop light or gas station and what do you hear? Is that the new Cadillac? or I did not know Cadillac built a 2 seat convertible, and the best comment I like is when they say "What is it"? I'll tell you what you can tell them. That it's the most advanced automobile of its time, and still can hold up to any sports car today.

By John Monzo

Loading AllantÚs

Down the Line

On the Racks

Last one in front of the door

Final Assembly in Detroit

Installing the Drive Line

An Automotive Writers Perspective

Front View of the Line