1979 Cadillac Eldorado
Eldorado was completely re-designed for 1979
The new breed of Eldorado was introduced for the 1979 model year. It had been re-designed from the ground-up. Eldorado was world-class luxury…first class, Cadillac-style. The trim new size increased its agility and overall performance. The Cadillac Eldorado was always the epitome of Cadillac luxury. The 1979 Eldorado was an impressively new performance…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”
Front-wheel drive, Electronic Level Control, four-wheel disc brakes, Electronic Fuel Injection, and Automatic Climate Control were among the many standard features that made this a world-class automobile. The 1979 Eldorado was engineered to make efficient use of space. It had a new chassis, a new body, and a new engine.
This was the next generation of the Cadillac Eldorado. Its advanced engineering was due in no small part to its computer design. It took full advantage of the most advanced automotive technology to bring the 1979 Eldorado to a new precision size. The engineering objective was to reduce service complexity should it be required.
Every detail of the all-new 1979 Cadillac Eldorado made it one of the world’s best engineered automobiles. Its front-wheel drive provided optimum traction and stability, with the engine just above the drive wheels. Four-wheeled independent suspension allowed each wheel to react independently to road conditions providing a smoother ride.
The Electronic Fuel Injected engine used an on-board computer for spark selection. The 1979 Eldorado’s four-wheel disc braking system self-adjusted with each application, provided rapid heat dissipation, and guaranteed smooth, fade-free braking.
The Automatic Climate Control system automatically heated, cooled, and de-humidified the air at one touch of the temperature control. The compressor worked only when required. The 1979 Eldorado’s space efficient design provided more head and legroom than its 1978 predecessor.
Twilight Sentinel automatically turned lights on and off according to light conditions and included a timer to light one’s way to their door safely. Steel-belted wide whitewall tires were match-mounted to the wheels to reduce deflection and increase rolling smoothness.
The all-new 1979 Cadillac Eldorado was powered by the OLDSMOBILE 5.7 litre 350 CID 16-valve V8 engine. This Electronic Fuel Injected engine produced 170 hp @ 4,200 rpm with 365 Nm of peak torque @ 2,000 rpm. The engine was mated to GM’s Turbo Hydra-Matic THM-325 3-speed automatic transmission. Performance was rated as 0-60 mph in 11 seconds, 0-100 mph in 35.4 seconds with a top speed of 112 mph. It could do the ¼ mile @ 77 mph in 18.6 seconds.
The 5.7 litre Oldsmobile and the 6.0 litre Cadillac V8 for the 1980 model year were the last truly reliable engines for this genre. We were about to enter the decade of “extremely bad taste.” Cadillac had the audacity to offer a diesel engine which I absolutely refuse to address…yes, the era of extremely bad taste aka the kitschy-faux luxury cars of the ill-fated Eighties…
The 1979 Eldorado’s space efficient architecture was built as body on frame construction using Cadillac’s ladder-type frame with welded crossmembers. The all-new Eldorado used an independent torsion bar type front suspension with a link-type stabilizer bar. It was also modified to facilitate Eldorado’s front-wheel drive system.
Hydraulic direct action shock absorbers were fitted to the front and rear. The rear suspension used independent trailing arms with coil springs and self-leveling system dampers. This new breed Eldorado rode on a 114” wheelbase and was 204” in length, with a wide 71.4” stance.
The 1979 Eldorado not only had an all-new four-wheel independent suspension, it used four-wheel disc brakes as well. The system was set-up with single piston sliding calipers with ventilated discs fitted to all four wheels. Cadillac’s triple braking system was standard. The system used a dual hydraulic master cylinder with separate fluid chambers to provide independent front and rear operation. It used a tandem vacuum power booster.
The discs self-adjusted themselves each time the car was driven in reverse and the brakes applied. The parking brake had silent action and an automatic vacuum release. It was a true auxiliary brake since it wouldn’t lock with the engine running and car in gear.
The 1979 Eldorado was the first complete re-design since the 1971 model year. It was a trim 224 pounds lighter and 20 inches shorter than the car it replaced. The turning circle was five feet tighter. The Cadillac Eldorado was one of the cars that pioneered front-wheel drive.
The styling was unmistakably Cadillac with its long hood and short rear deck. It had a low-slung chiseled look with a hint of the iconic Cadillac tail fin at the rear. Its trim new size was perfect for today’s world. This new silhouette was most definitely Cadillac.
A Cadillac Eldorado has always been a car complete. The 1979 was no exception. Its many standard features included: Automatic Climate Control, power windows and door locks, Dual Comfort 50/45 power assisted front seating, Illuminated Entry system, Twilight Sentinel, Electronically tuned AM/FM Stereo Signal-Seeking radio with scanner and digital display, remote-controlled left & right rearview mirrors, Electronic Level Control, Electronic Fuel Injection, remote trunk release with power pull-down, cornering lamps, and wide whitewall steel-belted radials.
The Trip-master on-board computer system was an available option which provided digital read-outs regarding average miles per gallon, average speed, miles to destination, estimated arrival time, engine rpm, engine temperature, and electrical voltage. Other popular options for the 1979 model year included: Electronic Cruise Control, power recliners, Theft-Deterrent system, Tilt & Telescopic steering wheel, Firemist paint finishes, fuel monitor system, automatic door locks, and trumpet horn.
The ultimate expression of Eldorado for the 1979 model year was the Biarritz trim option package. Its signature exterior features included a stainless-steel front roof cap, Cabriolet vinyl roof treatment with chrome moldings, opera lamps, Biarritz scripts affixed to rear sail panels, accent striping, and cast aluminum wheels.
The interior featured hand stitched button-tufted pillow-style seating in either luxurious Dante cloth or five colors of supple leather. Plush Tangier carpeting was under foot. A leather trimmed steering wheel completed the look of elegance. The Biarritz was the epitome of Eldorado luxury.
The 1979 Cadillac Eldorado was the new breed of this distinctive personal coupe. Eldorado was always the pinnacle of luxury on the grand Cadillac scale. The 1979 Eldorado was world-class in design and engineering. Standard front-wheel drive, four-wheel independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, Electronic Fuel Injection, Electric Level Control, and Automatic Climate Control made this world-class coupe even more distinctive.
Its lower wind-cheating silhouette combined with its aerodynamic design not only optimized its maneuverability but fuel economy as well. It was designed for easier serviceability and fewer maintenance services. This was the new breed of drama…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”
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I love my ’79!!!!
My first Cadillac was a 1984 Eldorado Touring Coupe. All black. Tobacco leather. Stunning. Yes, it had the ultra-crappy HT 4100 engine, and that was it’s downfall. Sadly, I no longer have it and have to content myself with a ’94 DeVille Concours and ’96 Fleetwood!
Indeed…Cadillacs from this genre are JUNK. My aunt had a 1985 Eldorado that KNOCKED something fierce – right before it blew a headgasket! Those cars were gorgeous but not worth the metal they were made out of. Most people I know that are still driving them had the Oldsmobile 5.7 litre 350 CID V8 installed. The music STOPPED for Cadillac in the 1980s. It’s a shameful period for the luxury brand that left a bad taste in the mouths of many.
The only period worse than the eighties are the NORTHSTAR equipped Cadillacs – loose-bolt headgasket syndrome are their downfall. This is the reason you hardly ever see a 1997-1999 Cadillacs. I know for a fact, the 1999 model year was JUNK because I bought a brand-new 1999 in 1999 and the first two years were sheer hell! The dealer had it more than I did! The 2000-2005 models bear watching too if you’re in the market for an older Cadillac. I lucked out with a 2002 which I am still driving with 139,800+ miles on it. This car runs like a scalded cat! I use it as the beater. I drive this to avoid driving the higher-maintenance luxury cars I own. It’s rare to see a 2002 as spirited as mine! I like seeing the DeVille nomenclature on the rear decklid. It’s a shame Cadillac lost the glamour and intrigue it once possessed…becoming a generic copycat in the industry.
i owned a 79 and an 80. They were luxurious to say the least. Didn’t even feel the difference when one blew a tire. However, the 80 had one of those junk motors that was slower than a horse drawn buggy. The 79, though it had a powerful Olds 350, had a transmission throttle body that twice required the transmission to be rebuilt, once in Macon, GA when I was on a trip back from Florida to Indiana. Cost me $3000 and two weeks to get it back home and then it failed again. If only there was a way to put a decent engine in one of these I’d buy one again and have the engine and transmissions replaced. Sadly I know of no engine/transmission with which they can be replaced.
I bought back my 1979 red Eldorado 10 months after I sold it. I had replaced water pump and lowered gas tank to replace fuel pump. I put on 15 inch American Racing mag wheels which were made for that model with 4 wheel disc brakes. I replaced 8 track radio with the cassette one from a 1980 Eldorado. I like the compact size and sporty look with the 350 Olds motor which is easy to service since motor is not horizontal . Love the fact it has torsion bar front instead of coil springs. Zero rust problems. Hideaway windshield wipers is neat. 1979 is the year to buy even the models with the vintage Cadillac motor.
Hey Gene! You nailed it dude! Yes, the 1979 with the 5.7 litre 350 CID V8 is the way to go. The 1980 is also a good year because it had the 6.0 litre 368 CID V8 engine which is also very very good. It wasn’t until the AWFUL HT 4100 oh, I forgot the AWFUL 1981 6.0 litre V8-6-4. They ruined the engine with the modulated displacement which was never delivered. GM ended up making a computer chip to install into those horrid engines to make them run 100% of the time on all 8 cylinders…which was too late. The damage had already been done. This is why you don’t see any of those retched vehicles any more. The junk yard was full of Cadillacs from 1981 thru 1986 with bad engines. The music truly stopped for Cadillac in the 1980s!
My 79 with the Olds 350 had an entirely different indigenous problem. The Olds transmission had a “throttle body” in it that failed every 5000 miles. And after 1981 they made no more replacements. I got stranded in Georgia when mine went out. They had to scour junk yards to find one.
I also had a 1980 368 cid engine and it was a dog. There were Amish horse and buggies that were faster.
Hello Tom! I thought that engine was pretty decent. I have a 1980 Fleetwood Brougham with the 6.0 litre 368 CID V8 and it runs like a scalded cat. It has 66,000 miles and still kicks-butt. I think it was build quality back then. My grand dad used to say never buy a car built on a Monday or a Friday. From the mid 1970s, GM had some interesting issues. Like putting Chevy engines in Buick and Oldsmobile models, there were many lawsuits just for this reason. I remember those V8 engines, it was like the toss of a coin. I don’t know what happened to GM during this period. Remember the HT 4100 V8? Talk about HORRIBLE! I traded a 1982 Cadillac for a 1983 Oldsmobile 98 Regency back then. I got sick of Cadillac and their shenanigans. An uncle bought a brand new Cadillac Seville with the 5.7 litre Olds V8 – that sucked royally! That car was the biggest piece of junk I had ever seen. He went with Mercedes-Benz after that.
Did you purchase the 1980 Eldo new? Was the engine built towards the end of the production run? That engine was groomed for the ill-fated V8-6-4 in 1981…Cadillac was ‘strange’ back then. It was like, the engineers lost their way. That V8 engine was discontinued replacing it with an even more unreliable powerplant. The HT 4100 almost finished Cadillac. That was an extremely disappointing era for the former “Standard of the World.” It should have never happened the way it did. Cadillac lost its leadership for a very long time. This also why their cars were such junk! Like I was telling Gene – the junk yards were FULL of 1980s Cadillacs. I remember BEAUTIFUL Eldorado, Seville, DeVille, and Fleetwood models sitting completely worthless because of 1) those horrid engines; 2) their horrid electronics AND 3) lack of customer service.
The Cadillac red-carpet was no more. Cadillac motorcars were adulterated with many different parts…they were merely a hodge-podge of GM parts! I thought you knew that! I remember my brand-new 1981 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham – was a gorgeous grey – became an expensive piece of junk. It did an impressive ‘buck-dance’ before the engine BLEW right in front of everyone too! I kept taking that car back in for service…they called themselves fixing it – OMG I will never forget that car! The 1982 I had went thru 2 engines, under warranty. I traded that on the Olds 98 – I was finished with Cadillac after that. I wouldn’t buy another Cadillac until 1990, I bought the Brougham d’Elegance with the 5.7 litre V8. LOVED that car. I traded it on a 1993 Fleetwood Brougham. That was a very good car. I would trade them every 3 years so I bought the 1996 Brougham. 2002 is the last Cadillac.
The biggest mistake I made was trading the 1996 Brougham for the 1999 DeVille – THAT WAS ONE OF THE WORST CADILLACS I HAVE EVER OWNED! The first two years, the dealer had it in their service bay. It had been completely rebuilt by 2002 when I took it to trade for the ’02 – the dealer insulted me with what they were going to give me so I got my keys back and took both the 1999 and the 2002 home. I stuck that 1999 in the garage, removed the battery and just let it rest. I put the battery back in about a year later…that car had turned to JUNK sitting in the garage. The guy that bought it had to bring a flatbed to get the car. The rear wheel on the passenger side had seized, the engine was TICKING loudly and backfiring…it was just unbelievable and that is when I stopped patronizing Cadillac. (Remember the head gasket/loose-bolt syndrome?) Now that’s a bad engine, your horse and buggy would be needed if you bought a Cadillac with a bad NorthStar!
From 2000 until 2011 Cadillac built the same car. Oh they freshened the nose and tail in 2006 but the rest was the same. And don’t get me started on that NorthStar! The 2002 DeVille I drive as a beater has 141,000 miles and is starting to show her age. I may keep it just to drive in the Winter so the other cars don’t have to be driven in salt. But the engine is still strong running and has never let me down. To this day…I don’t even look at Cadillac any more! I won’t buy this new crap, they depreciate far too fast and there’s no more “Cadillac-Style” like it used to be…alas dear Cadillac – I knew thee well! My advice to anyone who likes the new Cadillacs…buy them 3-4 years old after they have taken the brunt of depreciation. I wouldn’t dare put that much in a Cadillac CT6! NO-WAY!
I have no idea when either of my cars were built. The 79 Olds 350 engine was excellent. The transmission was junk. The 80 was as slow as could be, but rode so well I had no idea of a flat tire until a trucker pointed at my back tire on the interstate. I bought both cars used, the 79 from a local farmer I knew. The 80 I cannot remember how I came across it, but multiple attempts by a performance shop never got a single bit of horsepower out of it, but they did manage to burn the cylinder heads when they installed the wrong plugs. In the end I got rid of both of them and never again purchased a Cadillac product.
What I have occasionally wondered is could a place like “Count’s Cars” (you know that show on the Discovery Channel) could find a way to install another front wheel drive engine (big block to be sure), or even convert them to either a Mopar 426 or a 440 six pack, or maybe one of these new 700 or 800 hp engines.