1982 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz (Cadinator)
Last updated Oct 11, 2008
I bought the 82 Eldorado to fulfill the need for immediate transportation while the Mustang was down. I got a good deal on it because it needed a front cap. My son and I did the repair and I sent it to get a cheap paint job. It had a good 4100 engine with low miles. I drove it 52,000 miles that year getting just over 25 MPG as a traveling salesman. I have heard some reports of the 4100 powered Eldos getting 32 MPG, but I average 80 on the interstate and Arkansas has a lot of hills in the rural areas. With a 4 wheel independent suspension, this car already handled better than the Mustang and with 4 wheel disc breaks it stopped quicker as well. When I upgraded to the thicker sway bars from an 85 Eldorado touring coupe, I was driving a car that handled almost as well as the 70 Elorado. The 82’s springs were too soft in back, and the torsion bars were so weak in the front, it was more like flying a hover craft than driving a car; I knew there was room for improvement. I swapped the rear springs with some from a 70 Malibu Station wagon and the car started cornering flat like a late model Camaro. I was still doing research for the front torsion bars hoping to find something stiffer than the 79-85 touring bars when trouble began to happen. At some point, the transmission quit shifting into fourth gear, but the engine was so quiet and the shifts so smooth, I did not notice anything but a dramatic drop in gas mileage. Not realizing I was buzzing the motor hundreds of miles a day with the 3.15 front gear ratio, the 4100 soon began to suffer from the upper end knock that they were known for. Since I had already discovered that with several more upgrades, this 3680 lb. car had the potential to handle in a Corvette-like manor and was in the same weight class, I was already thinking about doing a big block Caddy swap. Since the big block Caddy engine only weighs 35 lbs. heavier than the 350 Chevy, cranks out more power then the 454 Chevy, I had the potential of bettering the power to weight ratio of a C5 Corvette Z06. Not to mention that with fuel injection, those engines can be built to get gas mileage close to that of a GM V-6 of the mid- 90s, I could still drive hundreds of miles a day with no real drop in gas mileage. The 82 Eldorado used a TBI injection system like the one used in the Chevy 454 SS truck, so a throttle body and sensor swap would allow the use of the existing OBD 2 engine management system. I upgraded the radiator to a Chevy truck 4 row, put in a salvage yard Caddy 500 and added an exhaust that consisted of dual 2.5” header pipes that joined into a single 4” pipe in the tunnel, then back into dual 2.5” pipes and turbo mufflers. The first salvage yard engine was bad, and then I pulled a 472 from a 1972 Lemo rated at 535 lbs. of toque @ 3200 RPMs after hearing that it had been rebuilt by the former owner. The engine was painted in a way that suggested is had been apart. I did the swap and began driving the car to see if I could get the transmission to start shifting into over drive. I was also looking for a taller front diff to swap in. The engine began knocking 212 miles after I had installed it and the car was parked. Discouraged, I started driving a lil’ econo box wagon that gets 33 MPG. However, when doing some drive testing with “the Cadinator,” I found that even without 4th gear and with the 3.15 low diff, I was getting 20 MPG at 50 MPH. Better gears would have yielded the same MPG results at my 80 MPH normal driving average, and even better results at the 70 MPH speed. I am now doing a budget for the re-do of this car. It has been sitting in a field for the last five years and needs a lot of work.
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