The Cimarron was first offered by the Cadillac division of General Motors in 1981 for the 1982 model year. The Cimarron was a compact car and is known as one of the most unsuccessful Cadillac vehicles to date. Despite the poor sales of this vehicle, the Cimarron was offered to consumers through the 1988 model year, when it was finally pulled from the Cadillac lineup. Many car critics claim that poor sales can be attributed to the fact that Cadillac did not stick with what it knows best, larger sedans and luxury vehicles.
Cadillac built the Cimarron on the General Motors J platform. The Cimarron was a response to the idea that consumers were going to want a smaller car than they had in the past. While the Seville had answered the smaller car problem for Cadillac, they thought they were going to need something even smaller to compete in the market place. Cadillac watched as BMW, Mercedes Benz, and Audi had much success with compact vehicles, so they rushed the Cimarron, expecting it to do quite well against the stiff competition.
The J platform was a new platform and was used for the economy car. The Cimarron featured a MacPherson strut front suspension system as well as a torsion beam rear suspension. All of the cars that were built on the J platform had all of these components as well as the same engine in common. The Cimarron was a unibody vehicle that featured a lower front suspension, engine, and transmission. The Cimarron was refined further with hydraulic dampers, as well. With all of these things, it seemed as though the Cimarron was a shoe in for success.
When released the Cimarron was powered by a very standard I4 engine and a four speed manual transmission with an optional turbo hydramatic. The Cadillac Cimarron also featured top notch fabrics and was well crafted. Power steering as well as air conditioning were standard features which brought the base price of the Cimarron to over $12,000. This price tag was more than double that of the other J bodied vehicles on the market and this was something both Cadillac and consumers were a bit anxious about.
Cadillac had expected to sell over 75,000 models the first year, instead they sold just under 26,000. This was far less than anticipated. Some press critics loved the vehicles, but consumers just were not impressed by the Cimarron. Cadillac consumers citted that they simply were not in the market for a compact vehicle if they were looking at Cadillacs. Those that were in the know about platforms also realized that this car was on the same platform as popular vehicles such as the Chevy Cavalier, which they could buy for half as much. Another problem that many consumers had with the Cimarron was that it was powered by a four cylinder engine and Cadillac did not offer a V6 until 1985.
Unfortunately, Cadillac offered too little too late. By 1987 the V6 engine was standard, but by this point buyers were not interested in the Cimarron at all. Most people considered the vehicle to be overpriced compared to other similarly sized vehicles. By the end of 1988, Cadillac had pulled the plug on the Cimarron and returned to the vehicles that they knew best. Unfortunately, the Cimmaron wasn’t the last small car disaster that Cadillac experienced, as their next small car was the Catera. Both the Cimarron and the Catera are known as Cadillacs failures.