Why this 1992 Cadillac Allanté had three private planes
This 1992 Cadillac Allanté boasts a claim no other car can muster - its own trio of Boeing 747s...
When opening the rule book on how to construct a vehicle with effective cost control, it’s normally common practice to build each car in the same place. Each bodyshell must be pressed, welded and sent through the paint shop without interference from the elements – or else face the corroded consequences. Allowing Mother Nature to feast away upon the underpinnings during this vital stage halves the car’s life expectancy from the off.
Cadillac knew that engaging in such a faux pas is the ultimate automaker no-no, yet decided to ignore all advice for the sake of ubiquity. In perhaps the most absurd car manufacturing technique seen this side of of British Leyland, Cadillac bigwigs insisted upon a production method that involved traversing the Atlantic ocean – with a trio of private Boeing 747s costing no less than $100 million. That's $250 million with contemporary inflation, before the cost of production was even considered...
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All appeared normal upon the new Allantè’s announcement. There was a neat, crisp design penned by legendary stylehouse Pininfarina, and a thumping all-American V8 offering swift performance. Cadillac’s short wheelbase promised a fierce road stance with handling that was far superior to homebred market rivals of the time. The company even boasted a computer-based process employing dark mathematical magic to decide on a viable name from 1700 options; a first within the automotive industry.
However, it wasn’t long before the car developed a sour reputation. In a fashion only seen from Detroit, the 4.1-litre V8 was only capable of a meagre 170bhp, mustering 60mph from a standstill in 9.8 seconds; slower than a Range Rover of the period.
The gearbox didn’t help matters either, changing down like a wrecking ball and struggling to cope with everyday life – much like the original owners after purchase. Rather than lead the pack as intended, the Allanté was bound and gagged by European competition as the Jaguar XJ-S and Mercedes-Benz SL picked potential buyers off in their droves.
To make things worse, Bosch discovered that the Allanté ABS braking system had serious flaws. Then, further hammering things home, sound systems crackled to such an extent that drivers presumed interior trim was falling off. Roofs reportedly let in water. Doors rusted from the inside out. Air conditioning units leaked into the bulkhead and footwell carpets could often house decaying spores that environmentalists claimed responsible for lung cancer. The Cadillac dream had turned into a hellish nightmare.
Consequently, sales were slow, and despite vast improvements throughout the car’s production run, the public never bought into the image. The Allanté quietly disappeared from brochures and showroom space was filled by boxy saloons.
Yet, with all this considered, the most dramatic aspect of the Cadillac Allanté wasn’t to be found when stuck behind the wheel, but rather in the bonkers construction.
Pininfarina are based in Italy. Cadillac operate in the USA. As common knowledge dictates, the Atlantic ocean is sort-of in the way. Any rational thinker from the Board of Directors would vote to build the entire car in one location – but not Cadillac. Rather, they decided to employ a trio of Boeing 747s specially modified to cart half-finished Allantés across the Atlantic from Italy, to be finished in Detroit.
Dubbed the ‘Allanté Airbridge’ by General Motors, this process cost Cadillac a serious amount of money, before the vehicle recalls were even planned for. Huge delays, with weather keeping planes grounded and jet engines kicking off like a troublesome child, made for substantial profit loss. The final example was flown in from Italy on July 2, 1993 before Cadillac axed the project and shareholders breathed a sigh of relief.
Only 21,430 models left the factory – of which a tiny number still remain. Ironically, the car's starring moment involved Charlie Sheen dropping one out the rear of a plane, as you can witness below.
Nestled in among the Cadillac Allantés within the AutoClassics classifieds is this original 1992 model. An extremely clean specimen wrapped in a highly desirable color scheme of bright red over black leather, as infamy dissolves, this kind of Allanté makes for great value luxury without eye-watering cost.
As a hand-assembled car, panel gaps and alignment are better than other examples out there, and the paint is truly worthy of a $60,000 automobile. Details are clean and crisp, from the traditional Cadillac grille up front to the slick clear taillights that pre-dated the current trend by more than a decade. The black canvas convertible top is in excellent condition, and folds into its compartment behind the seats, where it is covered by a hard shell.
Destined to become a cult classic as numbers continue to thin and the appreciation grows with age, grab this one now – they won’t hang around at this price forever. Get a closer look at the $12k Cadillac here
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