It was an early summer afternoon in 2000. I was already on a high after asking Christina to the junior prom, but little did I know the day would only get even better. My dad raised up his keys to his 1992 Cadillac Allanté; the metal hit a glint of the sun, blinding me slightly. And then the words I had always wanted to hear came out of his mouth: “Son, you can take the Caddy to the prom.” It was truly the greatest day of my life.
Luxury. Power. Style. All of it was about to be at my command. Many Cadillacs have come and gone since then, but very few of them have the awe-inspiring presence of the Allanté—not to me, and probably not to anyone else.
More than a decade before that fateful day, horns and a rousing tenor voice blared the arrival of the Allanté, the new spirit of Cadillac. From 1986 to 1993, General Motors’ luxury division used the Allanté as its means of putting the Mercedes SL in its place using plush comfort, European styling, middling V8 power and front-wheel drive. The bodies were designed and manufactured in Italy by Pininfarina then flown by jet airplane to Detroit for completion, making Allanté as seasoned a world traveler as its intended audience was.
The philistines didn’t appreciate it for what it was, perhaps because its price tag would put it well into the six-figure range in today’s dollars. Fools, all of them. My father knew true grand touring luxury when he saw it and he raised me right. Who cares if it wasn’t “successful” or “a good idea”? It was wonderful in its own way.
Flash forward to the year 2000. Driving to prom in the Euro Red two-seat soft-top convertible, with a 4.5-liter High Technology V8 engine pushing 200 horsepower and 270 ft-lb of torque, was truly the only way to get to the dance. The Pininfarina body blew my prom date and her mother out of the water when I came cruising up the driveway. When she got in the car, the ten-way Recaro leather seats cradled her comfortably.
The only way I felt that I could truly honor this awesome and bizarre car was to let Raphael Orlove write and voice a script for this installment of “Know This Car.”
Dad, this one was for you and the Allanté!