The Cadillac Allanté, now considered among recent rare used cars, is a two-door luxury roadster manufactured by General Motors. It was designed by Pininfarina of Italy and sold for only seven years despite its superior performance and unique styling.
About 21,500 Allanté units were made, equating to slightly more than 3,000 per year. In its final year, 1993, Cadillac made 4,670 Allanté units with a high-end price of $65,000.
Originally designed under the code name “Callisto” to compete with the Mercedes-Benz SL and Jaguar XJS, the Allanté featured a modified variant of the 4.1-liter V8 used across Cadillac’s lineup.
The Allanté is noted for an unusual production arrangement. Completed bodies — designed and manufactured in Italy — were shipped 4,600 miles from Italy in specially equipped Boeing 747s to Cadillac’s Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly Plant. They were then matched with domestically manufactured chassis and engine assemblies.
(The Cadillac Allanté featured in this post’s images is owned by a vintage car collecting couple from Dixon, California. It was parked in a small neighborhood mall in East Sacramento near McKinley Park.)
The 1987 debut Allanté featured a removable aluminum hardtop. It was the auto industry’s first power retractable AM/FM/Cellular Telephone antenna. The Allanté also had a multi-port fuel injected variant of GM’s aluminum 4.1-liter HT-Cadillac 4100 V8. It had roller valve lifters, high-flow cylinder heads and a tuned intake manifold.
The roadster featured an independent strut-based suspension system front and rear. It had Bosch ABS III four-wheel disc brakes and a complex lamp-out module. It substituted a burned-out bulb in the exterior lighting system with an adjacent lamp until correction of the problem.
The Delco-GM/Bose Symphony Sound System – a $905 option on other Cadillacs – was standard on Allanté. The only option was a cellular telephone, installed in a lockable center console.
The 1993 Allanté was the pace car for the 1992 Indianapolis 500. The car was driven by Bobby Unser. Al Unser, Jr. won the race and his brother, Al Unser, finished third.
The last Allanté built was flown from Turin, Italy on July 2, 1993, and completed at Detroit-Hamtramck 14 days later. Economics killed Allanté. At the time of its demise, it was a leader among world vehicles in performance, handling, image and presence.
Article Last Updated: May 30, 2014.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.