XLR wasn’t the first roadster Cadillac has ever offered. Allanté preceded it by almost two decades. Not only was Allanté considered oddball in Cadillac’s lineup at the time, it was also assembled in rather peculiar fashion. Caddy commissioned Pininfarina for body work, but since GM closed nearby Fisher Body Plant (Cadillac’s long time body supplier), they had to fly in Allanté bodies from Italy. This was done in specially designed Boeing 747’s which accommodated 56 bodies per flight.
Rest of the work was done at Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly where Allanté received its innards. Initial models were powered by 170-hp 4.1L V8 engines. This was changed in 1989 when 200-horsepower 4.5L V8 mill replaced it. Finally, 4.6L L37 Northstar V8 with 295 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque arrived in 1993. But by then, Allanté was already singing its swan song.
General population never received Allanté the way Cadillac anticipated they will. Of 6,000 planned models per year, Caddy only sold 21,430 total units. That’s around two times less than what was projected at first. Reasons for Allanté’s slow sales were numerous, but manufacturing process probably played crucial role. It raised sports car’s overall price for one. Moreover, Pininfarina convertible tops were quite leaky. Although they only got better over the years, the damage was done. For a car aimed at the likes of Mercedes-Benz SL and Jaguar XJS, Cadillac Allanté never possessed the necessary quality and refinement. It was like a kid lost in big boy’s game. At least it has a dedicated following among car aficionados today.