The Bad Old Days: This Look At The 1989 Cadillac STS Will Leave You Wondering How They Survived
In the interest of full-disclosure here I have to say that when I was younger, I kind of fell in love with the 1990s era Cadillac STS and DTS models. They were the cars that Cadillac had always built I thought. They were big, they looked cool, they had some guts, and they had come cache about them. You saw one and figured that you’d look cool driving it, the way that many people shopped for Cadillacs over the years. Well, almost all the years because as we’ll see here, the late 1980s were such a dumpster fire for the brand that they were making cars that were so insanely confused it is amazing that they even survived this era.
This MotorWeek review of a 1989 Cadillac STS pretty much highlights a brand that had lost its way. It was trying to compete with European cars which had been refined and tuned up over decades with a weird model that had to have lacked sense to even the people trying to sell it at the dealerships. Seriously, let’s consider this car.
The machine rode on the GM K-platform which was designed for Cadillac and first employed in 1980. This was the front wheel drive setup that the brand thought would be the best move for American customers. The 1989 model was redesigned to tighten up lines and make it more contemporary looking. Power was a transverse mounted 4.5L V8 (which sucked out loud for many reasons) belting out 155hp, the peak of which you never experienced because of the torque management system designed to save the transmission during full throttle shifts. Sweet! The car would run the quarter in 16.8 seconds and make it to 60 in a now slower than mini-van 8.9 seconds.
Handling-wise the car was not too bad, but who freaking buys a Cadillac for the handling? Think people are auto crossing these things with the SCCA? The majority of buyers wanted the cars to literally float down the road and do it in an as effortless and quiet a method possible. Then there was the interior.
This thing really goes to pieces when you see the inside of it. The whole thing is just brutal. This was going compete with graceful European cars of the time? It loos like a Chevy Celebrity interior that someone drove through a brothel. Yeah, loads of leather but the dash, radio, HVAC, and other controls look like they came from the dime store.
How did this brand survive this time in its history?!
Press play below to see this 1989 Cadillac STS review on Motor Week –