December 28, 2017

Attributes found in fine cars often include distinct styling, rich materials, high-tech gadgets, an element of exclusivity, and an exorbitant price. One car that strove to meet those criteria, but overshot the mark in typical 1980s excess, was cobbled together by Pierre Cardin… the fashion designer. It was called: Cadillac Evolution.

1980 Cadillac Eldorado Pierre Cardin Edition Evolution brochure

Perhaps Pierre & Co.’s biggest problem was that the eighth-generation Cadillac Eldorado, on which it was based, was quite elegant to begin with and things could only go downhill. Absolving Pierre himself, reports indicate he bore no personal responsibility for the Evolution or its awkward features.

Nonetheless, the Evolution did check all the boxes. Distinct styling? You could say that (forewarning to those with overhang phobias), including plastic cladding on the lower body that ran the length of the car, and aero-inspired body-colored encasements for the side mirrors.

1980 Cadillac Eldorado Pierre Cardin Edition Evolution

Rich materials? For sure, however, only slightly more refined than raw materials. Leather was used for the Evolution’s seats which were hand-sewn, as well as its headliner and glove compartment. The carpets were deep pile virgin wool, the steering wheel and panels were carved from mahogany and walnut, and 18 karat gold accented the Evolution throughout.

How about high tech gadgets? For that Pierre provided a TV, with color picture. Moreover, he included a VCR with handy tape storage. There was also a serving console in the rear which included a bar and small refrigerator.

But what about exclusivity? I couldn’t nail down a number for certain but all reports ranged between 100 and 300 Cadillac Eldorado Pierre Cardin Edition Evolutions produced, for model years 1980 and 1981.

1980 Cadillac Eldorado Pierre Cardin Edition Evolution

Finally, there is the exorbitant price. A standard Cadillac Eldorado in the early 1980s sold for about $17,000 new. According to period literature, the Evolution stickered for approximately $63,000.

Certainly beauty is in the eye of the beholder and you’ll have to be the judge as to whether Pierre & Co. beautified or brutalized the original car with their unique interpretation.

Despite (or maybe because of) its 1980s exuberance, the Cadillac Eldorado Pierre Cardin Edition Evolution has started to find favor with collectors. The following example was recently placed for sale on Craig’s List but has already been pulled down. It had an asking price of $25,000. Thankfully, I backed-up the photos before the ad disappeared.

1980 Cadillac Eldorado Pierre Cardin Edition Evolution

1980 Cadillac Eldorado Pierre Cardin Edition Evolution

1980 Cadillac Eldorado Pierre Cardin Edition Evolution

1980 Cadillac Eldorado Pierre Cardin Edition Evolution