Home » Banged-Up Grandpa-Mobiles: 1997 Cadillac DeVille vs 2000 Chrysler LHS

Banged-Up Grandpa-Mobiles: 1997 Cadillac DeVille vs 2000 Chrysler LHS

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Well, here we are again. And oh look, we’ve got a couple of cheap cars to consider! Today, we’re running with the Early Bird Specials and Werther’s Originals crowd. But first, we need to settle up Friday’s matchup:

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Looks like S.W.’s reputation puts his Jag in front! I’m inclined to agree: when it comes to cheap cars, how it has been treated in the past however many years matters a lot more than how it was built.

Now then, today’s cars both appear to have the same history. I can’t be sure, of course, but both of these cars feel like something taken away from an elderly owner after they could no longer safely drive. It happens, and it’s never a fun time, but it’s for the best. And as a side effect, it frees up a good used car for someone else. So let’s take a look at see how these two measure up.

1997 Cadillac DeVille – $2,499

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Engine/drivetrain: 4.6 liter DOHC V8, 4 speed automatic, FWD

Location: El Cajon, CA

Odometer reading: 62,000 miles

Runs/drives? Sure does

Almost no car says “retired elderly driver” as strongly as a Cadillac DeVille. Of course, it also kind of said “mob boss” 20 years ago, but I think they’ve all moved on to Escalades now. A silvery-beige DeVille with low miles, in Southern California? Retiree.


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By the time this DeVille was built, there was no need to specify “Sedan DeVille;” the Coupe had been discontinued the generation before, in 1993. This generation DeVille was bigger, sleeker, and faster than its predecessor, with Cadillac’s Northstar V8, packing either 270 or 300 horsepower under the hood, depending on trim level. Not that you need that much power to get to the golf course, but Cadillacs not too many years prior were downright pokey, so the Northstar was a welcome infusion of power.

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What wasn’t as welcome were the Northstar’s teething problems, most notably head gasket failures and oil consumption. These problems are well-understood these days, and there are fixes, but we have no way of knowing if this car had encountered those issues or if any repairs have been done, and if so if they were done correctly.

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It’s a very low-mileage car, and apart from a wrinkle on the right rear door, it looks like it’s in good shape. One wonders if the wrinkle in the door was the reason for the keys being taken away; it has the look of a garage-door-edge hit rather than a traffic altercation.

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This car could be a decent deal, if there are service records and everything checks out. It could also be a nightmarish money pit that will end up in the junkyard in six months after making you late for work for the last time. With a Northstar Cadillac, it’s all about the maintenance.


2000 Chrysler LHS – $2,400

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Engine/drivetrain: 3.5 liter V6, 4 speed automatic, FWD

Location: Blaine, MN

Odometer reading: 144,000 miles

Runs/drives? You betcha

Chrysler’s LH chassis cars bridged the gap between the earlier long-running K-based sedans, and the now even-longer-running LX rear-wheel-drive cars. The LH came in a lot of flavors; this LHS was a mid-level model, tuned for comfort over handling, but not as squishy as something like a Buick LeSabre.


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The LHS is powered by a 3.5 liter single-overhead-cam V6 with four valves per cylinder, putting out a healthy 253 horsepower. Like the DeVille, this car is no slouch, as sofas-on-wheels go. It’s a bit sportier inside, with bucket seats and a console-mounted shifter in place of a more traditional bench seat and gearshift on the column. And as a graphic design and typography nerd, I have to say I really like Chrysler’s design and font choice for the gauges in the LHS:

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This LHS is a Minnesota car, and as such, has a bit of rust here and there. A peek underneath to see how advanced it is wouldn’t be a bad idea. It has more than twice as many miles on it as the Cadillac, but still not a lot, and the seller says it runs and drives well and has had a lot of recent maintenance work done. It’s a little banged up, but it still looks reasonably good.

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There is that Minnesota rust to consider, though.

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This car strikes me as a safer bet than the Cadillac, but it’s also likely not as comfortable, nor does it have the Cadillac name, if that matters to you. But it’s a much more modern looking and feeling car, and a little smaller and easier to live with.

Former-old-folks cars aren’t for everyone; you have to be okay with an automatic, and don’t plan on doing much canyon-carving. But for a nice comfy daily ride, they’re not a bad option. Which one of these two gets your vote?



Quiz Maker

(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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1 year ago

Gimme the Caddy–I can always trade it for a microphone.

1 year ago

Can somebody in the know explain why the Cadillac appears to have HVAC controls in the instrument cluster? Seems like an odd place to put them.

Brian Burke
Brian Burke
1 year ago

As much as the damage on the side and the Northstar make me hesitate at the Cadillac, the lower miles, anti-Rust Belt location, and land yacht-ness makes it my winner. The long drive in that boat of a vehicle would single-handedly make it the winner for me

1 year ago

Less miles AND less salt? How is this a question?

1 year ago

I guess if you look at the cost of a head gasket & door replacement compared to any kind of new car cost the Deville isn’t bad?

Buddy Repperton's Sideburns
Buddy Repperton's Sideburns
1 year ago

Not that either one of these choices is particularly salivating, but how could *ANYONE* pick a Northstar-powered ANYTHING over just about anything else? “Hi, I’m here to sign up for the guaranteed perpetual and infinite wallet-emptying headaches..? Oh, and if you could throw in a side of I’ll have AAA on speed dial because my car overheats every two tenths of a mile, that would be great!”

WhoDey Buckeye
WhoDey Buckeye
1 year ago

These cars are right up my alley since I’ve actually owned the same generation of both of these in the past. Overall, I enjoyed the ride and interior of the Caddy more but I liked the look and reliability of the LHS over the Caddy.

I bought my Caddy with 45k miles on it and never experienced the head gasket failure they were known for. However, I had countless other things ranging from rear shocks to electronics to power steering fail on me on a regular basis in the 4 years and 50,000 miles I drove it.

I bought the LHS with 55k miles on it and it ran and drove perfectly for me for 6 years and almost 70,000 more miles. I would have kept it even longer if I hadn’t had ot totalled by a dump truck that rear ended me.

If I had to choose between pristine examples of these two vehicles I would choose the LHS in a heartbeat. However, these are not pristine examples. While the Caddy needs some body work it is a better option than dealing with the rust I can see on the LHS and especially better than dealing with the rust you can’t see yet. Given that, I would reluctantly choose the DeVille out of these two.

(By the way, not everyone who drives these are old farts or mob bosses. I was 25 when I bought my Caddy and 29 when I traded it in on the LHS and my two daily drivers since then have basically been the manufacturers replacements of these models (2009 Chrysler 300 and my current 2016 Cadillac XTS) Some of us just like a nice comfy daily driver.)

1 year ago

Let’s see – a Chrysler product from Minnesota, land of 1,000 rust spots, or a Cadillac retiree car from California with half the miles and just a junkyard-sourced door away from being a pretty nice car.

Look at the under-hood pictures of the DeVille; gramps took nice care of it.

The LHS has black stains on the floor where the driver puts his feet and that means wet snow and salt and no mats. Great: the floor is working on rusting through from both sides. Oh, and imagine what IT looks like under the hood. I have the suspicion that car is a junkyard-gate away from being scrapped.

So, it’s better, the Deville, you know.

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