Home » The DeVille Is In The Details: 1991 Cadillac vs 2000 Cadillac

The DeVille Is In The Details: 1991 Cadillac vs 2000 Cadillac

Sbsd 7 13 2023
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Good morning! Today we’re looking at two low-mileage examples of the same car, nine years apart. I make no apologies for the bad pun in the headline; sometimes these things just write themselves. Anyway, before we get to those, we have a twin-carb battle to settle up:

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A clear win for the Volvo. As several of you pointed out, there really wasn’t a bad choice here; either one would make a fun classic you could be proud to own. It sounds like a lot of you shied away from the Triumph for worry over the cost and availability of parts, but for you I have two words: Moss Motors.

Today, we’re going newer – and bigger. I have found two examples of Cadillac’s flagship DeVille sedan, both with incredibly low miles, both nice and cheap, and, coincidentally, both pearl white. Which one is the better deal? Let’s take a look and see.

1991 Cadillac Sedan DeVille – $1,750

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Engine/drivetrain: 4.9 liter overhead valve V8, four-speed automatic, FWD

Location: Laguna Hills, CA

Odometer reading: 66,000 miles

Runs/drives? Yep

Here we have the sixth generation DeVille, the first front-wheel-drive edition. It features Cadillac’s “High Technology” V8, with an aluminum block and cast-iron heads. In classic GM fashion, this engine was introduced half-baked in 1982, had a buttload of problems, and gained a terrible reputation before it had a chance to earn a good one. But Cadillac stuck to its guns and continued to develop and improve the HT engine. By 1991, when this one was built, it displaced 4.9 liters and was pretty damn reliable – just in time to be replaced by the Northstar, which repeated the same pattern all over again. But we’ll get to that later.

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This is a car I have some familiarity with. I drove an ’89 Coupe DeVille for a couple years several years ago, in similar condition to this one. Mine had electrical gremlins, like this one, but it also ran like a top, and absolutely floated down the highway. This one has a few other issues, namely a power steering rack with a pretty substantial leak. It does run and drive, but the seller says the rack should be replaced before the car is put into regular service. It also has a heater core leak, and the air conditioning is currently inoperative.

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It is nice and clean, especially inside. And it just passed a smog test, so the engine is clearly in fine shape. I can tell you that you can expect a very comfortable ride, wallowy handling, mediocre brakes, and absolute crap gas mileage. But the mileage will improve if you change the rear bank of spark plugs that no one has ever changed because they’re an absolute pain in the ass to get to.

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You won’t impress anyone with it, but you can also be certain it will be right where you left it, because who’s going to steal a scruffy 30 year old DeVille?

2000 Cadillac DeVille – $2,550

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Engine/drivetrain: 4.6 liter dual overhead cam V8, four-speed automatic, FWD

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Odometer reading: 78,000 miles

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Runs/drives? Sure does

Fast-forward nine years, and the “Sedan” part of the name was no more, primarily because the coupe was dropped after 1993. The HT engine was also history, replaced by the more powerful four-cam Northstar engine, which also had teething problems but eventually got better. This car is also packed with electronic doodads and bric-a-brac, but from the sounds of it, it all works. It’s hard to tell for sure; this ad reads like a bad translation from another language, or the product of an AI chatbot.

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It also includes quite a lot of “junk in the trunk,” including yoga and pilates DVDs, various tools, and CDs from Agent Orange, Ice-T, Yo Yo Ma, what looks like it might be Journey’s Greatest Hits, and a comedy album from Joe DeRosa. (This trunk is large; it contains multitudes.)

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But for all the ad weirdness, this does seem like a decent deal. The interior looks nice, and with the exception of the fake convertible “carriage” top, the outside looks pretty good too. I do question the “new tires” claim, since it appears to have three blackwalls and one white; it makes me wonder if the fourth new tire is in the trunk with a flat, and the whitewall is the twenty-year-old spare. Best to check.

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With only 78,000 miles, this car should have quite a bit of life in it, as long as you keep up on the maintenance. Northstar V8s do not tolerate overheating or running low on oil, so get used to popping the hood and checking things out every time you gas it up. (Actually, that’s not bad advice on any older car.)

Old luxury cars, especially American ones, can be great deals as used cars. They hold their value about as well as last week’s lottery tickets, and some of the luxury toys might not work any more, but if the mechanical elements are sound, you can get a nice comfy ride for cheap. Either of these old Caddys would fit the bill; which generation are you going for?

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(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 year ago

That ’91 looks so much better than the 2000 by sheer merit of not having that stupid, mangy fake convertible-style top.

We had an ’89 when I was a kid, and I loved that car. Just a comfy, swanky ride. The 2000 is fine, but it doesn’t have as much style and presence as that older one.

Sgtyukon
Sgtyukon
1 year ago

Malaise era GM cars swore me off the company completely in 1979. I have no desire to go back, but if I had to I’d take the 2000. That is, provided it has a Northstar with most of the problems worked out. I mean, the repairs we already know about on the 91 will cost more than the car.

Chris D
Chris D
1 year ago

Neither one, thank you. If I HAVE to make a choice, then the one with the lower price, because they are both old GM sedans that have too many problems with too few miles. Seriously, no AC at 69,000 miles??!!
When I was in high school, a friend’s older brother and 3 of his buddies all pitched in 25 bucks and bought a $100 station wagon that still ran but burned oil like it was gas. They cut a huge “sunroof” in the roof, and like the idiots that they were, went around trying to get mailboxes to fly in the air and drop into the sunroof.
These Cadillacs are the 2023 version of the hundred dollar station wagon.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
1 year ago

I’d take the one with the Jane Fonda pilates dvd’s. Don’t judge. I’m an old man.

STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
1 year ago

Awesome Showdown, Mark. Love the choices/contenders.

The ’91 for me; I’ll never own another Northstar after being burned the first time!

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago

Dad at one time bought used versions of both of these. Screw the Northstar.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago

Both probably smell like geriatric spirit. (mothballs)

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 year ago

Both of these are cheap crap for different reasons. I say go with the newer Northstar one and enjoy it until the headbolts stretch and the head gasket blows
https://www.cadillacforums.com/threads/are-all-4-6-north-star-engines-subject-to-head-gasket-problems.236462/

Then either swap the engine, go to someone like the Car Wizard to fix it properly or turn it into a lawn ornament.

One thing of note… that 2000 Deville is on the GM G-Body platform… which is to say that it shares a platform with the Buick Lesabre, Park Avenue and Riviera. Also the Pontiac Bonneville was on that platform from 2000-2005.

So what other engines were designed for that platform?

Why the generally sold 3.8L V6… both in regular and supercharged form.

So maybe drive the 2000 Deville until it dies and then swap in a junkyard 3.8L V6.

DDayJ
DDayJ
1 year ago

The 91 is better but the AC and steering rack make it a no go for me. I’ll take the NorthStar one even though all the crap advertised with it kind of creeps me out (but I’m keeping the TI-83 calculator, when was the last time you saw one of those?). I’d try to find less ugly wheels and better tires and drive it to the early bird dinner special until something goes wrong with the NorthStar and then junk it or give it to SWG to fix up.

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
1 year ago

Hmmm, what’s the difference again? both look like gramps’s old Caddy. The newer has the Northstar and the older one has inop A/C. I have heard of the Northstar and certainly not all good, but both cars are a crapshoot at their age,and we know the A/C doesn’t work on the older car, and most all the rubber bushings and seals hoses are just that much older. I’ll take the newer old person’s car, but IRL you would look at both and judge mechanical and cosmetic condition to arrive at your decision.

LazyN52
LazyN52
1 year ago

Don’t even need to read the article. The ’91 all the way.

Pre-MY2000 Northstar = instant CP

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
1 year ago
Reply to  LazyN52

Came for this, left satisfied. Anyone who buys a Northstar Caddy deserves what they get.

Mike B
Mike B
1 year ago

Was leaning toward the 91 till I saw the non-op AC. I’m all set with that in anything other than a winter beater. Mayyyybe a can of refrigerant and a home recharge will get it going,but probably not. That repair could cost more than the whole car.

I do really like cars like this though, they’re such comfy highway cruisers. I could def see myself using a car like this for a commuter, fuel cost be damned.

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
1 year ago

DeVille in the details indeed. Considering the 2000 isn’t a 2000 (it’s the 96-99 style), it was pretty easy to make up my mind. That AI-gen style sales text didn’t help its case any.

I’ve owned both a ’94 and a ’93 Sedan deVille, both with the 4.9. It’s a great engine, super-reliable, and mileage really isn’t too bad if one keeps up on the maintenance and runs the proper 91 octane in them. A fresh O2 sensor once in awhile and good rear-bank plugs are a must.

The ’94 was an overall nicer car, but the ’93 was easier to work on, thus making this an even easier choice. Parts for early ’90’s Cadillacs are just stupid-cheap from RockAuto if you can DIY things. I bought my ’93 for $1000, and replaced the tires with proper white walls, water pump, heater core, various hoses, belts, plugs and wires, pads/rotors/front calipers, soft brake lines, and changed the suspension over from the worn out “active control” to conventional shocks/struts all the way around. Total investment including the purchase price – $2200.

The car felt like new again and we got five trouble-free years and over 50,000 more miles out of it before selling it cheap to a guy who helps me with rental-property maintenance. He didn’t keep up with it cosmetically, but it’s still chugging around town, pushing 200,000 on the odometer.

Roll on, ’91 Caddy! Wish it was closer, at that price I’d go check it out over my lunch break.

Black Peter
Black Peter
1 year ago

That ad text was amazing, I’m betting AI, but I have no idea what the prompt was that caused it to repeatedly insist it was such a great family vehicle….

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
1 year ago
Reply to  Black Peter

But also slipped in that it “truly is a work horse.”

Mike F.
Mike F.
1 year ago

I voted for the 2000. The top’s a mess but it looks pretty good overall and the trunk was clearly, um, kept clean. It’s probably not a good reason to disqualify the ’91, but it will be around 110 here this weekend, so the non-functional A/C thing is a deal-killer.

Jho'nuquas
Jho'nuquas
1 year ago

’91 all the way! Weird text on an ad and weird shenanigans on the tires means weird seller which means weird attitude on maintenance and probably some headaches for titling. The lower cost on the ’91 opens up the budget to fix the A/C and heater core issues and in the end you get the more classic version with the more sorted out motor

Nathan Gerdes
Nathan Gerdes
1 year ago

I’ll be honest; as soon as “air conditioning isn’t working” was listed on the 91, my decision had been made. I’m not buying a big comfy boat just to not be comfy.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
1 year ago

Based on the scratch and sniff test, the 91 wins. With used Caddys this is a thing. The 91 looks like someone’s Grandma or Grandpa owned it. Grandma smell wins every time here folks.
The other one looks like some kind rolling crack head mobile, with a bit of a Samuel L. Jackson smell and vibe to it. Grandma wins by default today.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 year ago

These are both in pretty good shape, and were probably owned by oldsters who put on most of the miles going to the dealer for service.
But those engines. The HT being at the end of the development cycle is a good thing. I had a CdV with the 4.5 and it was bulletproof.
Oh, Northstar, the best AND worst Cadillac engine ever. Such a crap shoot on that head bolt issue. Before buying any pre-2007 Northstar, do yourself a favor and get a kit that tests coolant for oil and a kit that tests oil for coolant. If it passes those, make sure the engine gets full hot and then get your nose into the northwest corner of the engine bay. Sniff like a dog chasing a steak. Ideally, you want zero glycol smell. If you smell some, run like hell.

Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
1 year ago

Apparently I tied the vote again. I voted for the ’91, but not because of the drivetrain. I can’t get behind the looks of the newer generation. Don’t know why I don’t like it, but I don’t like it.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
1 year ago

I unabashedly LOVE big Cadillacs. My Grandpa bought a new SDV every other year for most of his retirement, and a drawing of his ’73 that I did when I was five years old is on display in my house right now. This selection is right up my cul-de-sac.

The ’91’s under-hood issues are a little concerning, but this year represents the best-looking of the first-gen FWD deVilles, with the extended decklid and the Voyage-inspired grille. Plus, the Landau roof and interior give off the perfect yacht-rock vibe.

The 2000 just looks bloated, and I remember the interiors of this generation being a real letdown. So we’ll take the ’91.

SuperNova
SuperNova
1 year ago

Looking for the none of the above box….it has to be here. I’d take a Lada over this GM crap.

Bomber
Bomber
1 year ago

I went with the NorthStar. There are plenty of kits to fix the head issues which are the biggest issues. Do those, then baby the thing like you should a Caddy…

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
1 year ago
Reply to  Bomber

Don’t baby a Northstar. Those engines were built to rev. GM putting that engine into a car driven at 10 under the speed limit to church and bingo meant they’d have issues.

Bomber
Bomber
1 year ago

Touche, by baby I mean don’t drive the doors off. Take care of it. Treat it well.

John Hower
John Hower
1 year ago

I went with the 2000 simply because I don’t want to deal with a heater core replacement.

Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
1 year ago

The 91 because my grandpa had one same color. I was amazed by the digital speedometer and what seemed like 20 way seat adjustment. Rode smooth as butter

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