GM: "Hmmm, let's rebadge the 1981 Chevy Cavalier as a Cadillac and add leather seats. Yeah, that's a great idea."
The idea was simple enough, but it was doomed from the get-go. Really, a Chevrolet Cavalier rebadged as a Cadillac? Were Cadillac decision makers completely at a loss for ideas? Apparently so. Remember, this was the GM era of Roger Smith, a non-car guy CEO who had risen through the ranks of the accounting department. He knew jack shit about what cars were supposed to be, and GM later paid heavily for keeping him around.
Anyway, the Cadillac Cimarron was nothing more than a Cavalier with a somewhat fancier grille and leather seats. That’s it. Oh yeah, one more thing: it cost thousands more. When it launched in 1981, it carried a price tag of $12,131 – that’s roughly $31,469 in change today. Power came from a straight-four engine paired to either a four-speed manual or a three-speed auto. At least A/C came standard. Amazingly, the Cimarron remained in production for seven years, but it took Cadillac a lot longer than that to recover from the shame.