Far From the Mainstream: Buick to Cassalini

How many Buick’s are there on sale in Europe? Shockingly, there are 270 of them at mobile.de alone. But a two cylinder diesel, plastic bodied micro car is worth more.

2016 Cassalini homepage
2016 Cassalini homepage

The first roadworthy Buick is on sales in Vilnius and is only this price €1500 because it is upside down and must be rolled on its roof on four skateboards. 

1989 Buick Regal for sale in Vilnius
1989 Buick Regal for sale in Vilnius

Chillingly, most of the Buicks cost more than €3000. A 1995 Park Avenue painted in checker taxi colours and with 144,000 km is still €2000. The ultimate Roadmaster wagon, with wood-effect exterior panelling costs €3300 although it has only 113,000 km up. For another hundred euros you can have nicely maintained Park Avenue, one of GM’s nicest ever cars.

I won’t spend too much time in this section, only noting that Park Avenue seems to have found a bit of a following and about half of the Buick’s are parkers. With my narrow lens in operation, that means it could easily have been turned into an Opel Admiral had GM been bothered.

1999 Cadillac Deville for sale. Too big to fit in a photograph: source
1999 Cadillac Deville for sale. Too big to fit in a photograph: source

Next door to Buick we find Cadillac and today there are just under a thousand cars for sale. The cheapest Cadillac I found cost €1000, for a Seville STS V8. Note that it is younger and costs less than the cheapest Buick. It’s a horrible car so I’ll turn to the next item: a 1999 DeVille which looks like a real Cadillac should. Admittedly it has been crashed and repaired. Still, that’s a bargain. A lot the low-priced cars are Sevilles and Devilles with a few Eldorados thrown in. I find it remarkable these cars are here at all. The received wisdom is that they just didn’t belong in Europe and were marketed badly. Partly this is true yet I also think that

Cassalini cars for sale at Mobile.de
Cassalini cars for sale at Mobile.de

having slightly more appropriate engines might have tripled the sales figures. These V6s and V8s might boast large displacements. What matters is power output and these cars aren’t that impressive in that regard. Surely GM in Europe could have found engines with the right displacement and power outputs for these cars and this market. Some of them are quite charming otherwise. The sub-20 mpg fuel consumption is devastating though. A four-hour drive in one of these cars will cost nearly €80. At the far end of mobile.de listing is a 1959 Cadillac convertible for €770,000 and I don’t think that’s a misprint. For a seventh of the price you can get a new armoured Escalade. That’s for sale in Newark, NJ.

Once we leave Cadillac we are firmly back beyond the mainstream. Cassalini cars look like Italy’s answer to Aixam only they have a bigger engine. Here is a screen shot of the cheapest offerings.

2016 Cassalini pick up
2016 Cassalini pick up: source

The current range is made up of a small car, a micro-truck and a pickup. All three are powered by a 636 cc Mitsubishi diesel engine of two cylinders. These vehicles might seem tiny and peculiar. They are very well suited to a country of tiny villages and tiny roads. Form is here following some kind of functional requirement. I wonder if these have type approval across Europe. More fascinatingly, a 2005 Cassalini with 23,000 km is worth substantially more than many Cadillacs: €2490.

2016 Cassalini cars: source
2016 Cassalini cars: source

What have we learned? We have learned Buicks are more valuable in Europe than Cadillacs and that a two-cylinder diesel-powered micro car is worth more than most Cadillacs too. Put another way, apart from armoured and historic cars, the Cadillac name is pretty cheap now.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

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