Cadillac. America’s most iconic manufacturer of luxury vehicles. A brand that is so well-respected that its name has even entered the popular lexicon as a synonym for quality and luxury. If you have any interest in new or used luxury cars, then Cadillac is undoubtedly on your radar. Cadillac dates back all the way to 1901 when it was founded as the Henry Ford Company. However, Ford was soon forced out (and went on to found Ford Motor Company in 1903), and the company, originally named for him, was rebranded as Cadillac in 1902. This new name came from the French explorer who founded Detroit – Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac. Cadillac soon established a reputation for unmatched quality under the guidance of Henry Martyn Leland, its director, after Ford left. Leland was a top-notch engineer who had learned the value of precision and attention to detail while working as a machinist for the Colt Firearms Company. His oversight made early Cadillac cars significantly more reliable than similar models from other companies and set Cadillac on the path to becoming America’s most prestigious automobile manufacturer. Although Leland left Cadillac in 1917 (and founded its competitor, Lincoln Motor Company in the same year), his legacy lived on in some of the greatest vehicles ever produced in America. Without a doubt, though, these luxury vehicles came and still come with a price tag. But, of course, the higher the price tag, the more luxury you receive. So, as we approach the 120th anniversary of this great company, let’s take a look at the five most expensive production Cadillacs of all time.
#5 2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV 4WD Platinum Sport Performance – $103,890
Starting the list is the most expensive vehicle in the current Cadillac lineup. Unsurprisingly, this is the iconic Cadillac Escalade. Although the $75,195 starting price of this monster is actually significantly lower than the price tag on the Cadillac CT6-V sedan, when fully equipped with features, the Cadillac Escalade beats its smaller sibling by a few thousand dollars. With excessive interior space, a powerful V8 engine, and more interior tech than you can remember, the Cadillac Escalade has a well-earned place as one of the ultimate modern symbols of luxury.
And unlike the other vehicles on this list, you can buy one brand new today if you have a spare hundred grand burning a hole in your pocket. If your budget cannot quite handle that, then a quick search of used luxury cars will likely find you a Cadillac Escalade in your price range. However, even the top trim 2020 Escalade is far from the most expensive production vehicle Cadillac has ever sold.
#4 1957 Cadillac Series 70 Eldorado Brougham – $119,289
The second vehicle on the list comes from Cadillac’s golden age. First introduced in 1953 as a trim of the Cadillac Series 62 convertible, the Cadillac Eldorado soon became a model in its own right. With leather seats, lots of chrome, and one of the first air conditioning systems available in a convertible, the Cadillac Eldorado sold for $7,750. This was around twice the price of a standard Cadillac Series 62 and roughly $74,420 in today’s money.
However, this alone was not enough to claim a spot among the top five most expensive Cadillacs ever built. For that, they needed the Series 70 Eldorado Brougham. Hand-built on a larger platform than the standard Eldorado, this work of art cost an incredible $13,074 when new or around $119,289 in today’s money. This was more than a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, and only 704 of the Eldorado Brougham were built over two years before production was moved to Italy as a cost-savings measure. If you want one of these used luxury cars today, you will probably be paying even more than the original owner.
#3 1987 Cadillac Allanté – $123,454
The 1980s were a rough decade for Cadillac as its luxury vehicles faced increased competition from sportier European imports. In response, Cadillac introduced a European import of its own – the 1987 Cadillac Allanté. While this V8 roadster may not have been quite enough to restore Cadillac’s former glory, it did make history for its unique product line. The bodies were built in Italy and then flown to the United States to be turned into completed vehicles. Opting to use aircraft rather than ships to transport the Allanté surely did nothing to reduce its price, and at $54,700, it made waves as the most expensive Cadillac yet built at that time.
The inflation-adjusted price tag of $123,454 does not quite put the Cadillac Allanté in the top spot, but it does earn its place in the top three. However, the price of the Allanté has followed the same trajectory as those of other European imports, and a search through the used luxury cars for sale today will turn up examples for well under $10,000.
#2 2006 Cadillac XLR-V – $123,978
A decade after the short production run of the Allanté, Cadillac took a second swing at building a sports car of its own. This time they kept production in house and developed the 2004 Cadillac XLR on the same platform as the Chevrolet Corvette. But while the roughly $75,000 XLR boasted an impressive array of features and technology, the extra weight meant that its performance lagged behind the much less expensive Corvette. In a last-ditch effort to save the vehicle, Cadillac introduced the XLR-V with a supercharged engine producing 443 horsepower. But this effort failed, and both the XLR and XLR-V were canceled in 2009, with many still on dealer lots. However, the XLR-V did win a place in history for its exorbitant price.
When first introduced in 2006, it sold for $97,485 without any options. And although 2006 was not that long ago, inflation these days is still enough to make that approximately $123,978 in today’s money, narrowly beating out the Cadillac Allanté. However, like the Allanté, time has not been kind to the Cadillac XLR-V and looking through used luxury cars, you will see many examples in the $30,000 range. So if you want a bargain on the second most expensive Cadillac ever sold, now is the time to buy an XLR-V.
#1 1930 Cadillac V-16 Madam X – $153,342
For the single most expensive production Cadillac ever sold, we will need to travel back in time to the tail end of the Roaring Twenties. Unveiled in 1929, just months after the beginning of the Great Depression, the Cadillac V-16 was a staggering powerful car for its day. As the name suggests, these massive and ornate vehicles were powered by a sixteen-cylinder engine producing 185 horsepower – a simply incredible figure when you remember that the contemporary Ford Model A was sold with a 40 horsepower inline-four. And of course, size and power like that did not come cheap.
While the price tag on the Cadillac V-16 varied considerably depending on which of the numerous body styles and packages was chosen, in 1930, a top of the line Madam X variant was sold to Charles Howard, the owner of the famed racehorse Seabiscuit, for $9,988. In today’s money, that is approximately $153,342, making this vehicle the most expensive production Cadillac of all time. And if you want one of these used luxury cars today, then get ready to pay that much or more – assuming you can find someone willing to part with one of these incredible vehicles.