Curbside Classic: Boston Brougham (The Green-Plate Green Monster)

I came upon a Fleetwood

Due to my crazy schedule as a touring musician, I haven’t had but a moment to post any of my finds over the last three to five months, but I hope to change that a bit over my winter break. So! While on tour during VW week up in Massachusetts, I spotted this Brougham-tastic tonic (You can thank me later, Carmine) across the street from my pal’s place in Medford, still sporting an old-school green Massachusetts plate.

Green plates 4EVA

Up in the Boston area, those green plates symbolize two things: you’re an old-school New England resident, and you must have a little bit of pull, as the RMV loves confiscating these if they’re even a bit worn. Truly hard to keep your old plates up here, but the folks who do are pretty passionate about it.

Fleetwood vinyl

 

The green plate, last printed in ’87, perfectly matches the light Polo Green metallic paint on this 1995 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham, and the Soft-ray glass. The vinyl top is color matched too. What a stunner. I’m uncertain about the leather, but it appeared to be light green as well (it could have been the sun through the tinted glass).

This was the last Great Cadillac of the old-school; the rightful heir to the 77-92 “Mr. Drummond” model.

“Last great Cadillac, my foot…” I can hear some of you saying…”It’s got a Chevy V8!!”

Fleetwood LT1

 

But such a V8; the LT1! Starting in 1994, the Fleetwood came with this grand Generation 2 small-block — an OHV power plant which was certainly in the Caddy tradition of smooth, reliable V8 power, and easily kicked the butt out of the earlier Gen 1 L05 350 that the final “Mr. D” and first-year Fleetwood got. And selecting RPO V4P got you something very special: the first dedicated heavy-duty towing package on a Caddy since 1976. Here’s what you got: upgraded suspension, engine oil cooling, better cooling fan, heavy-duty transmission with a dedicated cooling system, 140-amp alternator, and a 3.42 rear-end ratio from ’94 on. These monsters were quick — 0-60 under 9 in the 94-96 models — and YouTube has plenty of videos of folks driving them at up to 130 mph.

 

 

So let’s move into the interior. While not as much of a futuristic dream inside as, say, the above 1965 Coupe DeVille:

 

Caddy interior

…The fit and finish are wonderful, it’s got all the doodads you could ever need (Twilight Sentinel!) and even now, nearly twenty years since this model came out it looks both classic and contemporary, aside from the molded-in logo-ed airbag cover.

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The style of these is often skewered by folks who simply compared it to its bathtub kin, the Roadmaster/Caprice. Yes, it’s certainly all there under the skin – the D-body is simply a stretched B – but look closer.

Caddy side view

(Butter)-knife-edge, wedgey styling pays respect to the classic finned cads, and presages the Art and Science look, while being definitely a car of its era. I particularly love the solid alloy wheels that have a wire wheel pattern built in — kind of a modern yet classic touch — and I would guess the disc design kept brake dust from sullying them too much. (The Fleetwood had 4-wheel disc brakes, in case you were wondering.)

caddy frontend

Actually, this looks a hell of a lot like the front end of the new Impala.

Caddy vs Lincoln

With this pic, you can see the influence of the pre-facelift “aero” Town Car on this final body-on-frame Caddy sedan. (Looks like the owner has had a parking mishap…)

Big man

A big person owns this car. Look at how far the seat is pushed back…seeing this, I got freaked out trying to take these close pics as there were union stickers on it, and I didn’t wanna mess with any angry shop steward….

ding guards

These door-ding guards are genius!!!

Motorweek gave it a glowing review.

So here comes my summing-up and opinionation. This was the best-built Caddy of its time, and is timeless. They should have kept this line going. They did all the right things to update it. Yet Arlington went to SUVs, ostensibly because of the soccer mom craze. However, having done some safety research on perhaps purchasing one of these or a Roadie, I hypothesize that GM wanted to avoid re-engineering an underselling platform for the 1997 Fed side-impact regs. While these are good cars in general and have dual airbags, compared to a ’97-up Panther, the safety ratings (passenger side especially) are terrible. And: Light trucks didn’t have the same crash standards as cars, so I’m guessing the powers-that-bean-count pulled a move right out of Unsafe at Any Speed to save the line from what would likely have been a multi-million dollar platform overhaul to meet. (I have no proof to back this up, but it’s a darn good theory, right?)

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Man, I love these fins.