Was 1970 Peak GM? It is a divisive question. But I for one, think it may be “the year,” despite all the goodness present in the 1965 GM lineup and the commencement of de-contenting which began in 1967-68. But if for no other reason, recall that 1970 was the last year you could get a C-body GM luxury convertible.
While 1970 was not the end of the GM luxury convertible (the Eldorado would keep Broughamy topless motoring going through ’76), it was the end of the true full-size drop-top land yacht. For the last time, you had your choice of REAL BIG convertibles!
In Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight,
Buick Electra 225,
And Cadillac De Ville flavors. So if you wanted one, now was the time! I would take any of the three, but we’re focusing on Flint’s Favorite today, since that’s the car I stumbled upon at the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour when they stopped for the evening in Bettendorf, Iowa.
Yes, due to recent safety regulations and the beginning of now-classic GM bean-counting, the ’70 Electra 225 was perhaps not quite as imposing as, say, a 1965 or 1966, but the Nimitz-class convertibles still held their own against any luxury car in the year of our Lord 1970.
All 1970 Electras were, as expected, mildly touched-up for the new model year, and received a new grille, among other refinements. As had been the case for many a year, the Electra received more formal styling over the less-prestigious Wildcat (in its last year) and LeSabre, with more squared-up quarters and standard fender skirts. All of these sheetmetal differences only made the convertible look more imposing, luxurious, and special–at least in your author’s opinion.
Okay, now if I may digress for a moment, I have to mention the black interior. A BLACK interior? On a convertible? I don’t think so! Why would you do this if you planned on driving a convertible in, say, summertime, with, say, the top down?! A great way to flash-fry those little buttons into the backs of your legs! I love this Electra 225 convertible, but definitely would have chosen the white interior instead. It would have contrasted nicely with the black cherry paint, and have kept my legs scar-free in the warmer months.
There were two series of Electras in ’70, the “plain” 225 and flossier 225 Custom. Convertible availability was restricted to the latter trim level, at a regal (get it?) $4802. For comparison’s sake, a Ninety-Eight convertible started at $4914 (yes, the “lesser” Olds was more!) and the Caddy at $6068. The GMs pretty much had the market to themselves, too, as the nearest competitors were the $4769 Chrysler Newport convertible and $5195 300 convertible–also in their last year.
But let’s be honest: In 1970 GM was clearly superior to those slapped-together Mopars (sorry, JP!), not to mention the fact that Ma Mopar was undergoing yet another one of their oft-repeated crises in 1970. So really, most folks who had the bank account to get a big–and I mean BIG!–luxury convertible likely would have gone for one of the Olds, Buick or Caddy models.
But it was a shrinking market. Only 6,045 Electra 225 Custom convertibles were sold, along with 3,161 topless Ninety-Eights and 15,172 De Ville drop-tops. Clearly the Caddy was the favorite among well-heeled sun-lovers, but as much as I love the Cadillac version (and the one in the brochure pic further above is stunning in Nottingham Green Firemist with white leather), there is something compelling about the less-popular Buick and Olds versions. I was super-excited to view and digitally record this Black Cherry beauty! And if you’re wondering about the title, James Lee Burke is my favorite author, with his Dave Robicheaux novels. Although his fedora-wearing private detective Clete Purcell may favor Caddy drop-tops, I think he’d like this Electra too!