CC Capsule: 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible – Fill ’Er Up With Happiness

1976 Cadillac Eldorado front

We have plenty to be downtrodden about these days, but let’s focus on something good.  With gas prices at about $1.90/gallon here in Virginia, there’s never been a better time to feed your 500-cu. in. V-8.  These Eldorados aren’t exactly my favorite cars, but seeing this one recently was like an elixir to all the accumulated problems of the last few weeks.  Who can’t feel good when seeing a 5,000-lb. Cadillac convertible roaming around?  Well, I’m sure some people can’t, though maybe those people can at least find some humor in the thought of seeing one at a gas station… the big convertible’s natural habitat.

1976 Cadillac Eldorado brochure

I will always associate ’76 Eldorado convertibles with the frenzy surrounding their status as the “last American convertibles.”  The ironies of that statement seem as vast as the car itself.  Though convertible sales had been lagging for a decade, customers eager to own a piece of history flocked to Cadillac dealers, pushing sales up 57% over the ’75s.  Speculators nudged prices to ridiculous heights, and if all that wasn’t enough, GM produced 200 all-white Bicentennial Edition cars for Boss Hogg wannabes, as if the standard cars weren’t garish enough.  And finally, as if to ridicule those speculators, none of this mattered when Detroit began producing convertibles again a whopping six years later – so much for being the last convertible.

1976 Cadillac Eldorado at gas station

Cadillac produced 14,000 1976 Eldorado convertibles, and it seems as if about 20,000 of them survive… and that most of those are in pristine condition.  So seeing this original-condition Calumet Cream example was somewhat of a treat.  In fact, I can’t ever remember a ’76 Eldorado that I enjoyed seeing as much as this one.  Maybe Eldorados didn’t end up being quite the collector’s items that they were intended to be, but this sure provided me a mental tankful of cheerfulness on rather dreary afternoon.  I hope this Eldorado brings even more enjoyment to its owner than it does to folks like me who simply gaze admiringly at it.  With gas under $2.00 per gallon, it’s likely to do just that.


Photographed in Arlington, Virginia in April, 2020.