Curbside Capsule: 1970 Cadillac Eldorado Hardtop Coupe – Peak Displacement

When I saw that Brendan had queued up his ’83 Eldorado for today, I knew it was time to write up the ’70 Eldorado I shot last fall, if only to provide a counterpoint and show how much Cadillac changed in just over a decade.

The seventh-generation Eldorado was introduced in 1967 on the Oldsmobile Toronado platform, which included the front-wheel-drive (FWD) Unified Powerplant Package mated to the then-standard Cadillac 429 c.i.d (7.0L) V8 engine. 1970 saw the introduction of the largest production V8 engine used in automobiles to date: a 500 c.i.d (8.2L) behemoth putting out 400 (gross) HP. A front-tire-smoking 60 MPH could be achieved in just over nine seconds, impressive for a car weighing over two tons. Compare and contrast with the ’83 Eldo’s 4100: half the displacement yielded only 1/3 half the (net) horsepower, but still had to drag around 80% of the weight.

Now admittedly, the baroque interior of the Biarritz (and what’s with naming a car after two completely different cities, anyway?), looks a bit “richer” than the peeling woodgrain appliqué on black plastic of the ’70, but ride quality of the ’70 was still consistent with Cadillac’s slogan, “The Standard of the World” at this point. Cadillac was very careful to maintain that brand expectation even down to its marketing, which only hinted at the sporting capabilities of the car with phrases such as “unusually spirited performance,” and “brilliantly responsive.”

Hidden headlights disappeared with the debut of the 1970 model, and, while sticking with the FWD platform, Eldorado would become much bulkier with the 1971 restyle (looking very much like a tarted up Chevy to this writer’s eye). Curiously, the restyled 1971 Oldsmobile Toronado looked suspiciously similar to the just-departed 7th-gen Eldorado’s styling. By the time Brendan’s 1983 Biarritz rolled off the line, there was visually little difference between it and its Olds stablemate, though the Eldo still had the edge in displacement, with an available 6.0L V8.

One could make a case that Cadillac was standing on reasonably solid ground in 1970 with the “Standard of the World” claim. By 1983, however, the “standard” was little more than a badge-engineered shell, albeit with a very nice interior and the isolated ride quality Cadillac owners expected. The Eldorado name would soldier on almost two more decades before finally being discontinued in 2002 after a fifty year run.

If you’re curious what the ’67 Eldo with its hidden headlights looks like, head right over here.