Photographed by “therightpedal”
The “Classic Cars” license frame is on the wrong Caddy.
I love the lower, more svelte look of the old one.
My old man mind says “get off my lawn” to that CTS “thing” on the right and “hello beautiful” to the one on the left.
No, not the white SUV. The one NEXT to the one on the right. I’m not THAT old.
I drove a 2015 or 2016 Cadillac XTS the other night. It was quite nice, but just didn’t have the Cadillac panache I have experienced in other Caddy’s. I can only imagine what this CTS is like.
I’m not terribly impressed by the XTS but it was only ever a stopgap model and will likely be axed soon. It was supposed to appeal to “traditional” Cadillac buyers but I think its width and lack of V8, as well as the rather intimidating CUE system, hampered that. I think it has still outsold the DTS though, at least in that car’s later years.
Yes, what kind of morons at GM thought putting a system like CUE on a car appealing to their oldest demographic was a good idea? It’s stuff like that makes me despair for GM’s future.
So how old are these people who you think incompetent to sort out the CUE system? this could be a trick question…
Fast forward 25 years and lets see if the CTS is still going to be on the left and what is to the right for a Cadillac.
Fast forward 25 years and you’ll find a bunch of enthusiasts around your age now, calling the CTS-V a classic. It’s not just that this car was excellent, and will likely be collectible, but also because rose-tinted glasses tend to make older cars seem so much more desirable.
Perhaps for the -V… I doubt anyone will be seeking out regular CTSs 25 years from now, except maybe to clone CTS-Vs (ala Tempest to GTO). Most will probably be scrapped once depreciation takes it’s toll, I’m already finding scores of early first gens in the self service junkyards along with all the worthless 80s-90s junk I play with.
The key difference between Cadillac then and now is there wasn’t an ultimate option package that drew eyes to the brand then, then it was the Cadillac. If it weren’t for the -Vs there’d be very few who would be enthusiastic about the brand, especially since the Art & Science theme will become more and more stale the longer Cadillac keeps applying it to generations upon generations of models to come. People who look back at old cars fondly, whether older recalling nostalgia, or younger in my case who simply appreciate the designs, are able to be enthusiastic in no small part because the current trends are so different. Who knows how long Art & Science will continue from here, but already you can see the effects of familiarity when comparing a new 16 CTS to an 04 – basically the same but old and familiar
Awesome picture to show how they took a beautiful classic and spoiled it. Wonder how old the new one will be able to live. Doubt like the old one has.
I wish they had done something like a V spec on that old Brougham. Nothing fancy, just some Impala SS stuff including the 17″ alloys and 255/55 tires. I read about a prototype Brougham “SS” from around 1980 that had engine and suspension mods. Maybe I read that here.
Here’s the hot rod Brougham I was thinking of, the Duntov GT prototype from 1987. Way more badass than that CTS-V. It had a Corvette engine, 4-speed auto and BBS wheels. Background story from the builder…
“I’m not sure what you’all know about the Duntov GT, but I was there as one of the builders. The Duntov GT was a one-of-a-kind car built to be marketed to diplomats, secret service or whomever needed the extra HP in a Cadillac to handle the extra weight of bullet proof glass. My boss was an eccentric millionare who loved and drove Cadillacs, and also held a Bonneville land speed record. He made his money inventing, marketing and frachising unique concrete cutting machinery than ran on 400Hz. We could get 20HP out of a custom made, aluminum, water cooled electric moter the size of a standard 1/2 HP 120v electirc motor.
One day he told me to go to the local Chevy dealer and buy 2 Covette engines, new in the crate. IHe had me take one of the engines to nearby Traco Engineering to have it built up to 450HP. Then sent me over to the Cadillac dealer to pick up a new Brougham. When I got back we (me and another guy) pulled the engine out of the caddy and started to fit in the vette engine. We had to fabricate the motor mounts, have a driveshaft and radiator and custom dual exhaust made. He hired a guy who worked for Buick in Michigan that was an electrical engineer to make a hybrid wiring harness to match up the vette engine to the caddy chassis and we had to make a chip to fool the vette computer/anti theft before we could start it.
It was the ultimate sleeper. When you left the light it spun the itres and left everyone looking. After we put the 450HP Traco engine in it, we modified the supension with sway bars, shocks, posi-traction and wider tires/mag wheels. Then I could light up the tires at will and hold a burn out until I lifted off the throttle.
No one every ordered one and so he drove it as his daily driver. Bad idea, but a VERY expensive and bitchin car.”
A new CTS-V is basically the same thing.
The CTS-V is too much of a BMW clone for me, loads of talent and smarts but no personality. An old Brougham with the Duntov GT treatment would have been conceptually similar to the Buick Regal GNX, a great performance car that wasn’t embarrassed to be American. Low mile GNX collector cars can fetch $150K these days, quite a bit more than a similar low mile BMW M5.
I guess what you fail to grasp is that I don’t see much personality in the BOF RWD Cadillac’s beginning with the 1971 model year. Cadillac’s in the early 60’s were still good, but with the oversized 71 models this faded out.
This one needs its own CC story…
Whence is the license plate, placed on DeVille ???
It looks like a temporary registration that expires on June 8, 2016
There was a 1995 or 96 in the church parking lot today. White paint, white vinyl top, tints too dark to see the interior driven by the same young (under 30) Latino gentleman with his wife and three kids. Still inspires much lust in me and I think arguably the best looking of the three whales (Caprice, Roadmaster, and Fleetwood Brougham). A beautiful evolution of the square box Fleetwood.
The current XTS is still too narrow for my taste when viewed from the rear.
My inner old man is leaning toward the old one more than the new one. Not a fan of newer Cadillacs, give me the older models.
When you see the rear end of the new vs. the old one wonders what is there to like about the new? Besides chrome bumpers just do that something extra for a car vs cheap looking painted ones.
The new one is like the Cargo Cult. Crude misshapen imitation hacked out of logs and coconuts and trash, based on a vague long-distance view of the original, without understanding why the original is built the way it is.
Don’t know that I’d go that far. It’s just a generic ‘anycar’ shape with a few old Cadillac cues sprinkled around.
The drive for maximum efficiency and space utilization has led to such common shapes that it would take a really talented designer to make a standout sedan design. GM tried scaling down the old shape, which didn’t really work. Now they have cars which have distinctive detailing on a fairly generic basic shape.
I don’t mind the new one so much, but at least the CTSs from a couple years ago still had rather crude displays for their radios and gauges that just looked like any other GM car. Meh.
What is really jarring, however, is their intention to distance themselves so much from what Cadillac has come to mean. Yet, I’d bet most of the Cadillacs sold to this day move on the reputation of the Cadillacs of yore that were really the Standard of the World and even the 70s-90s RWD boats that still had some panache and presence. I doubt very many (some no doubt, but prolly the sort of people who bought CTS-V wagons and we know those were big sellers…) buy them for aping BMW.
The CTS V shown here is the previous generation model, not the current model. Not that there is a huge difference. V series Cadillac’s are competing with the BMW M cars or the AMG Mercedes. Not exactly the sort of car that one would want to drive through rush hour traffic.
The old Cadillac is not from the 1994-1996 period, so is not one I would want either. Don’t like vinyl roofs either.
Well, there is just no pleasing some people. For a time, this CTS-V was the world’s fastest production sedan. It had excellent handling, a beautiful and high-quality interior and an aggressive yet upscale exterior.
Cadillac just can’t win with some people. It keeps making the same old DeVille-type cars and it gets criticized for only appealing to the elderly. So it adds rear-wheel-drive and Art&Science styling, and then it’s all too shocking for some. So then they make the styling a little bit more elegant (like in the second-gen CTS) and then… what, they’re now trying too hard to be BMW-lite?
I like big, soft luxury sedans to some extent but it’s been clear for decades that that is not what the market wants. And if part of the market does want that, it’s not a growth strategy because younger buyers want sport sedans and even younger buyers want crossovers. The days of the Brougham are gone. Time to move on. So Cadillac develops cars that rival BMWs in handling while offering high-tech features and luxury accoutrements that Cadillac has historically been known for and even that’s not good enough.
Sigh. It’s tough being a Cadillac fan because historic Cadillac fans are too hard to please and German car fans are too hard to convince.
Hard pass on that Brougham. It was a relic by the end of its run, its styling is far too geriatric for me, its performance and handling is mediocre. I’d sooner take, say, a 2000 DeVille DTS.
Incidentally, this is the CTS’ worst angle in all three body styles where it looks the most chunky. Front 3/4, it announced to the world it was brash and American and expensive. I thought that’s what American car fans wanted after decades of Luminas?
The Brougham may have been more distinct from a contemporary BMW or Mercedes, but the CTS-V was far more competitive with a contemporary BMW or Mercedes.
Incidentally, the CTS-V was pretty unique in that it had gobs of raw American muscle under the hood with a supercharged 6.2 V8. What did the Brougham have, an anaemic Olds 307?
Not the best angle…
I think Caddilac has done pretty well with the new CT6. I finally got the chance to see one in the flesh, and I liked it. You can see the hood unlike the XTS, the interior seems higher quality too. It has certainly has more presence and feels bigger/roomier. Not the same sort of Brougham that I like, but I’m also not in denial about Brougham styling not coming back.
As long as they keep a bone to throw to us traditionalists, I’ll be interested. I just got a new car not that long ago, but when the time comes for the next one, the CT6 is certainly on the list.
As to the old one, I just love the looks-its very emblematic to me. One of these days I’ll get around to picking one up as a Sunday driver. I could care less how it handles or that it probably has an Olds 307 under the hood because all I want to do with it is ooze around town or float down the highway.
Aw, git outta here with your facts and sensibility!
For the last 2 or 3 years of the old-body Brougham you could get them with the Chevy 350. Yeah, yeah, what’s a Chevy engine doing in a Caddy, but it’s a 350. That’s the way to go.
Left: The last generation of what I’d call a CADILLAC.
Right: An appliance pretending to be a Cadillac.
I can understand why some people might call the CTS-V “ugly” or “not a REAL Cadillac” but an appliance? Really? Well, I’d love to see your kitchen if a supercharged V8, rear-wheel-drive luxury sports sedan is an “appliance”….
How about a turbocharged V6 powered blender?….I have a small kitchen. LOL!
And a noisy one! 🙂
Huh?!?, Wah?!?, Oh, sorry — I was making a drink 😉
Tim Taylor: “Its the only blender on the block that can puree a brick” lol
LOL!, after I wrote my comment, I thought “Buick Blender” is a good name for a CUV!
William Stopford, et al:
All I meant by ‘appliance’ was: Vehicle lacking of
any strong personality, identity or indication of its
legacy – compared to the Cadillac whose rear
we see at left & center. Appliance, as in, it
I feel the picture represent “Three” distinct generations:
Body On Frame Cadillac: Silent Generation (WWII like my dad or Korea) and early Baby Boomers (Vietnam): “Extended prosperity”, but earned what you got. A Cadillac represented achieving a goal, sending a clear message of status and influence.
Unibody Cadillac: Very back end of Baby Boomers and Generation X. A bit impatient, “inherited wealth” or IPO money.
Ford Escape (white car in picture): Smack dab middle of the Baby Boomers. Lived thru Watergate, Energy Crisis I (’73) and II (’80), Jimmy Carter, and “uncontrolled inflation” (remember Paul Volcker) and interest rates of 19% + on your first car loan. My generation was not as optimistic, understood what CAFE stood for, and could never afford such luxury.
To this day, I never feel comfortable riding in a Cadillac!!
I’m taking the Brougham, But it’s a ’90-’92 – I’d wanna lose the “Pontiac cladding” and have an ’89 or older front. I never thought the ’90 “improvement” worked.
I kind of think anything BOF past 1967 is rubbish.
You’d have to go to 1970 then, as the ’67-’68 and ’69-’70 are two reskins of the 1965-’66 bodyshell.
Back before World War Two, Fleetwood interiors had real wood trim. After the War, Fleetwood’s probably did not have fake wood until sometime in the 70’s for sure. I suspect that wood trim in Deville’s of the late 60’s is questionable.
Cadillac started to use real wood again in the 90’s, but before that I am not sure.
IIRC, real wood in ’69 on Fleetwood level, Faux wood on “lesser” levels. YMMV!
There was a beautiful example in this color and generation (90-92) on House of Cards
Well, I’ll march to the beat of a different drum and say I’d take the newer Caddie hands-down. They may be generic in America, but in New Zealand (where the RHD V6 was sold new and the LHD CTS-V is available as a specialist used import), the styling inside and out is fresh, distinctive and unique.
I would have liked to see that CTS parked next to a black 86-91 Seville STS. Then it would not be opposites attract but brothers by another mother.
I like each one on their own merits. For the Brougham, there are times, especially here in Michigan, when a big, soft cruiser is a soothing and welcomed change of pace. If that had the 350 and towing package (numerically higher FDR), it’d be snappy enough around town and its acres of space, even if filled with plastic wood and vacuum metallized chrome, do have an old school charm. The V fullfils “fast” no doubt and is a much more current and connected driving experience though. I’ve also noticed in that body that my shoulder rubs the b-pillar when I’m wearing a winter coat and said b-pillar is right next to my head (I mean it’s RIGHT there) when the seat is adjusted for all 6’5″ of me. Same with the current XTS. So while a used CTS wagon is on my short list of cars to seriously try out in the next year, that b-pillar thing may end up being a deal breaker.
I think that the thing that makes the older Cadillac in the picture special is that it was styled as if it were architecture. The chromed tail lights look like protruding cathedral windows with pointed tops designed to shed rain. The bumper ties them together, and the trunk lid is set back to give a 3 dimension aspect. The deep inset of the license plate gives off more 3d detail. The newer car is very generic. Some chrome around those tail lights would work wonders.
I had never thought “Architectural” before, but you’re right! I always say these are the last “real” Cadillacs (even though the 93-96 are mechanically the same) My reason is the were the last that really carried the elements seen in most standard Cadillacs since 1941, When the 1980 reskin came out, I saw a modernized 65-66 (esp in the rear.) the ’80 Cadillac looked less “forced” than the ’80 Lincoln, somehow it was more pure. They do look as if they were “built” rather than “stamped out” (as most cars today do – hence, “appliancey”) And they looked “expensive”! With no apology — “What a luxury car should be…”.
I’ll make no apologies, I like that CTS.
Trouble is, without that CTS badge I wouldn’t know what kind of Cadillac it is, and I still couldn’t tell you which generation.
I like the CTS, it’s better looking than most new cars. I am a late boomer, born in 1964, the boomers that are ignored almost completely by other boomers (because we all know the “real” boomers were those born between 1946-1956 or thereabouts, right?). So I still remember what Cadillacs meant in the late ’70s when they still had relevance.
I can recognize one of these cars on the street as a Caddy, but I cannot differentiate between CTS, ATS or any of the other letter jumbles these days. Used to be, I could spot a Caddy a mile away and know it was either a Sedan de Ville/Fleetwood, Seville or Eldo, and its place in the heirarchy. Today, I can’t tell one from the other. That, plus the styling is pretty generic and GM’s premium car nameplate has gotten lost in the shuffle of brands/technology etc.
Maybe a premium brand from GM no longer matters much in the marketplace?
The automotive manifestation of “YOU’RE NOT MY SON!”
I’ve driven a Brougham and a CTS. I enjoyed driving that CTS, it was nice and quick and had a good sound system. But it was not particularly distinctive or memorable. The Brougham sure was…I saw plenty of them when I was little and always viewed them as the ultimate prize, a view which has been tempered now by ownership and reality but is still mostly true.
The older car has a lot more presence and a stately formality, that, while it seems unwanted today, is what made Cadillac Cadillac (with the possible exception to the stateliness coming in the high-finned years). Like it or not, it had a purpose–and if you bought one you wanted to make some kind of statement. Conversely, I don’t dislike the CTS actually…I just couldn’t tell you what it’s for or why one would buy it, or what it says, particularly.
CTS, Now there’s a forgettable alphabet soup name for a car.
If you put two S-class Mercedes of similar vintage, or two 7-series BMWs, next to each other, all you’d see would be evolution. Same with a couple of big Volvos or Range Rovers. Two Jaguar XJ’s, and there’d be a major difference in style, but size and presence wouldn’t be dissimilar.
Two Cadillacs (or two Lincolns)? Two different planets, very slightly ameliorated by design cues. That’s a hard sell.
These are two different classes of cars. How about comparing apples to oranges, a 1985 S-Class to a 2015 E-Class.
I’m not seeing many similarities.
I rented a brand new CTS of that generation around 2010… having never driven any BMW or Mercedes (besides my beater 1987 300E with 250k miles, which hardly counts), it was probably the nicest and most well-engineered vehicle I’ve driven to date. I remember accidentally going 95 on an inner city Detroit freeway for an extended period without even realizing it, because the car was so still, so silent, so stable, slick, and completely unfazed at high velocity. Fast too, and this was with the “base” V6, if you can even call such a powerful car “base”. The interior was incredibly nice having become accustomed to the usual Rubbermaid(TM) GM rentals. Not luxurious on rough city pavement though. While it never slammed or crashed over potholes in the same way a cheap economy car does… the ride was very stiff and abrupt, constantly jiggling and jostling around; nothing like the smooth, gradual waft in prior Cadillacs, or even a Toyota Camry for that matter. It was a nice car, but if I were going to drop $40k on something like that (or, as most buyers do… $500/month on a lease), why not go for a real Mercedes which probably drives just as nicely and most likely rides better?
Also owned a 1986 Fleetwood Brougham for a while. Hard to believe the same company produced both cars, and only ~20 years apart. About the only objective similarity is that both cars are very quiet.
I hope this is not perceived as rude, but these comments seem to me to be written by folks who either were not old enough to be around when that Cadillac B-Body was sold, or have not driven a 2nd generation Cadillac CTS-V, or both.
I do agree that Cadillac’s quest to compete with BMW has led them down a dead end and that current Cadillacs lack both luxury and space. However, the second generation CTS was a quite strikingly beautiful car when it came out, with a large and distinctive front grill and a quite pretty wedge shape. And the 2nd generation CTS-V was both a refined and incredible car to drive, and a technological tour-de-force, combining magnetic ride control with a 556 horsepower 6.2 liter supercharged V-8 and a perfectly integrated traction control system that keep the car completely in control without being intrusive.
And I can’t tell the year of the Brougham, but I can guess it was maybe a 1989. So year 12 out of a 15 year model run? At the time, it was considered a joke by more and more people. I would argue that Bill Mitchell would have been shocked and dismayed that a car that was somewhat stylish in 1977 (though never as much as the 1977 Caprice or the 1975 Seville) was still on sale 12-15 years later!
Just as a comparison, let’s look at 15 years of Cadillacs starting in 1949…
I’m fairly certain that there were no “B” body Cadillacs since the Series 61 went out of production in the early ’50s. And the subject Brougham is a 1990-1992.
I’m not only old enough to remember when it was new, I owned several of the generation: 1979,1985,1989.
Sorry, C Body
So, do you think a 15 year model run is in keeping with the standard of the world? And do you think the 2nd generation CTS-V is an appliance pretending to be a Cadillac?
I just have a rather consehhh-vative perspective on what looks
like a Cadillac(or like any other domestic luxury model that I
have ridden in or seen examples of).
What I always say: “They don’t make ’em like they used to”…
I could be nasty about it – as in the case of these portables:
“WHAT the **** is THAT thing on the right?!?!…
Same goes for the feature photo. 😉
I remember when Volkswagen was PRAISED for keeping a design around (unlike those stupid decadent Americans cars!)
The series 61 was also a C-body or a standard Cadillac body.
The last “B” body was a Series 61, If other year series 61 was a “C” body, that doesn’t invalidate my comment.
It was on a shorter wheelbase for 1950 and 1951, but the Olds 98 had a 122 inch wheelbase and was considered a C-body. The 1950 model year had new B-bodies, so perhaps Cadillac moved the Series 61 to B to make is more competitive in racing?
Before 1959 the “A”,”B” and “C” bodies WERE different in and of themselves, Technically wheelbase dimension had nothing to do with what body was on what frame (and you had different frames under the same bodies!) Olds 98 was a “C” body or a “B” in that era (Early-mid ’50s) seeming to depend on…..astrology?!?! And that was Oldsmobile’s TOP model! Buick’s MIDDLE car (“Super”) was a “C”! If Cadillac chose to have the Series 61 as a “B” for racing, it’s lost to time. The step up to a “proper” “C” bodied Series 62 wasn’t much and with post war prosperity, the 61 wasn’t needed past 1951.
The A, B and C bodies defined the dimensions of the body, setting where the A, B and C pillars were. That made the doors compatible for the same bodies, reducing production costs. I see that Wikipedia claims the Series 61 to be a B body. Production stopped because sales declined, perhaps because they downsized it.
But before 1959 there was more than just dimensional differences among the three different shells. Almost every “hard point” was different from one another, After 1958, the “A” went away untill 1964 and from 1959 the B/C would mainly differ in length and rear doors. (Confusing the crap out of everyone since.)
Before the sixties there were only “full size” cars. During the sixties small cars invade the line ups, making a mess out of the whole concept of low priced vs mid-priced and premium. The 59 model year was a rush job of redesign. After that compact cars came in, so reinventing the “full size” probably was not a priority.
The term “mid-size” car came about in the sixties as a result of all “standard” cars becoming basically the same size (1957-60), But what was a “mid-size” car in the 60s-70s was roughly the same as standard size “low price” cars of 1956. IE: an “A” body Chevrolet 1965 (or 1975!) was basically the same size as an “A” body Chevrolet of 1955 (until 1958 ALL Chevys were “A”bodies) After 1958 “standard” cars (Chevrolet, in this case) were bumped up a notch in size.
I think that GM made a mistake in making the Chevrolets full sized. But the big three were moving in that direction and there was no turning back.
The series 61 model was the low end Cadillac during the late thirties after the Sixty Special was introduced. Then Cadillac moved the 61 to series 62, so they could bring out a lower end series 61 to replace the Lasalle. I have looked at Cadillac’s brochures for 1950, 51 and clearly the series 61 has a different body. This may be why sales faded away. The brochure tries to make the case that it still looks like a Cadillac….
Yes, the ’50-’51 Series 61 is a “B” body, the rest of the line were “C” and “D” BTW in history (since the alphabet scheme anyway.) only Buick and Cadillac ever got a “D”, Chevy was the only one never to get a “C” and Cadillac never had an “A” only the “B” was used by all five divisions until the FWD “J” body!
Looking at the brochures for the 1950 Buick, Oldsmobile and Cadillac’s, I can see that for the 4 door Series 61 there is no quarter window on the rear door, same as the Buick Special with the same roof style. On the other hand, the Buick Super and Roadmaster and the Olds 98 with the same roof style, have a quarter window.
I think much too much is made about the letter designations. What is relevant is that there are three basic sizes for bodies until the A is dropped. When Durant started GM, I think he had in mind standardizing as much as possible, but got caught up in the frenzy of buying companies of dubious value. After Fisher Body is owned by GM some standardization is done. Cadillac did have custom made bodies available for higher end models (series 90 for example).
We’re on the same page as far as ’50 is concerned, The Buick Special and The Cadillac 61 were “B”s, I found out about this in the deep dark past (the Carter years, LOL). I briefly had a ’50 Super, I was surprised that it was a “C” as I always thought any thing “less” than a Roadmaster was a “B” until a “body man” told me about weird stuff like “B” body Cadillacs and Olds 98 going from a “C” to a “B” and back to a “C”. – This info was stored in the part of my head where most teens kept batting averages! ,LOL!
Funny, I knew people who considered it an old person’s car but even they didn’t consider it a “joke”.
I see many more similarities between the ’49 and the ’89 than I do between the ’89 and the CTS.
Progress isn’t always “progress” or “good”. They did let the design wither on the vine for 15 years; on the other hand, nobody was really coming out with anything better to represent classic American luxury. I have no hate for the first and second generation Panther Town Car, but always felt the Cadillac was more distinctive.
I grew up with those ’77-’92 Cadillacs and was always in awe. I know now, having owned one, that not all about them was “awe”-some (in the properly used sense of the term)…I know using a 140 HP carbureted engine in 1989 was kind of pathetic…I know not having anti-lock 4 wheel disc brakes on the Brougham that same year was also lame. But man, I remember being 7 or 8, seeing one go by on the street thinking “those people won”. The CTS may be a much better engineered, more modern car, but it just doesn’t portray “I just wiped the floor with all of you…America!!” the way those did. Little kid me would not have been in awe.
And I’ve owned one and driven both. The CTS wins on all technical points, but the visceral reaction to the Brougham leaves it in the dust.
I completely agree with this, as I’m in the same boat.
When I was young, the ’77-92 (more specifically the 80s and 90s in my case) Fleetwood Brougham/Brougham was the pinnacle of automobiles. Yes, yes, I know there were “better” Mercedes and BMWs and such on offer, but not in my world. To me all that button tufted velour or leather deeply carpeted interior with an enormous hood and the ol’ wreath and crest serenely bobbing along way out front was simply divine. I even liked the way they smelled. I love all the Baroque gloriousness in the older school Cadillacs, warts and all.
In terms of overall styling, you’ll note the 1959-60 is an “outlier” (GMs hastened reaction to MoPar’s 2nd Gen “Forward Look”) other than that, the “theme” hadn’t changed much from 1941-1992 (For the “real” ones anyway.)
By the mid 60’s the styling is turning into a big box, which is exactly what the older cadillac at the top of this article is.
…and the much praised ’61 Lincoln was?….
The front, rear and sides of the Lincoln are quite cohesive in overall looks, so even though the car is very boxy, it is quite well done. Cadillac’s 1975(6?) Seville is similar in looking right, even though a box.
The 61 Lincoln’s greenhouse is too small for the body. Of course it gets praised today,It has the “gangsta” vibe that all slit window cars have now. The ’63-’64 Electra is a much better exponent of the “clean” box look.
Theme maybe, but 5 distinct generations of vehicle right? Versus 1 generation for 15 years. Does that not say anything about GM and Cadillac during the 80s? Does that not bolster my argument that our commenters are looking at the 1990-1992 Brougham with rose colored glasses?
Oh yeah, GM keeping a good (perhaps at that point their last good..) thing around too long. Unlike Ford (Panther platform: 1979-2011) or Chrysler (B/R platform 1962-1981) Yeah…..
Mercedes is building state of the art sedans in the 60’s. When GM downsized for the 1977 model year, they are still way behind. The 1995 Aurora/Riviera is when GM finally started to build something closer to state of the art.
IDK about “state of the art” or not, But 1960s Mercedes (yes, including the “God’s own” 600) had all the style and charm of a Plymouth Valiant. But with higher maintenance costs.
At least Mercedes was trying to make the bodies safer for the passengers, something GM did not bother with until the mid nineties.
Of course GM (and Ford and Chrysler) wanted to kill their customers………..
The government had no mandate, so the big three had little incentive to spend money on safety if the customers were unconcerned. After all they weren’t buying up Mercedes Benz’s in great numbers.
One thing that needs to be put into consideration in respect to the 15 year run of these cars is that as early as 1980 or 81, everyone was expecting that we would be paying European prices for gas. No car company in their right mind was going to invest much money in their full size line ups because every one knew that gas was going to be a huge expense in the future. Ford even put their holy grail Lincoln model, the Continental onto the Fox platform with the expectation that the full sized Town Car would get the ax when gas prices went up. Trouble was that gas stayed cheap. Every year the can got kicked down the road because everyone knew that gas would go up, but it didn’t. Year after year the can continued get kicked down the road. This is why fuel efficient luxury makes sense. It can weather the highs and lows of the market.
“At least Mercedes was trying to make the bodies safer for the passengers, something GM did not bother with until the mid nineties.”
Right, GM didn’t introduce air bags in the 70s. It’s all a lie.
The air bags were optional, not standard. And then they weren’t optional or standard.
15 years just shows the desirability of the body style. Consider: they had the original in ’77-’79. It sold well. They modified it for ’80. It continued to sell well from ’80-’84. They intended that it should disappear and introduced a completely new Sedan DeVille and Fleetwood to replace it. These sold. Nevertheless, they kept the old one around as a hedge, called it the Fleetwood Brougham/Brougham and still continued to sell 40-70K a year of something that was not the new style they were touting and was merely a throwback.
I call that a phenomenal success. When Ford tried reintroducing the T-Bird in the early 2000s they sold less than 20K. Meanwhile, in a world that was completely turning its back on the on that look and style, they sold 65K “retro” Caddies in 87, on top of the FWD ones.
A phenomenal success like Orrin says, not looking through rose colored glasses. The 77-79 makes just about any list of 10 Best Cadillacs. I drove my granddad’s ’78 one time and will never forget how silky and effortless it felt. Might do you some good to read David E. Davis’ classic piece on the ’78 Coupe Deville.
The 80-89 was the same car but with Cadillac’s new face and an enormous aftermarket style grille. They tossed in the Seville roofline and damn if it didn’t end up being one of the best looking Cadillacs of all time. Even the rear end in those years was the closest it ever got to that ’52 Lancia that Jason posted about the other day.
The sales seemed to go on forever. I wasn’t watching these back then but couldn’t help notice new dealer plates on the old Brougham every single year. I would say to myself “it’s still around” and smile.
The looks were hurt in ’90 with the cladding and padded rear window frames but the 90-92s had arguably the best powertrains.
The 77-92 Brougham has enormous respect in the Cadillac community (except for the HT4100 years) and is often recommended as a first purchase for new Cadillac fans. We’re over 100 comments on this post which didn’t contain a single sentence 🙂
Just for comparison, let’s look at what Toyota sold as it’s largest luxury model from 1977 to 1990. Four generations of Cressida, and one generation of Lexus.
By choosing a ’90 LS400, I think you’re stretching to prove your point…the Cressida was around until the end of the ’92 model year. Look at certain German cars…the W124 Benz was around quite awhile, S-classes generally had lifespans measured by the decade as well and let’s not forget the Jaguar XJS…a car that was around for a full half decade longer than the Fleetwood Brougham/Brougham. The fact remains the big RWD Caddy was kept around because it was profitable and still sold well. It simply was a sound business decision to continue offering it. Rose-tinted glasses or not, values for very clean, low mile ones appear to have bottomed out about 3-5 years ago and have held or increased a bit the last couple years (again, clean ones…beaters can still be found for a grand).
It’s very obvious that many here find the 1977 through 1996 BOF (body on frame) Cadillac’s to be The Cat’s Pajamas (look it up). OK, not so much 93-96 perhaps. I can see liking the 60’s Cadillac’s and the 50’s are even better. But I think Cadillac really drifted after the 60’s in too many directions. Since the bankruptcy I think GM has settled on a direction at least, even if it is a bit off.
The current market in the luxury class seems to be crossovers. Cadillac is a bit short here, with the new XT5 replacing the SRX. Reviews of the XT5 are not great (see Motor Trend).
I never really considered the 1977-90s to be the definitive Caddy.
But compared to what’s been available the last 10-15 years,
they’re a *lot* closer to that ideal. My personal favorite Cadillac
era was 1970-1976, but I also stop and take pause whenever I
see a 1962 or ’58 go by or see one at a show.
You see I think that the definitive Cadillac lineup was in the late 1930’s, when the V16 was top dog. There was a broad line of V8 Fleetwood 75 models and the Series 60’s were bottom of the line, not top of the line.
The Fleetwood Brougham makes me long for the days when cars had real trunks, not the mailslots like the CTS. Is it any wonder buyers are deserting sedans for CUV’s?
This is really like two different companies though, not a fair comparison at all. People who value handling will never admire the Brougham, and vice versa. Should have been a W124 AMG or something parked next to the Caddy, now that’s a fair generational and target customer showdown.
I like both shapes, The Caddies I have trouble with are the 1957-1964 and the FWD bustleback thingys.
I fully admire both. The CTS-V is a favorite of mine–I particularly like the styling of the 2nd-gen, both inside and outside (this is probably its worst angle). And that V engine–huge power. A modern muscle sedan. The Brougham on the other hand, is one of the last stalwarts of old GM. A Cadillac from the days when that meant presence, fins, chrome, and a ride that isolated you from the world. These may have been the declining days, but the Brougham was still a part of them in a way the ’93-’96 models weren’t.
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