What If: 1971-76 Cadillac Park Avenue

The Park Avenue was a short-lived, short-wheelbase Cadillac offered from 1961-63. At a time when a big car meant status, Cadillac did not exactly sell truckloads of them. But what if Cadillac had reintroduced the idea just in time for the 1973 fuel crisis?

The intent was that Cadillac owners in big cities might appreciate a short-deck version for easier parking and better maneuverability. Also, many homes at the time still had garages built in the 1920s and ’30s, and it was uncouth to have the last two feet of your Caddy sticking out the back. It may have been a good idea, but found few takers and it was discontinued after 1963.

I got the idea from Paul’s article on the 1961 Studebaker Lark, as excerpted below:

“I’ve had a long held fantasy since 1971, when GM’s mega-barges appeared: to take a cutting torch to a Caddy, and make a clean slice across the front and rear, just ahead of and behind the wheels…”

Well Paul, may I present the 1972 Park Avenue:

I wonder if it would have helped Cadillac to have a slightly smaller full-size during the 1973-74 gas crunch and subsequent recession in ’75. Cutting away an extra couple feet of sheetmetal had to have improved fuel economy too, even if only a little bit.

Here’s a stock 1973 Calais coupe…

…and the ’73 Park Avenue. Since the 1971-76 Cadillacs used the same body shell, they could have tooled it once, in 1971, and continued it for another five years without any additional cost.

While sales of the 1973s set a record, the ’74s came out just as the gas shortage started. How would a slightly reduced Caddy with maybe 2-4 more mpg have done?

The really big de Villes and Fleetwoods would still be there to truly live large, but you could have gotten a slightly smaller de Ville or Calais Park Avenue if you didn’t want a Noville Seville. The ’75-79 Seville had fine styling, but there were probably a number of traditional Cadillac owners who wouldn’t have ever considered it.

Could it have worked? Maybe not, as the 1961-63s were a sales disaster. But it’s an interesting idea nonetheless. What do you think?