I have a problem with cars – I tend to change them out like some people change phones or computers. Driving to my girlfriend’s house in Pittsburgh, another vinyl topped land yacht catches my eye – so I decide to leave a note with my phone number saying that if the owner ever wants to sell to give me a shout. It is a 1993 Cadillac Brougham in Light Driftwood Metallic – I could tell by the steering wheel – no torn leather, nary a stain on the carpet, and no OptiSpark issues like on my 96! Even a nice set of Vouges adorning the aluminum rims. Much to my surprise, he calls me a few days later and tells me that he is willing to sell it since he has a 75 Eldorado and feels bad it doesn’t get driven much since his job is long haul trucking.
We finally meet up after he returns back to PA and I took the car for a spin around the block – no squeaks or rattles from the body and the 350 runs smooth as silk. Unlike Igor (my 1988 Brougham), this car doesn’t run out of breath up a hill or above 65 MPH.
I throw an offer out to him – the car needs a little TLC since the power antenna is broken as well as the trunk pulldown. He declines, but tells me if I can meet what he wants the car is mine. I wanted to wait until my girlfriend and I closed on our new house before pulling the trigger – luckily there was enough after closing to buy the car!
We’ve talked about this era of “Caprice Cadillac” a little bit here and there on this site, with it usually being berated as a step down from the “Classic Cadillac” Brougham that preceded it for FIFTEEN years. Once the Seville, Eldorado, and deVille/Sixty Special were sorted out for 1992, Cadillac set about finally updating the car that had kept coming back year after year despite having the same basic shape inside and out since 1980 – the Fleetwood/Brougham/Fleetwood Brougham for 1993. With the redesigned 1990 Lincoln Town Car outselling the Brougham 3 to 1, as well as the redesigned Caprice Classic and new Roadmaster in showrooms, Cadillac knew they needed to update the car to keep pace with the changing luxury car market. Ironic that the promotional video for new Fleetwood mentions not taking large luxury car buyers for granted, but that is pretty much what GM did with the Brougham – the car was lagging behind Lincoln with the carbed 307 under the hood and lack of luxury features available even on other Cadillacs like the Bose sound system or a drivers recliner seat. Of course, the D body did have one thing on the Townie – sheer size.
Under the skin it was the same big frame used since 1977, but Chuck Jordan worked his magic and sculpted a car that while not as striking as the Sheer Look predecessor, it at least looks the part of a Classic Caddy – big, bold, flashy, and CHROMED. Under the hood sat the L05 TBI 350 Chevy and 4L60 transmission that had been optional since 1990 – still at 185 HP/300 lbs ft of torque, pushing around 4300 pounds of car plus I’m sure the three bodies in the trunk. There were three final drive ratios available – the base Fleetwood got the economy 2.56:1, Brougham option buyers with 3.08:1, and the VP4 towing axle at 3.73:1. The car feels punchy to me with the 3.08 axle, especially compared to Igor – it truly does have a boatload of torque off the line and has no issue keeping this land yacht moving down the highway at whatever speed you feel safe going.
But the interior was where the magic happened – kind of. While the car is much more comfortable than Igor for long trips, the interior looks plain by comparison to the detailed chrome/wood inserts and Cadillac logos liberally spread about on the previous model. About the only interesting feature I can think of are the rear vanity mirrors and 4 assist handles that come with the Brougham package. My 1995 Deville has a better look and feel to it, but I digress. But the trade off are those wonderful split frame seats covered in that thickly padded leather with heaters and three lumbar adjustments (if you sprung for the Brougham package that is). Not to mention the seat memory – immortalized when Morty Seinfeld remarked that you could go to prison for five years and your seat would go right back where you like it.
I do love the front and rear console/armrest combinations and the amazing comfort afforded by those oversized headrests – we took the car on a trip to CT and NJ to get my things from Bridgeport and it handled the trip with ease. I drove the UHaul back to the Burgh with my girlfriend in the Fleetwood –she had no issues at all piloting the car the 6 hour trip back home…and now loves driving it as much as I do! We went down the shore in my mom’s 2005 MB S430 since the Caddy had our stuff in it – believe it or not, we both ranked the Fleetwood as more comfortable and a better road trip car – with the nod to the Benz for having a better Bose sound system.
That was the main reason I bought it – I wanted a solid road trip car, especially since I totaled my 2007 Mercury Grand Marquis in the Squirrel Hill Tunnel a few months ago. The 1995 Deville isn’t quite as roomy as I like, so it is now the winter car and in the mix to keep miles off my other two. 1993 was also the year that my Dad pulled the trigger on buying a new Lincoln Town Car – and as I mentioned before, I never really asked him why he bought the Townie over this generation Fleetwood especially since the prices were about the same and we were a GM family going back two generations.
But a funny thing happened the day I bought the car – my girlfriend and I were on line at the drive in movie theater when Steely Dan “Bodhisattva” comes on the radio…the first track off of the “Countdown To Ecstasy” album. A song I always heard when driving around with Dad since he had that album as disc 1 in his truck – so I always associate that song with riding around with him. I’ll take it as a sign he approves.
What’s a Vouge?
It’s Vogue… Vogue tires. Vogue is known for tires not just with whitewalls, but with a gold stripe in addition to the white stripe. Very broughamy.
Vogue tires were very popular in Philadelphia when I was growing up, and I’m sure their sales are a small fraction of what they once were, but I’m impressed they’re still around at all.
Habbout that! Today I learned.
A co-worker bought a new Continental Mark in about 1972. At that time, it was one of the few cars that came standard equipped with radial tires, and these were Michelin. I never forgot him saying that he had had the Michelins removed and replaced with Vogues. In Chicago, this was a typical dealer installed option to exploit the ignorant.
Definitely a common dealer practice. Here’s a 1986 ad from a Bethesda, Md. Cadillac dealership.
Buy a new Cadillac over the President’s Day weekend, and they’ll provide a free gift of a set of 4 Vogue Tires… a $595 VALUE!
I worked at Jim Coleman Cadillac;-)
I always thought the XTS looked like it needed Vogues with whitewall and the gold pinstripe on the tire to improve the looks.
To quote Luigi in the CARS movie: “Luigi know what you want. Black-wall tires, they blend into the pavement, but these white-wall tires, they say look at me, here I am, love me.”
Great story — and in my opinion, the ’93-96 Fleetwood Brougham is one of those rare cars that looks best in gold. I think you’ve got the best color here.
And I think the interior of these cars is Perfect Brougham as well; I can’t look at one without getting a sudden desire to take a long road trip in one.
Nice car. And it isn’t an SUV!
That 350/4L60 drivetrain will still be delivering miles of smiles long after those Town Cars have been laid to rest.
About a year ago, I replaced my 1991 Brougham d’Elegance (5.0) with a 1996 Fleetwood Brougham. The newer car’s interior is far less special, for sure. And of course it’s pudgy-looking while the Brougham was stately. But otherwise the Fleetwood is light-years ahead: unlike the Brougham, which was relegated to classic car duty (short trips around town), the Fleetwood is our road trip car. I’ve never driven a 1993 model with the older engine, but I’d hate to give up the LT! (Especially since I had the water pump & OptiSpark taken care of.)
had the pleasure of meeting the previous owner and upgrading the pedals to real Cadillac ones, instead of the cheap 79 Chevette plastic abborations…I love my 96…yes GM cheaped out on the interior, but it sure goes with the LT1…
Nice! I love the Eldorado gas pedal…just wish I could find the chrome trim for the brake pedal.
A Morty Seinfeld “CAT-LACK!!!”
I’m of the newer(ish) generation and very much approve of this Cadillac, it’s one of the few that I would consider myself. No idea why, but I like them. A lot. I actually prefer this simpler interior to the older ones too. I didn’t realize there were different final drive ratios available (of course there are!) but now know I’d need at least a Brougham trim, so thank you.
I hope you enjoy the car for many years, it looks great!
Thank you Jim – the only option I wish this car had was the VP4 trailer towing package. I’m sure it will serve me well for years, as the L05 is known for reliability if nothing else.
I’m 32, so my love of these cars is not exactly mainstream, but I do appreciate the differences between this generation and the previous. But you can tell where GM sweated the details on the 94-99 DeVille vs this car.
Thomas, what was wrong with the trunk ? the motor ? Any issues with the power seat ? Asking for a friend…his seat is stuck all the way up on driver side and trunk won’t close. Same town you mentioned !
To be super fly in the 80’s you optioned True Spoke wire wheels and Vogue tires: “True’s & Vogue’s” mentioned in a few rap songs.
I’d take this any day over a Northstar powered Deville, DTS, DHS, ect.
Ha! Not sure how I missed this when it was posted originally but great write up. These cars were oddly light on the ground in Cadillac country central Florida when I was growing up. I mostly associate this model from the Seinfeld episode.
My dad drove Cadillacs and listened to Steely Dan, too!
Very good story about these…I noticed one of the photos in this story featured Protech Auto Group? I believe this is a Pittsburgh PA based company?
Correct. I live in the Pittsburgh PA area and that is one of the places my cars are serviced.
My dad finally got his hands on his boss’s mom’s 1993 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham a few years ago. Purchased new by the boss’s family (oil company owners) it’s dark blue with red interior. Dealer options added were the white top, wire wheels, and Vogue tires. It’s a sight to behold. I adore these cars and do believe they are the Cadillac of Cadillacs. This particular one has a Heritage of Ownership Medallion on the grill of XXXV which just makes you laugh when you see it. 49k miles currently.