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.