(first posted 4/15/2013) As most of you know, the big, floaty Coupe de Ville, Sedan de Ville and Fleetwood Brougham went on a crash diet for the 1977 model year. While still nice luxury cars in their own right (and much better road cars), the downsizing left only one Cadillac model with truly uncompromising dimensions: The Fleetwood Eldorado.
The original Eldorado (CC here), despite being gigantic and under-braked, was a clean, stylish and–dare I say it–sporty personal luxury coupe. With its razor-edge fenders, close-coupled silhouette and trendy hidden headlights, it was a beaut, and remained so through the 1970 model year, despite having lost its headlamp doors the previous year. Then came the 1971 model, aka the “Gravy Train Eldo” or “Wedding Cake Eldo”, as you prefer.
Now before some of you bring out your poison keyboards, let me be clear: I like these cars. Actually, I pretty much like every Cadillac ever built, including the Cimarron (yes, I know I have a problem, but I don’t care). But come on, the ’71 wasn’t nearly as cleanly styled as the original FWD Eldorado, though I do dig the rear-quarter fender vent nod to ’50s Caddys. The cathedral parking lamps up front were also pretty cool. And the 1971-72 Eldos (CC here) do have their own air of class, though it is more Al Czervik’s style than Judge Smales’s.
But I will always love the 1971 Cadillacs, because one of my first old car brochures was the prestigious 1971 Cadillac brochure, which I got in early 1991. I was 10 years old, and my Dad and I were at a car show at the QCCA Expo Center. There were some vendors and one guy had a bunch of old brochures for sale. Somehow I talked Dad into buying me a couple, and I selected the 1971 Caddy and 1971 Lincoln brochures to take home. That ice-blue Eldo shown in the catalog is permanently etched in my memory: a lovely car, in a lovely color.
But starting in 1973, Big-Bumper Creep began as all new cars now required a battering-ram front bumper. Interestingly, the ’73 Eldo was perhaps the cleanest of the whole 1971-78 era, and might well be my favorite. First, you had the cool, bold eggcrate grille–a nod to legendary Caddys of the past; second, the fake side vent was now gone, which made for much smoother flanks.
Finally, replacing the jewelry box-shaped trunk lid and bladed taillights created a more cohesive theme. Actually, I was a teenager when I saw my first ’73 Eldo. I was riding my bike through the Watch Hill neighborhood when I came upon a bright-red ’70s Eldorado parked in the driveway of a substantial house, but I couldn’t figure out the model year! Stumped, I returned home and eventually ID’d it from my ’70s Time magazine and National Geographic car ad collection. Perhaps that is why I am so enamored of that year…
Just like everything else, the Eldo got restyled haunches in ’74 in order to accommodate a newly mandated big bumper out back. But unlike many other manufacturers (Ford was perhaps the worst at integrating the big-ass Federal bumpers), Cadillac managed to make the new 5-mph units as unobtrusive as possible. A new grille freshened up the front.
The final major refresh for the Parade Float Eldo came in ’75: Upgrades included front fenders with much more prominent blades, yet another new grille and de-skirted rear-wheel openings. The overall effect was rather fresh and sporty–at least when compared with the bigger Coupe de Ville.
With the exception of Last Convertible Fever, the ’76 Eldo was about the same; the main change was re-positioning the Cadillac script on the grille header to the right. Paul found a Georgian Silver example some time back, but this ’78 I found last September was in a much more spectacular color combination. It literally stopped me in my tracks!
The 1978 Fleetwood Eldorado was billed as “A car of uncompromising luxury…and impressive roadability. Snow. Sleet. Rain. That’s when you appreciate the pulling action of Front-Wheel Drive–in combination with new Electronic Level Control and Four-Wheel Disc Brakes.”
Yes, it was a boat–but it was a stout boat, with a 425 CID (7.0-liter) V8 with a 4-BBL Quadrajet carburetor. Although 180- and 195-hp versions of the 425 were offered in ’78, all Eldos came standard with the 195-horse variant. All Eldorados came with a 27-gallon fuel tank, necessitated by its other-than-fuel-sipping characteristics. Hey, if you want economy, what are you doing in a Cadillac showroom, fer cryin’ out loud?
No, the Fleetwood Eldorado was all about gadgets, presence and a cosseting ride. To compare one of these beauties to a 911 or E30 Bimmer is an exercise in futility; they are cars with different purposes, and this car’s is traditional luxury.
As was proven when perusing the 1978 brochure: Three different interiors were available: Halifax knit cloth in four colors; Random velour in three colors; and of course, Sierra-grain leather in no less than twelve color combinations, plus three two-tone leather options. No pick-black-or-tan-and-you’re-done, as with today’s cars.
There was also a long list of standard features–at least by late ’70s standards–that included power steering, electronic level control, automatic climate control, AM/FM stereo with power antenna, power door locks, power windows, cornering lights, Soft-Ray tinted glass, digital clock and an automatic parking brake release.
If that wasn’t enough, you could step up to the Custom Biarritz (introduced in mid-1976, ’77 shown above), which added leather pillow-top seating, a Cabriolet Elk Grain vinyl landau roof, stainless steel belt moldings, 50/50 Dual Comfort front seat and other refinements. It was available only in Mediterranean Blue Firemist, Cotillion White, Carmine Red, Colonial Yellow and Ruidoso Saddle.
But that’s not all, folks! An even more limited-edition Custom Biarritz Classic was available in ’78 only. As you would expect for MY 1978, it was available only in two-tone tan and brown, inside and out. The package alone cost $2,466, and only 2,000 Custom Biarritz Classics were built.
Of course, the most prominent feature of the 1971-78 Eldo was those bladed fenders which, as previously noted, became even more pronounced for 1975. At that point they became part of the bumper, extending all the way down the front end. Also note the numerous bumper guards up front: three per side, for a total of six on the nose.
Out of all these choices, our featured CC has my first choice of interiors: White Sierra-grain leather. The red dash, seat belts and carpeting only add to its appeal, though the white seats would also look great with green or blue trim–with an appropriate exterior color, of course!
I found this Broughamiest Brougham in a mall parking lot, across the street from where a car show was being held. It was clearly a pampered original, with its unmarred leather and beautiful paint. I imagine the consumption of Coca-Cola and Big Macs is expressly forbidden. Can’t have this primo ’70s luxury car smelling like a fast food restaurant, don’t you know!
Like Jim Grey’s CC on the green ’75 Ninety-Eight Regency, this car’s sheer presence rendered all the blah crossovers and sedans in the lot invisible. No Witness Protection Program for this baby! It clearly says, “I am a Cadillac, I am a Brougham, and I don’t care what you think!”
While the Eldorado may have looked relatively svelte next to the 1971-76 standard Cadillacs, that all changed when the ’77s debuted. At that point, the beefy, 4,906-lb. luxury coupe was showing every bit of its 224 inches. Its wheelbase alone was 4.8 inches longer than both the ’77 four-door de Ville and Fleetwood Brougham.
Despite it clearly having become a dinosaur by the late ’70s–compare one of these to a Fairmont, Volvo 240 or first-gen Accord, for crying out loud–sales marched smartly along. In 1976 35,184 coupes came off the line, along with 14K final-year convertibles. Despite being reduced to the single coupe body style in 1977, total Eldo sales were down by just a couple of thousand units, to 47,344.
The 1977s also got a minor trim reshuffle, with taillights relocated from below the trunk lid to the bumper end caps. A new grille, “Eldorado” lettering on the hood panel and some new colors rounded out most of the changes. The ’77 Eldo brochure is one of my favorite vintage Cadillac brochures, especially since it features a stunning Frost Orange Firemist coupe. Add white leather with orange trim, and it would be my dream Eldo!
But that’s not meant to discredit the lovely ’78 example I found at the North Park Mall, in Davenport. Indeed, the deep red with white Cabriolet roof and red-and-white interior were a most excellent combination. There were a lot of cool Cadillac colors back in the ’70s, and Crystal Blue Firemist and Jasper Green Firemist also would have been quite sharp.
Brash, bold, gigantic and thristy–there is no doubt this is an American luxury car. Whether you love or hate these land yachts, there is no denying their presence. If I had the disposable income to feed one of these monsters, I would have left a note under the wiper of this one!
Great article! You clearly love these land yachts, and it shows in your writing.
My dad has a 1970 Cad convertible-gold with white leather!
Will try to get some pix to post to CC next time I visit him!
Quick! Get Syke the Brougham-O-Seltzer before he throws up or destroys this broughamy beast! Help! Emergency! Call 9-1-1 now! Make sure his ambulance is a Chevrolet Vega GT Kammback/Panel Wagon so his condition doesn’t further worsen!
Brougham-O-Seltzer…I love it!!!
I’ll think of trademarking it like Geozinger did w/ his phrase, “Cockroaches Of The Road”.
Hey now, young Mann, bad puns want to be free!
You have done your very best explaining to us your love for these cars. And while I can understand it, it is a love that I will never share. There is something about these that turned me off in the 70s, and I can’t really say that they have become more attractive to me in later years.
At that time, I was gaga over big luxocars. Give me a Town Car, a Mark V or a New Yorker, and I would be intoxicated with bliss. But the styling on these cars is complicated, overwrought, over-ornamented. Where the Lincolns and the big New Yorker retained at least some of their class from an earlier age, these Cadillacs were purely for show-offs. Add in the fact that their interior materials (other than the seats themselves) gave off the cheap-o vibe unlike anything else in their class. I also don’t think that the red helps this car’s case. All I can think of is some old guy in a leisure suit grabbing strangers by the lapels and shouting “Look at ME – I have a RED ELDORADO!!!!!!!” Wow – listen to me sound off like Syke or Canucklehead or PN. Breathe, JP, Breathe.
I will admit that this is a very nicely preserved example, and quite a find. Is it just me, or are the tires on the subject car really teeny? I loved the whitewalls in the brochure shots, those wider whites were briefly popular in the late 70s-early 80s. I would imagine that they would be ungodly expensive now, if available at all. Anyway, nicely done, and please pardon my rant. Exceptional pictures, by the way.
Cough..Pinto Steering wheel…cough……
Point taken. 🙂
I have to agree about the interior materials. Back in the 80’s one of my college roommates picked up a triple blue ’75 Sedan deVille – with airbags, no less! – and the textured fake woodgrain on the dash really looked low-rent.
Back to this Eldo. There was a short street off the main road that led into the suburban development where we lived from 1976 on. Two driveways led off this street. In the late 70s, one was occupied by a two-tone, t-topped, stainless steel-trimmed, triple Blue Biarritz, the other buy the only DeLorean I ever saw someone actually own. What an odd pairing, linked by stainless steel.
Sweet cars. I know where there are a half dozen of these sinking into the ground ranging from a 68 to a 76. I’ll see if I can get some pictures for you.
Great writeup too!
It’s difficult for me to look at these cars without thinking of “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” who owned “a custom Continental, and an Eldorado, too.”
Ha! That’s exactly what I think when I see one of these, I think Marks have a bit more class than these, and I think JP is kinda right the standard cars (Town Cars, De Ville’s, etc.) are more elegant, but these are so brash and over the top that they are a lot of fun. After Leroy Brown, my favorite Eldo of this period is the one Walter Mathau drives in “The Survivors”. I love when Jerry Reed is going on about “aint a foreign car around that can beat an american car made before the Catalytic Converter” and then once dissapointed with the Eldo he says “hell that’s why I drive Volvos!”
Good call on Jerry Reed in ‘The Survivors’, although there are a few scenes where the car switches from an Eldorado to a Coupe de Ville. Likewise, IIRC, Reed drives a BMW.
Another, more well-known flick with a similiar Eldorado is none other than the original ‘Terminator’, where Sarah Conner and Kyle Reese blast away with a shotgun from a hot-wired Eldorado at Arnold in a cop-car.
Not to mention 1996’s Casino, where Casino boss Sam “Ace” Rothstein has a variety of this vintage Eldorados during the 70’s
I remember when that movie came out and he mentioned his 81 having a plate installed to help with balancing and (in the movie) helped him avert death. At shows people started looking underneath the cars for the plates and some even asked if plates could be installed on their cars to help with handling. The plate was real, although to this day I never got a clear answer as to exactly what it was supposed to correct.
I recall something about the reason for the plate was to add some structural stiffness to the Eldo.
The Eldo I remember from Casino was a downsized ’79!
look carefully at the car in the terminator movie- its a barritz edition with the fancy leather and opera/carriage light
It swiches from a regular Eldo to a Biarritz, back to regular then back to Biarritz, movie magic!
Great write-up Tom (as always!), and some gorgeous photos! Some thoughts:
* That ice-blue ’71 is the most beautiful colour, and the front bumper blends in beautifully with it – you’d almost swear it was body colour.
* Can’t say I like the weird kink in the hardtop waistline (when did that kink arrive, ’75?).
* I was always disappointed that the rear wheels were de-skirted too – they look incomplete without skirts I think.
* That Custom Biarritz Classic is so eye-popping that a kinked waistline and de-skirted wheelarches are really minor by comparison!
* For such a long car the feature car is really short on rear leg room! Yes I know that’s not what they’re about, but still…!
* The third-to-last photo of the tail-light/bootlid/bumper shows a wide assortment of differing gaps between panels etc. It kind of lacks cohesion up close, and must have been a pain to clean. Looks great from a distance though!
* Jasper Green Firemist!! What an incredible looking colour, I love it! The interior looks amazing, and even the seatbelts are colour-coordinated! Can’t imagine a luxury make offering such a spectacular colour nowadays, more’s the pity.
* I only realised more recently that the Eldo is FWD. I wish initially disappointed, as I’m a RWD fan, but you know, all the convertible Eldos look so good I don’t think I’d care which end the driving wheels were.
* Jasper Green Firemist!! I know I just mentioned it, but dang, it’s so spectacular it needs a second mention!
Although these are FWD, the engine is mounted longtitudinally, and they are not at all typical FWD cars. They probably have more in common mechanically with contemporary large RWD American cars than they do with other FWDs. They just happen to have a complex, unusual transaxle that allows the engine to drive the front wheels rather than the rear wheels. There was no real reason for them to be FWD. GM essentially designed them that way simply because they could. They were GM, they had almost unlimited resources, and and they could do anything they wanted.
The downsized 1979-85 models kept the same type of layout. Eldorados did not become conventional transverse FWD cars until the disasterous 1986 downsizing, by which time the regular C-body Cadillacs had also gone transverse FWD.
Yeah GM used the pre WW1 method of chain drive to transmit the engine power to the tranny
Kiwi…many FWD transmissions still use chain drives to transmist power like that. Many 4wd transfer cases also use chain drive..what’s your point?
It was easier to design a split transmission than to reengineer the car for what is common today a transverse arrangement. The arrangement was innovative but only a small portion of the stuff was new. They took the internals from a THM400, made a split case with the flywheel and torque converter attached to the engine and connected them by an extremely thick chain. Then they mounted a 4WD style differential in front and connected solid axles. The drive shafts had a typical FWD CV joint at the wheel side but bolted flange style to the axle shafts. That arrangement continued all the way through 1985. The engine was mounted longitudinally but pushed forward and to the passenger side some to accommodate the differential. The engine part itself on the FWD Toronado, Eldorado, and eventually the Riviera, was basically off the shelf with no special features. An early feature on the first couple of years Toro and Eldo is the use of the switch pitch converter which the RWD THM400 equipped cars had as well that altered the vanes on the torque converter depending on the throttle position. So while in fact the FWD system was very novel and innovative, at the time, was far easier and less costly than any other type of FWD arrangement. Of course the THM425 and slightly smaller THM325 are basically bulletproof and connected to a robust engine gave little trouble. As we discussed recently with the GMC Motorhome, the system was reliable on that heavy duty application as well.
If I am not mistaken, the Citation V6 was the first V style motor installed sideways in a FWD car but of course the X cars were much much smaller. There were a few early transverse mid engine cars but were limited applications. The 85 deVilles had the first sideways V8, but again since the platform had originally been designed to support a transverse V6, adding the V8 was not that large a step.
The TH425 isn’t really a transaxle, as the differential (a slim planetary unit that at least initially was made for Cadillac and Oldsmobile by Buick) is a separate component, bolted onto the front of the transmission. The transmission itself is really just a TH400 with the planetary gearbox turned 180 degrees and configured to rotate in the opposite direction as its rear-drive cousins (with the appropriate adaptation of the clutch packs and so forth). The transmission input shaft is driven by the torque converter, which is mounted on the back of the engine in the normal fashion, via a short chain drive. The point of the exercise was to allow a lot of commonality with the standard rear-drive components without opting for the Citroën approach of turning the engine backwards and mounting the transmission in front of it.
The whole idea was primarily Oldsmobile’s and was originally envisioned for a much more compact sedan, where it would have made more sense. The group vice president suggested putting it in the big E-bodies, where the cost would be easier to swallow and as a sort of proof of concept, since senior management wasn’t sure how well the whole lash-up was actually going to work. Cadillac ended up with it mainly because the corporation wanted to spread the development and tooling costs around more. As it turned out, the FWD package worked pretty well, but the only thing GM ever put it in besides the E-body personal luxury cars was the big GMC Motorhome.
… Hmm, “a second mention of Jasper Green Firemist”? There is, or was no such thing. Jasper Green was a standard, non-metallic pastel paint color, and at the time, even available at several GM Divisions. Maybe you meant the really unique & striking Persian Lime Firemist paint option.
“Actually, I pretty much like every Cadillac ever built, including the Cimarron (yes, I know I have a problem, but I don’t care).”
The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, Tom.
I confess to being right there with Tom. I love all Cadillacs. I remember as a kid walking the lot at our local Caddy dealer in San Bernardino, California, “Jack Kennedy Cadillac” a horrible name for a Caddy dealer by the way, “Jack Kennedy Lincoln Mercury” would have seemed like a more natural fit. But anyway… so the brand new Cimarrons were on the lot, now my dear Aunt had just bought a brand new gun metal grey Cavalier mind you, and being a car nut from birth(I was about 5 or 6 maybe at this time) I could identify most cars which I am sure alot of folks that frequent this site can claim to have been able to do. We were so confused as to why they had Cavaliers on the lot, then we looked closer saw that they wer supposed to be Caddys, and then to top off the horror they had flat round campaign button style Cadillace crests seemingly glued to the hood, no hood ornament! Why buy a Caddy (in 1982 mind you) if your are not going to get a hood ornament. But the Cimmaron grew on me over time, I’d drive one today If I could find a nice one.
People diss the Cimmaron yet to me it would be the most desirable of all the “Cavalier’s” produced. People generally don’t think much of the Cavalier either but I suspect most of those people have never driven one. If you combine the solid construction of the Cavalier with the V6 instead of the 4, and then gussy it up with the Cadillac treatment, well, you’ve got a heck of a car. I had an 86 Cavalier with the 4 banger and other than being gutless it was a really nice car. The other thing people generally don’t realize is that for pretty much all the GM cars you could order an F41 (or equivalent) suspension upgrade for like $50 and turn the marshmallow suspension into a truly good buttoned down bit underpinnings. The difference was like night and day and it didn’t hurt the ride, just make it more like the Imports in ride and handling. It’s a shame the big 3 didn’t have more car people in positions to insist on making these things standard.
The tight suspension was on the Aussie version of the J car but the car was crap anyway no matter how well it cornered it still burned oil from new
The Cimarron, especially with the V6, Bilstein suspension, and the aero lights, was very nice small car to drive. It performed a lot like my 88 Z24, the V6 was powerful for the size, the suspension was fairly tight, and it was rather plush. The problem was not a mechanical defect, but a marketing one.
I agree with you on the suspension thing, my 83 Eldorado is equipped with the Touring Suspension option, combined with the 215/70/R15 tires, and my added polyurethane sway bar bushings front and back the car is immensely pleasurable to drive with little ride sacrifice.
The Cimmy got much better towards the end of its run,the 2.8 MFI V6, wider wheels, etc, it should have been launched that way, the first ones with the 1.8 litre engine were kinda piggy.
The 1.8-liter four was initially standard because one of the motivations for the Cimarron was to offset the big cars to improve the division’s CAFE numbers. Also, one of the Cimarron’s theoretical targets was the E21 3-Series, which I think was only sold here in four-cylinder form, also with a 1.8-liter engine.
In 1982, there was only the 1.8 made by Chevy. Due it obviously being underpowered, in for 1983 it grew some stroke and became a 2.0.
To me, this Eldorado is something of a unicorn: a car whose looks actually improved as the ’70s ground on.
After the ’67-’70 model, which must rank as one of the most beautiful designs Detroit ever cranked out, the ’71-’74 model suffered the usual Brougham-era bloat. Then, the ’75 restyle brought back the tapered, pinched look–not as nice as its hidden-headlight predecessor, but a step in the right direction.
The ’70s Eldo’s finest hour was surely its starring role as Bill Duke’s ride in the quality piece of cinema that was ‘Commando’. If you haven’t seen it, do. It just never gets old…
We’ll take Cook’s car….he wont be needing it……
Remember that Reese and Sarah Connor use a 77-78 Eldorado like the feature car, in a car chase scene from The Terminator.
“Random velour in three colors…”
…plus Arbitrary vinyl in four textures and twelve or thirteen hues (our choice), or top-of-the-line Indiscriminate leather from whatever hide-bearin’ varmints we find by the side of Route 41.
Plus serendipitous suede in colors offered as the mood strikes us. 🙂 I saw the reference to Random velour, but the baggage I carry about this car prevented me from this kind of good humored riff. Well done.
“What did you do to my Eldo?! The front seat is green, the door panels are white and the back seat is blue, with a red headliner!”
“Well sir, you DID order the Random velour.”
Just slap a designer label on that sucker.
I think Ford and AMC trademarked most of the designer labels in the 1970s… 🙂
Then of course Braniff had Pucci, Halston, and Alexander Girard. But wait, Eldorado did get Pierre Cardin for a bit…
If not “The End Of The Plain Plane” why not “The End Of The Common Car”
Other than the convertible photo and the color-keyed wheel covers – I still call them “hub caps” even if they do cover the entire wheel – no dice for me. My big car love stops at Impalas and Galaxie 500s and perhaps a Chrysler in there, somewhere.
Thing is, I really like that Caddy in that burgundy color, so go figure…
Great writup Tom.
To me, an important change took place in MY 74: the ultra cheap Caprice-like dashboard was finally replaced with a semi-decent one. Still 100% plastic, but now with a fancy looking 2-tier design and plenty of fake wood, it really sharpened up the interiors of these cars tremendously.
What were the round-like things in the ’74 dashboard woodgrain? They look like rosettes.
As I’m reading the post and comments, scrolling along and thinking about what I’ll add, I got to mcc’s comment, and all I can really do is echo what he said.
The ’67-70 was and is simply stunning, and this is especially evident in the brochure/ad shot you used. The ’71-78 couldn’t compare, but nevertheless, there was something about them that I loved too. The sheer variety of the various design and trim changes over the 8 years is remarkable. While the early models have their appeal, I really liked the design changes for 1975. I loved the sharper lines, the kink in the body under the rear side windows, and the removal of the skirts.
While red usually looks good on Cadillacs, I think the coupes looked best in metallic colors, with matching roof and body. Tom, I do recall seeing that mauve color way back when, so I’m not sure if that was custom ordered, but it could have been a similar color on a model earlier than the one you posted, perhaps a 71 or 72. But I also assume you checked the color charts! That orange ’77 is gorgeous; I think I like the grille/trim on the ’77s best of all.
For some odd reason, I do love these big ole boats, and they look best either all-original and well kept or restored,
Get them any least bit run-down and they look like utter crap though. They don’t age gracefully unlike a lot of other cars.
I see this one has the optional AM/FM/CB radio.
This has been nagging the back of my mind, and I just realized that “Live and Let Die” features several Eldos similar to this one: http://www.imcdb.org/movie.php?id=70328
I’m going to be polite today for a change….
You know, you can love ’70s Broughams AND BMW E9’s!
I’m glad both exist.
You’re right, and I’m working on it 🙂
C’mon Paul, just admit what we already know-the Eldo is your all-time favorite car!! :))
Great write-up Tom. Your CC’s on Cadillacs are always great. I always manage to gain a bit more knowledge to add to the half of my brain comprised of car facts.
I can’t believe they offered 12 color schemes for leather. Interestingly, I saw a photo of the 2014 LaCrosse with BURGUNDY LEATHER! Even the dash has a bit of burgundy colored plastic. Brings back good memories of my grandfather’s Olds Ninety-Eight.
Nice. I shot a 2013 ATS at the dealer when my wagon was getting new tires. The red leather is quite nice.
You can get red leather on the Chrysler 300S too. Other non-luxury Mopars have red leather optional as well.
I’m very into the ATS (as well as most modern Caddies), but the red with the black and the carbon-fiber inserts is Le Ewwwwwwww! When I look at that I don’t see a Cadillac, I see a Kia or Scion that a 17-year old girl custom ordered.
Maybe that’s a little contradictory for me to say, because the one thing I really loved about 70s Cadillacs was the wild ass colors they could be ordered in… but this putrid get-up does not pay homage to the decadent color palette of the Fleetwood Brougham d’Elegance Biarritz Royale era. The most familiar thing to that in the GM playbook is 4th gen Trans Ams and the Pontiac Holden GTO. Not the kind of things Cadillac wants ATS buyers to make mental associations with.
The red isn’t as bright as it looks; my flash was on when I took the picture. I would prefer real wood to the faux carbon fiber trim.
I’m just thrilled to see some real colors in interiors again. I really like the red interior on the Chrysler 300S, which is a bit subtler than the Caddy’s. I actually checked out a new 300 a couple weeks ago and came away quite impressed.
I like the new ATS and XTS too. The original CTS was too blocky for my taste.
Man… I appreciate the effort from Buick there – and I like the current LaCrosse well enough – but that color leather somehow comes off looking like the same shade of GM burgundy plastic from the 80s after years of being battered by filth, grime and UV rays.
Oh wow, I think I really like that!
Here’s a ’72 convertible I spotted on the Cape May (NJ) – Lewes (DE) ferry a few weeks back. The tight confines made it *just* possible to get the whole car in the frame.
Oh my God this is sheer automotive pornography. Posting this on a Monday is almost cruel. Gimme!
What makes an Eldo such a showboat? Certainly not its FWD! Too bad that when GM had the resources to invest in new driveline tech, they wasted it in a niche luxury segment, instead of reading the writing on the wall with what Simca, Fiat, & BMC were doing. From what I’ve read, Iacocca’s Lincoln Marks consistently outsold the Eldo, so even if GM may have recovered their engineering costs from unit profit, they didn’t gain any long-term business advantage from big-car FWD.
Then when they really needed a viable FWD platform, they blew it with the Citation. Ford played it a little smarter in hindsight, starting out with small-car FWD in Europe, then America, & abstaining from big-car FWD entirely.
They made a FWD Taurs based Continental for decade at least.
The Mark vs Eldo sales race doesn’t paint a whole picture, since the Eldorado had to compete against its own very popular brother, the Coupe deVille, where Lincoln only moved really small numbers of Town Coupes, leaving the Mark as the volume 2 door car of the Lincoln line up. The Mark really took off against the Eldorado after the 1977 re-design, though by then the Eldo itself was 8 years old.
Mark vs Eldo
23,088 1969 23,333
21,432 1970 23,842
27,091 1971 27368
48,591 1972 40074
69,437 1973 51,451
57,316 1974 40,412
47,145 1975 44,752
56,110 1976 49,180
80,321 1977 47,344
72,602 1978 46,816
I don’t put the Taurus Conti in the Big class any more than the Fox Conti, which had a comparable wheelbase; both were significantly less than the 114″ Crown Vic. But I realize that size classification can get slippery, esp. in the rental biz.
But good point about internal competition, & thanks for the stats, which go to show how GM handed its barge customers to Ford on a silver platter.
Well, no not really I dont see where you come to that conclusion, the 1977 Cadillacs were REALLY well recieved and while Lincoln did contnue to cater to the barge market, by 1980 they moved the full size car down to the Panther platform. The 1979-1985 Eldorado though continued to sell well, peaking at 74K in 1984. As far as I can recall, Lincoln never challenged Cadillac for the sales crown until the Navigator came out in the late 90’s.
Well it wasn’t like Lincoln make a conscientious decision to keep the big cars going out of spite – it was simply timing and they played it up for a couple of years. I will say that the 77 Mark V probably did influence the 79 Eldorado styling a bit solidifying the crisp lines theme. The 1980 Marks were bombs, the Town Cars dropped but not so bad. With the Imperial going no where, the Versailles all but dead, the Eldorado and Seville were the only game in town.
The only time Lincoln was categorically bigger was during the 86-87 period when the only “big” Cadillac was the Fleetwood Brougham. Lincoln had those famous commercials but pissed off Cadillac buyers could always buy the Brougham which was the same as the old deVille so I wonder just how many Town Car sales were true conquests. The Continental Sedan and Mark VII Coupe were bigger than the Eldorado/Seville for 86-87 and RWD which gave them some bragging rights but that changed in 1988.
Even if Cadillac would have debuted a much larger Eldorado/Seville for 1986, I often wondered how long the party would have lasted. Given the general decline of big coupe sales in the late 80s and early 90s the heyday was over. I dug out an old press release from the fall of 1985 where John Grettenberger and Braz Pryor discussed the new 86 E/K models. Judging by the words I seems as though they already knew that was coming. The language used specifically stated they were designed to target imports and be “driver’s cars.” They were aiming for a 35% mix of buyers under 40 for the new Eldorado.
Interestingly in the same press release, they discussed phasing out the Cimarron and adding a new small car model from the Opel division. Being discussed over 10 years before they actually did that.
I know for me, I once considered buying a 77-79 Mark V, I looked at one again at a classic car auction I attended this past March. I do like the look a lot although the very poor gas mileage and he sloppy steering/handling are turnoffs. The 80 Mark VI coupe do have a nice ‘look’ but ironically, are on a shorter wheelbase than the sedan making them look stubby.
“I wonder just how many Town Car sales were true conquests.”
In my experience, quite a lot of them. I believe that the Brougham (after the regular Cads were downsized for 1985) was significantly more expensive than the Town Car. I knew of at least two older people back then who had been GM people for years who traded big rwd Cadillacs on Town Cars. With the loss of traditional rwd Buicks and Oldsmobiles (and a legitimately large Chrysler), both the Town Car and the Grand Marquis were beneficiaries. I can think of at least two other people who were longtime Buick and Olds owners who traded for Grand Marquis’ in the late 80s. I knew no long-time Ford/Lincoln buyers who went the other way in those years. Admittedly just one guy’s anecdotal evidence, but I do not believe that this was uncommon.
My dad had the 1975 Cadillac Coupe DeVille D’Elegance, so I was always really partial to the coupes over the Eldorado.
And I would still take his 1975 Coupe over a 1975 Eldorado.
But the 1967-1970 Eldorado is amazing.
Thank you Tom for an interesting year by year Eldorado guide . It’s not often you read of how the 73 differed from the rest, I Agree, very clean looking relatively.
I Had the 71 Cadillac Picture on my wall as well, I was 11. But I dreamed of piloting that very blue-green Eldorado. I can picture the white 1971 Cadillac brochure as well..
My business partner had one of these cars, also in red with white leather, as a daily driver about ten years ago. A cool car and nothing could hold the road like it in a Saskatchewan winter. As a daily driver, though, it didn’t fare well. The brakes were especially a problem but half shafts and CV joints were also problematic.
Nice car I do have respect for Caddies, I found a couple recently a 62 & 61 limos still in service here which means like all commercial vehicles here they must pass a certificate of fitness every 6 months to be used as passenger service vehicles, that alone says something good about the build quality
Quick, somebody hand me the eye bleach! These things made me just want to puke. The people that drove these excrescenses seem to all have worn burgundy leisure suits with white shoes and belts. Or they were pimps.
I wonder how many Eldo buyers ordered their car to MATCH their leisure suits 🙂
Nah. I think it was federal regs that required Eldorado owners to dress in burgundy polyester.The law is still on the books but it’s increasingly difficult to find such raiment even at JC Penny. Hey! What can I say? Life’s a bitch.
those mulberry 2 tone velour suede are pretty sweet.
i loved to go into nyc to see the eldorado pimpmobiles in purple, orange and
mulberry, cerise 74., or was it cassis colored….
Funny, I just drove my 78 triple Georgian silver Eldorado out of the storage unit (for the first time this year) this morning, before seeing this feature. Earlier this year, I replaced the alternator and battery; the yellow charge light glowed since I bought the car in year 2000. The car finally died while idling it a few minutes in January. An easy do it yourself fix.
Anyhow, still have to get the exhaust fixed from the muffler back. Last year, I didn’t get it repaired since it’s still quiet as can be. (I wouldn’t advise a nap with the engine running, though.) The back bumper fillers are getting more cracked also. Have to replace them one of these years.
The ride of this genre of car is amazing. Even the poor roads of Western PA are no match for an Eldo. I’ll keep it in my garage for a couple of days to do some simple maintenance, then back to storage, with sporadic usage for the summer.
Glad to see an old guy steering wheel lace over cover on the feature car.
I drove mine with a drink sitting on the trunk floor for 15 miles, up and down 2 on ramps, through a highway interchange at speed of over 70mph, and then I remembered the drink on the floor of the trunk, I quickly pulled into a gas station to survey the damage, popped the trunk, and there it was, not a drop spilled.
You’ve got one of these Carmine? What year/color?
Inquiring minds want to know!
Interesting find considering the area and the fact that most of the preserved Eldorado of this year are the Biarritz models.
A few things:
1) In 1978, the Eldorado was no longer a Fleetwood sub-series but a full model on its own. The switch occurred around 1974.
2) The engine availability for 1978 was the same as the other full size Cadillac (and the same for 1977 as well) the base motor was the 180HP carbureted 425 while an optional 195HP EFI 425 was available utilizing similar technology found in the 350 Seville EFI.
3) The nameplate on the trunk was evidentially taken off of a 1977 Fleetwood Brougham the only year that nameplate style was used.
4) These were the last Eldorado built at the main Cadillac plant at Clark Street in Detroit. They came down the same assembly line as the other Cadillac at the time. For MY79, production was shifted to Linden, NJ, and in MY86 shifted to Hamtramck, MI, and MY2000 shifted to the Lansing Craft Centre for the last two years.
5) Original 78 Eldorado hubcaps can be identified by the use of a plastic colored disc attached to the metal cap along with the center medallion. Past years used painted discs. That practice started in 1976 when all discs were painted black 1977 started with body colored paint.
6) The rarest 78 Eldorado is the Custom Biarritz Classic with the power T-tops of which there are seven known examples. The feature was originally designed for the Toronado but was deemed unworkable but was also tried out on the Eldorado.
7) Every Eldorado from 1976-2002 had four way disc brakes an unusual feature on a non sports car. It was an interesting twist as a common complaint about early FWD cars were their four wheel drum brakes.
8) The automatic leveling control system changed from a vacuum operated style system to an electric pump driven system for 1978.
9) The featured car appears to have the CB radio option.
10) A 1973 convertible model of this generation paced the Indianapolis 500. Probably the only time a Cadillac came factory equipped with a white letter tire…
Personally I have been particularly interested in Eldorado having owned at least one of every generation. My optician owned a 1971 Eldorado convertible in red that I still remember fondly to this day.
The E-cars really should have had four-wheel ventilated discs from the start, plus a pressure limiter to discourage rear lockup. Drum brakes are one thing on an early Austin Mini, which weighed well under a ton and (in non-Cooper form) had a top speed of less than 85 mph, but with so much mass, these cars needed all the stopping power they could get.
I’m going to disagree with you on the Fleetwood sub series, my 1978 owners manual still calls the car by its offical term, Fleetwood Eldorado, this one does have the basic CB radio, there was a better CB 8-Track combo radio with a digital display in the handset, I think the only white lettered Cadillacs after the Pace Car were the Cimarrons and the Touring Coupe 79-85 Eldorados.
I’ve had a chance to purchase like 4 1973’s, 1 was a pace car replica, but I have not pulled the trigger on one, the 1972-1973 convertibles are my favs for the early series, and of course, a 1978 Custom Classic Biarriz for the full on decadence.
I have never seen a 78 Eldorado Owner’s Manual, I do not doubt you probably some semantics at play there. For MY76, Cadillac changed their production chart coding all 1975 Eldorado were listed as “Fleetwood Eldorado 71-693” with body #s “69347H” for the closed coupe and “69367E” for the convertible coupe. For 1976, they list ELDORADO 6E-L47(Coupe)/L67(Convertible) no more mention of “Fleetwood”. That is what I used for the basis of my comment. A cursory glance at OldsCarBrochures.com I see the last listed of Fleetwood Eldorado was 1972. The Eldorado was originally listed as a Fleetwood series model in the early 60s when it was still a RWD car based off the 62/deVille series. When the Cadillac wreath design was standardized then (lasting until MY2000) the senior models got a wreath and crest while the lesser models wore a crest and V. The Eldorado was put under the Fleetwood series to get the wreath. Of course when the Eldorado was redesigned in 67 and moved to the E body it became merely a play on words, which I am sure usage faded over time. I sort of chalk it up to the similar situation that existed with the Imperials during this time, from 1955-1983 Chrysler Corp. tried to market the Imperial as a separate make and most in Imperial circles tend to follow that although there has always been discussion of how official that was since there were no stand alone Imperial dealers.
And if you look, our feature CC has a “Fleetwood” plaque on the trunk lid.
My 78 does not have the Fleetwood badge. Neither did the 75 I owned until 1993.
The ’75 I shot doesn’t have the Fleetwood plaque either. Maybe the owner added it.
Based on the pics, it looks as thought the subject vehicle’s emblem was lifted off of a 1977 Fleetwood Brougham front fender badge.
It is hard to read the letters from the picture below but that is where it came from.
They never put a “Fleetwood” badge on these, its from a 77 Fleetwood sedan.
The car was so original, I assumed it was factory installed. I thought they might have used the ’77 FWB badge on the ’77/’78 Eldos; guess not 🙂
I’m interested in automobiles in the way they’re an integral periphery to our modern history. So I enjoy reading about various models and how they reflect the societal condition of their time. Although this Caddy is a beautiful specimen, it’s against my principles to love it. Material consumption to epic proportions!
The only thing I found a little troubling on a car of this timbre and price was the frotn end bumper cap. It had a little piece of stainless steel metal that was to line up with the lower edge of the front bumper and stainless steel trim piece on the front fender. These always tended to be out of line and askew – I rememer these cars when they were brand new and it had this sloppily applied piece. Made the car look cheap. It’s like the assemblers at Clark Street Detroit said, “F-it!” . On the upside, the leather interiors of Eldos of this vintage were sumptuous, especially in white, light blue or light green.
Wow, what a find!
While there is a lot to love about these cars, I wish they weren’t so…BIG! Undoubtedly the 1979 model was the best idea they had, as it became a much more practical, but just as elegant car.
Way back in the 1980’s, a friend of my dad bought a 1973 Eldorado. I’m not sure why, as he really had no need for it. He took us for a ride in it. I remember when we got out onto the open road he stomped on the gas pedal and the whole front end raised up and we sunk into the seat as the car took off! I was in love! Sadly he didn’t keep the car very long, so I only got to ride in it that one time, but I’ll never forget it.
As I grow older, I wish my Eldorado was a 79, instead of a 78. The wife had a 79, the right size, but a much more complicated car. I recall a plug in device in the throttle body that controlled the idle. In 1987, the part was $ 115 and $ 6 labor. Then, in 1989, the intake manifold gasket leaked. My father in law and I fixed it. Dad was a genius. I never thought we would get it back together.
It also had 8 fuel injectors, of which two needed replaced. Several hundred dollars.
On second thought, I’ll keep my 78.
The 79 Eldorado came standard with 350 Olds to Cadillac EFI engine lifted from the Seville. It was basically a one year only deal on the Eldorado (but persisted for 1980 on California Sevilles). The device that you speak about was the Fast Idle Valve that was the same for all the 350EFI cars of those years. $115 is high maybe at stealer rates. The last time it was available new around 2000 is was only about $75. Most of the problems with the FIV were not really the valve themselves but rather the plunger and spring inside. Replacement of the spring and/or adding a spacer usually did the trick. The FIV was really for really cold starts. If you live in a warm climate you can bypass it completely. The injectors are common as pie EV-1 green top Bosch injectors. They are available new from Rock Auto for $15 each. The intake gasket is standard off the shelf Oldsmobile SB V8 fits anything Oldsmobile small block up until the 7A heads of 1985. So very odd, I would have made quick work of that car for very little expense.
Here’s a ’78 Biarritz spotted for sale a few year’s ago at a local Ford dealer
I think that it eventually went for approx $3500
Eldo in repose.
Local car show example
Bothwell car show example.
Auburn show. Still haven’t found that perfect Fiat 850 pic yet!
2nd Auburn shot
I always liked this color combo, its like light coffee and chocolate, it looks like it’s dripping luxury.
I wonder how good those four wheel disc brakes were?
I have visions of buying a 67-70 and doing a brake conversion.
I briefly owned a ’70 Eldo. I like the ’68 the best. Better interior, hidden headlights and good looking vented wheel covers. But the ’70 had the 400-horse 500. People were very amused by the “8.2 Litre” badge on the grill!
A kid’s dad had a ’77 or ’78 when I was in grade school. It was a Biarritz and it had the whole Les Dunham Superfly Live and Let Die treatment. He was a fat guy who wore white belt and white shoes!
The addition of discs on the front was revolutionary in braking performance on a big car like that back in the day, while four wheels discs the difference was more marginal. Seeing as the Eldorado Seville Versailles Imperial and the 77-79 Fleetwood Brougham used four way discs there seems to have been a small burst of popularity of them in the mid 70 s. With that said, on an average car driven in typical fashion a disc/drum system is more than adequate. Many Cadillacs picked up hydroboost at this same time. I have driven most all of the combinations available and my 83 Eldorado is four way disc it doesn’t appear to need the four way disc or stop particularly better my old 85 Toronado disc/drum.
A lot of people with 67-68 Eldorados with disc or drums switch to 69-70 front style and you get a more readily available and cheaper caliper arrangement as well as a much easier spindle and bearing arrangement. The four piston calipers and single piece front bearing are difficult and expensive to obtain and repair. Chrysler owners know this well with original Budd brakes from that era.
Four wheel discs are OK, but in a life or death situation, the big Eldorados are not going to stop on a dime. 5,108 pounds is a lot of car. I drive accordingly.
My not like. Sorry. Prefer the 67-70
I notice that the biarritz option was available for 1976 eldorado’s – just not with the fancy leather seats 🙁
can you change the seats from 1977 to a 1976?…I know 1977’s were downsized but it looks like the seats could fit
76-78 Eldorados are all the same, the standard DeVille/Fleetwood Cadilacs were downsized. so you could fit the seats from a 77-78 Biarritz to any 71-78 Eldo, I’ve seen them in 1973 convertible Eldorados. The Biarritz package was just some fancy trim and thicker landauness.
cool so they just got rid of the big block engines+ convertible in 1977 essentially? and added more trim options? otherwise its the same car?
The 425 was still a big-block but yes the 77-78 Eldorados were just continuations of the 76. The biggest structural change, aside from engine, was the taillights. Rest of the changes were confined to minor things here and there like steering wheel, grille, etc. The E body Eldorado and Toronado were introduced in current form in 1971 and were last of their car lines to be downsized and looked quite large bloated compared to the other cars.
This particular make and model strikes a chord with me, being that my parents owned a Cotillion White Eldorado Custom Biarritz when I was born. Hey, don’t judge. They were from Jersey, after all.
In fact, it was the car I was driven home from the hospital as a newborn in. I think the sheer ridiculousness of the car invaded my young pores, as I now find myself driving an ’08 CTS (I live in LA, and my friends all call it the “guido car”).
The Biarritz was so over the top that I have vivid memories of it as a young child. Astroroof, 8-track/CB radio unit that I used to LOVE playing with, the white leather tufted seats, the opera lights, etc. etc. Fond memories of a car that truly affected my car enthusiasm from birth.
Great article Tom, I got to spend a lot of seat time in a 73, and later a 75. The 71-73 were the best of them imo, although the pillow seats were better in later years. The ride was supple at its worse, we use to call it “Pushing The Crest” as you would watch the hood ornament bob up and down as you float through Detroit’s so called mean streets….good times.
Finally got around to digesting this whole post and comments. I love these of course! Thanks for spending some time discussing the earlier years (1971-74) as they frequently seem overshadowed by the popularity (or at least greater numbers) of the later ones. It’s interesting that ’73 is your favorite year, Tom. It’s probably the least seen, although it may be tied with the rare ’71 for that. The ’75-78s are amazing and over the top, but there are just so many of them left that I find them boring after a while.
Tom! The Jasper Green Firemist you linked to that I loved isn’t Jasper Green at all, it’s Persian Lime Firemist! But I still love it!
Persian Lime Firemist,what a colour.Nothing succeeds like excess.Do any US automakers have a colour Iranian…………? I like the look of these Cadillacs which is really saying something from someone who likes the pure and unadorned shapes of Pininfarina.
You’re right. Here is the REAL Jasper Green, which I also like. Pic from That Hartford Guy’s excellent photostream:
i just bought a 73 Eldo, its has the fleetwood package. from 73 and on the eldo is not always a fleetwood.
i just love the 71-78, they are so big and massive. i live in europe, and one of few american cars that make pople smile over here a old real caddys, and this one delivers.
its red with white vinyltop and red leather interior,
i just love this car. its drives so softly and is just a proud car,
One of those really stands out here in the U.S., I can only imagine its impact in Europe.
My 78 Eldorado Biarritz Caribou I love the interior both leather and velour interior
Were steer horns an option by this point? Well remembered cameo in ‘Rock the Casbah’, by The Clash.
I do miss colors on cars, inside and out. Now that I’m older I prefer brighter colored cars. I used to have an all black Cadillac Seville. I bought a forest green F150 in 2007, I have a very light, bright Ingot Silver Ford Flex with a Midnight Black top, grille, rear panel, and wheels. I bought my ’06 Mustang GT convertible because it is Vibrant blue, with a tan top and interior, The interior also features silver and black accents. No more black interiors for me.
I had a Naples yellow ’77 Coupe De Ville with a matching interior so I guess my love of color goes back a bit.
No, they didn’t. What was issued was a bumper performance requirement, not a bumper design requirement. And no particular design was practically mandated. GM could have equipped Cadillacs with this in-house-at-the-time technology for low-mass body-coloured bumpers instead. Why didn’t they? There’s no telling for sure, but there’s a sturdy case to be made that nasty bumpers (…seat belts, head restraints, audible reminders, emission controls…) were at least partly in an effort to spark popular revolt against auto regulations entire.
And yet, if it was the intention to spark popular revolt against auto regulations, it played right into the hands of the Japanese, who simply knuckled down and met the regulations, while maintaining their growing reputation for quality. Cultural obedience to authority.
How ironic also that so many modern cars appear to have no bumpers whatever (eg. Mazda 3), and are presumably even costlier to repair.
There’s no telling for sure, but there’s a sturdy case to be made that nasty bumpers (…seat belts, head restraints, audible reminders, emission controls…) were at least partly in an effort to spark popular revolt against auto regulations entire.”
I would phrase it differently, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen a similar philosophical perspective about Gov regs and GM.
I refer to it as “ok, we’ll build it, but you’re not going to like it” But not wanting to spark revolt, but rather that they were insulted, “This is General Motors. We build cars the way they should be built.” Like it or not.
Of course that theory ignores the GMs like the Firebird, Corvette, Grand Am, Chevy Laguna that had clean bumpers comparable to modern integrated bumper systems, so….
These particular regs were an attempt to minimize payouts to benefit insurance companies, eg save them from paying for a repairs or replacement of grilles, upper and lower valances, fenders, hood and lights in a low speed crash. In other words, one for profit business successfully lobbied the government to make another business alter their products to their benefit. Consumer with no choice of their own gets an uglier car.
GM et al(and I mean et al, ever look at Mercedes and Toyota’s US market bumper designs back then? Think they, the antidotes to stuffy old Detroit thinking, were any more noble?) did exactly what was asked when it was asked and the bumpers worked exactly as they were supposed to, across broad lineups of cars, and they weren’t even all that bad in many cases, the worst examples were on older designs that weren’t through with their styling cycles yet. Once fresh designs came out they looked fine – were the bumper executions bad on the 75 Seville? We’re they bad on any of the 77 B bodies?
5mph bumpers weren’t emissions systems, and unlike crumple zones or seatbelts or airbags, they weren’t driver protective devices either. The closest thing they did in that regard was protect the lighting systems if the driver continued driving with them busted out and cockeyed after a fender bender, but that’s pretty dubious justification for regulation, considering all the other careless things a driver can do (like not use their lights at all even when they are working).
Well, here’s pretty good justification for those bumper regs. A few cars came with non-ugly bumpers? Yep, and a few cars came with EFI instead of strangulation-spec carburetors. We’re talking about the exceptions that prove the rule.
A few cars came with non-ugly bumpers? Yep, and a few cars came with EFI instead of strangulation-spec carburetors. We’re talking about the exceptions that prove the rule.
Well talking exceptions to the rule was every bumper design before 1973 good looking? Were all non endura type 5mph bumpers ugly? Seriously, was the 1974 Duster really marred specifically by its 5mph bumpers compared to the 1970, or was it other changes like the grille and taillights that make them less appealing?
What’s the expectation here, overnight the entirety of GM switches over from chromed steel to body colored bumpers like Pontiac had been selling as a novelty 5 years earlier, with no transition period? What’s to say the visual results and how people perceive them today would have been any better? The Pontiac executions were pretty good, but the Chevelle Laguna isn’t much better looking than the steel bumper Malibu, I’m to believe Cadillac with their continued massive baroqueness would have looked better and been less jarring had they been capped off in body colored plastic?
Thanks, Matt; I’ll leave you to have fun with your missed points and contrived anti-government screeds on your own.
Car companies passive aggressively complied with over the top bumpers to coerce customers into complaining about bumper legislation – Check
The bumpers were statically effective at reducing costs – Also check
I’m sorry, what point was I missing?
At the end of the day the regulation was rolled back to 2.5mph in the US and hasn’t been raised back since despite every other automotive regulations gradually raising the bar for compliance, such as safety and emissions, of which I don’t believe I said anything about objecting to.
It isn’t all or nothing, there are good laws and bad laws, rejecting(or I should say questioning the motives of) the legislation requiring 5mph bumpers doesn’t make me any more anti-government than a bootlegger objecting to the 18th amendment a century ago.
I don’t wholly disagree with your theory, but it is theory, which some some might suggest is contrived anti-auto industry screed unto itself.
I have repeatedly phrased it like this (and it looks like I’m not the only one). I thought this time I’d boil it down a little.
I remember those plastic bumpers that were used on the Monte Carlo in ’81. I thought that bumper itself was okay, they were similar to the bumpers used on the Mustang II which I liked. It was those awful plasti-chrome trim strips that didn’t look like they would last long, and they didn’t. I liked those chrome impact bumpers, they really protected the sheetmetal, something that the overstyled, body contoured, chrome bumpers of the 1960’s couldn’t do. The downside was that they were quite heavy. I had several 280Zs and the later impact bumpers were really heavy, but they did protect the hood from cars backing into it. Most early Zs had damaged noses after a few years. Modern bumpers are light and aerodynamically shaped. They are okay for a minor parking bump, but they don’t provide much protection for any harder impact. Plus, the paint gets all scuffed up.
I didn’t dispute that there’s less repair costs with the bumpers, they did their job, but that it was primarily to the benefit of the insurance companies (who fund IIHS to conduct such studies).
If reducing costs for consumers was the goal where’s the legislation such as limiting exterior colors to light shades such as white to decrease AC usage, size/weight caps and/or tire width restrictions to reduce rolling resistance, limiting engine power outputs to increase efficiency, you name it? You don’t see that because there’s no middleman industry “footing the bill” to lobby for such draconian measures to reign in indulgences marketed by automakers and consumed if not demanded by their consumers.
“People shouldn’t have that car because they might dent the vulnerable front end design we’ll have to pay for. We’re not a charity!” is the insurance industry’s justification.
“(and with that money we save on payouts we can to pay you, congressman.)” is the government’s justification.