(first posted 7/4/2011) I would be willing to bet that there is no car that General Motors made more money on than this generation of Cadillac. For those under about the age of 40, when someone says Cadillac, this is the car that comes to mind. It should, because this was in constant production for about 16 years and in virtually this exact flavor for about 13. Nobody planned for this car to be around for so long, but just like the great old Vaudeville performers, the car kept coming out for one encore after another before finally leaving the stage.
The new downsized Cadillac came out as a 1977 model and was a huge improvement over the oversized jelly-bodied 71-76 model. The car lost about 1000 pounds but was still powered by a 425 cubic inch version of the great Cadillac V8. Unlike its predecessor, this car felt tight and solid and made of some better materials. Its smaller size may have alienated some traditionalists (I have long maintained that the smaller size of the 77-79 Cadillac was partly responsible for booming sales of the final big Lincolns during those years), but the car had a lot of engine for its size and was mighty quick.
The car got its first (and only) significant restyle in 1980. Much more than the original 1977 version, this car captured the essence of Cadillac. The only real changes that this car would see from here on out were under the hood. From 1980-85 Cadillac played an unending game of musical engines with the 368 (a smaller version of the Cadillac 425 for 1980), the V8-6-4 (a 368 with variable displacement), a 4.1 Liter Buick V6 (believe it or not), the HT4100 (a 4.1 liter V8 designed for front drive applications), the Oldsmobile 5.7 diesel, and maybe one or two others. These were cars that were bought in spite of their engines, not because of them, and the 1980-85 models are not often seen these days, although they sold fairly well when they were new.
When Cadillac brought out the disastrous 85 front drive models, this car continued in 85-86 as the Fleetwood Brougham (not to be confused with the front drive Fleetwood). It was evidently still too confusing, because in 1987, the car became simply the Cadillac Brougham. All of this confusion came about because this car was simply not expected to survive the new front drive replacement. But in what became a Detroit ritual, surging sales for the big now-ancient rear drive V8 sedans would lead to one stay of execution after another.
In 1986, GM finally hit the balance between fuel mileage (to satisfy the CAFE regs) and power (to satisfy complaining customers) when it grabbed the Oldsmobile 307 off the shelf to bolt into these cars. This is the engine that had powered the final rear drive Oldsmobiles and Buicks, and solved everything that was really wrong with the cars. Okay, reintroducing the 425 would have REALLY solved the power problem, but this was simply impossible with CAFE-imposed fuel economy constraints that existed at the time. With sticker prices well north of $30K, GM’s profit margin must have been huge.
The big Cadillac made it through the 89 models with virtually nothing but periodic grille changes (which were themselves little more than re-using grilles from the early 80s either in whole or with minor revisions. Some moderate trim changes for 90-92 filled out the run of these classic Cadillacs, when they were replaced by the 93-96 Roadmaster-based Fleetwood, the last of the big rear drive Caddies.
If ever there was a car that a company could have continued almost indefinitely (Checker or Avanti-style), it was this generation of Cadillac. Although the 1987 version sold about 65,000 units, it seemed to drop about 10-15,000 per year thereafter, settling under 14,000 for 1992. The final series saw an uptick into the 30K unit territory before dropping back to 1992 levels by the end of the 1996 model run. It is my opinion that GM would have been ahead to simply continue the original car (perhaps going back to the styling of the pre-1990 version, but with the more powerful Chevy 5.7 of the later cars. (So, is it Chevrollac and Oldsmollac, or Cadrolet and Cadsmobile?) Really, what would be wrong with 10-15,000 annual units of pure profit at $40 thousand a pop? A new dashboard with some airbags (even the Crown Victoria got a new dash with air bags in 1991) and these cars could sell in small but steady numbers yet.
This Cadillac was the last of the kind of passenger car that GM was uniquely good at. The cars were structurally tight and solid, virtually impervious to rust-through even in our midwestern climate, and insanely durable. In this part of the country, there are still a lot of these out on the streets. Some are the blinged-out customs of enthusiastic kids, others are like this, nice originals that have been lovingly cared for by owners who knew that they would never see another Cadillac like these.
OK, I actually have one complaint with these cars. Why could none of them ever hold a shine on the hood? I once read that GM used aluminum hoods do keep down weight, and surmised that the heat transfer characteristics of that alloy wreaked havoc on the paint finishes. Maybe someone else can say for sure, but my own 89 always had a poor finish on the hood while the fender tops shined like crazy. Ditto an 84 Olds Ninety Eight and an 84 LeSabre. Copper, white and navy blue, respectively, it made no difference. Can anyone shed light on this mystery?
To me, this period of Cadillac marked the first time since maybe 1960 that Cadillac built a better car than Lincoln. The Town Cars of the late 80s may have had their charms, but they did not say “Lincoln” the way these big Broughams said “Cadillac”. These were clearly not the quality of the Cadillacs I grew up seeing in the 60s (I once owned a 63 Fleetwood and know the difference), but those days were gone after about 1970, never to return. If you get a chance to ride in one of these, take it. Enjoy those soft crushed velour (or leather if you’re lucky) seats and the view of that Cadillac hood ornament standing tall and proud waaaaay out there. Or better yet, take the back seat and just enjoy the ride.
Give me a 1977 to 1980 model (as long as it has the big block, V4-6-8 can be deactivated, leaving you with a genuine big block Caddy) or a 1987 to 1992 version with the 5.7V8. This is the last true Cadillac. The RWD STS “coulda been a contender” if Cadillac would have put more effort into it. (Likely the interior would have been the best place to start, then an elongated wheelbase.)
Having driven a 307 V8 Cutlass sedan I always worried about the ability of that engine to haul a Cadillac around. (Although around town, stop light to stop light… very nice.)
Dan, you would be correct about the 307. It was, uh, leisurely. But give it enough road, and it would cruise at 90. I tried this out when my wife was having a kidney stone attack on the way home from an out-of-town funeral. Fortunately, I avoided a ticket after whooshing past the Crown Victoria with the black grille – the officer could tell that she was not kidding, and gave me directions to the nearest ER. But I was used to it because my 84 Olds 98 had the same engine.
I drove an employer’s 77 with the 425 a few times. The ride was softer and less controlled, but it was fast. I knew another kid who also drove it and did burnouts on an asphalt parking lot.
That likely speaks to the gearing of the Cadillac. I was never able to get faster than about 75mph but then I never had the patience to run it wide open for miles upon miles at a time just to see if I could hit the absolute top speed.
What boggles my mind is that several internet sources say that GM used the 307 and the 305 depending on which engines they could get their hands on for a paticular production run. This always made me laugh because that meant that two brand new Cadillacs sitting on a dealers lot could have diffent base engines, and different “feel” on the test drive. Having driven both 307 and 305 equipted B-body wagons I would tell you that the 305 was more pleasant on the highway (if you were doing a top speed run like 17 year old me) and the 307 was more pleasing to drive around town.
I had understood that the 305 and the 350 were not used until 1990, but I am open to correction on this point. I am not sure I ever saw an 89 or earlier with the 5.7 badge on the trunk. Until I did some research for these pieces, I did not know that the Chevy 305 had about a 30 horsepower advantage over the 307. But I suppose this is logical, since the 307’s development was sort of arrested at about 1982 or 83. I just know that I always wished that mine had the 350.
I’ve never seen independent confirmation either of the exact engines used the exact years, just lots of internet speculation. Likely the confusion comes from the fact that the basic chassis was asked to take so many various engines over the years. Perhaps the perfect canidate for a daily driver would be to find an example with a good body and interior and then drop the powertrain of your choosing in there.
I don’t think the 350 was offered until 1990. When it did arrive, I dimly recall that it was offered only as part of trailer towing or “coachbuilder” packages, and that it carried a gas guzzler tax, which I believe was against GM corporate policy at the time. The packages suggest what may have happened — the corporation didn’t want Cadillac to get back into guzzler territory, but the livery companies, hearse builders, etc. that probably made up a large percentage of this car’s market were complaining that the 307 just wasn’t enough. I don’t know if that was the case, but it seems plausible enough.
You pretty much nailed it. It was indeed 1990 when the 5.7 was introduced in these. And was only part of the Trailer towing and Coachbuilder package. I have the 1990 Cadillac showroom brochure and that’s what it said. And, the Gas Guzzler Tax was also an unfortunate part of the deal…
I once rented a 1991 Brougham with the 5.7. I thought the last squared off Broughams all had that motor.
The 1990 model year still used the Olds 307 4BBL engine. They did not mix the 305 engine into the mix – that would have added a ton of SKU’s to track from a manufacturing standpoint. If the trailering package was ordered, the Chevrolet 350 with throttle body injection was the engine. The 1991 model year was when they used the 305 with TBI for the 5.0 L version and you could get the 350 TBI without the trailering package if you wished. These engines carried over to the 1992 model year. The 1993 had only the 350 TBI engine (with or without the trailering package). and the ’94-’96 models had the 350 LT1 engine which had a significant acceleration increase.
True Dan, until ’89 anyway, 5-liter GM could be either Chevy or Olds.
I owned an ’89 Caprice wagon with the Olds 307. It was GM’s last car with a carburetor. In contrast all SBC’s from ’87 forward were fuel injected.
I don’t have the pleasant memories of that engine at all…most of the time I couldn’t use overdrive as it never had enough power…and when it reached 185,000 and needed something or the other, that was all the excuse I needed. I got hold of JTR’s “Chevrolet TPI/TPI Engine Swapping” book, made the case to my wife – it was the family car after all – and took the Caprice off the road for about six months while replacing the 307 with a 350 TPI.
Can you say “transformation”?
In addition to becoming a ball to drive, it picked up about 2 MPG since the car could now get out of its own way. Driven at a steady 55 it would get 25 MPG. When I scrapped the car six years later – the Western PA weather had caught up with the body – the odometer was at 317,000.
The engine still sits in a corner of my garage…I need to sell it as my proclivities have moved on…now it’s Gen III baby!!!
And today I drive a ’91 Caprice wagon with the 305…feels more like my old 350TPI than the Olds. It cruises at 75-80 and knocks back 22-23 MPG even at that speed.
OMG yes, I remember wrenching back then and hating any Caprice wagon that would come in. Invariably they’d have the 307, but every damn time I’d call in to the jobbers for parts, they’d insist it had a 305 like the sedan. Didn’t help that GM used the same VIN code for both (they’re both 5.0 liters, after all.)
“Yes, I’m sure it’s a 307. Look, it has the damn oil fill neck in front of the air cleaner. I don’t care if your book says it’s a 305.”
They’d relent, I’d get the part, and sure enough it would be for a 305.
The 305 and 307 weren’t used interchangeably. The 1986-90 Cadillac Broughams with a 5.0L V8 were all 307 Oldsmobiles. For 1991-92 this Oldsmobile LV2 307 was replaced by the Chevrolet 305 L03 TBI engine.
The LV2, 140 hp 307 used VIN code “Y”, while the far less common 307 HO rated at 170 hp used VIN code “9.” The LG4 305 4bbl was VIN “H” (and not sold from the factory in a Caddy), while the L03 305 TBI was VIN code “E”. The 350 TBI V8, offered 1990-92, was VIN code “7”.
Even though the L03 only had 170hp, compared to the 140 hp 307, the performance difference was night and day. The L03 was just as refined as the 307 for NVH IMO.
I think the main reason for running the Olds motor was that it felt more refined than the Chevy. It was smoother under power and it’s torque came in lower than the 305. I could be wrong though as I’m a bit biased against the SBC.. 🙂
I chimed in on the other Brougham article about the attributes of the Olds 307. I drove one in a similar sized car (an ’85 Buick LeSabre Collectors’ Edition RWD). It did ‘just fine’ in ordinary driving with the 307 Olds 4-bbl. Slightly better with a low restriction, Y-pipe cat-back 2 1/2″ Flowmaster exhaust system.
Flint gray w/black vinyl top and chrome Riviera wheels. Sold to to a guy who enlisted it in taxicab service on Oahu (Hawaii) back in ’95 . . .
IRT the “difficulty to get the paint (hood) to shine” – well, living in weather-challenged areas most of my adult life (California/Guam/Hawaii/Alaska/Cleveland) – it takes – LOTS and LOTS of washing and waxing.
In AK and OH in the winter I’d go outside with a bucket of warm water and wash and rinse – in sections – before things would freeze! Yes, it’s crazy, but it works. One fender, one door, one trunk lid at a time.
In the salt-on-the-road climates, would rinse underside extensively if/when warm enough to do so. It seems Cleveland and Parma (Ohio) BP stations would have their car washes open in the dead of winter using warm water underside spray. (Forgive me rust-belters – I’m originally from the S.F. Bay Area and find such things novel!)
Alaska is rough – If you’re by the sea (S.E. AK – Juneau/Ketchikan/Sitka/Kodiak, etc.) combine lots of rain, snow (mostly rain in the S.E. and Kodiak), sea/salt air, and that is a challenge on any paint job or piece of sheet metal.
Let me know what you think?
I have a 1987 fleetwood my stepbrother did a engine swap from a wreck 01 gmc yukon ( rear-end total lost) … Ok this is the juicy part. The gmc has a 5.3Liter Vortec, i have elimated the fuel injection and left it carburetor. The 87 Transmission mounted right on the new 01 engine. so now all i have left is the conversion mounts, intake, a few things here and there but the 325 is bolted frim where the 307 used to be. I cant wait but i should have the car running in less then 1 week hopefully if you want to give me some idea feel free and if you would like to see pics and video she send me a request thank you.
I owned a 1981 Fleetwood Brougham d’Elegance for 12 years from 1999 and its still going strong on its new owner. That said, it was no ‘Standard of the World’. Fit and finish, build quality of all but drivetrain and frame/suspension components was an absolute disgrace. It had the 368 V8/6/4. After years and a lot of money I had that operational, but then the rocker solenoids died so I disconnected it. Ran fine as a V8, but with a mere 140hp, it had dismal performance above 50mph. Good torque though. I’ve driven a friend’s 1986 model with the Olds 307 – dreadfully underpowered. No Cadillac should ever have any engine but a Cadillac engine, and with at least 8 cylinders. The HT4100 was a disaster. The 305 and 350 Chebby engines used later on are a disgrace – a working stiff’s ‘low priced three’ engine in a CADILLAC?????
Cadillac quality declined substantially after 1966 – a turn off for me. 1981 was probably rock bottom. I’m familiar with many years of Cadillacs and do respect the 1972 year in particular.
I kept my car garaged and regularly serviced, but was never happy with its dismal build quality, cramped width, or sluggish engine, so I bought a one-owner 1977 460-powered Continental Town Car, which is built to a much higher standard – one that the self-proclaimed Standard of the World ought to have insisted on. Just over a year on, I am extremely happy with the Lincoln.
I have a large collection of US large car catalogs from 1948 (mainly 1960-1980, including more than 70 for Cadillac – always happy to answer spec questions from enthusiasts. email@example.com
My 1979 Eldorado was equipped with an Oldsmobile built, gasoline 5.7L V8 with throttle body fuel injection good for 170bhp and it was a perfect match.
Despite the relatively tall gearing and a 3 speed automatic, the downsized Eldorado could accelerate from 0-60 in a(very respectable for 1979) 9.5 seconds.
However, the workmanship was terrible. The plastic fillers around the bumpers faded and lost their color. The roof was carelessly sanded(probably in anticipation of the landau roof/steel roof cap that the Biarritz models had and certainly the vinyl landau roof which was “de regeuir” in 1979. My ’79 was devoid of all that expletive deleted gunk and was painted Crater Lake Blue(a dark blue Firemist color with some green metallic flake) with a light grey leather interior.
Despite the technological leap over the ’78 models, the car was sloppily assembled and required frequent trips to fix problems that the factory should have corrected before the “generous” 90 day warranty was up.
I considered trading it in on a 1981 model with the infamous V8/6/4 variable displacement V8 but the car literally shuddered every time I accelerated it or settled down to highway speed. Although it was a Cadillac engine, it was rated at 140bhp and it showed. I even considered the 1981 Chrysler Imperial but backed off after getting very negative input from friends who had one. There were so many defects in the Chrysler electronic fuel injection that dealers ripped out the electronic fuel injection and replaced it with a 2bbl carburetor!
Undeterred, I ordered a metallic beige ’83 model with another infamous Cadillac engine, the HT4100. Armed with the knowledge that the car was notorious for being underpowered, I had the sales manager write into the contract,”delivery subject to owner test drive.” I am glad that I did. As I pulled out of the dealership and up to the closest intersection(with a very nervous salesman in the passenger seat) I punched it as soon as the light turned green. The acceleration was so bad that a Toyota Corolla blasted by me while the Cadillac struggled to get to 60mph. Needless to say, I refused delivery setting off an ugly battle with the dealership who initially refused to refund my $1000 deposit. After much legal wrangling and threats of a lawsuit from my lawyer the dealer ultimately refunded my money.
By this point, the paint,especially on the hood had started to dull and fade and I had to have the cancer rust repaired and repainted. Around this time, a semi had pitched a rock into the windshield which was haphazardly replaced by the dealer at my cost. They did such a lousy job that the windshield leaked on the passenger side every time it rained.
Fed up with Cadillac and having to have the transmission and distributor replaced in the meanwhile, I turned to the imports. Initially, I considered the BMW 635CSi but was turned off by its spartan interior and mediocre styling.
I also considered the Porsche 928 and the Mercedes 500SEC. Finally, I selected the 1985 Jaguar XJ-S, encouraged by improvements in Jaguar’s dependability,styling and its V12 power. At trade in time, I was happy to get $6000 for an 1979 Eldorado with 105,000 miles on the odometer. Despite its glaring flaws and the worst paint job ever applied to a car, the Oldsmobile 5.7L was the best part of the car.
im sorry to sound like such a rookie, but I am trying to swap the 368, from a 80′ Fleetwood brougham with the 400 to a 307. Does it have to be vin “y” I’ve just read that in a few places, but I don’t no about it, the motor I can purchase is a rebuilt long block 5.0 307 from an 1983 Buick lesabre…
As far as I’m concerned these are the last real Cadillacs. Everytime I see these cars going down the highway their nose is gently pointed up in the air like a fine boat and with their seating position the driver and passengers take on a somewhat regal appearance. They are also probably the styled Caddy’s in the last 40 years, the new ones leave me somewhat cold and even the last few Fleetwoods appeared bloated and cartoonish compared to the perfectly porpotioned beasts.
I wholeheartedly agree, these were the last “real” Cadillacs. I spent a bit of time riding in the passenger seat of one as a kid because a family friend had one in dark blue. He actually bought it (used) partly because it had the Olds 350 diesel engine. It was the last year for the engine (1985?). By the end, GM actually had most of the gremlins worked out of the 350 diesel.
Agreed that the 1980-1989 (not crazy about all the boilt-on plastic junk on 1990-1992 models) do have great styling – a classic design of the era.
I don’t consider the downsized, front wheel drive 1986 DeVilles as “Real” Cadillacs.
Indiana lisc plate…cool
I live in Indianapolis, so it is less of a novelty here. I will admit, though, that it is one of the more tasteful license plate designs I have seen recently.
identical to Ct. plates.
I liked the “Amber Waves of Grain” plates, but I guess they did away with those.
Im just 150 mi south..
So true, I really do not like the license plates Indiana has now, even if it is an anniversary edition (my Dad still lives in NWI and I now live in South Dakota), I miss the Wander Indiana plates…I always sing that little tune “wander Indiana, wander Indiana…..”
My business partner has a 1978 Sedan DeVille, in that ubiquitous light blue of the era. I found the car in Victoria and it cost all of $1000 in 2004. Few saw the value in these models at the time. I did! The 425 has tremendous torque and the THM 400 impeccable.
But it’s still a GM car as the two slam doors attest. The steering is vague (and the entire front end has been replaced) and it’s really not safe above 110 km/h. Still it’s a cool ride and wow, did I mention the torque? I’ll attach an image later.
Your steering could be vague for a dozen reasons – converted to RHD? Worn linkages, worn rubber bushings? Worn steering shaft flexible coupling? I had mine (1981 FB d’E) all redone and it was pin sharp.
dermot, why would you think a Canadian car be converted to right hand drive?!
Until recently, the left-hand-drive (LHD) vehicles were required to be converted to the right-hand-drive (RHD) before they could be registered and driven on the public road in many Australian states and territories.
For many years, South Australia and Northern Territory (and perhaps one other state) allowed the exemption as long as the vehicles had huge LEFT HAND DRIVE stickers affixed to the rear bumpers. South Australia has a large American military base: hence, the exemption.
Since the early 2000s, the laws have been amended to allow the LHD historical or show cars to be registered and driven.
Western Australia, Northern Territory, and Australian Capital Territory allow the vehicles to be at least fifteen years old. Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, and Tasmania require the vehicles to be more than thirty years old. That is the general rule: each state has its own additional requirements for registering the LHD vehicles. South Australia require the LHD vehicles to be in original configuration as possible (i.e. no aftermarket HVAC or radio).
I never forget the sight of a RHD 1982 Chevrolet Camaro in Sydney when I visited Australia for the first time in 1987. In Melbourne, I visited the conversion centre and was awestruck to see many RHD General Motors North American vehicles in various model years, including a 1980 Cadillac Eldorado (selling for A$105,000 in 1987).
I think we are confusing Victoria, Canada (LHD) and Victoria, Australia (RHD).
Great color combo! I agree with your comments about the steering. My car has 60,000 miles and was adult driven the whole time. Sharp as a pin as you say. People forget that front ends need to be rebuilt on older cars when they get up there in mileage.
Gorgeous cars, even still today. Especially love the look of the later, blinged out versions dripping in expensive chrome and graced with the REAL wire wheels (although apparently they can only be had with underpowered engines? Matt somethingorother, the guy from TX selling his Cadi collection on eBay, once wrote how the real wires were unavailable with the 350 option and HD suspension, because there was a risk the wheels would fail. Strange, because my dad’s 78 came with those same wheels).
Wow, that is sort of strange. Although if I one of these I’d likely get some Dayton wire wheels and see if it were possible to affix a Cadillac crest to the centercap.
Painted steelies with Caddy-crested baby moon caps and beauty rings would be pretty sharp as well, esp with narrow white walls…
The first series Coupe de Ville versions always looked particularly good to me, though the 305, 307, and 350 spec cars were undoubtedly the most well-sorted and probably what I’d prefer.
Have known a number of people who owned these over the years, in all conditions from utterly dilapidated to better-than-new. Even when they’re shot out, they still have a regal quality rarely seen in modern cars. Or maybe it’s just me getting old, LOL…
@Btrig: interesting spin. Soft spot here for collectors who go extra lengths to make sure the whitewalls are in the 1 to 1-1/2″ range, which was standard in the 70s and 80s. I understand only a couple of manufacturers even make them anymore (Coker might be the one I’m thinking of) at about $300/tire, no discounts.
One thing I always despised were any RWD GM cars with blackwalls. Don’t care if it’s an old Cutlass or Delta, Cadi, etc., just doesn’t look right. Same goes for some of those old, cheap aftermarket wheel covers big in the 80s, like fake KMart wire wheel covers.
@educatordan: Good choice, as IIRC they are Dayton rims. They are fantastic looking.
Matt Garrett, and he still has quite the collection…
That’s him, he’s got a fascinating collection.
By the way, a 92 5.7L in midnight blue with only 5000 miles on it just sold for $20k in eBay. Highly unusual money spent on a highly unusual collectible. Most of these sell in the $2500-$10,000 range.
Count me another fan of these timelessly styled cars. If GM were willing to continue them as a low production model they could bump up the interior quality up a notch or two or three, add all the high tech interior baubles people expect these days, but tastefully, without adding a console or a bulging center stack, and sell them as an ultra high end car for traditionalists. As time went on, it was really the gauge-free 70’s instrument panel that dated these cars more than anything else, and the bulky, intrusive revision for the 1993-96 cars didn’t help much (they really should have gotten something like the 1991-93 Roadmaster dash with one of GM’s best analog clusters ever).
As for what is available today, the 1990-92 cars have the best engines since 1980, but are unfortunately plagued by those horrible GM door-mounted safety belts. I have also always thought it odd that the effect of the 1990 facelift was to make them look more like a late-80’s Town Car, given that was also the year when Lincoln leapfrogged over Cadillac with the equally timeless mile-aero Town Car redesign.
Hmmm, that’s funny, I always thought the ’90 restyle where they added all that plastic body cladding to the door bottoms and rockers was to make them look like Pontiac Grand Ams.
The one my brother in law had was equipped with stainless on the lower body panels. I don’t recall plastic on the Brougham.
Two Brougham articles in as many days – jp, you’re making me want to get one of these even more! I especially like the 1990-1992 with the 5.7L V8. Living in the Quad Cities, there are still quite a few running around here-similar demographic to Indianapolis.
We owned a 1983 in pearl white with leather interior… my wife cried when we sold that car… needless to say, it was replaced with a 1986 Crown Vic, which was inferior in every way.
My great Uncle Jake bought an ’80 Coupe, white with a blue top, blue interior (same scheme as my car, now that I think about it) for my great Aunt Colleen. I WORSHIPPED that car. They drove it for years, never had much trouble with it that I recall, and you could do cartwheels in the back seat even with it just being a 2 door. It had the 368 and hubcaps, the hubcaps being its only real shortcoming, but it still looked good.
That car probably more than any other is responsible for my love of great big American gravy boat cars.
Thats a real Caddy we never had any but all rhe Cads on TV seem to be these now i know why its like beetle same car year after year minor changes unnoticed, Surely if the powertrain was modernised these would sell again noone builds a real luxobarge any more and the current CTS is only a Holden but that powertrain would give these car a new lease of life and there is no competition from Ford L brand at all.
By the way, the ’77 Fleetwood Brougham in the ad has the peculiar tapered B-pillar found only on the 1977-79 models. It was presumably intended to distinguish the Fleetwoods from the Sedan deVilles that now shared a wheelbase for the first time since 1964, but it is definitely a matter of taste. The ’77 Broughams also carried over the Brougham-trademark rear passenger footrests. In a foreshadowing of much more decontenting to come, they went MIA in ’78.
Youtube: 1986 Cadillac Brougham commercial
Check out that ad. Notice how GM is selling it based on its size, comfort, and V8? Notice how it isn’t compared to BMW or other luxury brands? Notice how it isn’t on a racetrack?
As soon as the ad starts you can tell its a Cadillac the voicr ova doesnt need to tell ya the new CTS is obvious here any way as it looks like nothing else except it has the same frontal styling as a Holden Colorado, that was really a dumb idea GM the top of the range should not resemble a farm truck What were you smoking that day?Out here Cadilac means luxury Merican where Lincoln means nothing
Lincoln for 2011/2012 is a ‘dead brand walking’. Billy Rockfish to FoMoCo:
EPA-cert an Aussie Ford Falcon – use some 2002 Lincoln Continental show car styling tweaks – use the Aussie Turbo Six and the current Mustang 5.0 and you’ve got yourself a winner (and a competitive product for a change).
As Marlon Brando said to Rod Steiger, “I could’ve been contendah, Chahlie, instead of a bum – which is what I am.”
Lincoln deserves more than rebadged Ford SUVs and a Fusion with lipstick. Lincoln is a fine brand with a grand heritage and I hate to see it go as an “also ran” . . . . . This B.S. about “too expensive to U.S. federalize/change over from an RHD platform” doesn’t seem to hold water in light of the bizarre (but not too clever) disguise of a Ford Taurus (Lincoln MKS with a beltline as high as a pole vaulter’s bar).
Town Cars, Marks and Continentals forever!
“Hey, Johnny – Johnny Friendly – C’mon out!”
If ever there was a car that a company could have continued almost indefinitely (Checker or Avanti-style), it was this generation of Cadillac.
This claim, in itself, suggests MMing a list of viable candidates for perpetual production. A few which strike me as equal of this Cadillac and the Checker:
Ford’s Panther cars
Buick’s 7th generation H-body LeSabre
Subaru’s 3rd generation Legacy/Outback
Honda’s 4th generation Accord
Toyota Crown Comfort
This is a really interesting question, and one I also have considered many times myself.
I think if this kind of thing were to really work, the line of cars would have to have a few very important traits that would be valued by the kind of people that would probably buy them: simplicity, competency, and reasonable cost. You aren’t going to be reeling in many CamCord NEW car buyers, but I bet you’d get tons of fleet buyers for my car line, and people who would want to buy a CamCord new but can’t afford it and can otherwise only swing a 3 year old Grand Prix GT program car that until recently were staples of large GM used car dealerships.
This is next part is IMPORTANT: All the cars would be updated versions of cars from the past, with virtually all known bugs worked out. They might be bland, but the interiors would not rot, the paint would look great for years, repairs would be of a reasonable cost, and they would be priced low because I would spend zilch on new tooling or development. They indeed would be the modern Checker. (I would repeatedly win whatever sorts of “initial quality” and low cost of ownership awards because my car line would be known quantities that my assembly workers could built well even in their sleep.)
I present to you Mr. Tactful’s “Integrity Motors”:
Small car with good fuel mileage: E100 Toyota Corolla clone circa 1994
Midsize family sedan: 1992 Taurus clone with a enlarged Vulcan v6 making about 190 horsepower and without a self-destructing automatic transmission
Large family sedan: 2003 Ford Panther, complete with the then-new first Panther frame that wasn’t made of Silly Putty (the fleet master)
SUV: 1st gen Toyota Highlander, the simple Vulcan v6 from my above Taurus, but a little more butch looking (“Real” SUVs no longer sell, which is why the current Explorer is now a crossover)
These cars would all common sense safety and convenience items, but not navigation systems and higher-end stuff that until 5 years ago people didn’t think you’d need.
I wouldn’t take over the world, but I’d think I would always have customers. Or would I?
You’d probably sell to auto bloggers. Once the cars were used, of course.
I never owned a Caddy; never drove one; never even SAT in this generation of Cadillac. That said…it’s curious, and telling…that a model line that was once the very essence of trendy style, came to be a sort of upmarket American Beetle.
I had a great-uncle who had a 1957, a De Ville, I think. Another great-aunt who had a 1963 and later a 1966. The three cars couldn’t have been more unalike…style changed rapidly. What the customers depended on as a constant was a Cadillac V-8; the best automatic transmission GM could make; a solid feel and luxurious appointments.
Compare that to this generation…the body just went ON and ON and ON…even the dashboard remained the same. Yet after starting with Cadillac power, the switch to Olds units…then Chevrolet…and then, hey! All those engines, are just “GM” engines!
The Cadillac customer does not spend the kind of money listed on the sticker, for Checkeresque styling updates and parts-bin engineering. Is ANYONE surprised that the luxury market now belongs to Lexus and Infiniti and Daimler and BMW?
Urban Scavenger Hunt #133: Find one of these that still has the plastic trim between the aft* fender edge and the taillight surround. It’s very, very difficult, at least in the South. Otherwise every part of these seems to hold up forever.
*a car like this always deserves to have its attributes expressed in nautical terms
For me, this car symbolized the American dream.. big, bold and daring. The vast majority of modern cars just don’t do it for me, including one’s from the same make. Yes a lot of these older cars looked similar, but that wasn’t a bad thing since the basic concept was good; why else would they be manufactured for so long? I detest modern cars and their complete lack of flair. In a modern car you feel like a number..in one of these? You feel like you belong to a number, but more like a special breed than a cog in a huge great corporate machine, one that is soon to be replaced the moment more gullible buyers come along.
I don’t care how hard it is to maintain these older cars. They personify the America I grew up in (even though I come from the UK). The cars beg to be driven, from the bustling eastern cities to the lesser-known roads of the Western deserts. This was a time before the roads got rammed, before the borders with Mexico got decimated..
These days you look on the road, at the raging traffic and all you see is miserable faces in their nameless, self-imposed and utterly forgetful bubble’s. Vile. Today sucks, and so do a lot of cars which are built not to be unique or to have character but to get as much metal through a machine as possible and for as little as possible whilst ripping off the consumer via any means. Modern cars symbolize nothing compared to these.
It does sound nostalgic, and it does sound I am living in the past, but so what. I want some originality back in my driving experience. Get inside one of these older cars, feel the desert air on your face as you cruise in comfort, with no particular place in mind. These cars exemplify the emotion.
That’s driving, and that’s living.
Thanks for reminding me of a bygone age, an age when people loved to build cars and give them character. I’ll always associate this style of car with the USA and I am happy to have lived in a time to remember it.
This. Cars and the roads that they drive one are so much more than appliances and infrastructure. We have a monthly “Cars and Coffee” where I live and at the last one a lady brought a 49 Cadillac 2 door sedan in navy blue that was sublime. What I would give to drive that car across this country.
I owned a 1987 Brougham with the d’Elegance package. Dark blue with vinyl leather like roof and the Olds 307 V8. My favorite car of all time. What a ride and what a fashion statement. The bad thing is it fell apart after 200,000 miles. If the body had been sound I would have fixed the motor and trasmission.
It was so big that when I went on fishing trips I never bothered setting up a tent. I could sleep in the back seat and say warm & dry.
Very, very bittersweet memories of this car: My late father had an ’86.
Dad was a Chevrolet dealer until ’65, for the next 16 years he still drove nothing but Chevrolet’s. Bought an ’81 Dodge Omni (absolutely floored me with that one), then started on Buick’s. All the while a Cadillac was the dream car for him, yet he was just too tight fisted (sister was in medical school, no scholarship here) to do it. Little sister got married in ’85, done with school; and mom finally got on his ass to go and get that Cadillac he always wanted.
He did. And less than six months after he got the car, mom died. That just absolutely killed the car for him. It was gone by the summer of ’87, I don’t think he put 5k on it. And he never talked about owning one again.
I drove it once: A Christmas party at the local snotty country club, and the wife and I weren’t all that keen on using our current rides (an ’84 Caravan C/V customed up a bit, and an ’82 Escort GT really boy-racer set up). Dad loaned us the car, and I have to admit I was appalled at the quality of the interior. Trim pieces not attached properly, door panels not quite hooked down correctly, etc. It was nowhere as well built as any of the Buicks he owned in the latter part of his life.
This experience taught me “if cars are important to you, make damn sure you own whatever it is your dreaming of – no matter how much sweat you’ve got to put into it to make up what you can’t afford to buy new”.
Thank you for your Cadillac memory. I worked with a guy much like your Dad – he had always wanted a Cadillac. When he could finally afford it, it was 1981 and he got a V8-6-4. He stuck with it for a few years, then owned a series of Honda Accords for the rest of his life. He saved a lot of money and liked the cars better. It really galls me what GM allowed CAFE to do to Cadillac. They should have just charged the guzzler tax and kept it a first class ride.
I love my 1992 big body Cadillac Brougham, it is not a classic car and I do not believe any car of this body style is a classic. The body style started in 1980 and went to 1992. What kind of insurance can I find to put on it so that I may get more than the blue book value which is $2,500 if ever in an accident?
Hagerty, you set your own price on the value of your car. I use broker Patrick Ball, of Cheap Insurance, as he has all the antique autos. Look them up.
My dad had an ’88 Cutlass Supreme Classic with a 307, and it didn’t feel much more powerful to me than my mom’s 78 260 V8 Cutlass Supreme. But then, he carrys tons of stuff in his trunk and back seats
i just bought an 87 brougham last week.it has the 307 motor out of a 85 olds 98regency,but the factory sticker is still under the hood and it would have been a factory 307 anyways.i got it for less than 2 grand drove it 30 miles home on the highway at 70mph with 4 junk tires and it still rode like a dream.i just need to get used to the caddy sway when crusing.this car is a beast and i love it.
I’ve got a 1987 Brougham Six-Door version of the Cadillac – love it… Cost $3000.00 off the lot in 2011 and I’ve put tires and breaks on it, 52800 original miles.
I just came across an 87 brougham. Hopefully it will end up in my garage. A Christmas gift to myself. Keep you all posted.
Late to the party. I had an ’87. I still find these to be a striking and elegant design, particularly the ’80-’89. Probably my second favorite behind the ’63-’64.
For all the comments above, I found mine to be fairly nicely put together compared to most cars. The leather was far more comfortable than that in comparable European sedans. The coat hooks were made of chrome, not plastic. The car didn’t rattle (although it did creak in cold weather) and it rode softly (but not sickeningly) and quietly. It even got decent mileage, sometimes into the high 20s on long, cruise-controlled trips maintaining posted speed limits. Nothing ever broke or fell off on the car, which was white with white leather and red accents. In fact, these all came in many nice colors–the light blue, the pale yellow, the burgundy, the midnight blue, the black, the silver, the coral. One of the last models to come in colors other than white, silver, and beige.
To me, the real drawback to these were the engines and the fuel system. Obviously the 8-6-4 was its own can of worms, but the 4100 and 307 were so underpowered for a car this big. I never drove a 4100 version, but the experience of trying to get that 140 HP Olds 307 up hills or into 70 mph traffic ranged from comical to genuinely frightening, depending on the situation. It was slower than the Ford 302, which seems impossible. In addition, I’ve got nothing against carburetors, but that computer controlled carburetor on the ’86-’90 was an incredible pain. I imagine it was a bother on ’80-’85 big Buicks and Oldsmobiles, too (and the big wagons). Vacuum lines always coming off, expensive sensors and solenoids to replace. I found the fuel system to be a never ending maintenance nightmare.
That said, it stayed on the road for 175K until I sold it. The a/c never broke, nor did the climate control system. The stock sound was excellent. The power windows never stopped working. The much-maligned TH200R4 gave me only trouble free miles. And it never broke down on me on a long trip.
And it is, as the article says, really the last type of car GM did uniquely well. Some of the “Cadillac” mystique remains even now with these cars. It was easy to merge lanes because someone always would let you in. Parking valets were inordinately polite. You got a lot of respect in the car if you kept it up.
Finally, I think the criticisms of the car’s styling and temperament are unwarranted as part of a general critique of Cadillac’s downfall. They might have been warranted if these were the only thing Cadillac was building at the time. But from ’77-’84 they represented progress: a more fuel efficient downsize from the enormous ’71-’76. And from ’85-’92, they were a (highly effective) way for Cadillac to hold onto its traditional market while also trying to move in a new direction with the FWD drive models, the Allante, etc. I think most will agree Cadillac failed at that, BUT I don’t think Cadillac failed *because* the old model was still around. The failure was in the new FWD models which adopted new technology but tried to keep aspects (padded roof, whitewalls, etc) from this car (DeVille) or simply couldn’t measure up to the competition in quality (Allante). If Cadillac had been decisively forward looking with its new models and simply left this one as the sole remaining model that would appeal to its traditional customer, rather than trying to go halfway as it did with DeVille and Seville, I think it might have done much better in the long run…provided its new models were good cars.
I sold my Brougham when I moved to Manhattan. At the time I couldn’t afford a place to park it. Things improved, and when I wanted to get another set of wheels for weekend trips, I started hunting for big game and bagged a 1977 Buick Electra.
The Buick’s a handsome car, and the Buick 350 is head and shoulders above the 307 in power and torque. It rides nicely and has most of the options the Cadillac had (and a bigger trunk). But, even though they’re both C bodies, that Buick just doesn’t quite feel like a Cadillac. No horizontal speedo. The hood seems shorter. The steering wheel is thicker. The steering, just a little tighter. No infrared light monitors on the front corners and over the rear window. Oh, Brougham…I wish I had another. Make mine a 1977-80, though, without the computer control.
Avoid 81’s (last year of the 472 block engine and THM400) because of the complex computerized engine and expensive sensors. Also avoid the optional injected 425s (or 500s earlier) because the port fuel injection systems then used are very expensive to service. TBI is fine (1980+) and very reliable, although it mean’s computers. Best path is a carby car with HEI. Simple.
About 1991 or ’92, my grandparents bought a silver ’79 Fleetwood Brougham from their neighbors in Sun City, AZ. Except for some faded paint on the rear trunk (which my grandpa had repainted) from the AZ sun, this car was beautifully mint. The neighbors used it mainly as a trip car and while it had 117K on it, it ran like new and its interior was spotless light grey leather. I even remember it had a good set of Michelins on it…this car had been cared for.
Around the time I graduated from high school, they moved to Michigan a couple towns away from my family and the car came with them. I was lucky enough to drive it a few occasions (had some pep with the 425!) and rode in it a number of times to family functions with them, even hand washed it for them a couple times. What an awesome ride this car had..very smooth but not floaty. You still felt a bump here or there though it felt isolated far away. I loved this car. I wanted this car…and wasn’t too subtle about wanting to buy it from them when the time came.
I was in my 1st or 2nd year of college (so around ’94 or ’95) when I got word they traded it…for a mini-van. It had close to 160K on the clock and served them faithfully but they were having some coolant leaks and didn’t want me to have to fool with it. It still would have been better than the rusting ’87 Taurus LX my folks handed down to me…THAT car left me stranded several times on I-75 going back to school.
The past few weeks, I’ve been searching around and researching ’79 Fleetwood Broughams. To my surprise, they have 4-wheel disc brakes (SDV’s do not) and I’ve decided against one with the d’Elegance package…I don’t like the seat design and faux fur carpeting. So I think the search has officially begun..
I had an ’81 FB d’E for 12 years (pictured above in this thread). Very similar to the ’79 FB except the ’77-’79 FBs came with rear discs.
The ’79 FB is a good car. Razor-sharp, sculptured styling, roomy and comfortable (especially the foam seats), good performance. A handy size. Very nice to drive and relaxing even after long distances. A great town car too.
Downsides? The ’79 has an ultra-low 2.28:1 rear axle ratio. The build quality is crap, a massive disgrace for what used to be ‘The Standard of the World’, although the body strength and entire driveline is fine.
I have a large collection of US car catalogs focused on the 60s and 70s – 315 plus a lot of other related material. Email me offline for specifications and the like. I can also send you a copy of a great road review of a ’79 CDV written in glowing tones.
The Cadillac 425 engine is of course, like the 368 and the 500 a derivative of the 472. Many parts are interchangeable including the timing set. You can even replace the 425 with a 472/500/368, not that I recommend that. The 472, 425, and 368 all have the same stroke, varying in bore only. The 500 has a bigger bore and a longer stroke.
I replaced my ’81 Cadillac with a ’77 Continental Town Car, which has an immensely greater interior build quality and grade of materials. Plus its…..full size and has a whopper of an engine.
The 307 was offered from 1986-1990 only on the Broughams. The 305 didn’t come on until the 1991-1992 models years in TBI form with 170 HP and 255 torque. The 350 was offered from 1990-1992 but had a guzzler tax in it’s first two years. The 1986-1987 307 cars came stock 2.73:1 rear gears with 3.23:1 offered with the trailer towing package. The 1988-90 307 cars came with electronic spark control and 2.93:1 rear gears as std to help a little. It is also stated that certain 1987-90 307 equipped trailer tow or coach builder Cadillac Brougham’s came with the Vin 9 HO 307 as fitted to the 442 cars but I have never seen one.
Hi all, just bought a 1987 Brougham from Jim Hailey in NM and the car is perfect. Definitely underpowered with the 307 but other than that the car shines and runs and looks phenomenal.
Yours looks like a very nice one. Enjoy!
Yours is a twin to my car Scott. I saw it for sale after I bought mine and couldn’t believe how close it was in features and condition. I remember how nicely Jim presented the car in his Ebay ad — it looked great with the NM background. Mine came out of Phoenix, here it is on the drive back to LA.
I have 1987 brougham and I think a can put a mini cooper or a smart car in the trunk
I’ll take an 85 Brougham coupe, make it midnight blue with leather please!
Make that first picture an ’86, and you’re talking the saddest car my father ever owned.
Ever since leaving the Chevrolet dealership, dad always wanted a Cadillac. American Dream, etc., etc., etc. Only, he was too tight fisted to buy one. Yeah, there were two kids to put through college, and the second did medical school. No student loans for the Paczolt family, we didn’t do debt.
Dad didn’t buy used. Used is for poor people and deadbeats. But there was a new car at least every three years, more likely two. Which meant lots of Chevrolets (and later) Buicks. But no Cadillac. He just couldn’t bring himself to spend the money with all those responsibilities.
By the summer of 1985, however, oldest son was married and working in a field that was actually close to his two college degrees. Daughter had just gotten married in August (aka, Mom and Dad’s Coming Out Party – little sister and BIL to this day wish that they had eloped), and now it was just dad, mom and Aunt Ann (mom’s sister) at the old homestead. At which point, mom finally started to put the pressure on. “It’s time you finally rewarded yourself, get that damned Cadillac you’ve always promised yourself.
And it worked. Late spring of 1986 dad drives home in a brand new Sedan de Ville identical blue to the opening picture. Life is good.
And four months later, mom is dead.
Once the funeral was over, I don’t think dad drove that car four times in the remaining six months he kept it. He was just repulsed by the car, a dream finally achieved and it turns out to mean nothing. I don’t remember if he traded it in on something else, or just sold it off outright.
I drove it once. Borrowed it one evening for a shindig the wife and I had to attend at the local country club, and an ’84 Dodge Caravan C/V just didn’t feel right for the occasion. It drove OK, I guess, but my biggest memory is the abysmal build quality of the interior. Door panel inserts slipping out of the chrome frames that were supposed to hold them in, panel gaps in the dash, etc. I was well versed in the slow Mercedes takeover (Johnstown was big on them, especially in the Jewish community), but I now understood why they were taking over. In fact, dad offered it to me when he decided to get rid of it, but I turned him down. Being stuck with that bordello Buick Century Estate Wagon that had been mom’s was already bad enough.
Not a car with good memories for me.
Syke, you’re spot-on. It’s funny how strongly we associate certain of our vehicles with major life events, good and bad ones alike. Maybe it’s just me, but through the alchemy of our shared passion for cars, it’s mystifying how steel and glass and rubber and a bit of upholstery transform into the blank pages on which we record our memories. It sounds like your mom was a terrific lady — my own dear mother would never have encouraged the purchase of a new car unless it was absolutely, irrefutably necessary!
Sometimes I think it is all about the memories. Just looking at a sale brochure can often send me into an ocean of memories.
My Grandfather had a 65 Bonneville convertible that was loaded and as new. He lived a couple of blocks from us in the same apartment he and his by then deceased wife had lived in for at least 10 years. The car got a new engine when he accidentally overdosed on his pain meds, and you could follow the oil trail in a Zig Zag pattern as he bounced from curb to curb smashing the oil pan driving to our house and a neighbor brought him to our door. In 1972 the family was playing baseball at the church lot across the street, he came over and insisted I pitch him a ball. I didn’t want to but he insisted. I was 16. He hit the first pitch and made a good hit, but then he fell and broke his hip. He looked great in the hospital when we visited 3 days later, but that night he died. I never completely got over that one. Mom quickly sold the car to a used car dealer for I’m sure a lot less than it was worth, just to get rid of the memories. He would never own a Cadillac because of his personality, but to him that car was the ultimate luxury car.
Always good to see the Brougham come around again. I’ve commented on this post before, and I believe it was the one that brought me to Curbside Classic. I have some love for the ’75-’76 but in my view other than those, these were the best looking Cadillacs since 1970.
I had a white ’87 as pictured in the comments above from 2 years ago.
It’s interesting how differently we have experienced these. Syke, for example, points out the abysmal build quality in his.
Interestingly, the build quality was probably the best aspect of my ’87. That thing was solid. Power accessories? Flawless. Trim? Perfect. Nothing ever fell or broke off. No rattles, no squeaks, no clunks, just an occasional creak floating over a bump on a cold winter day. The dashboard never cracked. The doors always closed like bank vaults. The one thing cosmetically was a small, hairline crack in the driver’s armrest. And that after 20 years and 175,000 miles.
The bane of my car’s existence was the E4ME Electronic Quadrajet and the 3,000 miles of vacuum lines, as we say in the law, “affixed thereto”. I say affixed because it seems the best term for something that keeps coming detached in various places, causing a tell tale vibration that would lead me on a painstaking hunt through the engine compartment where, if I failed to locate the source within a half an hour, would lead to another trip to the mechanic to untangle it. I can feel my temperature rising just thinking about that damn system. While I know GM didn’t invest in this car because they kept thinking it would die, it wouldn’t have killed them to put in something less finicky. The mechanical M4MC Qjet in my Buick, without all the doodads and lines, has been extremely competent and much less of a headache.
Other than that it was a great cruiser and really just a beautiful old car with that sculpted hood, classic Cadillac mirrors and door handles, chrome pedals, coat hooks, formal rear window and big hood ornament. Sure, it did 0-60 in 14 seconds and couldn’t go up a steep hill with traffic, but people gave it a wide berth anyway. It drove, and looked, like a Cadillac. Valets were still solicitous. It looked great parked in front of anywhere you had to drive up to.
The ’93 aerodynamic version, while faster and quieter, lacks that solid interior build quality and lost a lot of the unique Cadillac equipment.
Cadillac should have continued to make a big car like this, obviously continuing to work on engine improvements but also keeping and improving on the solid interior and exterior elements that characterized the ’77-’92s. Some will laugh, I think they would sell today. There’s nothing like a big Cadillac.
what equipment options were lost in the 1993 resdesign?
By equipment I mean trim, but some options also disappeared. The Brougham, right up through 1992, had a lot of parts that went way, way back. The push button door handles were the same as the ones on the 1959 model. The chrome gas and brake pedals date from what I believe was a 1965 redesign. The gear selector dates from the 1974 model. The side mirrors date from, I think, the 1968 or 1969 model (someone will correct me).
The steering wheel, which had been this small, elegant thing, became big and chunky. And the telescope option was gone, as was the wastebasket. The oh-so-solid power doorlocks that sounded like a nailgun were replaced with quiet little snicky things that have a reputation for developing shorts.
And just certain little touches that made the pre-’93 big Cadillac a little nicer than the other big GM sedans. The gear selector, coat hooks over the rear windows, pedals, ignition lock, lighters, door handles (in and out), side mirrors, etc. were all metal; shiny chrome. Lesser models made due with plastic. The car had the big hood ornament, the same one as you’d see on a ’76 Eldorado.
In the ’93+ model, the admittedly fake wood was replaced with a looser, cheaper grade that was snapped in (as I learned one day when I pulled the passenger door casket handle closed in my ’93 and the entire handle-frame started coming off out of its snap-in). The casket handles themselves were cheaper, on small pieces of metal covered by plastic instead of the inserts into the steel panel bolted to the door that had been in the previous model. The mirrors, pedals, and door handles all became rubber or plastic. The hood ornament became smaller and partly submerged by the curvature of the hood. The switchgear, much of which had been metal or metallic in hue in the old car, became plastic, the elegant gear selector just a straight black plastic stick, the lighters black plastic, the weak little door locks with flimsy switchgear. The dashboard became about 2 feet deep and I have not seen one that isn’t cracked with BIG cracks. The glove box was reduced to complete uselessness, you could barely put the manual in there, and when you did there was just about enough room for a box of dental floss. The red-yellow courtesy and map lights were gone, replaced with weird track lighting on the sides of the cabin. No more formal rear window, and more generic looking leather with only one Cadillac crest and no button-tufted D’Elegance option. The Vigi-Lite lamp monitors were moved up the hood such that the passenger side monitor was nearly obscured by the curve of the car. On the old model they were down at the end.
The ’93-’96 has superior safety (air bags, traction control, etc.) , acceleration, and noise levels (thanks to better aerodynamics) to the car in this article. Other than that it does not hold a candle to its predecessor, especially inside. I see it as heavily decontented.
wow Orrin thanks for the detailed response…..I have never seen a 1993-1996 in the flesh here in Ontario, I thought that they have pull down vanity mirrors for the passengers (I always thought that was really neat)
I didn’t realize that the caddys had chrome coat hangers in the back- are they on both sides? I assume the brougham also has handles in the back attached to the headliner as well. (reason I ask is I have a Buick which only has one coat hanger on the rear drivers side door- so silly if you ask me)
as for the side mirrors would they not be from the late 70s? I thought they had those cool illuminated thermometers attached to the mirrors so you could read the temperature?
IMO as for decontenting its crazy that GM took away the telescoping wheel as an option….I assume air bags had something to do with it but come on no tilt come on lol
Mine had chrome hooks bolted into the roof on both sides. My lesser Buick Electra has them in the same place, but they’re plastic. No grab handles in the headliner on the old model, when they reviewed the new ’93, the reviewers concluded that was for the model’s increasingly aging “target buyer” to get in and out!
The old Brougham had the vanity mirrors on the front visors but not in back. The ’93+ had the pull down ones in back; but I feel like that’s not the best trade off for all the good stuff they got rid of.
’93 had tilt, just not telescope.
The ’93 is not an awful car, and it still has a lot of presence, but just doesn’t feel as upscale-traditional as its predecessor. It seems like they tried to modernize it with interior fittings from a Lumina, added some lumbar support, and called it a day.
I couldn’t agree more with your point about how the classic styling and touches like the mirrors, door handles and gigantic floor-mounted gas pedal made the box Brougham seem much more special than the bubble version. I find most people rate the build quality of these cars very high. The disagreements I’ve seen center around performance and things like vacuum lines. I’ve put 20,000 miles on my car in the past year and a half and haven’t had a single problem with those. The car is nearly 30 years old.
Great point about the two foot deep dash in the bubble Brougham. One of the things I like most about my ’86 is that upright windshield and perfect steering position. On a long trip it’s so easy to take in all the sights and you feel like the car was tailor made for you. The telescopic wheel really helps with that.
It’s so funny the different experiences with these. Some people issues are with trim, others with the eQJet, others with the transmission. And it seems strange when you hear about others’ problems with the same car. Like the 200R4 transmission. That gets a terrible rep around here and everywhere else, too. And for 175K, all I did was change the fluid and filter every 30K like it says in the manual. Zero problems.
I’m glad the vacuum lines, etc. are working out for you. I miss my ’87, it is the nicest car I’ve owned, and if it had been a 1980 model without the computer, my guess, based on how my Buick has been, is that I’d probably still have it. Looking for a big Continental now. 10 straight years of RWD C-Bodies, time to try something new.
The 200R4’s bad rap came from mostly poor maintenance and being misdiagnosed. A common failure item in these transmissions is the lockup torque converter solenoid. It is around a 30 dollar part and can be installed by dropping the bottom transmission pan. When it goes bad it lugs when going into 3rd and 4th gear lockup and feels like a standard transmission in the wrong gear. Many units were misdiagnosed over the years and we used to obtain many of these cars that were labeled as having a bad transmission. A new lockup solenoid and a properly adjusted TPS plus a simple fluid/filter swap and they were often as good as new!
There wasn’t many cars that made my ’87 Lincoln Town Car feel quick, nimble & athletic handling; but the same year Cadillac does indeed do so!
EVERY component of this generation Cadillac (engine, steering response, brakes, shock absorbers, transmission upshift and kick down) drives & feels like they were injected with Novocain.
The same year Town Car feels quite spritely by comparison. I daresay this generation Caddy provided Town Cars with more than a few “crossover” sales.
Why has nobody mentioned the infamous plastic fender-to-bumper filler panels on these Cadillacs that cracked & crumbled almost immediately after delivery?
Regarding the fender inserts, I’ve seen ads with missing ones, but rarely see these with them in person. Maybe the ones where I grew up were all garaged? I still had the originals on mine. Faded a bit, but never cracked. I agree that it was slow as hell. I had a 302 powered Crown Victoria before it and a 350 powered Buick after, both much more…lively. Especially uphill.
Orrin, yours must have logged a lot of garage time, out of the sun and weather elements?
Here in the deep South, heat, humidity and equatorial sunlight wear a car down almost as much as rust & road salt does in the. northeast.
Those G. M. plastic filler panels seem to dissolve in the air around here.
“Why has nobody mentioned the infamous plastic fender-to-bumper filler panels on these Cadillacs that cracked & crumbled almost immediately after delivery?”
I am no GM fanboi, but when I bought my 13 year old 1989 Brougham, the filler panels were all still soft and pliable. They were still quite nice 4 years later when I sold the car. True, the car had belonged to elderly owners and had spent most of its life in the garage, but I never remember these panels becoming an issue until the cars got pretty well used. I would suspect that long term sun exposure hurt them the most.
Here in The Great White North I’ve never seen a 70s or 80s Cadillac with missing plastic filler panels. They may have peeling vinyl tops, rust dripping from everywhere but the cooler climate seems to preserve the plastic fillers.
Mine did log some garage time, as did many up here, but it also sat outside during 2 consecutive winters with no ill effect. I do think it must have something to do with the southern climes. I’m not a GM-only guy either (in fact I’m looking for a Continental). But I’ve seen only a handful of these with missing fillers. The ones on my Buick (which sat in North Carolina a bit before coming north) are also intact.
With the exception of the hoods, whose paint would chip and fade, I have actually thought these held together exceptionally well cosmetically and must have been one of GM’s better efforts in terms of body integrity. You hear a lot about the rust on the ’71-’76 models. I’ve seen very, very few rusty examples of these ’77-’92s. Even the really crappy looking ones that have been beat to hell have faded and dinged paint, but rusty? Not really. The vinyl holds up well, too.
Say what you will, but if these had had a decently powerful engine and some real wood, in my view they’d have been as nice as any Rolls Royce. It grates me to no end how Cadillac had such a hit (even with the enthusiast reviewers like David E. Davis) with these in ’77 and just let them wither. Waste of a good car and design.
I agree the 80s Cadillacs were not prone to rust like the 70s versions. I just meant to say that even if they were exposed to the elements, , winter driven, never washed and occasionally rusted the fillers would still be intact. I’m thinking of going to look at an 80 Fleetwwood D’Elegance for sale locally.
Agree, Orrin, that GM let this model languish on the vine and did not provide the updates & periodic improvements that this fine car deserved.
Lincoln kept their Town Car updated much more often than GM did this Cadillac.
I guess it will take Toyota or Nissan to “bring back” the big, V-8 powered, rear wheel drive luxury sedan to get GM and FoMoCo off their collective azzes!
Lexus has had a RWD flagship LS since they opened doors, by the way.
Indeed Lexus did/does, TomCatt, but not on the size & scale of this article car…yet….
These days, however, those that want large vehicles get a truck based SUV.
Hmmm……cracked/crumbling filler panels must be a “Southern Thang”.
Lesson Learned for today!
Must be the sun as damaged or missing filler panels on these Cadillacs were/are a common site here in SoCal as well.
I think the filler panels on the 70’s battleship Cadillacs held up much worse than these 80’s versions. Sure, I’ve seen 80’s cars with missing panels (I do think sun and heat are the main culprits) but not in the same proportion as the mid 70’s cars.
I can’t imagine a big car that feels more nimble than my Brougham, which has a factory rear sway bar. I don’t believe you could get a rear bar on the 80s Town Car.
The gripe I’ve always heard about 80s Lincolns is that they are nice riding but handle like a marshmallow and have that numb steering Ford was famous for. The steering in my Brougham is quick and full of feel.
With a 307 it’s not very fast but gets 24 MPG highway and moves off the line and around town like my granddad’s 425.
Regarding the bumper fillers my rear ones are original and I had the front ones replaced. The rears are still gassing out and which means I have to clean off the film every few weeks. This is done by leaving the car in the sun to soften the film then I can rub it off with some polish. I would replace the rear fillers but the aftermarket ones don’t fit well. The fronts fit great.
I backed into a parked car when I first got the Cadillac and the right “fin” got pushed in several inches before popping right back out. Not a mark on the car, the bumper system is well engineered and the filler is part of it.
Funny my 1990 Brougham still had it’s original plastic bumper fillers up until 2012 and they weren’t cracked or disintegrating.
Don’t know if you’ve seen this MotorWeek video compaing the 88 Brougham and Town Car but they also felt the T.C. handled better. http://testdrivejunkie.com/1988-cadillac-vs-lincoln-fwd-vs-rwd-comparison-test-drive/
The 1990 or 91 comparison in Popular Mechanics between the Brougham and the new Town Car felt the Town Car had awful handling.
Really, I think it’s a relative term in cars like these. If you like these cars, handling in the enthusiast sense isn’t your priority.
I liked the ride that filtered out every bump, the steering wheel I could turn and pilot the thing into parking places with one finger, the general bigness of the car, and the quiet operation. Didn’t give a damn if it floated around changing lanes.
“The car lost about 1000 pounds but was still powered by a 425 cubic inch version of the great Cadillac V8. Unlike its predecessor, this car felt tight and solid and made of some better materials. Its smaller size may have alienated some traditionalists (I have long maintained that the smaller size of the 77-79 Cadillac was partly responsible for booming sales of the final big Lincolns during those years), but the car had a lot of engine for its size and was mighty quick.”
Yes it was. Mine was a 77 that the wife just had to have. Looking back it was probably the beginning of the end for us but that isn’t the car’s fault. I remember mine as a two door but some memories work better than others. I for sure remember the 425 and TH400. Both were indestructible. The car that surrounded them was not and she rammed it into the back of an old Dodge.
Would love to have that power train in my 57. I read that being a long rod engine was one of the reasons it was so smooth. Don’t know if it’s true but it sure was smooth. The TH400 had it’s own fan club. It took some power to run, I am told but you just about could not kill it. Wife cooked the engine when a radiator hose broke and after an oil change it just kept running.
Wrecking that car led us on a long run with a couple LTCs. An 85 and an 86. The 85 was less car than the 77 Caddie but the 86 was a big improvement. I would prefer the 86 LTC to the other two just because of performance (including economy) but the Caddie was the most simple of the three with less sensors. If she hadn’t wrecked it she could still be driving it.
Good article and good (mostly) memories. Thanks JPC
On pure looks, I think these Broughams are simply gorgeous. I cannot think of a car I like more than the big RWD 80s Fleetwood Broughams. The engines are another matter, but if I ever get around to buying one, I’d only care to cruise around in it anyway.
The upcoming CT6 is supposed to bring back a RWD Flagship. Let’s see where the buyers come from.
My brother had one of these back in the day. Although these were made for years and are still plentiful, I would bet you would be hard pressed to find one like he had: A baby blue Coupe DeVille platform (thus 2 door), but a Fleetwood Brougham D’elegance and Diesel powered! Loaded to the max with options like REAL wire wheels and a sunroof the size of a picnic table, but so slow it couldn’t get out of its own way. Absolutely beautiful car!
Truth be told, I’ve always preferred the ’78 & ’79 to the 1980 restyle. They’re leaner more elegant looking, with a faster roofline and less fussy front end. And their bow-shaped chrome encased tailights were the best expression of the look that ran from ’71 to ’91. (The ’77 loses marks for ugly tailights and plain grille)
“…These were clearly not the quality of the Cadillacs I grew up seeing in the 60s (I once owned a 63 Fleetwood and know the difference), but those days were gone after about 1970, never to return.”
They had already started to go away in 1965, when the cars may have LOOKED like Cadillacs but already felt like big Chevrolets. Our 1966 was nowhere near as solid nor as well-built as our 1963.
6 feet of hood and 4 feet of trunk! Who needs any more luxury than this? Gawd, I have an old magazine from the late 80’s that showed a red one of these driving on a steep incline drop road. I have to look for it and scan it. I believe it was for an old computer company.
Chevrolet built nearly 700,000 RWD Chevrolets from 1991 through 1996. Not quite sure how many of the RWD Cadillacs were built, but I would guess about 150,000. While the Cadillac’s may have been more profitable per car, I doubt that there is 4x more per car than the Chevy’s profit margin.
I also think that the 1949 through 1962 engines are Cadillac’s very best. I am not quite sure about the 63 engines, as they got new tooling. They are supposed to be better. But the 472 was bigger, hopefully as good, but I think not really better.
I really think Cadillac went into a long decline beginning with the mid to late sixties. Cadillac really does not turn around until sometime in the 2005 to 2010 time frame.
You are close
About 40,000 made for the last 2 years of the Brougham(1991-1992)
About 90,000 1993-1996 RWD Fleetwoods were made
so about 140,000 or so of the RWD caddy were made from 91-96
What made the Cadillac possible was the Chevrolets. As long as the Chevy’s were selling, the Cadillac’s could remain in production. I suspect that the Roadmaster was a ploy to keep the factory profitable for a bit longer when sales started to decline or at least there was excess capacity.
I liked both the 77-79 Fleetwood and the 1980+ Fleetwood. Both bodystyles had their body integrity issues some of which got better near the end of their run. The problem was they were so dated by the end of their run and many had abandoned Cadillac after the unforgivable HT4100. I still look at them with fond memories of a time when I was growing up.
For me, I always thought the plain wheel covers, like the ones shown on what appears to be the 1980 Fleetwood, where handsome on certain color cars. Sometimes less is more as I remember my grandmother ordered an 82 Fleetwood d’Elegance with real wire wheels. When it came in she did not like the look of the wheels at all and asked for the regular wire wheel covers. The salesman said, no problem. The dealership owner said, no. My grandmother said, you can keep the car. I seem to remember she got about $700 deducted from the price and wire wheel covers before she wrote the check.
Switching tires for any Lexus we have ordered in the past has never been a question or a charge. We have not owned a new Cadillac since 1982. I wonder if they have learned their lesson? We have.
That sounds more like a dealer problem than a fault at Cadillac. And switching alloy wheels on most any Lexus shouldn’t be hard or cost any different unless they were from the aftermarket.
Reread my original post. I was talking about “tires” being switched on the Lexus. We have always preferred Michelin tires. When a car we ordered from Cadillac came in with another brand other than Michelin they would either not switch the tires or switch them for a fee. It should not make a difference but we were ordering Cadillac flagship models and paying cash. This has never once been a problem with Lexus nor has there ever been a charge.
The lack of customer service was our experience at 3 local Cadillac dealerships. I will go a step more and say there has never been an issue with customer service since we became Lexus customers ten years and 5 cars ago. They drive an hour and a half to pick up our cars without charging us, leaving us a new, clean, full tank loaner Lexus. We never even got a loaner from Cadillac, not even once. Again, we have learned our lesson.
A lot of welcome and informative reading before me. I recently inherited my sons 1992 cadillac d’elegance brougham, have put $1200 in it so far, new cooper tires, interstate battery and back brakes. Since it was his car that he loved I will continue to put money into it until I cant. I have the wire wheels but the lock is lost so have not been able to put them back on yet. When I ride around in it I feel like I am riding around with him
I had the pleasure of riding in (and piloting) an identical ’89 Cadillac Brougham owned by my in-laws. Notice that I said “pilot”. It felt like steering a yacht, but no matter. It was a Cadillac, and it was still in nice shape after 10 years of Ontario winters. I was sad to see it go in 1999 when they traded it for a new Ford Taurus. I just shook my head. The Taurus wasn’t a bad car and they got good service from it…but it just wasn’t in the same league. Neither was their ’94 Grand Marquis. Nice, but just not the same. Oh well.
This IS the real deal . Totally catnip city. An anachronism? Maybe, but a beautiful one. Keep your Audis, Lexii, BMWs,etc. I was never cowed by them anyway.Maybe someday Caddy will come to its senses and produce another one in this grand style.
These Cadillac’s are more appealing to me now then when they were new. The styling has aged well. I would think probably the reason for paint fade only on the hood would be from the heat of the engine. My Jetta’s hood paint after 20 years faded right above the engine. A ‘incident’ around that time fixed that problem, along with a new hood, fender, and paint on both.
This was the first article I ever read at Curbside Classic. I had given up looking for a nice 76-79 Seville and decided to do some research on the Brougham which brought me to your post. I had a great experience once driving my granddad’s ’78 SDV but didn’t know much about the later models, except that there were some years to avoid.
After reading “Elder Statesman” and your post “Hello Old Friend”, I decided I HAD to have one of these and found a beautiful ’86 Fleetwood Brougham a few months later. What sold me on the 86-89 was this…
“In 1986, GM finally hit the balance between fuel mileage (to satisfy the CAFE regs) and power (to satisfy complaining customers) when it grabbed the Oldsmobile 307 off the shelf to bolt into these cars. This is the engine that had powered the final rear drive Oldsmobiles and Buicks, and solved everything that was really wrong with the cars.”
You did another post (was it three that day?!) on the 90-92 lipstick version which sufficiently soured me on that.
You should defend the 307 more when it comes up JPC. The guys who say bad things about it on a Cadillac either had one in a Cutlass with 2.09 gears or in a Brougham that needed carb work or lived in ski country. Hills are not kind to a 307 Brougham otherwise you were exactly right about the engine. I’ve never been more happy with a car purchase.
The article itself was very well written and had a calming effect on me. Later I read Paul’s on the Seville, which was also well written but far from calming.
Thanks for the kind positive words. As for the 307, I have such mixed feelings. I cut my teeth on big 60s cars, so I have always found big 80s cars to be quite underpowered. The 307 was adequate, but no more. By the time I bought mine, I had already practiced for 4 years with an 84 Olds 98 with the same powertrain, so I was used to it. But believe me, the Olds took some getting used to, immediately following a 68 Newport with a 383.
I guess I really do find these cars soothing. They were around for so long and I spent time in quite a few of them over many years. And, for the most part, what they did, they did quite well.
The 1977-1979 model was much better looking IMO. From 1980 up, they were too boxy and the hood was way to aerodynamic. When all that cladding d’jour was added, they looked horrible.
My grandpa brought a new one in 1991 in that very common light blue color. He got it through AARP’s senior discount program. I have to admit the car rode well and gave him many trouble free years of service. He took very good car of his car, and like most senior citizens, he liked to spend his free time at Pep Boys, Walmart, and K-Mart so the car started to look “sexy senior” when he added huge chrome and rubber mud flaps, a bug and wind deflector over the grill, a set of clear plastic floor mats, spongy plastic steering wheel cover with the plastic string thing, and gold tone license plate frames, we knew it was time to take the keys away from him.
I obtained a gray 1990 Brougham De-Elagance back in 2010 with only 78K miles on the clock powered by the 307 140 HP olds “Y” motor for a mere $950 bucks. The previous owner removed the wire wheels and put Caprice hub caps on it and the trunk lid was in bad shape due to being stored user a tree for several years. I had the trunk lid re-painted for 300 bucks, found a low mileage set of factory wire wheels, rims and like new P215/75 R15 rubber for $18 bucks a piece and mounted those on the car and after that she looked quite good and got many compliments.
The 307 ran like a swiss watch but was slow as hell clocking a dreadful 15 second 0-60 time. With the assistance of my buddies scanner we found at least 5 things that were wrong ranging from a non functioning EGR valve, an out of adjustment carburetor, base timing incorrectly set and an out of adjustment TPS. Cleaning up all this made a world of difference, especially on the 0-40 performance, throttle tip in and mileage. What often happens is the customer brings there 307 car in because it is pinging on 87 octane gas. The unskilled mechanic then goes and knocks back the base timing which of course eliminates the pinging but also reduces performance and mileage and combined with the non functioning EGR valve or blocked passages throws the fuel mixture off the desired 14.7:1. I have seen this happen time and time again and the result is a sluggish car and the 307 is blamed as being severely underpowered for the car. Now I do agree that 140 horses is not really enough for such a heavy 4000-4200 LB car and that Cadillac should have insisted on the 170 horse code “9” engine across the board but as we all know on paper the “Y” motor satisfied Cafe better so thats what they got.
I’ve often thought, that instead of screwing around with the 4100, Cadillac should have just kept offering the fuel injected Oldsmobile 350 that was in the Seville/Eldorado and continued to refine that motor, maybe it would have given them time to improve the 4100 and launch it in FWD 1985 cars instead, true that it wasn’t a “Cadillac” motor per say, but who cares, by the end of the decade Cadillac was using Olds and then…gasp…Chevrolet motors in the Brougham.
The basic problem with the Olds 350 fuel injection system is that it was an analog system that was outmoded when it went into production. Digital processors were just coming available which made digital fuel injection possible. However, the Olds 350 with a digital throttle body fuel injection system would have been a good plan with a good 4 speed overdrive transmission.
The 4100 should have gotten more development (not sure that it would have been any better though). The early 4 speed transmissions were not really designed all that well, and were sort of kludged from old transmissions. Much of what GM did in the 80’s could be characterized as a kludge job.
I give the 1980 GM full size restyle a mixed review. They screwed up a terrific Chevy and perfected a very good Cadillac. To lament the obvious, the quality drop was heartbreaking, and it played out in real time on national television.
JPC saId it right, damn the gas guzzler tax, full big block ahead!
In May of 2014 I bought a really nice 87 Brougham with the 140hp 307 under the hood. Mileage around town is great..low 20’s. This car was built for the Canadian market. Speedo is in kph. Came with 62,000 original km’s which is about 41,000 miles. The main reason for buying this car was it did not need any e-tests here in Ontario. (That’s just a govt money grab anyway. What a rip)
The only problem with the car was the ac/heater fan speed control. Paid $300 for a used one from Cadillac King in California. Didn’t work! The solution was to install a ground wire in addition to the already existing ground wire connected to the blower motor. With a switch inside on the dash it now becomes a manually operated system. All other climate control functions work well. Just the fan is manual. It took a while to notice the car had a 2004R tranny but the gear shift position indicator above the steering column only indicates a three speed. OOPS!
I love driving this car. So damn comfortable
WOW I just read this whole blog. I’m a little late to the party. Please let me tell my experience with this body style Feetwood brougham, First one I owned was 1977 FWB. The year was 1988, I was at MyrIle Beach SC, When my Ford grenade blow up on me. I had to have a car and fast I had my gf and golf buddies with me. I went to a used car lot. They had the 77 FWB on the lot. It was little on the ruff side. Big block 425 cost a grand but what a car, I owned the car for 2yr then give to my gf, She have it for two more. Drove this car to Daytona Fl, from Washington DC 2 times a year each year I had it. Never had problem never left me on the side of the road. I was Racing motorcycles in daytona towing a trailer with four race bike and two street bikes, Ok now it 2011 I was moving and needed a truck started looking around and that;s when I came across 1991 Base FWB. It had a sbc 305 in it but had a 700r4 trans. I rememberd my 77 and thought that car will haul a trailer. I went on Ebay and got one with 62k on it. It did the job but had to put springs and shocks on it to tow. As a teenager I had Camaro’s Nova’s So I know sbc engines like the back of my hand. When I saw Cadillac was putting fuel inj sbc in FWB Ya right on. Now it’s 2015 from 2011 to now I have had Five. Two 1990/ one 1991/ one 1992/ one 1989. I have one now it’s a 1990 with a 350 it is so much beefer then the base FWB with the 305 it’s night and day. The whole driveline is so much beefer you think it’s not the same car. Even lugs bolts and nuts. The one I have now i’m rebuilding putting a 250 hp 350 in it. I shouldn’t even have too change the ECM prom. I’m keeping the single exhaust and the cat and smug pump. It’s a Caddie after all. 75 hp with very little mods. I love these car and will own one for rest of my life. The 1989 FWB i had was a nightmare vac hoses/ oil leaks/ vac leaks form intake/carbs/ no thank you. Need help with your caddie email me firstname.lastname@example.org. Q&A
I have a 1987 Cadillac Fleetwood Broughm D’ Elegance,with 73,000 original miles,
307 engine,all original from bumper to bumper, new tires, headliner, oil change,
new coolant change,all original paperwork and manual, Triple black with pleated
interior.locking wire caps. shiney as a new penny except the hood as it is fiberglass.
Thanks, Cincinnati Kid
My e-mail is email@example.com Thanks
Today I put on 75 miles driving around the South Bay. What did I see on the road? Expedition after Expedition, Suburban XLs, Escalades, Full size, quad cab pick ups of every marque and plenty of runty little Tahoes. What do these things all have in common? They are big, spacious, comfy, don’t handle all that well and get poor fuel economy. Why is it okay to drive a big truck or SUV but a horror to drive a car like that Brougham? Would those truck buyers drive an updated and modernized version of the Cadillac? Or ARE those Trucks an updated version of the old Cadillacs?
One reason: higher floor means easier ingress and egress.
Other reason: keeping up with Johnsons. If my neighbour has a bling-bling on wheels, then I must have one, too.
This cars brother is my (semi) daily driver – https://www.curbsideclassic.com/cars-of-a-lifetime/coal-1988-cadillac-brougham-last-christmas-at-clark-street/
Yes, the 307 Olds isn’t quite up to the task of keeping up on the highway (except in the flatlands or gentle hills), but in town it does fine.
Drives me crazy that in 87 the SBC got TBI, yet in the car costing $30k it still breathed thru a carb. Ah well…at least the slow lane is comfy!
Really late to this party. A friend of mine had two of these (one he still owns, sitting in his daughter’s garage waiting to be fixed up for his grandson). I rode in both many times. First, I heard that the cost difference to manufacture for GM between a Chevrolet and a Cadillac is, or was $600! At the time I was driving a Scion Xb. The Caddy, as I recall, had seats about eight inches off the floor. My Scion had chair height seats. My own idea of a Cadillac is the 1950 or so, to 1956 sedans. Even a 1955-57 Chev had a good deal of room in the back seat (try a modern car at a drive-in theater-passion pit in a modern sedan!)
Looking back in hindsight Cadillac could have easily solved the engine issues with these cars in two ways. For the 1981 -85 cars they should have kept the DFI 368 engine in the full sized RWD C-body cars and the E-body Eldo and Seville and used the 200R-4 in the C-body and the 425 in the E cars. The 4100 with more development time introduced in 1985 in the downsized cars may have been fine by that time if not rushed into market 3 years prior. For 1986 the full sized cars could have used the 307 Old block with Vin “9” components and throttle body injection and that would have easily carried this car up to 1990 with more acceptable performance, even better drive-ability, happier customers and a more competitive car to the Town Car which by 1986 had a 150 HP SFI 302 with the option of a dual exhaust 160 engine. Roger Smith did so much damage to GM during the 80’s it’s a wonder they are still here in 2020.