(first posted 10/3/2014) The 1970s was a decade of some of the biggest shakeups in the automobile industry. Two energy crises, increased federal safety standards, and a flood of imports dramatically changed the automotive landscape over the course a few years. By decade’s end, cars were smaller, bumpers were larger, and convertibles had all but disappeared. From a stylistic standpoint, vinyl roofs, wire wheels, opera windows, and interiors that resembled your grandparents’ living room had all become mainstream, as the Great Brougham Epoch was in full swing.
Even more disrupting, after years of association with big, American luxo-barges, the term “luxury car” now had two distinct identities: the aforementioned large American highway cruisers from Cadillac and Lincoln, as well as the tauter, more driver-focused imports from brands like Mercedes-Benz.
Most of those changes were well under way by the time this 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham came along. With the first wave of downsized Cadillacs being readied for the following year, 1976 was the last year one could purchase one of these truly gargantuan Cadillac sedans.
At nineteen and a half feet long, the Fleetwood Brougham was the largest non-limousine Cadillac for purchase. It was also just barely longer than its closest competitors, the Lincoln Continental and Chrysler New Yorker Brougham (née Imperial), making it the longest regular production, non-limousine sedan in America. With three extra inches of wheelbase over a DeVille, the otherwise identical Fleetwood Brougham was comparable to the extended wheelbase “L” models of modern European luxury cars.
While a few of its buyers may have actually purchased the Fleetwood Brougham for the extra rear-seat legroom, the majority probably just went for it to one-up their DeVille-driving friends. “Oh, you drive a DeVille? Good for you bud. I drive a Fleetwood Brougham. The BIG Cadillac”.
Even with the 1973 Oil Crisis and coinciding economic recession still in recent memory, Cadillac production was up to 309,139 vehicles. In fact, 1976 was their best sales year to date. One of the benefits of being a luxury brand was that costlier (albeit, subsiding) fuel prices didn’t pose much of an obstacle to those who could afford these 8.2-liter V8-powered Cadillacs in the first place, even with fuel mileage averaging in the low-teens on a good day.
A few extra sales of these cars were probably generated by those wanting to scoop up the last “traditional sized” Cadillacs, as word of next year’s downsizing had begun spreading around. Although the ’77s would be better cars in all aspects, the general public had no way of knowing this.
After all, Cadillac would be the first luxury make to take the plunge, with downsized models across the board. And after years of driving home the message that size mattered in a luxury car, no one would’ve have blamed consumers for being a little apprehensive about smaller Cadillacs. While nearly half of all Cadillac sales came from the mid-level DeVille series, sales of the top-shelf Fleetwood Brougham still reached a respectable 24,500 units.
This particular ’76 Fleetwood Brougham is another car from the wide selection displayed at the Misselwood Concours d’Elegance. Its exterior is finished in “Firethorn Metallic” with matching vinyl roof. Its matching “Antique Dark Firethorn” interior looked a bit retina-searing in the hot July sun. I personally would’ve opted for some greater contrast, such as white leather with dark firethorn dash and carpeting. All that red here is just a little too hot and heavy for me.
Between the Calais, DeVille, and Fleetwood, ’76 buyers were offered no less than nine cloth, velour, vinyl, and leather upholstery choices. This car features the optional Sierra Grain leather seats. The bucket-like seat backs of the 60/40 Dual Comfort bench may seem out of place in a car of this girth, but they give the interior a more open, airier feel than the full-width seat backs of Lincoln and Chrysler.
By 1976, Cadillac’s “Space Age” instrument panel was beginning to look a little long in the tooth. Although one of the cleanest and uncluttered dashes on the market, it didn’t exude the same kind of opulence as the Lincoln Continental’s. Material quality was also a far cry from Cadillacs of a decade before. At least the excess of oh-so-fake wood trim on the doors made up for the sparse appearance of the dash. You have to give it to Cadillac for finding even more places to apply fake wood with the woodtone “frames” around the upper portion of the doors. It even adorned the rim and center cap of the steering wheel.
The Fleetwood Brougham’s three extra inches of wheelbase went all to the rear-seat passengers. The infant who rides around in the back of this car must appreciate every bit of that space. Although the windows were plenty huge, the C-pillars came forward just enough to provide rear seat passengers with the appropriate amount of privacy from commoners outside.
Out around back, a football field sized decklid and razor blade fins said pure Cadillac. Many things were about to change for Cadillac. These vestigial tail fins however, with their inset taillights would remain in similar form on the largest Cadillacs until the 2000 DeVille.
These colossal Cadillacs earned their place, but their sun was setting. The cars that succeeded them were infinitely better Cadillacs. More importantly, their idyllic proportions and timeless styling would see production continue for sixteen long years, becoming one of the most iconic Cadillacs of all time.
Curbside Classic: 1975 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham – The Brougham’s Brougham
Love it. If only I could afford the fuel…
What strikes me is Brendan is in Massachusetts and this car has Washington plates – a distance of around 3000 miles. The owner spent a few dollars for gasoline.
Brendan, you are correct; the tongue-red interior just wouldn’t be my first choice.
I can still remember when this era of Cadillac was still plying the highways and byways. Seeing a Fleetwood was a rarity and as a child I always wondered why the door and door glass were different between these and the Deville. For the time I was born, when I hear the word “Cadillac” this car always enters my head along with its successor seen in the last picture. Anything else newer pales in comparison.
Big bad beasties motoring down the highways unapologetically, consuming fuel and offering comfort for its occupants . . . now the last of the full-size Cadillacs are 40 years old while the full-size Lincolns are only 37. The size of those ’79s were monstrous, but they sure looked comfy.
I don’t remember when Chrysler downsized the Imperial/New Yorker, but I remember my granddad had a ’79 New Yorker that was rather large (if my memory isn’t tricking me!).
Beats the standard black or grey as solo choices we have to put up with in all news cars to day. Some color please. How’s about a tan interior.
Ah, the good ol’ 70s. The three genres of luxury car, from 3 three islands, with 3 ‘mass’ brands’ epitomizing three countries:
ENGLAND – Leather and Wood. Rolls too small, Jaguar.
GERMANY – Engineering excellence. Mercedes
USA – Creature comforts, quiet, BIG!. Cadillac.
At least that’s how I saw it as a kid. As I got older, I realized the Benzes cost a lot more than Cadillacs.
Today, I bet that Fleetwood is worth more than a 76 450SEL in comparable shape.
Unfortunately, for GM and the USA, the sun began settting on the era of wretched excess with the first energy crisis.
If this car had a navigation system it wouldn’t say: “turn left” or “turn right” it would say: “har to port” or “har to starboard” 😛
If the front and rear passengers each had their own GPS units, they’d show their locations as different points on the map.
A sharp turn would say “full steam astern”. There just better not be any icebergs 🙂
These were the last truly distinctive Fleetwoods. The ones that succeeded them might have been leagues better, but they didn’t look different enough from the DeVille.
How true as the Fleetwood soon became a gussied up Sedan deVille with a more formal roof treatment.
I’ve been of the opinion that if they had used the ’77-’79 roofline for DeVille and the (more “formal”) ’80+ roofline for Fleetwood, That might have helped differentiate the two. I’ve thought the same thing for the Buick LeSabre/Electra and Oldsmobile 88/98.
But the Fleetwood Brougham had its own (longer) wheelbase than the de Ville series.
The ’77 lost the 3″ wheelbase stretch, so it was really just a dressed up Deville with no more legroom. For a few months, the ’77 Fleetwood was shipped with the same rear footrests that made earlier Fleetwoods famous, but customers complained that they just ate up the adequate, but not vast legroom the newer model had, so they were dropped. I should add that that was not the first time the Fleetwood was relegated to the size of the Deville; the ’59-’64 Fleetwoods had no wheelbase stretch. The next extended-wheelbase non-limousine Cadillac built was the 1987 60-Special, with 5″ of extra legroom. After that, the ’93-’96 RWD Brougham had 2.5″ more legroom than its predecessor only because the firewall had been moved forward; it had the same 121.5″ wheelbase as the ’77.
and yet, even with 8.2 liters, that V8 could barely wheeze out 190 horsepower on a good day.
Wow. How can anything could be that big yet that wimpy? HP / engine capacity ratios weren’t as bad in the 30s. And the interior alternates between uber-kitsch and bland. That instrument panel is just soooo uninspired. Sorry, but this one is just too fat, dumb and happy for me. At least the exterior and the sheer size of the thing makes it interesting as a case-study of how cartoonishly massive a vehicle can be.
The last of its species are usually the last for a reason.
well dear tatra, thank you for yur comments. my mom had the ’76 deville in avocado green while her best friend across the street had the Fleetwood in chocolate brown with pillow top beige velvet interior. you are right the dash is bland. but to drive those cars was an absolute joy. i now have a 2012 Lincoln mks, my mom had a ’69 and a 74 Lincoln, and my 2012 Lincoln doesn’t have that wonderful float down the road like the older ones. It has a rigid suspension but a great car. 1976 Fleetwood Brougham is an awesome car!
Peak hp numbers from this era are deceiving. Most of these engine were tuned to have strong low end hp and torque figures, but ran out of steam quickly once the RPM’s got into the mid-range. The low end torque motivated these cars just fine, they just had not top end punch when you opened them up.
You also can’t compare the SAE net hp figures to the earlier and often greatly exaggerated gross numbers of pre-1972. A Road Test Magazine ran a 190hp 500cid Cadillac through the 1/4 mile in about 17.6 secs, which is pretty comparable to many of the luxury cars from the late 1950’s and early 1960’s that had 300+ hp ratings.
If I had a dime for every argument I have over the years with some putz over “the HP went way down in 1972, because of all them PO-LUSHON controls, don’t ya know” I’d be a rich man.
Could never convince the knuckle draggers back then, to them #’s were all that matters. DUH!
I’d try to explain net vs, gross HP, and essentailly they’d say ‘my brain hurts’.
To put the 190 hp from 500 CID in perspective consider that the Olds and Buick 455’s managed as much or more horsepower in 1976 (Olds 190, Buick 205).
Yes, this is my pet peeve, and few car enthusiast seem to be able to grasp the difference in power ratings. Even many books and publications have difficulty the gross vs net. The easiest way for someone to see that the power difference isn’t that great is to compare the performance of cars with gross figures vs net. It’s surprising how little net hp can keep up with some cars with quite high gross ratings.
What bugs me, is that I was reading buff mags as a kid at the time, and even then, in fall of ’71, there was almost zero information explaining the Gross-vs-Net HP thing.
Bill Mitchell wrote: “Most of these engine were tuned to have strong low end hp and torque figures, but ran out of steam quickly once the RPM’s got into the mid-range. The low end torque motivated these cars just fine, they just had not top end punch when you opened them up.”
Describes my old 2003 Impala to a T! That 3.4L V6 could
hop off a light like nothing else, but couldn’t pass worth a
lick at anything over 50mph. LOL!
Yes but those numbers are at almost just off idle, 190hp is available at 3600 RPM, and 360lb-ft of torque at 2000 RPM.
All that torque at only 2000rpm – what we used to call a fast idle. That’s the true character of these engines: sheer effortlessness.
The 1970 Eldorado got the 500 engine tuned for premium fuel and was rated at 400 hp. This gave it an edge over the comparable Lincoln. However, Cadillac’s 390 cid V8 from 1959 was rated at 325 hp. So one would expect 500 cid to produce more than 400 hp. I think that the 472, 500 and 425 engines were all designed like truck engines and were redlined at not more than 5000 RPMs, if not less (say 4500). In my opinion these were never Cadillac’s best engines.
My 2007 SRX’s RWD Northstar would happily rev to over 6000 (and I did this a couple of times per month for 90,000 miles) in second gear (70 MPH). This was I think Cadillac’s best V8.
You don’t get it. Comparing this Cadillac to your SRX is an apples-and-oranges comparison. People that bought these cars didn’t rev the engines up to 5000 RPM ever, unless perhaps they were passing some peon in their lesser vehicle. They had big engines to provide mounds of low RPM torque for a smooth, effortless departure with no high-winding drama under the hood.
I did actually take a 1973 Fleetwood for a test drive (a used one). This probably had the 472 yet. I thought the whole car was way too big and I was driving a 71 Riviera at the time.
So I think that I do get it. In the early 50’s Cadillac had excellent performance and was entered into some racing, which it won. Chrysler’s hemi out did Cadillac and the horsepower race was on.
By the late 60’s Cadillac was going for the “Rolls Royce” adequate power. What they might have done differently is a v12 and supposedly this was under consideration to the point of at least one test engine being built.
My SRX was a better vehile than the 2002 Seville or the 1998 aurora or 1995 Riviera. The stiff bodies Riviera, Aurora nd Seville were vastly better cars than what I had before.
At the end of the sixties, GM was going for big engines with economy axle ratios, and slipping torque converters that generally did not get better fuel economy or performance. Ford and Chrysler were doing the same thing.
I still think you don’t get it. You compared a ’73 Fleetwood Brougham to your ’71 Riv (another apples-and-oranges comparison) and you were surprised that it felt considerably bigger. Drivetrain differences aside, the Fleetwood had +11″ of wheelbase, +14.5″ overall length, and +850lb over your Riviera.
I’m not going to defend the featured car as being “the best” at anything other than a rolling living room and, in its day, an ostentatious display of wealth. Your SRX is neither of these things, though you apparently think it’s good for hooning, which the Fleetwood is not. I stand by my assertion that you are making an apples-and-oranges comparison.
I saw a lot of the Fleetwood Cadillacs in the 70’s, when they were new. I did like the looks of them. I never thought that my Riviera was oversized. But driving the Fleetwood Cadillac a few blocks made me realize that it was just too big for me. I also tried out a 75 DeVille later on that I did not really like either. I think that I would have liked the down sized 77 Cadillacs and did own a 78 Olds Regency.
“Ostentatious displays of wealth” is more of a Rolls Royce sort of thing, and I have seen very few of those my area. I have seen one from the early 50’s I think (looked very old) and I know of one modern one that I saw once of twice perhaps. Cadillac’s in this area are quite common, and a display of upper level income perhaps, but as Paul N. points out, anyone can own a Cadillac now.
“They had big engines to provide mounds of low RPM torque for a smooth, effortless departure with no high-winding drama under the hood.”
What kind of engine like that exists today? Just about every engine on offer has the capability to walk beyond 5000 rpm like it ain’t no thing. I think you’re a bit misguided. Try hearing Fred out here.
Motor Trends 1970 comparison test shows that the 1/4 mile performance is 16.3 seconds with the speed at 86 MPH. The 4.5 L Allante (200 hp, 270ft-lb torque, 275 CID) does the 1.4 in 16.3 seconds too, running 83 MPH. The Allante’s engine would not have worked in the Eldorado of course, but considering the difference in engine size, the Eldorado’s performance is not better.
Turbodiesels. Bigger modern turbodiesels have a brief but usually perceptible bit of off-idle turbo lag, but then you get earthmoving-equipment torque through the lower and mid-ranges and run out of steam short of 5,000 rpm.
The Bentley Mulsanne still has a much-massaged version of the old 6.75-liter V-8, making 752 lb-ft of torque at around 1,800 rpm. It does have twin turbos, cylinder deactivation, and variable valve timing, although I imagine the latter are mainly to get through the latest European emissions standards.
Again, the 400 horsepower rating is an SAE gross figure, which is for a bare engine without accessories. Cadillac didn’t publish both SAE gross and net ratings in 1970, but they did in 1971, when the compression ratios were lowered. The ratings for the 472 were 345 gross, 220 hp net, while the 500 was 365 gross, 235 hp net. From that, it’s reasonable to assume the 400-horsepower 1970 engine was in the realm of 270–275 net horsepower.
As BOC points out, the 472 was intentionally designed to be a slow-revving stump-puller, spending most of its life at engine speeds under 3,000 rpm while lugging a 5,000-pound Cadillac around with the air conditioning on. With the standard gearing, you wouldn’t hit 5,000 rpm even in first.
To put it into prespective, my 71 Riviera’s net torque was 380 ft-lbs. The net rating on the 72 Cadillac’s 500 is 385 ft-lbs. I have never thought that my 71 Riv was excessively fast, although much better performance than the 76.
Cadillac did not design the 472/500 as performance engines. They were never about maximum peak horsepower. They were designed as low revving engines with strong low end torque/horsepower to motivate heavy cars with ease and silence. The strong torque allowed for high rear end ratios to reduce engine speed which intern reduced noise and increased fuel efficiency. You have to remember the limitations of engine design in this era. Typically, high performance engines had to gave up low end power, and idle smoothness for high RPM power.
Further, a big component of the 1968 Cadillac V8 was that it was designed to be a “clean” engine. By 1968 emission standards had been set in place, so this design was focussed at cleaner combustion verses the early V8 design. These standards had become so high by the mid-1970’s that the engines were strangled with low compression, mild camshaft timing and primitive emission controls. Even so, they still managed to perform adequately by being tuned for an abundance of low end power.
Precisely the point I was making, that the 500 CID engine never was much of a performance engine. But that being said, Cadillac kept a 2.73:1 axle ratio when Buick and Olds went to 2.56:1 with the 455 CID engines by the mid 70’s. Plus the Buick engine seems more able to meet emission standards without reducing horsepower below 200.
At the beginning of this thread, the comment was how little power was produced, which is a valid point. However, it is true that by the mid 70’s, with catalytic converters basically reducing dual exhausts to single exhaust with even more back pressure, most engines were not producing much horsepower.
The Buick 455 was a more oversquare engine than the Cadillac and the valve timing and porting were pretty clearly different, although I’d have to go digging for cam specs. The 455 net torque peak was 2,800 rpm, but the 500’s was even lower — 2,400 rpm — and comparing the net torque curves would probably be revealing. The 500 undoubtedly has a big advantage in the low-speed realm (off idle to say 2,500 rpm).
The other consideration in the emissions era was that the basis of the federal standards changed. The first federal standards were based on emission density in parts per million, which was actually easier to manage with big, slower-revving engines — those were the regulations Cadillac envisioned in designing the 472/500 family. After 1970, the basis shifted to grams per mile, which meant bigger engines were now at a disadvantage. So, I think to some extent the biggest engines suffered more proportionately than smaller ones, which is probably why Cadillac adopted fuel injection and Buick and Oldsmobile could get by without it.
My buick and cadillac history books do address the gross vs net rating in the early 70’s.
Cadillac’s 500 horsepower — torque
gross —- 365@4400 —- 535@2800
net—— 235@3800 —– 410@2400 —- torque at peak hp 325
Buick’s 455 base
gross —– 315@4400 —- 450@2800
net —— 225@4000 —- 360@2600
gross —– 330@4600 —- 455@2800
net ——- 260@4400 —- 380@2800 — @peak hp 310 ft-lb
The 472/500 Cadillac may not have been built as a hi-po engine because that didn’t suit the needs of Cadillac. That said, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a design capable of high performance. The 500 in particular doesn’t have a bore/stroke combination that is favourable to high RPM usage, but neither did the Olds 455 or Pontiac 455 and they did alright in the hi-po world. It also has very low engine weight compared to most other domestic V8’s of large displacement. Here’s a 500 Cadillac that mad over 600 hp and 600ft-lbs of torque.
Furthermore, when the 472 replaced the 429 in 1968, the performance for Cadillac’s improved across the board. The Eldorado’s picked up a good half-second in the quarter mile. FWIW, the 400 hp 500 made pretty much the same power per cubic inch as the hi-po 455 Olds and Buicks. And this was without radical camshafts and other tricks that the Olds and Buick used. Sure by the mid 1970’s the 500 was pretty lethargic, but as Ate up with Motor stated, this had more to do with the emissions standards of the day than anything else.
That said, in a 1975 Motor Trend article, the weak 190 hp Eldorado, out ran every in car but one in the 0-60 test. It beat a Mercedes-Benz 450 SE, Jaguar XJ6, Lincoln Mark IV and Imperial coupe. It tied the BMW 3.0 si both running 10.9 secs. The Caddy also had far less hp than the Lincoln and the 440 Imperial, but it did have its peak torque at the lowest RPM of any engine. It also had the highest pound per horsepower while the BMW had the lowest pound per horsepower. So regardless of how low the “peak hp” is, the 500 Caddy performed well enough to match it’s competition (foreign and domestic) of its day due to its strong low end horsepower/torque curve.
Motor Trend had a comparison test between the 1970 Eldorado and Continental Mark iii. Not much difference in performance. My Cadillac history book does have some acceleration numbers, presumably supplied by Cadillac. What is not stated is which axle ratio is used. The 1959 through 1967 Cadillac’s had a 2.94:1 ratio standard, but a 3.21:1 was required with air conditioning. The obvious point of the 472 engine is to eliminate the need for the higher performance axle. This would have reduced engine speeds with A/C making the cars quieter at cruising speeds.
The 1960 models could do 0-100 in 34 seconds and average 11 MPG@80.
The 63’s could do 100 in 28.5 seconds and average 12-14 MPG’s at unspecified speeds. 1964 (429/turbohydramatic) does 100 in just under 30 seconds and averages 10.5 MPG@80. 1967 does 100 in 24 seconds! different axle ratio?
The 68 (472) Coupe de Ville does 100 in just under 28 seconds. 12 MPGs @70-80MPH. The 70 Fleetwood does 100 in 28.4 seconds
When introduced in 1970 they were 400 hp
Most likely the hp was underrated. Torque output was 360 lbs-ft.
I like these and the iconic generation that followed. Other than rustproofing, however, I’ve yet to see convincing evidence that the downsized models were otherwise “better” cars, at least by the definition of American luxury; not the least because of the debates on here, even though I like both versions a lot. I know the smaller ones supposedly had more cubic feet of space, but when I see these pictures it sure doesn’t look like it.
The fold-down footrests and a 500 cube V8, just a thing of beauty.
Some of these land yachts of the past look more pieces of artwork than things you’d actually ♦use♦. I like them.
Carter, what a great way to phrase that. An earlier post was talking about ostentatious display of wealth the “76 Fleetwood has. YEA! That’s why rich older men enjoy beautiful young women. And yes “76 may not have the power of “50s Cadillac but that beautiful young woman cant balance a check book! So whats she’s beautiful. I love the ’76 Cadillacs.
Out of interest, what is the origin of the model names Fleetwood (to me, part of Blackpool, probably the archetypical cheesy, faded, seaside resort) and Calais (a pretty functional industrial port on the unglamorous northern coast of France)?
For Cadillac the Fleetwood name comes from the Fleetwood Body Company in Pennsylvania. This entity was purchased by GM and folded into Fisher Body in the 1920’s. It was a logical move from “Bodies by Fleetwood” to models with the same name.
Probably not one American in one hundred could find Calais on a map, or cares one way or another. People who have heard of it probably remember the name from the Normandy landings in WWII.
Marketing and advertising has a long history of using foreign, exotic sounding names to sell everyday products. For some reason people tend to think its better if it comes from far away. I worked for many years in market research and can tell you that cold hard logic is far down the list for most people when they make purchasing decisions.
BMC, British Leyland, and Jaguar did something similar with Vanden Plas, although of course GM never made Fleetwood a marque, which BMC and BL sort of did.
Then you get foreign GM divisions picking up names that are already used in the US, sometimes seemingly without considering what that name conjures up locally – if anything. Holden has picked up many foreign names from the GM badge shop in the US and used them on totally different local vehicles. I guess the trademark is registered, royalties paid (if applicable), tooling paid for, here’s your case of badges Aussies, go to it. Sunbird and Calais come to mind immediately.
‘Sunbird’ became the new name for the infamous and unpopular Torana Four with its awful ‘Starfire’ four, thus ensuring they’d never ever use either of those names again! Calais was used for ages on the top trim level of Commodore. Apollo appeared on a Toyota Camry joint-venture clone; Nova was used on a Corolla-clone. Both of those names disappeared when the joint venture did.
But sometimes it doesn’t quite work. Holden Colorado. I’d guess that name might resonate with perhaps five Aussies in a hundred, being optimistic. My sincere apologies to readers who live in Colorado, but most of us down here couldn’t point to it on a map. We just know it’s American. Like just plain joe said about Americans and Calais: foreign name. It’s not personally the name I would have chosen for going up against the Toyota Hilux (massive name recognition). Personally I’d have kept the well-regarded Rodeo name they had been using, though maybe they were afraid of offending PETA or something.
But now seeing as there aren’t Holdens any more, I guess that’s all a moot point.
It’s easy to find Calais on the map nowadays; it’s at the southern end of the Channel tunnel. I’m always reading stories about truck drivers being swarmed by migrants trying to stow-away into the UK in, and sometimes under, their trailers. Sounds like a horrible place.
The Fleetwood name comes from the Fleetwood coachbuilding firm, once a high-end independent coachbuilder in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania that built bodies for Duesenberg, Pierce-Arrow, Packard, Lincoln, Cadillac and other top-end makes, then acquired by Fisher Body during the mid-1920s and moved to Detroit during the early 1930s. Cadillac at first marketed Fleetwood-bodied cars as a semi-independent marque because of Fleetwood’s exclusivity, but over time it put the Fleetwood name on high-end standard-bodied Cadillacs, such as the Seventy Five limousine, Sixty Special and Eldorado.
A detailed history of Fleetwood:
As for Calais, its origin in the 1960s probably was from Cadillac’s marketing department, chosen solely for alliteration. Since it lacked any substantial history and was never a high-selling nameplate, it is not surprising that Cadillac gave up the name, and Oldsmobile took it for the Cutlass Calais.
“Calais” always struck me funny because it’s an unglamorous town in Maine, and they pronounce it “callous.” Admittedly, a step up from a Buick Bunion.
Funny. In Indiana, we have a Versailles, which is pronounced “Ver-SAYles.”
There is one of these in Kentucky as well, pronounced the same way. If you were to attempt the French pronunciation there people would definitely look at you funny.
And in Missouri, same thing.
I was just in Ver-sails, MO, the other day. We also have Dekalb County (pronounced D-cab).
I feel better that we Hoosiers are not the only ones who cannot pronounce Versailles.
What do you call a woman of 27 in Fleetwood (the British one)?
My parents had this car in tan vinyl roof over brown. It was leased at the price of a Chevy, because my father was the buyer for the entire sales fleet. Sweet deal. The gas bill, less of a deal. 8mpg around town, possibly as high as 10 on the highway.
It went away just after I got my license, so I only had a few chances to drive it. Sure, it only had 190hp, but it also had gobs and gobs of torque. I may or may not have brake-started it off the line once or twice, and it felt like the motor was twisting the entire frame.
“The gas bill, less of a deal. 8mpg around town, possibly as high as 10 on the highway.”
My friend’s dad bought a 1975 Caprice sports sedan, and only got 13 mpg on the highway. His dad wasn’t pleased with that!
1975 Caprice Sports Sedan? lol sounds like an interesting car- what did GM do to differentiate the Sports Sedan from a normal Caprice?
Hardtop vs pillared.
So what did dad expect from a 350 V8.?. 30mpg?. Seems that folks got sick of space rocket type fuel consumption after the 74 fuel crisis. To put it in prospective most 3lt 6 cylinder Euro engines struggled to reach 20mpg. My 77 Granada 3.0 Ghia=18 mpg, 83 Rover 3500 SDI= 17. So dads 8.2 wasn’t that bad bearing the torque figures.
Very relevant Donnie Brasco reference:
So you like the DeVille? – Fughedaboudit.
Yeah. I got the Fleetwood Brougham.
Is that right? With the velour? – Fughedaboudit.
Haha, that’s a funny coincidence. I’ve never even seen that before. It pretty much depicts what I was imagining though.
The definitive Colonnade! In fact, a Colonnade on serious steroids. A real Cadillac.
I actually thought these were beautiful cars, the styling done right. Still think so, but you’d better own an oil company if you want to drive one these days!
This thing DWARFS any ’70s Colonnade, lol!
And those seats… You sat *in* them, as opposed
to on them as in a modern car. Pull over at the
next rest stop, kick off your shoes, recline the
seatback, and nap til sun up!
In the 70s and 80s, I hated these things with a passion. They had cheap interior materials and a somewhat floppy structure. I felt that Cadillac was phoning it in with these cars. Today, I am starting to soften, if just a bit. There is something appealing about a car this massive with 500 cubes pushing it. The drivetrains were as good as anything built, so I have started to give these a bit of respect. But I would rather have a 460 Continental.
Structural integrity/rigidity has been a target of constant
improvement since likely the 1950s.
Today a visual simulation can be done on a screen
before steel is even cast, with green shaded areas
indicating high rigidity areas and blue, purple, red,
and yellow indicating areas where improvement
can be made. Adjustments can be made to
structural members in those red areas until they
become green under simulated load, and then the
parts are cast.
What materials do carmakers use these days to make motor vehicles? I really don’t know.
I agree that structural rigidity has been a target for improvement for a long time, but I can tell you that GM took a big step backwards with that 1971-76 generation. I had a 1963 Fleetwood that was very tight structurally, despite having the much maligned X frame. It was leagues better than the 76 Fleetwood that I periodically drove. Of course Chrysler managed to do the same thing (despite having a unibody) on the 1974 Chrysler 4 door sedans. The 4 door hardtops were wonderfully rigid, but the sedans were like jello, worse than the GM cars. I always found this amazing that Chrysler could so badly screw up a unibody.
There is a reason why Chrysler’s share of the market was less than Ford’s back then.
I love the exterior styling on these, though the interior is a real let-down. The Talisman trim can help a bit, but there’s no way around the fact that the dashboard and door panels would’ve been appropriate in a Caprice.
Nonetheless, if my garage were big enough, I would own one of these. If I ever win the lottery, I’ll buy one and redo the interior to the standard of the early ’60s Cadillacs.
There’s something wrong with a world in which Carmine doesn’t already own one of these.
I’ve looked at these before, but I’ve never pulled the trigger on one, I will get one though.
Last of the leviathans from Cadillac. Those extra few inches just make an already impossibly long car even longer…pity that the Brougham couldn’t be had as a 4-door hardtop though. (Did those still exist in the Deville for ’75 or had they gone away earlier?) Still, very appealing and classy (in a super-sized way) from the outside.
Inside, i find less to be excited about. The seats look immensely comfortable and there’s plenty of legroom, and the amount of chrome hardware on the doors looks nice, but it loses me there. The dash is clean and uncluttered, yes, but also dated and doesn’t look high-end. Wouldn’t look out of place in a ’71 Chevy. The fat tri-spoke wheel doesn’t say luxury to me either. And *so* much fake wood…phoned in. The color doesn’t help either.
Still an impressive car though!
The Sedan de Ville remained a hardtop through 1976, the pillared DeVille sedan was dropped in 1969.
I’m sure someone here will correct me if I mix up the details, but the Olds 98 of this generation was a hard-top, and I think it qualified as a C-body (or was it a stretched B-body… not sure of the difference). Possibly the biggest hard-top ever made?
But either way, it had a slightly shorter wheelbase than the Fleetwood.
All the C-body sedans were hardtops during the 1971-1976 era, the Electra 225, 98 and deVille. A C is more or less a stretched B. The Fleetwood was a D-body during this period.
And the poor Pontiac Grand Ville somewhere in the middle of B and C!
Yep. the GrandVille was a B with a C-body roof.
The Fleetwood Sixty Special (aka Brougham in some years) went hardtop for the 1957 model year. By 1965 it was back to a pillared sedan, the change over was either for the 64 or 65 model year. Since 1965 is a major restyling year for GM’s full sized car, I think the change was for 1965.
The 1971 – 1976 Fleetwood Sixty Special (aka Fleetwood Brougham) had a B-pillar that was very similar to the first Sixty Special (1938) seen here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/73029069@N00/10288544466/in/photolist-gFatPG-gF9YtA-gFatq5-dNK3sw-eQkT46-eQxhf3
jpcavanaugh, Chris M:
I know I sound like I’ve been under a rock when I ask,
but, what’s with the phrase “phoned in” you guys
When I use the term “phoned in”, I mean it in a way that suggests that someone didn’t try very hard. Going through the motions. Sort of “I don’t need it to look good, you guys just get it finished.”
A stunning car, especially in Firethorn Metallic. I still prefer the Fleetwood Talisman for the more exotic name, but this one would certainly do! Despite their size these Cadillacs looked lighter that their slab sided Lincoln competitors.
When Cadillac stops giving their models cryptic letter designations and goes back to proper names, I hope they call one the Talisman. Such a cool name.
I just have to ignore the negatives (sheer size, fuel economy, build quality, bland dash, cheap interior materials), because I’ve always loved these. The styling is superb, although I prefer the less blingy pre-1976 models, and even better are the fantastic and perfect proportions of this car. I loved the longer wheelbase and the b-pillar treatment. And of course, the color range was great, with the car looking equally sharp in subdued monochrome treatments, or in colors with contrasting roof and interior colors.
What I have always found interesting is the dichotomy of the luxury market then, which Brendan pointed out. We had two really different interpretations of luxury cars (both of which I liked then, as a kid, and still do now) – Cadillac style, and Mercedes-Benz style. Obviously, the market gravitated to the Mercedes style, which, ironically, has become ever-more Cadillac style, in recent years.
To quote a TTAC article about a similar car, “once we made Cadillacs, and we were not afraid.” If I just had a place to park one…though I would probably opt for something other than the red interior.
Was the Talisman longer still than this model, by a couple of inches? Or am I remembering that incorrectly?
Regarding this style vs. the concurrent Mercedes style–I’d probably rather drive a big Benz, especially one from this era, but I’d rather be driven in this.
The 1974-1976 Talisman was an trim option for these, similar to d’Elegance for the Fleetwood and deVille, Biarritz for the Eldorado and Elegante for the Seville.
They were the same size, but the Talismans got a heavily padded top and a special interior with thickly upholstered special seats with consoles between the seats front and rear in 1974 and front only 1975-1976.
I just recently bought back a 76 Talisman I had sold to a friend almost 2 years ago after I owned it about 15 years. My car is in a little better condition than the 76 featured in this article. In addition to the features Carmine has mentioned the Talisman also had their own floor mats and wheel covers.
Many people are fearful of the gas mileage of these cars, but I have gotten a steady 16 mpg with my car over the years and up to 19 mpg on a number of occasions. Compare that to the 9 mpg I averaged with a 76 limousine I owned and the Fleetwood seems to sip gas. If the price of operating the car mattered that much to me I would not buy a special interest car as the extra gas cost is likely to be one of the smallest expenses.
I think Brendan has it spot on correct in this article stating the Cadillac of 1977 would be an improved car. One of the only times I can remember when a first year model change would not have many bugs to work out.
Nice, I’d eventually like to get a big Fleetwood, ideally a Talisman, but I am flexible, but I’m holding out until the right opportunity.
I think you should consider a Fleetwood d’Elegance as they are more comfortable than my Talisman.
Would these be the world’s biggest four-seaters then?
Wow, this car brings back memories! My grandmother’s next door neighbor was a Cadillac dealer. Her husband had founded the business, and after he passed away, she continued to run it along with her sons. Georgia Belle was her name–not kidding, this was the South and no one thought that was funny or unusual at all–got a brand-spanking-new, fully loaded Fleetwood every year. And she always got red ones, inside and out. Hers was an exact clone of this car. Georgia Belle was always so nice, and she literally let me come over anytime I wanted and so I could check out every detail of her car. I spend hours and hours crawling all over it whenever I could. I thought it was over-the-top awesome. While I also loved the downsized big Caddies, the last of the leviathans was clearly something would never been seen again.
She’s a beauty. Wonder if she was driven or trailered to the show. If towed by a Diesel pickup, it may have gotten better mileage then if the car was driven. The interior was actually ahead of it time, it is comparable to most cars today. Except back then you could still get a wide choice of colors. Not that is necessarily a good thing. But if you were to compare the interior to a 66 Cadillac, the cost cutting (and safety requirements) are easy to see. Still a stunning looker.
why is the interior ahead of its time?
Big, brash, boat like and goes through gas like a drunk sailor goes though booze on shore leave.Folks born in the 80’s or 90’s probably scratch their heads and wonder why people were willing to spend so much on such a big inefficient barge. But to folks like my Father generation (aka the Baby boomers) or my Grandfather’s generation, those big Caddies were a way to show “you arrived” it was the culmination of the Sloan Ladder where you started at a Chevy or Pontiac and by the time you retired you moved to Cadillac. A Cadillac had to be big and imposing. Now they are nothing more then gussied up Chevy products with a Cadillac crest. Which is why Cadillac was on the rocks in the 1990’s and early 2000’s because Americans are smarter then GM thought and nobody is going to pay Cadillac money on a Chevy product.
I feel the last of the traditional Cadillacs died out in 1996 with the end of the Fleetwood(which actually looked much better then the Roadmaster sedan and Caprice sedan)
I’m trying to figure out what Chevrolets correspond with the RWD Cadillac only ATS and CTS, but oh well………
What I mean is that I can go out to a ATS and CTS and hang a Chevy Bowtie on the grill and call it Impala and it would fit right into the Chevy line up. There is nothing to distinguish those cars as “premium” Cadillac material. Even the vaunted supercharged engine that is offered in the CTS is shared with the Camaro. There is nothing in the current Cadillac lineup that evokes traditional Cadillac. Well I guess there is the Escalade which evokes traditional GMC Yukon.
I like the CTS and ATS so I am not knocking them but they could be removed from Cadillac’s lineup tomorrow and rebadged as Chevy products and nobody would really notice.
Respectfully disagree. You’re seeing what you see, and I’m seeing what I see, but I feel that modern Cadillacs have a definite design language that doesn’t really share much with Chevy. Sure, an ATS looks more like a Malibu than it looks like an MKZ or a C-class, but I don’t think it would “fit right in” to the Chevy lineup.
The point I was trying to make below is that “traditional Cadillac” is gone. The majority of their buyers were alienated in the 80’s and 90’s, and the ones that weren’t are dying off. I think it would be cool to see a big modern RWD Fleetwood, don’t get me wrong, but it’s an answer to a question that way too few people are asking.
I don’t even see where an ATS or CTS even looks like a Chevrolet. But oh well….
I fear you’re overgeneralizing a bit…I was born in the 80’s (1980 but it still counts) and it doesn’t perplex me a bit. We had big and small cars growing up, usually one of each, and of the 9 cars I’ve owned, 6 have been large RWD V8s. 2 A-bodies, 3 Panthers, and a Mark VIII. So I “get it” even if I’ve never driven something quite as large as a ’76 Fleetwood. I’ve seen how people felt about them years ago too, and knew more than a few older folks who moved up into a Caddy or a Lincoln in their late years.
They lost their way in the 90’s and early 2000’s, sure. But I think Cadillac is making a strong comeback now. Perhaps not catering to the market segment they used to, but frankly those buyers are dying out and the Sloan Ladder is dead and buried. They’re doing what they need to do to be seen as a relevant, premium brand, and I think it’s working. It’s also not fair at all to call them gussied-up Chevy products, as there are more differences than similarities. ATS and CTS ride a unique platfrom (Alpha platform) that isn’t shared with any current GM models. It’s slated to underpin the 2017 Camaro, but I’d say that’s Chevy borrowing from Cadillac rather than the other way around. The SRX’s “Theta Premium” platform is based on the common GM Theta platform but it had enough unique qualities that it’s kind of its own monster. The XTS and Escalade do share universal GM platforms, but even then, the body and interior are unique. The engines are shared but the idea of unique divisional engines is long dead. So I’d say they’re a good bit more than “gussied up Chevys”. You may or may not like the styling or the direction they’ve chosen, but it was evolve or die. They’ve chosen to evolve. Lincoln, on the other hand, is absolutely selling “gussied up Fords”, and they’ll be dead within a couple of years.
And yet I’d prefer a Lincoln MKZ hybrid over an ATS anything.
The ATS is definitely not a cushy riding car. I don’t know anything about the Lincoln MK(?) cars, so can’t comment on how they compare. The CTS should ride somewhat better than the ATS, but I don’t know.
I agree they’re distinctively styled, however they are not in the MB-BMW-Audi-Lexus level clubhouse. They’re second tier – Acura-Infiniti-Volvo – and their prices need to drop 20% to reflect that.
Personally I’d rather spend $35k on a strippo 3 series, but that’s me – stark is ok.
Cadillac and both need to return to distinctive names from their past, and drop this nomenclature silliness. Acura has learned the hard way, and Infiniti reset their table for no significant reason.
I get them, and I was born in 83.
If I ever won the lottery, I’d have a garage full of these massive landyachts. Its a pitty they didn’t have things like real wood or better build quality but the design was gorgeous.
What I don’t get is all the soul-less cars we have today. Unless you go way upscale, everything has a kind of penaltybox feel to it.
I am not sure that the old body on frame C body was significantly different from the B body. My opinion is that after World War Two, GM designed the B body to be a basic body, and then developed the C-body to be larger for Cadillac and top of the line Buicks and Oldsmobiles. The A-body was down sized for Chevrolet and some Pontiacs. But all three bodies are basically the same thing. If one takes look at the styling of the Chevrolets in the early 50’s, there are similar features on Cadillacs. The roofs of the 59 hardtops are the same for most of GMs cars.
I agree with what you are saying about the Cadillac of today. I cannot tell the difference in the back seat of a Chevrolet or a Cadillac. Material, mostly plastic, is the same. All the knobs, levers and switches are right out of the entry level Chevrolets cars or pickups. Cadillac is an insignificant brand now partly due to that.
I have never understood the “have arrived” thing. I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt me, my parents and grandparents have never purchased a car for reasons of status. In fact, we are unhealthy in the opposite direction with buying the same color car so people will not notice we have a new car. As a small child I remember my grandparents had purchased a new Electra and one of my grandfather’s friends remarked about it showing he had money. Even as a child I knew that statement made my grandfather angry and waited to see how he would respond. He replied, “No, it shows you how much money I used to have”. If a person buys a car for status reasons they would be better served to spend a percentage of that money on therapy. Just my opinion.
Now, the biggest, baddest SUV or pick up is the vehicular status symbol.
Mostly I don’t have much in the way of knobs or what not. Most controls are touch sensitive surfaces or on the nav screen.
Technology has leveled the options page at the
dealer’s: Now even a base Hyundai, Chevy,
or Toyota comes with power everything, dual
climate, blue tooth, lit glovebox, lit trunk, even
lit hoods on some.
Cadillac has catered to an evolving market, where ground clearance and 4WD has out-trumped the longer, lower, wider look of RWD land yachts such as these. Personally, I always felt that even if the 1977 downsized models were more efficient, handled better and had less troubles, they were also the first in a chain of downsizings that transformed old land yacht models into something, well, Completely Different (Monte Python :-p) By the mid 80’s, this concept had just plain gotten out of hand. Some folks may have preferred the front wheel drive DeVilles, LeSabres and Nintey Eights, but to me they always seemed to be a ghost of their former selves. Things really changed for good once they discontinued the Fleetwood Brougham along with the Buick Roadmaster and Impala wagons in ’96. But the market was waning and you can’t halt progress, I suppose. Good thing there’s still a few old gas-hog geezer mobiles around for those of us who still love and insist on driving them 😀
I was born in 1988 and I never wondered why people were willing to spend so much on such big inefficient barges, afterall my formative years took place during the great SUV boom, which to me were more perplexing since I saw(see) them as nothing more than gussied up pickup trucks with a seats and steel canopy over the bed, 70s barges at least looked cool getting 12 mpg, Expeditions, not so much. Maybe I’m just out of touch but what I truly wonder is why people are willing to spend so much on small efficient fuel misers, that’s much more baffling to me.
As for Cadillac now, I think their current lineup is pretty good. GM cars ALWAYS bore some familial resemblance to one another, I mean it really wouldn’t be a stretch to put a bowtie on a 76 DeVille and call it an Impala(well Caprice) either. With the constraints of automotive design today Cadillac has done a good job distinguishing the brand, and so what if they’re using 6.2l Chevy engines? It’s not like a 350 of yore and I’m MUCH happier to see a few bespoke specific RWD platforms than engines anyway, something Cadillac hasn’t truly had since maybe the pre-war days and that does a much better job setting a car apart than the engine alone.
I had a ’76 Eldorado convertible (first new car) and it had the same really cheap interior. Cheap as in cynically cheap, every corner cut, wood contact paper on the doors (looked like shelf lining), the “gunstock” moldings on the doors had plastic mold lines visible, the dash material did justice to a Chevelle, the plastic chrome switches and vents were just, well, cheap. The car itself did exactly what it was supposed to do, provide comfort, distance and isolation. All the accessories worked for years, the engine (fuel injected) was smooth and powerful (not fast) and I could coax 15-16 mpg on the road at 60-65 mph. Once got 400 miles on a (26 gal.) tank. So, functionally the car was right on, it just made me feel like a “mark” at the price charged, given the obvious lack of concern about the intangibles by Cadillac, and intangibles are ultimately what drives the sales of cars like this.
I remember that these were the “last” convertibles and so went for premium prices. I remember that a lot of these were advertised in 1977 for high prices. My 76 Riviera would get around 16 on the highway.
True, Great story, my wife was less than thrilled with the purchase, we were at a red light when a ’75 Town Car pulled up and the driver asked “Nice car, ’76?” I nodded, He said “I’ll give you $20,000 for that car”. I said no thanks. He said ‘$22″. I thanked him and drove off. Never heard another complaint, but I bought it to drive it, not sell it.
The point was the incredible decline in interior fitment, as well as the plastic fender fillers, etc. It was really a shame.
If I remember right the list price was about $24,000 for a new one in 76. I recall seeing ads trying to get $30,000 or more in 77.
The list price, fully loaded was about $13, 800. I got $1,800 off, because I ordered it in late August, 1975, before the “last convertible” announcement and incumbent insanity started.
After looking at my 76 price guide I see that my memory was way off. Probably what I recall are ads asking over $20,000 for them after they were out of production. I never had any thoughts of buying one. The 76 Riviera that I bought was about $6000, or less, but it was used (a factory rep’s car).
The 1974 Talisman four passenger seating and stationary armrests was a paean to the ultimate in custom coachbuilt pre-war luxury found in Classics such as the Duesenberg J Arlington by Rollston, known as “The Twenty Grand” and Cord armchair Beverlies.
I still recall a test drive of a well-used ’75 Coupe de Ville after a carburetor rebuild, when the secondaries opened and that 500 ci hit its torque sweet spot, that two and a half ton cruiser FLEW. As quickly as the speedometer needle swept right, the gas gage needle swept left!
Well the 1970 Eldorado with probably about 300 net horsepower does the quarter mile in 16.3 seconds. My ATS is about 2 seconds faster. The 75 500 engine is much slower than the 70.
58L8134 said, The 1974 Talisman four passenger seating and stationary armrests was a paean to the ultimate in custom coachbuilt pre-war luxury found in Classics such as the Duesenberg J Arlington by Rollston, known as “The Twenty Grand” and Cord armchair Beverlies.
No, not even on the same planet. The Talisman was an off the rack car made of plastic within reach of the middle class. The Duesenberg was a bespoke car made of the highest quality completely out of reach of the middle class.
this is what you mean: https://www.flickr.com/photos/24150334@N08/6799470369/in/photolist-bmR4DK-nbds1k-p5caUV-2RvoaT-5zE1EN-cJBGcQ-oNmUpH-2arQE-a3q2oe-oksfgo-6bcR1Q-eUQNg4-k8h4ms-jo3PVd-2S9bMh-pbqVvn-psUS6n-psURf4-a3wHM8-aarJoT-azJoNB-ee2TxN-iJGi2G-fmEYAD-8EfUJz-5RXAbs-9qaZYg-96tnq-6421qy-eKUnjn-eKW1ex-6421nf-djGvuS-bFekii-6gsjKg-9dBgTV-9b39en-c7eLZu-oL3Qtf-ogBhUR-aUFcqg-a3MoQx-9htJeg-hX9TnP-8DzxCH-a3wHqT-dnUUgo-hYm6Bb-h1qopB-oPhPd2-e1ibn1
Paean: a tribute to, doesn’t define that the execution be in the same league. Definitely not in the case of the Talisman compared to the Twenty Grand!
Those seats! Holy cow, those seats! My ass needs those seats!
I would argue the point that Cadillac no longer makes big cars. Anyone seen a 2015 Escalade .. 6.2 Litre V8 and all? I think this is the Fleetwood of today – big on size, space, comfort, features and engine and probably fuel consumption as well.
Recent Cadillac’s have done nothing for me – why they cannot do something that harks back to the lok of these in a modern interpretation is beyond me.
Being from Australia we don’t see too many Caddy’s. Can someone please help me to understand the “filler” panels between the end of the rear fender and the tail light assembly. Why is the gender not just a few inches longer? On non-restored versions I have seen, the pain always seem shot on these little panels too – any clue as to why that happens?
I am not sure this is true, but I think the filler panels are a result of the 5 MPH bumper standard which was phased in during this time period (1973-1976). My thinking is that the plastic panels allowed the bumpers to move if hit without breaking something needing repairs. The sturdy bumpers that cars had in the early 50’s had been reduced to mostly trim that really did not protect the car.
While the Escalade is big, it is a truck. Fleetwoods were really Fleetwoods back before Fisher body took over Fleetwood body. Still, even after GM took over Fisher (and Fleetwood), there were real Fleetwood bodied Cadillacs into the early 1930’s. But by the mid 1930’s the bodies were all Fisher, but with Fleetwood finishing touches. By the end of World War Two, the Fisher brothers left GM, so even Fisher bodies are now really not Fisher at all, but GM bodies.
Yes, the Escalade is just a truck. It lacks the stately curb appeal of a formal sedan. Sadly there are no more formal domestic sedans.
The bumper standards required cars to be able to sustain a 5 mph (8 km/h) impact without suffering any damage to anything except the bumper. Integrating the taillights into the bumper I assume wasn’t deemed a technical violation of the regulation, but it certainly seems contrary to the spirit of it, since the rule was prompted by constituent complaints to the effect of, “If we’re paying for all this safety stuff, why are my bumpers still junk?”
The paint on these panels, because they were flexible, had an additive called a ‘Flexor’ so paint would not crack, unfortunately it could cause color difference, and on metallics especially color fade.
Age 12 I walked out of a mall movie theatre with a friend. It was 1976 and this car, this color, except I recall color keyed wheel cover centers, probably a d’Elegance, was sitting by the sidewalk. We couldn’t help but stare and marvel at it. All the way home all I could think about was how cool it would have been if our parents had come to pick us up in this, instead of what our parents had at the time.
One interesting aspect of the Fleetwood Brougham interior was the greenhouse: take look at the A-pillars again; they are extremely thin (and would garner a poor Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rating today). But when you’re behind the wheel, that thin A- pillar allows the curved windshield to just flow right into the side windows, giving a view from the front seat is absolutely panoramic. It’s Big Screen driving and beats anything in terms of forward visibility.
And the seats really are some of my favorites -supportive and comfortable -in a 39 year old car. I’m 6′ 4″ and with the front seat all the way back, my knees are nowhere near the front seat backs. So while the dash is ‘meh’, the interior is a very nice place to spend time. Those of you who’ve mentioned eventually adding one to the garage will find they’ll exceed your expectations, and literally broaden your horizons…
Nice, that’s a 75, I remember the sort of “blochy” leather they used in 1975 only, I looked at a similar car once, except it was brown on brown.
LOL on ‘blotchy’ !-when I first got it I wasn’t sure if it was intentional ! However, when I went to Automotive Mileposts (car and interior colors offered by year) I learned that CADILLAC refers to it as ‘antique blue’. Haha.
Not much seen in England and more so in the North Had a 74 in 1977 what a car did approx 8 mpg round town once got 14 on a long run 250 plus miles driven carefully dont remember any lack of power would chirp the rear tyres every time you set off quickly Bought from a man who had purchased it and a Rolls Royce shadow in 1974 both brandnew said he much prefered the fleetwood to the rolls had done approx 30000 in 3 yrs best car I ever owned and what a thing to impress the peasants Even my wife used it to go to work in it and shopping the heater and a/c being much appreciated She has mercedes220and says its too big to park now no accounting for taste Have had many American cars over the yrs from 1955 Buick special 1964 wildcat
1967 firebird 1970formula 400 firebird 2 caddy eldorados both 500cu 1964 chevelle with a327 1969 electra 225
Nothing compared to the caddy Could drivel on forever about it
God Bless America
Front ends on cars used to be so much more impressive than nowadays…Cars nowadays have sloped hoods for aerodynamics and very small grille area……You would need to buy a Ford Super duty pickup nowadays to get anything that makes a statemenf with its grille and nose.
DITTO on all that! Plus, what passes for a Cadillac in 2010 or
2015 can’t hold a candle to these!
I have a fully restored ’74 Deville. Very much like this Fleetwood, but less extravagent. The 472 V8 is really smooth, and the ride is like no modern car. You do not feel bumps, period. We have given away a lot in the way of comfort to the gods of ‘handling’ in the years since then. I also have a modern BMW so I fully appreciate ‘handling’ but with the exception of times when I am pressing on a bit, it seems like quite a heavy price to pay for exceptional road smoothing comfort. The caddy also does deliver strong performance without much engine noise, because it always changes up at low rpm and rides the wall of torque that comes in from idle speed. With that engine characteristic and the carpet smooth ride, it really is like nothing else you can buy today.
My parents had Cadillacs when I was growing up, the first being a 1965 model and their last one was a 1981 (a Seville diesel, but that’s for another post). Two of those Cadillacs were my favorites….a 1973 Fleetwood Brougham d’Elegance (triple grey Firemist) and a 1976 Fleetwood Brougham d’Elegance (triple Sable black). The d’Elegance package Broughams had very sumptuous interiors, crushed velvet in the 1973 and a heavy velour in the 1976. Of course, they both had heavily padded elk-grain vinyl roofs, opera lights on the “C” pillar, a hood ornament, extra reading lamps, carpeted floor mats, light up vanity mirrors, fold down footrests for the rear seat passengers, and the 1976 had color-keyed hubcaps, but don’t think the 1973 did. We thought they were beautiful and elegant without being as ostentatious as the 75 series 9-passenger sedans and limousines, but still had presence. My sister bought the grey 1973 from my parents when they bought the 1976 and drove it well into the 1990’s, and it was still a beautiful, comfortable and reliable automobile when they finally sold it. I purchased the 1976 from them later and kept it until the mid-1990’s. Had it repainted (the same Sable black) in the late 1980’s (due to rust in the rear quarters, unfortunately), and I must say when it was clean, it was the most elegant looking car I ever saw. The 1976 was a good car, but not quite as trouble free as the 1973 was. Had to fix the automatic level control on the rear axle, have the Quadrijet carb professionally rebuilt, replace the vinyl roof, and replace the power antenna. Still not bad for what was an older used car back then. The plastic rear fender extensions around the tail lights (for the 5 MPH bumper regulations) were starting to disintegrate when I finally sold it.
Maybe because the car was black, it was often mistaken for a limousine. Averaged around 16 MPG on the highway and around 12 in town, had plenty of power, and it would float down the highway smoothly at speeds I’m ashamed to admit that I used to drive now. Had a lot of fun with that car, and remember it fondly to this day. Have not thought of that car for a long time, thanks for the trip down memory lane!
My backroad commute to and from work takes me
right past a gorgeous black Caddy just like the one
in image #14! Mid-50s garrison colonial with semi-
circle driveway, attached 2-car garage off one side,
but the Cadillac stays parked directly by the front
door, completing the scene! 🙂
I could fall right to sleep in the seats of the featured marroon
Fleetwood – even when driving – which might be a problem(!)
While I’m not the biggest fan of the 1971-76 Cadillac’s but I absolutely love the interior of this car, then again I enjoy big cars with soft cushioned leather seating, I actually think the interiors of the mid 70’s Cadillac Fleetwood’s look better than the interior’s of the 1969-70 Cadillac Fleetwood’s (styling and performance wise that is my favorite era of the Cadillac’s).
God I miss my ’76 Sedan De Ville (well the first one)…. Of course gas was about a third what it’s today… It was red too…
While I wasn’t as taken with these as the 1965 and especially 1966 60 Special and Fleetwood Brougham, once you driven one, you would be surprised at the powerful performance for such a large car. When the torque of that 500 ci engine hits its sweet range, these Cadillac get up and fly. It handled well enough for the driving characteristics of most American situations. For those who wanted a sport luxury car, they had plenty of choice elsewhere. Now Cadillac tries to be a me-too sport luxury CUV and no one cares. Maybe its reason to continue is over…except for whatever profits it can generate?
While the Fleetwood has an additional three inches in the wheelbase, my ’97 Jaguar XJ6L gets an extra five inches! The back seat is almost like a limo. This photo is with the front seats at the rear of their travel. I like to think of it as my 60 Special. To be truthful, the standard XJ is a bit tight in the rear legroom. I always wanted one of those longer wheelbase Fleetwoods. I’ll just have to settle for my Jag.