My definition of a Brougham earlier today was rather strict. So the question is: At what point does a car cross the line into Brougham?
In 1989 I drove a tow truck in Milwaukee, WI. My company had a contract with The City to tow abandoned cars off the streets, stolen recoveries, police tows, etc. My territory included the rough area called the “near North side”–Center Street, North Avenue–areas considered unsafe at any time, day or night. At that time, it was common that members of the “criminal element” would drive large American cars. It was very common that one of these drivers would be pulled over and arrested that I would be called to tow the car to our holding area. Invariably, the next morning, the perp would be released and would make his way to our yard. He would strut into the office and proclaim: “Hey man, last night you towed my Brougham”. Always pronounced BROooo-HAM . Sometimes they would call their Buick a “Berrk” Almost all of these cars were trashed and rusty–often with “peeled” steering columns–evidence of having been stolen at some point, but never repaired. It was good steady business for the towing company…..
My Dad’s best friend worked as a car salesman at the Chevy Oldsmobile Cadillac dealer in Continental Ohio in the 1990s.
Not far away was the Defiance Ohio GM Foundary with a workforce of approximately 4,000. As GM plants were being closed in areas like St. Louis their was a steady influx of older GM employees with a more southerly accent.
He said they would come in with their GM employee pricing and ask… “You got any of them BRO – HAMS?”
“If it waddles like a duck…..”
Key features I would consider obligatory, in no particular order,
plastic wood interior, velour upholstery or shiny plumped up leather , gussied up exterior with chrome and vinyl roof perhaps, lots of gagdets, less dressed lower versions available, dressy wheels, special paint colours and badging, no sporty pretensions whatever despite a larger engine than the run of the mill.
The closest European equivalent? Ford Granada Ghia from the 1970s (as shown)
The least Brougham car ever – Mercedes-Benz 300E (W124)
Jag XJC comes close. Broughamtastic vinyl covers some dodgy bodywork.
Gotta give the W124 points for (fake?) wood interior trim and a grille that reminded me, when I was 10, of a ’78 Volare though!
The wood trim on the Mercedes back then was always real. And you’ve got it all backwards: Broughams started copying Mercedes grilles very early on. A fake Mercedes grille is one of the most blatant signs of a Brougham.
Just callin’ it as I saw it at the time – I wasn’t that aware of its’ history when I was a kid, just that there was a similarity.
The real irony is that the Detroit broughams’ grilles all looked like they belonged there but there was nothing at all about the rest of the W124 that, independent of a knowledge of the maker’s tradition, called for a barrel-shaped chrome grille.
You have a good point. Mercedes had been in a quandary for years about its traditional grille. They eventually got rid of it, but it took quite a while. It did look rather un-organic on the W124 and some of the other sleek new models. They just were afraid it would be too radical of a change, and might alienate their more conservative customers.
It’s like art, or pornography: you know it when you see it.
If your first impulse is to barf, there’s a good chance its a brougham.
My sentiments exactly.
I wouldn’t call my 77 Chevy Malibu Classic sedan a bro-ham, even though it sports dinoc on the dash and dash knobs, a velour interior, and more show than go V8 engine, whitewall tires and full wheel covers
It lacks the vinyl top, twin antennas, louvers, useless rear window defogger, bumper trim…
It’s a half-assed bro-ham.
No Landau irons = Not a Landau. Call the BBB.
Anything with “Landau” in its name might as well be a Brougham. If it has “Park” in its name there’s a good chance it could be a Brougham. Non-branded Broughams can also be considered Broughams by having one or more of the following characteristics and more it has the Broughamier it is regardless of its name: vinyl top, especially padded ones, fake wire wheel covers, pillow or tufted seats, chrome (or better yet plastic made to look like chrome) emblems in script suitable for a 1970’s Curtis-Mathes (or equivalent) console tv with gold fabric covering over its speakers, acres or shiny fake chrome plastic lining as much of the interior as possible.
If the driver looks like a q-tip when you’re behind it looking through its rear window and it is the kind of car that looks like the driver could make a left hand turn out of the far right hand lane at any time without warning chances it could be a Brougham.
Definition of brougham (n) [broom] “If the driver looks like a q-tip when you’re behind it looking through its rear window and it is the kind of car that looks like the driver could make a left hand turn out of the far right hand lane at any time without warning chances it could be a Brougham.”
++ I feel like printing this and putting it up on my garage wall. that was great!
Bahaha > “A standard-size car, designed to replace longer, heavier… cars”
Or, there’s this classic:
And the best part is at @ 54 seconds in “…this small Chrysler…”
You just gotta love those days.
I’d divide the Brougham epoch into periods:
1) Early Brougham: top trim level of a model series, with or without the Brougham name (Limited, LS, LTD etc. all apply). Primarily with a vinyl top, full wheel covers/whitewalls, extra chrome trim, the “fanciest” interior cloth (brocade!) and lots of fake wood trim. Still a fairly subdued start to the species…
2) Mid Brougham: increasingly pompous nomenclature (Regency, Elite, d’Elegance) with increased pillow tufting inside (loose cushion velour anyone?). Naturally vinyl tops and gobs-o-chrome. Stand-up hood ornaments. Wire wheel covers. Landau tops on 2-doors. Arriving in style for a night at the opera with lamps to light the way…
3) Late Brougham: layers upon layers of Brougham “luxury” with thicker padded tops everywhere, landau roofs for 4-doors as well as two-doors, even smaller rear windows, even more opera lighting (in the B-pillar!) “casket style” interior door pulls, embroidered logos or nameplate scripts on seats, pretensious nameplate stacking (Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Brougham LS–I rest my case). Particularly jarring when applied to smaller, FWD cars.
Then the meteorite hit from Europe and Japan and the species was soon mostly extinct.
Full size,big block V8,built for comfort not speed leather or velour upholstery,wood dash board and door cappings(real or fake),column shift auto only no 3 on a tree here thank you,power steering,every conceivable extra,vinyl roof,not very nice shade of green or brown but called Meadow grass or Sahara sand or something over the top,rubbery handling and a thirst for the hard stuff.
An interesting question you pose Jason, one hopes Richard Bennett drops by shortly for the official TBS input!
My take on Broughams is much the same as other commentators’ above: there’s an extensive list of Broughamesque features, and to be considered a Brougham the car must contain a certain number of these features.
For example, I consider my Nissan Laurel to be a bona fide Japanese Brougham because it has the following features:
* Standy-up chrome hood ornament (of an ‘L’ surrounded by a Laurel wreath)
* It’s the “Medalist” trim level which means it, y’know, must be a winner
* Gold-edged chrome script font for the “Laurel” and “Medalist” badges
* Chrome-edged grille
* Chrome door handles (inside and out)
* Chrome rear number plate surround
* Contrasting colour around the lower body circumference
* Frameless door glass
* Acres of rich non-Corinthian velour trim
* Metres of fake wood
* A factory TV
* Soft seats
* Smoooooooooooooth ride
Size of motor is an interesting Broughamical consideration too. Generally a large understressed motor would provide a lovely Broughamish driving experience. However my beast has the 70kW RD28 Nissan straight-6 diesel, so progress is, uh, leisurely (if spectacularly economical for a big old car). However I feel the factory fitting a really low-powered engine (6 cylinders or above mind you) to a luxed-out trim spec is quite Broughamistic too!
Oh, and as per the lower pic below, it hangs out with the British upper crust, surely a guaranteed sign of Broughamarianism!
Never would I have dreamt of ever saying such a thing but here goes: That is a great looking Nissan!
Thank you! It rocks my small boring world anyway! It’s the 97-02 C35 shape, and is very early build, being the 153rd C35 built. Its predecessor the 93-97 C34 was fugly and sales fell off a cliff, so for the C35 Nissan updated the styling of the hugely successful 88-93 C33 Laurel in an effort to get sales back up again. The Laurel was cancelled in 2002, so, um, guess it didn’t work. I loved my old 1992 C33 because it was a genuine pillarless hardtop sedan, must have been one of the last available anywhere. The C33 is my favourite Nissan shape, but I do like the C35 looks a lot! *steps off Laurel fanboi soapbox*
C33 (not my old one):
Before my Laurel fanboiness goes back into its velour cave, I love Laurels because they’re biggish, quiet, comfy and very smooth cars, with high quality interior trim (virtually everything is padded). The ride is lush and was worlds better than my old ’08 Mazda6. And the lush ride isn’t at the expense of handling as Laurels are basically Skylines underneath, with a lot of Silvia/240SX DNA too (Laurel struts are the same as an S15 Silvia for example), so the handling is excellent too!
I like those Laurel coupes that look like a slightly bigger 1600.
The 68-72 C30, the first Laurel. Nissan always reminded purchasers of this fact, as the somewhere on every Laurel series since will be a badge or 18 saying “Since 1968”. Mine says it on the floor mats; my old C33 proudly announced it (in chrome natch) in the middle of the grille.
The C30 was known as the 1800 or Laurel 1800; and they definitely looked like a 13/10-scale 1600 – although the sedan more so than the coupe I think. I’ve never seen one, but the Bay of e has sold me the UK and JDM spec brochures for a not unreasonable sum.
Scott, got a question I’ve posed before. I heard or read years ago that NZ was the pilot market for Japanese exports, and many models landed there that never went beyond JDM. Any truth in that?
BTW, please please please profile the Ken & Mary GTR. My fave.
I answered your question on the Corona post where you asked it Don! 🙂 Although you asked on 18 December and I was late getting to that article so only answered it on 31 December sorry. So anyway, here’s what we prepared earlier: https://www.curbsideclassic.com/curbside-classics-european/curbside-classic-1970-toyota-corona-mark-ii-stodgy-thy-name-is-toyota/
Thanks Scott. Much appreciated. While I remember; the Cefiro was the best looking saloon on the road a few years ago, looking forward to that. And of course the Stagea – the wagon you buy when you have to sell the R34 for the new family.
I always sort of knew about the Laurel, but never realized its relationship to the Silvia! You learn something new every day, I guess.
Guess I’m gonna have to knuckle down and do a series of CCs on the Laurels and Skylines of the world (and their Stagea and Cefiro close personal friends). I shall start writing!
When is a car a Brougham? Why, when Syke hates it, of course.
I’d say Syke hates a lot of things, just Broughams more-so.
There are traits that need to be found on a vehicle to be a “brougham” in the post WWII Era.
If a vehicle has at least 10 of the following 13 traits, it is a “brougham”:
Model Names written in Cursive Script
Emblems that include some kind of wreath.
Stand up hood ornament
Originally equipped with white wall tires
Fake wire hubcaps
Plastic Wood grain trim interior
Pillow Top Upholstery
Padded Vinyl top.
It is possible for a 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car to score a 12/13 for example.
Oh! I missed cornering lamps off my Laurel’s list above! But that only gives it 6/13, and it’s definitely a Brougham! Perhaps we can have a list of different criteria by country of origin? 😉
Wait, wait, its model name being “Laurel” must count too! Nissan did intend it to refer to a Laurel wreath, and they plastered wreath symbols all over the place on the earlier models! SO the Laurel name’s worth, like, another 6 bonus points in itself (and a Nissan Cedric Brougham would gain maybe 10 bonus points!).
It’s a work in progress, and my view is US centric for sure, but I thing a scoring system is at the core of this issue. I like a lot of your and Carmine’s suggestions. I thing we are on to something here. This needs to be developed further.
No points for hide-away headlight covers
My Malibu Classic only rates a 4? WW tires, stand up hood ornament, cursive script badging, Simu-wood on the dash, and a mercedes style grill.
Also common, a V8 engine over 399 cubic inches with a horsepower rating less than 151.
Take this simple Brougham test:
Would Herb Tarlek drive it?
Here’s a quick basic guideline I cooked up-
How Brougham are you?
Wire wheel covers -1point
REAL wire wheels -5 points
Color Keyed Wheelcovers -2 points
Any of the following are required:
Elk Grain-add 1 point
Simulated Alligator- add 5 points
Tuxedo- add 1point
Heavy Padding- add 2 points
Frenched Rear Window-add 2 points
Opera- Lamp-add 2 points
If vinyl appears anywhere else on the exterior of the car where it would not normally be found-add 5 points-
Stand up hood ornament-required
Does the Brougham nameplate actually appear anywhere on the car?
Number of times your cars make appears anywhere on the car______
Does it appear in cursive? Add 5 points
Total number of times your makes emblem appears on the car__________
Add 5 points if your car has a unique model specific emblem-
Add 1 extra point for every extra emblem that boasts about trim level-
Add 1 point per cut pile oz.
Carpeted floor mats-add 2 points
If your cars make appears on the floor mats-add 3 points
Rotating number digital clock
Roman Numeral Clock-Add 5 points
If the clock boasts a jewlers name- Add 5 points
ASHTRAYS & LIGHTERS
Add 1 point for every ashtray besides the one in the dash
Add 2 points for ever lighter besides the one in the dash
Add 3 extra points for ever ashtray lighter combo that is illuminated besides the one in the dash.
Velour- Add 5 points if your velour actually has a given name-like Medici or Monticello
Woodgrain on the dash-0 points
Woodgrain on the door-1 point
If woodgrain is found on places you would never expect to see wood, like on the seat backs or the courtesy lights-5 points
Door lighting-add 1 point
Red and white door warning-add 2 points
Reading lamps-add 1 point per lamp
Illuminated Visor Vanity-1 point per mirror
Cornering Lamps-add 2 points
you need to turn this into a mobile app.
Maybe something where you snap a picture of the car with your smartphone and the app gives you a yea or nay regarding its Broughamlyness?
Can’t be a smartphone, has to be a Jitterbug.
I would add one feature seen in photos of the Bonneville Brougham in Pontiac brochures of the mid- to late 1960s: hinged pull handles on the inner door panels. Otherwise I have no quibble with this, in concept or in execution, except that I’d double the premium for having “Brougham” appear in script.
There are lots more that could be added, that was a quick list I came up with in the fly.
If BROUGHAM appears in block letters vs. cursive should be a category
Emblems in the upholstery is another.
The number of armrests your car has should be another qualifier.
Usually a child’s first words are either “mommy” or “daddy”. Carmine’s first word was “Brougham!!” True story.
Believe it or not, I blame Disney for my life long car obsession, if wasn’t for The Love Bug, it might be a different person today.
I came home from the hospital in a 2 door brown Buick Electra 225…..its in my blood.
Under lighting I think there should be points for having hide-away headlights, as shown on the LTD Landau ad above.
Can there be hidden tokens if the interior lighting has frosted patterning on the lens/cover?
Hidden headlights are funny, because what was mod and cool in 1968 was suddenly pretty Broughamy 7 years later. They do count though, especially if its a 70’s Grand Marquis with the simulated vinyl like covering on them, with heraldic crests on them.
If you needed to define Brougham in one picture, this does sort of some it up.
Did they ever do a vinyl insert for the inner chrome ring under the crest?
It IS vinyl padded, simulated, its sort of a hard material with the texture of a vinyl top, its a double fake.
whoa… sugar rush
I think my Mark V Diamond Jubilee Edition scores ~93 points. I consider it a “Brougham”!
oh oh another Tim B???
Since I don’t have a Mark V I know you are not me LOL (I did have a Mark III)
OMG. When I saw your comment “Excellent” elsewhere on this page, I was like, I didn’t post that! 🙂 LOL
My Mk V DJE has only 18K miles, 11K when I bought it 8 years ago. Even the spark plugs are original! Some items like hoses, belts, and tires have been replaced. Drives like brand new! Plan to keep this one forever!
One of you needs to change their name to the “The other Tim B” depending on when you both signed up 🙂
In Ford-speak you need to add the “panty cloth” as seen in 60s LTD Broughams and whatever they called the mouse fur seen in the Gran Torino Elite Broughams.
My dad had both of them!
I think you just copied and pasted the options list for a mid-70’s Oldsmobile, not sure which model though. 🙂
Oh no I’m putting a Singer woodgrained ashtray in my Minx for that broham look
I think the big Ford line up in the Landau years was Custom 500, LTD, LTD Brougham, LTD Landau. So, you bet the Landau was a lot of broughamy goodness!
My dad had a ’76 Ford in LTD trim. It was about what a near top line Galaxie 500 trim would have been in the early ’60s when the sporty themed XL ranked highest.
Since putting hi-po engines in large cars became impossible / illegal with pollution and CAFE laws, the idea of putting manual shifters, console shift automatics and sporty touches on large cars, really any car, became kind of silly as the cars could not live up to their predecessors as far as hairy chested performance. So, luxury was in, and it created a genre that has been nicely summarized as the “Brougham Epoch” on this website.
Handsome car in this article. My two uncles owned a small town Ford dealership. One drove these LTD’s all the time. The other drove the big Thunderbirds until that stopped in 77 and then he switched to these LTD’s too. Nice memories.
It must have Certified Fart Muffling Upholstery. I’m sure there’s a UL decibel standard for this somewhere – leather I suspect is disqualified on this basis.
Without that, it’s just not a Brougham.
Well, seeing how I commented on what qualifies for Brougham over at The Brougham Society on Jason’s other piece, I’ll just say that for many of us, a Brougham is a car that has a stately, elegant exterior, and a comfortable, quiet, luxurious interior.
If you haven’t yet, come and visit us…
G morning, Great job over there Richard, I really enjoy seeing all the Brougham Society cars each day.
Thank you…I aim to please!
I feel the need for a Broughmo-Seltzer….
Brougham and Brougham derivatives over the years:
AMC = Brougham, D/L, DPL, Limited, SST
Buick = Custom, Limited, Park Avenue???
Cadillac = Brougham, ???
Chevrolet = Brougham, Classic, Concours
Chrysler = Brougham, Medallion, LS, Salon, Fifth Avenue
Dodge = Brougham, 500, ES, Special Edition, Medallion
Ford = 500, LTD, 500, Grande, Elan, XL, Landau, LDO, Futura, SE, LX, Limited, Crown Victoria
Lincoln = Pretty much the whole line
Oldsmobile = Regency, Supreme, Salon, Brougham, Holiday, LS
Plymouth = VIP, Gran, LX, Sport, Brougham, Salon, RS
Pontiac = LJ, SJ, Brougham, Grand, Custom
I’m only going back 40 years or so. At one time or another, these names more or less were Brougham or Brougham-like upscale versions of standard models.
puffy vinyl roof***
and proud to say she’s mine.
Let’s see. Rolls Royce grill. Flip up lights. Cursive emblems 3 of them. Cornering lights. Fender gills. Opera lights. Opera windows. Final half top. Continental bulge. 9 courtesy lights. 4 ashtrays. 3 lighters. 2 lite up mirrors. Velvet seats with 4 Lincoln stars. 3 arm rests. Woodgrain on dash and doors. 4 reading lights. Hood and trunk ornament. Turbine wheels. Yes its a brougham. Lincoln mark vi. Out broughams most. How many points do I get???.
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