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1965 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty-Special Brougham

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For 1965, Cadillac was completely restyled. It was beautifully new and distinctively Cadillac. The masterful artisans united its tradition of luxury and elegance with a youthful new look. The Fleetwood series augmented the model line-up. Every line and contour had been redesigned to make the car look longer and sleeker, but make no mistake, the illustrious Fleetwood series was still the leader. It was truly a masterpiece from the master craftsmen. Beauty was the art of Cadillac stylists. Cadillac was the “Standard of the World” and the Fleetwood was the signature series. Fleetwood crafted all Cadillac interiors…..but with this model, Fleetwood crafted the entire car. Its uniquely regal stature had that “poised” dignity which was the hallmark of every Cadillac.

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There was nothing more majestic than the eminent Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special. This was luxury on the grand Cadillac scale. This magnificent sedan was impressive in both size and luxury. Its distinctive side and rear styling set it apart from the DeVille and Calais series.  The Fleetwood name denotes a special model back to 1938 and the days of Bill Mitchell, a very talented GM designer. The Sixty-Special was synonymous for Cadillac’s supreme exclusivity. The all-new 1965 Sixty-Special was no exception. 

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With its commanding individually longer wheelbase of 133 inches, boulevard travel intrusion was negligible as this luxury land-yacht smoothed out the worst asphalt and took curves in stride. There was nothing more satisfying that viewing the world from behind the wheel of a Fleetwood Sixty-Special.  All Fleetwood models came standard with automatic level control. This was the hydraulic version of today’s electronic level control. Other Fleetwood standard amenities included a graciously appointed interior with real wood trim, power windows, even power ventipanes, power front seat, front and rear wide folding center arm rests and an outlet to direct heat to the rear compartment.

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The Brougham option, first time the Brougham name had been used since 1960, made the Sixty-Special even more elegant. This option introduced the new padded roof style with “halo” effect moldings available in white, black, blue, and sandalwood. The Brougham option offered five combinations of embroidered Danforth cloth, five choices of  Devon cloth with leather, and seven optional choices of a fully leather trimmed interior. Its longer wheelbase afforded rear passengers with more legroom. Carpeted footrests were one of the signature features of this luxury option. The Cadillac Wreath and crest with “Brougham” nomenclature on the rear C pillars identified it.

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The 1965 Fleetwood Sixty-Special was built on a separate C-body platform from the DeVille & Calais for the first time since 1958. The Sixty-Special’s base price was $6,479 and the Brougham option added a whopping $194 to the base price! Imagine how many of these one could own for the price of one of today’s Cadillacs which are not half the car this 1965 was. The Fleetwood Sixty-Special Brougham was the most luxurious owner-driven Cadillac. 18,100 Sixty-Specials were made in 1965. The Brougham option was so popular that it became an individual model for the 1966 model year. No automobile at the time captured the admiration of luxury car buyers as the Fleetwood Sixty-Special Brougham.

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The Fleetwood Sixty-Special Brougham rode on a full perimeter box frame replacing the old X-frame adding more rigid structural integrity. Its length was 227.5”, the width at 79.9”, its height stood 56.6” and its curb weight was 4,800-5,000 pounds. An extremely solid car such as this improves the ride, combined with the longer wheelbase….it rode like a big ole’ floating Barco lounger! The power was supplied from a 429 CID (7.0 litre) OHV V8 that produced 340 horses @ 4,600rpm. The engine had five main bearings with hydraulic valve lifters. It utilized a Carter 3903S AFB four barrel carburetor. The engine had a cast iron block. (no loose bolt/head gasket syndrome here huh) The transmission was a three speed TH-400 automatic that made virtually imperceptible gear changes.

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The complete body change gave the 1965 Cadillac a longer lower silhouette with trimmed tail fins absolutely flat for the first time since 1947. Headlamps switch from horizontal to vertical placement giving the front end an all new look. 1965 Was a banner year for Detroit, Cadillac produced close to 200,000 cars. The Cadillac factory had to close July 8, 1964 for complete re-tooling for the new 1965 Cadillac. The plant re-opened August 24, which was the longest plant shutdown in Cadillac history. This new re-tooling allowed potential production for 800 cars per day which was an all time high.

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Whatever the occasion……there was no more gracious way to arrive than in the 1965 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty-Special Brougham. It was identified immediately in any gathering of fine cars. This rare achievement in motoring offered supremacy and exclusivity as it showcased its preeminence in the luxury car arena. It was the most distinguished of all Cadillacs. Its unparalleled luxury and elegance was only exceeded by its beauty. The Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty-Special Brougham was created for the most discerning owner who could be satisfied with nothing less than the epitome of luxury and presence.

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Photos courtesy of the archives at Park Ward Motors Museum, Barrington, Illinois

7 thoughts on “1965 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty-Special Brougham Leave a comment

  1. The 1965 and 1966 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Specials and Broughams represented the absolute finest Cadillac quality and craftsmanship . The fine quality of materials ,workmanship,fit and finish reached its summit in the’65 & ’66 Fleetwood Broughams.This level of quality would never be seen again in the later years. I can testify to this first hand because I’ve owned the all ! Edwin CLC member for 25 continuous years.

  2. It’s truly unfortunate that the engineers/designers for Cadillac during the 80’s had a long lasting effect on how they ruined the brand over the years. Their short sightness along with the companies inabaility to put their customers first heated up the Eurpoean market as customers switched to Eurpoean high end vehicles for reasons that Caddy overlooked. The 4-6-8 engine (a failure) the 350 CI gas engine converted into a disel engine (a failure) the 4100 HT with the soft cams pulling a heavy vehicle (a failure) then the bright idea of putting the 307 CI Oldsmobile engine into the big Caddy’s was underpowered ,it was similar to a lawn mower engine in comparison to a true Cadillac power plant. (Pollution excuses are a poor excuse for what they did) 1976 was the last full framed vehicles ever produced. Then the designers at Caddy decided to make the Fleetwood (1984) a front wheel drive piece of junk, undersized tires with the vibration of front wheel drive brought the Caddy name to an all time low. The engineers and decicions makers ruined the brand , and today instead of standing out as they did years ago, they follow all the other brands and are trying to compete in a market that got away from them. Lets fast forward to the Northstar with the head bolt/head gasket problems. A nice V-8 installed side ways into a front wheel drive vehicle, are you kidding me?
    The labor just on changing spark plugs is over $300.00 dollars. The consumer has been getting ripped off since the 80’s by Cadillac. Cadillac is at a point of NO return, trying to compete with BMW, Jag, Mercedus wil never happen. Lincoln has now out sold Cadillac. I know I have owned, and restored numerous Cadillacs and saw what was done to destroy the company. Congradulations to the engineers and corporate elite that were never really car people at Cadillac.They should have a book written titled “How we corporate and engineers brought down Cadillac”

    s

  3. You are quite correct! The wrong hands got into the engineering prowess of Cadillac. They tried to manipulate the brand the way they did other GM products. Well, you see what happened to Oldsmobile and Pontiac! And those were well established brands. Oldsmobile failed because they couldn’t make a fake car. Pontiac failed because they couldn’t make a fake high-performance car.

    The music stopped for Cadillac in the mid-1980s, but actually – there were events leading up to this in the 1970s. Like I tell people, the last REAL Cadillac was built for the 1970 model year. Sure, there were still big Cadillacs after this period but the cars that followed were less spectacular than what Cadillac previously built. Some can’t understand this rationale. They want to argue stating 1976 was the last. It was in a way, but the 1970 Cadillacs were built as a Cadillac should have been. If you place a 1971 Cadillac beside its 1970 version, you can see quality was on the way down. You could dismantle 1971-1976 Cadillacs with a standard tool kit.

    The 1971-1976 Cadillacs were lighter and they were adulterated with other GM products making them a mere hodgepodge of GM parts. There was a master set of tooling and dies which were modified by the division building the vehicle. You can look at those cars and see very little change. They were actually down-sizing back then but nobody saw it coming. For 1971, they cut everything down using an over-stated greenhouse to make one think it was as large as the previous models.

    Apart from the design, there were other issues brewing. Take the 1972-1974 Cadillacs for example. They turned to junk quickly. The 472 CID wasn’t designed for all of the added on pollution controls. The switch in gasoline added to this disaster. In 1971, the cars could use low-leaded to unleaded fuels. The 472 hated that, so did the 454CID and the 455 CID. When these engines were designed premium leaded fuel was used. Remember the engine run-on that created knocking? “You could hear the valves knocking on the front door” the older mechanics used to say.

    Cadillac in the 1980s – pure and simple – were a flop. The junkyards were full of DeVilles, Fleetwoods, and Eldorados because of those horrid engines. Corrosion ate those cars relentlessly because of the improperly refined recycled metal used back then. The V8-6-4 debacle almost nailed Cadillac’s coffin shut. They took a good engine and messed it up with technology that should have been studied with research and testing before releasing this to the public. That was just unthinkable for a Cadillac to behave in such a crude manner.

    The aluminum head HT 4100 was also a loser causing those cars to go from the showroom to the scrapyard in one fell swoop! Those engines were so bad (and yes Cadillac knew this) they switched to the Oldsmobile 5.0 & 5.7 litre V8 engines. Never thought I’d see a day when an Oldsmobile would power a Cadillac! Then, the 1994-1996 Fleetwood was powered by the Chevrolet built 5.7 litre V8 tuned to Corvette specs. Cute huh?

    Cadillac has never really recovered from their mid-1980s swansong. They build cars today riding the coat tails of other brands like BMW and Mercedes-Benz. I miss Cadillac being the luxury leader…the “Standard of the World” in every respect. I don’t even follow their brand anymore, they’re lost out there among European luxury saloons. When one thinks luxury car – it used to be Cadillac, but the designation now follows luxury imports. Cadillac is just ‘there’ and nothing more. They rely on technology, if you’ve driven the newer Cadillacs the info systems are way too complicated just sit behind the dash and see for yourself. Sadly, I don’t think we’ll ever see another Cadillac taking center stage…

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