1971-1972 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado

“Standard of the World” in splendor and elegance

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The Cadillac Eldorado has always been a trend setter. The Personal Luxury Car market segment that Cadillac created with the Eldorado was growing. The front-wheel drive version was going through its very first redesign with the 1971-1972 models. It was a completely new Fleetwood Eldorado not only in design but also in spirit. The 1971-1972 Fleetwood Eldorado was available as a coupe and a luxury convertible replacing the DeVille convertible series. The Eldorado regained the iconic fender skirts. The “Standard of the World” was still the luxury leader. The Fleetwood Eldorado was still unmistakably Cadillac.

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The spirited seventies were no more graciously expressed than with the 1971-1972 Fleetwood Eldorado. Their spirited performance came from the 8.2 litre 16-valve 500 CID OHV V8 engine. It was the largest engine to power a passenger production car in the world. For the 1971 model year, the 8.2 litre V8 produced 365 hp @ 4,400 rpm with 725 Nm of peak torque @ 2,800 rpm. It used a Rochester 4MV 4-bbl downdraft carburetor and GM’s THM-425 Turbo Hydra-Matic 3-speed automatic transmission. The 1971 went from 0-60 mph in 9.4 seconds, 0-100 mph in 29.7 seconds, with a top speed of 114 mph. It could do the ¼ mile @ 81 mph in 17.1 seconds. 

For the 1972 model year, the 8.2 litre V8 produced 235 hp @ 3,800 rpm with 522 Nm of peak torque @ 2,400 rpm. EPA emissions and mpg mandates forced lower compression ratios, thus, lowering the power output. As far as performance, the 1972 went from 0-60 mph in 9.7 seconds, 0-100 mph in 29.3 seconds, with a top speed of 117 mph. It did the ¼ mile @ 81 mph in 17.3 seconds. The 1972 model used the same carburetor and transmission as the 1971 model year.

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The 1971-1972 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorados could operate on no-lead or low-lead fuel. Premium leaded was still the way to go in my opinion. These engines were not designed to operate on such fuels which are the reason they “ticked” which was piston slap or the hydraulic lifters being starved. It was the worthless emissions controls and that horrid unleaded fuel, that destroyed these cars. Some actually ran them on unleaded regular always complaining  that the cars sucked up so much gasoline. These tender babies needed lead to keep them lubricated; besides, leaded fuel sparks a lot faster than the unleaded.

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The 1971-1972 Fleetwood Eldorado was completely restyled from the 1967-1970 versions. The 1971-1972 Eldorado had stronger front end structures with frontal 5 mph impact bumpers in 1972. The overall length was a luxurious 221.6”, but increased to 223.2” in 1972 with the front bumper being moved forward ¾”. Both model years retained the 79.8” width and 126.3” wheelbase. The 1972 model year used polyvinyl chloride bumper impact strips to lessen damage from minor impacts. The 1971 model year introduced the Cadillac laurel wreath and crest spring-loaded hood ornament that would soon be used throughout the Cadillac model line-up.

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The bold new front end design featured separate fenders and a beveled hood which was unmistakably Cadillac. The fenders swept back ending into the doors and beginning again behind the dummy air scoops below the new coach windows. The rear fenders end in the Eldorado-style tail lamps which were set gracefully into the bumper end caps. The rear deck lid repeated the same beveled look of the long and elegant hood lines. Eldorado’s distinctive individuality set it apart from all other fine automobiles.

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Stainless steel lower rocker panel moldings and wheel well trim added to its classic Personal Car appearance. The return of the rear wheel fender skirts gave the 1971-1972 Fleetwood Eldorado a lower more luxurious look in the grand Cadillac manner. Eldorado had once again proved Cadillac’s preeminence in the luxury car arena in the niche created as the “Standard of the World” in Personal Luxury Cars. The Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado was unquestionably the world’s most elegant Personal Luxury Car.

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The Fleetwood Eldorado coupe offered elegant interiors trimmed in either cloth with leather or a fully leather trimmed interior. The luxurious Strato-bench seats introduced in the 1967 model year had been refined for 1971 into deep-seated notchback front seating with center folding arm rest. The distinctive new fixed coach windows added a classic appeal to its formal roofline. The new dual comfort front seat was a new option for both coupe and convertible. 

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1971 Fleetwood Eldorado

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The 1971-1972 Fleetwood Eldorado convertibles were equally as elegant as the coupes but added a youthful and glamorous touch. The ingenious fully automatic inward folding roof provided full width rear seating for three passengers comfortably. The 1972 model year introduced a new two-piece fiberglass parade boot which was reminiscent of the original 1953 Eldorado. Soft pliable Sierra grain leather was standard. Only the Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado combined tasteful individuality and youthful sportiness in one Personal Luxury convertible. The silhouette of this magnificent drop top looked even longer and more elegant than the coupe. It was the only luxury convertible built-in America. The 1971-1972 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorados were the “Standard of the World” in open grand tourers.

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Standard features for the 1971-1972 Fleetwood Eldorado included; Automatic Level Control, power brakes with front ventilated discs, variable ratio power steering, front wheel drive automatic 3-speed transmission, cornering lamps, jewel-like stand-up laurel wreath and crest hood ornament, and various courtesy lighting. Numerous comfort and convenience options were available to make these Personal Luxury Cars even more so.

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Twilight Sentinel and Climate Control Air Conditioning were popular options

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The 1971-1972 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado was the only car in the world to offer the traction and stability of front-wheel drive, the ease of variable ratio power steering, and the perfect poise of Automatic Level Control as standard. Either as the Fleetwood Eldorado coupe or the Fleetwood Eldorado luxury convertible, a legacy of automotive greatness was just an accelerator tap away. After 70 years, the “Standard of the World” still stood alone. It was a legend of automotive superiority. The Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado for 1971 and 1972 was motoring in the grand touring style in the grand Cadillac manner. The 1972 model year was the last for Eldorado being a part of the Fleetwood series. For the 1973 model year it was simply called the “Eldorado.”

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1966 Fleetwood Eldorado convertible

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Click on the photos to enlarge

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4 Responses to “1971-1972 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado”

  1. Beautiful cars. Lots of styling. Solid American iron.

    • Could it be you mixed brake horse power with SAE ? According to the Standard Catalog of Cadillac the brake horsepower was 365 in 1971 while it was 365 HP = 235 HP (SAE) in 1972, so unchanged although Compression ratio dropped from 9:1 to 8,5 to 1.

      • For the 1972 7.7 litre 16-valve 472 CID V8 engine GROSS hp is rated as 345 @ 4,400 rpm with an SAE NET of 220 @ 4,000 rpm. I double checked with a GM engineer who claimed the hp ratings were goofy for those model years as they were the first attempts to run those high-compression V8 engines on unleaded or low-leaded fuels. The 8.2 litre V8s were easier to add all the smog controls AND run them on low to no-leaded fuels. What did you say your web address is? I will check your figures BEFORE I post any more stories from now on. AND there are ways of getting around those “standard” hp ratings too…if you know your engines and how to tune them like removing those horrid EGR and Air Injection Reactors off the engines for example. The compression ratios are lowered to enable those engines to run on crappy gas…why do you think Cadillac switched to the 8.2 litre as standard in 1975? The figures I always post are AVERAGES since engines vary especially California V8s from that period. What did you say your web address is?

  2. FYI. the 8.2 litre 16-valve 500 CID V8 engine for 1971 produces a GROSS hp of 365 @ 4,400 rpm with an SAE NET of 235 @ 3,800 rpm. The 1972 8.2 litre is around the same averages both with 8.5:1 compression ratios if you wish to be politically correct

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