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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 1974 model year was the last for Eldorado being a part of the Fleetwood series. For the 1975 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

11 thoughts on “1971-1972 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado Leave a comment

    • 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?

  1. 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

    • Mr. 99milesperhour, Please explain the actual difference(s) between the 1970,’71,&’72 500CID, engines in the Eldorado, besides the SAE ratings interpretation, or ( Mis-interpretation) and the emission controls there must be more to it, my personal 1970 Eldorado is completely original, and runs like a Corvette, while my ’72, ’75 and ’78 all run smooth and slow like a Cadillac should, with very little difference in weight, the “70 is really noticeably faster, and the 1978 only has a 425” and hangs right in with the others. all 4 are stock, original and less than 100k miles. Also all 4 get the same 92 unleaded pump gas. I’m in the Market for a ’71 Convertible, should it be more like the ’70 or the ’72?

  2. Hello Joseph! The 1970 Fleetwood Eldorado was among the first of the famous 8.2 liter 500 CID V8 which has never been under the hood of a Vette. Cadillac and Chevy didn’t use the same engines until the Nineteen Nineties. The 1970 8.2 litre is tuned to achieve 400 horses and is the gutsiest because a later version of the 8.2 litre V8 was introduced but with lower compression ratios because of smog controls and the use of unleaded gasoline. 1971 models onward began losing horsepower gradually. These Eldorados can achieve 365 hp @ 4,400 rpm up to the 1974 model year when the 8.2 litre only pumped 210 hp @ 3,800 rpm. Hp got worse to accommodate smog controls and unleaded gasoline. Hope this helps.

  3. As a boy of 9, I was thoroughly disappointed by the 1971 restyling of all Cadillac models. I loved (and still do) the chiseled fenders and fins of the late 60’s, and the 50’s retro cues and bulbousness (accentuated by the increased greenhouse tumblehome) did not sit well for years. The biggest improvements were the lower front seat backs and less-intrusive dash divider, which opened up the interior. My 5’2″ grandmother sold her ’70 Calais because she couldn’t see over the seat easily.
    The 1975 refinements helped the Eldo’s sides a lot, but the front was just too massive. The ’74 and later 5 mph rear bumper/fins were not attractive on any model until the ’77 Deville, and the plastic fillers became discolored and brittle with age.
    The ’72 had 2.5 mph front bumpers. 5 mph was required in 1973 (2.5 for rear).
    I’ve driven ’72, ’74, and ’76 Cadillacs, and the ’74 engine driveability was definitely the worst before the engine warmed up.

  4. Am one happy owner of Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado 1971 8,2 and use it almost each day in year and enjoy the front wheel drive in winter time ! I might be even more happy if it was 1970 and more toque and 35 more horsepower but now as fuel prices got wild its nice to use 95 instead of 98 ! Mr 99 mph is just right as he claims what also the owners manual say 365 gross horsepower at 4400 rpm. and s.a.e. 235 net.f.p.l.b.s.at 3800 rpm Toque gross 535 f.p.l.b.s. at 2800 rpm s.a.e. Net. 410 f.p. l.b.s. at 2400 rpm ! As petrol now cost nine dollar per gallon in Norway and fuel tank 271/2 U.S. Gallon i expect to be meet with red carpet at the stations 😉 !

    • EEK! NINE DOLLARS PER GALLON? O-M-G-!

      I am paying a little over $5 per gallon here in The USA for premium grade fuel. I have to burn premium in all of my cars. I never thought I’d see a day when it would be so expensive. Cars like the 1971 Fleetwood Eldorado require the highest octane available. Make sure it isn’t mixed with alcohol! Those engines were originally designed to operate on leaded premium gasoline but the industry introduced low-to-no lead gasolines in 1971.

      I remember how those cars ‘knocked’ like crazy if the wrong fuel was put in them. I always compensated back then with a few tricks to the engine the EPA would have had a miscarriage over! Those great big engines required super-high octane leaded fuel. The 1969 and 1970 Cadillacs had a hard time being adjusted to unleaded fuel. It’s the lead that lubricates certain parts in the engine, they really needed this and the extra octane because of the high-output of horsepower. I never burned the low-lead crap when it first came out.

      There were products on the market that helped these humongous engines. One was called Casite. I put a quart of it in the oil when I changed it and I put a quart in the gasoline tank to add horsepower and give the valves a treat. It increased fuel mpgs and made the engine run cleaner. That product was removed from the market because of its lead-content.

      Fuel is one of the most important factors for older classics especially the high-output v8 engines like GM’s 455, 472, and 500-CID. Ford’s 460-CID demanded premium otherwise they knocked terribly until adjustments were made thru the industry. The fuel-thing was a BIG issue in the 1970s. The switch to low to no lead killed many engines in 1971-1972. If you ever get gasoline that makes your car ‘knock’ when you turn it off, simply turn off the engine with the transmission in the ‘drive’ position. This will keep it from that harmful knocking which will eventually destroy the engine if not corrected.

      One day, the old ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) will have the joy of lower fuel prices because the handy-dandy EVs will be taxed beyond belief to make up for the loss at the gas pumps. We will be able to drive cheaper! The ICE may make a comeback when they find a way to make the engines burn cleaner. This electric crap is going to send your electric bill thru the roof! We still don’t know all of the added expense required for this new technology. Wait until those rolling black and brown-outs happen from the increased pull on the infrastructure with all of the EVs sucking voltage constantly. Engineers should be updating the infrastructure FIRST before releasing all of these electricity-sucking vehicles. But I suppose this is logical – a word no longer used in our contemporary lives!

      Enjoy your classic car my friend! There will be times when our internal combustion engines will be the back-up for these homely, truck-like SUVs!

      • They turn the copression under 10 on the 71 engine and the handbook say its to use 95 unleed ! but the 70 model has compressin over 10 and 36 hp more and even stronger torque and must use 98 leed fuel GM wrote ! But am quite agree with you about fuel quality,added up with plant alkohol and sytetic shit who is very bad to the engine ,any way am going to sjekk it all up more and also try 98 octane leed thus it will cost 10 dollar an litre 😉 Thank you for the details !

  5. Take care of your classic! Every car we can save becomes tomorrow’s treasures! Just think, these cars will live on past our own legacy holding all of today’s secrets. I often wonder where my cars will end up 100s of years from now! I am not going anywhere! I want to live at least until I am 135 or 140 years old NOT being confined to an institution of suffering or nursing home.

    I want to be 135 years old driving my Rolls-Royce motorcars on odd days and my Bentleys on even days! My Aston Martins will be driven on holidays. My classic Lincoln and Cadillac motorcars will be driven on other special occasions. I’ll drive a Buick Electra Limited and Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency just to spice things up every now and again.

    I keep my fleet polished and ready to go at all times. They are shined to absolute perfection and then covered for safe keeping where they are stored. My friends tell me my cars are kept better than some people! I love cars, classic cars, cars that aren’t seen often. I’d love to show photos but there are thieves cruising sites looking for things to steal. I never show my cars publicly as well.

    Many of my cars have been featured in magazines, sales promotions, been filmed for calendars, playing cards and other memorabilia. Some of the rarer cars used in certain promotions are under a confidentiality agreement which means while they are under contract I cannot post pictures out on the internet which makes sense. Why would they pay me for the use of a rare and exotic car if there are millions of photos of the same vehicle all over the world-wide web. Their expensive calendars and other memorabilia wouldn’t sell at all when the cars can be ‘screen-scraped’ for free!

    If your classics become desirable to the industry, you too can use the car as a photo model and make money. Keep them maintained, no adding gaudy trendy crap because that will take away from its original appeal. An unmolested original will be worth quite a bit as it matures.

    Be vigilant of the fuel octane rating, read those pumps. If there’s alcohol, no sale there – please!

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