1976 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible

This was the last production Cadillac convertible

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The 1976 Cadillac Eldorado was the only convertible built in America at the time. This was also the last factory full production Cadillac convertible. The 1976 Eldorado convertible offered the traction of front-wheel drive, the maneuverability of variable ratio power steering, Automatic Level Control, four-wheel disc brakes, and an AM/FM Signal Seeking Radio as standard. This was the finale for the 8.2 litre V8 engine. It was truly the last of an illustrious breed of the American luxury convertible.

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The 1976 Eldorado was still using the same basic bodyshell as the 1971. It was freshened with the 1975 model year. It gained rectangular headlamps and a new front bumper and grille. The rear had already been freshened with the 1974 model year gaining a new tail lamp arrangement and stronger impact bumper. Both front and rear bumpers telescoped into tapered end caps upon impact. This was the final look for the classic Eldorado styling. Rear fender skirts disappeared with the 1975 refresh. The exterior dimensions remained the same as the 1975 model year and the average size since the 1971 model year at 224.1” in length, 79.8” in width and a long 126.3” wheelbase.

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The fully automatic folding fabric roof stowed neatly behind the rear seat. This ingenious inward folding construction allowed full width rear seating for three passengers comfortably. The top was available in seven colors. Supple Sierra grain leather was standard and available in 11 color combinations. 21 Exterior choices, thirteen of them were new for the 1976 model year, were offered.

Standard comfort and convenience features included; Automatic Climate Control, power windows and door locks, AM/FM Signal Seeking Radio w/automatic power antenna, lamp monitors, six-way seats, soft-ray glass, three-speed wipers, automatic parking brake release, quartz digital clock, Automatic Level Control, power steering, four-wheel disc brakes, and steel belted radial ply tires. Electronic Fuel Injection was an option offered for the first time on the Eldorado 8.2 litre V8 engine.

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The 16-valve 8.2 litre 500 CID OHV V8 was used for the last time in the 1976 model year. The engine now produced 215 hp @ 3,600 rpm with 542 Nm of peak torque @ 2,000 rpm. Performance was 0-60 mph in 11.4 seconds, 0-100 mph in 37.8 seconds, and had a top speed of 115 mph. It could do the ¼ mile @ 78 mph in 18.4 seconds. Don’t scoff, she was a big girl and definitely not meant for graceful cornering at 110 mph. The 1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible was “Fantasy Island’s” most sinfully decadent luxurious open air grand tourer. There will never ever be another 1976 Cadillac Eldorado.

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GM hype per the media, was “The last Cadillac Eldorado convertible” when in fact it wasn’t, kinda, sorta…The 1984 model year offered a ‘conversion’ version built by ASC Inc at a restricted pace of 3,300 vehicles. So technically it wasn’t a factory convertible. There were some extremely disgruntled 1976 Eldorado convertible owners that triggered an unsuccessful class-action law suit….. It was like “DUH it wasn’t CADILLAC that made the convertible….ASC Inc did the work…..NEXT!”

 GM offered the last 200 triple white 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Bicentennial convertibles to add intrigue to their somewhat vanilla exit for one of the greatest cars of all time. All together, they managed to manufacture 14,000 1976 Eldog convertibles and would have done more had they found more convertible tops and the hardware. Greed and avarice must always rear its ugly head.

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 They should have kept the “last” built at a highly restricted pace. The 1975 Eldorado convertible has only 8.900 units. Oh, by the way, after some of those ‘disgruntled’ 1976 Eldorado convertible owners got over their “miscarriage” they went on to actually make a profit from the car, and, lived happily ever after. It is appreciating as we speak, but only in pristine condition. Time has NOT been kind to that genre…..it will take one to the cleaners to the point where there is just lint & static in the old checking account.

GM had used those dies from 1971 thru 1978 and there were so many ‘shims’ in the body panels up front including the doors, that one had to take it to the body shop depending how often it was driven and how hard the doors were slammed to get those doors tightened and front fenders ‘shimmed’ back to spec but no one knew this. This is the reason why they looked like they were sagging in their senior post-street junkyard positions. The 1976 Eldorado convertible will most likely have a cult following such as the 1959 Cadillac with the iconic tail fin….and the ‘76 in “Firethorn Metallic” no doubt.

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The classic Cadillac Eldorado for 1976 was the end of an era in the grand touring tradition. It was American excess at its grandest and at its most exclusive niche. It was one of the finest convertibles in the world. Sadly, the “Standard of the World” had shown tell-tale signs of failure in the market place. After the 1976 model year, Cadillac seemed to fade into obscurity with meager offerings of a nondescript breed. Catastrophic engine failure, VICIOUS corrosion, and highly unreliable electronics led to the erosion of Cadillac’s undaunted legacy.

Today, Cadillac is floundering with European ideas wearing an American suit and tie. If we as Americans wanted a European inspired luxury saloon we are capable of doing so, thank you. What a die-hard Cadillac aficionado wants is the “Cadillac of Cadillacs” not “Sedan d’7Series!” We want and AMERICAN flagship, no not the ‘tinny’ (as in tin-can) and hollow XTS or that elegant puddle-jumper, the CTS, I never can seem to type the word ‘Cadillac’ in front of either of those three-letter words. So…where’s our flagship GM? Enjoy the photos, click on them to enlarge……This was Gm at their peak.

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Thanks to Daniel Schmitt for the first two galleries

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Thanks to Matt Garrett/GM Classics

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These were the fender mounted fibre-optic lamp monitors

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This represents 10 years of the Eldorado 1966-1976

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4 Responses to “1976 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible”

  1. Gary Smith Says:

    Were there any Eldo Conv made in 76 to be actually a 77 model

  2. Curtis williams Says:

    Not to rip you but as an expert those last pics show someone painted the wheels wrong. Not a bad resto but to my trained eye ugg

    • Do you realize how old those photos are?

    • Unfortunately, I have no control over a dealer’s photography. Those Cadillacs aren’t even for sale anymore. Those cars were sold by Matt Garrett at GM Classics many years ago. Most of his cars are mint originals, but this is something you would have to take up with he himself. He only gave me permission to use the photos for the story. Or are you referring to the Eldorados sold by Daniel Schmitt Classic cars? Again Mr. Expert, this is something you would have to challenge the dealers with. I only used those photos for the story I wrote for entertainment purposes only. And to carry it a step further, how dare you attack a survivor like that? ANY car that old is considered a collector’s piece considering the fact how viciously rust relentlessly ate those Cadillacs from that genre! ANY Cadillac from the 1970s in that condition is considered a survivor! Those cars are not “restored” by the way, they were originals. Matt Garrett only handles the real McCoys…not cheap reproductions. The last 1976 Eldorado has only 664 miles on the odometer…did you check that out? If you were an “expert” you would have immediately noticed that fact! Hubcaps are insignificant for a mint original, and who is to say he didn’t order it that way? Were you there when the car was built? My 1976 Eldorado convertible was Firethorne Red I had the hubcaps painted to match the car when I took delivery…I regret selling mine, it only had 15,000 miles on it.

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