Requiem For A Legend: 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham
Farewell to the Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Brougham
The continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns”
The 1976 Fleetwood Brougham was the last of the breed
It was farewell to one of the most distinguished motorcars of the twentieth century. The 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Brougham was the last of the breed…it is one of the last full-size Fleetwood-bodied Cadillacs. The majestic Fleetwood Sixty-Special Brougham maintained an opulence…a poised dignity that was the hallmark of every Cadillac. It is immediately identified wherever fine automobiles gather. This is the last of the grandest motorcars of the entire twentieth century…another standing ovation in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”
It struck a pose….a pose of poised dignity. Elegantly and impeccably crafted in its entirety by Fleetwood, this magnificent series augmented the Cadillac hierarchy annually. Built at a restricted pace for exclusivity, the formidable Fleetwood Brougham was the epitome of Cadillac luxury……it was the very essence of the brand. The Fleetwood Brougham was NOTORIOUSLY the most luxurious owner-driven Cadillac luxury sedan.
It is decadent luxury at its finest……Automatic Level Control, carpeted rear seat footrests, Automatic Climate Control, a fully padded vinyl roof, an individually longer wheelbase…it was a big ole’ rollin’ Barco lounger…impervious to the outside world. The Cadillac magic carpet ride was never better. On a long road trip, this is motoring magnificence…the more you drive it…the more you want to drive it. This car is so awesome all I had to do was steer and operate the pedals. It is my favorite Cadillac out of all of the DeVilles and Fleetwoods I have owned. It was the Fleetwood series that not only majestically augmented the model line-up…it epitomized Cadillac…it was everything a Cadillac was to be….and more.
I knew the difference immediately when the latter year models came on the scene….it was not the same anymore…that Cadillac magic was gone. The Fleetwood series reinforced the “Standard of the World” impetus because it MADE the phrase! It was the illustrious Fleetwood series that catapulted the brand to stardom…so now we’re supposed to sweep it under the carpet and forget about it? NOT!
I thought I would give you a bit of background just to show you how impressive the Fleetwood series was. Fleetwood coachcrafting spans the decades as one of the most celebrated in history. Fleetwood custom coachcrafting dates back to 1909. Fleetwood is actually a town in Lancashire England in the UK where a small group of Artisans created custom coachcrafting of unparalleled elegance.
Fleetwood did custom bodywork for all of the finer automakers such as Duesenberg, Fiat, Isotta Fraschini, Lincoln, Packard, Pierce-Arrow, Mercedes-Benz, Rolls Royce, Bentley, and of course…Cadillac. The Fleetwood Metal Body Co was purchased by GM in 1925 and was situated in Fleetwood Pennsylvania.
Larry Fisher of the infamous Fisher Brothers (Fisher Body) helped to shape GM and coordinated Fleetwood into an integral part of the Cadillac brand. Fleetwood Body Division became “The Most Exalted One” at the Fisher Body plant. Fleetwood exemplified the Cadillac brand as I stated previously, catapulting it to stardom: “The Standard of the World.”
The Fleetwood series was built at a much restricted pace to retain its exclusivity. The Fleetwood series had a model hierarchy within itself. The upper end was the eminent Series Seventy-Five Nine Passenger Sedan and Imperial Limousine, these were the only automobiles specifically designed and engineered to be limousines…and were not “double-cuts.”
Next was the revered world-renown Series Sixty-Special that initiated “the most luxurious owner-driven Cadillac” tradition. And finally, the Fleetwood Eldorado in both coupe and convertible…front and rear wheel drive versions. The Fleetwood Eldorado was the only two-door crafted by Fleetwood. No, that mid 1980s version of the Fleetwood Brougham coupe doesn’t count because technically it was NOT a Fleetwood-bodied Cadillac, it was in fact a “Coupe deVille” with crap glued on to make one think they were driving a different car, which didn’t go over well with Cadillac buyers like myself. We already knew that the Fleetwood Brougham of the 1980s was really a “Sedan deVille” with crap glued on to make us think that we were driving a different car…which insulted our intelligence. Naughty!
That is the major fatal error made by Cadillac after the down-sizing in 1977. The eminent Fleetwood series is in a class all by itself…it is special even among other Cadillac models. The 1976 Fleetwood Brougham was indeed one of the world’s great luxury sedans and a worthy heir to be adorned with the laurel wreath and crest…to carry on the tradition of “Standard of the World” in the highest form of Cadillac elegance and prestige. It went down in history as the last of the great motorcars of the twentieth century…
This is a NOTORIOUSLY special Cadillac. It belonged to the wife of radio commentator Paul Harvey, Lynne Cooper Harvey whom Paul called “Angel.” Paul later gave this car to his best friend who was concert pianist Van Cliburn. This car is a rolling piece of history.
Model code #6B B69 Fleetwood Brougham had a base price of $10,935 and 24,500 units were built for the 1976 model year. The advertising campaign that year was focused on the final opportunity to own a brand new full-sized Cadillac Calais, DeVille, and Fleetwood. The Cadillac Fleetwood was a luxury car tradition for decades and was deemed the ultimate expression of achievement in America, it was the quintessential status symbol…the formidable “Standard of the World” stood alone…
The 1976 Fleetwood Brougham was powered by the largest powerplant to be installed into a production passenger vehicle…in the world. The massive 8.2 litre 500 CID 16-valve OHV V8 engine was first introduced for the 1970 Fleetwood Eldorado. This engine is the largest V8 engine ever built by Cadillac.
The engine cranks 190 hp @ 3,600 rpm with 488 Nm of peak torque @ 2,000 rpm. It is equipped with a Rochester M4ME 4-bbl downdraft Quadrajet with equalized manifold, mechanical in-line fuel pump, and electric choke. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 12.8 seconds, 0-100 mph in 43.5 seconds with a top speed in the 114 mph range. It does the ¼ mile @ 75 mph in 19.1 seconds. The engine is mated to GM’s Turbo Hydra-Matic THM-400 3-speed automatic transmission. A fuel injected version for the 8.2 litre V8 was available that featured faster starting, smoother idle, and increased fuel economy.
The 1976 Fleetwood Brougham featured body on frame construction using Cadillac’s rugged perimeter frame with heavy gauge boxed side rails. The Fleetwood Brougham was built upon a modified platform on a separate assembly line than the DeVille/Calais series. The Fleetwood Brougham has the luxury length of 233.7”, rides upon a long 133” wheelbase, and is 79.8” wide. It is an extremely large front engine rear wheel drive sedan. The Cadillac magic carpet ride is due in no small part to its suspension design. The front suspension uses upper and lower control arms, independent coil springs, integral steering knuckle, tapered roller bearings, spherical joints with lower joint wear indicators, rod and link-type stabilizer bar, and hydraulic double action shock absorbers.
The Fleetwood Brougham’s rear suspension is designed to facilitate the standard Automatic Level Control. This sophisticated system monitored suspension deflection with changing road and load conditions making the necessary adjustments accordingly. After the road or load change issue ceased, the suspension adjusted itself to normal operation. It had a delay built-in so potholes or short stints of uneven pavement doesn’t activate the system. This automatic self-leveling system is the key element in Cadillac’s magic carpet ride for the Brougham.
It not only help to tame the worst pavement, it also kept the majestic Fleetwood Brougham at optimum height to maintain its aesthetic beauty. The rear suspension also included Cadillac’s four-link drive, coil springs, and special dampers for the Automatic Level Control network. It is the rear of a vehicle with height control that does all of the work. It is fitted with a hypoid-type rear axle with ring gear. The propeller shaft has two constant velocity joints. Now you know the secret to the Fleetwood’s svelte performance. Cadillac was the “Standard of the World”…the Fleetwood series was the showcase of Cadillac superlatives.
Cadillac’s triple braking system was standard. A power dual hydraulic master cylinder provided independent operation of front and rear brake systems. It was equipped with a large tandem vacuum power booster. The parking brake had silent action with automatic vacuum release. It was also a true auxiliary brake, with its automatic release it would not lock with the engine running and car in gear. This self-adjusting brake system used ventilated discs with single piston calipers for the front axle and duo servo finned cast iron drums fitted to the rear axle.
The Fleetwood Brougham was always the pinnacle of Cadillac luxury and elegance. The handcrafted interiors by Fleetwood were impeccably tailored as fine furniture. The sumptuous deep-seated luxury was distinctive even among Fleetwood models. Signature Brougham interior touches included: carpeted rear seat footrests, adjustable rear seat reading lamps, and power 60/40 dual comfort front seats.
Being an eminent Fleetwood model, it is equipped as such with standard features including Automatic Climate Control, power windows and door locks, front and rear folding center armrests, Variable Ratio power steering, quartz digital clock, Soft-Ray glass, and an AM/FM Signal Seeking Stereo radio with power antenna. Available interior trim choices included “Minoa” a ribbed velour with leather bolsters in three colors, “Mansion” an understated knit fabric in five colors, and supple Sierra grain leather in 11 trim combinations. The 1976 Fleetwood Brougham’s roominess and refinements made it one of the world’s great luxury sedans. The magnificent Fleetwood luxury touch abounds making the 1976 Fleetwood Brougham the most revered sedan in all of motordom.
This is the sumptuous Fleetwood Talisman
The Fleetwood Brougham is renowned for its distinctive elegance. Cadillac special edition cars were a further expression of individuality. For the 1976 model year, the Fleetwood Talisman and the Brougham d’Elegance option trim packages were the ultimate choices of grace and stature Cadillac-Style. Interiors played the key roles in these two luxurious options.
The Fleetwood Talisman was the ultimate in personal luxury and comfort. The entire interior was upholstered in Medici crushed velour. It includes a locking center storage console for front seat passengers and was trimmed in the same crushed velour. The center console had an illuminated writing pad, pen, and storage bin. The contoured lounge seats had a unique European shirred sew-style. Exterior signature features included a padded Elk grain vinyl roof with “Fleetwood Talisman” script on each rear sail panel, turbine vaned wheel discs, and a stand-up laurel wreath and crest adorning the hood. Webster defines “Talisman” as magical or producing miraculous results…so did Cadillac.
The Brougham d’Elegance trim package featured luxurious contoured pillow-style seating. The hand button tufted upholstery was trimmed in Mansion knit cloth with deep pile carpeting available in five colors. Dual comfort 50/50 front seats, shirred seatback storage pockets, turbine vaned wheel discs, padded Elk grain vinyl roof with “Brougham d’Elegance” scripts on each rear sail panel, brushed chrome door moldings, and stand-up laurel wreath and crest hood ornament completed the trim option package. The Brougham d’Elegance was an ultra-luxurious way to enjoy the Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special.
The Oil Embargo of 1973 initiated the demise of the full-size American luxury car. The 1976 Cadillacs were advertised as the last opportunity to own a brand new full-size Cadillac Calais, DeVille, and Fleetwood Brougham. The majestic Fleetwood Brougham was the most luxurious owner-driven Cadillac. The power of its 8.2 litre V8 engine was astonishing for a motorcar of such magnificence. The commanding 133” wheelbase gave the 1976 Fleetwood Brougham a uniquely regal stature. The spacious interior by Fleetwood surrounded its passengers with plush fabrics and supple Sierra grain leather.
The 1976 Fleetwood Brougham was the most elegant expression of the Spirited Seventies. This is luxury on the grand Cadillac scale. The excellence of the owner’s taste was rewarded with admiration world-wide as a supreme achievement in motoring. The 1976 Fleetwood Brougham is the nostalgic end of an era…it is the last full-size Fleetwood Brougham, it is also one of the last Fleetwood-bodied Cadillacs. The eminent Fleetwood series had its standing ovation for the very last of the real Cadillacs. This was the “forget me not” in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”
I would like to thank Jim Hailey, Matt Garrett, Ken at RLB Auto Group, Bob Adams Classic Cars, Daniel Schmitt & Co, Rik Gruwez at Liberty Oldtimers, Left Coast Classics, Concept Cars, Lash Auto Sales, and all of the other caretakers in the world of classic automobiles……for keeping the spirit alive. I am honored to bring these classic cars back into the spotlight to give them their 2nd debut recognizing them for the outstanding works of automotive art that they have become. There will never, ever, be another illustrious era in motoring again due to contemporary avarice. Cadillac was the “Standard of the World” with design…engineering…exemplary craftsmanship, and the perpetual strive for perfection…will there ever be another Cadillac Flagship? Will there ever be another “Standard of the World?
Classic 1941 Fleetwood Touring Imperial
Classic 1947 Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five
Classic 1949 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special
Golden Anniversary 1952 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special
Classic 1954 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special
Classic 1954 Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five Imperial limousine
Classic 1957 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special
Classic 1959 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special
Classic 1959 Cadillac Series Seventy-Five
The iconic “Tail Fin” for 1959
Classic 1965 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Brougham
Classic 1965 Fleetwood Eldorado
Classic 1966 Fleetwood Eldorado
The formidable 1967 Fleetwood Eldorado
Classic 1969 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Brougham
Classic 1970 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Brougham
Classic 1970 8.2 litre Fleetwood Eldorado
Classic 1971 Fleetwood Eldorado
Classic 1971 Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five
Classic 1972 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Brougham
Classic Landau Roof for 1972 Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five
Classic 1972 Fleetwood Eldorado
Classic 1972 Fleetwood Eldorado convertible
1973 Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five
Classic 1974 Fleetwood Talisman
Classic 1976 Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five Imperial
1976 Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five Nine Passenger Sedan
The last full size Cadillac Fleetwood…….
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Cadillac ENDED in 1976.
Absolutley LOVE the Fleetwood Brougham. 1974-76 the best years ever! Beautiful car!
THE MIGHTY CADILLAC…DIES IN 1977.
Actually…Cadillac passed away after the 1970 model year. It was still a full-size car but it was adulterated with so many generic short cuts and various GM parts. One could take the 1971-1976 Cadillacs apart with a standard ratchet set! The 1970 Cadillac was the finale to the “Standard of the World.” Look closely to the 1971-1976 model years and you will see what I mean.The 1977-1979 model years were the more visual decline in quality, fit, and finish. We won’t even go into the 1980s, as…the music stopped for Cadillac during this time segment. If you have noticed…I don’t even write about Cadillacs from the 1980s…they are an embarrassment!
1974-76 Cadillac’s in my opinion were the most elegant and beautiful design ever!
TRULY WELL SPOKEN! I TOO MISS THIS GLORIOUS ERA OF TRUE AMERICAN LUXURY!
This was my tribute to the grandest of all luxury motorcars! It precluded an era where the “Standard of the World” had every automobile manufacturer taking note. Like they say…emulation is the most sincere form of flattery. Now look around you, European motorcars took lessons from Cadillac and now they reign supreme…will there ever be another “Standard of the World?” Not if they continue with kitschy-faux luxury cars like the CT6, XTS, and that dinky little puddle-jumper named CTS!
I own currently in 1974 talisman a 1976 fuel injected talisman and a 1973 Eldorado convertible in my opinion they are the finest Mass production cars ever made. The El Dorado is a beautiful example of art deco sculpture It is truly remarkable that such vehicles could be available to any hard working man who desired one. It is also amazing that they were ever built at all. Even though the pollution control Systems diminished their performance they are still remarkably fast and accelerate strongly and smoothly. Cheap gas Plus cheap steel Plus cheap glass plus cheap rubber equals 500 in.³, 10 Miles per gallon, 19 1/2 feet and 2 1/2 tons. I wonder where those trends we’re headed had it not been for the oil embargo of 1973. I do not understand the comments about 1970 being the lasts legitimate year. Last full size platform began in 1965 and continued through 1976 sheet metal changes aside they are similar vehicles. Happy Motoring!
Hello Earl! The last REAL “unadulterated” Cadillac motorcar was the 1970 model year. Beginning with the 1971 model year all Cadillacs could be completely disassembled with a standard ratchet set. It was the “down-size” in 1971 that started the beginning of the end for the “Standard of the World! Sure, the last big Cadillac was the 1976 (as 1977 and 1978 Eldorados were just left-over 1976 dies and parts). And to answer your next question…yes they were down-sized in 1971. They designed the greenhouse and glass larger but the basic architecture had been reduced. Place a 1970 Sedan deVille beside a 1971 and you will see just how much LESS Cadillac you got for your money! But the last TRUE Cadillac model year was 1970. GM began using “shims” and parts variations that were made simply by revising the production dies in 1971. This is why full-size Cadillac (1971-1978) owners had to take their cars to body shops periodically to have door hinges tightened and shims put back in the door hinges and especially the front fenders and hood shims that had fallen off due to vibration. The 1970 Cadillac bodies were more robust than the bolted on versions from 1971 to 1976. This is why some full-size Cadillacs from this genre appear “tired” with doors that sagged and front fenders and hoods that were out of alignment. Those hoods were so heavy if one kept slamming them shut, the shims fell out between the hinges and mounting points. This is what I mean by the 1970 model year being the last REAL Cadillacs. If you look at design schematics you will agree. The 1976 Sedan deVille, Buick Electra, and Oldsmobile 98 were almost verbatim. The only changes were with cosmetics. Underneath, they have the same design. The 1971 thru 1976 Cadillac was the same thing with different cosmetics. By 1976 the sheet metal was thinner gauged to save weight, this is why rust ate them relentlessly. You can easily bolt on a 1976 Cadillac nose to a 1971. Now do you see where I am going with this? The reason I know this is true is because I did just that back in the 1970s for fun. I completely took apart a 1973 Sedan deVille in my back yard in less than a week! With all the plug-in wiring harnesses, and modular components, this made the job simple to build those cars. I was curious just to see. There was very little difference between 1971 and 1976. The 1971-1976 Sedans deVille used the same roofline as were the 1971-1976 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Specials. This greatly reduced production costs for GM. Example: to update the 1972 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special to the 1973 version, the center body seam in between the front and rear doors on the ’72 was removed and a larger front door was used for the ’73. Naturally, a larger front bumper was used and the headlamp buckets were changed. The rear got a different bumper. You could not be this crafty using 1968 parts for a 1969-1970 Cadillac can you? It was simple tweaks such as these that were used from 1971 thru 1976 to make one THINK they were looking at a completely different car!
I drove a ’76 Talisman for thirty-one years. I watched everything fall apart but the engine. Toward the end I just kept slapping cans of Tremclad onto it to counter the rapid rusting. Still, I miss that beast.
I agree with you whole heartedly! I drove a 1976 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Brougham d’Elegance from 1976 up until I sold it back in the early ’00 for garage space. I bought the car new…made the mistake of having freakin Ziebart rustproofing to it! I had to replace all 4 doors, the hood, front fenders, trunk lid and floors, and fender skirts because of it. I caught the rust at 3 years old which was rapidly, relentlessly, unequivocally eating the metal faster than I could preserve it. I lucked up on a Florida car with 15,000 miles which was a theft recovery. Funny too…the only things left on the car are what I just described! All sheet metal was just like new. I know the owner cried a river when he saw it. It had been ravished. His loss was my gain. I rebuilt the body to the point nobody could even tell what I did without using bondo or that other pastic crap that swells making the rust repairs highly visible. This is why I went with the donor car’s metal.
That’s how good I am with this genre Cadillac. I’ve resurrected many thru the years. I am going to buy another 1976 Brougham when I find a rare survivor. It was the recycled metal that wasn’t properly refined that is part of the ’76 demise. Those horrid weld studs that attached the chrome and vinyl roof covering are the other detriment. I had them all removed when I saw how a three year old body had begun to perforate behind the scenes. I repaired it before anyone knew anything was wrong, the car was always shining like new money. My friends would always ask “where’s the funeral” when I’d appear on the scene. I bought that car when I was 20 years old. It was my first brand new car. They teased me about driving cars that old people drove!. Yup…it was the only Fleetwood Brougham that could keep in step with a Vette! Now let me ask you this. You drove a REAL Cadillac…do the kitschy-faux contemporary Cadillac puddle-jumpers do anything for you? Nope, didn’t think they did. The last new Cadillac I will ever buy is my 2002 DeVille which I still drive as the beater. It runs like a scalded cat too! I’ll buy an S600 before I’d waste money in a domestic luxury car.
While I agree with much of what you said, I have to disagree with some of them. I was in High School when Cadillac downsized(correction all the US manufacturers) their cars. That was from 1977 onward. GM didn’t know when to quit either. As you claimed, the 1971 were downsized. I would hardly call a 1971-72 downsized when the overall length grew .8 inches, and the wheelbase increased .5 inches. In fact the wheelbase of the Fleetwood remained at 133 inches from 1970 through 1976. I will agree the quality gradually diminished through those years in comparison to the Fleetwoods of years before, however the quality was still superior to the lesser models. The bean counters of GM truly ruined Cadillac as well as the other lines from 1976 onward. I’ve owned MANY Cadillacs through the years, my favorite ones were the ’71-’76 Fleetwoods. The DeVille and Eldorados were nice but I always felt at home behind the wheel of a Fleetwood. My newest Cadillac that I bought was a 2000 Catera, a misunderstood car as it was a German car NOT a Cadillac so it really got the short end of the stick. Poor support at the dealerships, hyped by the sales staff to be something other than what it was. But it was a delight to drive, comfortable, quiet, and economical despite what some said about that, but it felt German. My brother had a DHS (I think 2002 or 2003) I drove it a few times but never really felt like a Cadillac to me or even looked like it except for the badging. I’ve been disappointed in GM as a whole since 1976 but then again look at our country right now.
You are a very lucky person to have 2 Talisman’s. I am in the market for one myself. I could of purchased a blue 75 Talisman back in 03 for $7000 but turned it down. Been kicking myself ever since. Do you still have a window sticker for either of these cars? I would love to see an original window sticker to a Talisman. I have seen them for regular Brougham and D-eleagence but never Tailsman.
John – go to my article titled “The Last of the Breed: The Exit of the Traditional Cadillac” and read it.
The initial down-sizing began as mentioned, in 1971. Cadillac completely re-designed all of their models trimming them significantly. The ‘big-car’ attributes such as wheelbase, width, and overall length were not disturbed. The body on frame design was lowered into the frame of the car. The traditional build of the 1969-1970 models places the bodyshell atop rocker panels hiding the frame.
The 1971-1976 cars were down-sized. They are all much lower than the 1969-1970 cars they replaced. I even said so in the article that “the overall size, wheelbase and length weren’t disturbed!” The engineers achieved the downsizing right before your eyes. They cut everything down on the car with an overstated greenhouse to make you think it was a big car.”
The easiest way to see this is to place a 1971 thru 1976 Cadillac beside the 1969-1970 models. The ’69 and ’70 models are lower then the 1967-1968 Cadillac they replaced. GM had been slimming cars down all thru the 1960s. Don’t take my word for it look at the photos in my articles regarding this genre and look closely. They had to diminish the car gradually to get to the 1977 major downsize.
Once again, the specs for length and wheelbase weren’t touched but the entire car was diminished. The 1971-1976 Cadillacs had a larger roofline and glass area. The fenders and beltline was lowered. The last real Cadillac is a 1970. Just look at the photos, they speak for themselves. Start at the front fenders on the 1970 and then look at the front fenders on the 1971. Allow your eyes to roam the body lines from front to rear and you can see how much of the body of the 1971-1976 was trimmed away from the 1969-1970 counterparts.
That’s what I mean when I say they’re downsized! The 1971-1976 are optical illusions in a sense. The engineers had to get people like you weened off of the large bodied Cadillac before they could spring the 1977-1979 Cadillacs on ya. And NEWSFLASH: the 1980 Cadillac DeVille/Fleetwood is downsized from the 1977-1979! Once again, they didn’t touch the dimensions they cut the portions down slightly. There are enough photos of them all on this site to make the comparison yourself and you will see. The engineers have been trimming the Cadillac as well as the other GM Family of Fine Cars down gradually to get us to the 2000 versions.
Think of how successful a 2000 Cadillac would have been following directly behind the 1969-1970 Cadillacs as a 1971 model!!! NO WAY would die-hard Cadillac owners like myself accept that much of the car being chopped away all at once. It was hard enough for many devout Cadillac owners to accept the 1977, but they did making them sell more than the 1976 model it replaced. In some minds bigger is better, this is why the designers had to gradually trim the Cadillac down to size. They knew we wouldn’t be able to afford the gasoline hike with a big hog-sized Cadillac!
If you really want to see the genetic downsizing start back in the 1950s and come forward. Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell were slicing them down annually to keep in step with the modern clientele. They couldn’t do it all at once so it was a gradual process.
I’ve never been much of a Cadillac guy. That said I am a car guy, ever since I was a young guy in the 60s, so I know cars. If you just compare the ’74 onward to Cadillacs in the past, it just comes up boring. In my opinion, the last true Cadillacs were the ’72 and ’73s they weren’t just big. They actually had a distinct design. The ’76 model year starts alright with the front grill and headlights but after the B piller it’s just, well, nothing. The taillights are too thin, and lack any real design, again- “boring “. But it is consistent, the dashboard is the most boring and plain of any Cadillac, not to mention comparing it to a Lincoln or Imperial. I just don’t see the attraction at all. I’ll take a Town Car or Imperial every time over a Cadillac, especially from ’74 onward. Go ahead, compare a ’76 Cadillac to a ’76 Lincoln Town Car, the differences speak for themselves. But as one of the other guys said, at the end of the day, I miss all those big beautiful American luxury cars.
Hello! Would you believe…Cadillac was the SAME CAR from 1971-1976? all the ‘designers’ did was freshen the front and rear. The coupes had a roofline change in 1974 but the doors, fender skirts, trunk lids are all the same. Even the bumpers. The DeVille/Calais/Fleetwood used the same front bumper from 1973-1976, all GM did was change the impact strips and bumper guard placement. Same with the rear bumper from 1974-1976 were verbatim! Look closely at all of the Cadillacs on the site from 1971-1976 and you will see, GM barely changed anything – they were all JUNK too!
The last REAL Cadillac motorcar was built in 1970! Rust ate the 1971-1976 Cadillacs relentlessly because of improperly refined sheet metal. Cadillac STOPPED being the “Standard of the World” in 1970 –
Love your Caddy commentaries. You know your stuff.
I read a great article by Jack Baruth a couple of years ago on the ’76 Talisman. One of his responders mentioned that GM facilitated the rusting of these cars by using cheap scrap metal and by saving the overspray on a water bath in the paint booth and then reusing it. The reused paint would retain some water and would prove a time bomb in the rusting process. Your thoughts?
Incidentally, I bought a ’76 Coupe DeVille last year for $4000 and sold it two days later for $4100. I just had to drive a ’76 one last time.
My first Caddy was a ’58 Calais Coupe. Two of my kids were conceived in it, one in the back seat, one in the front. The kids survived; their mother didn’t.
You’re right –I have no interest in contemporary Cadiilacs. I would just as soon have an Impala.
You will appreciate that the only person to have smoked in my Talisman was Princess Margaret. I had leased the car to the government during her state visit to Canada in 1980. She died of emphysema years later.
May I please cite your website through my sellers description for my 76 d’elegance? You made a job of piecing the facts together and I’d be honored to spread your work if I may.
Certainly! I am flattered.
My last Cadillac was a ’79 Coupe de;Ville. With lots of nursing, it made it to 200,000 miles–the engine that is. The body started disintegrating at around 125,000 miles. Tried a variety of cars in the horrible 80’s, Switched to Lincoln Town Cars in the 90’s and I’m currently holding on to my 2007 Town Car for dear life. Favorite Cadillac was my 1960 El Dorado convertible. Miss that monster.
Cadillac once had an amazing product. I would not give you .10 cent for anything they produce now.
Exactly right !! I have a ’76 Fleetwood Brougham…and wouldn’t give a penny for the garbage that “so-called”cCadillac produces now.
RL: EXACTLY right!!!
The nearly-identical 1975 model had the fabulous bordello velour interior option:
I owned a 1976 Fleetwood Brougham for 4.5 years and put 170,000 miles on it in that period of time. There has never been another more responsive comfortable auto made since. I have had 3 Park Avenues and in comparison to the 1976 Fleetwood are like a Ford pinto in comparison. I hope someday to find another 76 Fleetwood before I pass away.
Great article and interesting information. Cadillac Fleetwood supporter here in the UK. Just sold a 1959 tripower and left with 65, two 70s and 75 FI Broughams. Also 70 Eldorado and 71 Eldorado convertible. Want to tell the non US orientated Brits how great these cars are. Never seen another here.
When I took the 70 Brougham to France in company with an Aston Martin, Porsche, Ferrari etc, it completely blitzed them in terms of amazement from les Francais.. Easy as pie to drive in France because LHD – here slightly more awkward because of RHD. But I drive them in Central London no problem.
Have today driven the 70 Eldorado in a miserable traffic jam in humid torrential rain when the car had to idle and crawl for two and a half hours. Steam coming off the bonnet because of the heat of the engine but it dealt with it perfectly despite it being its first outing for seven years. Fantastic for a 52 year old car (built late 1969). So congratulations Cadillac…!.
Hello: I’m in the market for a ’74-’76 Fleetwood Brougham.
If you ever have one for sale, please do let me know!
just got my 73 red on red and white top 73 Eldorado convertible out of storage.
egg crate grill gorgeous sweeping fenders, and fender skirts. The best of all the El Dorado (not including 50’s ). A truly strong car is a pleasure to drive any where any time.
Got best of show three times! Until I stopped showing/judging the magnificent beast 38,000 mil.
Electric cars are the future . Ultimately they will be powered by pollution free fusion we can always hope there will be some gasoline manufactured for our museum pieces.
What’s even funnier…what if they had to go back to the internal combustion engine because of all of the issues with electricity? I cringe at the thoughts of driving a high-voltage vehicle among these non-drivers out there running into everything that’s in their path! Electrocution will become a widespread issue! Imagine all of those volts running into an internal combustion engine powered vehicle…in front of a gasoline station with a re-charging center!!
I recently purchased a 1976 Fleetwood with 65,000 miles on it. No rust to speak about. My question is this. The self-leveling suspension isn’t working. How expensive is it to repair it and are the parts still available?
Hello Wayne! The 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood has automatic level control which is hydraulic unlike the later model Cadillacs with electronic level control.
My advice to you would be to take it to a professional and have the lines traced and checked for leaks, you may need a compressor. They work via network of vacuum tubing starting under the hood. The lines get old and crack. The professional can give the system a leak test to detect any ‘hissing’ where the cracks would be located in the air supply system.
These systems are a massive pain in the butt to maintain on the 1976 land yachts. If the car is a keeper and you want to keep the air ride, yes, it will be $$$. There are kits around to convert to standard shocks. It is the rear of the car that does all of the leveling. The later years electronic level control is more reliable, but even those has a complex networking that all has to be in order. They use sensors where your Fleetwood uses vacuum tubing and valves.
Have the compressor checked and look at the valve at the rear of the car that maintains the height. Then, check the vacuums under the hood. Parts are still available, but you may have to search for them. Nobody uses that type of system anymore so the search will be dicey. One of the 1976 Fleetwoods I just sold had been converted to eliminate this issue. I couldn’t tell the difference in the ride. The car is so heavy it levels out the pavement all by itself by smashing those roads flat!
The 1976 is the last of the breed. If it isn’t ‘rust-kingdom’ make sure to keep it. It is going to appreciate like mad since it is the last big gun made by Cadillac Motor Division. The rust starts behind the chrome with the weld studs and plastic clips. Another area prone to disintegrate is the vinyl roof itself. All of that padding holds water and rots the roof. The rear window starts the dance. Moisture at the bottom of the rear window causes the rusting process because those idiots that designed the car didn’t make a self-draining rear window as they did beginning the 1977 model year.
The body seams rot, the bottoms of the inside of the door skin rots away also. The quarter panels behind the front wheels go because of the chrome garnish molding and those horrid clips. The fender skirt brackets rots and the area behind those skirts disintegrate. Inside the trunk there’s the trunk lip that rots and the inner wheel wells rot inside the trunk.
Shame on GM for using improperly refined recycled metal to make those cars. The rust wasn’t completely removed from the metal and that metal was thinner to save weight. These cars will be worth a fortune one day because of the relentless rusting – the survivors will be worth BIG bucks because most of them will have bitten the rust-dust!
Thanks for the reply. I never knew there was a converter kit for these cars. As long as the ride isn’t effected adversely, I’ll consider it. Even with 4 passengers and a full tank of gasoline, the car rides excellent. It doesn’t even touch the rubber arm stoppers. The tail is drooping though. This will mainly be used in the Summer as a vacation vehicle so, with a trunk full of luggage and 4 people, the ride may be effected.
I’ve wanted a 1976 Fleetwood since I was 15 years old. I googled “1976 Cadillac Fleetwood” about a week and a half ago and my car came up in the search, as a result. It was listed at $11,995.00 with just 65,000 miles so, I figured it was now or never. It was purchased new by the husband of the previous owner. After he died, the wife drove it awhile. When she could no longer drive, the son put it up for sale. It was always in a heated garage.
The car ran flawlessly from Pennsylvania to Connecticut (230 miles) without issue. It did cost $99.90 (@$4.50/gallon-premium) to fill it from a quarter of a tank. When I returned home, I filled it again at $3.85/gallon ($74.00 for Premium) and figured I got around 12 miles to the gallon at 70-75 MPH but, I didn’t buy it for economical reasons.
It was magical on the highway.
It gobbled up every hump and dip the highway had to offer and never threw me around in the seat like the modern cars do. In fact, the body stayed level at all times.
A young couple drove out in my XTS with me to pick it up and when we got back to Connecticut, I let the man drive it. He was about 25 years old. He said: “Usually, I feel all of the bumps in the road, especially in front of ESPN in Bristol but, I didn’t feel anything in this car.”
I just smiled.
I also have a CTS4 and a 1995 DeVille. I made the mistake of replacing the air-ride on the 1995 with what Strutmasters offered. I NEVER want to make such a mistake again, especially with this car. I am seriously considering replacing the Strutmaster’s springs with the original air-ride. I don’t care if it costs more to maintain. The ride comfort is worth it.
Everything works in this car. Even the old rolodex-like clock AND it keeps perfect time too. The A/C still blows ice cold on the original charge. The heater will blow you out of the car! The radio, as well as all of the power accessories, all work, including the cruise control. The interior is like new with no cracks, rips, or dirty areas.
There is a small area of surface rust below the chrome rocker trim molding about the size of a quarter. That’s about it. I am taking it in this week to have that issue addressed.
I plan on having an original-looking stereo installed with updated buttons that will allow me to have a CD player and 6 disc changer in the trunk. I’ll add real spokes too. I saw what True Spokes had to offer. I liked them.
The people who said that this was the last of the highway cruisers are correct. No car after 1976 rode as well as those which were downsized.
I knew I would get compliments but, never imagined that people would roll down their windows at traffic lights or spend 15-20 minutes telling me what they were doing in 1976 when this car was sold. I brought my brother and my 90 year old mother to Wal*Mart and while my mother and I were waiting for my brother to come out, at least 9 people came up to the car. After a while, my mother told me she was cold and to close the window. I asked her how was I supposed to say thank you to all of the people? After seeing her facial expression, I closed it. My brother came out shortly afterward. LOL 🙂
All in all, I am 100% satisfied with this purchase. I will have this car when I die.
Correction: “The people who said that this was the last of the highway cruisers are correct. No car after 1976 rode as well as those which were downsized.”
I meant to write that those who wrote that the 1976 was the last great riding Cadillac were correct. No car after 1976 rode as well after they downsized in 1977.
I was thinking about having the car undercoated but, I read what one of the people above wrote and decided not to.
Is there a way of having it done right?
Undercoating is a rather tongue-in-cheek operation. You could be sealing the rust inside if it isn’t done properly and you can also have certain components ruined by paint. They stopped using aftermarket rust proofing because if not properly applied it makes matters worse under it all causing the car to rust from the inside out.
The old fashioned way I used to treat the car’s underside was with that silver paint they used to use on chain link fences. I would only coat the areas prone to corrosion. After the paint dried I would shoot a couple of coats of black corrosion-resistant paint to play down the bright silver look. But unfortunately, that paint is now considered carcinogenic and is no longer available. Trial and error with corrosion resistant paint is the only think I would suggest.
It’s always best to buy classic cars that have never been driven in the rust belt. I found a one-owner 1993 Lincoln MARK VIII in Portland, Oregon that has never been driven in salt. The car is gorgeous and needs very little to make it showroom new again. The underside doesn’t look like a 28 soon to be 29-year old car. Keeping the chassis and components clean is a good start. This way you can keep an eye on what’s happening under the car. If you paint over the top of everything you could be doing more harm than good causing the car to rust under the paint. Put the car up on a rack and study the underside carefully. Check out areas prone to hiding dirt. Keep those areas clean and just keep an eye on what’s happening under there.
This is the part of classic car ownership I like! That is, making the car your own. Take your time, everything doesn’t have to be done as soon as you get the car. Keep the car dry!!!! After cleaning and polishing it, just take it area by area to see what needs to be done – do not try to do the entire car all at once. Get to know your car piece by piece and it will be with you forever!