Requiem For A Legend: 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham

Farewell to the Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Brougham

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The continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns”

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The 1976 Fleetwood Brougham was the last of the breed

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It was farewell to one of the most distinguished motorcars of the twentieth century. The 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty-Special Brougham was the last of the breed…..it was 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 was immediately identified wherever fine automobiles gathered. This was 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.”

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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 was 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 was motoring magnificence…the more you drove it…the more you wanted to drive it. This car was so awesome all I had to do was steer and operate the pedals. It was 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!

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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.”

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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 myselfWe 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 was the major fatal error made by Cadillac after the down-sizing in 1977. The eminent Fleetwood series was in a class all by itself…it was 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……

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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.

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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……

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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 was the largest V8 engine ever built by Cadillac. The engine produced 190 hp @ 3,600 rpm with 488 Nm of peak torque @ 2,000 rpm. It was equipped with a Rochester M4ME 4-bbl downdraft Quadrajet with equalized manifold, mechanical in-line fuel pump, and electric choke. Performance was rated as 0-60 mph in 12.8 seconds, 0-100 mph in 43.5 seconds and had a top speed of 114 mph. It did the ¼ mile @ 75 mph in 19.1 seconds. The engine was 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.

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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 had the luxury length of 233.7”, rode on a long 133” wheelbase, and was 79.8” wide. It was an extremely large front engine rear wheel drive sedan. The Cadillac magic carpet ride was due in no small part to its suspension design. The front suspension used 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.

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The Fleetwood Brougham’s rear suspension was 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 didn’t activate the system. This automatic self-leveling system was 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 was fitted with a hypoid-type rear axle with ring gear. The propeller shaft used 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.

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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.

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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 was 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.

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This is the sumptuous Fleetwood Talisman

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The Fleetwood Brougham was 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.

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The Fleetwood talisman was the ultimate in personal luxury and comfort. The entire interior was upholstered in Medici crushed velour. It included 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.

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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.

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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. It was luxury on the grand Cadillac scale. The excellence of the owner’s taste was rewarded with admiration world-wide with this supreme achievement in motoring. The 1976 Fleetwood Brougham was the nostalgic end of an era……it was the last full-size Fleetwood Brougham, it was 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.”

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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?

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Classic 1941 Fleetwood Touring Imperial

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Classic 1947 Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five

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Classic 1949 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

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 Golden Anniversary 1952 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

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Classic 1954 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

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Classic 1954 Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five Imperial

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Classic 1957 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

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Classic 1959 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

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Classic 1959 Cadillac Series Seventy-Five

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The iconic “Tail Fin” for 1959

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Classic 1965 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Brougham

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Classic 1965 Fleetwood Eldorado

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Classic 1966 Fleetwood Eldorado

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The formidable 1967 Fleetwood Eldorado

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Classic 1969 Fleetwood Sixty-Special Brougham

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Classic 1970 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Brougham

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Classic 1970 8.2 litre Fleetwood Eldorado

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Classic 1971 Fleetwood Eldorado

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Classic 1971 Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five

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Classic 1972 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Brougham

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Classic Landau Roof for 1972 Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five

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Classic 1972 Fleetwood Eldorado

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Classic 1972 Fleetwood Eldorado convertible

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1973 Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five

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Classic 1974 Fleetwood Talisman

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Classic 1976 Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five Imperial

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 1976 Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five Nine Passenger Sedan

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The last full size Cadillac Fleetwood…….

11 Responses to “Requiem For A Legend: 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham”

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  3. Herbert Ortiz Says:

    Cadillac ENDED in 1976.

  4. David DuBois Says:

    Absolutley LOVE the Fleetwood Brougham. 1974-76 the best years ever! Beautiful car!

  5. charles randolph Says:

    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!

  6. David DuBois Says:

    1974-76 Cadillac’s in my opinion were the most elegant and beautiful design ever!

  7. CHARLES RANDOLPH Says:

    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!

  8. Earl Robinson Says:

    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!

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