The continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns”
The next generation of the luxury car was introduced by Cadillac for the 1977 model year. Based on the 1975 Cadillac Seville, this new breed was designed for the contemporary changing world. While more compact in exterior design the 1977 Fleetwood Brougham retained the legroom and headroom of the luxurious 1976 Brougham. Making efficient use of space using computer technology, and lighter weight materials yielded major advancements in fuel economy.
A major engineering objective was to design the 1977 Cadillacs to reduce service complexity making it easier to service should it be required. The next generation of the luxury car was designed for today’s world and didn’t forget the reasons one purchased a Cadillac: elegance, performance and prestige. Cadillac celebrated their 75th Anniversary for 1977 with completely re-designed models. This contemporary expression of Cadillac luxury was a new view of the legendary motorcar in the continuing saga of…”As the Standard of the World Turns.”
The 1977 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham was a car complete. Standard features included: Automatic Climate Control, Automatic Level Control, four-wheel disc brakes, power windows and door locks, 50/50 Dual Comfort front seats, opera lamps, Soft-Ray glass, AM/FM Signal Seeking Radio with scanner and power antenna, lamp monitors, cornering lamps, and steel-belted wide-whitewall tires.
The 1977 Fleetwood Brougham didn’t stint on comfort nor convenience. There was the same spacious head and legroom as the previous 1976 model, the 1977 interiors were redesigned for more efficient use of space. The luxurious interiors by Fleetwood included eleven color combinations of supple natural grain leather, or there were seven shades of Florentine velour or handsome Dover cloth in four colors to choose from. The Fleetwood touch was evident in the seat cushion sew-style as well as the tailored door panels. The standard folding center front and rear armrests added further distinction and comfort. The traditional carpeted rear seat footrests and the adjustable rear seat reading lamps continued the Brougham tradition for this next generation luxury sedan.
Gone was its body by Fleetwood, it now shared the same bodyshell and chassis as the 1977 Sedan deVille. The Brougham’s new contemporary bodywork was augmented by a distinctive roof treatment that differentiated it from the Sedan deVille. The Fleetwood Brougham was always a luxury sedan of elegant refinement.
The 1977 Fleetwood Brougham retained the six passenger comfort, elegance, and exclusivity long associated with the brand. Cadillac engineers retuned body mounts and structure for a smoother ride and quiet interior. The elegant new silhouette, the bold front end styling, and the attractive Cadillac-style tail lamps made the 1977 Fleetwood Brougham an exciting new expression of contemporary Cadillac luxury.
The 1977 Fleetwood Brougham was a car of unmistakable elegance and impressive roadability. With its agile 121.5” wheelbase, maneuverability was increased in city traffic and it was easier to park. The Fleetwood Brougham synthesized an all-new trimmer size and design with traditional Cadillac comfort and convenience. It was designed to meet the needs of American drivers. The 1977 Fleetwood Brougham was re-engineered for easier serviceability and fewer maintenance services.
The High Energy Ignition system eliminated points and condenser. The Freedom Battery never required water. Isoflex body mounts provided a firm but luxurious ride. Teflon liners in the rear springs reduced friction. The match-mounted tires/wheels reduced deflection and increased rolling smoothness. Cadillac engineers used computer technology throughout its design. Computer simulation, advanced structural analysis, advanced testing instrumentation, and the use of advanced components were all networking aggregately in this next generation luxury car.
The 1977 Cadillacs were powered by an all-new Cadillac 7.0 litre 425 CID 16-valve OHV V8 engine. It was equipped with a 4-bbl Quadrajet and a mechanical fuel pump. The engine produced 180 hp @ 4,000 rpm with 434 Nm of peak torque @ 2,400 rpm. Performance was rated as 0-60 mph in 11.9 seconds, 0-100 mph in 39.9 seconds with a top speed of 112 mph. It did the ¼ mile @ 76 mph in 19.1 seconds. The available optional Electronic Fuel Injection system boosted hp to 195 and increased performance ratings by a few seconds. The engine was mated to GM’s Turbo Hydra-Matic THM-400 3-speed automatic transmission. The all-new V8 engine had a cast iron block and heads, five main bearings, and hydraulic valve lifters.
The completely re-designed 1977 Fleetwood Brougham was a large front engine rear drive luxury sedan. It was built as body on frame construction using Cadillac’s ladder type frame with welded crossmembers. It rode on a long 121.5” wheelbase, had the luxury length of 221.2” and was 76.4” wide. The front suspension used upper and lower control arms, independent coil springs, link-type stabilizer bar and hydraulic direct action shock absorbers. The rear suspension was set-up for the Automatic Level Control network. It used Cadillac’s four-link drive, coil springs, and dampers designed for the height control. It also used a hypoid type rear axle with propeller shaft using two constant velocity joints for the front and rear.
Cadillac’s triple-braking system was standard. It used a power hydraulic dual master cylinder with separate fluid reservoirs for independent operation of front and rear brake systems. The 1977 Fleetwood Brougham had four-wheel ventilated disc brakes with a self-adjusting feature. It was equipped with a tandem vacuum power booster and single piston sliding calipers front and rear. The parking brake had silent action with a vacuum release. It was a true auxiliary brake since it would not lock with the engine running and car in gear. This highly sophisticated braking system provided smooth, fade-free operation.
It was the Cadillac Seville that inspired the next generation of the luxury car. Cadillac had to re-design their offerings to compete in the contemporary market. There were several deciding factors for a smaller, trimmer, more fuel efficient Cadillac. The 1973 Arab Oil Embargo set the stage which created havoc in the US with gasoline shortages, long lines at the stations with fuel, and the rising cost of crude oil.
The EPA mandated Corporate Average Fuel Economy or CAFÉ standards could not be ignored either or GM would have faced unpleasant consequences. The Seville was introduced in 1975 as a 1976 model. It was based on a modified Chevy Nova platform and used an Oldsmobile 5.7 litre 350 CID engine. The Seville introduced a new “international-sized” luxury sedan…it was clean and compact. The Seville proved through efficient use of space and lighter weight materials that a luxury car could obtain optimum gasoline mileage. The European inspired styling was a refreshing new view of Cadillac luxury.
Cadillac engineers expanded the dimensions of the Seville slightly combining contemporary styling and classic Cadillac styling cues. The result was the 1977 Cadillacs. Compared to the 1976 Brougham, the 1977 version had a 121.5” wheelbase vs the 133” of the 1976. The 1977 Fleetwood had an overall length of 221.2” vs the 233.7” of the 1976, width went from 79.8” for the 1976 down to 76.4” for the 1977. It was the Cadillac Seville that initiated a new era of Cadillac luxury. The Seville’s styling was so popular that it spawned a decade of clones from various automakers. General Motors over-did the design with ALL of its divisions, sharing most of the Seville’s styling cues. Yes, it was the trusty Cadillac Seville that ushered in the “bad-taste” era that spanned an entire decade in the 1980s.
Cadillac sold 335,785 vehicles for the 1977 model year, it had broken the previous sales record for the 1976 model year which produced 304,485 vehicles. It was the first time that Cadillac had exceeded the 300,000 mark. Cadillac broke the sales record again for the 1978 model year building 350,813 vehicles.
Cadillac was the only luxury brand that could re-design its offerings so drastically yet manage to set new sales records. The luxury car buyers appreciated Cadillac’s trimmer, more efficient models…especially at the fuel pumps. The 1977 Fleetwood Brougham production totaled 28,000 vs the 234,171 DeVille production total. The 1977 Fleetwood Brougham was base priced at $11,546. Try to locate a brand new luxury sedan today for that price!
Cadillac reinvented the luxury car for the 1977 model year. They were completely re-engineered from the ground up. They had a completely new bodyshell, chassis, and engine. The all-new Cadillac 7.0 litre V8 engine more than adequately powered the next generation of the luxury car. The 1977 Fleetwood Brougham had clean, sculpted, sensible styling right for the changing times. It was designed for more efficient use of space.
The Fleetwood Brougham was trimmer on the outside but retained its spacious six passenger comfort with virtually the same interior dimensions as the 1976 Fleetwood Brougham. It was an immediate success breaking the 1976 sales production total. In total value, comfort, convenience and luxury with prestige, the 1977 Fleetwood Brougham was truly one of the world’s great sedans. The 1977 Cadillac Fleetwood was another superlative superlative…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”
1977 Sedan deVille from Matt Garrett’s collection
The 1977 Cadillacs were the next generation of the luxury car
1977 Fleetwood Brougham