Fresh Metal: 1975 Cadillac Calais

Cadillac value in action…

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…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns”

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The Cadillac Calais Series was offered to represent extraordinary value in a luxury car. The Calais had the same “Magic Carpet” ride that Cadillac was renowned. Then, there’s the efficient and responsive Cadillac engine. The long wheelbase and inherent Cadillac styling made them true luxury automobiles.

The 1975 Cadillac Calais Series was the easiest way to drive the “Standard of the World” yet they were equipped Cadillac-style. The Cadillac Calais Series makes another cameo appearance…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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The 1975 Calais was available as a coupe and a sedan. Style code #6C C47/G Calais coupe had a base price of $8,184 with mid-year price increases to $8,197 and $8,613 with only 5,800 built. Style code #6C C49/N Calais sedan was base priced at $8,377 with 2 mid-year price increases of $8,390 and $8,806 with only 2,500 built. The low production numbers make these collectibles. Just their oddity alone will make them appreciate favorably like all Cadillac models. The Cadillac Calais series was built from 1965 until 1976.

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The downside to the Calais was the price. When options were added the modest price rose to DeVille status. Most Calais buyers usually went with the comprehensively equipped DeVille which was clearly the better value. The prices were way too close: style code #6D D47/J Coupe deVille was priced at $8,600/$8,813/$9,029 including the price increases.

Style code #6D D49/B Sedan deVille was priced at $8,801/$8,814/$9,230 also including mid-year price increases. You can clearly see, DeVille was the obvious choice especially if luxury features and accessories were important to the buyer. It wasn’t prudent to over-embellish the Calais…

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The 1975 Calais received the same “Cadillac Beauty Treatment” as the other rear-wheel drive models. Dramatic new styling to the front end ensemble was augmented by rectangular headlamps and a lower, more aerodynamic hood and front fenders. It was still using the basic bodyshell from 1971. The 1975 bodywork was virtually unchanged from the 1974 redesign. The rear end styling for the 1975 model year got no new updates.

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The Calais differed from the DeVille by the absence of the stainless-steel chrome lower rocker moldings of the DeVille/Fleetwood Series. This was the only exterior difference between the model hierarchies.

The Calais was the entry-level Cadillac. It had the same long 130” wheelbase, the same luxury length of 230.7”, and the same 80” wide stance as the DeVille Series. The Calais had ‘bargain-basement’ enigma which has no place in a luxury brand’s offerings.

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The interior of the 1975 Calais Series was virtually verbatim with the 1973 edition. The Calais sales figures didn’t justify a restyle to its plastic interior. The 1975 Calais used the exact same sew-style to the seat cushions as the 1973. The “soft-pillow” door panels were the very same used in 1973 model right down to the interior door-pulls. The fake wood vinyl trim was from the 1973 DeVille. The 1975-1976 Calais Series was a hodgepodge of Cadillac remnants…

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The plaid fabric was atrocious! It completely discounted the car as “bargain-basement”, which was the Calais enigma…remember? That awful Morgan plaid was available in three colors which were equally irritating to the retinas. A Matelassé called Morocco was available in Saddle. Expanded, leather-textured vinyl upholstery was available in Saddle or Black. (But it was still vinyl in a Cadillac)

The interior, and the lack of showroom exterior trim were the major short-comings. A luxury car buyer of such a make as Cadillac didn’t want stripped-down luxury with an elegant plastic interior. This was the reason only 8,300 total 1975 Calais models were built.

The Cadillac Calais was like a strange “K-Mart Blue-light special” that really didn’t belong in the luxury community in the first place. After all…why buy the car “if you cannot afford the gas?”

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Standard features and accessories for the 1975 Cadillac Calais coupe included: Automatic Climate Control w/economy setting, AM/FM Stereo radio with automatic power antenna, power windows, power door locks, power brakes, Variable Ratio Power steering, Turbo Hydra-Matic Drive, High Energy Ignition System, and lamp monitors to name a few.

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Cadillac engineers significantly improved fuel economy for the 1975 model year. The highly efficient 8.2 litre 500 CID V8 was standard for all Cadillac models. A new High Energy Ignition System was designed by the Delco-Remy Division of GM. It incorporated the coil into the distributor. Eliminated were the traditional breaker points, rubbing block, and coil wire.

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The 1975 Cadillac Calais coupe was powered by the Cadillac 8.2 litre 500 CID 16-valve OHV Eldorado V8 engine. It produced 190 hp @ 3,600 rpm with 488 Nm of peak torque @ 2,000 rpm. The engine’s performance was rated as 0-60 mph in 12.5 seconds, 0-100 mph in 41.4 seconds, with a top speed of 116 mph. It did the ¼ mile @ 76 mph in 18.9 seconds. The 8.2 litre V8 had been refined to operate efficiently on unleaded fuel. The Cadillac Calais coupe performed as a Cadillac in every manner.

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The HEI produces a more powerful spark allowing a wider spark plug gap, thus, faster ignition of fuel resulting in faster more reliable starting and a more powerful burn. This system had the provisions for computer controls which would begin late 1970s. Oddly, the 8.2 litre V8 was more efficient than the 7.7 litre 472 CID V8 and was better adapting to emissions controls. The 8.2 litre V8 was a much more leaner/cleaner burning engine.

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The combination of the new exhaust catalytic converter with the solid-state HEI system allowed the use of unleaded fuel and travelling up to 22,500 miles between tune-ups. Each GM Division used its own design for the HEI system. The 8.2 litre V8 engine was mated to GM’s Turbo Hydra-Matic THM-400 3-speed automatic transmission. Refinements were made that made it ‘tighter’ resulting in a more immediate response and improved fuel economy.

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As long as options weren’t added, the 1975 Cadillac Calais Series represented unusual value in a luxury car. It was powered by the same great 8.2 litre V8 engine as the other Cadillacs. It had the very same dimensions as the Cadillac DeVille, even shared the same cosmetics. It was the lack of showroom trim and the austere interior that were the dark side to this model.

Pricing was so close to that of the DeVille that many Calais buyers went with the comprehensively equipped DeVille instead, which was clearly the best value. The Cadillac Calais has created collector interest because of its low production numbers and it being such an oddball at the Cadillac Estate…the 1975 Cadillac Calais coupe leaves its mark in Cadillac history…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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“As the Standard of the World Turns”

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