Archive for the Notorious Retrospect Category

It’s Yesterday Once More: The Incomparable 1968 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado

Posted in "As the Standard of the World Turns", Cadillac, Cadillac Historical, Classic American Marques, Notorious Retrospect with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2017 by 99MilesPerHour

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

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Cadillac Style – “The only way to travel…is Cadillac Style.” What is Cadillac Style? A Cadillac Fleetwood is Cadillac Style. This is Cadillac in its most eminent form. Fleetwood used to do all upholstery work for every Cadillac model…but a Cadillac Fleetwood is a very very special version of the epochal “Standard of the World.” Fleetwood crafted the entire car. It was so special during its heyday, it had its own dedicated assembly line.  A Fleetwood-bodied Cadillac was crafted by talented artisans to be not only the finest automobile in the world…but it was also the paradigm of all luxury sedans.

The only two-door Fleetwood model ever, is the magnificent Fleetwood Eldorado. (Excluding the mid-1980s Fleetwood Brougham two-door coupé as it is merely a Coupe deVille with a custom padded roof and Brougham-style interior…it was not an exclusive Fleetwood-bodied Cadillac) The most notable are the 1967 – 1970 Fleetwood Eldorado model years. They are the pioneers for Cadillac’s front-wheel drive models. The 1968 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado makes a cameo appearance…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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The majestic Fleetwood series catapulted Cadillac to “Standard of the World” status. These ultra-luxurious motorcars were crafted mostly by hand and augmented the Cadillac model hierarchy annually. For the 1968 model year, the fabulous Fleetwood Eldorado was in its second production year as the world’s foremost personal luxury car.

It was the only automobile in its class to offer the impressive traction of front wheel drive…Automatic Level Control to maintain its poise regardless of load or road conditions…and the maneuverability of Variable Ratio Power Steering – all as standard amenities. Model #68-693 Body Style #69347H 1968 Fleetwood Eldorado two-door coupé had a base price of $6,605. It debuted September 21, 1967 and a total of 24,528 were built for the model year. The Fleetwood Eldorado is a unique expression of Cadillac excellence.

Timeless in styling, superb Cadillac engineering, and impeccable craftsmanship…to put it simply – the Fleetwood Eldorado was designed to be one of the finest production automobiles in the world. It introduced a completely new concept which placed it in a class no other motorcar could match. GM is the purveyor of the personal luxury automobile.

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GM was the first American automobile manufacturer to offer front-wheel drive since the 1936-1937 Cord 810/812 series. It was the Oldsmobile Toronado that started the dance. It used the GM “E” platform from the 1963 Buick Riviera. The Oldsmobile Toronado was introduced in 1965 as a 1966 model. One year later the 1967 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado was introduced. The Eldorado, Toronado, and Riviera all shared the same platform; however, the Buick Riviera didn’t adopt front-wheel drive until the 1979 model year. Cadillac fine-tuned the Eldorado to suit the most demanding connoisseur.

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Big news for Cadillac’s 1968 model year is the introduction of an all-new powerplant. Cadillac V8 engines were legendary and this one is no exception. It is the largest engine to power a passenger production automobile for the 1968 model year – 

The spirited 7.7 litre 16-valve 472 CID V8 cranks an impressive 375 hp @ 4,400 rpm packing a prolific punch with 712 Nm of peak torque @ 3,000 rpm. Cadillac’s unsurpassed craftsmanship was never more evident. It is equipped with a Rochester 4-bbl downdraft Quadrajet carburetor with equalized manifold, mechanical fuel pump, dry-type air filter, and a new automatic choke. An Air Injection Reactor system was introduced to reduce hydrocarbons in the exhaust. The engine is built with a cast iron block and cylinder heads, overhead valves, and hydraulic lifters.

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Cadillac engineers spent many years developing this powerful new V8 engine. It underwent over half a million miles of lab testing to study performance and fatigue life of engine components. This rigorous fatigue testing was far more punishment than would be experienced during the life of the car. Radioactive isotopes determined oil consumption. It was not only lab tested, it was taken out into the real world for over two million miles of road testing on every type of road in all-weather conditions. To date, this was only the fourth time Cadillac designed completely new engine architecture.

The first Cadillac V8 engine was designed in 1914, the second in 1936, and the third is the monumental 1949 version with an overhead valve design that utilized wedge-shaped combustion chambers for higher compression ratios. Cadillac is the first automobile manufacturer in the USA to build a production V-type water-cooled 8 cylinder engine by the way. Cadillac received accolades for the 1914 V8 instantly for its quiet, efficient operation, and notorious dependability. The 472 CID V8 shows the same dedication to quality. For example, every crankshaft in a Cadillac engine was dynamically balanced which means it is balanced while rotating. This is done to cancel vibration for enhanced overall operation.

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The 472 CID V8 aggrandized the 1968 Fleetwood Eldorado’s performance. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 8.1 seconds, 0-100 mph in 22.4 seconds with an ungoverned top speed in the 128 mph range. The engine is mated to the GM Turbo Hydra-Matic THM 425 3-speed automatic front-wheel drive transmission. Cadillac adopted the Olds Toronado’s “Unified Powerplant Package”(UPP). This technical engineering was a unique manner of transferring the engine’s power directly to the front wheels. The longitudinal mounted engine/transmission configuration is driven by a silent chain that changed the direction of power by 180 degrees.

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Body by Fleetwood

A Fleetwood-bodied Cadillac is unequalled in all of motordom. Uncompromised luxury and elegance with impeccable fit and finish highlighted the majestic Fleetwood series. It’s preeminence in the luxury car segment is without conjecture the finest expression of automotive excellence. The Fleetwood Eldorado’s long, low architecture was like nothing else on the road at the time. Cadillac had once again created an automotive masterpiece.

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Its stunning front end ensemble is augmented by hidden headlamps. The outer ends of the wide egg crate grille work opens downward to expose the twin headlamp clusters. The parking lamps are relocated from the bumper to the fenders. Those prominent knife-blade fenders run the entire length of the car’s architecture separate from the body ending at the rear with sharp, angular end caps housing the taillamps. Both hood and rear deck lid are sculpted to compliment the Fleetwood Eldorado’s dramatic design. The rear end styling is equally intriguing. The shark fin design with a deeply contoured bumper gives the car a futuristic flair.

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The Fleetwood Eldorado’s avant-garde silhouette retains the poised dignity which was the hallmark of every Cadillac of the genre. The hood is one of the longest in the industry, it had been lengthened to provide a cove to hide the windshield wipers cleverly. Cars from this period are styled with a long nose and short rear deck. The Fleetwood Eldorado sports this design well.

The long low roofline with wide rear sail panels uses small rear quarter windows for privacy. A contoured back glass completed the look of luxury tastefully. The Cadillac Eldorado has always been the styling predictor which showcased designs that would eventually find their way to other Cadillac models. It is the 1967 Fleetwood Eldorado that highly influenced the styling for the 1969-1970 Cadillac Calais, DeVille, and Fleetwood models.

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1970 Coupe deVille and the 1968 Fleetwood Eldorado

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The comfort zone…

Welcome to the inner world of Fleetwood Eldorado. It’s luxury on the grand Cadillac scale in the gracious Fleetwood manner. This is elegance modern cars cannot replicate. The comfort of the wide notchback front seat rivals that of your living room sofa. Have a seat…pull down the padded standard front seat center armrest. Adjust the optional 6-way power seat. Relax in traditional Cadillac luxury.

One of the benefits of front-wheel drive is the absence of the transmission tunnel hump which equates to more legroom for passengers to stretch out. Activate the optional Automatic Climate Control – set the temperature – no further intervention is necessary. Automatically lock both doors with one touch from the optional power door lock button for added security and peace of mind. The instrument panel has been revised with more padding for safety.

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There are two cloth styles for 1968 available for Fleetwood Eldorado. Deauville and Diamond cloth with vinyl bolsters adds character. The optional full leather trim provides not only a regal touch of distinction but also adds longevity to the interior. The optional Strato bucket seats lends a unique sporting appeal to Fleetwood Eldorado’s demeanor. The bucket seat style interior comes with head restraints and a locking center console. The passenger seat has an optional recliner. All interior knobs and switches have been redesigned to be safer to lessen injury.

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Structural logistics

The 1968 Fleetwood Eldorado is a large, comfortable automobile unlike the dinky under-embellished puddle jumpers with front-wheel drive made today. It’s built as body on frame construction. The fully boxed perimeter frame has hidden bulkheads for safety and is specially designed for front-wheel drive. These cars float along; boulevard travel is negligible.

Its torsion bar front suspension has upper and lower control arms with rubber bushings to absorb road shock and cancels vibration before it reaches the cabin. The rear suspension is equipped with single-leaf springs, two horizontal and two vertical shock absorbers. Cadillac’s exclusive Automatic level Control was standard on all Fleetwood models to maintain vehicle poise under any load or road conditions. The Fleetwood Eldorado has the luxury length of 221”, is 80” wide, 53” in height, and rides upon a long 120” wheelbase.   

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The luxury leader – Cadillac Style

Cadillac’s engineering prowess was never more evident. Apart from the all-new V8 engine, the Fleetwood Eldorado for 1968 is bristling with bravado. Cadillac’s triple braking system highlights its safety features. The power braking system is equipped with unique self-adjusting shoes and heat dissipating drums. The brakes automatically calibrate themselves each time the car is driven in reverse and the brakes applied.

The sophisticated hydraulic master cylinder uses two separate reservoirs to provide independent operation of the front and rear brakes. In the event one system fails, the other will bring the car safely to a halt. The parking brake is a true auxiliary brake. Its automatic power vacuum release will not lock in position with the engine running and the vehicle in gear. Front disc brakes were optional. Cadillac led the industry with innovation and technology that took the competition years to catch up.

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For the 1968 model year Cadillac further enhanced its reputation as the “Standard of the World.” The 1967-1970 Fleetwood Eldorado is a milestone vehicle. It was created by Bill Mitchell chief designer for General Motors. The Eldorados from this genre were unlike any Cadillac that preceded them. The personal luxury car had been under research and tested as early as 1961. It was designed to be a large and luxurious Cadillac with traditional virtues yet contemporary acclaim…Cadillac Style – 

The Fleetwood Eldorado is tomorrow’s classic today.  With its Cadillac Style and gracious appointments, the 1968 Fleetwood Eldorado in my opinion is one of the foremost motorcars to bear the charismatic “Standard of the World” title. It retains the poised dignity which was the hallmark of every Cadillac. This is what made the brand the most desired luxury car in the entire world – it’s a shame the brand sank into obscurity. It’s going to take a miracle for the brand to return to its exponential integrity to save it from the mediocrity it currently resides. So, after DTS…CTS…ATS…XTS…and CT6, what’s next – the OMG?

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This editorial is dedicated to “That Hartford Guy!”                                                This one’s for you…kid –  

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Here’s your baby immortalized for prosperity!

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The formidable 1970 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado

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The 1967 Eldorado-inspired 1970 Cadillac Coupe deVille

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There’s no more deep-seated luxury like this

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1968 Fleetwood Eldorado custom convertible

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Here’s a dream with a little bit of fantasy from the creative master Casey Art & Colour http://artandcolourcars.blogspot.com/

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This is his Eldorado to counter Lincoln’s Continental

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Special thanks to Daniel Schmitt Classic Cars http://www.schmitt.com/

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“As the Standard of the World Turns” is Greg’s World

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Retrospect: 1976 Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL

Posted in Editorials, Mercedes Benz, Notorious Retrospect with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2016 by 99MilesPerHour

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Luxury saloons come…and luxury saloons go. Some leave an indelible impression. The iconic and unforgettable Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL is one such automobile. This elegant machine is highly versatile. Some are still in service and used throughout Europe as limousines. These high performance saloons are also at home on the Autobahn or on a nice leafy run in the countryside. Mercedes-Benz is a pioneer with monocoque construction, automobile aerodynamics, active and passive safety features, as well as ergonomic cabin design.

Form and function combined with notorious reliability is how the Mercedes-Benz brand retains world-class status.  Their engineering prowess keeps the automotive industry at the drawing board. The Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL remains at the top of the list for popularity. It was built as W116 450 SE and 450 SEL from 1973 until 1980. The formidable S-Class is simply one of the world’s finest crafted creations…it is part limousine and part performance saloon. They’re the perfect marriage of luxury and logic. From the iconic pentastar that adorns the classic radiator grille to the sleek aerodynamic silhouette, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is one of the most technically advanced saloons on the planet.  Mercedes-Benz presence in the industry has always been central, never peripheral.

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The Mercedes-Benz dynasty began with the collaboration of two master minds. In 1886 Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz presented an idea that changed the way transportation was destined. The automobile…or “horseless carriage” was born. Gottlieb Daimler’s credo was “The best or nothing.” This premise remains as a most enduring legend. Decade after decade the Mercedes-Benz motorcar has achieved success through innovation and advanced engineering prowess. It’s a standard of excellence that serves as a measure by which all automobiles are measured.

From supercharger to fuel injection through bi-turbocharging…no automaker in history has accomplished or contributed more. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class saloons are the flagships of the brand…they are considered a supreme achievement in motoring. The incomparable 450 SEL is the pioneer that laid the foundation for today’s version. The long wheelbase S-Class introduced an entirely new concept of aerodynamically efficient luxury saloons. The idea of precision automobiles first introduced by Mercedes-Benz is now an industry standard. Abundant power, ample cabin space, and myriad creature comforts makes the 450 SEL a favorite among collectors of fine automobiles.

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The world was introduced to a new premium luxury saloon September of 1972 as the next generation of high-end precision vehicles. Project W116 S-Class began in 1966 and was finalized in 1969. “S” denotes Sonderklasse, this translates to ‘special class’ which all senior Mercedes-Benz flagship models are tagged.  It began a prolific existence as the W116 280 series offered in two versions equipped with an M110 straight-six engine; the 280S uses a Solex carburetor and series 280 SE is equipped with a Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection system. “E” denotes fuel injection. W116 is also available as series 350 SE equipped with an M116 3.5 litre V8 engine. 

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The big news for the 1973 model year was the introduction of the 450 series. It includes the 450 SE and the 450 SEL. “L” denotes long wheelbase. These posh saloons are powered by the venerable M117 V8 engine. The epochal W116 S-Class escalated the brand to limousine status, refined, yet elegant. The sleek architecture is ahead of its time. While other luxury cars were bulking it up at the time, Mercedes-Benz was working on weight reduction and aerodynamics.

The W116 S-Class embodied the best in advanced German engineering for the genre. Its architecture is designed to battle crosswinds and overall wind turbulence. W116 S-Class has a mere 0.4 drag coefficient. The exact rake of the windscreen is part of the aerodynamics. Mercedes-Benz discretely incorporated aerodynamics into the body shell’s silhouette to manage airflow around the vehicle. Even the head and taillamps are built into the architecture to be exposed to a constant stream of air to keep them free from slush and debris while driving in inclement weather. Rain water is aerodynamically routed away from side windows. No other make had even considered such advanced thinking at the time.

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The 450 SEL is the epitome of European grandeur with architecture designed to slip through the airstream like a fuselage. This car moves in a manner the oversized dinosaurs we drove here in the USA… dared not try to replicate. The car is designed to ferry its passengers in a most luxurious style…but if you’re like me, slip it off the main roads to the back roads for a long leafy run – you may then use it as a sporting machine.

The 450 SEL is versatile and is equally at home on any road. You will discover, it floats over the worst boulevard pavement taking it all in stride. The flagship Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL saloon is a workhorse. At the time, it was the most aerodynamic luxury saloon sold in America. But we didn’t really care about such…we were driving our Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Brougham, Lincoln Continental with the TownCar option, and lest we forget…our Imperial LeBaron – all of which were a city block long and half a city block wide!!!

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While other auto manufacturers concentrated on aesthetics, bells, and whistles…Mercedes-Benz designed not only safety into cabin specifications, but ergonomics as well. Padding anyplace that comes in contact with the body is integrated. This includes the dash, door impact cushioning, head restraints, and seat backs. Deformable switches and controls further occupant protection.

The heavily padded steering wheel absorbs severe impact with a collapsible steering column to protect the driver. The seats are designed in an upright fashion that is contoured to the body for comfort and safety. Americans at the time considered this configuration “stiff’ and uncomfortable because we were spoiled by our Fleetwood Broughams, Lincoln Continentals, and Imperial LeBarons which rode like big ‘ole rollin Barco loungers. The notorious 450 SEL is more than “just a car”…it’s a Mercedes-Benz.

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The long wheelbase in the 450 SEL adds extra legroom for rear seat passengers. Take note of the ergonomic design of the seats and head restraints. There are no dangerous protuberances in the cabin, everything is designed with occupant safety in mind. In the event of a serious collision, the entire cabin is designed to wrap around the occupants to shield them from injury without air cushion restraint systems…Mercedes-Benz leads the industry with safety innovation.

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Safety is paramount in a Mercedes-Benz, it is built-in and never added on and includes both active and passive systems. The brand adopted monocoque construction in 1951 because of its inherent rigidity and structural integrity. The fact that it isn’t held together by nuts and bolts means there are no squeaks and rattles. The collapsible crumple zone safety principal was pioneered by Mercedes-Benz. In addition to the steel safety cage constructed to surround the passenger cell, unique energy absorbing front and rear sections are designed to accordion at a controlled rate upon impact. This feature cancels negative energy before it reaches the passenger compartment.

The passenger cell is several thousand welding points strong. All doors are designed to neither burst-open nor jam-shut in an accident. Its skeleton of pillars, crossmembers, and panels is not only stronger, but far more resistant to torsional stresses than conventional body on frame construction. The steel passenger cell has a stiffened roof structure with high-strength roof and door pillars to further enhance occupant protection. Mercedes-Benz factory deployed robotic welding machines ensure each welding point is precise. Other auto makers were doing the process by hand. All body tolerances are routinely audited for quality control. Perfection is a driving force for Mercedes-Benz engineers.

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Under the hood resides the Daimler-Benz SOHC 4.5 litre, naturally aspirated 275.8 CID 16-valve V8 engine. It’s equipped with Bosch Jetronic indirect fuel injection. The 3,990+ pound behemoth moves with aplomb. This highly spirited luxury saloon cranks 180 hp @ 4,750 rpm with 248 Nm of peak torque @ 3,000 rpm.

Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 11.3 seconds, 0-100 mph in 34.8 seconds with a top speed in the 122 mph range. This is mighty-fast for a vehicle this heavy. It can do the ¼ mile @ 79 mph in just 18.2 seconds. The 450 SEL sports a front traditionally mounted engine with rear-wheel drive for excellent weight distribution to further refine its excellent handling and stability attributes.

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A high degree of suspension engineering is the basis for these stately saloons. Mercedes-Benz set benchmarks in the auto industry. The eminent W116 models come standard with 4-wheel independent suspension systems. Double wishbones with a stabilizing bar is fitted to the front. A diagonal swing axle, trailing arms and stabilizer bar is fitted to the rear. Coil springs are fitted at all four wheels. Power assisted rack and pinion steering is coordinated to suspension dynamics.

Mercedes-Benz and safety are synonymous. The W116 saloons are the first in the auto industry to offer electronic multi-channel anti-lock braking systems as an option for the 1978 model year. Four wheel power disc brakes teamed with ABS enhances stability and steering control during panic braking to provide shortened braking distances.

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The beauty of a Mercedes-Benz is the fact there is never a dramatic styling change overnight. According to the brand, “there has never been a violent change.” The overall appearance changes through gradual evolution. This is why every Mercedes-Benz S-Class looks as good today as it did when it drove off the assembly line, it is designed to challenge the years gracefully. “Evolution instead of revolution.”

The 450 SEL has dimensions close to those of contemporary luxury saloons. It’s 209.4” in length, 43.6” wide and 56.3” high. It rides upon a 116.5” wheelbase. As far as its appearance…it resembles today’s cars minus the chrome and if it were a tad bit boxier. The 450 SEL blends right in with what’s on the road now. The sophisticated styling will always remain prominent. The only issue with the 450 SEL…is the 4.5 litre V8 engine and its gas-thirsty attributes…but then no pain, no gain – right? Besides…spend it all while you are “above ground.” How many U-Haul trailers do you see attached to hearses?

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The completely new generation of Mercedes-Benz automobiles was developed as W116 luxury saloons and debuted in the fall of 1972. This is the birth of the S-Class series which became the flagship models for the brand. The S-Class represents a milestone in workmanship, handling characteristics, safety, and engineering that no other automobile manufacturer could match for the day. The formidable 450 SEL offers a level of performance, comfort, spaciousness, reliability, and perfection that satisfies the most discerning clientele. It is one of the first cars in the world to provide monocoque construction and a body structure designed to absorb and deflect impact from collisions.

Outstanding active and passive safety features combined with 4-wheel independent suspension and 4-wheel disc brakes catapulted the brand to world-class status. The Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL is part limousine and part performance saloon; an intriguing combination which enticed the auto industry to follow. This elite example of automotive technology earned its place in automotive history as the prelude of innovations the entire industry would replicate – NotoriousLuxury salutes the formidable Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL. Special thanks to Rodd Sala at Park Ward Motors Museum…he is one of the hardest working caretakers of fine automobiles in the entire industry! God Bless you Rodd!!

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Welcome to Greg’s World…

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Greg’s World is NotoriousLuxury…

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The contemporary Mercedes Maybach

1957 Chrysler 300C The Beautiful Brute

Posted in Chrysler, Classic American Marques, Exotic & FAST, Notorious Retrospect with tags , , , , , , , on December 2, 2015 by 99MilesPerHour

Beauty…brawn…and brains

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“The Ozzie & Harriet Nelson – Ward & June Cleaver Era” is a timeline including some of the fondest memories of really good times in America. These were the days when Friday nights were all about high school football games…and those drive-in restaurants with “curb-service!” We would bring out the rides with all those white-wall tires…and go out cruisin’ like we used to do. We’d get “suited-down” and set the town on fire – jump out our seats and let the music pull us through! The car with a little bit of “Razzamatazz” is the 1957 Chrysler 300C.

The “Beautiful Brute” is considered the most beautiful and highly desired of all the Chrysler 300 letter series personal luxury performance vehicles. Power…presence…performance, and prestige was delivered in one svelte swoop – the Chrysler 300 letter series cars blew the doors off of the competition. Virgil Exner, chief design stylist…created automotive works of art. “Suddenly…It’s 1960” was one of the ad campaigns used by the Chrysler Corporation for the 1957 model year. It boasts Virgil Exner’s “Forward-Look” which advanced automotive design to a higher standard. The Forward Look gave the Chrysler brand an all-new identity…leaving the past to history –

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The Chrysler 300 letter series was formidable by nature. The “tail-fin wars” of the 1950s were going strong and Chrysler had GM tit for tat between the leadership of Virgil Exner and Cadillac’s Harley Earl, chief design manager for General Motors. Exner’s Forward Look gave birth to the magnificent Chrysler 300C for the 1957 model year. This supreme achievement in motoring yielded the highest horsepower in the industry for a production vehicle for its day.

All formidable Chrysler 300 letter series cars won virtually every race they were entered into…delivering awesome, jaw-dropping performance unmatched in the automotive industry. If you looked up into your rearview mirror and saw the ferocious trapezoid grille…you moved over – FAST! The Beautiful Brute was also known as the “Banker’s Hot Rod.” Virgil Exner’s Forward Look incorporated his “Flight Swept” styling evolution which set a trend in superior automotive design.

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The Glamour

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A highly styled silhouette augments its Forward Look. The graceful beauty is one dashing uncluttered sweep from its stylish trapezoid grille to the daring upswept tail fins. Virgil Exner designed some of the world’s most beautiful automobiles during his tenure with Chrysler…the 300C is no exception. His Forward Look took the automotive industry by storm from 1955 until 1961. It was this man who changed Chrysler’s stodgy, outdated, old-fashioned image – to aesthetically gorgeous examples of automotive art which projected a glimpse of the future.

The influence of Italian Ghia styling is apparent in the Chrysler 300C. Throughout the 1950s, Exner partnered with Luigi Segre, who was associated with Carrozzeria Ghia S.p.A., an upscale Italian automobile coachbuilder. It was Virgil Exner that introduced the design concept theory to Chrysler. When he came onboard, Chryslers were fashioned by engineers and not designers…this is why they looked so clunky and blocky. The advertising campaign for Chrysler’s 1957 model year epitomized the brand with the slogan “Suddenly…it’s 1960.” In June of 1957, Virgil Exner and his design team won the Industrial Designers’ Institute’s Gold Medal Award for their automotive design excellence.

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Virgil Exner’s tour de force rocked the automotive industry with style. The 1957 Chrysler 300C showcased his talent. His designs used lowered rooflines with sleeker more aggressive silhouettes that featured long hoods and short rear decks. The 300C’s towering tail fins are not only beautiful but also include aerodynamic benefits. This design was tested in a wind tunnel at the University of Michigan during the car’s design engineering phase. The small 14” wheels created the necessity of two small air ducts underneath the headlamps which cool the brakes.

Virgil Exner’s use of compound curved auto glass is the first application of this type to be incorporated into a production passenger car. Automobiles such as the 1957 300C brought Chrysler to the forefront of automotive design. It’s the restrained use of ornamentation that augments the 300C’s refined, luxurious appearance. If you plan to add one of these to your collection, be prepared to shell out six figures for a convertible and an equally hefty price for a hardtop.

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1955 Chrysler C-300 started the revolution

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The Chrysler 300 letter series were built from 1955 until 1965. They are considered eminent high performance personal luxury automobiles. They were known as “America’s Greatest Performing Cars.” This formidable reputation began with the 1955 C-300 garnering both AAA and NASCAR stock car championships. The 1956 300B was a ferocious NASCAR champ with 21 first-place wins in the Grand National races…which brings us to the enigmatic 300C for 1957.

It was the most robust version to date. This potent example of MOPAR craftsmanship is one of Virgil Exner’s finest works of art – And lest we forget “Big Daddy” Dyno Don Garlits and the magic he worked on the 392 Hemi. It was he that broke the 170 mph barrier in 1958 with his Swamp Rat dragster! A stock 300C ran 145 mph at Daytona Beach in 1957. Motor Trend Magazine named the ferocious 1957 Chrysler 300C as car of the year. The potent 300C scorched every track it visited leaving its indelible impression on the competition!

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The Power

Chrysler had legendary performance that put the competition to shame. The ferocious Hemi-head V8 engines were MOPAR’s claim to fame. The 1957 300C is so hot…one needs asbestos driving gloves to drive it! The Chrysler FirePower 392 CID 6.4 litre 16-valve cast iron V8 engine cranks 375 hp @ 5,200 rpm packing a prolific punch with 570 Nm of peak torque @ 4,000 rpm. The engine is equipped with two Carter 4-bbl WCFB 2334S carburetors with vacuum controlled secondary draft systems and integral automatic choke.

This was the largest displacement for this Hemi, next came the venerable 426 CID version, my favorite is the 392. The engine is mated to Chrysler’s new TorqueFlite 3-speed automatic transmission. The TorqueFlite transmission uses a high performance torque converter with planetary gears. The fire-breathing FirePower V8 combined with the fully automatic TorqueFlite transmission was the finest and most efficient power train in the industry at the time.

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The formidable 392 CID V8 in its stock form produces outrageous performance. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as: 0-60 mph in 8.3 seconds, 0-100 mph in 21.5 seconds, and 0-120 mph in 45.5 seconds. It can do the ¼ mile @ 89 mph in 16.1 seconds. Its top speed is in the 129 mph range. The MOPAR Hemi is built for speed. This was a stylish, highly polished muscle car that did it all …luxuriously! Chrysler had a vicious reputation in the 1950s for power; the “Beautiful Brute” is proof –

And if this wasn’t enough power to suit you; the optional engine package reworked the Hemi to crank out 390 hp @ 5,400 rpm producing 570 Nm of peak torque @ 4,000 rpm. I’ll put it this way…all the competitors saw was the 300C’s rear bumper! We aren’t talking about the mamby-pamby power to weight ratios like today’s make believe performance cars…the 300C produced prodigious torque-thrust. This high output option was captioned: “The optional engine is not recommended for the average 300C customer; the longer duration high-speed camshaft increases idle roughness and reduces low-speed engine performance.” Power steering and power brakes were not available with this option. 

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The engine has a full race camshaft, mechanical valve lifters, adjustable valve rockers, heavy-duty crankshaft, double valve springs, four-bolt iron exhaust headers, tri-metal main and rod bearings, and extra-deep exhaust valve seat inserts. The 300C driver’s only view of the competition is in their rearview mirror!

The high performance chassis package includes large diameter exhaust pipes with low back pressure, and twin leading shoe front brakes with 9.00 x 14” Goodyear Blue streak nylon racing tires mounted on wider rims –ummmm! The new “Torsion-Aire” suspension aided this package with angled upper and lower control arms which reduced dive under severe braking. Only 18 were built with this package. It won the Flying Mile at Daytona making it the fastest American car for the third straight year in Class 7.

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The high performance version of the 392 CID Hemi V8 is quicker than the standard version. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as: 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds, 0-100 mph in 20.3 seconds, 0-120 mph in 40.9 seconds, and 0-130 mph in 181.3 seconds. Its top speed is in the 131 mph range. It does the ¼ mile @ 90 mph in 15.9 seconds.

When you take into consideration the weight of this humongous vehicle with a cast iron drive train…these times are awesome. If you look closely at the 300C’s silhouette, you can see how Virgil Exner sneaked in a wedge shape discretely – one could say, the 390 hp 300C bitch-slapped the entire automotive industry in both looks and performance –

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2006 300C Heritage Edition

2006 300C Heritage Edition

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The Logistics

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The 1957 300C was available in two distinctive body styles. Model # C76-300 style code # 566/2 1957 300 C 2-door hardtop had a base price of $4,929, a base shipping weight of 4,235 pounds and 1,918 were built. (Some cite 1,767 built). Model # C76-300 style code # 563/2 1957 300 C 2-door convertible had a base price of $5,359, a base shipping weight of 4,390 pounds and only 484 were built.

This is the first year offering the 300 as a ragtop. It used a massive cross based frame to compensate its topless stature making it perform as well as the stiffer bodied hardtops. The Chrysler 300C was available in Cloud White, Gauguin Red, Parade Green, Copper Brown, and Jet Black. The interior was finished in a neutral tan trimmed with the finest cow hide leather.

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The 1957 Chryslers used a new patented “Torsion-Aire” suspension. This system greatly lowered the car’s center of gravity. The Torsion-Aire suspension is independent up front utilizing torsion bar springs. Oriflow shock absorbers were fitted all the way around. This type of shock absorber gives an exceptional ride that gas-charged shocks cannot replicate. They provide a greater damping effect.

The rear suspension uses Chrysler’s tapered-leaf springs with interliners and rear axle strut. The 300C has a hypoid type rear axle. It is fitted with Chrysler’s new for the day “Total-Contact” hydraulic braking system which included power brakes and independent parking brake. It is fitted with a Hotchkiss rear drive system. The 1957 300C is built as body on frame construction. It has the luxury length of 219.2” and is 78.8” wide riding upon a long 126” wheelbase. The 300C is an extremely large front engine rear drive vehicle.

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The Luxury

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The 1957 Chrysler 300C featured luxury appointments in the style that made the brand famous. A Chrysler motorcar was one of the most luxurious automobiles of the 20th Century. The resplendent interior featured upscale jet-age appointments. The push-button transmission controls were a fascination to many. The rearview mirror is mounted to the center of the dash, a little odd but it was part of the 300C’s demeanor. The interior is absolutely enormous and rivals your guest room at home. Full leather trim was standard. The “Beautiful Brute” as it was referred to affectionately is one of the first ferocious domestic muscle cars.

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The interior reflects is luxury sport nature…it’s the best of both worlds. The padded safety cushion dash is an industry first. The fabulous letter series cars were not mere mass-produced vehicles; they were the best Chrysler built for the day as limited editions. The 300’s technically were a luxury sport version of the New Yorker series. The only color available for the interior was tan, for quality control and styling continuity.

The seats are padded luxuriously with air foam cushions. Its compound curve glass gives the 300C a light airy appeal. The 1957 Chrysler 300C is notoriously luxurious in every respect. Popular options for the day includes a 6-way power seat, power windows, air conditioning, power steering, rear window defroster (hardtop models), radio with rear package shelf speaker, and a power antenna.

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The 1957 Chrysler 300C roamed the asphalt with power and prestige…back in the good old days here in America that I affectionately refer to as the “Ozzie & Harriet Nelson…Ward & June Cleaver Era.” These were extremely good times when we could have fun for less than a buck. The 300C is one of Virgil Exner’s automotive masterpieces. Behind the daring trapezoid grille lurked the formidable 392 CID Hemi-head V8 engine…a fire-breathing, asphalt scorching power behemoth.

The 1957 Chrysler 300C left an indelible impression in the world of high performance cars…it audaciously bitch-slapped the entire automotive industry with savoir-faire in a totally avant-garde manner. Whether one chose the elegant hardtop coupe or the ultimate open tourer…one moved with aplomb! The “Banker’s Hotrod” is considered the most beautiful and highly desired of all the Chrysler 300 letter series models. As far as the competition was concerned…they never really got to see what the 300C looked like up close…all they saw was its rear bumper as it passed the finish line…as they ate its dust –

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Special Thanks to Fav Cars.com, Wallpaperup, And Conceptcarz for the use of these beautiful photographs.

Chrysler 300 Club International

Now this is a rare treat courtesy of the Chrysler 300 Club International…the 1957 300C with single headlamps. The quad headlamp treatment was actually illegal in some states here in the USA in 1957, the quad version became legal in all states in 1958.

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2007 300C Touring SRT8

2007 300C Touring SRT8

2012 Ruyi Design Concept

2012 Ruyi Design Concept

2014 300C SRT8 Satin Vapor

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2015 Chrysler 300 SEMA Edition

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2015 Chrysler 300 Platinum Luxury Edition

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Abstract

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“Got to put back all the good times that we had…we can make it better with a little bit of Razzamatazz”   -The Q

The End

The ferocious 1957 Chrysler 300C is NotoriousLuxury

The Classic Cadillac DeVille Convertibles

Posted in "As the Standard of the World Turns", Cadillac, Cadillac Historical, Classic American Marques, Editorials, Extreme Luxury, Notorious Retrospect with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2015 by 99MilesPerHour

Presenting the grandest of all open tourers

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

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1964 Cadillac DeVille convertible

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One of the most resplendent automobiles in the luxurious realm of motoring majesty is the Cadillac DeVille convertible coupé. They are the most avant-garde manner in which to travel Cadillac-style. These glamorous open tourers were built from 1964 until 1970.

The Cadillac DeVille was the only true luxury convertible built in the land. With spacious six passenger comfort and legendary Cadillac elegance, the DeVille convertible continued the tradition as America’s favorite luxury car. NotoriousLuxury presents a dramatic DeVille encore performance…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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The DeVille convertible coupé retains the poised dignity that was the hallmark of every Cadillac. This brilliant motorcar in all its majesty exudes a youthful zest in the grand Cadillac manner. An exciting new automotive adventure is just a tap of the accelerator away. Their sheer driving pleasure provides a full range of power that is unsurpassed in fine car motoring. At the touch of a button, the power, fully automatic folding fabric roof stows away neatly for the ultimate in open air touring. In luxury and magnificence, they are in a class all their own.

Cadillac convertibles have always been the glamour cars for General Motors. The 1930s gave us the fabulous Fleetwood Series 452 V16 Phaetons. The 1940s spoiled Americans with the luxurious Series 62 convertibles. The 1950s presented the “Standard of the World” as the magnificent Series 62 Eldorado convertibles…with the introduction of the opulent Eldorado Biarritz convertibles dominating the luxury car arena from the mid 1950s through the 1960s. But…it was the 1964 model year that introduced the formidable DeVille convertible coupé with its decadent Cadillac luxury and elegance…it is the absolute epitome of grandeur in all of motordom –

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A Cadillac convertible is more than prestige…they are NOTORIOUS when it comes to performance. The DeVille offers presence, prestige, and performance in the grand Cadillac manner on the grand Cadillac scale. It was introduced as a two-door convertible coupé for the 1964 model year replacing the Series 62 convertible coupé as the standard by which all convertibles were judged.

It shocked the world with a 429 CID V8 engine that produces 340 hp with 651 Nm of peak torque. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in a mere 8.8 seconds with a top speed in the 123 mph range. This is impressive for a 4,500+ pound solidly built automobile. Model # 64-63F style code #6267F 1964 DeVille convertible coupé had a base price of $5,612 with a base shipping weight of 4,545 pounds and 17,900 were built.

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The 1964 DeVille convertible coupé could take on the competition without even using its entire horsepower…the remarkable fact of the traditional Cadillac is that it always had power in reserve. It can do the ¼ mile @ 85 mph in 16.4 seconds. Unlike today’s superficial power-to-weight ratio and wedge shape…a traditional Cadillac kicked butt with awesome torque-thrust!

They are automobiles that could run with GTOs, Camaros, Hemi-Cudas, etc. I simply loved the expression on the faces of sports car owners who would be an image in my rear view mirror! Just a tap of the accelerator sent a thrill of sheer exhilaration down my spine! I always worked a little magic under my hood…my cousins drove and raced Mopars…I took note from them to “over-power” my Kitty Kats!

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The 1964 DeVilles are as luxurious as they are powerful. Glove soft leather upholstery was standard. Power windows and seats, and all of Cadillac’s luxury makes driving them a dream! Cadillac actually surpassed its own great reputation – in beauty…luxury…and performance, craftsmanship was second to none. Every year they became even more exclusive. The 1964 Cadillac DeVille convertible coupé remains extremely popular in today’s harried mass-produced world of make-believe luxury cars.

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Cadillac DeVille convertible coupés exhibits a spirited, youthful vitality. Luxury is your constant companion. The joy of Cadillac ownership is exemplified with this legendary ragtop. They are a most eloquent expression of glamour. Back in the day…they would be bumper to bumper on Rodeo Drive. They were the only luxury convertibles on Park Avenue. A DeVille convertible is synonymous with the good life…movie stars, doctors, lawyers, and elite businessmen and business women all drove them. It’s no surprise that they still remain America’s favorite luxury cars.

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The DeVille convertible coupé lost its tail fins for the 1965 model year however; they retained the poised dignity Cadillac made famous. Model #65-683 style code #68367F 1965 DeVille convertible coupé was base priced at $5,639 with a base shipping weight of 4,690 pounds and 19,200 were built. The NOTORIOUS 429 CID 7.0 litre V8 engine still produced 340 hp @ 4,600 rpm with 651 Nm of peak torque @ 3,000 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in just 9 seconds with a top speed in the 124 mph range. It does the ¼ mile @ 85 mph in 16.6 seconds.

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For the 1965 model year, Cadillac introduced an all-new body style. The front end ensemble is augmented by vertically stacked headlamps and traditional egg crate grille. The authoritative front end design uses fenders that travel beyond the architecture, a feature that would be repeated through the 1970 model year. It makes the car appear even longer than it is.

The rear end styling uses bumpers that ‘hint’ at the iconic Cadillac tail fin. This new body design is more refined and understated sans unnecessary ornamentation…it left the 1950s far behind. Bill Mitchell designs are tasteful…he gave the Cadillac brand a new elegance with grace – the enthusiasts loved it –

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The 1965 DeVille convertible coupé remained as luxurious as the model it replaced. Leather upholstery had a new sew style and eloquence…leather was always standard for Cadillac rag tops. The power, fully automatic folding fabric roof was improved to stow away faster. Cadillac’s ingenious inward folding roof provided a rear seat that could accommodate three passengers…comfortably. All of Cadillac’s traditional luxury is still there from power windows and seats, to power steering, power brakes, and extra touches such as polished stainless-steel trim. The 1965 DeVille convertible coupé is every inch a true Cadillac –

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Model #66-683 style code #68367F 1966 DeVille convertible coupé was base priced at $5,555 with a base shipping weight of 4,445 pounds and 19,200 were built. The DeVille convertible coupé was mildly refined to look even more luxurious. The front end ensemble used less chrome for a more elegant appearance. The bumper is rounder and more prominent. The cornering lamps are now mounted up higher in the front fenders tastefully. The rear end design features a new bumper and tail lamp treatment. The restyling includes a body colored panel beneath the bumper for a custom look. It is still a Cadillac in every respect.

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The trusty 7.0 litre 429 CID V8 engine still kicked out 340 hp @ 4,600 rpm with 651 Nm of peak torque @ 3,000 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 8.6 seconds with a top speed in the 124 mph range. It does the ¼ mile @ 86 mph in 16.3 seconds. It was all about fierce torque-thrust back in the day.

Those of you that have never driven a V8 with raw power cannot imagine driving a car such as this…with a “hair-trigger” accelerator where the slightest tap threw you back in your seat – the rest of the cars were only a glimpse in your rear view mirror (if you could see that far behind you). Today’s make-believe Cadillacs cannot compare…

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All DeVille convertibles feature leather upholstery standard

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It was the 1967 model year’s major redesign that augmented the classic DeVille. Model #67-683 style code #68367F 1967 DeVille convertible coupé was base priced at $5,608 with a base shipping weight of 4,500 pounds and 18,200 were built. The DeVille convertible coupé now has a more stately appearance. The all-new front end design has a look of authority with its slightly canted forward look.

The body lines are chiseled and flowed gracefully from nose to tail. The rear end design is all-new as well with chrome capped tail lamps set into the bumper ends that once again hinted at the Cadillac tail fin. This redesign made the DeVille convertible coupé appear longer, lower, and wider than the model it replaced. These were the most elegant Cadillacs in the history of the brand to date. With the top down….the DeVille’s architecture looked as though it spanned for miles.

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The interior for the 1967 model year was completely redesigned. The new Cadillac elegance prevailed leaving the past to history. The leather clad upholstery is more deep-seated and luxurious. The traditional Cadillac legendary manner of exclusivity remained. All of the power assists customers had grown accustomed to was escalated to new heights of supremacy. The 1967 DeVille convertible coupé was more magnificent than ever.

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The 7.0 litre 16-valve 429 CID V8 engine received a new valve train and a modified Carter 4-bbl downdraft Quadrajet carburetor. Horsepower was decreased to 308 hp @ 4,400 rpm with 606 Nm of peak torque @ 2,800 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 9.1 seconds with a top speed in the 119 mph range. It does the ¼ mile @ 83 mph in 16.7 seconds.

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The 1968 model year was big news for Cadillac enthusiasts. Model #68-683 style code #68367F 1968 DeVille convertible coupé had a base price at $5,736 with a base shipping weight of 4,600 pounds and 18,025 were built. Cosmetic wise, Cadillac gave it a mild beauty treatment to refine the exterior design.

It was the all-new 7.7 litre 16-valve 472 CID V8 engine that made the headlines in the automotive industry. It was the largest V8 engine to power a production passenger vehicle. The luxury behemoth now pumped out 375 hp @ 4,400 rpm packing a prolific punch with 712 Nm of peak torque @ 3,000 rpm. It had the competition “nervous.”

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This massive V8 engine is capable of racing with the best. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 8.2 seconds with a top speed in the 129 mph range. It could do the ¼ mile @ 88 mph in 16 seconds. Yes…this massive power plant rocked the entire world with its eminent integrity and being a Cadillac superlative made it even more formidable.

This engine was actually GM’s big-block V8 bored out to 472 CID. Cadillac was the master builder of the 8 cylinder engine. Today’s kitschy-faux Cadillacs cannot hold a candle to the traditional “Standard of the World.” I am living proof of this fact. I drove them when they were the finest luxury cars in the world…

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The 1968 models received a mild “Cadillac beauty treatment”

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1969 Cadillac DeVille convertible

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The 1969 Cadillac DeVille convertible coupé is the undisputed masterpiece from the master craftsmen. Model #69-683 style code #68367F 1969 DeVille convertible coupé had a base price of $5,095 with a base shipping weight of 4,590 pounds and 16,445 were built for the model year. These were the most impressive Cadillac creations in the history of the brand to date.

The 1969 and 1970 Cadillacs were the most popular years for the brand because of their style, grace and that poised dignity that was the hallmark of every Cadillac. The 1969 Cadillac Calais, DeVille, and Fleetwood were completely redesigned from the ground up. They were patterned after the 1967 Fleetwood Eldorado. The 1969 and 1970 Cadillacs are still popular among enthusiasts world-wide.

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The 1969 DeVille convertible coupé is powered with the highly successful 7.7 litre 16-valve 472 CID V8. It produces 375 hp @ 4,400 rpm with an earth-shattering 712 Nm of peak torque @ 3,000 rpm. This naturally aspirated V8 engine is equipped with the famous Rochester 4-bbl downdraft Quadrajet carburetor. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 8.1 seconds with a top speed in the 128 mph range.

If you removed the limiter it was actually capable of 150 mph+ easily. It does the ¼ mile @ 88 mph in just 16 seconds…this engine was sweet before they put the smog crap on it which drastically decreased its horsepower in later model years before its demise. This engine was not designed to run on unleaded regular gasoline which the public found out starting in 1971 thru 1974 when it was discontinued and the 8.2 litre 500 CID Eldorado engine was used beginning the 1975 model year. It was easier to adapt to regular gasoline and the pollution controls.

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What I admired most about the traditional Cadillacs is the fact they always retained power in reserve if you knew how to drive them. It is the first two gears you had to get through quickly…it is the third gear that POPPED with the instantaneous power. All of the luxury and performance is what spoiled me. I just cannot get used to the make-believe Cadillacs they pretend to build today.

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The 1969 DeVille convertible coupé’s interior was completely redesigned for the model year. High-back lounge seats covered in supple ostrich grain leather upholstery with head restraints on the front seats made these cars ride like big ‘ole rollin’ Barco loungers. Elegant touches such as genuine walnut trim to the door panels and a newly designed dash made the 1969 DeVille stand out from the competition.

Power windows and seats, power Variable Ratio power steering and Cadillac’s “Triple Braking” system are just a few of the myriad conveniences. A Cadillac was among the best cars in the world at the time. Innovation was never an afterthought with the “Standard of the World”…why, who do you think invented “Climate Control” completely automatic temperature control? Who do you think invented cornering lamps? Lest we forget…Cadillac pioneered the luxury car…the entire world took notes from its class of technology – 

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The finale…1970 Cadillac DeVille convertible

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The finale for the ultra-luxurious DeVille convertible coupé came with the 1970 model year. Model #70-683 style code #68367F 1970 DeVille convertible coupé had a base price of $6,068 with a base shipping weight of 4,660 pounds and 15,172 were built for the model year. Sadly…the 1970 Cadillacs were the last of the REAL “Standard of the World.”

Oh, they still existed as full-sized automobiles until the 1976 model year for the Calais, DeVille, and Fleetwood…and until 1978 for the Eldorado…but they were not the same. Short cuts and quality control began to disintegrate its integrity and eminence. The 1970 DeVille convertible coupé received a mild Cadillac beauty treatment, but is was basically a 1969.

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The 1970 DeVille convertible coupé uses the same famous 7.7 litre 16-valve 472 CID V8 engine that cranked 375 hp @ 4,400 rpm with the awesome 712 Nm of peak torque @ 3,000 rpm. It still uses the Rochester 4-bbl downdraft Quadrajet carburetor. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 8.1 seconds with a top speed in the 128 mph range. It does the ¼ mile @ 88 mph in 15.9 seconds. Beauty is more than skin deep with the 1970 DeVille convertible coupé.

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The 1970 DeVille retained the deep-seated lounge seats

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The traditional Cadillac DeVilles were all front engine, rear-wheel drive automobiles. They were built solidly as body-on-frame construction. Rubber bushings were used to cushion metal-to-metal confrontation to not only absorb road impact and vibration, but also to isolate road noise before it reached the interior. This is why these cars are so quiet and vibration-free. Convertibles are built differently than a hardtop. The ragtop is built with a lower center of gravity with a stronger body structure. Back in the day, Cadillac convertibles were built specifically as convertibles, not merely snipping off the roof of a hardtop coupé.

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Cadillac DeVille convertible coupés are built with solid frames. The 1964 DeVille used Cadillac’s rugged tubular “X-frame.” The 1965 through 1970 DeVille convertibles use Cadillac’s fully-boxed perimeter frame with hidden bulkheads for added torsional rigidity. The front suspensions for 1964 through 1970 DeVilles are built with the traditional upper and lower control arms; independent helical coil springs with rubber mounted strut rods and rubber bushings. All model years used the traditional Cadillac four-link drive rear suspension with helical coil springs and rubber bushings.

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The 1964 through 1970 DeVille convertible coupés came standard with GM’s 3-speed automatic Turbo Hydra-Matic transmissions. Cadillac’s exclusive “Triple-Braking” system was equipped with a dual hydraulic master cylinder providing the independent operation of front and rear systems. The parking brake is vacuum released automatically when the transmission is shifted to a drive gear.

It will not lock with the engine running and transmission in gear. It could be used as an emergency brake if needed. The brakes self-adjust each time the car is driven in reverse and the brakes applied. Also standard beginning the 1965 model year is Cadillac’s exclusive Variable Ratio Power Steering system which continually calibrated itself contingent upon the driving situation.

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Cadillac Crest

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A youthful zest combined with spirited performance made the Cadillac DeVille series America’s favorite luxury cars. The DeVille convertible coupé with its full complement of power assists and the sheer opulence of its style made Cadillac the primary choice in open tourers. The interior appointments set it apart from the competition…it was the only luxury convertible built in the land.

Elegance, excitement, and excellence with that poised dignity which was the hallmark of every Cadillac makes the magnificent DeVille convertible coupé a motorcar with a highly individual flair. The glamorous DeVille creates a measure of motoring excellence entirely unique in all of motordom. It leaves an indelible impression in automotive history. The pleasure of owning a Cadillac DeVille convertible coupé is exceeded only by that of driving it. The 1964 through the 1970 DeVille convertibles are just another highly successful chapter…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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Special thanks to Daniel Schmitt Classic Cars & Bob Adams Classic Cars…two exemplary caretakers and retailers of the finest in special interest and collectible automobiles in the industry…

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Greg's World

Greg’s World IS NotoriousLuxury….

Cadillac: The Standard of the Entire World

Posted in "As the Standard of the World Turns", Cadillac, Cadillac Historical, Classic American Marques, Editorials, Extreme Luxury, Grande Marque, Luxury Sedans, Notorious Retrospect, Requiem For A Legend with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2015 by 99MilesPerHour

…Automotive milestones

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

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Theodore MacManus wrote in his famous “The Penalty of Leadership” advertisement: “That which is good or great makes itself known, no matter how loud the clamor of denial.” Cadillac prowess in the luxury car arena made headlines all over the world. From the massive V16 and V12 powerplants to the modern V8 engines…Cadillac was the master builder of the luxury automobile.

Fisher Body, Harley Earl, Bill Mitchell, and a host of other talent made the brand the undisputed “Standard of the World”…in the entire world. Will the brand ever stop chasing everything that moves in Europe…and return to being the pride of the USA and the envy of the world? NotoriousLuxury retros back to the days when Cadillac reigned supreme…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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There was a time when Cadillac had no product recalls…they even sold without advertising. Cadillac was recognized as the luxury leader world-wide. The mere mention of “Cadillac” had the competition in a nervous frenzy. The brand had absolutely no interest comparing itself to European brands simply because the European brands were taking notes from Cadillac success!

The “Standard of the World” was the innovator displaying engineering prowess with outstanding fit & finish. Cadillac couldn’t have cared less about achieving 0-60 mph in a nanosecond, nor was it trying to compete in every automotive class – a Cadillac was a luxury car…period. Cadillac has since forgotten all of its loyal following that made it the “Standard of the World.”

1976 Coupe deVille 1

1976 Cadillac Coupe deVille

1976 Coupe deVille 2

The Cadillac name was synonymous with luxury, prestige, and quality. The association was that of superlative status such as the Cadillac of appliances…the Cadillac of electronics; this meant the product or service was the best in its industry. And of course…the Cadillac of automobiles was the one and only “Standard of the World.” It was everyone’s dream car…the envy of the driveway.

The mere sight of a big, shiny, classy Cadillac sent shock waves throughout the entire automotive industry. The exclusivity and supremacy made quite a statement about its owner. A Cadillac was a supreme achievement in motoring…I used to polish mine for hours upon end to a glassy mirror-like reflection that was so shiny, my girlfriends used to apply their make-up using my Cadillacs as a mirror! Those were the good old days.

1976 Coupe deVille 3

1976 Coupe deVille 4

Once seated behind the wheel…a turn of the ignition key brought the powerful V8 engine to life…it didn’t roar its existence – it whispered its presence. The transmission engaged imperceptibly…the steering was light as a feather…I could turn the steering wheel with one finger action.

Once the ride was under way, boulevard travel intrusion was negligible…a Cadillac managed the roughest pavement with ease. There was nothing else on the road quite like it. In fact, there was no more magnificent manner in which to view the world than from behind the wheel of the “Standard of the World.” Its presence enhanced any occasion…its eminence never went unnoticed –

1970

Not many truly understand this automobile’s illustrious heritage. Let’s take a look into the history of the “Standard of the World.” The brand was established in 1899 as The Detroit Auto Company. It was the first venture of its type in Detroit. It was struggling to survive; the company floundered and was dissolved in January 1901 after only 20 vehicles were built.

The company was reorganized on November 20, 1901 as The Henry Ford Company. Henry ran the company for three weeks then resigned to move on to other endeavors. Henry Martyn Leland, a reserved traditional entrepreneur, reorganized the venture and the company was renamed after Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the founder of the city of Detroit. The Cadillac Model A was introduced in 1903.

The brand did not spring forth as the “Standard of the World.” This formidable title was garnered through evolution and dedication to quality. It’s an American success story that unfortunately has a not so happy ending. To regain the illustrious title the brand must cease and desist with the kitschy-faux, make-believe unreasonable facsimiles and build real luxury automobiles once again –

1904 Model B Touring 1

1904 Cadillac Model B Touring

1908 Model S

1908 Cadillac Model S

Model 30 1913 2

1913 Cadillac Model 30

Model 30 1913 1

1918 Model 57 Raceabout

1918 Cadillac Model 57 Raceabout

Fisher Body, the coachbuilder for GM was founded in 1908 by Fred and Charles Fisher of the famous Fisher brothers in Detroit, Michigan. It all began here in Ohio in the beautiful area of Norwalk in the late 1800s building horse-drawn carriages. The transition became necessary because the internal combustion engine and its torque created way too much vibration and the bodies of the horse-drawn units couldn’t withstand the forces.

1929 Cadillac V-8 Dual Cowl Phaeton

Before Fisher Body became a company, the Fisher brothers built bodies for Cadillac. By 1910, Fisher Body became the supplier of all closed bodies for Cadillac. They also built bodies for Buick, Abbot, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Packard, Studebaker…even Ford. By 1913 Fisher Body had the capacity to build 100,000 bodies per year. This success caused the company to expand into Canada right across the lake from Detroit. By 1914 they grew becoming the world’s largest manufacturer of automobile bodies.

In 1916 Larry Fisher joined the company placing emphasis on the Cadillac brand. He wanted exclusivity for the brand. Fisher Body developed the art of interchangeability of wood body parts. They created precision wood working tools, thus, increasing production output. The company became The Fisher Body Corporation in 1916 with the capacity to build 370,000 bodies per year. Larry Fisher became general manager from 1925 until 1934. He oversaw the purchase of The Fleetwood Metal Body Company of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania in 1925.

V16 1

Cadillac was the first American car in 1914 to introduce a V-type water-cooled 8 cylinder engine and was also the first to use a thermostatic controlled cooling system. In 1920 the Clark Avenue plant was built in Detroit, Michigan and was the most modern facility in the entire industry. In 1922 Cadillac introduced a thermostatic carburetor control for efficiency. For the 1923 model year Cadillac was the first in the industry to build the inherently balanced V8 engine with a compensated crankshaft…and a four-wheel braking system.

Cadillac was the first in the industry in 1926 to offer a comprehensive service policy on a nationwide basis. In 1928 Cadillac developed the clashless synchromesh transmission that eliminated the chafing noise and friction of gear shifting, thus, laying the foundation for the first fully automatic transmission called the Hydra-Matic in 1941 which eliminated the clutch and manual shifting. In 1929 chrome plated accessories were standard.

1930 Cadillac Model 452 V16

1930 Cadillac Model 452 V16

1930 V16 convertible

1930 Cadillac V16 Roadster

1930 V16 Roadsters were the world’s most luxurious cars

1930 V16 Phaeton 1

1930 Cadillac V16 Phaeton

1930 V16 Phaeton 2

1930 V16 Phaeton 3

After the stock market crash in the 1920s with The Great Depression, GM never lost money due to its diversity under the leadership of Larry Fisher. Fisher Body was an innovator in the industry. They introduced car window regulators to raise and lower windows, closed bodies offering year round comfort wet or dry…rain or snow, and many other features automakers take for granted today. The Fishers turned a $1,000 investment from Fred’s sister into a multi-million dollar company a few years later. In 1919 General Motors paid $27.6 Million USD for 60 percent of Fisher Body, and in 1926 GM paid another $208 Million USD for the remaining 40 percent of Fisher Body.

And in case you didn’t know…Cadillac was a pioneer in the automotive industry. Cadillac luxury and elegance are prominent attributes but innovation and engineering prowess were paramount. Cadillac introduced many firsts to the automotive industry. It is the only ‘foreign’ automobile to win the coveted Dewar Trophy from the Royal Automobile Club of Great Britain…not once…but twice. In 1908 Cadillac won for introducing standardization and interchangeability of parts. In 1912 it won for introducing the Delco electric lighting and ignition system. In 1905 Cadillac was the first to offer a multi-cylinder engine. In 1910 it was the first auto manufacturer to offer closed bodies as standard equipment. For the 1911 model year the illustrious Fleetwood hand-crafted coachwork made its grand entrance.

1930-1932

This is one of Cadillac’s coupé body designs from 1930-1932

1931 Cadillac V12

1931 Cadillac V12

1933 Cadillac V16

1933 Fleetwood-bodied V16

1936 Series 90

1936 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 90

Next…enter Harley Earl. He created Cadillac works of art. Harley Earl initiated the process of freeform sketching and hand sculpture techniques. His “concept car” theory is still used today for the design process. He was discovered by Larry Fisher who was intrigued by Earl’s concept car and clay model processes. Harley Earl’s methodology was far ahead of its time. The comradery began in 1927 when Fisher commissioned Harley Earl to design the 1927 LaSalle which was to be a companion entry-level car for Cadillac.

Harley Earl was named the first director of GM’s Art & Colour Section which was an in-house design studio and is an industry first, established December 15, 1935. Earl’s legendary techniques were a shock to conservatives at General Motors. He brought luxurious style to Cadillac…just what Larry Fisher wanted.  Before the Art & Colour Section, there really wasn’t a great importance to how an auto body looked. By 1937 The Art & Colour Section was renamed “The Styling Section” and Harley Earl was named vice president. This is the first time in automotive history that a designer became a VP of a large corporation.

1936 Cadillac V16 Series 90 Town Cabriolet

1936 Cadillac V16 Series 90 Town Cabriolet

The big news was the ultimate automobile powerplants introduced in 1930. The massive 16 and 12 cylinder engines, both V-types…made Cadillac the first auto manufacturer to offer a complete line of multi-cylinder automobiles. Cadillac introduced the hydraulic valve silencers the same year; Cadillac was the master builder for multi-cylinder engines.

This made the competition appear dated – placing the competitors even further behind…for the 1932 model year Cadillac introduced safety headlamps, an air-cooled generator, a completely silent transmission, and full-range ride regulator. And you thought Cadillac was merely a luxury car…Cadillac was the engineering leader…it “started the dance” the rest of the auto industry followed in subservience…especially European luxury “wannabes.” 

V16 2

1936 Series 70 V8 coupe

1936 Cadillac Series 70 V8 coupé

1936 V16 convertible

1936 Cadillac V16 Convertible coupé

1939 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Derham Town Car 1

1939 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special with body by Derham

1939 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Derham Town Car 2

1939 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Derham Town Car 3

1940 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special 1

1940 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

1940 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special 5

The glamour of a Cadillac was second to none. There was style…grace…and the poised dignity which was the hallmark of every Cadillac. It used to be the luxury car enjoyed by more luxury car buyers than any other brand. These resplendent automobiles were an ultra-exclusive realm of motoring majesty. Now…enter Bill Mitchell, a bright and talented advertising illustrator.

Harley Earl recruited him to join the GM Art & Colour Section in 1935. Bill Mitchell designed the fabulous Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special. He influenced the design of over 72.5 million GM automobiles. Some of his monumental designs include the 1955-1957 Chevy Bel Air, the 1961-1976 Corvette Stingray, the 1963 Buick Riviera, and the 1975-1979 Cadillac Seville. Bill Mitchell eventually became the VP of Design for GM.

1940 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special 6

Beginning the 1934 model year, Cadillac was the first to begin stream lining the coachwork…the spare tire was now concealed within the body. The 1936 model year is another important milestone year. Bill Mitchell designed the Fleetwood-bodied Series Sixty-Special. This car revolutionized luxury automobiles. It was the first car to use fender mounted headlamps when everyone else attached them to the hood.

The elegant Series Sixty-Special was sans running boards which was shocking at the time. It had a faired-in rear deck lid, thin door posts, and chrome banded window frames which became Fleetwood signature features for many years. A hydraulic braking system was also introduced by Cadillac in 1936 as a first to the industry. The Sixty-Special was released for the 1938 model year; its design was copied by the rest of the auto industry. This milestone vehicle made everything on the road appear outmoded. This car influenced automotive design for an entire generation.

1940 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special 2

1940 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special 3

1940 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special 4

1940 Series 72

For the 1940 model year, Cadillac was the first to introduce an ultra-modern large, luxurious motorcar to the industry known as the Fleetwood Series Seventy-Two. It was similar to the Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five but is 3″ shorter. It rides upon a long 138″ wheelbase. The Fleetwood Series Seventy-Two is powered by a 346 CID V8 engine that produces 140 hp.

The Fleetwood Series Seventy-Two uses a 3-speed manual transmission and is equipped with a four-wheel hydraulic braking system. This is the only year it was produced and only 18 were built. 1940 introduced the first ball bearing steering system making these large vehicles easier to maneuver.

1941 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

1941 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

1941 Cadillac Sixty-two Coupe

1941 Cadillac Series 62 coupé

1947 Cadillac Series 62 convertible

1947 Cadillac Series 62 convertible coupé

1948 Cadillac Series 62 convertible 5

1948 Cadillac Series 62 convertible 

Harley Earl’s first monumental design is the 1948 Cadillac. This is the birth of the iconic Cadillac tail fin. The Lockheed P-38 was the inspiration. During this genre, air craft and space rockets dominated the designers’ imagination for automotive design. The tail fin wars of the 1950s were instigated by Harley Earl and Chrysler’s chief designer Virgil Exner. Tail fin mania spread like wildfire throughout the industry. The greatest engineering achievement in 45 years was Cadillac’s new compact…more economical and smoother operating overhead valve V8 engine for the 1948 model year. 

1948 Cadillac Series 62 convertible 1

1948 Cadillac Series 62 convertible 2

1948 Cadillac Series 62 convertible 4

1948 Cadillac Series 62 convertible 3

Harley Earl and Alfred P. Sloan, GM’s president at the time developed the annual model change implemented as “Dynamic Obsolescence.” This associated model identity to a specific year for product success. This principle is used in the marketing strategies today. Harley Earl is the pioneer of using clay models to evolve various body components. He is the first designer to create complete automobiles; blending the main body structure with hoods, fenders, lights, and trim to enhance styling continuity. The rest of the auto industry scrambled to adopt this theory.

1949 Series 62 Coupe deVille 2

1949 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe deVille

1949 Series 62 Coupe deVille 4

Public acceptance was important to Harley Earl. It was his fabulous idea that led to the formidable GM Motoramas. Between 1949 and 1961 these glitzy, glamorous extravaganzas showcased notorious conceptual designs aimed at public reaction. Comments were taken seriously and used towards production models. Harley Earl designed the pillarless hardtop design which was the first of its kind in the automotive industry.

He ordered the two-door hardtop design into production as the very first Coupe deVille for the 1949 model year. Earl visited Italy and after seeing a Lancia sedan sans “B” pillars…he introduced the hardtop Sedan deVille for the 1956 model year for luxury car buyers that wanted a pillarless four-door configuration. The Orleans four-door hardtop sedan was a concept car that debuted at the 1953 Motorama which appealed to customers and spawned the Sedan deVille. The DeVille series is among the longest and most successful production runs in the history of the brand. They earned the title as “America’s favorite luxury cars.”

1949 Series 62 Coupe deVille 7

1949 Series 62 Coupe deVille 3

The Coupe deVille mocked a convertible with chrome roof bows

1949 Series 62 Coupe deVille 5

1949 Series 62 Coupe deVille 6

1949 Series 62 Coupe deVille 8

1949 Series Sixty-Special 2

1949 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

1949 Series 62 convertible

1949 Cadillac Series 62 convertible

1950 Cadillac Sixty-two Convertible

1950 Cadillac Series 62 convertible

1953 Series 62 Eldorado 4

1953 Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado convertible

Cadillac even outdid itself for the 1953 model year slapping the competition with the highest horsepower V8 engine to power a domestic production vehicle with an astounding 220 hp in the magnificent limited edition Series 62 Eldorado convertible…a Harley Earl masterwork! The 1953 Cadillac Eldorado is an exclusive trim option package for the Series 62 and the image car for General Motors. It was also the most expensive model at $7,750…you could have purchased two Cadillacs for this price.

Distinctive signature features which set it apart from the stock convertible are a wrap-around panoramic windscreen, a sculpted beltline that incorporates a cupid’s bow in its design, a sleek metal parade boot, and Kelsey-Hayes genuine wire-laced wheels. Only 532 were built making it highly sought by collectors world-wide today. They now sell for six figures…that is if you can find one for sale – Harley Earl’s legend will live on forever. He and Bill Mitchell made Cadillac the quintessential luxury icon.

1955 Cadillac for racing 1

Cadillac was into stock car racing, 1955 Series 62 coupé shown

1955 Cadillac for racing 2

1955 Eldorado

1955 Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado convertible

1956 Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five

1956 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five limousine

1956 Series 62 Sedan deVille 1

1956 Cadillac Series 62 Sedan deVille

1956 Series 62 Sedan deVille 2

The pillarless hardtop Sedan deVille became an instant success

1956 Series 62 Sedan deVille 3

1958 Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five

1958 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five limousine

Series 70 Eldorado Brougham 1

1957-1958 Series 70 Eldorado Brougham

Series 70 Eldorado Brougham 3

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The last of Harley Earl’s masterpiece designs is the magnificent 1957-1958 Series 70 Eldorado Broughams. This is the most spectacular Cadillac motorcar of the 1950s. Its sheet metal wasn’t shared with any other Cadillac. The Eldorado Brougham was one of the world’s most expensive cars at the time selling at $13,074. Understated luxury from bumper to bumper with a custom appearance makes this automobile totally unique for the genre. Harley Earl designed some of the most significant Cadillacs of all time. He retired at age 65 in 1958 shortly after directing the design of the iconic 1959 Cadillacs. By this time, General Motors had become the largest corporation in the world.

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The 1959 tail fin

The iconic tail fin from the 1959 Cadillac

1959 Series 62 Flat Top 1

1959 Cadillac Series 62 “Flat Top” hardtop sedan

1959 Series 62 Flat Top 2

1959 Series 62 Flat Top 3

1959 Series 62 Flat Top 6

1959 Series 62 Flat Top 5

1959 Series 62 Flat Top 4

1959 Eldorado Biarritz convertible

1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible

1960 Eldorado Biarritz convertible 1

1960 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible

1960 Eldorado Biarritz convertible 2

1960 Eldorado Biarritz convertible 3

For the 1960s, Bill Mitchell promoted what he called the “Sheer Look.” It was an aerodynamic design that is sleeker and more contemporary. He broke away from the designs of Harley Earl with his own interpretations of what a luxury car should be. The designs under his direction are noted as the “Bill Mitchell Era.”

He gave GM vehicles a more conservative, streamlined look. His restrained use of ornamentation, less chrome, and the elimination of tail fins instituted an understatement which made these automobiles timeless challenging the years gracefully. Mitchell’s last accomplishments are the radically down-sized Cadillacs for the 1977 model year. Both Bill Mitchell and Harley Earl left an indelible impression on the automotive industry.

1960 Eldorado Biarritz convertible 5

1960 Series 62 convertible 1

1960 Cadillac Series 62 convertible

1960 Series 62 convertible 2

1960 Series 62 convertible 3

Cadillac was still a heart-throb with its “Sheer Look”

1960 Series 62 convertible 4

1960 Series 62 convertible 6

1960 Series 62 convertible 5

1960 Series 62 convertible 7

1967 Fleetwood Eldorado

The 1967 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado with front-wheel drive is the world’s finest personal luxury automobile. It successfully combined the traction of front-wheel drive, maintained perfect poise with Automatic Level Control, and the maneuverability of Variable Ratio Power Steering…all as standard equipment. This car gangster-slapped the industry big-time!

1971 Coupe deVille 1

1971 Cadillac Coupe deVille

1971 Coupe deVille 2

The Bill Mitchell Era exemplified Cadillac luxury and distinction to new heights in exclusivity and supremacy. This elegant era in luxury motoring was augmented by “Cadillac-Style!” Bill Mitchell had the entire industry “nervous.” Each time the competition ‘thought’ they had caught up with Cadillac-Style…Bill Mitchell bitch-slapped them with something more intriguing…with an attitude –

1971 Coupe deVille 3

1971 Coupe deVille 4

1971 Coupe deVille 5

1972 Fleetwood Brougham

1972 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Brougham

1972 Fleetwood Brougham 2

1972 Fleetwood Brougham 6

1972 Fleetwood Brougham 3

1972 Fleetwood Brougham 4

1972 Fleetwood Brougham 7

Cadillac pioneered many features and accessories the auto industry takes for granted. I could go on and on with praise for the brand’s outstanding automotive achievement. The 1960s and 1970s were equally as innovative…but something happened during the mid to late 1970s. The music stopped for Cadillac in the 1980s – it became adulterated with so many generic shortcuts which made it a mere hodgepodge of GM parts adorned with Cadillac nomenclature. Quality, fit & finish came to an abrupt halt. Its styling became nondescript and austere.

And as the years went by, it began chasing/emulating anything that moved from Europe. It has become too many things: a jack of all trades and a master of none. Its luxurious demeanor has become diluted to the point of kitsch. All models are recalled annually because of defects and short-sighted engineering. It is no longer a real luxury car…it masquerades as everything. In order to regain its stature, it must cease and desist with the intent of trying to be all things competing in areas which it should not.

Cadillac was snob wagon supreme…formidable in its existence, causing the competition to take note. The entire world waits with bated-breath for the supremacy and exclusivity once presented by Cadillac to dominate the industry and once again become the pride of the USA and the envy of the world. This is another NOTORIOUS flashback…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

1973 Coupe deVille 1

1973 Cadillac Coupe deVille

1973 Coupe deVille 2

1973 Coupe deVille 3

1973 Coupe deVille 4

1973 Coupe deVille 5

Fisher Body Logo

“GM mark of excellence…”

1975 Fleetwood Brougham

1975 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Brougham

1976 Fleetwood Castilian Estate wagon 2

1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Castilian Estate wagon

1976 Fleetwood Castilian Estate wagon 1

1990-1992 Brougham 3

1990-1992 Cadillac Brougham 

1990-1992 Brougham 2

1990-1992 Brougham 1

1990-1992 Brougham 4

Brougham d’Elegance interior

1990-1992 Brougham 5

Special thanks to the best caretakers in the classic car business: Daniel Schmitt Classic Cars, Jim Hailey’s Classic cars, Matt Garrett/GM Classics, MJC Classic Cars, Liberty Old Timers, Bob Adams Classic Cars, and Park Ward Motors Museum.

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Will there ever be another “Standard of the World” creation?

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“As the Standard of the World Turns”

1976 Cadillac Seville: The Penalty of Leadership

Posted in "As the Standard of the World Turns", Cadillac, Cadillac Historical, Classic American Marques, Editorials, Extreme Luxury, Grande Marque, Luxury Sedans, Notorious Retrospect with tags , , , , , , , on September 5, 2015 by 99MilesPerHour

“As the Standard of the World Turns” presents…

1976 Cadillac Seville 1

…An American standard for the world.

1976 Cadillac Seville 2

The Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 raised the price of crude 70 percent. This act created quite a raucous knocking the wind out of the sails of the global economy. In the USA…double lines formed at gasoline stations as drivers scrambled to re-fuel. Some stations posted “NO-GAS” signs because of depleted supplies. It threw a serious curve in the US economy. It forced Americans to re-think the size of their luxury automobiles. Cadillac had to do a complete reassessment regarding the future of their offerings.

The answer came as “The next generation of the luxury car.” In less than two years, Cadillac engineers worked feverishly for the solution: this was the birth of the Cadillac Seville. It is a luxury car like nothing ever offered before. The Seville refuted the traditional American automotive paradigm of bigger being better. This major event in history changed the way America thought about luxury cars…forever. The 1976 Cadillac Seville makes a grand entrance…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

1976 Cadillac Seville 3

“When a man’s work becomes a standard for the entire world…it also becomes a target for the shafts of the envious few…”

1976 Cadillac Seville 4

American automobiles would never be the same. This all stems from US intervention into the Arab-Israeli War. The reprisal by Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) extended to other countries that supported Israel as well. This action destabilized a decades-old pricing system. It put a strain on the US economy that had become dependent on foreign crude oil. Prices doubled…then quadrupled placing economic challenges on the national economy. It placed the US in an extremely awkward position…most everything here was contingent upon petroleum and petroleum distillates for production – America had to think…FAST!

Cadillac was the leader in luxury automobile production world-wide. As Americans tightened their financial position, there became a shift of interest to smaller, more fuel-efficient automobiles. Cadillac was the purveyor of land yachts – PERIOD. The brand had to seriously focus on the future…it had no experience building smaller vehicles, and had to move quickly. The answer was the eventual down-sizing to remain solvent. But how? Cadillac knew nothing about dinky little toy cars –

1976 Cadillac Seville 5

“Whatsoever you write, or paint, or sing, or build…no one will strive to surpass or to slander you, unless your work be stamped with the seal of genius.”

1976 Cadillac Seville 6

Ingenuity is an American forte – we know how to survive. Cadillac engineers solved the situation by creating an entirely new luxury sedan – 10 years prior to the crisis in the Middle East, America scoffed at the idea of a smaller luxury car…we were “Fantasy Island” livin’ large. The US faced a growing dependence on oil consumption and with dwindling domestic reserves – found itself more reliant upon imported crude than ever before. Enter the first generation Cadillac Seville, a luxury automobile advertised by the brand as “International-sized luxury for a changing world.”

1976 Cadillac Seville 9

How did Cadillac manage such a feat in such a short time? The engineers used an existing platform giving it all-new architecture. The Cadillac Seville is based upon a modified Chevrolet Nova “X-body” platform. With it being an ultra-luxury automobile, it could bear no resemblance to its humble beginnings. The entire process had lower start-up costs since existing components were used and extensive re-tooling wasn’t needed. Fisher body designed the architecture. The engine was outsourced to Oldsmobile and built to exacting standards for Cadillac.

Ford did a similar magic act with the Continental MK III using the aging Thunderbird platform and underpinnings, installing luxurious architecture…which yielded an unbelievable profit margin. The first generation Cadillac Seville has a timeless beauty and elegance that created a style that would be emulated but never replicated throughout the entire automotive industry. The Cadillac Seville presented a new “standard” for the world – proving the fact: Americans are resilient AND we bounce back without fear!

1984 Sedan deVille

The 1980-1984 Cadillac Sedan deVille is Seville-inspired

1976 Cadillac Seville 10

1976 Cadillac Seville 7

“The leader is assailed because he is a leader, and effort to equal him is merely added proof of that leadership…”

1976 Cadillac Seville 8

“In every field of endeavor, he that is first must perpetually live in the white light of publicity. Whether the leadership be vested in man or in a manufactured product…emulation and envy are ever at work…the reward and the punishment are always the same – the reward is wide-spread recognition; the punishment is fierce denial and detraction. This is the Cadillac penalty of leadership – that which deserves to live…lives.” This captures the essence of Cadillac’s dedication written by Theodore MacManus (1872-1940) in 1914. He was an advertising mogul that revolutionized the industry with his advertisements for GM luxury cars…mainly the Cadillac brand.

1976 Cadillac Seville 11

1976 Cadillac Seville 16

The Cadillac Seville is living proof that Cadillac can be flexible and ready with new ideas for luxury cars that were right for their day. The Seville was introduced in April 1975 as a 1976 model building 16,355 before the end of the model year. Model #6K style code #S69 1976 Cadillac Seville sedan was base priced at $12,479 with a base shipping weight of 4,232 pounds, 4,675 pounds with options.

It rides upon a tight 114.3” wheelbase with an overall length of 204”. It is 71.8” in width. The first generation Cadillac Seville was built from 1975 until 1979. Here are the production totals for all years: 1975 = 16,355, 1976 = 43,772, 1977 = 45,060, 1978 = 56,985, and 1979 = 53,487. The first generation Seville has a larger production total the competitor’s combined aggregate totals.

1976 Cadillac Seville 13

1976 Cadillac Seville 14

1976 Cadillac Seville 42

The 1976 Cadillac Seville is powered by GM’s Rocket 350 V8 engine by Oldsmobile. The 5.7 litre 16-valve 350 CID V8 engine has a cast iron block and cylinder heads. The engine is equipped with speed-density port-injected Electronic Fuel Injection and is the first domestic automobile to use this type of fuel delivery system. It has two electric fuel pumps, one inline and the other in the fuel tank.

The engine is designed to run on unleaded fuel with an octane rating of at least 83. Its emission controls include Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV), Air Injection Reactor (AIR), Exhaust Pressure Transducer, and Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR). The engine is mated to GM’s THM-400 Turbo Hydra-Matic 3-speed automatic transmission. The first generation Cadillac Seville has a traditionally mounted front engine and is rear-wheel drive.

The naturally aspirated 5.7 litre V8 engine produces 180 hp @ 4,400 rpm with 373 Nm of peak torque @ 2,000 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as: 0-60 mph in 36.9 seconds, 0-100 mph in 36.9 seconds with a top speed in the 116-118 mph range. It can do the ¼ mile @ 76 mph in 18.8 seconds. The 1976 Cadillac Seville was not built to be fast…just luxurious –

1976 Cadillac Seville 15

“If the leader truly leads…he remains the leader…”

1976 Cadillac Seville 19

1976 Cadillac Seville 20

The first generation Cadillac Seville is built as body on frame construction. GM had originally planned for the Seville to be badge engineered with the Opel Diplomat from Germany. Due to financial concerns, Cadillac went with the modified “X-body” platform from the Chevy Nova. The Seville is built as the “K-body.”

The ride quality is engineered exclusively for the Seville. To absorb vibration and isolate road noise a steering linkage damper (hydraulic shock absorber), and sheet metal dampers (also hydraulic shock absorbers) are used in conjunction with patented Isoflex body mounts. The transmission’s rear support uses a lateral strut rod. The rear leaf springs also use dampers. European automobiles were already using similar systems.

1976 Cadillac Seville 17

1976 Cadillac Seville 32

This is Cadillac’s first use of Chevrolet components for production. The standard vinyl roof covering is there for a reason. The roof is tooled in two parts. The rear “C-pillar” section was stamped exclusively for Cadillac but the forward portion was from the “X-body” Chevy Nova. The painted metal roof became available for the 1977 model year when Cadillac began stamping the entire roof for the Seville. It’s an interesting hodge-podge of GM parts –

The first generation Cadillac Seville uses traditional suspension components. The front is fitted with unequal length upper and lower control arms, coil springs, spherical ball joints with wear indicators on lower joints, and hydraulic double-acting shock absorbers. The rear is fitted with a Salisbury-type axle, multiple leaf springs, a 5/8” diameter rod & link stabilizer bar, and hydraulic double-acting shock absorbers.

Automatic Level Control automatically calibrates the ride height for optimum appearance and performance. The hydraulic power braking system is equipped with ventilated discs on the front axle and duo-servo drums to the rear axle. The brakes self-adjust each time the car is driven in reverse and the brakes applied.

1976 Cadillac Seville 33

“That which is good or great makes itself known, no matter how loud the clamor of denial…”

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The all-new Seville was built on the former Eldorado assembly line in Detroit. To ensure the strictest quality control, the first 2,000 Sevilles were only available in Georgian Silver all with the same equipment. It was built with the highest quality control standards in the automotive industry. What happened to this manner of production during the 1980s and 1990s?

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“Jealousy does not protrude its forked tongue at the artist who produces a commonplace painting…”

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The first generation Cadillac Seville uses an international-inspired interior. No Cadillac in the history of the brand used this format. The taller roof not only gives it more headroom but also makes it appear more spacious than it is. The impeccably tailored trim is extremely tasteful.

Americans had to get used to the more upright and ergonomically designed seating. We were used to big ole’ rollin’ Barco loungers but had to make concessions to conserve energy. Handsome Mansion knit was standard and available in seven colors. Supple sierra grain leather was available in eight color selections. Folding front and rear center armrests added the traditional Cadillac luxury.

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The Cadillac Seville is a comprehensively equipped luxury sedan. Automatic Climate Control keeps the interior comfortable at a single setting. The AM/FM Signal-Seeking Stereo Radio has an automatic power antenna and four diagonally opposed speakers.

Power windows and door locks, Tilt & Telescopic Steering Wheel, remote control trunk lock, Soft-Ray glass, one-piece deep pile carpeting, adjustable rear seat reading lamps, automatic parking brake release, power assisted 50/50 dual comfort front seats, and Variable Ratio Power Steering are just a few of the many standard comfort and convenience features. The Seville is a car complete…

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“If his work be merely mediocre it will be severely left alone…if he achieves a masterpiece, it will set a million tongues a-wagging…”

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The first generation Cadillac Seville is international-sized for a changing world. It is every inch a Cadillac. The efficient new size and elegance makes it appealing. It is equipped with traditional V8 power which Americans had taken for granted for so many decades. It is a shrunken version of a traditional luxury sedan.

The timeless design remains popular. Had it not been for the 1973-1974 Arab Oil Embargo, we probably would never have even considered such a tiny Cadillac…America scoffed at the idea of a small car in the 1950s and 1960s…we were “Fantasy Island” and were livin’ quite large. The first generation Cadillac Seville was built from 1975 until 1979.

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Unfortunately…the Seville’s charisma wore off during the re-design for the 1980 model year and continually declined thereafter. Oddly…we laughed at the first generation Seville when it came out. I turned my nose up at it opting for the 1976 Fleetwood Brougham. If the 1976 Seville is placed beside today’s Cadillac, it is larger than anything they build…and more reliable. Will Cadillac ever return to such a formidable position in the automotive industry world-wide?

If the brand would focus on A LUXURY AUTOMOBILE instead of trying to wear so many hats…being so many things in so many classes…and concentrate on AMERICAN-style luxury, it could develop an identity. If it would cease and desist from riding the coattails of BMW and Mercedes-Benz…it would once again become the envy of the world. The 1976 Cadillac Seville is another dramatic chapter…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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Special thanks to Rodd Sala at Park Ward Motors Museum 

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“That which deserves to live…lives”

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Special thanks to Bob Adams Classic Cars

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The 1976 Cadillac Seville is NotoriousLuxury

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Retrospect: 1967 Chrysler Imperial Crown

Posted in Chrysler, Editorials, Luxury Sedans, Notorious Retrospect with tags , , , , , , , on January 17, 2015 by 99MilesPerHour

This was the quintessential luxury car

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Ward & June Cleaver…Ozzie & Harriet Nelson…for those of you old enough to remember these TV icons, can also remember a REAL automobile. The name “Imperial” was a revered luxury sedan from one of the formidable big three US automakers. Ford had the Lincoln…GM had the Cadillac…and Chrysler had the Imperial. Life was good. These automobiles were a city block long and half a city block wide.

The Imperial was a Flagship positioned as a car of eminent prestige. By the 1967 model year, the Imperial was refined to excellence offering two distinctive trim levels. Imperial Crown was the ultra-luxurious “base” model that was equal in stature to the Lincoln Continental and the Cadillac Fleetwood. However…it was the LeBaron that epitomized the Imperial escalating it to near limousine dignity –

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The Imperial Crown was a motorcar of distinction. It was available as a two-door hardtop coupe, an elegant convertible, a four-door pillared sedan, and a four-door hardtop sedan. The 1967 Imperial Crown hardtop sedan synthesized elegance with a contemporary sporting appeal. From its massive front end styling to the custom tailored rear end design, it was totally unique setting the stage for a dramatic entrance on any occasion.

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The Imperial by Chrysler was an independent make in 1955 when it was introduced and registered as a separate brand from the Chrysler brand name. The Imperial was the quintessential luxury car built from 1955 until 1975. It was revamped in 1981 and built until 1983.

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In 1967, the Chrysler Corporation began using Unibody construction. The 1967 Imperial maintained the styling cues Elwood Engel used to create the 1964-1966 Imperials. It was built on the Unibody “C” platform used by other full-size Mopars. The switch to Unibody construction was a more cost efficient measure than tooling an assembly line dedicated to the Imperial brand solely. This replaced the platform the Imperial had been using since 1957. The new Unibody platform had a significant weight reduction as well as interior and exterior dimensions. The wheelbase was reduced to 127” but the 1967 Imperial was still luxury-length at 224.7”.

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The 1967 Imperial’s silhouette was long and authoritative which was a Chrysler hallmark. The Imperial four-door hardtop sedan appeared even longer than it was. Elwood Engle had flair with large luxury cars, as witnessed by his 1964-1966 Imperials with their stunning design. The 1960s TV show “The Green Hornet” used a car called “The Black Beauty” which was based on the 1966 Chrysler Imperial.

The 1967 Imperial was equally impressive bumper to bumper; the design was sweeping without a lot of gaudy trim. Style code #YM43 Imperial Crown hardtop sedan had a base price of $5,836…well, if you think this is obscenely expensive, the Flagship version called the LeBaron had a base price of $6,661…naughty! The 1967 Chrysler Imperial was available in 22 colors, 16 of which were metallic.

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The styling retained the sharp knife-blade fenders running the entire length of the architecture. The Imperial now used cornering lamps; they were prominently placed into each front fender giving it a more distinguished air. The ersatz spare tire bulge on the rear deck lid was gone forever. Full width taillamps spanned the rear of this land yacht tastefully. And the finishing touch – fender skirts – added to the car’s poised dignity.

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The Imperial shared the Unibody platform with other full-size Chrysler products but retained a unique bodyshell. The design refresh was intended to make the Imperial look more like a Chrysler than a Lincoln. The Imperial was the absolute superlative in luxury sedans. It was made for the aristocratic clientele. There were only 9,415 Imperial Crown hardtop sedans built for the 1967 model year.

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The 1967 Imperial Crown four-door hardtop sedan had an interior as elegant and sophisticated as its exterior. Genuine wood accents throughout complimented the opulent fabric and leather selections. It came standard with all of the luxury amenities of the period. An Imperial was so posh and effortlessly automatic that all one had to do was steer and operate the pedals…the car did almost everything else for the driver. Ample head and leg room made long journeys enjoyable allowing the passengers to arrive refreshed. The Imperial’s interior was sumptuously appointed. It was like driving your living room…but then, that was typical of every American car back then – they were all huge!

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The elegantly trimmed walnut accents on the dash have doors to conceal radio controls and the ash receptacle. If you have ever been in an Imperial you appreciate the little things such as all of the cigar lighters in the car being canted slightly towards the user to make each more convenient. The deeply cushioned 50/50 twin comfort lounge seats were just that – the foam padding had foam padding on top of it…now, add more foam to that! The front seats reminded me of a sectional (modular) sofa; with them being triple-padded…and the car moving with such imperceptible operation…you gracefully “float” over any road surface…this tank smashed road surfaces flat giving its passengers one of the most luxurious rides ever offered by a full-size traditional automobile.

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The front seats could be adjusted into twin armchairs with individual folding armrests. The “sofa” could also be positioned as a recliner for the front seat passenger. Each door has a hinged armrest that concealed a deep storage compartment.

The Imperial Crown four-door hardtop sedan came standard with a luxurious Jacquard cloth with leather interior. An all-leather trim version was available in nine shades. The seats have vinyl bolsters with an engraved Imperial eagle. With either selection…Chrysler remembered why one purchases a luxury car: luxury –

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Standard equipment for the 1967 Imperial Crown hardtop sedan includes: power steering & brakes (disc front, drum rear), power windows, heater (remember, this is 1967), automatic transmission, electric clock, 3-speed windshield wipers, genuine walnut trim, and remote control outside rearview mirror.

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Popular options for the 1967 model year includes: Tilt-A-Scope steering wheel, vinyl roof treatment, power vent windows, Auto-Pilot Speed Control, AM/FM Stereo radio w/power antenna, floor tuning switch for radio, new front or front and rear air conditioning, automatic headlamp control, rear window defogger, and 3-ribbon white wall tires.

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The 1967 Imperials are powered by the formidable 7.2 litre 440 CID 16-valve Wedge-Head OHV V8 engine that cranked 350 hp @ 4,400 rpm with 651 Nm of peak torque @ 2,800 rpm. It is equipped with a Holley R-3667A 4-bbl carburetor; the 2nd barrels were mechanically controlled, automatic choke, and mechanical fuel pump. This normally aspirated engine is mated to a 3-speed TorqueFlite A727 automatic transmission with planetary gearset and torque converter. As you may see, the Imperial is a luxury sedan with the heart of a true MOPAR – 

Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 9.4 seconds, 0-100 mph in 27.5 seconds, and 0-110 mph in 41 seconds. It can do the ¼ mile @ 84 mph in 16.9 seconds. Its top speed without governor is 121 mph.

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