Archive for Fleetwood-bodied Cadillac

1966 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado Convertible – The Last of an Eloquent Breed

Posted in "As the Standard of the World Turns", Cadillac, Cadillac Historical, Classic American Marques with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2017 by 99MilesPerHour

Luxury car manufacturers played in a different league at one time. It is the American ultra-luxury automobile that led the entire world in sophistication, design & engineering prowess…the charismatics alone sent shock waves throughout the auto industry. One guess who had the competition running scared…annually. The iconic “Standard of the World” intrigued luxury car buyers with tasteful ad campaigns as we waited with bated breath for the new “Cadillac of Cadillacs” to debut.

The Cadillac Motor Division of General Motors crafted a “Standard of Excellence” no other luxury automobile could match. The traditional Cadillac motorcar is a true masterpiece from the Master Craftsmen. I prefaced the story this way to prove a point. I keep writing about a special kind of Cadillac…the ‘traditional’ Cadillac because it was an institution. I am not saying let’s get locked in a time warp in the past – why not: “Give Americans the luxury icon we had come to know. Cadillac is a legend…as well as a lifestyle!” This my friend…is the true penalty of leadership –

1953 Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado convertible coupé

The traditional Cadillac became synonymous with success – its hallmark…was a poised dignity no other luxury car in the world could replicate. The formidable Cadillac reputation was consistently refined and managed through a process of evolution. Eldorado is Cadillac’s first real glamour car. This name prodigiously represents Cadillac’s most exclusive flagship models. It began as an extremely successful concept in luxury convertibles in 1953. Eldorado luxury hardtop coupé and convertible coupé models were built at a highly restricted pace to retain their exclusivity.

It became Cadillac’s most luxurious model when Eldorado morphed into the Brougham, a four-door pillarless hardtop sedan that’s also a limited edition. The last of the rear-wheel drive models is the 1966 Fleetwood Eldorado convertible coupé. These luxurious automobiles are indicative of Cadillac’s pre-eminence in the luxury car segment. Their impeccable craftsmanship reflects the pride associated with the brand. Eldorado Elegance, Excellence, and Excitement continues…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

1957-1958 Series 70 Eldorado Brougham by Fleetwood

The Fabulous Fleetwood-bodied Series 70 Eldorado Brougham is the most expensive luxury car made in America for the day at $13,074 USD. It is the counter to Ford Motor Company’s 1956 Continental MK II.

Fleetwood Eldorados from this genre share platforms and body components with the DeVille series. They are a little more than a “dolled-up” DeVille as many assume. Being a member of the elite Fleetwood series has its perks. The iconic laurel wreath and crest badging is an honor in magnificence and dignity. Fleetwood-bodied Cadillacs are flagship models that epitomize the brand.

Eldorado – The Gilded One – is a paragon of automotive success. The formidable Eldorado models introduced new design features and accessories that would eventually find their way onto other Cadillac models. Eldorados also have the distinction of being the only two-door models built by Fleetwood. This was the in-house coachcrafting division for the brand that handcrafted ALL Cadillac interiors.

A “Fleetwood-bodied” Cadillac, is handcrafted in its entirety by Fleetwood. This is the element which made these distinguished  motorcars elusive. Eldorado was the styling predictor, the trendsetter, offering an audacious eminence as its signature. Cadillac convertible coupé models are elegant but a Fleetwood convertible coupé drips with sheer opulence in the grand Cadillac manner.

Model # 66-684 style # 68567-E 1966 Fleetwood Eldorado convertible coupé had a base price of $6631, a base shipping weight of 4,500 pounds, and only 2,250 were built. Let’s face it – when America drove luxury automobiles such as this no one was concerned with gasoline mileage, ugly touch-screen navigation systems, nor were we interested in a luxury car that sprints from 0-60 mph in a nanosecond.

Old school luxury…that’s right – cars that ride like a big ‘ole rollin’ Barco lounger completely impervious to the outside world –  is what we want. Being a Cadillac, it should do each task with poise. Nothing could be compared to the traditional Cadillac. When one purchased a 1966 Cadillac…they also inherited the legend and the lifestyle. The formidable reputation acquired was historically slow in the making therefore, this impeccable reputation should be restored in all its glamour in a form that’s right for the 21st Century…

Headrests are a rarity from this genre

The inside story is equally impressive. Fleetwood Eldorado has a unique character from the standard Cadillac models for 1966. Any Cadillac convertible exudes a youthful spirit…the Eldorado captures this essence delivering it as the most luxurious open grand tourer on the road. Impeccably tailored leather upholstery has a perforated seat back and seat cushion design to allow the seats to ‘breathe’ for comfort. Sporty bucket seats were an option at no extra cost which adds panache to Eldorado’s already dramatic style.

The Cadillac Eldorado augments the flagship model hierarchy as the superlative of superlatives. It’s ultra-exclusive even among other Cadillac models – extra special in a way such as “Harry Finley’s Flowers” or “Petrossian Caviar” – providing an added touch of opulence. Cadillac celebrated a banner model year breaking sales records for the day at 205,001 vehicles…this is the fifth consecutive model year to do so at the time. Cadillac led the automotive industry with luxury and innovation. Can we bring this ‘exclusivity’ into the 21st Century?

Fleetwood Eldorado’s fully automatic, power, folding fabric roof opens and closes swiftly at the touch of a button. The warmth of richly grained genuine walnut spans the upper door and rear garnish panels. This elegant trim is resin impregnated for longevity. Power windows, power seat with wide folding center armrest, and Variable Ratio power steering are among the vast array of gracious appointments in the grand Fleetwood tradition. The Fleetwood Eldorado was the only Cadillac to provide whitewall tires as standard equipment for the day.

These classic land yachts provide a ride today’s cars cannot replicate. 1966 Cadillacs are built as body on frame construction. Being an offspring of Fleetwood decent, it is endowed with standard Automatic Level Control to maintain proper ride height regardless of load or road condition. (With fender skirts!)

Traditional Cadillacs didn’t rely on gimmicky ad campaigns and cars boasting superficial bells and whistles. There was actually a time when Cadillac didn’t have to advertise its prowess in the luxury car segment. This breed of the illustrious Eldorado reaffirmed the “Standard of the World” mission luxuriously, lavishly, with Cadillac-Style. (And fender skirts!)

And lest we forget…the superb Cadillac engine and first-class drive train. Cadillac is the first luxury brand to build the inherently balanced 8-cylinder 90-degree V-type engine in 1923. Did you also know that Cadillac is the first automobile manufacturer to offer a complete line of multi-cylinder cars of all “V-types” by 1930? But the mother of all engineering feats is the magnificent V8 engine introduced in 1948. This all-new V8 is smaller, more economical, with refined overall operation. This OHV V8 is a milestone for the brand. Cadillac engines were continually refined through evolution for excellence. (No dinky 6-bangers here, lol!)

Here is the styling continuity from 1965 (top) to 1966 (below). Cadillac styling didn’t spring forth from a blinding flash of inspiration – nor were they dashed off a stylist’s pencil right into the assembly hall. Cadillac designed their cars to be aesthetically pleasing as possible through evolution; the new designs usually happened over a two model year cycle and the new model never ever made the previous offering redundant.

Bill Mitchell would not redesign the tail fin if the front end ensemble was freshened during the 1960s. His “tailored look” made the brand extremely tasteful – the Fleetwood Eldorado is “The Outlaw” …the quintessential bad boy of the bunch with a different style of its own…arrogance but not conceit – this car was not for everyone. Collectors are going bonkers over it today.

1966 Cadillac motorcars are equipped with the 7.0 litre 16-valve 429 CID V8 engine. Its fuel system consists of either a 4-bbl Carter AFB 3903S or a 4-bbl Rochester #7026030 carburetor with equalized manifolding, mechanical fuel pump, automatic choke and dry type air filter. Cylinder heads and cylinder block are made of cast iron. The engine is mounted to the frame at three points in rubber. It cranks 340 hp @ 4,600 rpm with 651 Nm of peak torque @ 3,000 rpm.

Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 8.9 seconds with a top speed in the 124-mph range. It does the ¼ mile @ 85 mph in 16.5 seconds. GM’s silky smooth THM-400 3-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic transmission provides effortless operation with imperceptible gear changes. The transmission uses a torque converter which multiplies engine torque for increased driving thrust to the rear drive wheels during acceleration in any gear.

Rear end styling for 1965 (left) was freshened for 1966 (right)

The 1964 Fleetwood Eldorado is another significant model year. It is the last year for the iconic tail fin. It is also the only rear-wheel drive Eldorado of the 1960s going commando without fender skirts. This is the last time Eldorado would use “Biarritz” nomenclature on a production ragtop. The Biarritz name was revamped in the 1970s but as a posh limited edition fixedhead coupé.

1964 Cadillacs are among the most popular in the history of the brand. Special thanks to my friend Jim Hailey for the use of photos from his private collection of the drop-dead gorgeous 1964 Biarritz and the shockingly beautiful 1966 Eldo. Also, I salute Daniel Schmitt Classic Cars and Bob Adams Classic Cars – two if the finest caretakers in the business.

1964 Fleetwood Eldorado Biarritz convertible coupé 

1960 Cadillac Series 6400 Eldorado Biarritz

The traditional Cadillac is an automobile that defines an illustrious heritage. Its engineering innovation and advanced design concepts introduced industry-wide refinement leading to contemporary automobile evolution. The Cadillac Fleetwood series was augmented by the Eldorado which showcased everything majestic that made a Cadillac a Cadillac. It was unique even among other Cadillac models. They were the universal dream car and the ultimate symbol of success for the day. Eldorado is Cadillac’s first real glamour car, it was never intended to shatter sales production records.

Eldorado is an image car…that ‘extra-special something’ in vehicle form. It was built as a rear-wheel drive luxury convertible only from 1961 until the last Eldorado convertible exited the assembly hall in 1966. Each and every traditional Cadillac was built to the highest standards…the same standards which made it the “Standard of the World.” Will Cadillac ever rule the roads of the world again in high style with the formidable eloquence that used to be synonymous with the brand? The 1966 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado convertible coupé throws the other classic luxury cars shade…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

NotoriousLuxury presents a 30 year contrast for the Eldorado

1956 Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado Biarritz convertible coupé

1966 Fleetwood Eldorado convertible coupé

1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible coupé

Interior room is significantly larger with front-wheel drive

It was the only true luxury convertible built in the land

The 1976 Eldorado is the last to use the formidable 8.2 litre V8 

It was rumored at one time the Cadillac Elmiraj concept would be the new Eldorado. It’s a classy rendition of a classic Cadillac by all means. The contemporary proportions are just what the Cadillac buyer wants. What Cadillac seemed to have forgotten, once the Cadillac buyer has owned cars such as Fleetwood Broughams, the Eldorado Biarritz, Coupes deVille, and Sedans deVille…the contemporary versions are unreasonable facsimiles – 

Let’s let Casey/Art and Colour design the new Cadillacs! Look at the class this concept exudes. It also has the poised dignity that used to be the hallmark of every Cadillac. You GO Casey!

1963 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

Posted in "As the Standard of the World Turns", Cadillac, Cadillac Historical, Editorials with tags , , , , , , , on July 2, 2014 by 99MilesPerHour

….The formidable Fleetwood legend continues

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

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A Cadillac Fleetwood was an automobile of noble bearing. They possessed an aristocratic flair that set them apart from all other fine motorcars. The 1963 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special makes a cameo appearance…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

I would like to dedicate this Editorial to my friend “The Fin Man” Bruce Kunz at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He has a “fin-fetish” that I thought I’d quench for him…

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There was nothing finer than the Formidable Fleetwood-bodied Cadillacs. They were crafted mostly by hand on a dedicated assembly line. The eminent Fleetwood Series was a selection of the most distinguished automobiles on American roads. It was the illustrious Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special that made the brand the “Standard of the World.”

The Fleetwood was the very essence of Cadillac. The Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special held the reputation of being the most luxurious owner-driven Cadillac sedan. A Fleetwood maintained that poised dignity which was the hallmark of every Cadillac. The 1963 edition of the Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special made each journey memorable. The 1963 Cadillacs are deemed to be the most glamorous Cadillacs of the 1960s.

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It was a brilliant new interpretation of a traditionally elegant Fleetwood body style. The 1963 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special set new standards for dramatic yet understated styling. The iconic Cadillac tail fins were refined to suit the look of the day. The last use of the fin was for the 1964 model year. They vanished all together for the 1965 model year.

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The styling was all-new for the 1963 Cadillacs. They featured a longer silhouette with a wider hood. The front end ensemble was bolder with more massive grille work. The fenders were chiseled flowing back into a tapered new rear deck lid. The tail fins were trimmed into a sculpted look.

The Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special received new chrome rocker sill moldings for added distinction. The Series Sixty-Special had a magnificent stature and unique prestige that only a Fleetwood-bodied Cadillac could convey. The Fleetwood Body Division was separate from Fisher Body…the Fleetwood was the “the exalted one” at the factory.

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The Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special had a prestige and distinction of its own, the exclusive design of its roof line with wider rear sail panels and a limousine-style rear window treatment afforded rear seat privacy.

The longer body work and distinctive roof enhanced the regal formality of this opulent sedan. The 1963 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special was one of the world’s most admired automobiles, and the world’s most elegant town car.

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The Cadillac 390 CID 16-valve OHV V8 engine had higher horsepower-to-engine-weight ratio. This refined new design used highly advanced engine sealing methods for an even tighter-sealed, cleaner performing engine than any previously used in the brand’s history.

New lighter weight components were used that included: a new integral die-cast aluminum front cover and water pump housing, new lightweight crankshaft assembly, lighter, shorter stroke pistons, positive crankcase ventilation for emissions control, new larger main bearings with a new rear main bearing seal, and a new lower intake manifold. The engine was designed for simplified servicing with engine accessories moved forward.

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Cadillac Motor Division’s objective was to build the finest best-balanced engines in the luxury car segment. The 1963 390 CID V8 had greater responsiveness, was smoother in overall operation with utmost durability and dependability. The engine was equipped with a Rochester 4-bbl downdraft Quadrajet carburetor with equalized manifold, mechanical fuel pump, intake silencer, and improved automatic choke.

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The Cadillac V8 produced 325 hp @ 4,800 rpm with 583 Nm of peak torque @ 3,100 rpm. Performance was rated as 0-60 mph in 10.4 seconds, 0-100 mph in 28.8 seconds with a top speed of 124 mph. It did the ¼ mile @ 84 mph in 17.6 seconds.

The engine was mated to GM’s Hydra-Matic (Jetaway/Flashaway) 4-speed automatic transmission. It was the fully automatic “step-gear” type with controlled fluid coupling of forward gear sets for smoother shifting. It provided two drive ranges, low range, and reverse.

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For the 1963 model year a new high-output 42 amp generator and a 52 amp unit for air-conditioned cars was introduced, it was designed to charge the battery even at idle speeds. It was accompanied by an improved water-proof ignition system.

It had longer boots on the ignition coil and ignition wire covering strengthened by molded-in glass braid. The spark plug boots and ignition wire covering were made of neoprene rubber. The distributor was designed to shed moisture effectively. It was thoughtful engineering such as this that helped Cadillac to retain “Standard of the World” distinction and exclusivity.

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The 1963 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special was built as body on frame construction. It used Cadillac’s rugged tubular X-frame. This type of construction provided a lower front floor that contributed to comfortable seat height and more headroom. It rode upon a long 129.5” wheelbase, had the luxury length of 223” and a wide 79.7” stance.

The front suspension used upper and lower control arms with forked upper arms and single arms with lower tension strut rods. It used spherical joints with tapered roller bearings inner/outer, independent helical coil springs, rubber bushings to absorb road impact and isolate road noise, and hydraulic direct-acting shock absorbers.

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The rear suspension utilized Cadillac’s four-link drive, helical coil springs, rubber bushings to improve ride quality, and hydraulic direct-acting shock absorbers mounted as an inverted “V.” The rear axle was the hypoid type with offset differential cover to facilitate straight-line drive.

The unique new “true-center drive line” had advanced design and precision assembly. This sophisticated unit isolated and cancelled negative energy and driving impulses, this results in an incredibly smooth flow of power from engine to drive wheels with optimum control under all driving situations.

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A Cadillac Fleetwood was in a class all by itself in its luxury and magnificence. It was for the owner/driver that could be satisfied with nothing but the best. The interior of the eminent Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special was trimmed with the warmth of genuine hand-rubbed Narra wood.

New trim styles and fabrics were continued with the Fleetwood tradition of impeccable crafting. For the 1963 model year the Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special received a new instrument panel with logical grouping of instrumentation for convenience. Deep-seated luxury was due in no small part to the higher seat backs. Wide center folding armrests were standard front and rear.

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The Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special has always been the most aristocratic and dignified of all Cadillac models. It had its own distinctive roof that added prestige and distinction. The wider rear sail panels and limousine-style rear window treatment afforded additional privacy. The roof line enhanced the regal formality of this most distinguished sedan.

Exterior Fleetwood signature features included the laurel wreath and Cadillac crest denoting that this is a very special Cadillac. Special stainless-steel accent moldings discreetly finished its luxurious attributes. However grand the occasion, there was no more gracious manner in which to arrive than in a Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special.

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The regal Fleetwoods were crafted at a restricted pace to retain the model’s exclusivity and supremacy. For a more formal appearance, an optional fully padded vinyl roof was available. It not only augmented the Fleetwood’s styling but it also help to insulate the car from the natural elements and sound.

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The inspired elegance and regal stature of the 1963 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special enhanced its position of being the world’s most desired automobile. The tasteful refinement and flawless quality was an important hallmark of the eminent Fleetwood Series.

The unmatched dignity and distinction of the magnificent Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special reflected the stature of its owner. It was immediately identified in any gathering of fine automobiles.

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The 1963 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special was a most aristocratic motorcar. It was Cadillac’s most luxurious owner-driven sedan. The styling was dramatic yet unmistakably Cadillac. Its 325 hp V8 engine moved this luxury sedan as a performance sedan. The 1963 model year featured all-new styling. The 1963 Cadillacs were among the world’s most glamorous cars of the 1960s.

With unparalleled elegance, eloquent amenities, and formidable Fleetwood hand-crafting, the 1963 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special sedan was recognized as a motorcar of custom design and coachwork that was second to none. It was the distinguished Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special that made Cadillac “The Standard of the World.”

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Cadillac designers achieved new luxury, spaciousness, and good taste combined with the supreme expression of the automaker’s craft with the luxurious 1963 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special sedan. This ends another fabulous Fleetwood encore performance…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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The 1963 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

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Bruce Kunz…this one’s for you…kid

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“As the Standard of the World Turns”

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The most glamorous Cadillac of the 1960s