Note: Today’s spectacular Nimitz-class luxocruiser, a 1970 Fleetwood Brougham, is owned by a friend of mine, Laurie Kraynick. The first time I saw pictures of her 1970 Fleetwood Brougham, I knew I would have to share it here on RG.
Isn’t it cool when your own car is the same color combination as the one in the showroom brochure? I have a copy of this brochure in my collection, and when I saw the Fleetwood Brougham in this color, Lucerne Aqua Firemist, I was smitten! But my love for these cars goes much further back. The 1970 Cadillacs are a favorite of mine. Especially the Fleetwoods. You see, the first Cadillac I ever rode in was a 1970 Fleetwood Brougham.
It was 1987. I was in first grade at Immanuel Lutheran School. Even then, I was a car nut. One of my friends in class, Luke, had parents who loved old Cadillacs. Well, that is, they seemed old to me. Though at that time they were only 15-17 year old cars. They had a navy 1969 Seventy-Five (really), a couple other similar-vintage Cadillacs that I don’t quite recall the details on, and a Cinnamon Firemist 1970 Fleetwood Brougham.
It was that Brougham I remember the best, as his mom usually drove it, and it was the one I’d see most often at the school. One day we went on a field trip to Arsenal Island. As usual, several of the moms volunteered to drive and act as chaperones. My mom volunteered as well, but when I saw that Luke’s mother had also volunteered, I had to ride in the Cadillac! What a car! And the roominess was even more impressive when you’re under three feet tall! The rich metallic gold paint, white top, and what seemed like acres of Sierra grain white leather…now this is the life! The Arsenal? Heck, let’s go to the country club!
So ever since then, I’ve always had a serious soft spot for 1970 Cadillacs, the Fleetwood Brougham in particular.
Starting in the late 1990s, I discovered ebay, and went on a vintage car brochure buying spree that lasted for the next four or five years. One of the items purchased, as you may have guessed, was the plush, oversized deluxe 1970 Cadillac showroom brochure. Of course, my favorite was the Lucerne Aqua Brougham prominently featured within.
So now you will understand how excited I got when I met Laurie on the American Brougham Society group on Facebook, and saw that she had not only a 1970 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham, but one in the brochure car colors! So here is her car’s story, in her own words, of her car, affectionately nicknamed The Ark.
My dad’s first Caddy was a 1970 Fleetwood, Lucerne Aqua Firemist, black top, turquoise Dumbarton interior. The Ark’s current color is Home Depot Behr Teal, imagine my joy when I read the data plate when I saw it, code 93! He had a LOT of Caddy’s after that one, then he went to the dark side, Lincoln!
The first car I paid for was a Caddy, 1976 Sedan de Ville. I was 18 and had a payment book as thick as War And Peace. Then had a 75 SDV, 81 CDV, 87 SDV, 96 Concours.
I’d been looking for an 85 or 89 IROC, for years, and years. I wanted a certain engine, 350 and automatic, t-tops, etc. Every car I liked I couldn’t afford, every car I could afford had hit everything but the lottery. I looked all over the country. One night I can’t sleep, I’m on Craigslist in Iowa, and I found an IROC. It was gorgeous and priced right. My hauler was going through the Midwest in 2 weeks. I pulled the CarFax, it had been totaled. Wanted to cry…
At that moment, I swear I heard my dad, like he was standing beside me, say “honey, look for my old Caddy.” The Ark was the only car that came up, it was 100 miles north of here. “Is” this his car, I doubt it. I remember my mom breaking a fin on the map light, that was the first thing I checked. Then again, this could be a new dash, it’s in perfect condition. He bought the car from Peter Fuller, that business is long gone. So, who knows…
It was just before Christmas, 2017. The guy wanted $6500. I called/texted him a few times, no response. Then finally we connected. The only hole in my schedule was on a Saturday, 2 weeks before Christmas, we made arrangements for me to see/drive the car in Sommerville , MA (where my mom was born/raised/grew up) and where I was on the PD for years. He said if he got another offer on the car he’d give me 1st refusal. Then I saw him lower the price to $3500 a week before I was supposed to see it.
Saw the car, fell in love, drove it, still in love. It needs works, I can tell. Asked him for maintenance records, he doesn’t have any, “If it needed something I did it”, etc. He’s had the car for 2 years, bought it from another guy who spent a fortune trying to restore it. The car was in the body shop and they phucked up the rear drivers’ door, bondo instead of replacement. The guy lost his heart and sold it to the guy I bought it from.
I brought $3500 cash with me, 2K in one pocket, 1.5K in the other. We sat down, I said to him “this is all I can afford, you let me know if I wasted our time today” and put 2K in hundreds on his desk. ‘How much is there?’ ‘Count it…’ So he counts out 2K in cash, 2 weeks before Christmas, he’s married and has 4 kids. He says “young lady you just bought yourself a car” and I cried. And cried. And cried.
Then hustled AAA to flatbed it home for free.
The car sat wrapped up like a huge leftover on my lawn over the winter for months. In the meantime I bought thousands in parts for it. New tires (Cokers, that I sent back for Diamond Backs), ‘replica battery’, #2 arrived last week. Manuals, all the parts for a 24K 1970 tuneup since I had no records on it, etc. I’m ex-military aviation, I keep mntx records on my cars to the mile. The weather was horrible late winter/ early spring. Didn’t really get started on it until early April. I flushed the cooling system, 6 times until it ran clear, and found the mouse in the reservoir. Etc. Then my mech Scott had it in his garage a few times, I did what I could here without a lift. Scott said someone spent a lot of money on the engine, tranny, suspension, etc…
And finally built The Lair. I’m a contractor, I can build a garage for the cost of discounted materials. Then I saw what it would do to my real estate taxes. So I took all the ‘gift certificates’ to Home Depot from grateful clients and got a Shelter Logic, for free. 10×20. I ran power to it, LED shop lights, a PT ¾” floor, and an oscillating fan on a timer that runs for an hour every 6 hours. Its perfect.
Our first show was at Gillette Stadium on May 10th, had a blast. The alternator failed on the way home, then took out the battery, we were towed that last 10 miles. We were scheduled to do Larz Anderson Cadillac Day on May 20th but it rained, so a cruise in the following Thursday. We did the Heritage Show on June 9th, my first introduction to a real judged car show. Then the HUGE Hyannis Father’s Day show on June 17th.
We’ve done a few cruise in’s at the Harwich A&W and the Patriot’s Square show in Dennis, such fun. Our first big show next year is World Of Wheels in Boston in March at the Seaport Center. Prolly a covered carrier to that one, at least the roof/headliner will be done by then, the paint job has to wait for the following winter now with price of the roof job. Next year we’ll do Heritage/Larz/Father’s Day again, weather permitting.
The Ark is my therapist. Its something else to ‘worry’ about outside of my business. Its something to do other than work, taking care of my house, etc. And its opened up a whole new world of people to me. And the Ark has surprised me many times. I never thought of weather when driving a car, NOT washing a car, trying to find parts that don’t exist, the horror of seeing people trying to touch my car, and most importantly seeing people emotionally moved by the car. Their parents, or someone close to them now dead, had ‘that’ car, and it takes them back. I just hope its positive.
I want to replace the roof properly, get it painted properly, some minor body work, and that’s it. Hyannis Vintage Auto is doing the work, they’re the next town over. Gary Amster is the owner, been restoring cars for 50 years now. Mecum, Barret-Jackson, etc. His son Michael is a friend, he works there too, and he’s a Marine veteran. When Gary finally saw the car to do a proper autopsy, I was holding my breath. He said all it needs is a roof job, do that first, it’s the weakest link on the car. Then replace both fender skirts, the rear driver’s door and paint. They’ll address the bubbling under the paint on the trunk and on a couple of doors, it can wait 2 years, it won’t get much worse. “JUST DRIVE IT, KEEP DRIVING IT! These cars don’t like to be parked” etc. Gary owns several old Caddys. I think I got very lucky with his opinion on The Ark’s overall condition. The interior is completely original.
That’s the story of The Ark. Writing this was therapeutic for me now, thank you. I’d forgotten all I’ve done and where we started from. We’ve come a long way. It’s not just a car!
Laurie’s car is one of just 16,913 Fleetwood Broughams built for model year 1970. Back in the 1970s, Cadillac was setting production records, but the top of the range Fleetwood Sixty Special and Fleetwood Brougham always had more modest production. They weren’t cheap, for one thing. A ’70 Brougham was $7,284 before options.
For comparison’s sake, a ’70 Impala four door sedan went for $3,021 with the six, or $3,132 with a V8. Even the base model Cadillac Calais coupe was $5,637, over $1500 less than the Brougham. And back then $1500 was worth a lot more than it is these days; a new ’70 Ford Maverick was $1,995!
In 1970, Cadillacs were still the preferred transport for bank presidents, captains of industry and movie stars. Mercedes-Benz may have been gaining some ground, but Cadillac was still America’s number one luxury car! And it still shows today. In the sleek lines, the stretch out room, the 375 horsepower 472 CID V8, the colors, the trim, the options, the chrome! And in 1970 the finest owner-driven Cadillac was the Fleetwood Brougham. It’s still obvious today, perhaps even more so than when they were new cars. Thanks for sharing your car’s history Laurie. The Ark has definitely found the best owner it could ask for!