When in doubt, write up a Brougham. That’s always been my motto. At least, it has since 2012 or so. I’ve always liked the classic Cadillacs and Lincolns and Imperials from the 1950s to the 1970s, but it really came to a head once I started randomly typing about cars I like.
Yes, I like Broughams. I’m a Brougham man. I don’t apologize for it. And why not. In a world where silver silvermist combovers…oops, I mean crossovers, with Dark Black or Putty Tan interiors, with ‘infotainment’ that probably won’t last 15 years reliability-wise if you’re in it for the long term…but I digress. I do that a lot. But it’s why I love the Brougham Era. Such size! Such color! Such choice! When you could customize your new luxury car in so many different ways.
And in 1976, Cadillac was still king. If you’d arrived, in the United States, a Cadillac was still the golden ticket to preferred parking spots at country clubs nationwide. Oh, sure, Mercedes-Benz, and to a lesser extent, BMW, were making inroads, but they hadn’t taken over yet! And we might as well dance as long as we’re here! And Cadillac Motor Division did.
1976 was the final model year for unsurpassed size, unsurpassed options, trim, color and Broughamtastic options list for Cadillac connoisseurs. And the creme de la creme, new (and more expensive) Seville aside, was the Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham.
Model #68169, the Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham, retailed in the Year Of Our Lord 1976 for $10,935. Previously, the Fleetwood Brougham had been top dog on the Cadillac totem pole, with the exception of the Seventy-Five sedan and limousine, but the new ‘international size’ Seville, at $12,479, changed things.
But! But for sheer size, stretch out room, and pure luxury, it was hard to beat the Fleetwood Brougham. As with all Cadillacs save the Seville (which made do with a 350 CID Olds V8 with fuel injection), it was powered by a mighty 500 CID (yep, that’s right, five hundred cubic inches!) V8, backed by GM’s creamy Turbo-Hydramatic automatic transmission.
The emissions and fuel economy requirements had had their way with the sumptuous Cadillac V8 by MY ’76, with 190 horsepower. With optional fuel injection, that got bumped to 215 horses. But the hp ratings vastly underscored the remarkable torque of these cars, ample curb weight notwithstanding.
And the colors! Yes, in 1976, most luxury car buyers were not infatuated with black, silver and gray. No less than twenty-two exterior colors were offered, with a myriad of greens, blues, reds on offer. There was only one black color choice, Sable Black, and only one silver color choice, Georgian Silver.
But for my money, one of the finest colors was Firethorn Red. A simply spectacular color, it looked good on any, and I mean ANY, 1976 GM product. As on this 1976 Fleetwood Brougham, espied by my friend Jayson Coombes at the Cadillac show at the Gilmore Museum on September 22nd this year.
As some of you fine folks may remember, I have already done a post on the 1974-76 Fleetwood Brougham. But when I saw this car on Jayson’s homepage, there was no question-NO QUESTION!!- that I was going to write it up!
Everything looks good in Firethorn. Vega Cosworth? Yep. Grand LeMans station wagon? Yep. Plain Jane Nova sedan? Yep. And a 1976 Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham? With white Sierra Grain leather and Firethorn dash, carpet and seat belts? Oh heck yes!
And with the optional Turbine Vaned Wheel Discs? Sign me up. This car was simply spectacular. Jayson took over 600 pictures at this show, and this car was the one I most wanted to take home with me. I only wish I’d seen it in person, but through these most excellent pictures, it is the next best thing to being there in person.
I mean, just look at it! I could take a nap in those seats. Could we, maybe, possibly, do away with the American luxury car companies chasing Nurburgruing times and skidpad figures, and go back to something like this? Could we, perhaps, go back to umpteen color and trim choices, and leave the firm seats and race-tuned suspensions to the imports? I know such changes would pique my interest. And maybe even cause me to open my wallet and obtain a genuine non-import focus group-centered domestic lux car as a daily! We can only hope. In the meantime, we can sit back, and enjoy such Broughamtastic survivors like this ’76!
Another beauty. When I got my ’76 Eldorado, I talked two friends into Fleetwood Broughams. The massive insularity and isolation of the car was a level above, equal to the contemporary Town Cars, but even, well, larger. Except for the substandard interior door and dash trim, they represented the pinnacle of the Brougham era. The back seat was an experience in itself, miles from the driver, with foot rests!
People bag on the interior trim on these compared to a Lincoln and I’ve never really gotten that, the Cadillac for whatever issues it may have, real or otherwise, still has mostly if not all Cadillac unique hardware, where a contemporary Lincoln would be filled with assorted Ford parts that you would find in less expensive Ford cars.
I remember David E. Davis’ writeup of the 1977, with that same outdoor, coiled-spring dial thermometer on the door mirror…singularly mocking it for the “silly excesses” it symbolized. That and the Twilight Sentinels and the department-store ding-ding alert to buckle up – “Lingerie, Third Floor, code 1-5-2″…instead of the buzzers us plebes had to hear in our Mavericks and Malibus.
Time does go on. Now the ding-dings are universal in automobiles; digital dash thermometers, governed by processors 100x more powerful than seen on the first Space Shuttles…and Brougham is as dead as color-coded interiors. As far off in history as Oldsmobile.
When I was a kid, in the year of our Lord 1976, I wanted INTERESTING cars. I drove a Super Beetle and lusted for a new Rabbit. Now, in the age of early, forced, scaled-down retirement, I drive the dullest of the dull – a decade-old Kia. A car like this Caddy would be interesting – BROUGHAM is interesting, for its present rarity.
A fine peek inside the Time Machine, Tom.
Love, Love, LOVE this car.
That white interior looks like icing, its odd to see one in this flashy color combo. True that this is from back when you could have gotten any color, and I mean really any color, special order colors, although rare, were still totally doable if you knew how to do it.
Not like todays “I’m sorry sir but Silverfrost Mist Metallic Pearlmist is only available on the M Sport edition with the Heritage and Technology package but only if you specify the medium dark black leather interior with the Brazil nut wood aplique”
You usually see these in more conservative colors, not just black or grey, but lots of dark blues, tobacco browns and greens too, red was a bold choice for, what to me at least, still considered “The Boss” of the Cadillac line up, true the Fleetwood limo/formal sedn was bigger and the Seville was a little more expensive, but this was still the biggest owner driven Cadillac you could buy.
The guy that bought a 71-76 Fleetwood is the kind of guy that would look at the svelte 5000lb Sedan deVille with its “mere” 229 inch long shadow and say….eh….”what have you got in a BIG car?”…..the kind of guy that would order a Porterhouse and when asked for his choice for the 2 sides, he would ask for a filet and lobster.
I’ve always liked the 71-76 Fleetwood, it represents the last of the bigger is better cars designed with zero concessions to making anything other that the biggest and most luxurious car you could buy. I’ve always geeked out about all the extra little touches that the Fleetwood brought over the standard Cadillac, like the rear reading light and a footrests and the nicer seats, the thick rear limo style C-pillar with “blind quarters” and what I think was the first ever available opera lamp, appearing as an option on the Fleetwood Brougham in 1971 along with the Fleetwood 75 limos, which got one standard on the rear doors at the same time.
I would like to get some pictures of this 1976 Fleetwood Red and white