This Week’s Klockau Lust Object: 1978 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham

Yesterday was our first real dose of winter weather. Fortunately I didn’t have to go anywhere, so I rode it out online, over first a pot of coffee, and later, several screwdrivers.

As I was perusing I came across this most excellent ’78 Fleetwood Brougham. It’s in Buffalo, NY. I’ve always loved the 1977-79 downsized Cadillacs.

While not as unashamedly giant or ornate as its 1971-76 predecessors (the Talisman, sadly, was not continued after ’76), it still radiated Cadillac style and continued the theme of comfort and space-in several cases, these had more space than the earlier Nimitz-class Caddys.

The 1977 Fleetwood was not as distinct now, as it had the same body and sheetmetal as it’s less expensive (please don’t call it cheaper, ha ha) Sedan de Ville stablemate.

Primary differences were, of course, the fancier interior, and a B pillar which narrowed from the roofline as it dropped to the doors. A Cadillac crest adorned the base.

While subtle, I always liked this touch. I have always thought the plain, painted B pillar on the 77-79 Sedan de Villes looked cheap, more like a base Ninety-Eight LS than a Cadillac.

’78 Fleetwoods had the same 425 CID V8 as the de Villes and Eldorado. The Seville continued with its fuel injected Olds 350-or the infamous 350 diesel V8 as an option. Horsepower on the Fleetwoods was 180 hp in standard form; with fuel injection, it was bumped to 195. 36,800 of these Broughams were built, with a $12,842 msrp.

While these look giant to anyone born after say, 1995, I remember them when they were considered tidy. As a kid in the 80s I remember seeing the 71-76 mastodons still cruising about, though the Midwestern snow and salt was dissolving many by then.

Today this would make a pretty nice semi-daily driver/cruise night car. I love the gunmetal gray paint, a black top and brite red leather. Say what you will about ’70s domestic rolling stock, at least you still had a myriad of color combinations from which to choose. And for $7500, this is a steal if she runs as well as she looks.

25 Replies to “This Week’s Klockau Lust Object: 1978 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham”

  1. John C.

    What a nice car to drive to the fine arts gallery, especially with those color keyed wheels. Cadillac must have understood their customers enough to understand, that if not many of them had time for such things, many more would go if they had more time. It was still an upwardly mobile country. So why shouldn’t the upscale cars represent ambition beyond mere reality.

  2. David Russell

    They were also equipped with 4-wheel disc brakes. Perhaps it would have been helpful in the struggle with Mercedes if these and the EFI had been fitted as standard to every Cadillac.

      • stingray65

        I suspect that a fair number of would-be Cadillac buyers would have liked the better drivability, smoothness, and fuel economy that standard fuel injection would have provided, and it would have given Cadillac some bragging rights versus Lincoln, Buick, and Olds competitors. Similarly, they might have used real wood and polished aluminum trim instead of plastic wood and chrome to differentiate against cheaper brands (including a well-equipped Caprice or LTD). I like these Cadillacs, but they provided very little real advantage in terms of quality or technical elements versus comparable Olds 98s, Buick Park Avenues, or Chevrolet Caprices, which was no doubt very profitable for GM, but continued to tarnish the brand image for any buyers with even a hint of knowledge and interest in cars. It is also interesting to look at the well preserved interior and note how little stretch out room there is in back compared to modern day luxury boats such as Lexus LS, Mercedes S, or even Toyota Avalons that are considerably shorter in overall length.

        • John C.

          You have got a long list of improvements, some worthy, some that would have just added to the compexity of owning one. Adding them would have cut volume in half, as the price exploded. Once added, the Euro fans would still be turning up their noses to body on frame construction and whitewalls. The real problem was not wanting to own the same car as those up from fellow citizens they found tacky.

          Remember these cars weren’t aimed at the top fraction of one percent. The buyers were not robots doing a spreadsheet calculation. They understood that the Impala drove just fine, they wanted more power, more features and more style to remind that they themselves had more.

          I see what you are saying about the room inside, but the moderns you mention all shrunk to four passenger and then gave up a lot of style in the jihad against overhangs. The 1985s proved you can easily go too far in the trading of style for efficiency. Thinking myself a one percenter spreadsheet guy, I have always had a special affection for the 85s. Wouldn’t an 85 Coupe Deville diesel been the perfect drive around the world car for a young period Hemingway. Efficiency, ample room, smoothness, discrete size, but an unfamiliar shape to go with a familiar distinctly American name. You are welcome to insert here one of your trademark ape comments but when you do you will reinforce my point above.

          • stingray65

            Yes, adding some technical sophistication to Cadillacs would no doubt have raised prices and lowered volume, but one of the reasons that the 1%ers stopped buying Cadillacs was because they had become too common in working class neighborhoods, so high prices and lower volume would have made Cadillacs more appealing to the elite. And the steelworkers and plumbers who were priced out of a Cadillac because it now had “fancy” fuel injection and real wood trim, could easily find something they like and could afford at their neighborhood Buick or Olds dealer and hence not hurt GM market share while Cadillac might siphon off a few Mercedes and BMW buyers with a more sophisticated product.

          • Tom Klockau Post author

            Yes, Cadillac was just reeling in 1978, enjoying record sales for the third year in a row, with model year sales of 349,684. 🙄

            By the way, Toyota just killed the Avalon. Maybe if they raised prices and added features it would have succeeded and won new fans…

      • Patrick King

        I dunno. Different era.

        A high school friend’s dad, a top cardiologist in Boston, traded his early/mid sixties Mercedes 220, with four-on-the-tree and mini tail fins, for a ’69 Thunderbird with suicide doors. Another friend’s father, a top gynecologist in Boston (is there a theme here?) owned a ’73 450 SEL (only year for small bumpers on the first-gen S Class in the US) and drove it the way it was meant to be driven. Both gentlemen were in the luxury car demo and ahead of their time with German cars but one went back to the domestic product. I don’t recall what their subsequent choices were.

        By 1978 my fellow preppies had taken my lead and started buying BMWs (I was on my second 2002) but their parents probably hadn’t so I doubt there was much Caddy/MB cross-shopping among the older generation at that time.

  3. Tom Klockau Post author

    CJ, gotta be. Same region, unusual color combo and same Cadillac vanity plate on the front. Kind of surprising it’s only listed $800 higher, usually flippers like to go for the moon shot and double the ask.

    Or is this the newer ad? I can’t see the posting date on my mobile.

  4. LynnG

    Tom has a point, a flipper would have gone higher and did new photos. Not saying it a scam but several of our club members have found their cars listed on Craigslist and Facebook for bargain prices with the same pictures the owner used to list on Hemings of another reliable site. Usually if contacted the seller will want a deposit through PayPal. You have to be careful out there.

  5. stingray65

    Whether you like vintage Cadillac broughams or modern German uber-sedans (or anything else with wheels), Happy New Year everyone at Riverside Green

    • John C.

      I prefer Buick division products under the period just after this when Ed Mertz was able to offer more traditional offerings that were real roadmasters with dynaride. It was successful, there already was a Pontiac after all. Indeed Toyota, that great arbitor of taste having seen Mertz’s Buicks canceled for the USA rwd Cressidas that were mediocre in ride, handling, and noise control and instead brought forth that giant of style and room the Avalon. If only Toyota had invested in a 3.8 90 degree V6 like first Buick then the rest of the big three and not chickened out on twin comfort bench seats with column shift, it might have still been a viable product.

      • CJinSD

        Nobody invested in 90 degree V6s. They’re made wrong to avoid spending money on transfer lines set up to produce 60 degree V6s instead of repurposing V8 production lines. You might as well suggest that Toyota should have propped iron heads on top of aluminum blocks.

        • John C.

          That is not correct. The Buick was an iron repurpose of the aluminum early 60s V8 that later served Rover. The Ford Essex V6 and the early 90s 3.3 and 3.8 Chrysler V6s were clean sheet designs not cut down from V8s to give their front drive models what Buick had. Namely a compact light transverse motor that would deliver power right off idle for smooth and powerful low rpm work so alien to Toyota and other twin cams.


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