Options. It’s always nice to have options, especially when you’re talking Detroit luxury like Cadillac, Lincoln and Chrysler. Take Cadillac in the mid-1980s, for example. Between 1980 and 1986, Cadillac Motor Division went through some major changes. It arguably had to be done, but by 1986 most people used to Cadillacs being large, plush and heavily chromed were in for a surprise. Sure, they were still plush, but a crash diet program in anticipation of major gas price increases (that never happened) made for a very different showroom experience. Except for one holdout.
The De Villes and Fleetwoods introduced as very early ’85 models were completely different from their ’84 iterations. Smaller, yes, but also more space efficient-and front wheel drive! Despite the huge change in design, they sold well.
The new-for-1986 Eldorado and Seville, though…well, sales were not exactly what Cadillac was hoping to attain. Of course everyone said how similar they looked to the new N-Body Pontiac Grand Am, Oldsmobile Calais and Buick Somerset. These revised E-bodies were a fair bit larger than the new compact Olds, Pontiac and Buick coupes-park them side by side and it’s clear-but it didn’t seem to matter. Sales of the new Eldo, Toronado and Riviera were not terrific, and the resale value of the pre-shrunken ’85s probably got a healthy bump.
But hark! Not all was lost if you wanted a new Cadillac and you bought by the pound. For the Fleetwood Brougham was still available in its 1980 format. Fins, chrome, that long hood and huge trunk! All sorts of Broughamy goodness.
By 1986, it was the longest regular production car available, with the exception of the FWD Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Series limousines. So if you wanted those classic Cadillac attributes of soft ride, room galore, and that classic look, this was your ticket!
The 1986 Fleetwood Brougham was still all Cadillac, and a worthy contender to the Lincoln Town Car, which was seeing a healthy bump in production during 1985-87, partially due to the downsized FWD Olds Ninety-Eight, Buick Electra Park Avenue and Cadillac Coupe and Sedan de Ville.
Don’t get me wrong, the newly de-biggened C-bodies sold well, but there were still plenty of well-heeled folks who bought by the foot and by the pound. For them, the Fleetwood Brougham was the only option. And unlike many new-car shoppers today, most people were still fairly brand loyal in the 80s. Of course, there were exceptions, but back then not too many Cadillac owners would cross the street to gawk at Lincolns, and vice versa.
So you can bet your bottom dollar that many traditional Cadillac owners were very happy to see the ’86 Fleetwood Brougham still standing. The Fleetwood Brougham coupe was gone, but you could still get the sedan in standard trim or with the flossy d’Elegance package.
The ‘base’ Fleetwood Brougham interior was anything but. Plush velour or classic Sierra grain leather, lush carpeting, and enough simulated wood trim to panel your cabin in Wisconsin. Power windows, power mirrors, power brakes, power steering, tilt wheel, Dual Comfort 55/45 divided front seat, Electric Climate Control, six-way power driver’s seat, and much more!
Let’s face it, the big draw for plumping for the d’Elegance were these most excellent seats. Button tufted finery, available in velour or leather. It turned your Fleetwood Brougham into a mobile law firm! All it was missing was a mahogany partner’s desk and brass lamps. Fleetwood Brougham D’Elegances also had standard six-way power passenger seat, power trunk lid release, adjustable rear seat reading lamps, and the expected d’Elegance emblems on the sail panels and glove compartment door.
But you were losing nearly nothing appearance wise with the regular Fleetwood Brougham interior. The seats were still very swank-especially in yellow leather!
I’ve always had a thing for triple yellow Cadillacs. The color first appeared in the late Sixties, and it lasted all the way to 1991 on De Villes, Sevilles and Eldorados. They’re just to bright and cheerful! I love them. And on a Fleetwood Brougham? Fuggetaboutit.
And if all that wasn’t good enough, there was even better news for Fleetwood Brougham browsers in 1986. The HT4100 V8, that sluggish Cadillac-exclusive V8 that had been around since the 1982 model year, was gone. In its place was a somewhat similarly sluggish, but much more robust and trouble-free, Oldsmobile 307 CID V8. A “5.0 Liter” plaque was added below the Fleetwood script on the trunk lid to mark the change.
The 307 was good for 140 bhp in ’86. Not terrific, but not terrible for the time. And being a V8, there was plenty of torque; this was no ’60s VW microbus! Of course, very few Fleetwood Brougham owners were going out drag racing Camaros and 5.0 Mustangs, ha ha!
And like its contemporary competition, there were still many colors and options to choose from. Interior colors included the expected tan, black and gray, but you could also get white, yellow, burgundy and navy blue. Heather cloth was standard, as shown in the above brochure picture. Genuine wire wheels were an option.
For those so inclined, the base price of the ’86 Fleetwood Brougham was $21,265. Adjusted for inflation, that amount equals $48,890.06 in 2018. That’s within a couple of grand of the MSRP for the 2018 Cadillac CTS, which I roughly equate to the Seville lineup-wise. No available yellow leather or Cameo Ivory paint on the CTS, however.
As the official top of the line Cadillac and largest model outside of the factory limos, the Fleetwood Brougham sold rather well in 1986, to the tune of 49,137. Not bad for a car that was more or less the same car since the 1980 model year. Of course, it’s style and good looks certainly didn’t hurt.
1986 was the last year for the Fleetwood Brougham, at least in name. Perhaps to reduce confusion with this model and the FWD C-body Fleetwood, for 1987 the V8, RWD Fleetwood Brougham became simply the Brougham. Of course, the d’Elegance package was still available.
Between 1987 and 1992, the only Fleetwood model was this one. Front-wheel drive, with 4.1 power in ’87, 4.5 power in 1988-89 and finally with the 4.9L V8 in 1990-92. The same car appeared in 1993, but was renamed Sixty Special, as the newly restyled full-frame V8 Cadillac became Fleetwood once again that year. With a Brougham trim option, of course. Confusing? Yes indeed!
I first saw our featured car, this lovely triple yellow 1986 Fleetwood Brougham, at the 2015 West of the Lake Region CLC meet at Shirey Cadillac, in Oak Lawn, IL.
My friends Bill Buckingham, Jim Smith and Ron Schweitzer were there, and they were understanding when I laid eyes in this excellent example and took off with my camera! My love of triple yellow Cadillacs is well known amongst the Brougham cognoscenti, you see.
The only non-factory item on this car are the 1980-84 De Ville wire wheel covers. 1986 Fleetwood Broughams got a new red plastic center with the wreath and crest, instead of the all-metal centers that are installed on this Brougham. You can tell they’re De Ville wheel covers because they have only the Cadillac crest, with no wreath. That was a Fleetwood-only addition through 1984. So if you ever get that question on Jeopardy! and win, you’re welcome.
So there you have it. The 1986 Fleetwood Brougham. The only way to live large at your Cadillac dealer in ’86. And remember: Stay Broughamy, my friends!