Ladies and gentlemen, we have here one of my favorites, the 1971-76 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. The top-of-the-line owner-driven Cadillac. Luxurious in space, in gadgets, and in power. The best “owner-driven” Cadillac money could buy. Despite the upper-crust European makes seeing increased sales, here in the heartland Cadillac and Lincoln were still the go-to marques for full-sized, uncompromising American luxury.
The 1958 Cadillac Sixty Special. The top of the line Cadillac, from a year when even the standard Series 62 coupes and sedans were something to see. But the Sixty Special, now that was something to behold! Fins, chrome, sheer unvarnished size and comfort! It was the Cadillac of Cadillacs.
“The moment you take the wheel…you will find a wonderful new world of motor car performance! When you turn the ignition key and that great, powerful Cadillac engine comes to life-you will sense instantly that something very special awaits you in the miles ahead.”
The car I can remember like it was yesterday was my grandmother’s 1987 Fleetwood d’Elegance. No, this was not the large and in charge Brougham d’Elegance, but the trimmer, front wheel drive Fleetwood. The year was 1989. My Grandma was a young 77 years old. She had just lost her second husband a few months prior, and driving was now her full responsibility. I kept hearing her say how she didn’t enjoy driving as much as she used to. I was confused because she had a beautiful 1979 Cadillac Sedan deVille that previously belonged to my Uncle Bob. In 1986 he bought a new Fleetwood Brougham to replace the ’79 Sedan deVille so he gave the old Caddy to my Grandmother. It was a rare one too – a beautiful color called Cedar Firemist, with a rare power Astroroof, CB radio, leather interior and nearly all the options Caddy offered for the year.
Oddly enough he didn’t order a tilt & telescopic steering wheel which I used to make sure I made a joke of with him all the time! When I asked why he didn’t get it he said he didn’t need it. Unfortunately it made it hard for my short Grandma to get comfortable in that huge Caddy! She really could have used that tilt wheel!
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.
Some people love Corvettes. Others are really into Civics. And in certain parts of the country, there are fine folks who will accept nothing less than a diesel F250 King Ranch. But for me, it’s Broughams. Fine, wire wheel-covered, opera-lamped Broughams. With soft Corinthian leather, d’Elegance button tufted seating, St. Regis landau tops, and chrome. Chrome everywhere! Why? Well, my grandparents had Lincoln Continentals, LTDs and Thunderbirds, and they made an impression on me. I was also unduly influenced by my dad’s root beer brown 1979 Pontiac Bonneville during my pre-kindergarten years. Fleetwood Brougham, Cougar Villager and Mark IV toy cars I received as a kid also were a factor. But despite also loving Volvos (I drove them for nearly twenty years) and Porsches (Dad had them before I was born), it always comes back to the Broughams.