A while back on the 1978 Caprice Classic post, one of our commenters asked about deciphering the various General Motors platforms. My friend Carmine explained it all in a subsequent comment. There were a few even I hadn’t heard of (the Corvair was a Z-body?!). At the time, I intended to do a little post on it, and add pictures of the appropriate cars under his text. Of course, as often happens with me, it got put on the back burner, then was conveniently forgotten.
We are now rapidly approaching the end of summer. You know what that means: car shows are dwindling. And soon, will be gone altogether-until next April. And so it was that I attended the cruise night yesterday evening with a friend of mine. Sadly, no Broughams were in evidence. In fact, the show itself was kind of small.
Part of it was the heat-it was about 88 degrees out-but as we heard from fellow attendees, there had been a big show at Green Chevrolet that morning. Apparently most of the usual suspects went to that show instead, leaving North Park Mall in Davenport with relatively slim pickings, car-wise
In 1978, the Pontiac Grand Prix was downsized, along with its corporate cousins, the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and the Chevrolet Monte Carlo. And the Buick Regal, of course, which I covered previously here at RG.
Phase II of General Motors’ downsizing had begun. The Colonnade midsizers of 1973-77 were but a memory, and Bill Mitchell’s Sheer Look, pioneered by the 1976 Cadillac Seville, was applied to all A-bodies, including the A-special GP and Monte.
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.
Back in 2013, I saw perhaps the finest Brougham in the wild as I have ever seen (excluding car shows): A 1977 Cutlass Supreme Brougham coupe. It was, quite simply, gorgeous. And I have a history with the Colonnade Cutlasses! That’s right folks, it’s another ’70s Brougham post. Buckle up!
Of all the GM wagons made in the final full-size, B-body station wagon years, I think I loved the Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser the most. I mean, first of all, is that a cool name or what? “Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser.” Even if you didn’t even know what kind of a car was, you’d probably agree that is a most excellent name. And these final Olds wagons remained unerringly, unapologetically full sized to the very end in 1992. They even eclipsed their Eighty Eight brethren starting in 1986, establishing them as perhaps the Broughamiest Olds in the lineup.
Yes, the second round of downsizing hit the Oldsmobile full-size line in the mid-’80s. The first round, for those of you just joining us, was in 1977, when the trim, smaller on the outside yet bigger on the inside B-body GM sedans, coupes and wagons appeared on the scene. Round two started in 1985 when the top of the line Ninety-Eight shrunk, along with its corporate cousins, the C-body Buick Electra and Cadillac de Ville/Fleetwood. They were also front wheel drive, and unit-bodied. Not a rare format in 1986, but completely new to the Olds flagship, which had been proudly gigantic and full-framed for decades.
The Eighty Eight got the same treatment in 1986. So now all of the big Oldses were front wheel drive, V6-only and unit-bodied. What was a full-sized car lover to do? Buy the wagon!