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1971 Cadillac Fleetwood



  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    That was those "compact" Caddies that was styled by Pinin Farina, right? I think their MSRP was about 13,000 at the time. In all fairness, though, I read somewhere that the average 1958 Impala convertible went out the door for about $4000, and my grandfather bought a top-line Ford Fairlane in 1957 for about $3500. I think the typical Lincoln, Imperial, or lesser Caddy would base price at around $5000 or so back then.

    Considering that Crown Vics and Impalas go for about $25-26K tops, I'd guess the modern equivalent of that Fleetwood from the late 50's would be about $100,000. What do Caddies top out at nowadays, around $50,000 or so? I doubt too many people would buy a modern Caddy at that price range. Then again, I think those old $13,000 Fleetwoods only sold about 300 units in '57 and again in '58, while the '59 model was even scarcer.

  • Hey guys, go to this website and it has a history of almost all Cadillacs and have links to other Cadillac sites too.

  • I don't think the Cadillac suspension and braking was ahead of its time, though. They were superficially interesting and well put together, but for "competence" they weren't much to drive...but if you wanted to go in a straight line and not steer or stop, they were hard to beat for top down luxury, I will admit. Technically, they were 1948 all the way to 1978. That's why the Cadillac name means so little now. It's a shame that a million dollar name was driven into the dirt by GM, really too bad. It was Cadillac, after all, that taught Mercedes that you could mass-produce a quality car.
  • I agree with you on that Mr. Shiftright.
  • But the car is coming back, slowly, and getting more interesting. Cadillac may revive into a respected name in the future. Let's hope so. The USA doesn't have a prestige car anymore....where have all the Packards, Peerless and Pierce Arrows gone, or the Duesenbergs and Stutz. Used to be the world respected these names and knew them by heart. We still have recognition for Corvette and Viper and such, but alas, not in the luxury car field.
  • tpkentpken Posts: 1,108
    Great to see this topic and recognize some other forum buddies here.

    One of my earliest recollections was standing on tiptoe, peering inside the tuturquois 1961 model 61 coupe parked in my grandfather's garage (his tenant's car). I eventually learned to drive on that car after my dad bought it in 1969. My heart still flutters to remember that beauty.

    I have owned 3 Cadillacs. First was a yellow 77 Coupe DeVille purchased in 1980 when I was 25 yrs old. I'd always wanted one and particularly like that style to this day. An absolutely gorgeous Firemist gold 82 Coupe DeVille (terrible V-6 engine) followed for only 6 months 2 sets of head gaskets and $5K hit - OUCH!!

    I bought a beautiful low mileage beige 72 Sedan DeVille in 1989 (green top and gold brocade - it was the 70's!!) to haul the babies around in - we had 3 car seats at that point and we all loved the 'Big Daddy Car' !! Unfortunately, garage space was short and the car long - it started rusting very soon and I traded it a few years later. What a wonderful car - that 475 sounded great.

    Those older Caddies, particularly 50s and 60s, had the most beautiful 'jewel' appearance in front - headlights and grills designed like jewelry - too bad over time they have lost that touch. New models don't excite me anymore and I hope that something changes to reignite that fire that once burned whenever I saw a Caddy - new or old - drive by.

    Best to all

  • Does anyone on here know much about Lincoln's success back in the day like being somewhat sought after automobile? Were they looked upon as the elite like Cadillac? I never hear people talk about how Lincolns use to be back in the day. Were they inferior compared to Cadillac? Sound like few on here where in your teenage thru young adult years to remember all of this in the late 40s thru late 70s.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    I don't think Lincoln was looked at with much respect after the very early 50's. For one thing, they had the dishonor of sharing bodies with Mercury on occasion. Remember, back then, Mercury was either a "junior" Lincoln or a "senior" Ford, depending on the year, and didn't really get its own body until 1957.

    Lincoln came out with a nice new style around that same time, but unfortunately, so did the Imperial. No matter what anybody says today, 1957 was Chrysler's year. That was the only year that Imperial beat out Lincoln, Plymouth reclaimed 3rd place, a position it hadn't seen in years, Dodge, DeSoto and Chrysler all sold well. Chrysler took an unprecedented 18% of the market.

    For 1958-60, Lincoln carried on with massive, heavily styled bodies. Chrysler in general got hit harder than most by the recession of that time, but Imperial still got by with 1957 styling.

    But suddenly it was 1961, and Lincoln came out with a gorgeous new compact (relatively) body style, while Imperial threw on gobs of chrome, a toilet seat spare cover in the trunk, and free-standing headlights. At this point, Imperial was basically out of the game. The nameplate lasted through 1975, but it never totally shook its Chrysler image. Most people didn't look at it as a step up.

    But on to Lincoln. Cadillac was viewed as the standard of the world back then. And except for Imperial's brief claim to fame in 1957, nobody even put a dent in Cadillac's image.

    Unfortunately, as the 60's wore on, Mercury again began taking Lincoln cues. This was especially evident into the 70's. And to me, this waters down Lincoln.

    Back then, Lincoln did top Cadillac in a few areas.
    The Mark series personal luxury coupes overtook the Eldorado by the mid-70's. When the Eldorado downsized for 1979, it made a comeback though.

    Lincoln tried to fight the Seville, with a gussied up Granada called the Versailles. Few people saw through the charade. Same with its replacement, the guzzied up Fairmont they used to disgrace the Continental name.

    But then, in the early 80's, Cadillac shot itself in the foot with stuff like the V-8-6-4, the Olds diesel, the Buick 4.1 V-6, the Caddy 4.1 aluminum melt-down V-8, the Cimarron.

    Lincoln transformed the Mark personal luxury line into something of a mature hotrod with the Mark VII, while Cadillac downsized the Eldorado/Seville to the point that they could be mistaken for Olds Calais', Buick Somerset Regals, and Pontiac Grand Ams.

    For 1985, Cadillac downsized the DeVille, and with much success. Still, it was enough ammunition for Lincoln to poke fun at it. Remember the commercial where the guy at the country club had the valet get his DeVille, but the valet pulled up in a 98? Lincoln and Cadillac shot at each other a few times with those commercials.

    Since then, the DeVille usually outsold the town car, but now, with the Lincoln LS and the Navigator, the unthinkable happened. Lincoln started to outsell Cadillac.

    To me, the biggest problem with old Lincolns is that they look too much like old Mercury's, and, to an extent, some Chryslers. Mopar styling in the 60's was dictated by some ex-Ford guys, so that explains the resemblance there.

    Cadillac, at least, was distinctive. Chevrolet tried to pay homage to it. Look at the 1958 Impala. Also, some of the big Chevys of the 70's had a Cadillac influence, but not nearly to the extent of Lincoln/Mercury.

    Just my opinions...not necessarily facts laid down in stone ;-)

  • Sounds pretty good to me....although the '61 Lincoln Continental with the suicide doors is a favorite of mine and sought after by collectors. I think it is the only postwar Lincoln that seriusly competes with the Cadillac. Even the earlier Continentals (1956), while a unique and expesnive car, just doesn't get people going, even today. But a well-turned-out '61 4-door Continental, in white or black with red leather, that turns some heads and gets the checkbooks out.
  • Thanks for your knowledge of the automobiles of yesterday. It is great to listen to educated individuals like yourself and others share each other's opinions. Seems like to me your opinions are more than true. That is a complement.

    So, let me ask you this while I am at it. What do you think about Cadillac's new direction they are going with in the near future with cars like the 2002 Escalade, EXT, CTS, Evoq and rear wheel drive and all while drive models with vertical tail lights and headlights with that traditional eggcrate grill with advance technology; will alot of people come back to Cadillac in your opinion? Do you think Cadillac will be far more distinctive than the competition? Do you think quality will greatly improve such as fit and finish and reliability issues? Thanks for your thoughts.
  • tpkentpken Posts: 1,108
    Great synopsis, Andre - you've summarized it well and our Host is certainly right that the suicide door models of Lincoln were very special automobiles that did sell in enough numbers to fairly common sights.

    The convertibles were less frequently sighted than sedans but who can ever forget the immortalized 63 Presidential Limo that carried JFK through Dallas, or the Perry Mason convertibles from 61 - 65. I can still remember assistant Della Street riding next to Perry - how I loved that show for the cars! The very first auto show I attended at age 11 for the 1967 model year included a PLATINUM Lincoln convertible show car - set up at a steep angle to be able to see and NOT touch - what a classy car!

    Still, it was obvious that Cadillac sales far outpaced Lincoln throughout the 60s and 70s and the venerable DeVille line was very popular with people in their early forties all the way through the retiree set. I don't recall seeing many Lincoln owners in those days under 50 whereas I specicifically remember knowing 40 year olds with Caddies. Imperial owners were definitely seniors.

    As for the proposed Evoc type styling bringing back buyers, I personally have not seen one yet that struck a chord with me and said "That's more like the Caddies I loved" I sincerely hope that time comes. I'm 45 and would like to see myself back into Cadillac but not with what they offer today or on the near horizon.

    Now if Jag does a retro styling on their new big sedans, I just might go nuts over those. Cadillac should look very closely at the latest Dodge concept car shown in Detroit that looked striking similar to the 58 Eldorado Brougham - suicide doors and all. Chrysler really has some interesting ideas in that car. Cadillac isn't there yet.

    For what its worth

  • tpkentpken Posts: 1,108
    I just checked your link above - Great site!!

    Bit of regret - having passed up the chance to own a 1963 DeVille Park Avenue owned by a family friend - only 1575 produced that year - I loved the 1963 model year too. Oh well....

    Thanks buddy!

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    Hey guys,

    I love those Lincolns from the 60's with the suicide doors. They may not have been serious competition for Cadillac back when they were new, but I love 'em. Although if it's big and old, chances are I'll love it anyway ;-)

    Even though I'm more of a Mopar guy than anything, I'm not impressed by most of the Imperials. I like the '55-60, but they got too carried away in '61-63. By the time Elwood Engle cleaned up the old Exner body for '64, it looked like an old man's car to me. Also, even by 1966 it still had a wraparound windshield, so by then it was truly over-the-hill. Plus, I knew somebody with a 1959 Imperial, which was basically a '57-58 with more chrome and a wedge-head instead of a Hemi. One day we parked my '57 DeSoto head-to-head with it, and it just didn't impart a superior look over the DeSoto, as an upper echelon car should. It was a little longer, a lot more garish, but really didn't look any more prestigious. Do the same trick with, say, a 1957 Olds 88 and a '57 Cadillac, or a 57 Mercury and a '57 Lincoln, and the senior cars would make the junior models pale in comparison.

    My favorite of the old Cadillacs is '61-62. They have a nice, low-slung look to them, with creases in just the right places. I don't think Cadillac made an ugly car in the 60's, though.

    Can't say that today. My tastes are off-beat when it comes to cars, I know, but to me the most tasteful of the new Caddy models are the Eldorado and Seville...and they're Cadillac's biggest losers right now! God only knows what Cadillac has in store for the future. That new Escalade looks like it was done more for shock value than any kind of lasting beauty, but at least it doesn't look like a Yukon with body cladding any more! Now if they could find a way to NOT make the Catera look like a Malibu...

  • tpkentpken Posts: 1,108
    Gotta love those 60s and 61s! Particularly the DeVille hardtops and convertibles. The six window sedan did nothing for me. The creased and tapered styling as opposed to the slab sided look of today was very tasteful IMO.

    The tail fins with their vertical light displays were elegant in those years - 60 through 64.

    To the point of this heading - the 71 (and my 72) were not as pretty to look at as their decade older siblings.

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    those '71-76 Caddies may not have been the most beautiful in the world, something about putting the turn signal between the headlights always bothered me. But just the gross size of them! How long were they, about 233" or so? You could see the similarity to an Electra or 98 in them, especially in the greenhouse area, but they just LOOKED expensive! We had a 1972 Impala when I was a kid, and it just couldn't compare.

    I also prefer hardtops over pillared sedans and coupes, so those 70's Caddies still appeal to me. I don't think Lincoln offered a pillarless Town Car by then. Imperial did, I know.

  • Back in those days when Cadillac rule, how competitive were Mercedes Benz compared to Packards, Studard Bakers, Imperials, Lincolns, Franklins, and etc? We all know how great Mercedes are today but I know they were sorry or should I say garbage back then.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    I'm not sure what year Mercedes dealers first opened their doors in the states, but in the beginning, they were usually sold through Studebaker dealers. I think this started in the late 1950's. If you notice, Studebakers around that time started acquiring squared-off, upright grilles, and the bodylines became more "European" in nature. This may not be true, but I always thought they did this to give Studebaker and Mercedes a family resemblance, and give prospective Mercedes buyers something American to reference against.

    Nobody in the late 50's or 60's would have cross-shopped a Mercedes with a Cadillac, Lincoln, or Imperial. They were just totally different beasts. I remember seeing a late 50's Mercedes at Spring Carlisle last year, and stylistically it looked about as modern as an early 40's Plymouth. But it had a lot of advancements for the time. It had a 4 cylinder engine (2.2 liter OHC, I think) and I think it had disk brakes. It was also of unitized construction, instead of body-on-frame. I'll admit it looked like a sturdy little car. Still, Americans wanted their luxury cars to be B-I-G back then, and this Mercedes was closest in size to a Rambler of the time. And that's how people probably looked at them...ugly but reliable, like a Rambler. Nobody cared about OHC or disk brakes or unitized construction back then. Just 0-60 and quarter mile, and "my car is bigger than yours"

    Cars like Mercedes, BMW, Volvo, etc, didn't really start cutting into Cadillac's sales until the first fuel crisis hit in late 1973. But still, even by that time they were two totally different cars. Cadillac, Lincoln, and Imperial were even bigger and more bloated by then, in typical 70's fashion.

    BMW, Mercedes, and the like never really ventured into Cadillac's territory, but in 1975, Cadillac went up directly against Mercedes with the Seville. Basically, it was a heavily modified, facelifted Chevy Nova with an Olds 350 (fuel injection optional) It sold pretty well. I seriously doubt that it hurt Mercedes much, if any, but it was radically different from anything Cadillac had ever done before. Lincoln tried to follow suit by taking a Ford Granada and fitting it with a Lincoln grille, doubling the price, and calling it Versailles, but few people were fooled. Consumer Reports did a head-to-head comparison of the Seville and a Mercedes. I forget the year or the details, but do remember that, even in this case, the Seville still weighed about 4200 lb, versus about 3200 for the Mercedes. So much for a smaller car. Then for 1980, the Seville was put on the Eldorado platform, and given a lot of neo-classic styling cues. Fake convertible tops actually ADDED to the look of the car!

    Ironically, Cadillac, while tarnishing its image all the way, had record sales even through the recession years of 1980-83. The economy came back for 1984, and Cadillac stayed strong. But as the 80's wore on, Cadillac lost ground. Just to show how bad things are now, Cadillac sold about 105,000 DeVilles for the 2000 Calendar year. Even back in the early 80's recession years, the DeVille was good for almost double that, plus sales from the Fleetwood, which back then was an even more expensive version of the DeVille platform. I think Cadillac as a whole sold about 189,000 cars last year. Again, back in those recession years, I think they actually hit 400,000 once or twice. Just goes to show that recessions only hurt the working class ;-)

  • joecugjoecug Posts: 15
    One of the selling points for a 1971
    Fleetwood is that is was not detuned to
    meet emission requiremnts. That started
    with the 1972 models when fuel/air
    mixtures were leaned up and spark timing
    changes were made. In 1973 exhaust gas
    recirculation was added and that lowered
    horsepower, since the recirculated gas
    does not combust. These changes affected
    driveability with starting probems,
    dieseling etc. It took until about 1976
    with cat converters to get rid of those
    problems. So if someone wants to get a
    big engine that he could tune for
    horsepower the 1971 with the 472 CID
    would be the way to go.
    I perform emission tests on cars and
    I have to say the new Caddy Northstar
    engine is a beauty. It will put out
    similar horsepower to the old 472s with
    exhaust emissions about 90 percent lower
    (472s about 250 ppm, Northstar about 25
    ppm). I think its the best engine out
    there right now.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    So a 472 with no catalytic converter, and emissions controls probably amounting to little more than a PCV valve only puts out 250 ppm? The last time I had to put a car through an emissions test was a 1979 318 Newport that had about 235,000 miles on it. It registered 162 ppm. And now I hear the Northstar, one of the most advanced engines GM makes, with all that engineering puts out 25 ppm.

    In all honesty, those numbers all sound pretty negligible to me to begin with. I was under the impression that a pre-catastrophic converter car would put out pollutants on a much, much grander scale than what the 472 is showing. Sound to me like keeping your car in good tune would do more for the environment than all those emissions controls. Joecug, what are some of the worst emissions readings you've ever taken? is 162 or 250 ppm considered a really "dirty" engine?

  • The emissions tests don't really show how much a car stomp on the gas on a pre-catalytic car and it's pretty filthy....there's no way a pre-cat car is going to pollute less than a modern one, not by a long shot.

    Of course, keeping your old car in tune is a great idea. Polllution from old cars isn't an issue anyway....there aren't enough of them on the road to have a huge impact, and there are fewer and fewer every the old car fleet is getting cleaner and cleaner as the old cars are junked.
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