In the 1920s, Cadillac embarked on an experiment that would result in one of the most luxurious line of cars it would ever produce. The aim behind the experiment was simple enough - to produce a range of unique, limited edition models that tapped into the elitist demand for unique bodywork designs while still catering to every requirement. The result - the Cadillac Fleetwood - was anything but simple.
Unfortunately, it couldn't have picked a worse time for its experiment if it had tried. The first Fleetwood's were released at the same time as the world was falling head first into the Great Depression. As a result, only a few Fleetwood bodied cars were released during the first few years of production. If you wanted one, your choices were limited to the Cadillac Series 75 or 90, and the Cadillac Sixty Special. But by 1957, Fleetwood had hit its stride.
The Cadillac Series 70 Eldorado Brougham joined the Fleetwood club in the late '50s - from there, the only way was up. In 1963, the Eldorado Biarritz became Fleetwood bodied, while 1977 gave us the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham and the Cadillac Fleetwood Limousine. In 1985, Cadillac saw fit to give Fleetwood solo designation: the result was the Fleetwood Brougham and the Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special. Four years later, it got a major redesign to further differentiate it from the DeVille line. The result was more power and a very appealing new look.
But by then, the market had started to change. People didn't want luxury cars the length of limos; they wanted SUVs. With sales dipping to an all-time low, Cadilac finally put the Fleetwood name out to pasture in 1997. But you can't keep a good car down for long. In the years since Cadillac pulled the plug on Fleetwood, more and more Caddy fans have come round to these super luxurious cars, with the result that you can expect to spend a pretty penny if you happen to find one at auction.
But now to the crucial question. Which, of all the Fleetwood's ever made, is the best? Ultimately, everyone has their own personal favorite, but if you want our advice, you won't go far wrong with any of these five top picks.
1946 Fleetwood Series 75
If you want a classic, look no further than the 1946 Fleetwood Series 75. Named as one of the best Cadillac cars ever made by blog.cheapism.com, the Series 75 was a huge beast of a car with a powerful V-8 engine and a super stylish design. Designed to tap into the market created by newly minted Americans (the post war ere may have had its downsides, but it did the world of good to consumerism), it created a huge stir on its release - so much so in fact, Cadillac missed a beat and underproduced to the tune of 96,000 orders.
1965 Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham
Having the word 'special' in the title doesn't always guarantee you'll be getting anything particularly noteworthy. Except in the case of the 1965 Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham, of course. Best described as a yacht on wheels, the Sixty Special Brougham took all the best things about the "Sixty Special," the "Fleetwood," and the "Brougham" and created the kind of super car that dreams are made off. Notoriousluxury.com calls it 'a masterpiece from the master craftsmen' and they're not wrong. As the first Cadilac to be entirely crafted by Fleetwood (up till then, their input had been limited to the interiors), it represented luxury on a grand scale. Spacious, long and boasting a gorgeously designed interior with real wood trim, power windows, power ventipanes, power front seat, front and rear wide folding center arm rests, and an outlet to direct heat to the rear compartment, it represented a giant leap forward for Cadillac.. and, thanks to its hefty price point, an equally giant investment for Cadillac fans.
1974 Cadillac Fleetwood Talisman
By the mid 1970s, luxury meant big. And the Cadillac Fleetwood Talisman was Big with a capital B. With a width of 79.8 inches, a wheelbase of 133 inches, and a length of 233.7 inches, this was more super yacht than car (and certainly more limousine than sedan, even if it claimed to be the latter). But sometimes, bigger really is best. With its executive style luxury, roomy interior, and smooth power, the Fleetwood Talisman represented the last word in luxury and comfort. The outside was nice enough, but it was the ultra-plush interior with its Medici crushed velour upholstery, pillow and lap robes, and locking front and rear Medici trimmed center consoles (with an illuminated writing pad with pen & pencil to boot) that really pulled in the buyers. As oldcarmemories.com notes, the fact that it came with every conceivable option under the sun didn't exactly harm its appeal either.
1976 Eldorado Fleetwood Convertible
In 1976, the age of the soft top was over - at least according to GM, who firmly believed soft tops were a trend that had seen its day. That same year, the last ever Cadillac convertible rolled off the production line. It was a sad moment, unquestionably, but what a way to go out. The car in question was the 1976 Eldorado Fleetwood Convertible, a collector's edition that may only have had 200 vehicles to its name, but has since gone down in history as one of the finest (not to mentioned coverted) Cadilac's of all time. With its white body, white top, white wheel cover, white leather seat (with just a dash of red piping), and its red, white, and blue striped hood, this was a special car designed to be a fitting tribute to end of the soft top. As it turned out, GM were wrong about there being no future for the convertible. But even if other car manufactures are still rolling them out, the 1976 Eldorado Fleetwood Convertible remains the last Cadillac convertible ever made. For that fact alone, it deserves a special mention.
1980 Fleetwood Brougham V8 Coupe
In 1980, the Fleetwood Brougham got an upgrade. The new design was sleek, stylish, and positively saintly, with slimmed down styling, improved aerodynamics, and steering and brakes, Tilt & Telescopic steering wheel, and, courtesy of its newly designed better fuel economy. The star of the show was the newly introduced two-door Fleetwood Brougham Coupe. Thanks to its super powerful V8 engine, it offered jaw dropping top speeds (by the day's standards, at least) and an incredibly smooth ride. The interior, meanwhile, offered typical Cadillac style luxury with individually adjustable rear seat reading lamps, folding center front and rear seat armrests, automatic power antenna, power roofline, an extra 2 inches of head room compared to earlier models.
Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith