The Brougham was Cadillac's luxury line of vehicles produced in 1987 with a fairly short run that ended with the 1992 model year. At one point in its history, the Brougham was considered the top of the line in luxury models for the brand. It didn't stick around long though. Whatever happened to the Brougham and why was it discontinued so soon? We looked into the history of the model to learn more about why it was only kept in production for 6 years and here is what we discovered.
The history of the Brougham
According to Wikipedia, The Brougham appeared in a special edition of the Cadillac Fleetwood as the Brougham edition between 1977 through 1986. This was the precursor to the car that would become a full-fledged model in its own right. The term Brougham was borrowed from the British term used to describe a sedan capable of holding between 5 and 7 passengers. The name was applied to the d'Elegance package that was made available in the Fleetwood. Cadillac had used the trim for several models throughout its history, before giving the term its own identity.
An overview of the Brougham conversion
The Cadillac Brougham underwent an intense evolution. The Brougham didn't start as a vehicle but rather body style. After decades it made the transition to a full-fledged model. Pepe Cadillac reports the first Caddy Brougham was a 7-passenger four-door sedan. At the time of its production, it was the largest Cadillac made. The name was applied to Fleetwood models to indicate that it was a luxury trim and the first to offer the body style in 1925. In 1930, any open chauffeur compartment bearing vehicle could fall under this classification if it also had an enclosed riding area in the rear. The model ran through 1937 but was discontinued. It would appear once again in the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham in 1955 with a Fleetwood body. The vehicle was priced at a little over $13,000 for the 1958 model, which was considered expensive at the time. The average new car price was $5,000. Broughams indicated the top of the line status. The Brougham went on hiatus again until the Fleetwood Sixty-Six Special. This model was retired in 1977 and replaced by the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. This became the ultimate luxury vehicle of its time. The Fleetwood was redesigned in a smaller size. It was a front-wheel-drive version. The Brougham became its separate model.
The Brougham entered the commercial vehicle market
The Brougham was rear-wheel drive with a powerful V8 engine. This Caddy was a popular model for coachbuilders who designed stretch limousines because of the long body. Although Cadillac didn't produce the stretch limousines from its factories, there were plenty of coachbuilders who capitalized on its strengths.
An upscale luxury vehicle
According to Hagerty, Cadillac designed the Brougham to emanate sheer opulence. Cadillac didn't have a problem selling cars, but they were looking for something different. The Brougham converted into a model instead of a trim. This action allowed the Fleetwood (formerly the Fleetwood Brougham) to leverage itself as the name for front-drive models in 1987. The first big update for the Brougham came in 1990. The addition of flush-mounted headlamps and a modernized lower body cladding delivered the necessary improvements to give the model a boost.
Cadillac shifted its focus to the inclusion of new technology that includes fiber optic lamp monitors to provide driver alerts about the front lights. For its time, this was an innovative feature. More indicators seen through the rearview mirror offered driver alerts for the taillights. Other luxury features include French seaming in the vinyl room with an elk grain aesthetic. The side view mirrors received power controls, and the taillight lenses were designed with a nod to the 1960's styling to add a bit of nostalgia. Chrome gleamed over the exterior generously. The crest and wreath hood ornament testified that this was indeed a Cadillac. A host of luxury options were made available.
A decline in popularity
What could have caused the public to lose interest in the Cadillac Brougham so quickly? Sales for the Brougham declined for many reasons. During the 1990s, there was a surge of excitement about the new fuel-efficient vehicles coming out of Japan and Europe. More compact cars that were better for the environment and saved people money at the gas pumps became the new preference. The Brougham fell out of favor with the public. Still, it occupies a notable place in history as the last of the "big box" Cadillacs. The sharp decline in sales prompted Cadillac to discontinue the Cadillac Brougham in 1992.
The Cadillac Brougham rolled off production lines at a time when the window for large luxury cars was closing. The 1987-1990 models were popular but the sunny outlook for the Brougham soon began to fade. The trend in consumer preference quickly turned to the compact, sporty luxury vehicles that hit the US shores as imports. Fuel efficiency and a desire to cut down on carbon emissions became the new focus. If you were wondering whatever happened to the Cadillac Brougham, the answer is that the market dried up. There was no longer enough demand for the vehicle for Cadillac to continue production. The Brougham has gone the way of the dinosaur, but is it gone? When we review Cadillac's history, we see a pattern that indicates that we might not have seen the last of the Brougham. If history repeats itself, then we may see another iteration of the body style, at least in trim if nothing else. The Brougham has its place in the history of the Cadillac brand, but the days of large luxury vehicles have expired in favor of economy and environmental friendliness.
Written by Benjamin Smith
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