THE CADILLAC OF CADILLACS
In the late nineties, Chuck Jordan claimed Cadillac originally had little enthusiasm for the E-body Eldorado project. If that’s true, we hope division management was appropriately chagrined because the E-body Eldorado proved to be a great success and a thoroughly effective piece of merchandising. It’s easy to be cynical about platform-sharing, but the Eldorado demonstrates how well it can work: enough shared components to keep costs within reason, but enough distinction to establish a separate identity and justify a higher price.
Lacking the exclusivity, lavish detailing, and sheer gravitas of the old Sixteen or the ’57 Brougham, the 1967 Eldorado will never be as sought after, but we consider it among GM’s finest designs. Its protracted development and structural commonality with its E-body cousins only underscore its achievement. The Eldorado is a remarkably cohesive and confident design, expressing a deep understanding of what a Cadillac should be.
We’ve been very critical of General Motors over the years, but the FWD Eldorado is an excellent example of what made the corporation so successful for so long. It did a lot of things right and it reaped the ample rewards.
Special thanks to Kathy Adelson of the GM Media Archive for her invaluable assistance in locating rare archival photos for this article.
NOTES ON SOURCES
Our sources on the history of the FWD Eldorado included C. Edson Armi, The Art of American Car Design: The Profession and Personalities (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1988); the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, “1967-1969 Cadillac Eldorado,” HowStuffWorks.com, 24 November 2007, auto.howstuffworks. com/ 1967-1969-cadillac-eldorado.htm, accessed 4 December 2010; Automotive Mileposts, “1967-1985 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado,” n.d., automotivemileposts. com, accessed 4 December 2010; John Barach, “Cadillac History,” Motor Era, 1998-2010, www.motorera. com/ cadillac/index.htm, last accessed 30 December 2010; Thomas E. Bonsall, The Cadillac Story: The Postwar Years (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004); “Cadillac Eldorado,” Automobile Quarterly Vol. 6, No. 1 (Summer 1967), pp. 67-73 (no byline, but possibly written by Don Vorderman and/or Maurice Hendry); Cadillac Motor Division of General Motors Corporation, “Cadillac: The 1967 Standard of the World” [1967 full line brochure], 1967; David R. Crippen, “Reminiscences of Irwin W. Rybicki” [interview], 27 June 1985, Automotive Design Oral History Project, Accession 1673, Benson Ford Research Center, www.autolife.umd.umich. edu/ Design/ Rybicki_interview.htm [transcript], last accessed 14 December 2010; Maurice Hendry, “1967 Cadillac Eldorado: It’s What’s Up Front That Counts,” Special Interest Autos #67 (February 1982), reprinted in Cadillac Eldorado Performance Portfolio 1967-1978, ed. R.M. Clarke (Cobham, England: Brooklands Books Ltd., ca. 2000), pp. 130-137, and Cadillac: Standard of the World: The Complete History (Fourth Edition update by David R. Holls) (Princeton, NJ: Automobile Quarterly, 1990); Dave Holls and Michael Lamm, A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design (Stockton, CA: Lamm-Morada Publishing Co. Inc., 1997); John Katz, “1966 Oldsmobile Toronado vs. 1967 Cadillac Eldorado: The Front Line of Front-Wheel Drive,” Special Interest Autos #168 (November-December 1998), reprinted in The Hemmings Motor News Book of Cadillacs: driveReports from Special Interest Autos magazine, ed. Terry Ehrich (Bennington, VT: Hemmings Motor News, 2000) pp. 110-119; Gerald Loidl, “The History of the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado – how it was developed,” 2010, www.med-user. net/~eldoradoseville/67eldo/ 67eldohistory/, accessed 25 October 2010; and Gary Smith, ed., Ron VanGelderen and Charles M. Jordan, “Exclusive 2006 Interview with Charles M. (Chuck) Jordan,” Dean’s Garage, 24 July 2012, deansgarage. com/ 2012/ exclusive-2006-interview-with-charles-m-chuck-jordan/, accessed 7 October 2012.
Information on the origins of the Riviera came from Michael Lamm, “The Car You Wear: 1963 Buick Riviera,” Special Interest Autos #33 (March-April 1976), reprinted in The Hemmings Book of Buicks: driveReports from Special Interest Autos magazine, ed. Terry Ehrich (Bennington, VT: Hemmings Motor News, 2001), pp. 94-100. Information on the origins of the Toronado came from Helen Jones Earley and James R. Walkinshaw, Setting the Pace: Oldsmobile’s First 100 Years (Lansing, MI: Oldsmobile Division of General Motors Corporation, 1996); Michael Lamm, “Toro & Cord: So different and yet so much alike!” Special Interest Autos #35 (July-August 1976), reprinted in The Hemmings Book of Oldsmobiles: driveReports from Special Interest Autos magazine, ed. Terry Ehrich (Bennington, VT: Hemmings Motor News, 2001), pp. 100-107; and Donald MacDonald, “Developing the Toronado,” Motor Trend Vol. 17, No. 12 (December 1965), pp. 40-45. A few details on the four-seat Thunderbird came from Tim Howley, “1958 Thunderbird: Flying Off in a New Direction,” Special Interest Autos #151 (January-February 1996), reprinted in The Hemmings Motor News Book of Postwar Fords: driveReports from Special Interest Autos magazine, ed. Terry Ehrich (Bennington, VT: Hemmings Motor News, 2000), pp. 86-94.
Additional information about the 1953-1966 Eldorado, Eldorado Seville, Eldorado Biarritz, and Fleetwood Eldorado convertible came from Matt Larson and Yann Saunders, “The Fabulous 1953 Cadillac Eldorado,” The Cadillac Database, 20 February 2003, www.cadillacdatabase. com, accessed 8 December 2010; Yann Saunders, “The Cadillac Eldorado with rear-wheel drive,” The Cadillac Database, 29 June 2009, www.cadillacdatabase. com, accessed 8 December 2010; John G. Tennyson, “SIA comparisonReport: GM’s Glamorous Threesome for 1953: Cadillac Eldorado, Buick Skylark, Oldsmobile Fiesta,” Special Interest Autos #134 (March-April 1993), reprinted in The Hemmings Book of Buicks, pp. 34-41.
Additional information about the Eldorado Brougham came from the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, “1957-1960 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham,” HowStuffWorks.com, 6 November 2007, auto.howstuffworks. com/ 1957-1960-cadillac-eldorado-brougham.htm, accessed 22 October 2010; “Mark II Meets Eldorado Brougham,” Special Interest Autos #2 (November-December 1970), reprinted in The Hemmings Motor News Book of Cadillacs, pp. 94-101; Pierre Ollier, “The Final Broughams,” Special Interest Autos #46 (August 1978), pp. 34-39; and Yann Saunders, “The Fabulous Cadillac Eldorado Brougham” The Cadillac Database, 10 October 2005, www.cadillacdatabase. com/ Dbas_txt/Brg_chap.htm, accessed 8 December 2010.
Information on Cadillac’s postwar Sixteen concepts and V-12 came from the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, “Great Expectations: Cadillac’s Postwar V-12 and V-16,” Cars That Never Were: The Prototypes (Skokie, IL: Publications International, Ltd. 1981), pp. 6-9; Roger Huntington, “It makes sense…New V-12 for Cadillac,” Motor Trend Vol 17, No. 9 (September 1965), pp. 70-71; Richard M. Langworth, “Cadillac’s Colossal Postwar Multi-Cylinders: V-12s and V-16s for the Sixties? Well, maybe…” Special Interest Autos #64 (August 1981), pp. 24-29; Gary Smith, “Wayne Kady,” Dean’s Garage, 10 November 2010, deansgarage. com/ 2010/wayne-kady/, accessed 11 November 2010; and Daniel Strohl, “Success! Cadillac’s OHC V-12 engine photos found,” Hemmings Blog, 14 April 2010, blog.hemmings. com, accessed 19 December 2010. The latter incorporates information from Karl Ludvigsen, The V-12 Engine: The Untold Inside Story of the Technology, Evolution, Performance and Impact of All V-12-Engined Cars (Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset: Haynes Publishing, 2005), to which we did not have access at the time of writing.
Some general information came from the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, Encyclopedia of American Cars: Over 65 Years of Automotive History (Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International, 1996); “Gordon, John F.,” Generations of GM History, n.d., GM Heritage Center, history.gmheritagecenter. com, accessed 22 December 2010; John Gunnell, ed., Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975, rev. 4th ed. (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2002); the Productioncars.com Book of Automobile Production and Sales Figures, 1945-2005; Yann Saunders, “The (new) Cadillac Database Glossary of Cadillac Terms and Definitions,” The Cadillac Database, 1996, www.cadillacdatabase. com; last accessed 22 December 2010; and Eric Weiner, “Time Warp: The GM Strike, Then and Now,” NPR, 26 September 2007, www.npr. org, accessed 20 December 2010.
We also consulted the following period road tests: “Ford Thunderbird [vs] Cadillac Eldorado,” Car and Driver November 1966; Joseph Geschelin, “Assembling the Eldorado,” Automotive Industries January 1967; Robert Schilling, “Eldorado Switches from Push to Pull,” Motor Trend January 1967; “Cadillac V8 – 429 Cubic Inches,” Petersen’s Complete Book of Engines 1967; “Cadillac Eldorado: An Admirable Flagship for the Captain of Industry,” Car Life April 1967; “Cadillac for 1968: Biggest engines in the industry and subtle styling changes for newest ‘standard of the world,'” Car Life December 1967; “The Most Wanted Car in the World,” Road Test September 1968; Bill Hartford, “Too Rough a Ride for the Soft Life,” Popular Mechanics July 1969; “New Cars: 1969 Luxury Specialty: Eldorado,” World Cars 1969; “Cadillac Eldorado: Still Wanted But Worth It?” Road Test April 1970; “Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado: Ownership is not a symbol of success, but success itself,” Car and Driver April 1970; and Bill Sanders, “King of the Hill: Road testing the Lincoln Continental Mark III and Cadillac Eldorado,” Motor Trend July 1970; “GM: Cadillac,” Motor Trend 1971 Buyers Guide; John Lamm, “King of the Hill: Eldo-Mark III Revisited,” Motor Trend July 1971; “RT/Test Report: Top Luxury for Pennies…It’s not the $10,700 first cost but the $473 first year’s depreciation that makes the Eldorado a best buy,” Road Test May 1972; and John Lamm, “King of the Hill: Cadillac Eldorado vs. Lincoln Continental Mark IV,” Motor Trend July 1972, all of which are reprinted in Cadillac Eldorado Performance Portfolio 1967-1978.
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- Plutocrat Pony Car: The 1966-1970 Buick Riviera
- Razor-Sharp Style: The 1963–1965 Buick Riviera
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