This Time, It’s Personal: The 1967-1970 Cadillac Eldorado


Although Cadillac had rejected the XP-715, the design was not yet dead. Since Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac were all interested, GM held an internal competition in the fall of 1960 to determine who would build the car. The eventual winner, as we have previously seen, was Buick, and the LaSalle II became the 1963 Buick Riviera.

Well before the Riviera even went on sale, Oldsmobile was asking the corporation for a Riviera-style specialty car of its own. Around the spring of 1962, Car and Truck Group VP Ed Cole finally relented, authorizing the development of a new personal Olds for the 1966 model year. As we discussed in our Toronado history, it would be based on a rendering by Oldsmobile stylist David North. That design, coded XP-784, would later become the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado.

1966 Oldsmobile Toronado front 3q2
Although Bill Mitchell lobbied hard to build David North’s “flame red car” (conceived as a smaller Pontiac design) on the intermediate A-body shell, the first Oldsmobile Toronado was considerably bigger than the contemporary A-body, stretching 211 inches (5,359 mm) on a 119-inch (3,023mm) wheelbase.

Dave Holls, Cadillac’s assistant chief stylist during this period, says the development of the Riviera and Toronado galvanized Bill Mitchell’s determination to build a sporty Cadillac personal car. If both Buick and Oldsmobile were to have stylish specialty cars, Mitchell argued, it hardly made sense for Cadillac to be left out.

The Cadillac studio had revived the XP-727 project in early 1961, resulting in a new full-size clay, the XP-727-2. We were unable to obtain pictures of that model for this article, but photos of it in other sources show a subtly V-shaped windshield, skirted rear wheels, peculiar headlamp ‘eyebrows,’ and broad semi-fastback sail panels. The XP-727-2 was apparently another dead end and was abandoned after August 1961.

As the Oldsmobile XP-784 took shape, the Cadillac studio developed another clay, the XP-727-3. It once again sported a V windshield, adding rear ‘suicide’ doors and another curious front-end treatment with exposed high beams and concealed low beams. By November 1962, that model had reached a highly finished state, but it was rejected as insufficiently modern-looking.

1962 Cadillac XP-727-3 model front 3q D-43363 - Copyright 2010 General Motors LLC. Used with permission, GM Media Archive. (GMMA 14416 part 2)
A full-size model of Cadillac’s four-door XP-727-3, photographed in late 1962. Note the very low beltline crease — accentuated on this model with bright trim — and round, flared wheel arches, which stylist Don Roper said were intended to emphasize the curvature of the body sides. The latter feature had originated with a scale model David North had created in his early days as a GM designer and was later adapted for the XP-727-3 by Ed Taylor, then a Cadillac stylist. North subsequently returned to the flared wheel arches for the design that became the Toronado, which Roper said was why Cadillac dropped that theme in favor of the squared-off wheelhouses of the XP-820 and XP-825 prototypes. (Photo copyright 2010 General Motors LLC. Used with permission, GM Design.)


Full-size models of Oldsmobile’s XP-784 design were completed by February 1963 and received management approval in April. By that time, there was a strong possibility that it would have front-wheel drive, with which Oldsmobile had been experimenting since 1957.

The extent of Cadillac’s interest in front-wheel drive up to this point is unclear. Most of the enthusiasm for that idea appears to have come from Styling or the Engineering Staff rather than the division itself. The XP-727 (and possibly the XP-727-2 and -3) was designed to accept either front- or rear-wheel drive, and some early examples of the experimental OHC Cadillac V-12 (described in the sidebar below) were intended for transverse installation, implying at least some tentative notion of using the V-12 in a FWD application. However, both the stylists and contemporary Oldsmobile employees, including former Olds comptroller Dick Elliott, later maintained that Cadillac management remained indifferent to the whole idea.

Harold Warner’s interest or disinterest in FWD would soon become a moot point. By mid-1962, Ed Cole had decided that in order to maximize the corporation’s return on the substantial tooling costs of the new Oldsmobile personal car, Cadillac should have its own mechanically related car for 1966, sharing the corporate E-body shell with the Olds and the second-generation Riviera. Although formal approval for front-wheel drive would not follow for almost two more years, Cadillac was ordered to collaborate with Oldsmobile and Buick on the development of the FWD powertrain and platform.

1963 Cadillac XP-784 model front 3q D-50497 - Copyright 2010 General Motors LLC. Used with permission, GM Design. (GMMA 14667)
1963 Cadillac XP-784 model side D-51376 - Copyright 2010 General Motors LLC. Used with permission, GM Design. (GMMA 14667)
Two versions of Cadillac’s XP-784. The finished two-door model, photographed on July 24, 1963 (top), appears to share the V-shaped windshield of the XP-727-3, but otherwise looks quite different, with a higher beltline and partially shrouded wheels. The headlight arrangement isn’t clear, but it may have been intended to use Sting Ray-like pop-up lights. The less-finished clay model (bottom), dated August 30, 1963, has what appears to be provision for rear suicide doors. Note the sail panel shape and the lack of vent windows, some of the few design elements that clearly resemble the eventual production car. (Both photos copyright 2010 General Motors LLC. Used with permission, GM Design.)

In May 1963, the Cadillac studio, now led by Stan Parker, developed a new clay model based on the package dimensions of Oldsmobile’s XP-784 and confusingly sharing the same designation. Cadillac’s XP-784 had little in common with the earlier XP-727 concepts except that it was initially also a two-door coupe. By August, however, this had been superseded by a four-door version, again with rear suicide doors. This, too, appears to have been a dead end and it was dropped by September.

After the demise of the XP-784, the Cadillac studio started over, leading to a new clay, the XP-820. Photos of that model suggest a return to the themes of the earlier XP-727-3, including a similarly low beltline molding and bladed fenders, which, according to Stan Parker, were originally suggested by Bill Mitchell. The XP-820 also added a number of new elements, including a V-shaped backlight and a curious concave windshield. There were studies of a possible convertible version, although the eventual production car would be offered only as a two-door hardtop.

1963 Cadillac XP-820 model front 3q D-52440 - Copyright 2010 General Motors LLC. Used with permission, GM Design. (GMMA 14667)
The XP-820’s concave windshield and front fenders are obviously quite different from those of the earlier XP-727-3, but the low beltline crease and V-shaped prow are similar, as is the relationship between the sail panels and the rear fenders. This photo illustrates one of several headlamp treatments tried on the XP-820; this one would not have been legal in many U.S. states at the time. Note the boards in the background, depicting some of the multicylinder concept renderings the Cadillac studio produced during the same period. (Photo copyright 2010 General Motors LLC. Used with permission, GM Design.)
1963 Cadillac XP-820 model side D-52441 - Copyright 2010 General Motors LLC. Used with permission, GM Design. (GMMA 14667)
According to Automobile Quarterly, the XP-820 was based on the full-size C-body used by other Cadillacs rather than on the E-body shell. While the XP-820’s wheelbase does appear to be significantly longer than that of the E-cars, we have no explanation for why the Cadillac studio would have made such a change given the corporation’s apparent interest in maximizing its use of the E-body tooling. Note the wheel arches, which are still flared, but no longer rounded, like the earlier XP-727-3. (Photo copyright 2010 General Motors LLC. Used with permission, GM Design.)


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  1. Nice update of the original article. One minor quibble – I believe that disc brakes were optional on the “regular” 1967 Cadillacs, too.

    They were standard on the 1967 Lincoln Continental and Imperial, so Cadillac would have wanted them available at least as an option.

    1. You would think, but both contemporary and modern sources indicate that in 1967, they were optional only on the Eldorado. If somebody actually has a ’67 with factory front discs, I’ll go with that, but as best I can tell, it appears they only became optional on RWD Cadillacs in 1968.

      1. Hi, My 67 has factory four piston front disc brakes with rear drums. The car was made in April of 67, fairly near the end of the production run. The brakes seem adequate for such a heavy car. Rear wheels will lock up under heavy emergency stopping. Thankfully I’ve only had this happen twice. Thanks, Steve

        1. The braking issues of the early FWD E-bodies (Eldorado and Toronado), even with front discs, are twofold. With front discs, the brakes are adequate for one (1) panic stop from freeway speeds, but they will get hot very quickly with repeated use, leading to substantial fade. In stop-and-go traffic or descending a mountain grade on a hot day, that can get dicey. The other problem, as you’ve experienced, is that not only are these cars heavy, they’re nose-heavy even by the standards of late sixties big American cars, so the weight transfer from a panic stop will unload the rear wheels almost completely, causing abrupt rear-wheel lockup. Eldorados suffered a bit more from both of these issues than Toronados did because of the different OEM tires, although with modern replacement rubber, that’s probably mitigated.

          The solution to the first problem would be more brake while the second problem calls for antilock control. GM started offering rear ABS in 1970 for that reason, which of course doesn’t keep the front wheels from locking or the brakes from fading on repeated application.

  2. You’re right…the 1967 brochure makes no mention of disc brakes. Interesting that Cadillac would lag behind Lincoln and Imperial in this important area – especially considering that the latter two had made disc brakes STANDARD by that point.

    Lincoln had made them standard for the 1965 model year!

    1. What’s especially peculiar is that in 1967, front discs were now optional on a many lesser GM cars. If memory serves, the only other line where the option wasn’t available in ’67 was the Corvair.

  3. Disc brakes were available on the ’67 Eldorado. They were unusual though in that the hub and rotor were a single casting making it an expensive and complex part if the disc needed to be replaced. By ’68 front discs were standard on the Eldorado, and by ’69 they had been upgraded to replaceable rotors. It is possible to adapt the 71-75 Eldorado front spindles, hubs and rotors to the earlier cars, and many owners have done so. It’s possible to tell if your car is equipped with factory discs since the cowl tag will be stamped with the letter ‘B’ along with the other factory options.
    Front discs were also optional on the RWD Cadillacs. You might want to check out the Cadillac La Salle Club website for more info, or Gerald Loidl’s website which has a lot of information about both the front and rear drive 1967 models.

    1. As the article says, discs were a $105 option on ’67 Eldorados, but I’ve never seen anything indicating that they were even optional on RWD 1967 Cadillacs. However, as I stated above, if somebody has evidence that they were (either factory literature or an actual 1967 — not ’68 or later — RWD model with OEM discs), I’ll go with that. I have no vested interest in saying you couldn’t get a ’67 DeVille with discs; that’s just what the evidence I’ve seen to date implies.

      I’m not a member of the Cadillac-LaSalle Club, so most of their resources are not available to me. I’m not familiar with Gerald’s site, but I will check that out — thanks for the reference.

      1. thanks ad8n for referring to my website – the correct link would be

    2. You can find all the information about the 1967 Cadillacs on my website: No disc brakes on the RWD models were available in 1967. I do own a 67 Eldorado with the rare disc brakes.

  4. My current dream car is a 69 Cadillac Eldorado but I’ll take a 70 or even a 66. ;-)

  5. The wooden trim fitted to the 1968 Eldorado was genuine rosewood – admittedly a thin veneer, but the real deal all the same.

    1. Thanks for the correction!

    2. Wondering why certain 1967 Eldorados had rotary windows in the back seat, but power in the front? Most had all four window power assists

      1. Power front windows were standard equipment on the 1967 Eldorado, but the brochure lists power rear vent windows as an extra-cost option.

  6. The Cadillac XP 840 is mislabeled. Not done in Cadillac studio by Kady. This car was modeled ,and latter built
    As a full sizer fiber-glass model in a special studio set up by Bill Mitchell who took an active part in its development.
    Mitchell had his friend Ned Niclols in charge of the studio and moved me from ast.chief designer in Cadillac studio
    To be Nicols ast. On this project. The car was to have 2 Cadillac 500ci engines becoming a V-16 ! This was just before gas mileage became a big issue! The car went nowhere as Jordan pointed out. David North ret. chief designer at GM

    1. Mr. North,

      Thanks for the clarification — I’ve amended the text. I’m assuming the Nichols studio was the same one in which the original Riviera was done; that car too was done as a Cadillac (or a LaSalle), but not by the Cadillac studio.

  7. There is a new book,in fact two comming about Bill Mitchell. I was asked to comment about rembering Mitchell
    And thie xp 840 came up. I was sent your price as reference. Good story,nice some are still interested in these
    Cars and people.

  8. Because memory is sometimes clouded I do not remember the designers name but I clay modeled the tail light for the 66 or there abouts Cadillac Eldorado in the studio across from the Cadillac Studio.
    The designers name/last might have been Smith same as Smiths garage.
    Hope he reads this and confirms or not.
    Thanks for the memories.

    1. Nick — You might also leave a comment over on Gary Smith’s Dean’s Garage website ( and ask him directly. I don’t know if he regularly reads this site.

  9. The studio name was Body design next to Body Development.

  10. The original Brougham’s roof panel wasn’t aluminum, it was stainless steel, which makes more sense given the over-the-top nature of the car. It also had a reputation for getting super hot when parked out in the sun.

    1. Ack, you’re absolutely right. I’ve fixed that in the text. Thanks!

  11. I been driving a 67-70 Eldorado everyday since 79.My car now since 2003.67/with discs and a wild built 514!No other car compares,new or old in my opinion! I also have a killer GMC motorhome with the same tranny,starter…I love being smarter than the transportation,and having assets not liabilities in the driveway that the light comes on “Service Engine Now”!

  12. The V shaped rear window has always intrigued me since the car first came out. Can any one explain how it is made? Is it two pieces of glass joined together? Or is there just a simple scoring down the middle?
    Wasn’t this an expensive thing to do for so subtle a design feature?

    1. It’s one piece of glass that was bent while heated. A more dramatic version of the same technique was used on the Oldsmobile Toronado XS in 1977–78. I don’t know that it’s intrinsically that much more costly than curved wraparound glass, although anything that requires special facilities or techniques for a small volume tends to be expensive. On the other hand, these were very expensive cars being sold specifically for their styling and exclusivity, so that sort of gesture was exactly what people were paying for!

      1. My grandmother’s ’70 Calais hardtop also had Veed rear glass, so volume wasn’t an issue if the much of the ’69-70 standard line had it. It looked like 2 pieces to me, but I was very young.

        She sold it to a friend and got a ’72 because its front seatback was higher than her head, even with the headrest removed. Dad gave the ’72 to my stepbrother about 2011 with under 50,000 miles. I wish we still had her ’64.

        1. Good point, although the rear glass on the standard cars wasn’t nearly as curved as the Eldorado, which I imagine made it somewhat less difficult to produce. Also, the Calais hardtop started at $5,637 in 1970 (and I doubt many went out the door for much under $6,500 MSRP) — not cheap — and these kinds of gimmicks were a big part of what you got over a Caprice or a Delta 88.

  13. Great article and comments! Thanks so much. I just purchased a 1968 Eldorado It has been left out in the weather but it’s salvageable. I’m sure I’ll have it running soon

  14. I worked on the first Toronado design in Oldsmobile Studio. Stan Wilen was the Chief Designer. If yin looknat thre red rendering compared to the final design you will se that there is very little from the rendering hat made itr to the production car. Don Logerquist created he thenme for the Toronado that was originally a back-up for the 1965 B cars. I also worked on the later car, the later one with the wraparound backlight. We modeled the backlight first on the Chevrolet Celebrity as a special Celebrity, the division was quite upset when Irv Rybicki took the design to Oldsmobile. I think there was some kind of “hot wire” involved in creating the “V” windshields, costly and a lot of scrap.
    The quality tolerances at the time were so great that anything that had three sides like that piece of glass was very hard to deal with in production.

    1. That makes sense, although it did look quite striking.

  15. Not sure if this is the right place to ask this question but hear it goes . We are doing a slight Resto mods to a 67 Eldo & would like to swap the hood set up to the 68 to clean up the wipers issue is the cowl area the same ? We are trying to find a parts car close to us with not much luck . Any info would be helpful . Tks

    1. Sorry, I can’t provide any advice on repair or restoration, and I can’t help finding cars or parts.

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