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; comments and email to the author from David North, 18–21 November 2018; 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.
- Gaudy but Glamorous: 1958–1966 Ford Thunderbird
- Take Me to Your Style Leader: The 1938–1942 Cadillac Sixty Special
- Mark of Success: The Lincoln Continental Mark Series
- Out in Front: The Front-Wheel-Drive Oldsmobile Toronado, Part 1
- Out in Front: The Front-Wheel-Drive Oldsmobile Toronado, Part 2
- Plutocrat Pony Car: The 1966-1970 Buick Riviera
- Razor-Sharp Style: The 1963–1965 Buick Riviera
- Requiem for Misterl: The 1959 Cadillac and the Winter of Harley Earl
- The Perilous Success of the 1976 Cadillac Seville
33 CommentsAdd a Comment
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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, http://www.cadillaclasalleclub.com or Gerald Loidl’s http://www.eldorado-brougham.com website which has a lot of information about both the front and rear drive 1967 models.
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.
thanks ad8n for referring to my website – the correct link would be http://www.eldorado-seville.com
You can find all the information about the 1967 Cadillacs on my website:
http://www.eldorado-seville.com. No disc brakes on the RWD models were available in 1967. I do own a 67 Eldorado with the rare disc brakes.
My current dream car is a 69 Cadillac Eldorado but I’ll take a 70 or even a 66. ;-)
The wooden trim fitted to the 1968 Eldorado was genuine rosewood – admittedly a thin veneer, but the real deal all the same.
Thanks for the correction!
Wondering why certain 1967 Eldorados had rotary windows in the back seat, but power in the front? Most had all four window power assists
Power front windows were standard equipment on the 1967 Eldorado, but the brochure lists power rear vent windows as an extra-cost option.
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
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.
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.
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.
Nick — You might also leave a comment over on Gary Smith’s Dean’s Garage website (deansgarage.com) and ask him directly. I don’t know if he regularly reads this site.
The studio name was Body design next to Body Development.
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.
Ack, you’re absolutely right. I’ve fixed that in the text. Thanks!
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”!
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?
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
That makes sense, although it did look quite striking.
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
Sorry, I can’t provide any advice on repair or restoration, and I can’t help finding cars or parts.