1974 was a rough year to be an American, but the Cadillac Division wasn’t about to give up on selling opulent two-and-a-half-ton highway dreadnaughts to the plutocracy (that came later).
Here’s a well-banged-up Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham, spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard last month.
Fleetwood was a coachbuilding company with English roots, absorbed by the Fisher Body Corporation and then into General Motors during the 1920s. The very last Cadillac Fleetwoods were sold for the 1996 model year; I photographed a ’96 Fleetwood Brougham in its final parking spot back in 2013. For you fans of Malaise Era Fleetwoods in this series, we also have this salt-water-assaulted ’74 and this ’76.
Joyce must have been very proud of her comfy, road-owning Cad back in the middle 1970s.
I recall seeing this exact sticker for sale in gas-station convenience stores in about 1974, while on family road trips in our ’73 Beauville. Could you bring yourself to slap a cheap decal on the dash of a car that sold for $9,537, which is about $50,000 today? Joyce managed the feat.
The 472-cubic-inch V8 in this car took a serious performance hit in 1974, thanks to a perfect storm of corporate and government incompetence (you may apportion blame between the two sides as you see fit, according to the narrative favored by your side of the Culture Wars), and was rated at a grim 205 horsepower. That’s 26 horses per liter of engine displacement, which compares unfavorably to the 134 horsepower-per-liter ratio achieved by the base engine in the 2017 Cadillac CTS. That said, this engine still managed to generate a respectable 380 pound-feet of torque and the Fleetwood had no trouble cruising effortlessly at 80 mph â€¦ oh, wait.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell what tipping point allowed a car to topple into a place like this, but we can see that Joyce’s Cad suffered a wreck that contributed that last bit of depreciation. The way these things seem to work, we can assume the car that bashed Joyce’s Cad was something with about 0.0001% of the class of the Fleetwood, a forgettable machine from the distant fringes of the GM empire.
Cadillac’s pursuit of big market share contributed to the de-exclusivization of the marque during the Malaise Era.