An extremely large vehicle, the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham was introduced from 1947 until 1996 with the name combining two very well-know Cadillac trim lines, the Brougham and the Fleetwood. The name alone was meant to signify elegance and the finest of quality the maker could possibly produce. The original model to carry this name was the '47 Fleetwood Brougham with a sedan version, a coupe version as well as a limousine version. In comparison to the Sixty Special, the Fleetwood Brougham was a much more upscale trim line and featured tray tables and footrests in the rear.
The original model was part of the Cadillac Series 60 line and was a closed, two-door coupe, two-door convertible, 4-door limousine, 4-door sedan and was Cadillac's first pillar-less hardtop and convertible, besides the Sedan DeVille and the Coupe DeVille. At $3,497, the Fleetwood Brougham was one of the most expensive models in the Series 62 line and it was intended as a prestige model. Inside the vehicle was luxuriously appointed and featured leather upholstery and chrome ‘bows' in the headliner to imitate the ribs of a convertible top. This generation was only in the market for this model for one year because the Cadillac line would undergo a complete remodel.
The second generation of the Fleetwood Brougham began in the 1948 model year and featured a new design for all Cadillacs except the Fleetwood 75. One year later a minor re-design occurred for the grille. A total of 2,150 units were sold of the first-year Fleetwood Broughams, while 1950 sales were nearly double, and 1951 sales were even more impressive and nearly double the year prior. The second generation only lasted for two years.
For 1950 the third generation of the Fleetwood Brougham was introduced and quite substantial updates were introduced. The vehicle was now a bit lower and featured a much more sleep appearance, longer hoods and one-piece windshields. Having been reduced to 122 inches, the Series 61 was once again a short wheelbase model. In between 1950 and 1952, very minor changes appeared in the grille. During the middle of the 1951 model year, the Series 61 was discontinued due to lagging sales.
The final year for this generation, in 1953 the Fleetwood Brougham received an all-new redesign for the grille. This model was a special-bodied, low-production convertible that a total of 532 units were sold. This was the production version of the '52 Fleetwood Brougham 'Golden Anniversary' concept car. This edition was available in four very special colors, Alpine White, Azure Blue, Aztec Red and Artisan Ochre. Convertible tops were available in either black or white Orlon. Other than the 'Fleetwood Brougham' nomenclature in 'gold' in the center of the dash, no other specific badging was found on the car. The top was hiding in the open car version by a hard tonneau cover which was flush with the rear deck. This model was almost twice the price of the of the regular Series 62 convertible even though it shared its engine at $7,750.
The fourth generation of the Fleetwood Brougham was introduced in 1954 and immediately lost its special sheet metal and shared its basic body shell with the standard Cadillac models. Only a few trim pieces differentiated it from the other models which allowed GM to lower the price which encouraged the sales to jump quite substantially. The following year the Fleetwood Broughams body received its own rear end styling with high, slim, pointed tailfins. These separated them from the egg-shaped fins that were so popular at the time and gave the Fleetwood Brougham a distinct edge with the competition.
For the 1956 model year, the Fleetwood Brougham was joined in the lineup with the Sedan de Ville and the Coupe de Ville. The Sedan de Ville would eventually outlast the Fleetwood Brougham. In this same year a two-door hardtop coupe version entered the scene called the Eldorado Seville. Once again at the forefront of unique rear-end design, the following year the base Fleetwood Brougham and Eldorado Seville coupe featured a ultra-low down-sweeping fender-line capped by a pointy, inboard fin. 'Chipmunk cheeks' was an affectionate nickname for the rear fenders. This concept vehicle continued on for two years.
For the 1957 model year, the Eldorado Brougham was introduced, which became GM's most significant design. An ultra-luxe vehicle, Eldorado Brougham was a four-door hardtop with rear-opening rear doors with a hefty pricetag of $13,000 more than the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud of the same year. This vehicle featured air suspension, a stainless steel roof, the first memory power seats, first dual headlights, and many more features. The Eldorada Brougham continued to run for the next two years in very small quantities, most likely due to the hefty price. This vehicle was almost completely hand-assembled and is considered to be among the rarest and most collectible of all postwar American models.
From 1959 until 1960, a different Eldorado Brougham was introduced, quite different from the previous one. These new models weren't as extremely styled as its predecessors, and cost wise, they were about $1 more at $13,075. Assembly was contracted out to Pininfarina of Italy, though the design 100% Cadillac, the Eldorado Broughams were essentially hand-built in Italy. They featured slim and discreet taillights that were placed smoothly into modest tailfins that looked sharp next to the 'rocketship' taillights and huge fins of the standard 1959 Cadillac's that were an indication of the direction Cadillac styling would lead to. Unfortunately, the build quality wasn't as good as the Detroit hand-built 1957 and 1958 models, so the desirable factor went a bit downhill.
The fifth generation of the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham lineup was introduced with a distinct Series 63. The new 1959 model came with an all-new body, by 1961 an entirely new facelift occurred. Only a few changes were made in 1962 and for the following two years. The Fleetwood Brougham was Cadillac's flagship model starting in 1965, placed above the Calais and the DeVille. The newest model could reach 0-60mph in just nine seconds. Unfortunately despite high list prices, the sales were very encouraging.
For 1968, the Fleetwood Brougham's had to comply with new federal safety and emissions legislation so they introduced exterior updates, and to keep with the rest of the Cadillac lineup it added a new 472 in³ (7.7 L) V8 engine that was rated at 375 hp. The following year the Fleetwood Brougham deleted its hidden headlamps and chose a halo vinyl roof and a power sunroof option as options.
For the 1970 model year, a new 500 in³ 8.2 L V8 engine was introduced which would be a Fleetwood Brougham exclusive until it eventually became standard on all full-size Cadillac's from 1970 until 1976. In 1971 a full remodel occurred on the Fleetwood Brougham, but following that, not much changed until 1976 except for front and rear-end slight updates. A lot of the styling changes on the Fleetwood Brougham were shared with styling cues from lesser models. In 1975 the vehicle received rectangular headlamps along with a brand new grille. This design configuration was the end of the traditional large-size Cadillac's since in 1977 the company saw a huge down-sizing of the whole line-up except for the Eldorado and the Seville.
The 'Air Cushion Restraint System'; airbags was unveiled for the 1974 model year. This system activated the airbags when the car was hit from the front only. Instantaneous-inflating nylon bags were hidden in the steering wheel and the passenger side of the instrument panels and were designed to prevent front seat occupants from impacting with the windshield during a frontal collision. The option took over the place designed for the glove box and had a lockable compartment under the dashboard. Unfortunately this option never became very popular and after 1976 it was dropped from the list of available options.
A 'd'Elegance' package was introduced as an option package for the Fleetwood Brougham in 1973 at an additional $750. This package came with a very innovative 'pillow-style' velour seating trim along with more plush carpeting and several additional features that were optional on all standard models. This same package was made available on the Coupe/Sedan de Ville models in 1974 but with a different seating design. The dElegance package was available on the Fleetwood Brougham/Brougham/Fleetwood models throughout the 70's, 80's and even part of the 90's.
In 1974 a special 'Talisman' package was unveiled for the Fleetwood Brougham line for the next few years. Such an exclusive package, the 'Brougham' identification was removed entirely and renamed as a 'Fleetwood Talisman' on the exterior badging. The inside of the Talisman came with a center console in the front that held a writing tablet as well as the rear-passenger compartment that contained only a storage space. The Talisman had seating adequate for four in 'Medici' crushed velour and interior carpeting similar to shag carpeting. The four-seater option may have led it to the discontinuation of the rear seat console in the 1975/76 editions.
The tenth generation of the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham was introduced for 1977 as GM quite substantially down-sized their full-sized vehicles. The three main cars, the Fleetwood Brougham, the Coupe de Ville and the Sedan deVille now all rode on the same 121.5' wheelbase. All three were also all were powered by the 425 cubic inch V8 engine, which was basically a de bored version of the 472/500 V8 of earlier years. The difference from the model of the previous year, the '77 Fleetwood Brougham weighed about 750lbs less and also lost 11.5' of wheelbase.
Still considered the top-of-the-line Cadillac offered, the Fleetwood Brougham was nearly identical to the ‘lesser' Sedan de Ville. The main difference were exterior, with the hubcaps and the hood ornament, along with the extension of the vinyl through the 'b-pillar' that gave it a more formal look on the Fleetwood Brougham. On the inside, the Fleetwood was also much more luxurious and offered many more features as standard.
The eleventh generation was introduced in 1980 and the Fleetwood Brougham, Coupe de Ville and Sedan deVille all received an all new bodystyle with a much more square look and a much more formal roofline. The three vehicles kept the 121.5' wheelbase as well as the basic dashboard design.
Further de-bored for 1980 and 81, the 425 in³ engine, a reduced bored bore 472 was reduced to 368 cubic inches of 6.0 liters. For '81 the 368 received a modulated displacement system that was designed by Eaton Corporation that was controlled by a digital computer that locked off intake and exhaust valves to 2 or 4 of the 8 cylinders, making it as effective as a V6 or a V4. Called the V8-6-4, this engine was unfortunately troublesome with its electronics and sensors, and except for limousines, this engine was deleted after 1981. All of the computer gadgets might have been a bit too much for this period of time. The 425 and 368 were small-bore versions of the very sturdy 472 while the larger 500 had the 472's bore but a longer stroke. The last ‘big-block', this engine family was the final Cadillac cast-iron engine.
A brand new, front-wheel drive platform was introduced by Cadillac in 1985. This was the point in time that the Fleetwood Brougham was split with the Cadillac Fleetwood. This platform received the two and four door Fleetwood's, the Sedan de Ville and the Coupe de Ville. This vehicle received the first transverse mounted V8 engine ever, and it was also the first car to receive a high mounted stop-lamp that was mandated for the 1986 model year. The '85 Fleetwood Brougham remained nearly unchanged from the previous year. The two-door Fleetwood Brougham was dropped in 1985. The following year the problematic HT4100 V8 was replaced with an Oldsmobile sourced 307 cubic inch V8 engine.
The Fleetwood Brougham was renamed Cadillac brougham in 1990 and received its first major facelift since 1980. This update included a wrap around front bumper, composite headlamps, clear/white tail lamps and rocker panel cladding. The 1990 model was available with a Chevy sourced 350 cubic inch L05 V8 engine.
The thirteenth generation of the Fleetwood Brougham was introduced in 1993 and was fully redesigned and now with the Fleetwood rode on the 121.5' D-body platform. This esteemed platform was the same that Cadillac had been utilizing for their full size, rear-drive vehicles since 1977. Separating the Fleetwood Brougham from the Fleetwood were just minor trim variations. The Brougham model came with rear seat lighted vanity mirrors, more standard equipment, extra padded seats and a 2.93:1 ratio rear end ratio. Both vehicles were powered by a 180 hp Chevrolet 350 V8 engine.
In 1994 until 1996, the Fleetwood Broughams were powered by an all new 260 hp 330 lb/ft LT1 Chevrolet 350 V8. GM decided to retire the Cadillac Fleetwood, along with its B-Body mates in August of 1996 and moved aside for the Chevy Suburban and Tahoe production.By Jessica Donaldson