There was no greater display of wealth 50 years ago than arriving at an event in a Cadillac Series 75 Imperial Sedan - the limousine model of the Fleetwood line-up.
With an overall length of over 20 feet, room for nine passengers, and all of the design extras, the 1959 Cadillac limousine may be the most celebrated automobile of its era. Included in the design extras were extravagant tailfins - a feature that was introduced by Cadillac in 1948 - quad-headlights, twin bullet taillights, and double egg-crate grille.
Inside this 1959 Cadillac limousine, many convenience features can be found including divider glass window, power windows, leather seats, rear clock, rear radio controls, and rear air conditioning. It is powered by a 390 cubic-inch V-8 engine that develops 345 horsepower. With a base price tag of $9,748, the 1959 Cadillac Imperial sedan/limousine was limited to wealthy. Production numbers totaled a mere 690.
The Cadillac Series 75 was the marque's flagship V8 from 1936 onwards, though the lower priced series easily outsold it. Production of the full-size V8 powered Cadillac's would continue from the 1930s through the 1950s. It served as a replacement for the outgoing 355-D and was introduced around the same time as the less-expensive Series 60 model. Outwardly, the Series 80, including the 85, were similar in appearance with the main difference being underhood. The Series 80/85 featured a V12 engine while the Series 70/75 had a V8. The V8 produced 135 horsepower while the V12's output was 150 hp.
In 1941, the short wheelbase Series 70 was replaced by the Series 62 and the long wheelbase Series 75 was integrated into the Fleetwood line. Cadillac would continue the '75' name until the mid 1960s.
The V8 Series 70 of the mid 1930s were powered by a Monoblock V8 engine that displaced 346 cubic-inches and produced 135 horsepower. A total of 5,248 examples were sold in 1936. There were three body-styles available for the Series 70 from 1936 through 1937 consisting of a 131-inch wheelbase for the 36-70, a 138-inch version of the 36-75 and a large 156-inch platform for the 36-75 Commercial version.
There were a wide variety of body-styles to select from and all wore badges of Cadillac's in-house coachbuilder Fleetwood. The list ranged from two-passenger coupes to seven-passenger town cars with 14 cataloged styles offered.
The Fleetwood Metal Body Company had a history that dated back to 1905 when they were formed in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania. During their early years, some of their best customers were Packard, Pierce-Arrow and Cadillac. Lawrence Fisher, head of GM's Fisher Body Company and later president of Cadillac was pleased with Fleetwood's coach-building work and felt the union between the two companies was appropriate. The company was purchased by Cadillac in 1925 and the sales and design offices were moved to Detroit. Additional plants were built in Pennsylvania for body production and Fleetwood continued to accept body-requests from non-GM companies.
A Fleetwood plant was built in 1929 in Detroit, adjacent to the Fisher Body facility, and by 1931 all production had migrated to this location. Later, the production was absorbed by General Motors Art & Colour and Fisher Body. The Fleetwood name persisted for many decades, often referring to limited and low-production styles.
In 1939 the Cadillac V8 models were given a new frontal look with a matching textured grille. On either side were two side grilles. The engine still displaced 346 cubic-inches but further tuning had increased the horsepower output and its compression.
The Series 72 was a Fleetwood car that rode on a shorter, 138-inch wheelbase.
Production ceased during the Second World War and resumed in 1946. When it did, the Series 75 became Cadillac's largest model offered; now riding on a 136-inch wheelbase. The 346 L-head V8 engine was the same as was most of its basic styling. Just like most other automakers, a 'new' model would not be introduced for several years.
For the Series 75, this did not occur until 1950. It had a 146.7 inch wheelbase with seating for seven. Engine options included a 346- and 365-cubic-inch V8.
The wheelbase size was again increased by 1954, now measuring 149.8 inches. To carry the extra weight Cadillac increased the horsepower to 230. The following year it rose again to 250 hp, with an optional dual-four barrel carburetor version offered that produced 270 horsepower. 1956 saw another increase in horsepower, now ranging from 285 to just over 300.
Another restyling occurred in 1957 and would remain until 1965. By now, the name '75' had all but disappeared. Horsepower hovered around the 300 to 325 range depending on the engine and the setup. The long version of the Fleetwood became known as the Series 6700 in accordance with the new Cadillac naming scheme.By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2008