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The Cadillac Fleetwood was a full-size luxury vehicle manufactured by Cadillac in America from 1947 to 1996. The name Fleetwood was first used with the Series 60 Special Fleetwood nameplate. The car was designated as the flagship model when it was first introduced and continued in that position for a number of decades. Over its lifespan it always had an automatic transmission as standard and an option of multiple V8 and V6 engines were offered over the generations. It also came in a range different bodystyles including a coupé, convertible, sedan and a limousine was first offered in 1977 as an option.
There were three first generation Fleetwood models:
- 1946–1964 Sixty Special Fleetwood — based on Series 62
- 1946–1964 Series 75 Fleetwood — unique long wheelbase model
For 1965, the Eldorado and Sixty Special officially became part of the Fleetwood line along with the Seventy-Five. A new Fleetwood Brougham line was also added as an upscale Sixty Special. The Brougham featured footrests, writing tables (through 1967), special rear reading lamps, and a vinyl roof to distinguish it from the standard Sixty Special. A glass partition was also available to separate the front and rear passengers.
The third generation was the largest generation of Cadillac motor vehicles. The wheelbase was increased for the Deville and Fleetwood with a wheelbase stretching to 130 inches (3,300 mm). There was a choice of two different engines the first being 472 cu in (7.7 L) and the second being 500 cu in (8.2 L) respectively. Performance from these engines did decrease with EPA restrictions on tailpipe emissions and grams per mile emissions requirements, forcing gear ratios to taller and taller ratios, dropping to as low as 2.41:1.
A new common frame/suspension design was introduced in the third generation Fleetwood which was also used in other GM full size car lines shared by the Chevrolet Caprice/Impala/Bel Air, Buick LeSabre/Electra, Oldsmobile 88/98, Pontiac Catalina/Bonneville/Parisienne, and the Cadillac Sedan Deville/Coupe Deville. While the other GM divisions used a front-steer setup (steering linkage in front of the engine crossmember), all Cadillac RWDs retained the 1961-vintage front suspension (rear steering linkage, eccentric cams in the steering knuckle in lieu of shims, strut rods attached to the framerails for caster adjustment). Rear suspensions were now driven by the Pontiac designed 8 7/8" (8.875") ring gear 10 bolt salisbury live axle.
A new trailer towing package was added for the 1971-1976 model run allowing larger trailer loads to be pulled. Coupled with heavy duty cooling, 3.23 gearing, high output 80 amp large frame alternator and heavy-duty THM400 transmission, the long wheelbase was ideal to pull trailers weighing up to 7,000 lb (3,200 kg).
From 1974 through 1976, a "Fleetwood Talisman" option was available. This option, which cost over $2500, featured an interior of overstuffed crushed velour seating for four passengers with writing tables located in lockable consoles between the front and rear seats. In 1975, the rear console/writing table was deleted to make room for a fifth passenger. Although the footrests were also included, as on the standard Fleetwood Brougham.
For 1977, Fleetwoods were reduced in size along with all other GM full-size cars. The Fleetwood Brougham sedan had a 121.5 in (3086 mm) C-body platform. Also new was Cadillac's 425 in³ L33 V8, with an optional Oldsmobile diesel 350 V-8 arriving for 1979. The Fleetwood 75 Limousine used the long-wheelbase 144.5 in (3,670 mm) D-body chassis. The 1977-1979 Limousine was only available with the carbureted 425, the 1980-1984 only with a 368. The RWD Fleetwood 75 Limousine ended production in 1984.
For 1980, Fleetwood models retained the wheelbase and rear wheel drive chassis introduced for the 1977 models, but had restyled sheetmetal. A two-door Fleetwood Brougham, introduced in 1980, was based upon the Coupe de Ville but featured an exclusive formal landau vinyl roof. The RWD two-door was discontinued after the 1985 model year.
For 1985, all Fleetwood models (except the Fleetwood Brougham) moved to the front wheel drive C-body. The standard Fleetwood shared the same 110.8 in (2814 mm) wheelbase as the other C-body cars, the Cadillac DeVille, Buick Electra, and Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight, while the Limousine "Fleetwood 75" stretched it to 134.4 in (3414 mm). The Fleetwood Brougham remained on the RWD platform, (which was redesignated as "D-body" for 1985) through 1986.
The rear wheel drive Fleetwood Brougham became simply the Cadillac Brougham for 1987, leaving all Fleetwoods on the new FWD platform. There was little more than trim differenced between the Fleetwood D'Elegance and Deville. The 1987 and 1988 Fleetwood Sixty Special used a stretched 115.8 in (2941 mm) version of the C-body, while the Limousine "Fleetwood 75" (discontinued after 1987) remained at 134.4 in (3414 mm) between the wheels.
The aluminum 4.1 L HT-4100 V8 was replaced by the 4.5 L HT-4500 for 1988. The engine was upped to 4.9 L for 1991's HT-4900.
Five Cadillac Fleetwood Seventy-Fives, a Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham and a Cadillac Fleetwood Station Wagon are stolen in the 1974 film Gone in 60 seconds.
In the 1971 film 'Get Carter', starring Michael Caine, Eric can be seen chauffeuring the rich gamblers to Kinnear's house in a maroon second generation Fleetwood, which stands out against the British countryside. The car is seen again at the end of the film as Eric parks by the coal staithes.