The most interesting part of this car is on the inside
But my phone ran out of power. Drat.
I paid close attention to the dashboard and trim and didn’t find very much to criticise. Specifically, I looked at the dashboard which is a terrific slab of shiny wood and convincing plastic with an immense dual ashtray (hanging open – unphotographed). The two things which let it down were the coarse steering column cover which had rather crude detailing and the ashtray liners which were zinc-coated stamped items that were far smaller than you’d expect given the 15 cm width of the drawer they sat in.
Apart from that, the cabin is eminently habitable and inviting. The chairs are broad and shaped to accommodate sprawling on long trips. The standard wheelbase car has the same rear seats and these too are rather magnificent. The alternatives from Mercedes and BMW may handle better but are assuredly not more comfortable.
This example, with its lurid plastic gold coating does not show off the Fleetwood’s form in the best light. I always considered the standard car to be a good interpretation of a modern Cadillac. It was related to the Buick Roadmaster and Chevrolet Caprice but the Cadillac was more clearly differentiated. All of them got a 5.7 litre V8 and these were Cadillac’s last rear-drive cars for two decades. They were also BOF cars which made for much better insulation from the road.
The standard cars don’t attract much interest in Europe while the stretched cars tend to be liked for their comedy value. That’s something of a pity as, in standard form and with dark colours, these are handsome and useful vehicles, every bit as valid as Mercedes and BMW equivalents though their focus may be markedly different.
7 thoughts on “Long”
As much as I abhor stretched cars, this seems to be one of the nicer examples of this breed. I don’t know how the colour looks in reality, but I appreciate very much that it’s not the usual black or white. And I have to say that I always liked the three cars you mention (Fleetwood, Roadmaster and Caprice), incorporating modern, rounded elements into a classical silhouette and size. This is quintessential America. I wonder if they’ll ever make such great cars again.
How about a bordeaux metallic or a lightish navy metallic?
The Caprice saloon holds a lot of appeal, as you say because it was a blend of rounded edges and upright main forms. The Olds 98 managed this to excellent effect. I really liked that car. A foreign designer might be better able to mix the sensibilities just as Bangle and Robinson did very nice work for European brands.
The Caprice saloon is actually the one I like least of them. I’d clearly prefer the estate. And I also like the more upright designs of the Buick and the Cadillac saloons better.
The Buick, Caprice and Olds had substantially the same bodywork: if you want the estate then check out the Olds Custom Cruiser 1991-1992 with its wierd roof bubble.
Their bodywork is very similar, I agree. And still, there are differences, especially in the saloons, that manage to make the look of the cars quite different. The Roadmaster has a massive c-pillar and an upright rear window, whereas the Caprice’s pillar is more inclined and has a third side window. This, together with the wider, more rectilinear rear lights, makes the car look much more stately and substantial. Maybe there are also trim differences involved in this impression. The Cadillac generally looks more angular by virtue of its front and rear end and also squarer wheelarches.
The Olds is very interesting. I wasn’t aware of this variant before. Apparently, it was only built for two years and only as an estate. I kind of like its strange roof, it’s reminding me a little of the CX Break.
The Oldsmobile is very much the epitome of that era’s ærolook. Technically it’s much the same as the Chevrolet. The embellishments suit the shared bodywork. As you say, it had a short run. Not many can be left. I bet they have a cult-following though.
Virtually all these stretched limos were/are products of small “coachwork” companies, not GM or Ford(Lincoln) themselves. Watching them crab around tight downtown city streets is to feel true pity for the driver, and raised railway tracks can halt progress by high-centring if one ventures outside more suburban venues. Usually rented with chauffeur for the hilarity of it all.
The actual cars and wagons themselves were restyles on the basic GM B Body chassis of 1977, the best solid rear axle cars ever made, including various plodding Volvos of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, and especially the smaller but hardly lighter GM A Bodies that came out a year later in 1978.
Updated versions of these cars are still made and sell in the millions. They’re called pickup trucks, and even Ford and RAM have decent riding and handling chassis these days. These vehicles, virtually unknown in Europe, clog the roads around here. Fully 15% of the market is these large pickups, or 350,000 in a 1.9 million market in Canada alone. And there are only four nameplates involved, plus some GM SUV monsters up to and including the Cadillac Escalade. Even Toyota flogs almost a quarter million Tundras and Tacomas in the US each year. These vehicles also last longer than cars and puny CUVs (which are called SUVs in Europe so far as I can tell, and shows the disconnect Marketing strives to maintain). CUVs are obviously just using styling cues rather than the separate chassis core of these monsters and are no more than hatchbacks on stilts like the Qashqai being sold here now. Me, I’d never bother with a pickup, but I’m in the minority on my street ten miles from the city.
You want a quiet super-smooth ride, stretch out room galore for the extended family, fluffo seats, plastic luxury, high seating position, every electronic gimmick? Get a Ford F150. It sold 145,000 all by itself in Canada last year. The best selling car, the Honda Civic, sold 62,000. Yes indeed, BOF and solid rear axle are alive and well here. And Europeans have no idea of what they’re like to drive, the modern pickup trucks. Many well-off people don’t even bother farting around at the Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Lexus dealers looking for pantywaisted forin cars – they spend the same money and get a truck without thinking twice. And after a ride in an F150 with ecoboost V6 that can accelerate to 160 km/h in 15 to 17 seconds, experiencing the quiet level ride, you understand the appeal for the person who isn’t tearing around corners or into fake status, even if the resulting vehicle is too large for those living in the urban core who bleat for more bike lanes in the most precious way, and stay home when it snows a good five months of the year.
Everyone believes their own take on the world is really the only valid one, including me. But one cannot deny the ubiquity of the pickup truck in North America and the continuing refinement of the solid rear axle vehicle.