We are looking an E-body car, a twelfth generation Cadillac Eldorado.
With the benefit of hindsight and also seen at the time, the transformation of the 1986 Eldorado into the 1991 really must have been a socker. For almost twenty years the Eldorado sported a formal, near-vertical rear window. Then in 1991 Cadillac asked its customers to take in the visual drama of a near-vertical DLO contrasted with a 45-degree rear screen. Formally, it was a daring and rather sophisticated way to unite the privacy suggested by a vertical DLO and the more dynamic profile of the newly raked rear screen.
Here’s the immediate predecessor, one of the Irv Rybicki cars, looking eerily like something from Buick or Chevrolet. You can see the near-vertical trailing edge of the DLO, a trait carried over to the next generation.
The rear deck is also raised relative to the line of the bonnet. That feature also survived in the later car. The 1991 Eldo gained a sleeker bonnet and A-pillar profile and also appeared lower, chunkier, more agile. For this reason the grille lost the entasis and the egg-box slots became wider and lower – it was about emphasising width. The oblong lamps helped here too.
Cadillac retained some subtle charasteristics typical of the brand. Yes, the vertical rear lamps are graphically as you’d expect. Cadillac’s designers set the bootlid slightly underflush relative to the wings and allowed a small strip of body-coloured finish to end the base of the lamps – a little touch that would have been deleted in the Roger Smith years. The same goes at the front. Less chrome gave the car a more restrained character.
Overall, the 1991 Eldorado has more volume and mass than the predecessor. In isolation the 1986 seems worthy enough – tinsel, formality, solidity and a plush interior. The 1991 car however could suggest a spirted drive on a winding road. The previous one suggested trips between brasseries and offices on Manhattan or sedate jaunts to the golf course or country club.
In direct comparison with the 1991 car, you can see how much heftier the twelfth generation is. Unlike the earlier cars it does not look visually linked to any of the cheaper GM brands – it is properly visually distinguished, referring all the way back to the landmark 1967 car without being a pastiche.
Some of the detailing shows how the Cadillac character was imbued such as below, the A-pillar and front wing where a ridge develops from the lamp and increases in relief until it intersects with the A-pillar. This kind of feature produces a formal contast to the crown on the main surfaces.
If you look at the right side of the car you can see the crest of that ridge catches the light. The grille is joined to the bonnet and cuts into the front bumper. A little chrome garnish politely stops so as to emphasise the grille’s depth.
I paused to look at this car for some considerable time before a guy approached me and said hi. (I hadn’t seen an Eldo for more than 20 years – fleetingly, near Chantilly one winter’s morning). The chap was the owner. We had a pleasant chat about the car, that V8. In his several years of ownership he had precisely no problem with the vehicle. It was his second Eldo; on the highway he commended the low-speed pick-up and the relaxed nature at cruising speed. It’s always nice to meet cars’ owners and find out how they experience the vehicles. We both agreed it was a nice bit of styling (which was what attracted him to the car).
Pretty much nobody likes this car: (source)