The Cadillac Fleetwood Talisman was king of the dinosaurs
Please welcome Richard Bennett and his feature, “The Brougham Society”. He will be your tour guide to that glorious era of American cars when the tops were Landau, the leather was Corinthian, and the best-selling car on the road was truly Supreme.
The Seventies were a decade of decadence. Members of the Greatest Generation were firmly into their careers, and were ready to enjoy the good life. Luxury and style was served up in grand fashion. Sometimes that grand fashion crossed the line into garish — but it didn’t matter.
Personal Luxury was very much in vogue, which meant that Cordobas and Monte Carlos prowled the streets in packs. There were more Nimitz-class luxury sedans than ever before, including Cadillac’s wildly popular de Ville. Some titans of business and industry, however, would accept nothing less than the biggest and best. Enter the Talisman.
General Motors’ large luxury cars were completely remade for the 1971 model year, and were land yachts in the truest sense. With overall length reaching over 233 inches by the mid 70’s, and a wheelbase that could stretch to 133 inches, there was no way one could not be awed and impressed by these luxurious machines.
Cadillac was still a fan of doing annual updates to their lineup during this era, so it’s not hard to tell these cars apart by year. Each year saw extra touches of luxury added, with the ultimate in luxury arriving in 1974, courtesy of the debut Talisman Edition. Imagine a motorcar this large with individual seating for only four passengers, thanks to full consoles installed in the middle of each row. Crushed “Medici” velour covered the thickly padded seats, and most of the door panels and the sail panels. Every power assist available at the time was present and accounted for. Courtesy lamps illuminated a forest of simulated woodgrain. 1975 and 76 saw the deletion of the rear console, as most customers wanted to be able to have room for three in the back.
The Talisman was intended to be the ultimate owner-driven large Cadillac, combining the opulence of the Seventy-Five limousine with the packaging of the Fleetwood town sedan. It could cost $17,000 in an era when a Nova rang the register for $3,300. Cadillac’s 500-cubic-inch V-8 motivated this two-and-a-half-ton beauty down the road with quiet authority, the wreath and crest hood ornament leading the way confidently.
You never heard the V8, as there was plenty of insulation to keep out any exterior noise. And while an electric sunroof (Astroroof in GM parlance) was available, the air conditioning was so good that there really was no reason to ever want to open the windows.
I spotted this beautiful example last year at a small car show in Belleville, Michigan. I didn’t get to meet the owner, but the car is obviously well loved, and still commands the respect that was, and is, due The Standard of the World.