1970 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado: 8.2 liter!
Last June, my friend Jayson Coombes flew up from Texas to visit me. Main goal: Attend the Cadillac LaSalle Club Grand National in Lombard, Illinois, and the Buick Club of America’s national meet in nearby Lisle.
It was nearly a once-in-a-lifetime event. Two national clubs with extreme Broughamish tendencies (i.e. giant Klockau magnet) would be less than three hours from my home base. Via several texts and phone calls, plans were hatched, and we decided it was worth it. We were going.
And then, lo and behold! I was woken up Saturday morning, the day of the grand event, by lightning. Nooooo!
But we went. It was far too late to cancel plans. We were determined Cadillac fanatics! A rainstorm chased us 2/3 of the way there, making visibility extremely poor when behind semis passing each other, going 0.0007851 mph faster than the other one. But we made it to the Westin Chicago Lombard unscathed.
Naturally we were as far as possible from the building when the rain started pouring. I’d been distracted photographing a Phantom Gray 1970 Fleetwood Brougham when it began. I stood under a tree for approximately five minutes when Jayson ran up, also seeking shelter. We stood there like idiots for about another 10 minutes when we wordlessly agreed to go for it and ran for the hotel.
But right next to that Fleetwood Brougham, and five feet from the tree I had been hiding under, was this fantastic Cadillac. A 1970 Fleetwood Eldorado.
It was spectacular in San Mateo Red with white leather and a white vinyl roof. Such a nice, cheerful color combination! It was initially my favorite car at the show. That would change frequently throughout the day, but I kept coming back to it. It was so pretty!
The ’70 Eldorado was the last edition of the original front-wheel-drive 1967 Eldorado personal luxury coupe. While it hadn’t changed drastically during its four years of existence, it did lose its hidden headlights in 1969 and got a new grille and wheel covers.
For its last appearance in 1970, it received a bolder, more heavily cross-hatched grille; Cadillac crests in the front turn signal lenses; redesigned, slimmer taillights; and other minor styling fillips. Oh, it also got a 500-cubic-inch V-8.
A 400-horsepower V-8 breathing through a Rochester four-barrel Quadrajet carburetor, to be precise. Yowza.
As the 1970 Cadillac brochure (of course I have a copy!) stated, the Fleetwood Eldorado was “one designed for the motorist who desires unusually spirited performance, individual styling, and all the elegance and comfort for which Cadillac is renowned.
“Eldorado’s exclusive, new 8.2-liter V-8 engine (500 cubic inches of displacement) is by far the largest engine to power a production passenger car and makes the spirit of the ’70s come alive with rare excitement.”
That was rather an understatement, as the new engine had 400 horses (as previously mentioned) and also 550 lb-ft of torque, with a 10-to-1 compression ratio, 4.30 bore, and 4.304 stroke. Not bad. Other Cadillacs had “only” 375 horsepower and 525 lb-ft of torque.
It was backed up by GM’s famous, creamy smooth Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. These ’70 Fleetwood Eldorados had a 120-inch wheelbase, 221 inches overall length, and a curb weight of 4630 pounds. Base price: $6903 ($53,972 today).
Of course, as a Cadillac, there was a raft of standard equipment: Power windows, power front seat, cornering lamps, a visor vanity mirror, automatic transmission, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and variable-ratio power steering, among other refinements.
Also as a Cadillac, and it being 1970, a multitude of colors, fabrics, and leather seating choices were available. Back then people actually liked driving something distinctive while choosing their own colors so that their car would look like no other in town.
Sadly, that’s mostly gone by the wayside in 2023, outside of very high-end new cars. And even then, white, gray, and black 7-Series, Phantoms, and S-Classes abound. But I digress …
The San Mateo Red just glowed later in the day when the sun came out. I loved it. And as I was working on this column I texted Jayson a pic of this car. His response: “That car was spectacular. I so wanted to take it home! I’m sure you have millions of photos, but you’re welcome to mine too.” Well, I didn’t take millions, but I probably took more than 50 of this car!
The Eldorado was redesigned in 1971, gaining more baroque looks but retaining its impressive engine and adding a convertible model. Actually there was a wonderful ’71 convertible at the show too, but this column is already getting a little long! Another time.
We met up with other Cadillac pals at the event, both from the Chicago area and much farther locales, and took a picture in front of Harry Caray’s restaurant before we all split up again to continue gawking at classic Cadillacs and frantically taking pictures. It was great seeing friends I ordinarily only communicate with thru Facebook or email.
Like I said, I frequently changed my mind about which car was my favorite, there was also an amazing Dumbarton Green ’76 Fleetwood d’Elegance on display. Between that and the Eldorado, they were in the top two.
I kept going back and forth between first and second place on my mythical list. And that car will be written about at some point as well! But until next time, keep calm, Brougham on, and always tip your bartender!