1970 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado: 8.2 liter!

Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau

And then, lo and behold! I was woken up Saturday morning, the day of the grand event, by lightning. Nooooo!

Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau (left), Jayson Coombes (center), and Jim Smith. Thomas Klockau

It was raining upon our arrival at the Westin, but not too bad. We immediately spotted Jim Smith, my buddy who’s lived in Chicago his whole life and has attended every Chicago Auto Show since 1968.

I was so focused on this car I failed to notice the imminent thunderstorm. Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau

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!

Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau

A 400-horsepower V-8 breathing through a Rochester four-barrel Quadrajet carburetor, to be precise. Yowza.

Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau

“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.”

Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau

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).

Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau

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 …

Thomas Klockau

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!

Thomas Klockau

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.

Bill Buckingham, Nick Manole, Jim Smith, Bryan Wood, Jayson Coombes, and Thomas Klockau. Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau

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.

Owned by Jeffrey Montgomery. Expect a column later this year! Thomas Klockau

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!

Thomas Klockau



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    Tom, timely article, the 2023 CLC GN is in two weeks, while not three hours from your home base, more like three days (Albuquerque June 24 will be the judging, with all the cars on the show field). Maybe you can convince you insurance company, woops, I mean life style company, to issue you travel orders. Should have a lot of left coast cars in attendance…. Start packing 🙂

    You did an excellent story
    I myself owned two 1970 Eldorados 1st white on white with red leather
    2cd black on black with red leather.
    White was sportier black was elegant.
    Miss the power of the 5.7 liter
    Back then Cadillac was a Cadillac

    I myself owned 2 i970 Eldorados
    1 white on white
    2 black on black
    Both with beautiful red leather
    Miss the 5.7 liter
    A Cadillac was a Cadillac then

    I still have a 70 ElDorado. Great car, still a head-turning design. I have since come to know Wayne Cady who designed this car.

    The very first project in the car business I worked on, when I was a coop student in the fall of 1965, was the front wheel drive transmission, the THM 425. Eventually I got a car that had one.

    When I was a kid my next door neighbors dad bought a brand new gold 1970 Eldorado. I’m a little hazy on the interior color but I believe it was also gold. It had the 500ci in it for sure.

    Some years later his son, who was a couple years older than me learned to drive with that car. I remember gawking as he’d chirp the front tires pulling away – we had never seen FWD before. What a car! By far the coolest in our neighborhood.

    I wish General motors would look back and see what a cadillac was and start making luxry cars .take buckets seats out of the cadillac

    525 lb ft???? 525 lb ft is probably wishful thinking on Cadillac’s part. I owned a 472 Coupe De Villa and seat-of-the-pants dyno was probably 300-400 lb ft. Still lots of torque, but nowhere near 525. I don’t think a THM could take that level of torque anyway!

    I recall that many, perhaps most V8’s of that era were rated for more (GROSS, not NET) torque than they had displacement. For example, the 1968 LeSabre “400”, with a 350-4V and high-compression, was rated at 385 ft.-lbs. IF memory serves, the 1967 Dodge Monaco 383-2V was rated at 390 ft.-lbs. The Eldo’s 525 ft.-lbs. would certainly be consistent with this idea, whereas 300-400 lbs.-ft would appear to be way low.

    Tom most any car will get you to your destination, even a Lincoln. However this Eldorado is for when you have already arrived.

    I am still nostalgic for our 1975 Sedan de Ville Brougham in metallic rose. What a car! Back and forth across the continent in great comfort at a steady 75 mph, up the mountains and back down, returning 17 mpg on the highway… we owned in as a mere used car in 1991-93. Only real expense was a tranny rebuild for $400 after we bought it for $1800. That seemed like a disaster … but turned out to be worthwhile, even for the short time we owned it. Sold it because we were moving home to Canada and the cost of gas made it prohibitive to take along. Instead we bought a 1989 Mazda 929 to take home — only to have its transmission fail a few years later, at a cost of well over $2000! Should have kept the Caddy.

    Can’t go back and second guess that decision, you have no way of anticipating that ANY transmission will fail. If ya kept the Caddy, you woulda been thinking “what if ” every day.

    When I was a kid I rode around in my dad’s 70 Coupe de Ville. He said it had an 8 liter engine and I couldn’t comprehend that number, it was larger than life, just like the car. Was just like Boss Hogg’s, white on white convertible. Could never really know how much torque was being made, you could break the rear tires loose even near highway speeds. A little hiss when exiting the parking lot let you know you stepped on too much throttle, the open diff would send everything to one wheel in the blink of an eye. It literally drove like a land yacht, the tires and chassis were not even close to being able to handle the weight of the body and torque from the engine. Rev it at a standstill and watch the car twist. Only use the top inch of the throttle pedal and everything stays smooth!

    Beautiful car. The 1967-70 Eldos were visually the most spectacular of many good (and a few bad) years of the Eldorado. It was so cool to see Secretariat’s trainer driving an Eldo in the movie.

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