1971 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham: Life’s a Holiday on Primrose Lane

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Here I go again, writing up yet another Nimitz-class 1970s Cadillac. What can I say? I love them. In my defense, I had just written up a 1975 Monza Towne Coupe and was looking for more luxurious game. It was a Sunday, I had nothing on the agenda and nothing to do, so I went on one of my preferred Facebook groups, Finding Future Classic Cars.

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And what did my Brougham Radar lock on to, but this fantastic 1971 Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham, in rare and attractive Primrose Firemist, an extra cost and one-year-only color. What else could I do but write it up on the spot?

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It was listed on Craigslist by a classic car emporium in Palm Springs, California. As the ad, which has since been deleted, described it as “A true survivor—1971 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham showing just 37,900 miles. As you can see from the photos this is the real deal and extremely well cared for with no rust and in fantastic running condition.

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“Recent major servicing, including valve cover gasket, various hoses, filters, timing adjustment, upper control arm bushings, front and rear shock absorbers, and a set of tires. This Fleetwood starts right up and idles perfectly right off the bat, shifts between gears flawlessly, and drives down the freeway at 70+ effortlessly.”

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But wait, there’s even more! I found this link from an earlier seller, and it had some interesting information on the car’s original owner: “On April 5, 1971, Mr. Hal Freeman walked into Wilcoxson Buick Cadillac GMC in Pueblo, Colorado, and traded his 1963 Cadillac Fleetwood Sedan on this brand new 1971 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Brougham. The first stop he made after purchasing it was to his friend (who) owned the local liquor store right down the street from Wilcoxson Cadillac to show him his newest pride and joy. That friend is the current and second owner of this beautiful Fleetwood.

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“Unfortunately Mr. Freeman passed away in 1993, and it took 10 years for his widow to part with the car to Ted, the current owner. Ted is in his mid-80s now and is thinning a few of his collector cars. This beautiful Fleetwood is undoubtedly one of he nicest, lowest-mile survivor cars of it’s kind on the planet. Absolutely 100 percent rust-free, lifelong sunny-southern Colorado car. Ordered new in the rare and beautiful color of Primrose Firemist with Beige vinyl top and color-coordinated Rose interior, very classy and stunning combination. With only 34,700 actual miles on the odometer, this Titan of luxury is barely broken in. Engine is the powerful and legendary 472-cubic-inch big-block. Loaded with all of the options of the era, including light sentinel and rear passenger foot rests, this car is a dream to drive, like driving a cloud. Car is in fantastic original condition and Ted had it repainted with basecoat/clearcoat in 2010.”

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The ask from the most recent seller was $16,900, and the car appeared to be in remarkably good condition. And apparently it was, for later that afternoon, it was marked as sold. Someone got a really gorgeous Cadillac. With only 15,200 ’71 Fleetwood Sixty Special Broughams built, they do not exactly grow on trees 50 years later.

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But wait, you may be asking, what do you mean by “Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham?” Weren’t they two separate models? Yes … until 1971. The Fleetwood Brougham first appeared in 1965 as an option on the Fleetwood Sixty Special. It essentially added a padded vinyl roof and Brougham badging on the sail panels, but had the same interior and features as the Sixty Special otherwise.

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It became its own model starting in 1966, with the key exterior difference being the vinyl roof. That lasted until 1971, at which point the two models were merged into one, all featuring the padded top and Brougham badging. It was referred to by its extra-long name in literature and internal documents, but the car itself carried only “Fleetwood” lettering on the front fenders and trunk lid, and “Brougham” scripts on the sail panels; no “Sixty Special” designation was visible anywhere but on paper.

This car sports Dante Cloth, trimmed with genuine leather. The interior color was called Heather, and, like the Primrose Firemist paint, was available only in 1971. Daphne Cloth was also available, with scrolled embroidering on the top cushion. Genuine Sierra grain leather was naturally an option as well.

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The 1971 model year was a big one for Cadillac, for the entire line was completely redesigned, and extra-smooth, modern-for-the-times lines were evident in everything from the Calais coupe to the Fleetwood Series Seventy Five limo to the Eldorado convertible.

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The ’71 Brougham had a base price of $7763 ($52,000+ today), in a year when a Chevy Impala coupe with a V-8 sold for less than half that—$3759. The least-expensive ’71 Caddy was the Calais two-door hardtop at $5899 ($39,600); the priciest was the Series 75 limousine for $12,008 ($80,560). All breathed through a four-barrel carburetor, connected to a 472-cu-in V-8, producing 375 horsepower at 4400 rpm. Fleetwood Broughams rode a 133-inch wheelbase, three inches longer than the Calais or de Ville models.

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I’ve always loved 1971 Cadillacs; one of the first vintage car brochures I got from my dad was the huge, deluxe 1971 Cadillac catalog. I still have it, 30 years later, along with the 1971 Lincoln brochure I got at the same time. So perhaps it was a good thing I saw that this gorgeous land yacht had already sold, otherwise I may have been compelled to do something stupid and expensive. Yet satisfying, I’ll bet.

And now I have this song playing in my head: “Primrose Lane, life’s a holiday on Primrose Lane. Just a holiday on Primrose Lane with you …”

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