1973 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible: Dynamic in Dynasty Red
Another Cadillac? You betcha! What can I say, I love the classic luxury sleds from the ’70s, especially Cadillacs and Lincolns. And who doesn’t love a convertible? Current Cadillacs have been leaning heavily on the electric slide, if you get my drift. But there’s still something to be said for the … sheer presence of Cadillacs of the 1970s. Like this one.
You see, back in the ’70s, when things were more civilized, people appreciated appearance. Consequently, most—if not all—vehicles were pretty nice looking. Even in the Year of our Lord 1973, when the dreaded 5-mph federal front bumper edict went into effect.
Some wore it better than others. Ford seemed particularly proud of making its bumpers as massive as possible, while over at Chrysler Corporation, many of the new ’73s made do with giant rubber-tipped bumperettes on the previous year’s bumpers.
While GM split the difference (more or less), you could tell a little more effort was made to keep the top-tier Cadillac aesthetically pleasing—as befitting a proper luxury car, back when that was important and people bought cars instead of trucks and SUVs.
The 1973 Eldorado was in its third model year since it was totally redesigned in 1971. While the 1971 and ’72 versions were fairly similar—except for the grille texture, taillights, and certain color and upholstery changes—the ’73 sported a modest facelift. Most noticeable, of course, was the new front end, naturally incorporating the new 5 mph bumper but also sporting a new, bold, eggcrate grille and new turn/side marker/cornering lights.
The back was similarly updated. On the flanks, the simulated side cooling grilles on the rear quarters, so prominent in 1971–72, were stricken, resulting in a smoother side profile. There was a new bumper and taillights out back as well, and the license plate was moved farther upward into the trunk lid.
The Eldorado had been Cadillac’s sole convertible since 1971, when it replaced the DeVille convertible, which went out of production in 1970. The 1973 edition had a base price of $7681 ($52,712 today) and weighed in at 4966 pounds. A total of 9315 were built. In 1973 this Cadillac was the sole remaining American luxury convertible available, with the Lincoln Continental convertible last sold in 1967 and the Imperial in ’68.
Even the brochures were elegant. The 1973 catalog featured a white cover with an inset gold-outlined Cadillac crest on a field of red, with “The special world of Cadillac 1973” embossed below. Nine models were available, from the Fleetwood Seventy Five limousine and nine-passenger sedan to the lowest-priced Calais coupe. And that’s not including the special editions like the d’Elegance or Custom Cabriolet, available on the Fleetwood Brougham and Eldorado Coupe, respectively.
And they were all CARS, thank you very much. There were no Cadillac trucks, SUVs, or—saints preserve us—crossovers in 1973. Fortunately. As the brochure extolled: “Even for those who have long since accepted Cadillac leadership and quality as a matter of course, these new motor cars stand out. If anything, they make the special world of Cadillac even more special.”
And Cadillac had plenty to be happy about in 1973, as production set yet another record: 304,839 cars. Not bad, especially for a luxury brand, where the least-expensive model, the Calais two-door hardtop, sold for $5886 ($40,394). To put that in perspective, a new ’73 Chevrolet Caprice coupe—an extremely plush car in its own right—sold for $4082 ($28,013).
Well, it was a Cadillac after all. And a Cadillac convertible was still a great way to fly in 1973, so to speak. Even though the German marques, particularly Mercedes-Benz, were making some inroads in the luxury car market in 1973. But, oh, that Cadillac.
Again referring to the brochure (of course I have a copy!), this time referring specifically to the Eldorado Convertible: “Excitement was never more elegant—elegance was never more exciting. You can see it in the new boldness of its lines and the richness of its interior. You can feel it in the response of its 8.2-liter engine and in the superb maneuverability afforded by front-wheel drive, variable-ratio power steering, and Automatic Level Control.
“It even converts uniquely. With an ingenious inward-folding Hideaway Top … From its jewel-like standup crest to its beautifully beveled new rear deck, this is a unique driving experience. The Eldorado Convertible by Cadillac.”
Don’t you want to rush to your Cadillac dealer right now, test drive one, and place an order? I sure do. But I’m afraid I’d be a little disappointed, as the last Cadillac convertible, the XLR, was available in 2009, and the last Eldorado in 2002.
I can imagine myself in 1973, at the age I am now, buying one of these and just loafing along on pleasure cruises, with the top down, to various supper clubs and car shows, enjoying myself immensely. With Carly Simon’s “You’re so Vain” playing on the 8-track stereo. Ahh … bliss.
Our featured car, seen at the excellent Cadillac & LaSalle Club show in June 2019, was resplendent in Dynasty Red—a real RED kind of red, if you get my drift. It was paired with a white leather interior with red dash and carpet—the perfect combination. It appeared to be an extremely well-preserved original car.
I was smitten with it and frequently hovered around it throughout the day, as proven by all of these pictures. I’d have loved to have gone for a ride in it! Cadillac Style, indeed.