1977 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham: Fantastic in Frost Orange Firemist
If you were in the market for a luxury car, 1977 was a great year to be alive. So many choices! And all of them cars, not SUVs or pickups. And crossovers hadn’t been invented yet. Oh sure, there were trucks and four-wheelers, but Cadillac, Lincoln, Chrysler, and others were most certainly not offering them. If you walked into a Cadillac dealership and you asked a salesman for a Cadillac truck, they would smile politely, have you sit down on a nice, comfortable chair, get you a cup of coffee, then call for the guys with the butterfly nets. It was a different time.
But it was so great if you loved unapologetic luxury, vast color choices, upholstery selections, full and landau-style tops, opera windows, and opera lamps. And there was a lot more at your friendly local Cadillac dealer in 1977.
Cadillacs, being proudly and unapologetically huge for years, were suddenly 8–12 inches shorter and 950–1000 pounds lighter. While not small by any means—these weren’t Honda Civics, for Pete’s sake—they were definitely smaller than Cadillac owners were used to. Fleetwood Broughams lost their exclusive 133-inch wheelbase and now rode the same 121.5-inch wheelbase as de Villes.
The Seville and Fleetwood Eldorado continued largely as before, though the Eldo also received the new 425-cubic-inch V-8—and lost its long-standing convertible model.
The Fleetwoods and de Villes (the Calais series had also disappeared after 1976) were also over three inches narrower yet managed to lose almost no interior space. And the trimmer exterior dimensions made them easier to maneuver and park than the Nimitz-class 1971–76 Fleetwoods, de Villes, and Calais models.
The 1977 Fleetwood Brougham had an overall length of 221.2 inches. Four wheel disc brakes were now standard. Base price was $11,546 ($58,642 today) and 28,000 of them—including both the Fleetwood Brougham and tonier Brougham d’Elegance—were sold for the model year.
Dubbed “The Next Generation of the Luxury Car,” the 1977 Cadillac debuted on September 23, 1976. Incidentally, 1977 was also Cadillac’s 75th anniversary. There were 21 exterior colors offered, along with 16 vinyl roof selections. Yes, in the late ’70s you could actually get real colors! A wide variety of them. I miss that.
While some wags were unsure about these new downsized Cadillacs, sales proved otherwise. Cadillac set another production record this year, to the tune of 358,487 cars. Not bad. Fleetwood Broughams distinguished themselves from the Sedan de Ville, which now had essentially the same body, via a smaller “privacy” rear window, wide chrome rocker moldings, color-keyed turbine-vaned wheel covers (wire wheel covers were an optional extra), a plusher interior, and standard automatic level control.
I spotted our spectacular featured car on Palm Springs Craigslist earlier this year and was immediately smitten. I am old enough to remember these cars as late models, cruising along in near-showroom condition when I was a kid in the mid-to-late ’80s. Plus they didn’t seem so old to me at the time, as the same basic body continued, with some changes here and there, all the way to 1992 as the Cadillac Brougham and Brougham d’Elegance.
While I don’t recall seeing too many Fleetwoods, 1977–79 Sedan de Villes and Coupe de Villes were pretty common, even into the late ’90s here, ranging from mint to ragged condition.
As the seller related: “Available for sale is our one-family owned, super low mileage, ’77 Fleetwood Brougham. Stunning condition in an ultra rare color combination of Frost Orange Firemist, Antique Medium Saffron Leather, and Lt. Saffron Metallic vinyl top. Purchased new from Thomas Cadillac in Los Angeles and now has only 17,500 original miles.
“Still wearing its first issued California Blue plates! Absolutely zero rust and no accidents of any kind. Lots of money recently spent to bring it up to it’s current condition, including new A/C, correct 1.3-inch WW tires, rear bumper fillers, headliner, completely serviced including belts and vacuum hoses, full interior and exterior detail.
“Runs and drives beautifully at all speeds. Everything operates perfectly as it did when new, with exception of the digital clock. Optional features are: Pinstripes, cruise control, door edge guards, fuel monitor system, right-side remote control mirror, tilt/telescope steering wheel, twilight sentinel, 6-way power passenger seat, carpeted rubber floor mats.
“Included with the sale is a 1977 Factory Salesman’s Merchandising Guide and showroom brochures, two sets of original keys, and a car cover. Asking $22,500 OBO.” At the time I spied this ad on Craigslist Palm Springs, just before the July 4th holiday, I thought, well, 22.5K sounds pretty good since most modern cars don’t interest me, and the few that do are far above that amount.
And I LOVE the colors. I’ve been in love with Frost Orange Firemist ever since the early ’90s. Back then, my science teacher, Mr. Spilker, had a number of vintage National Geographics and stacks of Time magazines from the ’70s. He let me and a couple friends in my class take out the car ads from some of them, and one of them was an ad for the ’77 Eldorado—in this color. Wow! It was spectacular, especially with the color-keyed wheel covers. I probably still have that ad in a folder somewhere.
But even better, I also have the 1977 Eldorado-only dealer brochure, as well as the 1977 de Ville/Fleetwood brochure. And while at first blush it appears to be the same color in the brochure as our featured Fleetwood Brougham, it is actually Saffron, which was a similar, but darker color. I love them both. As a matter of fact, I have a 1977 Coupe de Ville dealer promo in 1/24th scale in Saffron. Such great colors back then!
As for the Fleetwood Brougham, it carried on through 1978 and ’79 with only minor changes to the exterior styling, upholstery, and color choices. In 1980, it and the de Villes and Fleetwood Limousines would be restyled yet again with smoother, more EPA mileage-friendly shapes. The 425 would become the 368, then be added with the questionable “4-6-8” cylinder displacement computer in ’81, then get the “High Technology” HT4100 V-8 in ’82. Later on it would be replaced with non-Cadillac exclusive 307- and 350-cu-in V-8s, but this basic Cadillac shape—that classic Cadillac shape—would endure all the way to my junior high school years. I’ll always love them.