Exactly 50 years later, this magnificent 1970 Cadillac Fleetwood returns to the showroom
Today’s spectacular Nimitz-class luxocruiser, a 1970 Fleetwood Brougham, is owned by a friend of mine, Laurie Kraynick. The first time I saw pictures of her 1970 Fleetwood Brougham, I knew I wanted to share its story. Check out the end of this article for photos of Kraynick’s return to the showroom floor at Cadillac of Norwood, 50 years to the day after her Brougham was built.
First, for some background. Isn’t it cool when you own a car with the exact color combination as the one in the dealer brochure? I have a copy of this brochure in my collection, and when I saw the Fleetwood Brougham in this color (Lucerne Aqua Firemist), for the first time back in the late ’90s, I was smitten. My love for these cars goes much further back, though. The 1970 Cadillacs are a favorite of mine, especially the Fleetwood Brougham. You see, the first Cadillac I ever rode in was a 1970 Fleetwood Brougham.
It was 1987. I was in first grade at Immanuel Lutheran School. Even then, I was seriously into cars, thanks to my father, who owned a 1951 Porsche 356. Anyway, one of my fellow classmates, Luke Carlson, had parents who drove old Cadillacs. Well, the cars seemed old to me, though at that time they were only 15–17 years from new. They had a navy 1969 Seventy-Five, a couple of other late ’60s to early ’70s Cadillacs that I don’t quite recall the details on, and a Cinnamon Firemist 1970 Fleetwood Brougham.
It was that ’70 Fleetwood Brougham I remember the best. Carlson’s mom used it as her daily driver, and it was the one I’d see most often at the school. One day we went on a class field trip to Arsenal Island. As usual, several of the moms volunteered to drive and act as chaperones, along with our teacher. My mom volunteered as well, but when I saw that Carlson’s mother had also volunteered, I had to ride in the Cadillac! It was so interesting and grand to me, even though it was simply an old car to most adults. And the roominess of it was even more impressive when you were three feet tall. The rich metallic gold paint, white top, and what seemed like acres of Sierra white leather… now that was the life. The Arsenal? Heck, I thought, let’s go to the country club!
As a result of that still-vivid childhood memory, I’ve always had a serious soft spot for 1970 Cadillacs—the Fleetwood Brougham in particular.
In the late 1990s, I discovered eBay and went on a vintage-car-brochure buying spree that lasted for several years. One of the items purchased, as you may have guessed, was the plush, oversized deluxe 1970 Cadillac showroom brochure. Of course, my favorite was the Lucerne Aqua Brougham prominently featured within.
So now you will understand how excited I got when I met Kraynick via Dave Smith’s American Brougham Society group on Facebook and saw that she had not only a 1970 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham, but one in the brochure car color scheme! I immediately asked her to tell me all about the car. She promptly responded; she loves to talk about her Fleetwood Brougham.
So here is her car’s story, in her own words, of her most excellent 1970 Cadillac, affectionately nicknamed The Ark.
My dad’s first Caddy was a 1970 Fleetwood. Lucerne Aqua Firemist, black top, turquoise Dumbarton interior. The Ark’s current color is Home Depot Behr Teal. Imagine my joy when I read the data plate and saw code 93! He had a lot of Caddys after that one, then he went to the dark side—Lincoln.
The first car I paid for was a Caddy, a 1976 Sedan de Ville. I was 18 and had a payment book as thick as War and Peace. Then I had a ’75 Sedan de Ville, an ’81 Coupe de Ville, an ’87 Sedan de Ville, and a ’96 Concours.
I’d been looking for an ’85 or ’89 IROC for years, and years. I wanted a certain engine, 350 and automatic, T-top, etc. Every car I liked I couldn’t afford, every car I could afford had hit everything but the lottery. I looked all over the country. One night I couldn’t sleep, I got on Craigslist in Iowa… and I found an IROC. It was gorgeous and priced right. My hauler was going through the Midwest in two weeks. I pulled the CarFax, it had been totaled. I wanted to cry…
At that moment, I swear I heard my dad, like he was standing beside me, say “Honey, look for my old Caddy.” This car—“The Ark”—was the only car that came up when I searched. It was 100 miles north of me. Was this his car? I doubted it. I remembered my mom breaking a fin on the map light, so that was the first thing I checked. Then again, this could be a new dash, since it was in perfect condition. The owner bought the car from Peter Fuller Cadillac in Boston; that business was long gone. So, who knows?
It was just before Christmas, 2017. The guy wanted $6500. I called and texted him a few times. No response. Finally, we connected. The only hole in my schedule was on a Saturday, two weeks before Christmas, so we made arrangements for me to see and drive the car in Somerville, Massachusetts (where my mom was born and raised) and where I was on the PD for years. He said if he got another offer on the car he’d give me first refusal. Then I saw him lower the price to $3500, a week before I was supposed to see it.
I saw the car, fell in love, drove it—still in love. It needed work, I could tell. Asked him for maintenance records, but he doesn’t have any: “If it needed something I did it,” etc. He had the car for two years, and bought it from another guy who spent a fortune trying to restore it. The car was in the body shop and they messed up the rear driver’s door—Bondo instead of replacement! The fellow lost heart and sold it to the guy I bought it from.
I brought $3500 cash with me, $2K in one pocket, $1.5K in the other. We sat down. I said to him: “This is all I can afford. You let me know if I wasted our time today,” and put 2K in hundreds on his desk. “How much is there?” he asked. “Count it…” So he counted out $2K in cash, two weeks before Christmas. He’s married and has four kids. He said, “Young lady, you just bought yourself a car,” and I cried. And cried. And cried.
Then I hustled AAA to flatbed it home for free.
The car sat wrapped up like a huge leftover on my lawn over the winter for months. In the meantime, I bought thousands in parts for it. New tires (Cokers that I sent back for Diamond Backs), an OEM-style “replica battery” arrived last week. Manuals and all the parts for a 24K 1970 tuneup, since I had no records on it, etc. I’m ex-military aviation, so I keep maintenance records on my cars to the mile. The weather was horrible late winter and early spring. I didn’t really get started on it until early April. I flushed the cooling system six times until it ran clear, and found the mouse in the reservoir. And so on. Then my mechanic Scott had it in his garage a few times. I did what I could without a lift. Scott said someone spent a lot of money on the engine, transmission, suspension, and other miscellaneous bits.
Finally, I built “The Lair.” I’m a contractor, so I can build a garage for the cost of discounted materials. Then I saw what it would do to my real estate taxes. So I took all the gift certificates from grateful clients to Home Depot and got a Shelter Logic for free, 10 by 20. I ran power to it, LED shop lights, a three-quarter-inch floor, and an oscillating fan on a timer that runs for an hour every six hours. It’s perfect.
Our first show was at Gillette Stadium on May 10th. I had a blast. The alternator failed on the way home, then took out the battery (the second battery); we were towed that last 10 miles. We were scheduled to do Larz Anderson Cadillac Day on May 20th but it rained, so I took it to a cruise-in the following Thursday. We did the Heritage Show on June 9th, which was my first introduction to a real judged car show. Then the huge Hyannis Father’s Day show on June 17th.
We’ve done a few cruise-ins at the Harwich A&W and the Patriot’s Square show in Dennis. Such fun. Our first big show next year is World Of Wheels in Boston in March at the Seaport Center. I will probably use a covered carrier to that one; at least the roof and headliner will be done by then. The paint job has to wait for the following winter now, with price of the roof job. Next year we’ll do Heritage/Larz/Father’s Day again, weather permitting.
The Ark is my therapist. It’s something to worry about outside of my business. It’s something to do other taking care of my house when I’m off work. And it’s opened up a whole new world of people to me. The Ark has surprised me many times. I never thought of weather when driving a car, trying to find parts that don’t exist, the horror of seeing people trying to touch my car, or, most importantly, seeing people emotionally moved by the car. Their parents, or someone close to them now dead, had “that” car, and it takes them back. I just hope it’s positive.
I want to replace the roof properly, get it painted properly, do some minor body work, and that’s it. Hyannis Vintage Auto is doing the work; they’re the next town over. Gary Amster is the owner, and he’s been restoring cars for 50 years now. His son Michael is a friend; he works there too and he’s a Marine veteran. When Gary finally saw the car to do a proper autopsy, I was holding my breath. He said all it needs is a roof job, and he’d do that first, since it’s the car’s weakest link. Then he’d replace both fender skirts, the rear driver’s door, and paint. They would address the bubbling under the paint on the trunk lid and on a couple of doors, but it could wait two years, since it wouldn’t get much worse. “Just drive it! These cars don’t like to be parked!” he told me. Gary owns several old Caddys. I think I got very lucky with his opinion on The Ark’s overall condition—the interior is completely original.
That’s the story of The Ark. Writing this was therapeutic for me, thank you. I’d forgotten all I’ve done and where we started from. We’ve come a long way. It’s not just a car!
Kraynick’s car is one of just 16,913 Fleetwood Broughams built for model year 1970. Back in the 1970s, Cadillac was setting production records, but the top-of-the-range Fleetwood Sixty Special and Fleetwood Brougham always had more modest production. They weren’t cheap, for one thing. A ’70 Brougham was $7284 before options. For comparison’s sake, a ’70 Impala four door sedan went for $3021 with the six, or $3132 with a V-8. Even the base model Cadillac Calais coupe was $5637, over $1500 less than the Brougham. And back then, $1500 was worth a lot more than it is these days; a new ’70 Ford Maverick was $1995!
In 1970 Cadillacs were still the preferred transport for bank presidents, captains of industry, and movie stars. Mercedes-Benz may have been gaining some ground, but Cadillac was still America’s number one luxury car. The panache still shows today: the sleek lines, the stretch-out room, the 375-horsepower 472-cubic-inch V-8, the colors, the trim, the options, the chrome! And in 1970, the finest owner-driven Cadillac was the Fleetwood Brougham. It’s still obvious today, perhaps even more so than when they were new cars. Thanks for sharing your car’s history, Laurie. The Ark has definitely found the best owner it could ask for!
I’ll add a brief postscript: The Ark was built on November 14, 1969. Fifty years later, it appeared on the showroom floor at Cadillac of Norwood. Kraynick remembers:
Oh God, what a day, can you say ‘blessed?’ I’ll say it for you—blessed. It was an easy ride out to the fabulous Cadillac of Norwood—gorgeous day and The Ark’s birthday! For those not keeping score, The Ark was born today, 50 years ago on Clark Street, DEE-troit Rock City at the GM Cadillac plant. He had been ordered by the Norwood Automobile Company and was sold from this showroom. Norwood Automobile Company became Norwood Cadillac, and now Cadillac of Norwood. And how’s this for a small world—the owner of Cadillac of Norwood is an old friend of mine, Mike Xidea. I remember him when he was the GM of Olsen Cadillac in Woburn, now Colonial Cadillac. I bought a lot of cars from Olsen Cadillac and Seacrest Cadillac and my beautiful ‘87 Sedan de Ville from Norwood Cadillac. This company has been in business for 97 years! That’s a lot of good and bad times, and they’re still standing. I would highly recommend Cadillac of Norwood for all your modern Cadillac needs.
Who says you can’t go back? The Ark went back and was treated like royalty. It was so cool. Nicole, the PR genius behind Cadillac of Norwood, had reached out to several media outlets about the event. No one cared, and she was quite dismayed. I told her I wasn’t surprised, people don’t really care about cars anymore—they’re simply transportation leased every few years. The days of people buying cars that reflect their personality, achievements, and loves are long gone—don’t feel bad. Well, some local rags wanted pics and they said they “might” run them… whatever. Tarsha Quiet Storm is the elegant, loyal, and professional face one first meets upon arrival at Cadillac of Norwood. She’s been the company’s anchor for decades, and it was an honor and a pleasure to hang out with her today. Al Piacitelli is a hoot! He’s their lead sales guy and he had The Ark sold three times in the two hours I was there! Some of the guys from the shop came out to see The Ark too. I asked one of them if he had a scanner handy, ’cause I had got a check engine light. It took him a few seconds to realize I was pulling his leg. They were very interested in the car, especially the engine. Told them it was in dire need of a manifold gasket… “at least you can reach the manifold…” Ha! They couldn’t believe the room the techs of yesterday had to work under the hood.
Mike Xidea couldn’t have been more gracious as well, allowing The Ark into the showroom… which brought everyone from the service waiting area in for a look. People were flabbergasted at its size; The Ark is longer than the newest Escalade SUV. And of course, there’s the interior. Upon departure, Mike graced me with two pics of old Caddys from magazines he’s had in his possession forever, magazine clips of a 1970 SDV and a 1972 Sedan de Ville. I said, “Mike, these are yours, these are history, keep them!” He said, “Laurie, they belong with you.” And he gave me a new Cadillac flag that is so cool. Tarsha got two really cool brand new leather Cadillac key chains from Al as well—treasured gifts from a day I’ll never forget.
Waze took us home past a Market Basket, so I thought, why not stop and pick up a few things? I parked The Ark so far away from the store I needed a cab to get there… The last thing I need is another ding for Dickie Garbitt Garbitt Auto to deal with during Phase Two of restoration. A few things turned into my Thanksgiving shopping, and departure was in the dark with a light mist. But those incandescent headlights I installed in the spring are as bright as any HID. And tonight I really wished I had replaced the washer pump, but why bother? I never take The Ark out in inclement weather, right? That’s next…