1971 Cadillac Eldorado
2dr Hardtop Coupe
8-cyl. 500cid/365hp 4bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
Unintentionally perhaps, Cadillac signaled the end of the 1960s when it redesigned its entire lineup at the same time. The entire range was bigger, smoother, more elegant, and less powerful. The engines lost about 15 percent of their output, with compression ratios dropping in preparation for unleaded gas. The cars didn’t have battering ram bumpers and pathetic performance – yet. That was still two or three years away.
This was also the first year where horsepower was calculated in net SAE terms. The reduced numbers may have cheered insurance companies, but they were depressing after the ebullient 1960s. The 365 bhp claimed for the Eldorado in 1971 would be calculated at 235 net SAE horsepower only two years later.
The redesigned 1971 Cadillac Eldorado was an over-the-top statement with a long hood and short deck. The wheelbase extended 6 inches to 126, and the car was much more massive than its predecessor.
A 365 bhp, 500 cid V-8 was standard and power was delivered through the side-by-side, chain-driven Turbo-Hydra-Matic transmission like the previous Eldorado. The rear suspension was now by coil springs, though the front still featured torsion bars. Front disc brakes were standard, but had plenty of work to do given the increased weight. Automatic level control was fitted and anti-skid control at the rear was optional.
The body was heavily sculptured, especially the rear, while the vertically textured rectangular grille was a new development. Front fenders were chiseled with a vertical crease, and wind-splits behind the enormous doors looked like they came from the mid-1950s. Fender skirts made a reappearance, and to top it all a convertible was introduced just when everybody else was deleting soft tops from the lineup.
Base price for the Eldorado Coupe was $7388 and $7751 for the convertible, though it was easy to approach $11,000 with numerous options. Thanks to the convertible, sales rose to 27,368, with 20,568 Coupes and 6800 convertibles. Even so, a three-month strike by auto workers lasted from the announcement of new models at the end of September until mid-December. Cadillac sales overall fell to the lowest total in several years.
The Eldorado was available with an optional leather interior and a bench front seat with folding center armrest. Other popular options included air conditioning, power sunroof, tilt/telescopic steering column, remote trunk release, rear window defogger, special carpet package, AM/FM radio, AM/FM stereo with 8-track ($416), vinyl roof, power seat, power door locks, cruise control, and tinted glass.
Magazine road tests indicated that 1971 Eldorado had slowed down from the 1970 model, since it was larger and heavier. From a standing start, 60 mph came up in 9.8 seconds and a quarter-mile in 17.06 seconds at 83 mph. Gas mileage was estimated at 10 to 12 mpg.