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Protect your 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood from the unexpected.
If an American buyer desired a US-built limousine or large sedan (limousine without divider) in this era, the Fleetwood 75 was the only choice. Chrysler’s Imperial had given up the game after 1970 when it sold six limousines, all of which were factory authorized conversions by coachbuilder Stageway. That was quite a step down from when Italian coachbuilder Ghia had supplied Imperial limousines up until 1965, but it was much more affordable for buyers. The 1965 car had been priced at $18,500 and the Stageway car was priced at $15,000 at its 1967 introduction.
Cadillac’s limousine-sized car sales, meanwhile, generally ran about 2,000 units per year, but the recession-wracked US market only saw about 1,600 units for 1971, plus a bit over 2,000 related commercial chassis. The commercial chassis were generally used by coachbuilders such as S&S, Miller-Meteor and Superior for construction of hearses and ambulances.
The 1971 cars were all-new, with sedans and limousines riding on a 151.5-inch wheelbase and commercial chassis on a 157.5-inch wheelbase. The engine was Cadillac’s relatively light, very modern, efficient and powerful 472 cubic inch V-8 backed by the Turbo-Hydramatic 400 automatic transmission. Virtually all luxuries were standard, and the sedan was priced at a relatively reasonable $11,869, with the limousine listed at $12,008. In contrast, the 1970 Imperial limousine had been listed at $16,500.
1972 saw sales increase to the usual 2,000 units per year plus about 2,500 commercial chassis. Few changes were evident, or needed. 1973 saw a slight increase of about 100 sedans and limousines, but a reduction in sales of 300 commercials. New regulations were soon coming into play that would remove these chassis from the basis of ambulances, leaving only hearses to carry on the tradition of coachbuilt Cadillacs.
1975 found the Cadillac-built 500 cubic inch V-8 under the hood, and a catalytic converter to clean up emissions under the floor. This was the year after the regulations killed off the coachbuilt ambulance business, so commercial chassis sales shriveled down to just over 1,300 units for the year. 1976 was a good year, with about 1,900 sedans and limousines and just over 1,500 commercial chassis, a slight uptick for both categories. Of course, this was the last year of the very large and conventional Cadillacs, with all cars (including the Fleetwood 75) being down-sized from 1977 on.
Needless to say, the wealthiest people generally purchased these cars new, while some of the sedans were purchased as mourner’s cars for funeral parlors to complement their new Cadillac hearses (known as a “coach” in the business). Today, the limousine is generally valued at some 50 percent more than the sedan.