This isn’t a car blog. And really, I’m not a car guy. But on Fun Friday, I like to go off topic a little bit. And so, here we are.
1967 El Dorado
For my money, there are few cars that have ever been on American roads that are as stylish as the 1967 El Dorado from Cadillac. You have to remember that in the 1960’s, Cadillacs were top of the line luxury cars. They may be climbing back up to that role today, but back then it was very common for a tricked-out Caddy to cost as much as a Rolls-Royce. This wasn’t affordable luxury for the masses. This was luxury for the truly well-heeled.
Cadillac was the style leader of GM, often showing the direction that the company would be moving in the future. In this case, this car was really about a decade ahead of its time, foreshadowing the straight and formal lines of late 1970s cars.
Really tech forward
Yes, this looks like an old car. No getting around it. But it is an old car, it’s 54 years old. It’s 55 if you count it having been introduced in the fall of 1966. But if you look closer at the features this car had, they are all very modern. They’re things we take for granted today but at that time it was practically impossible to find them in other cars of the day. I mean, just to name a few:
- cruise control
- auto high beams
- auto climate control
- tilt/telescope steering wheel
- in-cabin trunk and hood release
- folding center armrest
And this is on top of features that other luxury cars had at the time like power steering and brakes, power windows, automatic transmission, and premium sound (for the day.) Yes, I know this doesn’t sound like a lot of excitement. But trust me if you have ever been in a ’65 Nova you’ll understand how basic cars really used to be.
The tech continued outside the cabin. The headlights fully retracted, as did the tiny rear windows. There were helpful features like directional signals on the corners of the hood so you didn’t have to look down to see if your blinkers were on. There was so much engineering under the hood as well. Believe it or not, there was even a self-leveling suspension.
See, this was Cadillac’s first front-wheel drive car of the modern era. And it’s so incredibly overbuilt that a lot of these cars survived to this day. This was a big car with a big engine and a lot of power. Unlike cars of the 1970s, it was built with a lot of extra metal and weight, and that made it very reliable by the standards of the day.
A drive in a Cadillac
In the day, they used to call Cadillacs “living rooms on wheels.” That’s not far from the truth. I’ve been in these cars and it’s nothing like what you experience today. No, you can’t whip them around corners but it’s a very serene experience, better than any luxury SUV or limousine today. It was like driving on a cloud, no exaggeration. And to some degree I wish we still had that option today. I spend a lot more time wishing that I didn’t feel every bump and pothole than I do taking my car through a slalom course. Maybe firm suspensions aren’t all they are cracked up to be.
Oh, though I should mention that this car feels gigantic. The hood is absolutely huge, so much so that you’ll feel like you need glasses just to see the end of it. The trunk is massive, too. And this is a two-door car. The doors are so big that they needed two door handles, one for people in the back who might otherwise be stuck there.
But in contrast, this car isn’t any bigger than a typical F-150. It’s a lot lower, and a bit wider, but it’s not bigger. It seems like an aircraft carrier because it’s so low and flat but really we can’t say it’s smaller than cars today.
I was inspired to write this article by this video, which goes through a lot of the same things, with live images of what you’re looking for in a Caddy. Oh, and I should mention too that General Motors cars, including Cadillacs, used to be built not far from Solid Signal HQ in southeastern Michigan.