12 March 2021

More than an old car #167: Cadillac Fleetwood

The past few weeks has been busy, but I am still thankful to have this private space to write on what I am passionate about. Having been asked to cover some rare cars, I am still fascinated by the variety of unicorns here, such as this 1980 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75!

The Series 75 was a series of full-size (ie very large) cars produced by Cadillac from the 1930s till the 1980s. When they were first introduced, they featured body styles by Fleetwood, a coachbuilder that had been absorbed by General Motors in 1931. The 'Fleetwood' name was thus applied to Cadillacs later on in history to signify a higher trim than the pedestrian Series 62/Deville. A modern equivalent would be the Mercedes Maybach models compared to the regular S-Class cars, but the size of typical American cars back in the day could match, or even exceed the Rolls-Royces of today.

In 1977, the '10.5th' generation Series 75s were introduced: online data do not really recognise it as a separate generation but a continuation of the 10th generation 75s. The main difference was a decrease in engine and overall size. In 1981, the engine was given a unique 'modulated displacement' system designed by Eaton Corporation, which in layman's terms meant that the engine cylinders could be deactivated. This was supposed to help the car run effectively under light load conditions, but it proved to be too much to handle for the onboard computer: this engine was dropped after just 1 year. This unit was powered by a 6030 cc (368 cubic inch) L62 V8 engine (not the special engine), allowing it to reach a top speed of 171 km/h with an acceleration of 15.2 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 6205 mm long, weighed 2161 kg and had an incredibly thirsty fuel consumption of 19.9 litres/100 km.

Production of this '10.5 generation' ended in 1984, where it was replaced by the even more-downsized 11th generation. Interestingly, this unit was an actual Singapore car: it was a 'barn find' that had been registered briefly, before it got cast aside by the owner and never put up for sale. The car was left untouched for some 20 years before it got bought over by a group of local collectors. Restoration seems to be in progress as it looks better than when I saw it 2 years ago. However, given the dearth of spare parts, getting it on the road again would be an interesting project. Cadillacs in general existed in small numbers during the 80s, back when RHD conversions were tacitly allowed. However, the difficulty in maintaining American cars and exorbitant taxes led to their extinction. 

Having seen it up close, I can attest to how huge it is. It would definitely be a head-turner if it ever goes out on the road: all other cars would look positively tiny beside it. However, its length is also a curse: HDB carparks would become out-of-bounds to such a behemoth. I have no idea when it will ever be registered, but if it happens, you would not be able to miss this one!