By on October 18, 2018

1992 Cadillac Brougham Front, Image: Sajeev MehtaCadillac suffered no dearth of cultural relevance back in ’92, but mercifully today’s tone deaf marketing digs make way for a move back to DetroitAnd while my heavily East Asian/European design influences at CCS were no harbinger of global platforms, inauthentic proportioning and ridiculous alphanumeric names, I secretly wish  coulda done me a solid and went there instead. 

No matter. The “” situation is proof that brand-relevant design must remain in modernization/globalization’s righteous quest.

1992 Cadillac Brougham Front, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Approach a Cadillac Brougham and there’s opulence, majesty, indulgence.

But unlike the beveled, deeply sculpted negative area of the Town Car, the Brougham presents the world with a low slung, flat face, and imposing chrome-plated details. 

1992 Cadillac Brougham Front, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Stand up and the Brougham’s flat face gets interesting: pointy grille that’s a natural extension of the creased/domed hood, and a bumper that matches said grille’s crease.

And that domed hood? It literally carries the visual heft of the cabin, letting the rest of the front end swing low and hang loose. 

1992 Cadillac Brougham Front headlight, Image: Sajeev Mehta

The 1990 redesign included flush headlights: decades of design DNA ushered into the modern era, avoiding brand dilution.

These were such a hit they influenced decades of quad-headlight conversions on other GM products, perhaps mostly in the American South: bridging that gap is contemporizing without losing soul!

1992 Cadillac Brougham Front, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Again, see how the flatness of the front clip contrasts to the long, gently curved, hood.

1992 Cadillac Brougham Hood, Image: Sajeev Mehta

The hood bling accentuates the dome’s curvature, while the pointy end’s finish suggests this was a pricey addition.

1992 Cadillac Brougham Front, Image: Sajeev Mehta

The light bezel compliments the grille frame: three brutally blunt, remarkably low profile plateaus of luxury?

Yet the lack of depth merely slapped on a flat facade looks…cheap.

1992 Cadillac Brougham Grille, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Emblems tacked onto grille teeth?

The original (1977) or 1978’s  were superior.

1992 Cadillac Brougham Hood Ornament, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Cadillac shoulda never abandoned the wreath, never streamlined the crest and eliminated the cute duckies. He mighta been a , but the crest of Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac takes new meaning here.

Except what do they say about the ?

1992 Cadillac Brougham Front, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Ribbed plastic trim was a 1980s design hallmark. By 1990 the Brougham couldn’t resist: shockingly, it’s aged well.

1992 Cadillac Brougham Bumper, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Sadly, this bumper isn’t a single-piece aluminum casting: shameful  construction.

1992 Cadillac Brougham Front, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Step back and the bumper components disappear, letting the imagination experience better build quality.

1992 Cadillac Brougham Front, Image: Sajeev Mehta

The bold, fender-mounted turn signal monitors retain their opulent 1970s-worthy size.  With less real estate, they seem tacked-on but are still a welcome sight.

1992 Cadillac Brougham Front, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Euro-cladding can’t hide the Brougham’s unbelievably angular attitude and tacked-on chrome attachments. An odd, yet glorious thing.

1992 Cadillac Brougham side, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Like Chevy trucks, the square-ish wheel arches are counter-intuitive, yet complement the low, horizon-hugging hood line.   

No such credit for the fender’s extra filler panel (white) and poorly-transitioned chrome arch trim: it’s a choppy flow.

1992 Cadillac Brougham wire wheel cover, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Fake wire wheel “covers” aren’t easy to make, but their space constraints (from the steel wheel’s hard points) ensure they look cheap.

 1992 Cadillac Brougham side, Image: Sajeev Mehta
Appalling panel gaps, but there’s a logical line ending (starting?) the hood/fender/doors.

1992 Cadillac Brougham side, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Jagged lines are not Cadillac’s finest hour.

1992 Cadillac Brougham hood, Image: Sajeev Mehta

But it’s inspiring to stare down that hood, Wreath and Crest at the end.

1992 Cadillac Brougham side, Image: Sajeev Mehta

The chrome bits accentuate the elegant, speedy roof pillars. 

1992 Cadillac Brougham side, Image: Sajeev Mehta

The chrome and vinyl work harmoniously, credit due to the beautiful transition from hood chrome to lower DLO chrome trim. 

1992 Cadillac Brougham mirror, Image: Sajeev Mehta

The grill’s branding needed this stamped logo, giving the feeling of quality much like a finely-embossed business card.

1992 Cadillac Brougham side, Image: Sajeev Mehta

See the boxy lines at the door-to-fender? 1977+ Cadillacs lost the aggressive curvature of the outgoing model’s , while this extra cladding ensures extra visual heft.

Perhaps the boxy Brougham was a sign of things to come for today’s CUV-inspired sedans: tall, flat, almost no taper.

1992 Cadillac Brougham side, Image: Sajeev Mehta

The already-thin B-pillar gets visually thinner with chrome paneling and a wispy coach lamp. 

Too bad the lamp isn’t centered on the B-pillar. 

1992 Cadillac Brougham door lock, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Branded door locks need to make a comeback. 

1992 Cadillac Brougham pillars, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Too bad the chrome B-pillar appliqué (the big center piece) can’t wrap around the sides (white paint behind it), but the window chrome makes a clean, expensive-looking design.

1992 Cadillac Brougham pillars, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Up close the coach lamp looks beautiful. Step back and it’s still a shameful implementation.

1992 Cadillac Brougham pillars, Image: Sajeev Mehta

The chrome window trim continues around the rear window, again hiding the mundane metal beneath perfectly.

1992 Cadillac Brougham vinyl top, Image: Sajeev Mehta

The vinyl-covered vent window integrates the door and C-pillar: window dressing with jet plane cabin-like negative area. It’s no substitute for proper coachwork from the : utilizing the coupe’s C-pillar with integral quarter window is the right way to have “the limo look.” 

Put another way, don’t turn a door’s vent window into a quarter window for the C-pillar: visual cheating is still cheating. 

1992 Cadillac Brougham side, Image: Sajeev Mehta

The Brougham needs fender skirts to go with the push button handles and faux-limo top, why does the  get the glory instead?

The dog leg door isn’t especially elegant and speedy, but it complements the square wheel wells.

1992 Cadillac Brougham vinyl top emblem, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Nothing out-charms a Cadillac Wreath + Crest nestled within a deeply padded, richly-grained vinyl top. 

1992 Cadillac Brougham vinyl top emblem, Image: Sajeev Mehta

The color matched and chromed trim is suitably dressy, but fitment against the solid-white trim (running down from the C-pillar) is depressing.

1992 Cadillac Brougham vinyl top, Image: Sajeev Mehta

If only every design element had the smooth transition of this white vinyl tucked into white/chrome retaining trim.

1992 Cadillac Brougham Side, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Case in point: the two-piece chrome above the gray cladding: why wasn’t this a single stamping?

1992 Cadillac Brougham Side, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Still, the look is neat and tidy from other angles, the perfect canvas for those traditional door handles.

1992 Cadillac Brougham Side, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Soaking up the side profile (sorry, I couldn’t photograph this on “my” car) the Brougham’s fitment inconsistencies are lost in the long sheetmetal and modest (yes, really) chrome accents. 

The wraparound front bumper with bling-reducing cladding truly modernizes Cadillac’s legacy: aside from the , this is how a vehicle should evolve over time. 1992 Cadillac Brougham rear, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Up close the dreaded body fillers (the part between the chrome cap and the Brougham emblem) rear their ugly head on another GM vehicle. 

Maybe collision/assembly constraints mandated fillers, but comically poor fit/finish is depressing. 

1992 Cadillac Brougham Rear, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Imagine the tail fins’ beauty if they were one piece of steel!

1992 Cadillac Brougham Rear, Image: Sajeev Mehta

The rear window’s slick trimming gives an infinity pool feel to the glass against the roof: a wonderful transition for two automotive elements!

1992 Cadillac Brougham Rear, Image: Sajeev Mehta

The overall shape (bumpers/trunk/reverse lights) shares Eldorado DNA, especially the version. Let’s jettison 2-4-6 year product lifecycles for something more…cohesive?

1992 Cadillac Brougham Rear, Image: Sajeev Mehta

That trunk, with negative area creating/accentuating the tail fins, creates a “top hat” form.  Also note the strong centerline crease. 1992 Cadillac Brougham Rear, Image: Sajeev Mehta

The top hat is sharp, softened in enough places to form a complex styling element.

1992 Cadillac Brougham Rear, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Miserable: body fillers truly ruined the Brougham.

NOTE: this is an all original Bro-ham with 40,000 babied miles. 

1992 Cadillac Brougham Rear, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Insert  joke here.

1992 Cadillac Brougham Rear, Image: Sajeev Mehta

The tail fin’s chrome aligns poorly with the bumper. The laid back tail light is close, but not the same angle as the decklid’s cutline: a slick implementation.

1992 Cadillac Brougham Rear, Image: Sajeev Mehta

A better shot of the poor panel gaps. 

1992 Cadillac Brougham Rear, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Perhaps the exposed screw is better than forcing owners behind the light, under the body to change a mere bulb.

As if Cadillac owners are supposed to work on their own car?

1992 Cadillac Brougham Rear, Image: Sajeev Mehta

An iconic, unique and beautiful way to come to a stop .

But when new, my brother made the joke that the white lenses are cataracts: suggesting the Brougham’s age/outdated nature. Still funny, but I reckon he’d take it back to avoid Cadillac’s present reality.

1992 Cadillac Brougham Rear, Image: Sajeev Mehta

The license plate’s chrome mustache is clearly tacked-on, the reverse lamps are off-center and too short (a la coach lamps) and there’s yet another superfluous chrome part atop the bumper. 

But props for promoting that biggest in class(?) 5.7L engine, and a nice hat tip to the . 

1992 Cadillac Brougham Rear, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Imagine this design with the minimalist construction of, say, any other luxury sedan from this vantage point. 

1992 Cadillac Brougham Emblem, Image: Sajeev Mehta

There were plenty of trunk lock covers back then, but ain’t nothing like a Cadillac Wreath + Crest on it. The way light dances across this emblem! 

While I’m optimistic for the brand’s post-NYC future, what if it moved to one of the brand’s cultural strongholds? Because the American South would cordially work with today’s world-class Detroit: re-pop the Brougham’s style on a luxuriously-proportioned body, standard LSX-FTW power (V-series what?), sell at Escalade prices, and use a modern three-letter name: .

With every mack wanting a LAC, the CT6 and Cadillac’s checkered past shall become a memory. Marinate on that. 

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a lovely day.

[Images:  2018 Sajeev Mehta/Paardensex, Side shot: ]

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75 Comments on “Vellum Venom: 1992 Cadillac Brougham...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Go ahead and light me up, but I don’t think this is what was right with Cadillac – it was what was wrong with it. The same year this came out, you could cross shop it with a Lexus LS, which shared absolutely none of this car’s antiquated styling or mechanicals. And don’t get me started on quality.

    We can all look back fondly on the bro-ham era, and as this article points out, there was no shortage of style here, but the fact is that it had ended years before this car hit the street. Cadillac clung too long to the barge market, and it cost them. Ditto for Lincoln.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Well said

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Iacocca did as well. All of these Brougham-tastic barges in the ’90s were what aging, out-of-touch, gold-chain-and-watch-wearing, cigar chomping fossils thought people wanted.

      what they didn’t realize is that these cars were just Heaven’s taxi cabs; made for people who were getting too old to drive, or just assuming room temperature entirely.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “Cadillac clung too long to the barge market, and it cost them. Ditto for Lincoln.”

      I disagree. Neither brand “clung” to the barge market. The big problem was that their attempts at nonbarge products never went anywhere.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        well, when those attempts were things like the Cimarron and the Taurus-based Continental, what else could you expect?

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “The big problem was that their attempts at nonbarge products never went anywhere.”

        You’re correct, and a stint I did at a Caddy dealership in the mid-’90s exemplifies why. I grew up with BMWs, Benzes and Audis in my driveway, so I knew what the “good stuff” was, and Cadillac in the mid-’90s wasn’t – not from a product standpoint, not from a quality standpoint, and certainly not from a marketing standpoint. The folks that walked in our store were old, and had marginal interest in something like a Seville, much less something like a 5-series BMW. And anyone who cross-shopped what we were selling with something like a BMW or Benz was unimpressed, to say the least.

        The dealers had no idea how to cater to anyone who wasn’t a retired Caddy loyalist.

        What they SHOULD have done was simple: keep selling barges to the barge buyers, and introduce an equivalent of the current sedan lineup, circa 1995 or so.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          I’ve said it before, and I will say it again; when the whole world downsized and went Jellybean stlying in the 1980s; the luxo barge makers like Caddilac, Lincoln, Chrysler, and Rolls Royce did not know what to do. Rising fuel prices and CAFE standards, along with the preception that squared off luxury cars were aniquated, meant they could only crank these out for so long before the people who remembered them would stop buying them.

          So their other choice was try to slap their signature styling on a downsized FWD car. you then got the Cimarron and the Taurus-based Continental. I think the Taurus based Lincoln was still a good looking car.

          Rolls Royce had it even harder; putting their classic grill on a jellybean car looked worst than the Rolls Royce grill slapped on a VW Beetle (remember those?)

          Agree that the Escalade and Navigator were their way out; they could load them up with luxury, space (especially headroom), and features, and not worry about MPG or meeting CAFE standards.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            A guy down the street when I was a teenager had a VW Beetle with the RR grille and the ‘Continental’ spare tire kit.

            We thought that it looked ‘cool’.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I still think they look cool, Arthur ;-)

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            The less said about the Cimarron, the better. But the Taurus-based Continental was a big seller. Ford put every classic luxury touch into it, and succeeded, in the marketplace at least.

            The next generation Continental was a better car under the skin, but the old luxe touches – grille, opera lights, etc. – were deleted and sales went down. Hard to believe, but the stretched jellybean V6 with pedestrian suspension and ancient luxury touches outsold the V8 powered modern suspensioned replacement that didn’t have those old luxe appointments.

      • 0 avatar
        WildcatMatt

        I really can’t get a good perspective on Cadillac in the early ’90s.

        You had the DeVille and the Brougham which were for the person that thought the design of the ’77s was the pinnacle. And then you had the Eldorado and Seville which were at least trying to wear a more modern look.

        Having grown up with them, to me a Cadillac was defined by the upright grille and vestigial tailfins, and I think that’s part of the problem. Cadillac kept the tailfin motif for so long that looking at pictures of the Seville especially, my eye goes for the tail and without the extensions and fins my mind thinks it must be a Buick.

        It’s kind of like the idea that the Impala must have triple taillights and ventiports on the Buicks. It’s not the thing that ought to define them, but they’re kind of stuck with it.

        So you had the barge market, which was the brand image in the public’s mind, and the non-barge market which wasn’t. It’s not hard to understand why there was no long-term traction with the brand image viewed through that lens.

        In some ways I think that was one of the biggest failures of the Cimmaron, it does not look at all like a traditional Cadillac from the back (although I guess it did look like a low-rent Seville).

        I saw one of the recent Cadillac crossovers on the road recently and saw it had taillights styled to evoke the classic look, and I liked it. Which probably means the stylists have ditched it already.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      100% in agreement with FreedMike. By 1992 these Caddies were considered a joke. I think the last aspirational Cadillacs were the stacked headlamp generation that ended in 1968, with the 1965-66 ones being truly special. Cadillac began its slow descent in 1969, IMHO.

    • 0 avatar

      ” Cadillac clung too long to the barge market, and it cost them. Ditto for Lincoln.”

      Mike, I disagree: the barge market moved over to the Escalade and, to a lesser extent, the Navigator. A lot of that was serious neglect to the underlying platforms for both the Panther and the RWD GM body. There will always be a market for American barges, no matter how great the S-class, LS, etc. are for many folks.

      Its just high time the barge market introduced a real sedan with all the R&D goodies of the Escalade so barge lovers would actually want it.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I get your love of the barge, Sajeev, and to an extent I share it (nostalgia for my childhood, mostly), but the barge sedan’s day is done. That doesn’t mean that the market for something *like* a barge sedan is done – far from it.

        Let’s face it – if you’re after a big, blingy, vehicle that handles like a pig and uses way too much gas, a luxury pickup or SUV is a better choice. Why? It’s more CAPABLE. An Escalade does everything a Sedan DeVille did, and adds cargo room and 4wd. If that’s the kind of car you’re into, what’s not to like?

        But a blingy *coupe*? Now you’re talking. That might work.

        • 0 avatar

          Mike, you have good points for sure that I cannot question. What I want to add is that automotive fashions are somewhat cyclical, and that the Chrysler 300 proved you can make a cool sedan (even if they were too Chrysler-y to last).

          Why not have a AWD Brougham with a usable trunk (i.e. not the current car’s mail slots) instead of a bro dozer which you can’t even reach without steps?

          The time will come, it’s only a matter of the brand that makes the right product, doesn’t cheap out, keeps it reliable, opens up a new demographic nobody’s currently considering etc etc etc.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “Why not have a AWD Brougham with a usable trunk (i.e. not the current car’s mail slots) instead of a bro dozer which you can’t even reach without steps?”

            Well, I’d say there’s a big difference between a true bro-dozer and something like a Denali pickup or a top-line F150. The folks who buy the latter would look down their noses at the former, and vice versa. And I think the folks who buy these *like* the steps.

            But I’d say it gets back to capability – a truck does stuff no sedan can, and aside from having a trunk, it does everything a sedan can. Pop one of those folding plastic covers on the bed of a truck, and you have the biggest trunk ever, I suppose.

            Ironically, I’d say the closest thing we have to something like a modern-day Sedan DeVille is the Genesis G90 – semi-affordable, big, cushy, huge back seat, V-8 powered, and with a huge trunk. I think they sold fifteen of them last year. Granted, it’s a Hyundai, but clearly, no one’s lining up to buy cars like that anymore.

            Not to say I’d be opposed to someone doing a modern-day bro-ham, but I just can’t see it happening…because, trucks.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            You’re exactly right, FreedMike, but I’d say that Cadillac has an AWD body on frame Brougham only now it’s called the Escalade and I do believe that a lot of people look at the Escalade as the natural continuation of the full size Brougham applied to the way we use cars today

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I would say it is high time for the personal luxury coupe to make a comeback. I think the fact that the Challenger consistently sells shows this. I had one as a rental and honestly it felt way closer to my MN-12 Cougar of yore than any Mustang or Camaro I have had recently. It has most of the assets you describe, such as a real trunk opening. Needs some help on the visability front. That car should have an oval and Thunderbird emblems.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        The barge lovers now buy full sized 4-door trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I’m torn. Hindsight is 20/10, so it’s hard to say what GM should have done that wouldn’t have required a crystal ball. They would have had to out Lexus Lexus AND completely revamp their image. I don’t even know that the Yukon at the time could have worked as an Escalade. They were just stuck.

    • 0 avatar
      MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

      I find this beautiful, and I own an LS

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Wow, it’s hard to believe that not too long ago this and the Town Car were the top of the American automotive heap. All that chrome, vinyl and velour, but by the time this hit the showroom people were already begrudging the existence of these gas-thirsty, inefficient land yachts.

    It’s nice to see one in such pristine condition, but it’s also easy to understand why the world moved on. If you long for something like this rest assured that their spirit lives on in the Escalade and Navigator

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I love old school D3 luxo barges. They are what I grew up with.

    However I understand the supplanting of Cadillac and Lincoln by imports.

    1)Younger generations generally do not want to drive something associated with their parents or grandparents.
    2) To be a true luxo barge your car has to be bigger, quieter, more powerful and feel more ‘solid’ than your competitors. The domestics did not upgrade their engineering enough to compete with the imports.
    3) Rather than engineering upgrades the domestics focused on ‘brougham’ which eventually fell out of favour. Style over substance?

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      I think you nailed it; but that time, Ford, Chrysler and GM were just trying to stay alive; and did not have the budget to do the engineering upgrades. Brougham as demonstrated by this example is cheap; and kept iron moving out the doors.

      What budget they did have went into downsizing and re-engineering the rest of their car line to stay competitive. Like today’s pickups; these were a source of cheap profits; I also think the rise of luxury trucks starting with the “Taurus truck” finally killed these off.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    hey, at least the fillers are still there. I’ve seen numerous pics of late ’70s Caddies where the plastic fillers have long since crumbled away, leaving the corner/tail lights sticking out like pillars in the middle of nowhere.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Lol, some of those Caddy taillights do look a bit like Roman ruins

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        And on the pedestal these words appear:
        ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;
        Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
        Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
        Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
        The lone and level sands stretch far away.

        This is what I hear when I see a beat up old luxury sedan – especially one from the artists formerly known as the Big 3.

    • 0 avatar

      “hey, at least the fillers are still there.”

      I had a similar comment, but I scrapped it in favor of keeping this under 1700 words. Still too long, but that’s the nature of the beast.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I remember the filler panels on grandma’s ’85 Buick Riviera weren’t in great shape.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          The plastic panels on cars just ten years old don’t look so good if they’ve been in the southern California sun, but at least the coloring hasn’t peeled off revealing the orange base plastic.

          I’m surprised GM didn’t go with fiberglass panels, since they had plenty of experience with the Corvette. The bean counters may have saved 2-1/2 cents per square foot on the first generation plastic.

        • 0 avatar

          Those fillers added the necessary length to make the Cadillac the largest, as of course required.

          Consider the length differences in the C-body Park Avenue and DeVille – it’s all fillers.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Hmm… I do have fond memories of the old man’s low mileage brown 1981 Cadillac Brougham that he bought used some time in 1990. Even then the sheer presence of that 2-door monster was something to behold. I had to borrow it for several weeks after my brother was in an accident with my car, and thankfully the 8-6-4 engine had already been converted to run on 8 cylinders all the time.

    In reality it was a tacky car with some pretty shoddy interior work, but my dad was proud to drive a Cadillac since, to his generation, it was a sign of success. Likewise my in-laws, who were also part of the born during WW2 generation, were positively giddy when I had to drive them to a restaurant in that beast.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    He mighta been a scoundrel, but the crest of Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac takes new meaning here.

    That is a feature, not a bug. ;-)

    And the crest should be the crest and names should be names. I’m more tempted by a current Impala since it has a name and might be the last of its breed due to sinking sedan sales, but “What’s an XTS?” Deville or Sedan DeVille means something to me.

    I bemoan that there are few truly old school floaty cars left on the market period. Not floaty like a mid-70s Lincoln, or an LTD that bragged it was quieter than a Rolls Royce, not floaty like a Fleetwood or an Electra 225…

  • avatar
    Duaney

    Some of the above comments are wrongly negative. While ugly body gaps are plentiful, this chassis design was one of GM’s most successful. Largely the design of the downsized full size platform of 1977, good steering and handling were well noted, along with a wonderful ride. As far as fuel economy, GM made use of the new technology and the well proved Chevy V-8 was fuel injected. The overdrive hydramatic provides low engine RPM’s at cruising. My experience with this power plant was consistent 20 MPG, but friends have reported up to 30 MPG on some long trips. This car is a sensible large vehicle designed to be easy to get in and out, vastly comfortable, and if repairs are needed, super easy to work on.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Yes, it was successful – successful enough that they kept making the same damn car for ***15 years***.

      By 1992, anyone who wasn’t an elderly Cadillac loyalist had less than zero interest in something like this.

      So, in a way, Cadillac was a victim of its’ own success, I suppose.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        They were the pickup trucks of there day — lots of profit in building them, little to no changes required to keep buyers happy. No one can blame them for riding it as long as they did; luxury pickup trucks and SUVs took their place.

      • 0 avatar

        The big problem discussed here is that Cadillac (and GM) dumped so much money into their FWD platforms. If the Brougham had the R&D budget of the Deville/Fleetwood, we would not be having this discussion.

        Same issue, to a lesser extent with the Town Car, which had a decent niche going it all the way to 2011.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      After 15 years you would think the panel gaps and trim placement would be perfected, but compared to a 1977-79 original it is clear that GM did nothing during the intervening years except cheapen everything and slop it together with minimal care.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “… compared to a 1977-79 original it is clear that GM did nothing during the intervening years except cheapen everything and slop it together with minimal care.”

        This. And they did it on a car being sold to folks with money and a TON of other cars to look at. Not hard to see how that would fail.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I don’t get it. 1992 was 26 years ago. These old folks that people keep tossing up were still buying cars 20 years ago. They grew up wiyh Cadillac at the top of the heap so this is the sort of car they got when they had the means. That would be my grandparents generation.

      My dad is now at the age those folks were when they were buying these sorts of cars. My Mom has an Avalon because that is the nicer iteration of the sort of car they always had (he still pulls a sizable boat so F150). Dad commented he’d never have a Buick or Caddy because thats what old folks drive.

      Me, I’ll never have a Toyota, because that is what old folks drive (Unless a real Supra or MR-2 makes a comeback maybe). But as it sits, they are today’s geritol on wheels.

      The Cadillac is just from a different time for a different generation that is almost gone so we don’t understand it. My aunt and uncle typically had 2 of these when I was young. I remember the smell, the softness of the interior, and the silence of riding in them as they floated down the road. People today don’t place a premium on those attributes.

      Having said all that, I wonder if as the world becomes louder and more in your face and we are always connected to it, if cars like this that isolated the occupants from the outside world may come back. Maybe not the styling (though bling is still a thing), but the purpose of these rides. Not everyone wants an M3 all the time.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    I love these, but if it came down to a DD I’d pick a town car of the same year.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I believe the 5.7 had TBI in 1992 even if the 5.0 base version was still clinging to eQuadraJUNK carb.

      Given the choice between Fleetwood 5.0 and Town Car 5.0 give me the Town Car every single time.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Agreed. Once the D Body got the LT1 though and the Town Car went to the 4.6 reverse it. I know the Panther Love is strong here, but they were nice.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          I’d actually prefer the D-body Fleetwood from 1993 when the styling was new but the standard engine was the 350 from truck line with some slight revisions. Not as fast as an LT1 but more suited to the character of the automobile. And easily a many 100,000 engine without Optispark or water pump issues of the LT1.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Absolutely love it.

    I doubt anyone 30 years from now will have even a passing interest in the cheap BMW knockoff sedans Cadillac is currently making.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    I always thought the fender fillers were used so that Cadillac could use the same basic fender stampings as the lesser GM B-body brands.

    Looked at from above, the “box” B-body tapered toward both ends. But the Cadillac version just kept spreading wider all the way to the front. Presumably to present the vast wide front end. It required support structures to hold onto all the cantilevered empty metal ahead of the front wheels.

    The “box” B-body wagons had some even more interesting rear half body contouring to accommodate that 4×8 sheet of plywood between the rear wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I have heard the Cadillac’s styling be compared to a “cabin cruiser” in the way some of the lines rose and fell along the body, or perhaps an old wooden speedboat.

      I would consider that a favorable comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “I always thought the fender fillers were used so that Cadillac could use the same basic fender stampings as the lesser GM B-body brands.”

      it’s possible, but I doubt it. those types of filler panels get used they physically couldn’t stamp the fender out of one piece of steel.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        Weren’t the cars of that day still required to meet 5 MPG crash standards; the space inside the fender fillers had gas struts that connected the bumper to the frame, the fillers allowed the struts to compress without damaging the sheet metal.

        Because the tail lights were integrated into the rear bumpers, they also needed the fender fillers so they could be compressed in a minor collision without damaging the sheet metal.

        • 0 avatar
          Duaney

          The fillers were 100% used for the government mandated 5 mph impact regulation. When new, the bumper would absorb a mild impact via the shock mount, the plastic fillers would deform, then all would spring back into shape with no damage.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            You beat me to it, Duaney. When new, the fillers were pliable and allowed Cadillac to marry some of its ’60s design cues with ’70s bumper standards. I’m not sure that was the right design goal, but that’s what they were after. (And kudos to everyone for avoiding the temptation to refer to the 5-mph requirement as a “safety” standard. It was a consumer protection standard.)

            I recall a very young cousin’s kicking the filler on her father’s Coupe de Ville so hard that she bowed it and knocked it out of place. We were able to put it back with no damage having been done. A fiberglass filler would have cracked and sheetmetal would’ve dented under the same circumstances.

            My understanding is that present-day aftermarket fillers are fiberglass. They present better, and the crashability criterion no longer is there for what are now hobby cars.

  • avatar
    christophervalle

    “Cadillac suffered no dearth of cultural relevance back in ’92, but mercifully today’s tone deaf marketing digs make way for a move back to Detroit. And while my heavily East Asian/European design influences at CCS were no harbinger of global platforms, inauthentic proportioning and ridiculous alphanumeric names, I secretly wish Kanye’s CCS mic-drop coulda done me a solid and went there instead.”

    Q: How many readers abandoned this piece after the impenetrable intro, above?
    A: At least one.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh well, better luck next time I guess.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Have to agree with “christophervalle” about the lede, but I soldiered on and found the rest of the article well worth the time. Perhaps it was because it’s been a while since one of these appeared, and -amidst a sea of press release re-writes and “rip and reads” from other publications/websites, it’s nice to see some of the features that attracted me to TTAC in the waning years of Farago the elder.

        Well done, Sajeev!

  • avatar
    tonyola

    Fine study of the last truly “classic” Cadillac. I like the composite headlights – really cleans up the front with big rectangular eyes. The white taillights are neat too – they remind me of the ’65 Cadillac.
    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/a7/55/0c/a7550c9823e5d44c1e7086889de05039.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Cadillac dined out on that ’65 for many years, one of the most beautifully styled, well-built Cadillacs ever produced. Many say Cadillac started it’s slow decline after it

  • avatar
    DEVILLE88

    Thank you Mike!!! It’s refreshing and great to see an article written on a Cadillac that isn’nt full of negative bullshit(most posts here apply)You did a great job at pointing out what was great and what was not!! Also showed respect for an American Icon. Cadillac doesnt seem to get it,,,,the Escalsde is their 2nd best selling vehicle and also the closest thing they have to the car you wrote about. Great job and again………………Thanks!!!!!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Nice piece Sajeev, put a smile on my face.

  • avatar
    Drew Cadillac

    I disagree that Cadillac stayed with the large barge market too long. The boldly designed, refined, large comfortable-riding luxury barge was what defined Cadillac.

    What happened was that GM went cheap and Cadillac barges were no longer refined (see the fit and finish gaps above). Also, Cadillac forgot who they were and decided to imitate BMW, starting with the 1982 Cimarron that was somehow supposed to emulate the BMW 3-Series. And the 1997 Catera that was so “German like” it was actually designed, engineered, and built in Germany – yet it was a bad car. Both of those hurt Cadillac’s image greatly.

    Today the “barge market” thrives as the Cadillac Escalade, the Mercedes Benz S-class, The Audi A8, etc. Cadillac basically conceded the big comfortable riding sedan to MB, with no answer for the S-class for decades.

    And Cadillac gave up the smooth “Cadillac Ride” in favor of the “sporty”, bone jolting ride of BMW. What Cadillac should have done was to keep refining their large barges along the lines of the MB S-Class, but then put out of few mid-sized cars (including SUVs) with large interiors and comfortable rides – i.e. what people expected from Cadillac. What they should never have done is make small cars, or “sporty” cars.

    Today Cadillac is a mishmash of things with no real identity. It’s part BMW-wannabe, part Chevrolet cheapness. The Cadillac brand was actually built on reliability, now it has one of the worst reliability records in the industry. It’s not reliable, not refined any more either. But don’t blame the “large barge” legacy for any of that.

    The Cadillac sedan that is most directly connected to the Cadillac legacy is the XTS. Too bad it doesn’t have a real name, or at least one that wouldn’t be confused with the XT5. But the XTS is Cadillac’s best selling and certainly most profitable sedan. Yet Cadillac apparently plans to kill it, unless Carlisle saves it. The future I guess is cheap plastic little junk like the XT4. The idea that the XT4 even has the name “Cadillac” is sad.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      This is one of my biggest gripes about GM. GM knows how to build great cars, they just choose not to

    • 0 avatar
      Spartan

      Agreed, especially your comments on the XTS.

      The XTS is a great car. Spacious, comfy and rides nice. I had an XTS and a 300C as rentals back to back and I preferred the Caddy by a mile. The XTS should be renamed Deville. It’s very much a modern day version of the Sedan de Ville of yesteryear.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        Interesting to get that rental car take, Spartan. Six years into its model run, some qualified love for the XTS seems to be bubbling to the surface. (I’m thinking specifically of your comment; this, http://paardensex.info/2017/04/2017-cadillac-xts-rental-review-personal-emerald-aisle-sedan/; and a coworker’s positive experience with one as a rental.)

        And uncle has had a good experience with a used ’10-’16 LaCrosse; I could picture being happy with an XTS under the right circumstances. It’d be nice if it had a V8, but realistically those make little sense in a transverse FWD platform.

        • 0 avatar
          Spartan

          Featherston,

          The V6 was quiet and had very little NVH. I’m not sure if a V8 would provide a better driving experience, but I also haven’t driven a FWD DTS with the V8. I’d love to drive one then an XTS to compare the two.

          Our Taurus SHO is starting to show its age and while my wife does not want to part with it, it’s starting to squeak and rattle. We’re in our mid 30s so an XTS would be a hard sell, especially for her. Hopefully I can convince her to check out a LaCrosse Avenir.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            I’ve got some experience with transverse V8s thanks to a couple of Greatest Generation great-uncles. I used to drive one in his 4.5 and then 4.9-powered DeVilles after his eyes got bad. About a decade later, my parents purchased a Northstar-powered Seville from the estate of the second. (It was one of those “buy the history” purchases, as the deceased great-uncle had been a mechanical engineer and took great care of it.)

            I liked all three engines, and they were good performers for their eras. That said, there’s definitely a cost-benefit to be done vs a well-sorted V6. It’s not like a 2GR-FE in a Lexus isn’t really smooth.

            – – –

            How’s the drivetrain in your SHO holding up? I feel like we’re getting into the years/miles where DI turbos would be starting to prove or not prove themselves (clearly the early VW/Audi and BMW engines had issues).

            It’s an oft-criticized design, but I really liked a Taurus Limited that I had a on a long work road trip. An SHO or an MKS EcoBoost would be in my unlimited space fantasy garage.

          • 0 avatar
            Spartan

            I replaced the PTU a few years ago. Otherwise, no drivetrain issues. The engine has been solid and is showing no signs of losing power.

            The PTU failure seems to be a fairly common issue in the Edge and Taurus. $1,500 is a lot cheaper than a new car though.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        I had 2 XTS rentals and they were great cars. Very quiet and comfortable on the open road, 30 MPG in highway driving, quick from 0-60, very comfortable and I think attractive in styling. Haven’t driven a new CT6 but it is a lot more expensive and the interior seems cheaper and less opulent than the XTS.

  • avatar
    TCowner

    Although I’m a Lincoln TC guy, I’ve always had a fond spot for these, and do find them nice on the eyes. My mom had a ’77 Coupe De Ville. White on White leather with red trim inside. The 7.0 425 V-8 was a solid beast on road trips. I’ll take a ’92 in dark Blue all around with real wire wheels, top trim and the 5.7L please.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    I briefly owned a 91, silver, matching vinyl top, gray mousefur seats, Astroroof, wire wheel covers and Vogue Tyres….it got stolen, stripped and abandoned in East St Louis…somebody with an older DeVille wanted the cladding, headlamps, etc, to make his car look newer.

    Grand old car, seemed antiquated even then, compared to the Buick Roadmonster I replaced it with…

  • avatar

    My biggest memory of these cars, being in High School at the time, were “hats”. The old guys who bought these were of the generation that still wore a hat….so, the left lane would be clogged with an old guy in a huge caddy or lincoln, and from the back you could see the HAT. He was going 55 in the left lane and that was it…you had to pass on the right. The BMW turn signal joke also dates from this car and era.

    “You’re late”…”Sorry, Hats all the way here”…..”oh”.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I had a 1990 in grey with De’Elegance package and the Olds 307 bought for a measly 950 bucks 5 years ago with a little over 100K on the clock. The previous owner apparently never washed it and left it sitting under a tree where the sap ruined the paint after years of parking it there. Two of the wire wheel covers were replaced with Caprice Classic covers and it badly needed new brakes.
    A trip to the junk yard yielded 2 nice newer tires mounted on original 15″ steel wheels and exact matching wire wheels for a price of just 62 bucks! The brakes were 12 bucks for front pads and luckily the rotors were still in good shape. A few bucks for brake cleaner and brake grease and she was on the road and drove beautiful. I even tuned it up and hopped up the carb a little so it would at least keep up with traffic.

    The fender gaps on this example raise a red flag if this car were perhaps in an accident. Mine had much tighter gaps by the fenders and trunk so either this car was made on a friday afternoon or was smacked at one point and straightened out.


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