In addition to its superb, razor-edge styling, the 1967, 1968, 1969 Cadillac Eldorado was blessed with fine engineering. What Cadillac had specified was a big, luxurious car with all the traditional virtues allied to outstanding roadability -- a combination it arguably never offered before.
Cadillac teamed its 429 V-8 with a "split" transmission: the torque converter and gearbox were separate from each other, linked by a chain drive and sprocket.
The key was the chain, developed by Hydra-Matic Division and Borg-Warner: unbreakable, flexible, light, and not too expensive to produce. The split transmission made the drivetrain quite compact, although the car itself was huge: 221 inches from stem to stern, on a 120-inch wheelbase. Despite those dimensions, there wasn't all that much room in the back seat, but few seemed to care.
Front-wheel drive gave the Eldorado almost neutral handling characteristics, which was quite novel for Cadillac, traditionally known for its final and irrevocable understeer.
Automobile Quarterly editor Don Vorderman wrote that in cornering, the car displayed "mounting understeer when under full power," but this was "easily neutralized by backing off the accelerator, at which time the tail will move out in the classic FWD tradition." Vorderman admitted that it was doubtful whether "one owner in a thousand will drive the car this way, but it does speak volumes on how thoroughly Cadillac engineers have done their job."
The Eldorado was not greatly changed during its first three-year design generation. A handsome eggcrate grille adorned the 1967 and 1968 models, the latter of which can be distinguished by parking lights that were repositioned from the bumper to the fenders. Briefly, too, in 1968 and1969, Cadillac adopted a 472-cid V-8 engine.
Although the "unbreakable" chain drive did fail on occasion, and the U-joints packed up regularly, for such a complicated car the early Eldorado was remarkably reliable.
Collectors consider the 1967 the superior model because it was the first of the series, but the 472 is a better engine, and prices of nice examples haven't diverged much to date.
Remarkably enough, you can still find one of these big beasts in show condition for under $10,000. That's a lot of Cadillac for the money.
For 1967, 1968, 1969 Cadillac Eldorado specifications, go to the next page.