The 1971 Cadillac Eldorado convertible was Cadillac's first Eldorado convertible since the 1966 model.

1971 Cadillac Eldorado and 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible

The 1971 Cadillac Eldorado not only was redesigned, but also served to introduce the first front-wheel-drive Cadillac Eldorado convertible.

The 1971 Cadillac Eldorado was built on a new General Motors E-body platform also used by corporate siblings Buick Riviera and Oldsmobile Toronado. Though it was bulkier overall, the 1971 Cadillac Eldorado retained a 120-inch wheelbase and wasn't drastically heavier.

The 1971 Cadillac Eldorado convertible was the first open-air Eldo since 1966, and provided Cadillac with a body style not offered by its corporate cousins. In fact, by 1976, eroding ragtop demand and high attrition throughout Detroit left the Cadillac Eldorado convertible as the only factory-built convertible on the market.

Seeking to cash in on its exclusivity, Cadillac did a special run of 2,000 1976 Cadillac Eldorados, all white ragtops it billed as "last convertibles." Cadillac promised to build no more. Rabid opportunists bid 1976 Cadillac Eldorado prices to the skies in hopes of making a killing on the collector market.

It looked like a gilt-edged investment, and Cadillac kept its word, but only for a while. As time would prove, the droptop's demise was temporary, and the 1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible was not Detroit's "last" convertible. By the mid-1980s, it wasn't even particularly worth keeping.

Cadillac produced a limited number of the 1976 Cadillac Eldorado, which was originally billed as its "last convertible."

Still, the basic design introduced with the 1971 Cadillac Eldorado would continue through 1978 with only modest interim changes. Prices escalated each year, ultimately passing $12,000, reflecting period inflation and government-mandated safety and emissions measures.

Though not the svelte, good-handling cars that were the 1967-1970 Cadillac Eldorado, the 1971-1978 Cadillac Eldorado brought in upwards of 40,000 annual sales, fair going under the circumstances.

Up to this time there was still one area of the luxury car market that Cadillac had not yet capitalized on. Continue to the next page to find out how Cadillac finally cashed in with a noteworthy addition to  its lineup.

For more information on Cadillac, see:
  • Cadillac: Learn the history of America's premier luxury car, from 1930s classics to today's newest Cadillac models.
  • Consumer Guide New Car Reviews and Prices: Road test results, photos, specifications, and prices for 2007 Cadillacs and hundreds of other new cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVs.
  • 1960-1969 Cadillac: See how Cadillac maintained its hold on the premium market by adroitly addressing changing consumer demands.
  • 1980-1989 Cadillac: America's top luxury brand was in crises in the 1980s. Learn about how it weathered the storm.