1960-1969 Cadillac


A more elegant, cleaner design marked the 1960s Cadillacs. Pictured here is a 1960 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz. See more pictures of the 1960-1969 Cadillac.

Cadillac extended its 1950s success to record heights in the "Soaring Sixties." Though Lincoln and Imperial were stronger rivals in these years than they had been in the '50s, neither could match Cadillac's brand cachet, broad model line or astute marketing.

Add in progressively cleaner styling, new convenience features and a daring new Eldorado, and it's no wonder Cadillac remained America's luxury favorite by far throughout the 1960s. It also helped that the national economy rebounded strongly from the "Eisenhower Recession" of 1957-60.

After the garish rocketry of 1959, the 1960 Cadillacs were greeted as a welcome sign that saner heads were prevailing at giant General Motors. These cars were just a facelift of the year-old '59 design, but they were arguably more elegant with their cleaner grilles and, in a reversal for Cadillac, lowered tailfins.

The 1960 Cadillac model offerings stayed the same. So did prices, ranging from $4,892 for the Series 62 hardtop coupe to $9,748 for the big Series 75 limousine. Mechanical specifications also stood pat.

Cadillac had run ninth in U.S. model-year production for 1956-57, and then dropped to 10th, where it would remain through 1964. Still, that was impressive going for a luxury make.

For 1961 came another new GM C-body for the cleanest Cadillacs in years. This reflected the influence of Bill Mitchell, who favored a more-chiseled look and less chrome than Harley Earl. The grille was reduced to a modest grid, and wrapped windshields were abandoned (except on Series 75s, which would retain their existing D-bodies through '66). The Eldorado Seville hardtop coupe and Brougham sedan disappeared due to lack of sales, while the Biarritz convertible was downgraded to the same 325-horsepower V-8 as other models.

The 1962 Cadillac Series 62 hardtop sported lower fins and less chrome than earlier versions.

GM settled into a styling groove under Mitchell, so the 1962 Cadillacs were basically toned-down '61s. Fins were lowered again, front-fender cornering lights appeared as a new option, and backup/turn/stop lights were combined behind a single white lens for an ultra-tidy appearance. Four-window sedans received more-orthodox rooflines but still included a pair of short-deck variants, now called Series 62 Town Sedan and De Ville Park Avenue. Anticipating future federal requirements was a new "safety" braking system with dual master cylinder and separate front and rear hydraulic lines. Model-year output rose to nearly 161,000, up some 23,000 over '61.

Major engine alterations, resulting in an even smoother, quieter ride, were on tap for the 1963 Cadillac. The 1963 and 1964 models are discussed next.

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.
  • 1950-1959 Cadillac: Cadillac symbolizes the optimism of a swaggering America with soaring tailfins and Elvis-era glamour.
  • 1970-1979 Cadillac: See how Cadillac maintained its hold on the premium market by adroitly changing consumer demands.

1963 and 1964 Cadillac

Cadillac's 390-cubic-inch V-8 underwent major changes for 1963. Pictured here is the 1963 Cadillac Series 62 hardtop.
Cadillac's 390-cubic-inch V-8 underwent major changes for 1963. Pictured here is the 1963 Cadillac Series 62 hardtop.

The 1963 Cadillac styling was tastefully simplified with a more prominent grille, new outer body panels that eliminated busy sheetmetal sculpturing, and lower-than-ever fins above a restyled rear end bearing tall taillight/backup lamps.

The 1963 Cadillac got important alterations to its 390-cubic-inch V-8, the first major revisions to the engine in 14 years. Horsepower remained at 325. Cylinder size was unchanged, too, as were valves, rocker arms, heads, compression (still 10.5:1), and connecting rods. But everything else was different: a lighter, stronger crankshaft; a stiffer block weighing 50 pounds less; accessories relocated to improve service access.

While all this did little for performance, the revised 390 was smoother and quieter by far. And performance was already good. The typical '63 Cadillac could reach 115-120 mph, do 0-60 mph in 10 seconds, return about 14 miles per gallon, and was near-silent at high speed. In fact, many testers judged Cadillac superior to the vaunted Rolls-Royce when it came to refinement.

Prices rose only slightly for the 1963 Cadillac line, which remained an excellent value in the luxury class.

Standard features expanded to include self-adjusting power brakes and a manually operated remote-control driver's door mirror. Eldorado added a six-way power seat. Power windows, available since the 1940s, were now standard for all models save the entry-level Series 62 sedans and coupes. Power vent windows were newly available. So were vinyl roof coverings, a "formal" styling add-on then fast spreading all over Detroit.

Remarkably, a 1963 Cadillac Series 62 still cost as little as $5,026; the 1963 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz was only $6,608. With all this, GM's finest set another model-year production record, topping 163,000 units.

The 1964 Cadillac lineup got some revisions inside and out. Styling was updated with lower tailfins that created an unbroken beltline, accentuating the length of a body that was already considerably long. Grilles gained a body-color horizontal divider bar; and taillamp housings were reshaped.

For an extra cost, buyers of 1964 models like this 1964 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz could enjoy an automatic heating and AC system.

More significantly, the 390-cubic-inch V-8 was bored-and-stroked to 429 cubic inches, good for 340 horsepower. Another new extra-cost convenience arrived for '64 in the form of an automatic heating/air-conditioning system that maintained a set temperature regardless of outside conditions. Unit volume kept climbing, reaching near 166,000 for the model year.

On the next page, learn why Cadillac boasted record sales numbers in 1965.

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.
  • 1950-1959 Cadillac: Cadillac symbolizes the optimism of a swaggering America with soaring tailfins and Elvis-era glamour.
  • 1970-1979 Cadillac: See how Cadillac maintained its hold on the premium market by adroitly changing consumer demands.

1965 and 1966 Cadillac

A longer, lower body characterized the 1965 Cadillacs, including this 1965 Cadillac Series 60 sedan.
A longer, lower body characterized the 1965 Cadillacs, including this 1965 Cadillac Series 60 sedan.

Another body change gave every 1965 Cadillac a longer, lower silhouette. Rear fenders were now planed ruler-flat in profile, though a hint of fin was preserved via a recontoured rear deck. Also new were a straight back bumper and vertical lamp clusters.

Up front for the 1965 Cadillac line, the headlight pairs were switched from horizontal to vertical, making for an even wider grille. Curved side windows appeared, six-window hardtop sedans disappeared, and pillared sedans returned in Calais, De Ville and Sixty Special guise. The Special also reverted to its exclusive 133-inch wheelbase (last used from 1954 to 1958).

The 1965 Cadillac Series 62 was renamed Calais, but its roster was thinned to just two hardtops and a pillared sedan. The convertible moved to the midrange DeVille series, which had been gaining popularity since its 1959 inaugural.

At the top of the 1965 Cadillac line, the Eldorado convertible and Sixty Special sedan officially became Fleetwoods, adopting the "carriage trade" Series 75 models' nameplates, wreath-and-crest medallions, broad rocker-panel and rear-quarter brightwork, and rectangular-pattern rear appliqués. A new Fleetwood Brougham sedan (actually a Sixty Special trim option) came with a vinyl roof and "Brougham" script on the rear pillars.

Despite an unchanged V-8, the slightly lighter 1965 Cadillac lineup boasted the luxury field's best power-to-weight ratio. A new "Dual driving range" Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission and full-perimeter frames (replacing the X-type used since '57) were adopted except on Series 75s, and all 1965 Cadillac models came with a new "sonically balanced" exhaust system. Amazingly, prices weren't too far above what they'd been back in 1961.

Cadillac had a resounding 1965, producing close to 200,000 cars. But it was a great year for all Detroit, so that volume was only good for 11th place.

Sleeker taillights were one highlight of the 1966 Cadillac Eldorado convertible.

Unsurprisingly, the 1966 Cadillac models were a mild update of the all-new '65 design, marked by a revised front bumper and grille, plus more smoothly integrated taillights.

Perimeter frames now supported the 1966 Cadillac Series 75, which was fully rebodied for the first time since 1959. The options list added two more innovations: variable-ratio power steering, which "speeded up" the more the wheel was turned from straight-ahead, and carbon-cloth seat heating pads, a forerunner of today's heated seats.

The 1966 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham became a separate model, more luxuriously trimmed than the plain-roof Sixty Special and priced about $320 higher.

Most Detroit cars posted lower sales after torrid '65. Cadillac was no exception, producing just over 194,000 units for model-year '66. But reflecting its strong buyer appeal, Cadillac did notch its first 200,000-unit calendar year, breaking the barrier by exactly 5,001 sales.

Cadillac introduced a state-of-the-art front-wheel drive Eldorado in 1967. Read about this significant Cadillac achievement on the next page.

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.
  • 1950-1959 Cadillac: Cadillac symbolizes the optimism of a swaggering America with soaring tailfins and Elvis-era glamour.
  • 1970-1979 Cadillac: See how Cadillac maintained its hold on the premium market by adroitly changing consumer demands.

1967 Cadillac and 1967 Cadillac Eldorado

The new 1967 Cadillac Eldorado, complete with front-wheel drive, was a technological tour de force.
The new 1967 Cadillac Eldorado, complete with front-wheel drive, was a technological tour de force.

The 1967 Cadillac lineup welcomed the arrival of the most-significant Cadillac of the decade: an all-new 1967 Cadillac Eldorado with front-wheel drive.

Based on the year-old 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado personal-luxury hardtop coupe, the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado seemed rather daring for the luxury field, but had six years of careful planning and research behind it. Front-wheel drive gave it outstanding roadability; GM design czar Bill Mitchell gave it magnificent styling.

Creased like a tailored Italian suit, broad shouldered, wonderfully proportioned, and devoid of extraneous brightwork, the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado was a high point even in this heady period when GM styling as a whole set the pace for the American auto industry. 

A technological tour de force, 1967 Cadillac Eldorado quickly established itself as the ultimate Cadillac. The 1967 Cadillac Eldorado originated in 1959, with experimental project XP-727, which underwent several rethinks through early 1962. Management then settled on front-wheel drive, and further prototypes evolved with that in mind.

Razor-edge lines highlight the exquisite styling of the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado.

For awhile, Cadillac considered calling the car LaSalle, but ultimately chose Eldorado as a name with higher recognition. A clay model called XP-825, with razor-edge lines and formal roof treatment, was essentially the final production design.

Unlike the Toronado, the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado was a very low-key announcement. This was typical of Cadillac, which used the one-year delay to improve on Oldsmobile's package.

The 1967 Cadillac Eldorado thus rode better than the Toro, yet handled at least as well despite the same basic suspension (torsion bars, A-arms, and telescopic shocks up front; a beam axle in back on semi-elliptic leaf springs and four shock absorbers -- two horizontal, two vertical).

Two unique additions for the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado were self-leveling control, to keep the car on an even keel with a heavy load in the trunk, and optional front-disc brakes with radially vented calipers, a plus for dynamic safety.

On its own relatively compact 120-inch wheelbase, the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado carried a base sticker price of $6,277. Marketing targeted it for 10 percent of Cadillac's total 1967 model-year production, about 20,000 units. The final figure was 17,930.

The Eldo's basic '67 design would carry through for the 1968 Cadillac Eldorado, which saw sales climb to 24,528, and for the 1969 Cadillac Eldorado, which moved at a 23,333-unit clip. And unlike the old 1957-60 Eldorado Brougham hardtop sedan, the 1967-1969 Cadillac Eldorado made money from day one.

The 1967 Cadillacs showed off an extensively redesigned front end, evident on this 1967 Cadillac de Ville convertible.

The bread-and-butter 1967 Cadillac models weren't overlooked in the hubbub over the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado. In fact, the 1967 Cadillac lineup enjoyed an extensive restyle announced by a front-end ensemble thrust forward at the top.

New 1967 Cadillac features included printed mylar instrument-panel circuits, automatic-level-control suspension (standard on all Fleetwoods), cruise control, and tilt steering wheel. Bolstered by the new Eldorado, which was actually part of the Fleetwood series, Cadillac built precisely 200,000 cars for the model year.

New government emissions standards were instituted in 1968. On the next page, learn how Cadillac's engineers responded to these stricter standards.

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.
  • 1950-1959 Cadillac: Cadillac symbolizes the optimism of a swaggering America with soaring tailfins and Elvis-era glamour.
  • 1970-1979 Cadillac: See how Cadillac maintained its hold on the premium market by adroitly changing consumer demands.

1968 and 1969 Cadillac

All 1968 Cadillac models boasted a new 472-cubic-inch V-8. Shown here is the 1968 Cadillac Eldorado.
All 1968 Cadillac models boasted a new 472-cubic-inch V-8. Shown here is the 1968 Cadillac Eldorado.

The 1968 Cadillac changes were mostly under the hood, where all models adopted an all-new 472-cubic-inch V-8 with 375 horsepower.

Designed to meet the new government emissions standards taking effect that year, this engine was extensively tested in the laboratory, running the equivalent of 500,000 miles. Though not as fuel-efficient as the outgoing 429-cubic-inch V-8, the 472 could launch a Coupe de Ville from 0 to 100 mph in under 30 seconds.

As for styling, the 1968 Cadillac Eldorado was tweaked with side-marker lights (also newly required by the Feds) plus larger taillights, combined turn signal/parking lamps in the front-fender caps, and a hood extended at the rear to conceal the windshield wipers.

The balance of the 1968 Cadillac lineup also got the hidden wipers and side markers, plus a revised grille and a trunklid reshaped for increased cargo space. Calais lost its pillared four-door sedan, leaving the pair of hardtops.

The 1969 Cadillac lineup -- with the noted exception of the 1969 Cadillac Eldorado -- was fully restyled. Squarer new bodies provided an even more massive stance. Headlamps reverted to horizontal, while parking lights wrapped around to flank a higher grille, still prominently vee'd.

Front vent windows were eliminated, which seemed dubious, but signaled adoption of a modern flow-through ventilation system. Per U.S. government safety rules, standard equipment again expanded to include front-seat headrests, energy-absorbing steering column, ignition-key warning buzzer, and antitheft steering-column/transmission lock.

The restyled 1969 Cadillac de Ville convertible had a squarer body.

The 1969 Cadillac Eldorado received far fewer changes than the main 1969 Cadillac lineup. The deepest alteration was that its headlamps were no longer hidden but newly exposed to freshen the "face." Some detail trim changes also were evident.

Prices for the 1969 Cadillac lineup ranged from just above $5,400 for a 1969 Cadillac Calais to well over $10,000 for the 1969 Cadillac 75 limousine.

Cadillac built a record 266,798 cars for calendar 1969, breezing past Chrysler and American Motors to grab ninth in the U.S. industry rankings. For the model year, though, it remained 11th at a little over 223,000, down almost 7000 units from '68.

Clearly, Cadillac's 1960s success came from making the right moves year after year. But the good times wouldn't last much longer. With the 1970s came unprecedented events that would forever alter the shape of American cars and the American auto industry itself. See our report on the 1970-1979 Cadillac to learn how Cadillac responded to those extraordinary times.

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.
  • 1950-1959 Cadillac: Cadillac symbolizes the optimism of a swaggering America with soaring tailfins and Elvis-era glamour.
  • 1970-1979 Cadillac: See how Cadillac maintained its hold on the premium market by adroitly changing consumer demands.