For Cadillac, the front-wheel-drive 1967-1969 Cadillac Eldorado was a revolutionary development, as important as the 1915 V-8, the 1930 Sixteen, the 1938 Sixty Special, and the 1949 V-8. It was the first Cadillac with FWD; moreover, it was an entirely new approach to the Eldorado's marketplace.
Its technology wasn't new. Oldsmobile, traditionally the "experimental division" of General Motors, had launched the Toronado the year before. But the Eldos' styling was quite different from the Toronado's.
This followed a dictum laid down by chief of design Bill Mitchell (and too often ignored by GM since) that there must be specific "images" for the products of each GM division, regardless of how much technology they might share under the skin.
It was the first time Mitchell had applied his five-seat "personal car" theme to a Cadillac (his major past works in this field were the Buick Rivieras of 1963 on).
The result was certainly one of the great shapes of the 1960s, completely lacking in rough spots, good looking from every angle, yet sufficiently "formal" to be consistent with Cadillac's current styling.
The name packed appropriate tradition: Cadillac had launched its first Eldorado, a limited production "personal" car, in 1953. Interim Eldos were somewhat less special, their goal being profit more than just pizazz, yet the Eldorado nameplate always retained exclusivity.
Briefly during development, management in the grips of nostalgia had considered calling the new car "LaSalle"; but then someone pointed out Jeff Godshall's LaSalle chapter in the Cadillac marque history, dubbing that make "Cadillac's only failure."
That, according to Cadillac insiders, made them unanimous for "Eldorado." The one thing lacking was a convertible version -- GM didn't have one yet -- but it would come along in the next design generation.
Continue on to the next page to find out about the engineering and styling of the 1967, 1968, 1969 Cadillac Eldorado.
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1967, 1968, 1969 Cadillac Eldorado
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.
For more information on cars, see:
1967, 1968, 1969 Cadillac Eldorado Specifications
The 1967, 1968, 1969 Cadillac Eldorado was a big, luxurious car that featured fine engineering and attractive, revolutionary styling.
Engines: all ohv V-8; 1967 429 cid (4.13 × 4.00), 340 bhp; 1968-1969 472 cid (4.30 × 4.06), 375 bhp
Transmission: 3-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic
Suspension, front: upper and lower A-arms, torsion bars, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rear: live axle, leaf springs
Brakes: 1967 front/rear drums (front discs optional); 1968-1969 front discs/rear drums
Wheelbase (in.): 120.0
Weight (lbs.): 4,500-4,580
Top speed (mph): NA
0-60 mph (sec): NA