Cadillac was among the few automakers up to the demands of the 1970s, Detroit's most challenging decade since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Consumer tastes changed radically, federal safety and emissions regulations multiplied, and an unprecedented energy crisis suddenly made improved fuel economy a top priority by 1974.
American carmakers also had to contend with a sales-blunting "stagflation" economy and increasing import-brand competition. In all, it was a pretty rough time.
Cadillac coped with these difficulties better than most of Detroit, largely because its moneyed clientele was less affected than mainstream consumers by "sticker shock," record gas prices, and other unpleasant jolts to the wallet.
This enabled Cadillac to keep doing business pretty much as usual through 1976, after which it adroitly changed course to meet buyer demands for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. Unlike rivals Lincoln and Imperial, Cadillac anticipated this market shift well in advance, another secret to its continuing success.
But bigger was still better as the decade opened, and the 1970 Cadillac Eldorado was in step with a new V-8 of historic proportion.
Sized at a massive 500 cubic inches, and signified by badges reading "8.2 litres," the new-design powerplant was the world's largest-displacement production-car engine. It developed 400 horsepower and a monumental 550 pound-feet of torque.
Other 1970 Cadillac models retained the 375-horsepower 472-cubic-inch V-8.
Styling was touched up across the board. The 1970 Cadillac Eldorado received a narrowed grille separate from the headlamps, plus slimmer taillamps. The balance of the 1970 Cadillac line sported a new grille with bright vertical accents over a cross-hatch background. Also new was horizontal bright trim on parking lights, winged crests instead of V's on the 1970 Cadillac De Ville and 1970 Cadillac Calais hoods, and new taillamps.
Every 1970 Cadillac got new integral steering knuckles, fiberglass-belted tires, and a radio antenna imbedded in the windshield.
Production results for the 1970 Cadillac line were mixed. Though model-year volume rose to almost 239,000 units, Cadillac again finished 10th in U.S. car production. On a calendar-year sales basis, Cadillac was 11th, behind Chrysler and AMC. Still, in a generally quiet Detroit year, Cadillac outproduced Lincoln by 3-1 and Imperial by no less than 15-1.
Cadillac overhauled its entire line for the next model year. Read the next page for details on the 1971 Cadillac.
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.