1970-1979 Cadillac

1971 Cadillac
All of Cadillac's models were completely redesigned for 1971. The interior of the 1971 Cadillac Coupe DeVille is shown here.
All of Cadillac's models were completely redesigned for 1971. The interior of the 1971 Cadillac Coupe DeVille is shown here.

The 1971 Cadillac lineup was completely redesigned, a wholesale turnover that would come to be an increasingly rare occurrence for a modern automaker.

The 1971 Cadillac Eldorado gained a convertible version and moved to a new platform shared with the Buick Riviera and Oldsmobile; learn about the 1971 Cadillac Eldorado on the next page.

The other members of the 1971 Cadillac lineup were redesigned around a larger new General Motors C-body. It had curved "fuselage" flanks and contours smoother than those of its immediate predecessors.

Wheelbase grew only half an inch, to 130 inches, but that was its first alteration since was back in 1957. Weight and most other dimensions didn't change much, either.

The 1971 Cadillac roster started with the Calais series, though the Calais models weren't that much cheaper than the better-equipped DeVille models. Perhaps because of this, Calais sales declined to below 10,000 units by 1974, and Cadillac dropped the entry-level line after 1976. The Calais series consisted of two- and four-door hardtops listed in these years, with the two-door becoming a fixed-pillar style after '73.

The money-spinning 1971 Cadillac DeVille lineup was also reduced to two- and four-door hardtops. Its convertible was judged superfluous now that Cadillac had a revived Eldorado convertible. The pillared Cadillac De Ville four-door was put on hold until 1977.

This 1971 Cadillac Coupe DeVille exhibits two of the aesthetic changes for 1971: curved "fuselage" flanks and smoother contours.

Though still low-volume specialty items, the premium 1971 Cadillac Fleetwood models got a new GM D-body and thus fresh styling for the first time since 1966. It remained a four-door sedan on a unique 133-inch chassis, but there was only one version now. Called Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham, it shared the Series 75's new roof styling with more distinctly separate side windows. It, too, would see little appearance change through 1976.

The main reason Cadillac styling evolved so slowly in this period is that engineers and designers were tied-up with the more-pressing concerns of the day: fuel economy, tailpipe emissions, and occupant crash protection.

As it was very difficult to reconcile those last two with the first, Cadillac's engineering emphasis fell on the emissions side with both of its V-8s. For example, exhaust-gas recirculation was added for 1973 to reduce oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions, while the air-injection pump and engine pulleys were altered to lessen noise.

On the next page, we'll focus on the Cadillac Eldorado -- the 1971 and 1976 models.

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.