The Cadillac Brougham and Fleetwood of the 1990s
The big rear-drive Cadillac Brougham sedan was an old-school Detroiter that seemed an anachronism in the early 1990s: heroically over decorated, uncomfortably under suspended.
But Cadillac couldn't let it go, for two good reasons. Some buyers wouldn't have a front-drive car, and that described every other model in the 1990s Cadillac lineup (the Cadillac Sedan de Ville, Cadillac Eldorado, Cadillac Seville, even the limited-production two-seat Cadillac Allante.)
The second good reason was that the Brougham made more money per sale than any other Cadillac model. Besides, it had the longest body of any car in produced in America, as Cadillac was proud to advertise.
Because the basic design was long since paid for, Cadillac could keep updating the Brougham without eating into profits.
Accordingly, the 1990 Cadillac Brougham gained standard antilock brakes and answered requests for more power with an optional 5.7-liter V-8. This was the biggest engine for this car in years and came from Chevrolet. It required an extra-cost trailering package, but its healthy 175 horsepower was welcomed by "stretch limo" converters.
The base engine on the 1990 Cadillac Brougham was a 140-horsepower Oldsmobile 307-cubic-inch V-8. But this was in the 1991 Cadillac Brougham by Chevy's evergreen 305 cubic-inch V-8, and horsepower jumped to 170.
The 5.7, meantime, was lifted to 185 horsepower and offered as a freestanding option for the 1991 Cadillac Brougham. No other major changes occurred for the Cadillac Brougham, except for a worrisome 60-percent sales plunge from nearly 34,000 units for 1990 to just fewer than 14,000 for 1992.
But Cadillac was still devoted to "traditional" cars, and proved it with a big new Cadillac Fleetwood for 1993. The 1993 Cadillac Fleetwood was basically a rebodied Brougham and replaced that model, though the Brougham name lived on for a spiffy interior-trim option.
To avoid confusion, Cadillac dropped the front-wheel drive Fleetwood coupe for 1993 and erased the Fleetwood name from the Sixty Special sedan.
Styling of the 1993 Cadillac Fleetwood remained "formal," but was curvier and more contemporary than that of the Cadillac Brougham. Ample bright trim and an expansive eggcrate face maintained tradition.
Wheelbase of the Cadillac Fleetwood was unchanged at 121.5 inches, a size familiar since 1977. But overall length tacked on 4.1 inches to reach 225.
To Cadillac's credit, curb weight rose only 90 pounds despite the added sheetmetal and new standards including the "Airbank," dual front dashboard airbags wide enough to protect all three occupants of the still-standard front bench seat. A plastic fuel tank helped minimize weight gain, while newly standard traction control helped drivers stay safely on course in foul weather.
The 185-horsepower 5.7-liter Chevrolet V-8 was standard for the 1993 Cadillac Fleetwood. Better performance was in store for the 1994 Cadillac Fleetwood with adoption of the new 260-horsepower version of Chevrolet's LT1 5.7-liter, with sequential multipoint fuel injection (instead of single-point). Electronic transmission control was also added. Only detail changes occurred for the 1995 Cadillac Fleetwood.
For so much opulence, the new-wave Cadillac Fleetwood was reasonably priced in the mid-$30,000 area, and thus quite a bargain against comparably sized luxury imports.
Buyers responded, and Cadillac Fleetwood model-year production almost doubling for 1993 to nearly 32,000 units. The 1994 Cadillac Fleetwood drew fewer orders (just over 27,000), and calendar-year output was back to Brougham levels by 1995 at around 13,400 (a dip of 7,000 from calendar 1994).
But the sales issue was soon rendered moot, as GM dropped all its rear-wheel-drive sedans after 1996 so the Texas factory that made them could pump out more sport-utility vehicles for a market gone crazy for trucks.
Cadillac was the first carmaker to offer a new communications system. For more information on this innovation, read 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.
- 1980-1989 Cadillac: America's top luxury brand was in crises in the 1980s. Learn about how it weathered the storm.
- 2000-2008 Cadillac: Discover how bold design, big power, and an SUV fuel a Cadillac comeback.