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Lot 563: 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado Convertible

Sale Of Collectors' Motor Cars and Automobilia, Bonhams & Butterfields (18 August 2006)

"The last convertible", that was the way Cadillac billed the 1976 Eldorado drop-top. The decision to stop building convertibles was explained in lots of ways: more sporting styling of coupes, more turnpike driving that didn’t favor having the top down, better sound systems, universal air conditioning, safety regulations. But however it was explained it was a management decision to control costs.

In 1976 the Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado convertible was the only convertible being built by the Detroit Big Three. Top mechanisms produced for a single manufacturer in quantities of only seven or eight thousand a year were getting expensive, to say nothing of the cost of all the other specially-engineered and tooled parts needed for a convertible. The Eldorado, like the rest of the Cadillac line, was due for a redesign and downsizing and, to the finance department, it made no sense at all to invest in new convertible tooling.

Cadillac snapped up every top mechanism it could find in the years before 1976 in preparation for the demise of the Eldorado convertible. It was the signature bodystyle for Cadillac and particularly for the Eldo and it was going to go out with flair. The Eldorado, by 1976 some six years in the same basic design, was long, sleek, edgy and luxurious. It seated only four in its 224.1” length and 126.3” wheelbase and weighed two and one-half tons. The engine displaced 500 cubic inches and the front wheel drive chassis with fully independent suspension supported by torsion bar springs up front and self-leveling coils at the back was a masterpiece of the opulent ride that was Cadillac’s hallmark in the Seventies.

Cadillac’s announcement that convertible production would end in 1976 brought an immediate enthusiastic response from its customers who rushed into their Cadillac dealers to get their copy of this masterpiece, even at the base price of $11,049. Places in the order queue changed hands for nearly as much. They were described at the time as “instant collectibles”, and the judgment of subsequent collectors has vindicated the description.

The example offered here is original except for a 1999 repaint in the original and very attractive Firemist Green. It has some 82,000 miles and is – like all 1976 Eldorado convertibles – lavishly equipped. The interior is the original Tan leather, in very fine condition. The owner states it drives extremely well and all its many accessories work as they should.

Nearly thirty years after it was built the 1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible still makes an eloquent statement of luxury and refinement. There is nothing downsized about it. It doesn’t run on four cylinders when cruising or use diesel fuel. There are no compromises in its edgy design. It was never tested on the Nürburgring, but in the paddock of any race track, on the road or around town it has its own distinctive presence. This is “The Last Convertible”. There has been nothing like it since.

Lot Details
Auction Sale Of Collectors' Motor Cars and Automobilia
Bonhams & Butterfields, Quail Lodge, Carmel, California
TypeCar
Lot Number563
Estimate$10000-$12000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$8000
Hammer Price (inc premium)$9360
Year1976
Condition rating
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number6L67S6Q188007
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors