By on July 26, 2012

I admit it: I’m suffering from a silly infatuation with Broughamness. Every American car manufacturer (and a few Japanese ones) slapped Brougham emblems on a wide variety of vehicles during the Brougham Era, which we’ll call 1968 through 1992, and the last hurrah for Detroit Broughams was the car that I found in a Denver self-serve wrecking yard yesterday.
In 1987, Cadillac decided to remove the Fleetwood name from its big rear-wheel-drive ocean liners and simply dubbed the car the Cadillac Brougham.
At first glance, I thought I was looking at an early 1970s product here.
You wouldn’t have seen a Chevy 305 engine in a proper Early Malaise Era Cadillac, though.
I’m pretty sure this car has more marque emblems than any built before or since. I gave up counting after I got to 15.

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59 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1988 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance...”


  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Ah, the nostalgia! Remember those decades when every Cadillac print ad seemed to be the product of a conpetition to squeeze the word ‘elegance’ into a paragraph as many times as possible? Remember when that actually made sense, because there was absolutely nothing good to say about the product itself? I am getting all choked up just thinking about it.

  • avatar

    A now deceased much older family friend of mine had one of these when he lived in California. I have fond memories of riding around L.A. in that beige super-barge. Going to West Hollywood and just cruising, at the time no other car could make you feel more laid back. It makes me teary eyed just thinking about it.

  • avatar
    CadiDrvr

    This isn’t a d’Elegance, as that is the standard Brougham interior. The d’Elegance has the pillow top seats covered in buttons and d’Elegance embroidered in the door trim.

    For further reference see http://www.lov2xlr8.no/brochures/cadillac/88cad/88cad.html

    • 0 avatar

      You mean it’s just a regular Brougham with d’Elegance badges swapped onto the C pillars? I’ll bet the driver wore a lot of Swap Meet Louie.

      • 0 avatar
        DaveDFW

        The leather d’elegance seats were pretty fragile and did not wear well.

        It’s more likely that the d’elegance seats disintegrated and were replaced with seats from a standard trim car.

        Edit: I just noticed the door panels are also from a standard trim car. So someone either swapped the complete interior, or the badging isn’t correct. Badges are much easier. :)

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “You mean it’s just a regular Brougham with d’Elegance badges swapped onto the C pillars?”

        I would so do that… personally I’m pretty upset today’s cars are severely lacking in such C/B pillar badging and special edition marques.

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        @ 28-Cars-Later

        Check out the “Executive” edition Volvo S80 and XC90 – they have Brougham-style badges (both in appearance and in placement)!

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Sweet!

    • 0 avatar
      CadiDrvr

      This is obviously a rebadge as I just noticed looking at the photos again that “Brougham” should be on the rear quarter panel just forward of the taillight.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Actually the more I look at the padded roof, a random owner could not have just glued “d’Elegance” script onto it. Notice the professional looking impression in the material around the script… if you or I glued emblems on the roof, its not going to leave an impression all around the emblem in the way its presented in the picture. I think what may have happened is some time during the car’s life a padded roof was installed (possibly as a dealer add on after the sale) and the model roof they used was intended for d’Elegance.

  • avatar
    Feds

    I rocked an ’84 d’Elegance for a couple of years in the late ’90′s/early 2k’s. The 4100 was notable in that it made “adequate” power, in that it was possible to achieve highway speeds, but don’t expect to actually notice the acceleration.

    My favorite memory was a back-road trip from Waterloo to Ottawa with 6 people + luggage in the car. We crested a hill going probably 90 kph and spotted a deer at the bottom, about half a KM away. No problem, I thought, and began to apply the brakes. Nothing…NOThing…NOTHING!!! The combination of load, speed, and hill had me straining the seatback to get more pressure on the pedal before I finally got the car hauled in, about 20 ft. from the deer.

  • avatar
    peteinsonj

    I remember when my boss got one of these, I was in my early 20′s and it seemed like an impressive car. Until the first time he had me drive it.

  • avatar
    DaveDFW

    A 1988 Brougham would have had an Oldsmobile 307 (carbureted until 1990!), not a Chevrolet 305. The Chevy 305 was only available in only the final two models years, 1991-1992.

    Although it replaced the horrid aluminum 4.1L V8, the Olds 307 was still a dog–we’re talking 13-second 0-60 times for these cars.

    It’s a wonder Cadillac survived the 1980′s.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      The only GM bright spot was the Buick Regal Grand National in the 80′s.

    • 0 avatar
      big_gms

      You’re correct, it’s an Olds 307. The engine in that car looks 100% identical to the Olds 307 in a 1986 Pontiac Parisienne I once owned. It’s got the oil filler tube at the front of the engine block and that idiotic belt adjustment method for the power steering pump, a wonderful bit of brilliance in which you must line up one of the holes in the pulley over one of the mounting bolts, then slide a socket through the hole and on to a mounting bolt to loosen/tighten it. The bolt in the bracket alongside the pump is to adjust the belt tension.
      Edit: That bolt may have been to adjust the belt tension for the alternator and the power steering pump…it’s been over 10 years since I last saw mine, but I do recall that adjusting belt tension on that thing was a royal PITA.

      A Chevy 305 would have the oil cap on the driver’s side valve cover and a much simpler way to adjust belt tension on the power steering pump, although the 305 may have had a serpentine belt by 1988.

      I would also add that the eighth character in the VIN is quite likely the letter Y, which would also indicate the Olds 307.

      And from personal experience, that engine was indeed a dog, though in fairness, no worse than the 302 in Ford’s Panthers or the Chevy 305 in some of GM’s other large cars of that era.

      • 0 avatar
        acuraandy

        Back in high school (a decade ago) I had an ’87 Camaro, final year for carbureted, but had center bolt heads (pre-Vortec).

        It also had the half-serpentine belt. Bing and correct!

  • avatar
    JCraig

    It’s a shame there’s no modern Caddy Bro-ham. Seeing the multitudes of Autozone blinged out base model Chrysler 300′s tells me that there’s still a strong market for a big, plush, tacky living room on wheels like this.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      These were the cars that put the crap in Crapillac. For better or worse, GM has decided that the entire malaise luxobarge era was an old shame and is running away from any whiff of it as fast as it can.

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        As others on TTAC have said, it’s a shame they abandoned luxobarges and tried to copy BMW. I wish the effort to make a german sport sedan had been put into actually evolving Cadillac out of the garbage era and making truly great Cadillacs again. An American Rolls only accessible to a wider swath of the population.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Agreed. I think for a brief period in the early 90′s Cadillac somewhat evolved, esp with the design lines of the ’92 Seville and Eldorado. But between Northstar issues and the movement of the market toward smaller AWD capable luxury cars, it was probably decided by the late 90s to be faux BMW. Such a shame, and personally I think there is room for the brand to do both. After all real BMW sells a sport tuned 3 series and a softer more prestigious 7 series under the same roof… and their 7 series is closer to a traditional Cadillac than anything Cadillac builds.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Funny how the more expensive (and year newer) Cadillac had a IP and dash that looked more dated than our ’87 Pontiac Safari wagon, which had round, modern gauges, column stalks for lights and wipers, and a sporty three-spoke steering wheel. Same 305 though. That car used to HATE driving uphill.

    By the same token, the ’94-’96 Caprice got a brand-new, modern (for the time) dash, while the Cadillac and Buick clones carried on with the old 80s inspired affairs.

    • 0 avatar
      JCraig

      TRADITIONAL, not dated… Caddy and Buick buyers wouldn’t know what to think about fancy new dashboards and gauges of the 80′s!

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      You could get a Brougham with a digital dashboard. It is hilarious looking when combined with the old-world style of the rest of the interior.

    • 0 avatar
      Liger

      My babysitter had a mid 80′s Pontiac Safari wagon when I was under her care (late 80′s). She had the biggest engine possible in that car, and it was stolen numerous times due to that fact. Damn thing was super reliable I remember with ice cold air conditioning. Then, for some reason she traded it in on a 90 Aries K. That fucking Chrysler was always broken down (I spent lots of time at the dealer with her) and in the shop. We all missed the big Pontiac :-(

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    A friend had one of these that was featured in Lowrider Magazine.
    http://a3.ec-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/118/a342ac9d93de4b3dbc3c8d3c186535da/l.jpg
    This would be my only reason to own one, other than my fantasy of making a cross-country voyage in a $500 example and leaving it for dead on the side of the highway somewhere.

    At first, I thought the window switch in the image said “PORT WINDOWS” and I got really excited.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Cadillac engines of this era seemed to point to a day when cars would need to be pedal assisted like mopeds. When this body style was introduced, the 472s and 500s were debored to 425 ci. Not destroked to promote better breathing and smoother high rpm running, but debored to raise block weight and reduce available valve area. That was nothing compared to what happened when the engines shrunk three years later to 368 ci and they were burdened with hope and change caliber variable displacement systems. A bit of reliability may have returned during the short run of big Cadillacs with Buick’s 252 V6, but performance was glacial. That was a good preparation for the Kleenex durability of the aluminum block, steel head HT4100s that could barely move these cars at all. I guess GM was so happy with the Vega engine that they couldn’t resist another ‘bimetal’ upside down cake.

    I actually knew people that were culturally programmed to have two of these cars in their driveways at all times, replacing at least one a year. Surely they noticed that each Cadillac was better than the next, but they kept at it as long as the DeVilles were RWD. I suspect that the 307 Oldsmobile engine would have been a relief for them after their HT4100 experiences, but most of them made the jump to German cars or Lincolns when the ’85 DeVille looked like a carnival ride.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Don’t forget some jumps to Legend when Acura came out in 1986.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The Cadillac drivers I knew were traditionalists who wanted to stay with RWD cars and conservative brands. Mercedes beckoned if they had real money and Lincoln was just like home if they didn’t. Acuras sold to upwardly mobile Honda owners and people who’d had all the unreliable ‘Jewish Mercedes’ from England, France, Italy and Sweden.

    • 0 avatar
      Numbers_Matching

      Right.
      The key year for this model and it’s steady decline as a true luxury car was 1980. For model years 77-79 these were very good runners … probably the best of the B-C platforms. And this was mainly due to the 425. Even though they were only rated below 200 hp, they were smooth, reliable and torquey. Lincoln had nothing that matched the refinement and driveability of the 77-79 Fleetwoods.

      For 1980, with the introduction of the problematic V-8-6-4 368 (and don’t forget the Olds diesel!!) the steady decline of what was once a flagship for not only GM, but the entine domestic car industry as a whole, had started its long and inevitable course to irrelevance.

      • 0 avatar
        DaveDFW

        I believe 1980 had a non-4/6/8 368ci, the 4/6/8 came out for the 1981 model year.

        The 1981 4/6/8 feature is easily defeated, so other than the strange plastic rocker covers it’s just as usable as a 1980.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    This thing is bigger than some living quarters nowadays.

    • 0 avatar
      acuraandy

      http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CFgQtwIwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DQ4FoAr8i26g&ei=94kVUPbRAsmnqQH5jIH4AQ&usg=AFQjCNExE92xt-a-SY_TBZUdOxbep8XoZg

      If in the People’s Republic of New York, you are correct, sir.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I read somewhere that there’s almost nothing sadder in the automotive world than a beaten-up luxury car. I fully believe that. This thing was once someones pride and joy many years ago. Someone shelled out 20k in 1988 for this car. The paint sparkled, chrome shined and had that new GM leather smell to it.

    Granted these cars were not rolling testaments to durability and reliability, it’s still sad to see. It pains me to see any car not taken care of, but even worse when it’s a luxury marque.

  • avatar

    the opera light between the front and rear doors was powered by a 110v inverter in the trunk check out http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/cadillac-forum/t-37268.html

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    Wow, those cars had the little wreath-and-crest logo pasted everywhere on the interior. Lots of tiny details to remind passengers they were in a “luxurious” automobile. Funny now, the calm of minimalism and clean lines can define luxury.

  • avatar
    GoesLikeStink

    I had a 76 caddy in 94-95 it had the 8.2 liter 500ci V8. Best car for the money I have ever bought. $100
    ran perfect, all electrical was great, just a little ugly, so i got a case of baby blue spray paint. I moved to the bay area though and could not park or feed it. I really miss that car.

  • avatar
    iainthornton

    I remember James May driving one of these in Top Gear and loving it just because. Also I see a guy most days on my commute to and from work driving a baby blue one. 1986 model year, if I’m not mistaken. This is in England….it’s a rare bird over here. I’m hoping one day to lie in wait for him and follow him home, I just want a ride in it so badly.

  • avatar

    Teddy Roosevelt’s real brougham:

    http://www.carsindepth.com/?p=744

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    New ads for Caddy emphasize power and handling. Though it’s undoubtedly small, there must still be a market for a car that feels like an overstuffed sofa sailing on a sea of pudding.

  • avatar
    Joss

    1988?

    4th gen Cressida without the acerage opulence or reliability woes..

  • avatar
    el scotto

    A great car for the interstates and blue highways of flyover states. Like sitting on your couch as the miles fly by. Stop when you need to pee/get gas/eat not because your butt and/or back aches. Not too many twisties in the cornfields and the parking lots are striped for trucks.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    It always makes me laugh to recall that GM used that same cheap-feeling wiper/directional stalk on every car they made from this top-of-the-line Caddy to the Chevette. The “better” cars had it in luxurious plasti-chrome plating.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Some laugh as if “nobody would buy a car like this back then”, but the Lincoln Town Car was a huge selling in the late 80s, into the 90′s.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    It is a wonder Cadillac survived through the 80′s.

    I definitely have a soft spot for cars like this, but I can’t imagine very many people choosing something like this over a Mercedes.

  • avatar

    Lots of good memories. We got my mom one for Christmas 1991. It was a pretty metallic copper ’81 with that stupid 8-6-4. My dad and I picked it up from some old dude who stored it in his garage under a cover and already had a newer one. I took my drivers test in it, and my mom drove it till the motor blew up.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Heh heh My first 2 Jeep wagons were Broughams, Later,they became Grands.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    ‘You wouldn’t have seen a Chevy 305 engine in a proper Early Malaise Era Cadillac, though.’

    FWIW:
    MIGHT…..be a Oldsmobile 307…?

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I currently am driving a gray 1990 Brougham D’Elegance with 78k original miles and the Olds 307/200R-4 trans as a Summer driver to keep miles off my year around car. Despite looking terrible on paper at a paltry 140 HP the Olds 307 mill is a gem, is very smooth, starts with a mere flick of the key, is super reliable and durable and consistently gives me 23 highway MPG. 88-90 307′s got a knock sensor which enabled me to run 22 degrees base timing with 89 octane and tweak the secondary side of the Quadrajet for a 2 second 0-60 improvement over stock, now down to 11 seconds and much sharper low and mid range response. 88-90′s 307 cars also saw a change from a 2.73:1 rear gear to the 2.93 setup which combined with 255 FT LBS of torque that this engine makes at 2000 RPM’s really makes this sled move out surprisingly well. The dash is an odd mixture of old and newer with digital readouts for speedo and gas but an old fashioned on/off switch tied to a 1981 style cruise stalk and wiper switch that is dash mounted like said 81 model year GM car. The seats are all day comfy, the trunk is truly huge and it is darn fun gliding around in this- the anti- smaller tree hugging green car from what I think was a more interesting time in autos.

  • avatar
    19 Pinkslips

    In the late 90′s I worked in a shop that was near a retirement community, so I drove all varieties of GM B and D body cars. I remember the first time I drove a 4100 powered DeVille, it was awful! Sounded like it was working so hard, and it was! The aluminum block transmitted all sorts of nasty sounds. I saw lots of 307 powered sleds, they were slow, smooth and stately. The worst was a ~83 LeSabre coupe with a 4.1 V6, god that was a dreadful car to drive you had to plan every maneuver WAY ahead of time. But then one day a LOW mileage ’92 Brougham showed up, white on white with a TBI 350, towing package and dig dash. That was a nice car, plenty of power, the rear sway bar of the towing package made it much more pleasant to pilot and that gorgeous white leather over blue carpet. OH and the warning lights that lit up THRU THE WOODGRAIN! Wow! Figures GM gets a car right the year they stop producing it….

    Skip this video ahead to 1:22 to see the warning lights:

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Thanks for that video, pinkslips. That Brougham is beautiful in the way only a low mile survivor can be. It also shows how hard GM was trying to keep a very old car fresh.

    As soon as I saw that interior, I became nostalgic for my 84 Eldo because it was the same color, same seats and everything excluding the IP. I was not nostalgic for the 4100 V8, which didn’t live long under normal circumstances, less so under my teenage right foot.


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