Junkyard Find: 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

1974 was a rough year to be an American, but the Cadillac Division wasn’t about to give up on selling opulent two-and-a-half-ton highway dreadnaughts to the plutocracy ( that came later).

Here’s a well-banged-up Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham, spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard last month.

Fleetwood was a coachbuilding company with English roots, absorbed by the Fisher Body Corporation and then into General Motors during the 1920s. The very last Cadillac Fleetwoods were sold for the 1996 model year; I photographed a ’96 Fleetwood Brougham in its final parking spot back in 2013. For you fans of Malaise Era Fleetwoods in this series, we also have this salt-water-assaulted ’74 and this ’76.

Joyce must have been very proud of her comfy, road-owning Cad back in the middle 1970s.

I recall seeing this exact sticker for sale in gas-station convenience stores in about 1974, while on family road trips in our ’73 Beauville. Could you bring yourself to slap a cheap decal on the dash of a car that sold for $9,537, which is about $50,000 today? Joyce managed the feat.

The 472-cubic-inch V8 in this car took a serious performance hit in 1974, thanks to a perfect storm of corporate and government incompetence (you may apportion blame between the two sides as you see fit, according to the narrative favored by your side of the Culture Wars), and was rated at a grim 205 horsepower. That’s 26 horses per liter of engine displacement, which compares unfavorably to the 134 horsepower-per-liter ratio achieved by the base engine in the 2017 Cadillac CTS. That said, this engine still managed to generate a respectable 380 pound-feet of torque and the Fleetwood had no trouble cruising effortlessly at 80 mph … oh, wait.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell what tipping point allowed a car to topple into a place like this, but we can see that Joyce’s Cad suffered a wreck that contributed that last bit of depreciation. The way these things seem to work, we can assume the car that bashed Joyce’s Cad was something with about 0.0001% of the class of the Fleetwood, a forgettable machine from the distant fringes of the GM empire.

Cadillac’s pursuit of big market share contributed to the de-exclusivization of the marque during the Malaise Era.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

More by Murilee Martin

Join the conversation
2 of 82 comments
  • DEUSVULTbuddy DEUSVULTbuddy on May 26, 2017

    Ah yes, the Cadillac Fleetwood Broughams. I have an uncle down by San Bernardino, Ca who brought a brand new (black) 76' Fleetwood Brougham sedan back 1976. I don't know too much about the ride, because my uncle wouldn't talk much about it, but I do know that he drove the Fleetwood for around 20 years before the engine reach it maximum lifetime. Since then the car sits in his drive way, coming down with rust and parts missing (or falling off). It totally became a rust bucket when I first laid eyes on it. Him and his family never really thought about getting rid of it, since he loved that car so much. When I get better on understanding cars more, I hope to restore it one day because his car sparked my interest into cars when I still small.

  • Bultaco Bultaco on Jun 08, 2017

    I had a turquoise 1970 DeVille convertible for a summer in college. Must have been around 1983. I bought it for $600 to drive while I restored my TR6. With the high compression 472 (I think it was rated over 350hp in 1970 gross hp) it would light the 78-series rear tires at will and turn them into vapor. I think the combo of skinny tires, decent power, and vast tons of road-hugging weight created an inertial perfect storm for tire smokage. Upon seeing it for the first time, in all its bloated, hideous splendor, the owner of the bar where I worked remarked "that's the god-damndest automobile I've ever seen". I sold it for what I paid for it at the end of the summer.

  • JOHN One is for sale on an ebay car donation site.https://www.ebay.com/itm/305579991767?itmmeta=01HYHVJ49MCC6HEWQY5AX9MX85&hash=item4725fca2d7:g:k9cAAOSw5V5mThFw
  • Scott So they are losing hundreds of millions of dollars and they are promising us a “Cheaper EV”? I wonder how that will look and feel? They killed the Fiesta because they claimed that they couldn’t make a profit on them and when I bought the first one in late 2010 they couldn’t deliver the accessories I wanted for it! Then I bought a 2016 Fiesta ST and again couldn’t get the accessories for it I wanted. They claimed that the components were going to be available, eventually. So they lost on that one as well! I don’t care about what they say anymore. I’ve moved on to another brand.
  • Michael S6 CX 70 or 90 will not be on my buying list. Drove a rental base CX 90 and it was noisy and the engine noise was not pleasant. Ride was rough for a family SUV. Mazda has to understand that what is good for Miata isn't what we expect in semi luxury SUV. My wife's 2012 Buick Enclave has much better Ride and noise level albeit at worse gas millage. Had difficulty pairing my phone with Apple CarPlay
  • Michael S6 What is the metric conversion between one million barrels and the number of votes he expects to buy.
  • NJRide This could give Infiniti dealers an extra product maybe make it a sub brand