Junkyard Find: 1967 Cadillac Calais Coupe

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

It's still no sweat to find Malaise Era Cadillacs in the big California self-service car graveyards these days, but the sleek and powerful Cads of the mid-to-late-1960s don't show up in such places so often. That makes this 1967 Cadillac Calais Coupe, found in a yard just up I-880 from the Tesla Factory last month, a very special Junkyard Find.

junkyard find 1967 cadillac calais coupe

Yes, it's glorious!

A Pick-n-Pull yard will most often have a "builder" lot near the entrance, with complete cars sold for cheap with salvage titles; those that don't sell after a few weeks get put in the regular parts yard. It appears that $1,849 just wasn't cheap enough.

It's definitely a 50-footer, with plenty of thick primer over body filler over rust.

Then there's the sketchy-looking replacement VIN tag from the State of California, the sight of which would send a chill down the spine of anyone who has ever dealt with a lien-sale or salvage car at the Golden State's DMV (as I have, many times). I've always assumed that the employees there are subjected to waterboarding (or worse) from knee-breaking heavies sent out from Sacramento if they say yes to a customer, while they get bonuses for saying no. I hear that the Massachusetts DMV is worse, but I find that hard to believe.

The Calais was the entry-level Cadillac from the time the Sixty-Two name got dumped (1965) until the Nova-based Seville appeared (1976). The city of Calais isn't quite as ritzy as Biarritz, but the name sounds sufficiently French and therefore classy.

The build tag on the firewall says this car was built at the Fleetwood Body Plant in Detroit during the second week of February 1967. The original color was Baroque Gold. We can assume that it has been through many owners and has been driven many miles.

We can't know exactly how many miles, however, because of the five-digit odometer.

While the Calais was the lowest-priced new Cadillac for 1967, that doesn't mean it was meant for Olds-driving proles. The base price for this car was $5,040, which comes to about $45,505 in 2022 dollars. The Coupe de Ville started at $5,392 ($48,790 now).

The differences between the Calais and the very similar-looking de Ville were to be found in the standard equipment and available options. You couldn't get leather upholstery in the '67 Calais, for example, and you had to pay extra if you wanted such standard-on-the-de Ville items as power seats.

Cadillac was still king of the American road in 1967, so that was a lot of swank per dollar.

The thermostat-controlled HVAC was standard equipment in the '67 Calais, but that AM/FM radio added 188 bucks ($1,700 today) to the price tag. If you wanted your FM in stereo, that cost $288 ($2,605 after inflation).

The interior is rough but mostly there (the door panels were in the trunk). Still, body and interior work on this car would cost a lot more than what you'd pay for a nice Calais.

All Cadillacs still had genuine Cadillac engines during the 1960s; if this is the original one, it's a 429-cubic-incher (7.0 liters) rated at 340 horsepower and an amazing 480 pound-feet of torque (sadly, these are gross, not net numbers; they'd be a lot lower if measured by current standards).

Despite making such big power, the 390-series Cadillac V8 weighed just a bit more than the small-block Chevrolet V8. All 1967 Cadillac models got the same engine.

A three-speed automatic was the only transmission available. If you wanted a manual Cadillac, you had to wait until the Cimarron and its base four-on-the-floor appeared for the 1982 model year.

You can see the remains of a Class of '86 tassel among the verdigrised pennies on the carpeting. I think this car sat for quite a while.

However, these 22-inch wheels and tires must have gone on during the last couple of decades at most. Look at that, the fender skirts are still there!

This being the Bay Area, we can assume that this car had a final owner who wanted to scraper-ize a classic Cadillac. This Royal D/Richie Rich song didn't get much attention outside of the East Bay, but it deserved to be a global hit (if only for its lyrics about the 60k-mile blue Buick Park Avenue).

It will be crushed soon enough, but let's hope many of its parts live on in other cars.

Cadillac built just over 20,000 Calais cars for 1967, while making nearly 140,000 de Villes. Eventually, GM decided that the Buick Division could sell Electras and Rivieras to potential Calais buyers and killed the model.

[Images: The author]

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3 of 16 comments
  • Mike Beranek Mike Beranek on Dec 28, 2022

    What's that weird box grafted onto the fuel line right before the carb? One of those scammer gadgets that "aligns" the fuel molecules with magnets?

  • KevinB KevinB on Dec 28, 2022

    "The Calais was the entry-level Cadillac from the time the Sixty-Two name got dumped (1965) until the Nova-based Seville appeared (1976)."

    Um, the Seville was priced higher than every other Cadillac model, save the 75-series Limousine.

    The Seville was hardly "entry level".

    • Jeff S Jeff S on Dec 28, 2022

      The Seville did not replace the Calais and the Seville was not a trim level it was an entirely new car. The full size Cadillac had the Calais as its base trim level, followed by the higher trim level Deville, and then the bigger Fleetwood all based on basically the same car sharing grills, lights, body panels, bumpers, and etc. Seville was not entry level as much as it was a smaller car introduced to compete with the smaller luxury European cars that became popular during the late 70s. Cadillac dealers were threatening to leave the Cadillac franchise unless Cadillac made a smaller luxury car that they could sell to compete with the European luxury cars. GM charged more for the Seville because they knew that charging less would give less cache to the Seville in the eyes of the younger buyers who were going for more expensive German luxury imports.

  • Jeff S I rented a 2012 Chrysler 200 with the 4 cylinder from Enterprise for business travel and it was not a bad car but I would not buy one. I would have picked a Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, or a Ford Fusion over a Chrysler 200. I have known people that bought Chrysler 200s that had nothing but problems with them. I appreciate these old reviews and miss the old TTAC before it became what it is now with many articles that are slanted toward politics. Don't have to agree with everything but it is good to read an honest review of a car.
  • Jeff S The Cybertruck was first unveiled and announced on Nov. 21, 2019. For over 3 years Tesla has been saying that this truck was going to be released soon. The mystique and surprise is no longer there. I think the Cybertruck is hideous but then I am not the target for this. Since its initial unveiling there has been the introduction of the Lightning, Hummer, and the Rivian truck. The anticipation of this truck and the mystique has faded. There will be a few that will buy this because they are hard core Tesla fans and some because it is different but Tesla should have been the first to market an EV pickup. GM is planning a compact EV pickup under the GMC brand starting at 25 MSRP. This should have been Tesla and Tesla could have downsized the Cybertruck to either a midsize or compact truck and been first. Tesla should have been first at the very least to release a smaller EV truck.
  • Bloke Wow, this should make a big difference, to those catalytic converter thieves who don't have tools like 'angle grinders' with them.
  • Carlson Fan The way the truck drops in the rear and the bed/tailgate become a ramp is genius! I'd buy it just for that alone!!! It would be awesome for loading snowmobiles and garden tractors in the back. However, my trucks need to be able to regularly tow heavy loads long distance, summer & winter. Sorry folks, current battery tech. isn't even close to what it needs to be for me to think even one second that a battery truck could replace my current ICE powered truck. An EV for a DD makes sense , but for truck you need a MUCH better battery.
  • Inside Looking Out For midsize sedan it is too small. It basically is a compact car.