Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Twofer Tuesday/Wednesday returns with 2 disco dinosaurs

It was the darkest days of the American automobile industry. Post gas crisis, heavy safety and emissions regulations, dwindling build quality, and an outdated sense of what the public wanted (which was smaller, more efficient cars). Most of Detroit scrambled about in a panic, rebadging Japanese imports in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Dealership lots were full of unsold new cars, some of them years old, and the dealers themselves were close to revolt over their sad offerings. One brand couldn't care less, proudly building enormous luxury barges right up to the end of the decade without apology. I present to you the late-'70s Cadillac Eldorado:
This is a 1977 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz in Cotillion White. The luxury Biarritz edition was re-introduced in the '76 model year after a 13 year hiatus. We can tell it's a '77 due to the fine grill in combination with the vertical taillights (the '78 had a grill of larger square openings and the '76 had horizontal taillights).
Just take a look at this thing! This is a 2 door car that is absolutely gargantuan in its proportions. The '77  Cadillacs were powered by the mammoth 8.2 Liter 500 V8. Even in the era of emissions equipment this ultra-torquey motor could push this 5,000 lb car around with alacrity.  
This design was getting along in years by the time this car was produced. With the exception of the front and rear this is basically the same styling that was introduced in 1972. Despite its size the proportions are somewhat balanced (though I'm prejudiced in favor of the '70s Eldorados because my father drove a triple white '74 Eldorado convertible when I was a kid).
This car actually heralded a bunch of great features we take for granted today. Anti-lock brakes known as the Track-Master, front wheel drive (making this an unlikely champion in the snow), and even air bags which were an option all the way back in 1974!
A tiny Caddy logo covers the keyhole for the original optional alarm system.
Thick padded vinyl roof, opera windows, and even operational opera lights were gaudy hallmarks of the era and standard for the Biarritz.
This particular Caddy is immaculate and ready to roll up and claim a car show trophy on the spot. The plastic fender extensions between the side marker light and the chrome taillight housing are almost always either cracked or missing altogether, but this ride sports perfect paint and pinstripes throughout.
From this angle you can just make out that it has a large retractable glass sunroof. Known as the Astroroof, this was a high-dollar option, adding over $1,000 to the price of the car.
If you've never seen one of these with the trunk open trust me; it's truly a sight to behold! People use terms like "you could fit a body in the trunk", but really, you could fit 10 bodies in this trunk.
One strange feature that I remember from my fathers Eldorado is the automatic trunk mechanism. Basically you close the trunk to within 6 inches or so and a motor takes over, closing and locking it automatically. I'm sure many people broke their auto trunks by slamming them closed. I also remember that there was a trunk release button inside the glove compartment which was pretty neat for the '70s. In addition each fold-down visor had 2 lights framing the mirror that came on automatically when you flipped up the plastic cover. They even had high and low settings!
Safety regulations make these side lights mandatory, but Caddy took advantage and made them badges.
We'll leave this beauty to rule over Greenpoint where I found her and move on to a more heavily used example:
Even though this beater has serious wear all over it the fact remains that it is a convertible which makes it lovely in my eyes. This is definitely a 1975 Eldorado due to the clear front turn signal lenses in concert with the square headlights which were introduced this model year.
Those fender extensions I was pointing out on the white Caddy? This is more like it; they're just gone, leaving the metal decorative trim standing like tombstones in their honor. The difference between high and low beams is on display here but way more exaggerated than need be.
The color on this Hooptillac is Commodore Blue Poly, and actually looks great when in better shape.
Cadillac hood ornaments are some of the most inviting things out there for passing vandals. These folks found a solution though; tape a massive gold winged woman to the remaining stump! Amazingly this is a Cadillac hood ornament, but off of a 1940 Fleetwood Sixty Special. It is rare and valuable on its own.
Smoky, foggy, glazed over eyes give an idea as to how much use this beast sees.
Ugh the interior is disgusting! A torn-to-shreds pink tank top as a seat cover? Large plastic animal lurking in the backseat? I felt like I could smell the interior through the glass! At least being a convertible you could drop the top and let it air out for a while, but it's nasty.
This car's got a new top which is not cheap so somebody has plans for it. Looks like the auto-trunk mechanism might be shot on this one.
That rust hole between the rear window and the trunk is a really difficult spot to repair! My guess is that this beast was parked somewhere for a while and wet leaves settled on that area. I've seen otherwise decent cars with huge rust holes all over the hood and roof due to neglected leaves which get extremely corrosive when allowed to rot.
This beast is holding it down on the Long Island City/Astoria border in Queens. Hopefully when the weather gets nice again I'll catch it rolling by, but for now at least she's got that new top for winter.

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