By 1976, Cadillacs had become so swollen that they plowed through corners, averaged 13 mpg (4.6 km/l), and were as quick off the line as an M24 tank. Despite a massive 500cid V8, output of the ’76 Eldo was a lowly 190 brake horsepower, with a top speed of just 109 mph (175 km/h).
Something had to change, and Cadillac’s response had been the ’75 Seville. But the ’76 Eldo marked the end of an era for another reason—it was the last American convertible. Cadillac was the final automobile manufacturer to delete the ragtop from their model lineup and, when they made the announcement that the convertible was to be phased out at the end of ’76, the market fought to buy up the last 200.
People even tried to cut in line by claiming they were distantly related to Cadillac’s founder. One 72-year-old man in Nebraska bought six. A grand American institution had quietly passed away.
Big and slab-sided, the ’76 Eldo used a front-wheel drive arrangement that had first been used on the ’67 Eldorado and is still used today. The ’76 Convertible had big vital statistics, measuring 225 in (5.7 m) long, 80 in (2 m) wide, and costing $10,354.
Interiors could be specified in Merlin Plaid, lush velour, Mansion Knit, or 11 types of Sierra Grain leather.
The heavy chrome adjustable door mirror was electrically operated and incorporated a thermometer that displayed the outside temperature.
Eldorados had standard four-wheel discs with transistorized rear control.
Strips at the rear and front of the car were rubber crumple zones.
Such was the demand for these last convertibles that some changed hands for as much as $20,000, nearly double the list price.
Twilight Sentinel option operated the headlights according to outside conditions.
Raised compression ratios and a recalibrated carburetor gave the Eldo better fuel economy than might be expected from such a mammoth block. Hydro-Boost power brakes were needed to stop the 5,153 lb (2,337 kg) colossus.
Independent coil springs were complemented by automatic level control.
Technically advanced options were always Cadillac’s forte. The Eldo was available with an airbag, Dual Comfort front seats with fold-down armrests, and a six-way power seat.
Even with the top up, the Eldo was gargantuan inside.
Interior wood was called “distressed pecan grain.”
The Cadillac shield harkens back to 1650 and the original French Cadillac family. French model names were used in 1966 with the Calais and DeVille lines.
Eldos could be ordered in 21 body colors.
Slightly superfluous in that not many drivers would miss this giant on the road.
Already strangled by emission pipery, the need to maximize every gallon meant that the big 500bhp V8 was embarrassingly lethargic when it came to speed. Even lower ratio rear axles were used to boost mileage.
All Eldorados had a catalytic convertor as standard.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (1976)
PRODUCTION 14,000 (1976)
BODY STYLE Two-door, six-seater convertible.
CONSTRUCTION Steel body and chassis.
ENGINE 500cid V8.
POWER OUTPUT 190 bhp.
TRANSMISSION Three-speed Hydra-Matic Turbo automatic.
SUSPENSION Front and rear independent coil springs with automatic level control.
BRAKES Four-wheel discs.
MAXIMUM SPEED 109 mph (175 km/h)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 15.1 sec
A.F.C. 13 mpg (4.6 km/l)