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Image: 1971 Cadillac Coupe deVille



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1971 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado



Image: Cadillac 1971Cadillac advertised its 1970 models as "The Spirit of the Seventies" but that statement perhaps could have been better applied to the all-new 1971 models, due to their completely redesigned and restyled appearance, which would carry Cadillac through much of the decade. The two year styling cycles, which had been in place since 1957, would be broken with this body style, as it would continue on through the 1976 model year, with major changes for 1974, and again in 1975. This was significant because this would be the final full-sized Cadillac design ever. The next time Cadillac's "standard" models would be completely new would be 1977, the year that would usher in a new smaller, more efficient Cadillac.

For 1971, Cadillac's model lineup consisted of nine models in three different series. Three models, the pillared four door Sedan deVille, the DeVille Convertible, and the Fleetwood Sixty Special Sedan, weren't continued for the year. That left two Calais models, a Coupe and a four door hardtop that was called a Sedan; two DeVilles, the Coupe deVille and Sedan deVille (also a hardtop); and the Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham, Fleetwood Eldorado Coupe, Fleetwood Eldorado Convertible, and the Fleetwood Seventy-Five Nine-Passenger Sedan and Limousine.

The Calais and deVille models rode on a new 130-inch wheelbase, which was slightly longer than before. The Fleetwood Brougham maintained its traditional 133-inch wheelbase, and the Fleetwood Seventy-Fives got a 1.7 inch longer wheelbase, now 151.5 inches. Overall lengths were up slightly for all models this year, with the Calais and DeVilles at 225.8 vs. 225 in 1970; 228.8 vs. 228.5 for the Sixty Special; and 247.3 inches on Seventy-Fives, compared to 245.3 inches in 1970.

Cadillac's new "C" and "D" bodies were sleek and featured tubular side contours with discreet hood and deck lid sculpturing. The lines of the car flowed from the tops of the front fenders down the sides, culminating in a soft point just before the rear bumper ends. The front end chassis structure was redesigned and stronger than before, and the front bumper was reinforced as well. The rectangular grille sat deeper in the front bumper than it had before, giving the car a massive, road-hugging appearance. The crosshatch grille design emphasized the vertical textures, and two massive front bumper guards with rub strips flanked the recessed license plate area. The headlamps were widely spaced and had their own individual chrome bezels. A Cadillac crest with winged design, like those used on the front fenders of the 1970 models, were positioned between each headlight. Centered below the headlights were the rectangular combination parking and front turn signals. The front bumper wrapped around the side, and a rectangular front side marker and cornering light assembly sat at the bottom of the front fenders, just above the bumper. A chrome bezel with thin vertical bars decorated the marker and cornering light unit, dividing the lens into seven square areas, the one closest to the front featuring an amber colored lens.

The rear body sheet metal featured an elliptical fairing which was quite pronounced, and a polished full-length body side molding ran from the rear of the front wheel housings to the rear bumper, slicing through the rear side marker lights in the process, leaving two thin red slits above and below the molding. The windshield "A" pillars were very thin this year, and the side window sills swept up to meet the rear roof line, with the glass appearing almost flush.

The hood and deck lid both featured center windsplits, and their contours were more subdued. The rear bumper housed vertical tail lamps that matched the contours of the rear fenders. The taillights and bumper ends were flared in the middle, and narrower at the top and bottom. They also had a "V" shape when viewed from the side. The license plate area was recessed in the center of the bumper, and was flanked by two horizontal recesses which contained the back-up lights.

Model identification for 1971 was provided by Cadillac script on the front fenders on Calais models, Coupe deVille or Sedan deVille script on those models, and Fleetwood spelled out in block lettering on all Fleetwood models. The Cadillac script was also repeated on the right side of deck lids on everything except the Fleetwoods, which used the block lettering, and the Calais models which had Calais script. A Cadillac crest appeared on the hood of all 1971 Cadillacs, accompanied by a wreath wrapping around the lower part on Fleetwood models. A similar crest on the deck lid concealed the trunk lock. The Eldorado was the only model that included a stand-up hood ornament, and the Calais and DeVille crests were still unadorned by Cadillac's famous "V" emblem, which was mysteriously dropped in 1970, but would return in 1972.

DeVille and Fleetwood Brougham models had bright rocker sill moldings that ran the length of the car. Calais and Seventy-Five models were unadorned, and while rare, it was not unheard of at this time for dealers to add these rocker moldings to Calais models in order to sell them, as well as a vinyl roof if the customer so desired.

The Fleetwood models received additional distinction for 1971, with the Sixty Special Brougham receiving a very attractive contoured side roof line. The Seventy-Fives also received similar styling, although the doors on the Seventy-Fives continued to extend into the roof line to provide additional room for entry and exit.

Cadillac's powerful 472 cubic inch engine was carried over, however the compression ratio was dropped from 10.5-to-1 to 8.5-to-1 so that Cadillacs could operate more efficiently on the new low lead or no lead gasolines.

Inside, all Cadillacs received a new curved instrument panel that was similar to earlier models, with the control center clustered around the driver, but the center protrusion was mostly removed. Major controls were located in similar positions to the earlier instrument panels, and a new simulated Oriental Tamo wood appeared on the instrument panel and doors of Fleetwood models, while a Florentine textured metal insert appeared on DeVille models.

New 1971 options included an AM/FM stereo radio with integral 8-track tape player; front and rear Lamp Monitors, which also included a windshield washer fluid level warning light; and Opera Lamps (shown in inset, above), available only on the Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham and Seventy-Fives, that cast a gentle light at night and added a very distinctive touch to the rear roof panel. Track Master, Cadillac's computerized rear wheel anti-skid braking control system, was a new option made available for all models late in the model year that automatically pumped the rear brakes several times a second to prevent rear wheel lock up in severe braking situations. This improved the directional stability of the car, allowing the driver to keep better control during panic stops.

Standard equipment was much as before, with a new assortment of exterior paint finishes and a variety of interior fabrics to choose from.

The 1971 Cadillacs were stately and distinctive on America's roads and in its finest driveways, with styling that was new and unique, but immediately recognizable as Cadillac.


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