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Image: 1973 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado Convertible

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1973 Cadillac
Fleetwood Eldorado

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Image: 1973 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado Convertible and Coupe

The 1973 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado marked the 20th Anniversary of the model, which passed with no fanfare. The '73 Eldorado was given a robust exterior styling update, while retaining the same basic overall styling introduced two years earlier. The new energy-absorbing front bumper and grille was designed to retract slightly to prevent vehicle damage in low-speed impacts.

The grille was attached to the bumper so it would move out of the way with the bumper in the event of a minor collision, to reduce damage. The front bumper and grille assembly was able to retract several inches, a new concept in damage avoidance. The bold new grille was an egg crate design, with segments three rows tall and 12 across. Smaller grilles were repeated below the bumper bar, framing the front license plate provision. Massive front bumper guards were spaced wider apart, and the entire width of the bumper included rubber impact strips which were highlighted by a white stripe running down their center.

A new hood was more horizontal than before, with a chamfered edge that gave it a more graceful appearance. New parking and turn signals lights were more discreet, and were combined with the side marker and cornering lights, wrapping around the edge of the front fenders. A body-colored area above the parking lights bears the raised-wing Cadillac Crest emblems, re-introduced on the 1970 models.

The body sides were discreetly changed, although the result was rather dramatic. The fake chrome air intake moldings of 1971-1972 were removed, which allowed a full-length chrome belt molding to run uninterrupted from the front wheel well to the rear side marker light. This made the Eldorado appear longer and sleeker, a big improvement in the eyes of many. The circular rear marker design that was used from 1968-1970 was used again for just the 1973 model year.

The biggest styling changes involved the rear end, which received a new deck lid, rear bumper, taillights, and new rear fender ends. The projecting center section of the deck lid was gone, replaced by a more conventional beveled rear deck. The bumper was now straight, with projecting end sections under the taillights. A rubber impact strip ran full width and incorporated red reflectors at each end. The cathedral shaped taillights were incorporated into the trailing edges of the rear fenders, and were no longer a part of the rear bumper assembly as they had been in the past. The overall effect was dramatic.

Of the 21 exterior colors offered for 1973, 19 of them were new for the year. Only Cotillion White and Sable Black made a return engagement. Six brilliant and sparkling new Firemist colors could be ordered for an extra $132, and buyers could choose to be conservative by coordinating paint with roof and interior colors, or more daring by contrasting the various options.

A new hounds tooth patterned fabric named Manchester became standard on the Coupe models, and replaced the two materials used previously. It was available in a total of seven colors. Sierra grain leather remained optional on the Coupe and standard on the Convertible, and could be ordered in nine colors, 12 if you count the four White leathers with contrasting carpeting colors. The padded vinyl roof was provided in seven colors, and five convertible top colors were offered. A new sew pattern appeared on the seats, with pleated upper seat back and cushion areas separated by a smooth panel on the lower seat back.

New options for 1973 included a Theft-Deterrent System that flashed the exterior lights and intermittently sounded the horn when the car was disturbed. A switch in the glove compartment could be set to enable or prevent the alarm system from arming. A grid-type electric Rear Window Defogger was now offered on the Coupe models, replacing the blower type defogger used previously. The electric grid defogger had been used on Convertibles since 1971. An Outside Thermometer was introduced and incorporated into the base of the driver's side remote control rear view mirror. The thermometer was illuminated at night, and advised of outside temperature at a glance. An Illuminated Visor Vanity Mirror for the passenger's sun visor was much appreciated by Cadillac women, who often had to make last minute make up adjustments before arriving at an event. A selector switch regulated high or low light intensity, and the visor could be tilted downward and used as an auxiliary map light, too.

One of the most welcome new options was an Automatic Power Antenna, that included a mast on the passenger's front fender. The antenna extended upward to a height of about twelve inches when the radio was turned on, and retracted automatically when the radio or car was turned off. A switch allowed the antenna to be extended or retracted manually to improve reception. The windshield antennas used from 1970-1972 were widely condemned, especially in parts of the country where radio station towers were located some distance apart, due to their inability to pull in distant stations. The Lamp Monitors returned to the list of options for 1973, after having been a standard item for 1972. Color-coded fiber optic tubes transmitted light from the bulb to a unit mounted on each front fender to advise driver that all lights were operating properly. An amber jewel represented the front parking and turn lights, a green jewel represented low beam headlights, and red jewels advised if high beams were on. A similar unit could be viewed through the rear view mirror, and featured red jewels to advise on rear taillight, brake, and turn signals.

Cadillac made the right decisions for the 1973 Eldorado, as sales and production surpassed the 50,000 mark for the first time ever. Among the 1971-1978 Eldorados, the 1973 models alone have unique front and rear styling, shared with no other year. This makes the 1973 models worth seeking out, especially if you like the bolder grille styling and the distinctive rear taillights that really set this year apart.


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