Since the 1950's, the Cadillac Eldorado has been a torch-carrier of the American luxury. It first burst onto the scene as a two-door convertible manufactured specifically to mark Cadillac's fiftieth anniversary. Initially, there were only around five hundred models produced, but Cadillac increased the number for its second model year. The Eldorado was always an expensive car and certainly started off as one, but the automaker trimmed it down in the next several years to make the price more affordable for a wide range of consumers. Come the '60s, the Eldorado became available as a two-door coupe as well as convertible, introducing the primary body-style the model would be offered as in the years to come. Throughout the next decade, the Eldorado would see several updates to both exterior styling and interior accessories, including a Bicentennial Edition in 1976. Also in 1976, the Cadillac Biarritz was introduced, which gave drivers luxurious extras such as a leather interior and the choice of a sunroof or moonroof. However, GM halted production of all convertibles during the second part of the '70s and didn't bring the body-style back until several years later.
In 1979, the Eldorado was moved to GM's E-body platform along with the Buick Riviera and Oldsmobile Toronado. Independent rear suspension was added as well as new engine configurations. The 1979 Cadillac Eldorado was outfitted with a 5.7L V8 that provided improved fuel efficiency, while a diesel V8 was offered as an option. Engines were mated to a three-speed automatic transmission. For 1980, the engine was upgraded in every state (except for California) with power-enhancing parts. Over the next few years, the Eldorado made its presence felt as one of the most popular luxury models in the country, selling close to 100,000 versions of it through the first half of the decade. A Touring Coupe version of the Eldorado rolled off the line, showing off a stiffer suspension and different styling cues. 1986 saw the new generation of the Eldorado downsized and convertible versions dropped from the lineup. The model was still produced on the E-body platform with the Toronado and Riviera. A 4.1L V8 was made the base engine. Sales dipped, as consumers were not enthused over the bevy of changes to the Cadillac Eldorado and its parts. 1988 welcomed in a significant redesign. A 4.5L V8 capable of 155 horsepower was standard. For the exterior, a new hood, grille, front bumper, and new tail lights were added. Cadillac also introduced an optional anti-lock braking system for the model, as well. By the early '90s, the Eldorado Touring Coupe was reintroduced, showing off different styling and badges along with niftier handling.
1992 ushered in another redesign to the Eldorado which included the addition of Cadillac's Northstar V8 engine and a smoother exterior styling. A year later, Cadillac updated the model even more, giving the car new front and rear bumpers and a revised front-end grille. Inside the model, a passenger-side airbag became standard. For the next couple of years, only slight updates were made to the Cadillac Eldorado styling and parts, but in 1996, the interior was refreshed with a new climate control system, instrument gauges, and various other styling changes. Both the ETC and ESC (Eldorado Touring Coupe and Eldorado Sports Coupe) were still being marketed. But sales of the Eldorado were slipping and by 2002, the Eldorado's 50th year, GM decided the car would no longer be produced after the model year finished. Production of the model halted in April of 2002, ending the Eldorado's long run. While the car is no longer being assembled, that hasn't diminished its legacy one bit, as contemporary Eldorados are still a visible presence on the road while older versions of the model are popular collector's items.
The Cadillac Eldorado is Frank Sinatra. It is five thousand dollar suits or that priceless bottle of champagne that everyone pops open to celebrate a victory. In other words, it is class, plain and simple. The Eldorado took the American automobile landscape by the collar and never let go. As iconic as the Washington Monument or Yankee Stadium, the Eldorado will always be linked to the very best in luxury and power, because that is what it has always represented. Its drivers relish this concept, and dutifully reflect that enduring heritage ever more.
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