AUTO BREVITY


1974-1975 Cadillac Eldorado Tubular Arm Rest

Automotive Mileposts
Image: 1974 Cadillac Eldorado interior
1974 Cadillac Eldorado shown with Orange Metamora Plaid upholstery and new tubular or torpedo front arm rest

Cadillac certainly had more hits than misses over the years, but this is one from the "what were they thinking" department...

Some call it a tubular arm rest, others refer to it as the torpedo arm rest, no matter which you prefer it was an unusual step for Cadillac, and one that was short lived.


Cadillac always offered a wide choice of interior upholstery materials and colors to its customers. With a few exceptions, Cadillac owners have typically been a sophisticated bunch, appreciative of the ability to choose exactly what is most pleasing to them. Over the years, Cadillac interiors and the array of available colors have established a standard indicative of the time the vehicle was built. So, when you see orange plaid upholstery in a Cadillac, or lime green carpeting, you can be certain that was all the rage at the time.

For a period of time during the 1974-1975 production run, Cadillac made a departure from normal standards that didn't last long. From the very beginning in 1967, the personal luxury Fleetwood Eldorado provided a front bench seat with a center fold-down arm rest as standard equipment. Bucket seats were optional during the early years, although most Eldorado owners seemed to prefer the bench seat configuration. In 1972, a new 60/40 Dual Comfort divided front seat became available. The driver's side accounted for 40 percent of the width, and the wider passenger section accounted for 60 percent. Both were individually adjustable, and the center arm rest was part of the passenger's seat, and could be raised to accommodate an additional center passenger, or lowered as desired by either the driver or passenger.

At introduction, the 1974 Eldorado offered the typical front bench seat with center fold-down arm rest, available in a standard three-toned striped Mohawk cloth with complimentary Meridian cloth bolsters in six colors, or optional Medici crushed velour in three colors. Genuine leather upholstery was also optionally available in fourteen trim combinations. Dual Comfort front seats in the split 60/40 configuration were available at extra cost.

During the 1974 production run, a new upholstery fabric, Metamora Plaid, became available, as did a new 50-50 seating configuration (shown above and at right). While the 50-50 seats were wider and perhaps more comfortable than the 60/40-type seats, they initially came with a tubular front seat center arm rest. This rather odd pillow was not built in to the seat, but rather was attached to the seat with sewn in loops that attached to D-rings (two loops can be seen on the lower front part of the seat in the image above). The arm rest could be removed and placed in the back seat for use by rear passengers if desired, or to provide more room for front seat occupants. Rather than just folding up out of the way, however, some effort was required to remove or replace the arm rest.

It doesn't appear that this feature was very popular with Eldorado customers, as it isn't shown in the 1975 Cadillac catalog, which illustrated the 50-50 front seat in an Eldorado Coupe with a black and white Mosaic check cloth pattern with white leather bolsters (shown at right). In fact, the only place the tubular or "torpedo" arm rest can be seen is in the back of the catalog, in an image accompanying the description of the new Recliner Seat option.

In addition to the extra effort involved to remove and install the arm rest, it was often in the way when passengers wanted to enter or exit the rear compartment. It could prevent the front seat back from folding forward all the way if it were positioned so it was pinched between the seat cushion and seat back. Also, it wasn't wide enough to be comfortable when both driver and front passenger wanted to use it.

This interesting feature was in production as early as April 1974 on the 1974 Eldorados (perhaps earlier), and was included on early production 1975 models as well. Later during the 1975 production run, a more traditional center fold-down arm rest design appeared, using two somewhat skinny arm rests instead. It's not known how many Eldorados were built with this arm rest, but it's often missing from cars today. Many current owners may not even be aware of its existence (or absence, as the case may be). If you have a 1974-1975 Eldorado with 50-50 divided front seats with no center arm rest, your car originally had the "torpedo" style arm rest which was no doubt removed by a previous owner, and may even be languishing on their favorite sofa.

Below: 1975 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado Coupe interior shown in black and white Mosaic check fabric and white leather with 50-50 divided front seat. But...where is the center arm rest?

Image: 1975 Cadillac Eldorado interior