1968 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado—The Car That Made Cadillac Owners
The big news for Cadillac in 1968 was the new 472-cid V-8 engine, which
produced 35 extra horsepower over the 429-cid engine it replaced. Additionally,
it contributed 45 more pounds foot of torque, bringing it to a whopping
525 lb-ft torque total. The new engine incorporated emission control into
the overall design, as well as allowing accessories to bolt directly to
the block itself, instead of being suspended by brackets. This was done
to reduce noise and vibration. The new V-8 underwent over 2 million miles
of testing before being put into production, which Cadillac boasted as
proof of its durability and strength.
In addition to being the first year for emissions compliance, the Federal
Motor Vehicle Safety Act required new safety features for all 1968 motor
vehicles. Among them were side markers, which were added to the Eldorado
in the form of combination parking/turn/side marker light fixtures being
incorporated into the leading edge of the front fenders. These vertical
fixtures would be seen from the side as well as the front of the car, and
illuminated whenever the parking or headlamps were on. Additionally, the
front cornering light assemblies incorporated amber side marker bulbs for
additional visibility at night. In back, round markers that illuminated
in red were added to the rear quarter panels. Unlike the front markers,
the plastic lens itself was red, lit by a clear bulb. The marker was round
and incorporated a chrome Fleetwood wreath, which made them very attractive.
Safety regulations dictating rear view and side view mirror size and position
became a requirement for 1968 vehicles as well, which meant the exterior
remote control driver's door mirror received a larger glass area to comply
with the new standard, and instead of the former round shape, it became
rectangular and was hooded and recessed in an attractive new chrome housing.
On the outside of the mirror housing, "Cadillac" appeared in
script, which was etched into the chrome housing. This same basic mirror
design would be used on Cadillacs for many years to come.
Inside the car, instrument panel padding was beefed up and interior controls
and hardware were redesigned to lessen the chance of injury during an accident.
A careful inspection will reveal the many changes made between the 1967
and 1968 instrument panels, even though at first glance they might appear
to be identical.
In addition to the exterior appearance changes made to incorporate new
safety mandates, the 1968 Eldorado received a new hood, which was 4.5 inches
longer than the 1967 hood. At the rear edge of the new hood, an opening
was provided to conceal the windshield wipers when they were parked, which
cleaned up the cowl area and became a leaf and snow collector for the remainder
of the life of the car.
With the Eldorado being such a radical change for Cadillac, customers who
bought one in its first year provided feedback to Cadillac regarding their
new cars. One typical suggestion was that the car didn't ride like a Cadillac,
so for 1968 the spring rates were lowered and softened somewhat in order
to provide a bit more cushion to the ride.
New standard features for 1968 included power rear quarter ventipanes,
which eliminated the somewhat unusual situation in 1967 of having power
windows up front, with manual windows in the rear. Power front disc brakes
were a much needed improvement, and all Eldorados received them for 1968.
A magazine road test of the new 1967 model was very critical of its braking
ability - or rather, lack of it - when they complained that the brakes
on "Cadillac's spiffy new Eldorado" were unsafe. They said the
car smoked and slid its way to a stop...sideways in the road. Not a good
thing for a manufacturer to have published about a brand new model in its
debut year, so it's good that Cadillac laid that concern to rest quickly
and permanently by adding disc brakes as standard equipment for 1968.
Two new standard upholstery fabrics were introduced for the year, one an
attractive Diamond patterned cloth with vinyl in four colors, the other
a Deuville cloth with vinyl bolsters, also available in four colors. Genuine
leather was available as an option, as were front bucket seats with a center
console. An attractive new Rosewood appliqué was used on the instrument
panel as well as the door and quarter trim panels.
A few items from 1967 did not return for 1968, including the Fleetwood
wreath and crest emblems that were mounted on the rear roof pillars. The
body ventilation rear outlets, which appeared on the top inside surface
of the rear quarter panel fins for 1967 (visible from the rear of the car),
were incorporated into the front edge of the panel for 1968, in the area
where the door striker is located. These vents were visible when the front
doors were opened.
The base price increased $328, which was likely due to the additional cost
of the emissions equipment and the new safety items. Production also increased
to 24,528 cars, an improvement of 37.8 percent for the model year.
Cadillac set its fourth consecutive yearly sales record in 1968, despite
a 21-day UAW strike in November 1967 at the Fisher Body Fleetwood Plant