The Finest Possible Investment in Personal Motoring
The 1969 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado was the third year of a body style
introduced in 1967. Changes between 1967 and 1968 were fairly minor, and
many of them related to mandated safety and emissions laws. It's no secret
that from the very beginning the new Eldorado was somewhat controversial
with Cadillac's traditional customer base. They were used to Cadillac's
refined, elegant styling, which didn't really include contraptions like
hidden headlamps, flared wheel wells, and sporty slotted wheel covers.
While some were unable to resist having the latest and greatest new Cadillac
model, there was mounting evidence that some of Cadillac's customers were
not accepting the new car.
And so, for 1969, some of Cadillac's more traditional customers who hadn't
exactly embraced the new model were offered an updated Eldorado with more
conservative styling. The hidden headlamp covers were deleted, and in their
place were stationary headlamps surrounded by a chrome bezel. Between them
appeared a new cross-hatch grille with a finer texture than previous Eldorados.
The new grille was obviously designed to be separate from the headlamp
assemblies, unlike the previous cars. This gave the front end a more sedate
appearance, which was in step with the rest of the Cadillac line.
The slotted wheel covers of the previous two years were replaced by traditional
full wheel covers of brushed stainless steel that included very fine slots
for ventilation, but they were much smaller slots than before, and were
accented with black paint to make them not stand out as much.
A new optional halo padded vinyl roof allowed an area of sheet metal to
appear between the vinyl roof molding and the drip rail, giving cars with
contrasting vinyl roof and paint colors a bit more distinction. A chrome
molding around the edge had a color-keyed inner section that matched the
vinyl roof color.
The dual rear back up lights which were mounted low in the rear bumper
previously were now combined into one unit, which was integrated into the
fuel filler door located on the center lower edge of the deck lid. Red
reflectors were inserted in the spaces formerly occupied by the back up
Inside the 1969 Eldorado, a new "Control Center" instrument panel
appeared, which grouped all instruments and controls directly around the
driver. Most controls were placed in the same positions they had been in
for 1968, but the design was more compact. The windshield wiper and washer
control moved to the driver's door panel, and was mounted in such a manner
that with the door closed, they appeared to be a part of the instrument
A new anti-theft ignition key/steering wheel/transmission lever interlock
system was introduced on 1969 General Motors cars, and the Eldorado was
no exception. The ignition key was moved from the instrument panel to the
right side of the steering column, between the steering wheel rim and the
transmission lever. While some drivers liked the new location, more than
a few of Cadillac's older customers found it confusing to operate. This
new system added an additional "lock" position to the ignition
switch, where the key could be removed. Once the key was removed, the ignition,
steering wheel, and transmission lever were all locked securely in place,
and couldn't be moved until unlocked by inserting and turning the key to
any position other than the lock or accessory positions.
Production volume dropped for 1969, down 1,195 units to 23,333. The base
price increased slightly, up just $88 to $6,693. On January 1, 1969 front
seat head restraints became a government-mandated safety item, and their
$18 cost was added to the base price, raising it to $6,711.
Side-impact door beams were a new safety feature for 1969, and a more convenient,
easier to use inertia-reel seat belt design was included for outboard-mounted
belts. On Eldorados with front bench seats, a front seat storage receptacle
was provided in the center of the seat, below the fold-down arm rest. This
made stowing unused seat belts more convenient, and eliminated the clutter
of having belts strewn all over the front seat.
Late in production, a new Electric-Powered Sunroof was added to the options
list. A vinyl roof was required with this option, and a six-way power seat
was recommended. At $626, it was the most expensive option that could be
added to the car. Very few 1969 Eldorados were built with the sunroof,
and it was more heavily promoted for 1970, although it was still one of
the rarest options offered. Perhaps with a deVille Convertible available,
Cadillac's customers who enjoyed fresh air felt it was a better choice
at the time.
A 1969 Eldorado was driven by Walter Matthau in the movie A Cactus Flower, which also starred Goldie Hawn (of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In fame), as well as Ingrid Bergman and Jack Weston. In fact, one of the
movie's most notable goofs was during the scene when Matthau was driving
Bergman home in the Eldorado. Something can be seen reflecting on the top
center of the background screen, perhaps it's a microphone boom or a lighting
fixture, but it looks out of place in the street scene being shot at the
A beautiful triple black '69 Eldorado is featured prominently in an episode
of Columbo, which starred Peter Falk as the off beat but lovable detective who always
had one more question and a constantly disheveled appearance. In an episode
from the third season, titled Double Exposure, which originally aired on December 12, 1973, Robert Culp portrays a film
maker who kills one of his clients during the screening of an ad campaign.
He thought it was a good cover at the time, but he didn't fool Lt. Columbo!
The Eldorado is used for nefarious purposes, but hey, when you do take
that last ride, it's usually in a Cadillac, right?