1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado
1976 CADILLAC VEHICLE IDENTIFICATION NUMBER
A 13-digit number appears on top of the dash on the driver's side of the
car, and can be viewed through the windshield. A second number appears
on a tag on the rear upper portion of the cylinder block behind the intake
manifold. The digits resemble: 6L47S6Q100001
BODY NUMBER PLATE
Complete vehicle identification is determined by the Body Number Plate, which is located under the hood on the cowl, near the top.
ST = Style (76 - Model Year; 6 - Cadillac Division; EL - Eldorado Series;
47 - 2-Door Coupe Body Style or 67 - 2-Door Convertible)
The Last of the Breed...For Now
Above: 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado Convertible in Firethorn Metallic
Sales of the 1976 Cadillac Eldorado were up 110 percent over 1975, due to increased interest in the last convertibles. Cadillac built 35,184 Coupe models for 1976, which was 98.3 percent of a year earlier. But 1976 production of 14,000 Convertibles was an increase of 156 percent over the previous year! Cadillac knew the announcement of the final convertible models would generate additional attention and increased orders, and some report that had it been able to obtain additional convertible top components, Cadillac would have built and sold even more convertibles for 1976.
Once Cadillac had served notice that the convertible would not be repeated for 1977, the factory was hit with orders for the actual last convertible. Cadillac had already determined that the actual last car would be retained for its own historical collection, so 200 identical "last" convertibles were built to satisfy demand. All were identical to the actual last car, and had body numbers 013801-013999. Body number 014000 was the actual last convertible. They are detailed on our 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Bicentennial Convertible page.
The 1976 convertibles were considered instant collector's items, and speculators soon drove prices sky high. Once factory production ended and dealer supply was depleted, prices jumped to two or three times the manufacturer's suggested retail price of $11,049. Quite a few cars were purchased and put into storage immediately. One dealer reported a customer had their new car loaded onto a flatbed right there on the car lot, and was carefully covered to be transported to a heated, air conditioned, and humidity-controlled garage for long-term storage. More than just a few people did this, so low mileage original examples were quite plentiful, which brought prices down dramatically after just a few years. For rarity, the 1975 model convertibles are more scarce, but they don't have that "final convertible" mystique surrounding them.
There were very few exterior or interior changes made between 1975 and 1976. The easiest way to identify the specific year would be to check the taillights. The '75 cars featured a Cadillac crest in the center of each light, and the '76 models are unadorned. Also, the Cadillac script on the front of the hood was incorporated into the grille header in 1975, and was a separate part for 1976, mounted above the grille header on the painted portion of the hood. The 1976 wheel covers included black paint detailing, but wheel covers are easily changed, and as such are not the best way to identify a particular model year. It should be noted that all 1976 Eldorados came equipped with the black detail on the wheel covers, except for the final 200 Convertibles built, which had white detailing, and the late year Custom Biarritz cars, which featured color-coordinated wheel covers to match one of the five colors available for that option.
Since the two model years are so similar in appearance and appointments, about the only thing substantial that sets them apart is the inclusion of four wheel disc brakes for 1976. Styling was considerably updated for 1977, with new front and rear end designs.
Advertising for 1976 focused mainly on the new Seville, and often paired it with a Sedan deVille model. A Georgian Silver Eldorado Coupe was the focus of one ad, and another (see at right, click to view larger image in new window or tab), asked the question, "When should you buy your first Cadillac?" It featured a Georgian Silver Coupe deVille in the foreground, with a Calumet Cream Eldorado Coupe in the background. The setting was, of course quite lush, utilizing dramatic streaming of sunlight through the trees, a technique employed in several other ads of the year. The emphasis was Cadillac's wide variety of models, with something for everyone.
For personal luxury, the Eldorado Coupe was just the thing. If you wanted personal luxury with the exhilaration of top down driving, you had one last chance to buy an Eldorado Convertible. If you required family-sized luxury, Cadillac offered the Calais Coupe and Sedan, and the Coupe deVille and Sedan deVille. For executives, the Fleetwood Brougham or one of the big Seventy-Fives, either the Limousine or Nine-Passenger Sedan was available to meet your requirements.
While the last Eldorado Convertible may have attracted the most attention, several other Cadillac models would appear for the last time in 1976. The 12-year old Calais series, which consisted of just two models, the Calais Coupe and Calais Sedan, would be dropped after 1976. Most of Cadillac's customers didn't mind the slight price increase to step up to the more luxurious deVille series, and a total of just 6,200 Calais series cars were built for the year.
The full-sized Limousine and Nine-Passenger Sedan would be down sized for 1977, along with all of the other standard Cadillac models, which would leave only the Eldorado in its traditional size. So for anyone seeking the traditional sized luxury afforded by the 151.5-inch wheelbase Seventy-Fives, this would be their final opportunity to do so. And along with the considerable exterior dimensions would go the distinguished Seventy-Five series designation.
And finally, the 500 cubic inch, 8.2 Litre V-8 engine introduced in 1970 for the Eldorado, which had been the sole power source for Cadillacs since 1975 (except for the 1976 Seville, introduced in April 1975), would be retired after 1976. This engine would remain the largest engine ever to power a production Cadillac, but efficiency would be the focus going forward, and there was no room for large displacement, thirsty power plants.
Things were changing at Cadillac, as well as in the rest of the U.S. auto industry. The Eldorado would hold out for two more years, but it too was slated for the biggest change in its history come 1979. An Eldorado Biarritz Convertible would join the line in 1984, and would last for just two years, as the Eldorado was due for yet another down sizing for 1986. That move would not be a good one for the Eldorado, nor for the Cadillac Division, which was in jeopardy of losing its leadership position in the American luxury car market.
Things to look for when purchasing a 1976 Eldorado are similar to earlier
models. Corrosion around vinyl top moldings is a big concern, as are bubbles
or bumps under the material. Look at the lower extremities of doors and
front fenders for signs of decay, as well as the front edge of hoods and
the rear edge of deck lids. Constant velocity joint boots can deteriorate
and damage the joints themselves, so check to make sure the boots are in