Even more glamorous for 1974
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Realizing that the styling introduced for 1971 wasn't being fully accepted by the public, Cadillac styling set about making changes to correct the situation. The solution would come for 1975, but it was hoped that more incremental changes for 1973 and 1974 would be enough in the interim.
A new superfine grille texture was introduced for 1974, with a vertical emphasis. Three bolder horizontal bars were evenly spaced to divide the grille. A thick bright brushed chrome header capped the grille, and featured Cadillac script engraved on the left side.
For the second time in as many years, Eldorado received all new rear styling. The vertical taillights that had been perched in the upper ends of the rear fenders were gone, replaced by color-keyed flexible urethane extensions, in which vertical bumper ends were recessed. The taillights were now horizontal, and located below the deck lid, which retained its beveled styling from 1973. A brushed metal insert with Cadillac crest was placed in the center of each taillight. This rear styling had a strong resemblance to other 1974 Cadillac models, a first for the Eldorado which had always maintained unique styling that didn't tie in with other models in the line.
The circular rear side marker was eliminated, and a vertical marker light that flared slightly at the bottom was incorporated into the bumper ends. A new wheel disc design did away with the concentric rings in favor of a vaned appearance.
Inside, a elegantly curved new instrument panel (featured on the Standard Equipment page) ran full width, and took organization to new heights. Along the top, was a row of warning lights that served as a high-visibility alert should anything require attention. A new precision digital timepiece was mounted on this information band, at the center of the panel. Controls and instruments were lighted and located in appropriate locations, depending on whether they were driver only, or were intended to also be used by front passengers. This same basic instrument panel design would remain through the final full-sized Eldorado model year in 1978.
An attractive new standard cloth upholstery appeared for the Eldorado Coupe. A combination of Mohawk three-toned fabric with Meridian fabric bolsters, this was a bold choice for the Eldorado, and many feel it was more attractive than some of the fabrics used previously. Available in seven beautiful colors to complement the brilliant new paint finishes, Sierra Grain Leather was optional on the Coupe and standard on the Convertible, and could be specified in fourteen colors, including a few White Leather interiors with contrasting instrument panels, steering columns, and carpeting in shades of Dark Lime and Dark Cranberry, to name two, which coordinated with new Persian Lime Firemist and Cranberry Firemist exteriors.
Several important new options debuted for 1974. Among them was the controversial "air bag" passive restraint system. Cadillac called it the Air Cushion Restraint System, and it was not a popular option. Priced at $225, many Cadillac customers may have decided they'd prefer to spend the money on other accessories instead. Eldorados with this option feature unique steering wheels with four spokes and a large rectangular padded center section. Four horn buttons are located on each spoke. The glove compartments are also relocated to the lower center section of the instrument panel. Reports of 1974 Eldorados involved in major accidents decades later showed that the air bags on those cars did indeed deploy, so the design obviously worked as intended, even years later.
A most welcome new feature was the return of the power antenna as standard equipment with all radio installations, putting an end to the windshield antenna for the time being. Reception had always been an issue with the antenna embedded in the windshield glass, especially in remote areas of the country where radio stations were few.
Cadillac had no way of knowing that a gas crisis would hit just about the time the 1974 models went on sale, but steps were taken anyway to improve engine efficiency and performance, facts which no doubt minimized the disruption of sales to some extent. A new "fast burn" combustion system was coupled with a new camshaft that provided smoother, quieter, more efficient engine operation. A choke reindexer ensured quick starting, and a snorkel that provided cooler air from outside the engine compartment all contributed to improved efficiency.
Perhaps one of the most important events for 1974 was Cadillac's choice of exterior colors. Of the 24 shades offered, 18 were new for the year, and included colors that hinted of the days of the great classic cars, such as Jasper Green, Apollo Yellow, and Conestoga Tan. Brilliant new Firemist options like Victorian Amber, Persian Lime, Terra Cotta, and Cranberry added a spark to the motoring scene. A bold Mandarin Orange guaranteed your Cadillac would stand out, and was available in coordinated vinyl roof and interior upholsteries as well.
There were many changes made to the 1974 Eldorado. Some minor, others a bit more exceptional. 1974 was a transitional year for the Eldorado, a mix of original 1971 styling that was about to make a bigger change for 1975. From the fine mesh grille in front to the sleek new styling in the rear, the 1974 Fleetwood Eldorados were remarkable cars.
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