Automotive Mileposts  

1971 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado
Production Numbers/Specifications

September 29, 1970
27,368 (Eldorado only)
1971 Cadillac Production for rear drive models
71-693 69347H Fleetwood Eldorado Coupe $7,383
Weight: 4650 Built: 20,568
71-693 69367E Fleetwood Eldorado Convertible $7,751
Weight: 4690 Built: 6,800
-- Displacement: 8.2 Litres, V-8 (500 CID)
Bore and Stroke: 4.30 x 4.304
Compression Ratio: 8.5 to 1
Gross Horsepower: 365 @ 4400 rpm
SAE Net Horsepower: 235 @ 3800 rpm
Torque: 535 ft.-lbs. @ 2800 rpm
SAE Net Torque: 410 @ 2400 rpm
Carburetor: Rochester Quadrajet 4MV
-- Turbo Hydra-Matic
N/A 3.07 to 1
L78-15 Bias-belted, fiberglass, blackwall Power with self-adjusting feature
Front: Disc
Rear: Composite finned drum
126.3 inches
Front Tread: 63.66"
Rear Tread: 63.59"
Length: 221.6"
Width: 79.8"
Height: 54.2"
Variable-ratio power steering
Overall ratio: 16.1 to 1
Turning angle: 38.5 degrees
Fuel Tank: 27 gallons
Cooling System: 21¾ Qts. (23¾ Qts. with Air Conditioning)
Washer Fluid Reservoir: 2½ Qts.
Engine Oil: 6 Qts. with Filter Change
Transmission: 5½ Qts. with Filter Change
First year since 1966 that a Cadillac bore the Eldorado Convertible name. Convertible model would continue through 1976, and became the last American-made drop top model (for a few years). 1971 was first year for:

- Rear fender skirts
- Coach Windows
- Standard front bumper guards
- Fleetwood Eldorado Convertible
- Spring-mounted hood ornament
- 8.2 Litre plaques on front fenders
- Accent paint stripes
- No-lead or low-lead gasoline
- Lamp Monitor option
- AM/FM/Tape player integrated into one unit
- Track Master brake system
Image: 1971 Cadillac Eldorado instrument panel


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: 693471Q100001

These digits decode as:
Digit #1 = GM Division (6 designates Cadillac)
Digits #2-5 = Series and Model (9347 - Eldorado Coupe; 9367 - Eldorado Convertible)
Digit #6 = Year (1 - 1971)
Digit #7 = Assembly Plant (Q - Detroit, MI; E - Linden, NJ)
Digits #8-13 = Unit Production Code


Complete vehicle identification is determined by the Body Number Plate, which is located under the hood on the cowl, near the top.

Image: GM Body Number Plate

ST = Style (71 - Model Year; 6 - Cadillac Division; 93 - Eldorado Series; 47 - 2-Door Coupe Body Style or 67 - 2-Door Convertible)
BDY = Body (Q - Detroit, Michigan Assembly Plant; 100001 - Production Sequence)
TR = Trim (411 - Black Dorado Cloth)
PNT = Paint (11 - Cotillion White; K - Black Vinyl Roof)
L## = Modular Seat Code (Letter followed by two numbers, depending on seating configuration)


Image: 1971 Cadillac Eldorado

The 1971 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado look was all new, inside out. Although it had a heavier, more massive look to it, one knew at a glance it was an Eldorado. And for 1971, a new Convertible model was added to the line, making the Eldorado the only personal luxury car in America with a convertible offering.The Ford Thunderbird made its last convertible in 1966, and the Imperial's final effort was in 1968. Lincoln never offered a personal luxury drop top, but the last one from Lincoln was built in 1967.

Sales were only up slightly from 1970, due mostly to a UAW strike that began virtually at introduction and continued on for three months. When you add up sales of the Eldorado Coupe and the DeVille Convertible from 1970, which would have been the best comparison, 1971 wasn't a great year. Still, the new design was beautiful, the convertible was the immediate glamour queen of the road, and things were expected to turn around quickly once the strike was settled.

There are some concerns that quality slipped for 1971, as automotive writers of the time noted that the materials and fit and finish didn't seem to be what they were on the earlier models. Others say the styling makes the car look dated, and the first generation cars have held up better over the years. Perhaps that's all true, but these cars do have a large following, and if you want a big seventies convertible, this is the one to have.

The mechanicals of the '71 Eldorados are rock solid. The 500 engine and Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission have proven themselves many times over the years. Areas of concern on an Eldo of this vintage include rust around or under the vinyl top, as well as all the usual places on the body, such as along the edge of the hood and deck lid, bottoms of the doors, etc. Replacement convertible tops are easy to find in all the correct colors and textures, but be warned that worn leather upholstery can be very expensive to return to a like new appearance, and some of the antiqued colors are difficult to match today.

There can be issues with GM's new "scissor top" design Hideaway Top for the convertible, which lowered into a well behind the seat and allowed a full-width rear seat as well as no loss of luggage space in the trunk.

While the 1971-1978 Eldorados are based on the same body, there were many changes during the eight years it was in production. Many prefer the looks of the 1971-1972 models, with the rear fender skirts and lack of crash bumpers. The rear appearance changed greatly for 1974 with new linear tail lamps, and from 1975 on the rear wheels were wide open, which gave the Eldorado a lighter appearance. A new instrument panel also came along for 1974, and while many love the newer design, the original 1971 dash is also popular.

If performance is important to you, the earlier '70s models will provide you with more torque and better overall performance. More stringent emissions controls and standards really choked down the big 500 cubic inch V-8 as the seventies progressed. Electronic ignition became standard and an electronic fuel injection option became available mid-decade, but by 1977 the big 500 engine was gone. The 425 that replaced it was arguably more efficient, but it had a lot of work to do, especially in the Eldorado, which was still a full-sized car through 1978.

The 1971-72 Eldorados are very similar, just minor detail changes between them, such as adding Eldorado script to the front fenders ahead of the wheel openings.

For 1973, the simulated air intake moldings on the rear fenders were removed, and a new round rear side marker light (inspired by the one used on the 1968-1970 cars) made a return appearance. Energy-absorbing front bumpers came for 1973, as did a bold eggcrate grille that some don't care much for. The beveled rear deck projection was deleted, and the taillights were more subdued.

New linear rear tail lamps appeared for 1974, as did an energy-absorbing rear bumper system. A power-operated antenna was included with all radio installations for the first time since 1969, which was a huge improvement as the windshield antennas of 1970-1973 didn't pull in stations the way they should have. A new curved instrument panel was introduced in 1974, which included a digital clock and a band of warning lights in a narrow row along the top of the panel. Some like this design very much, while others prefer the more compartmentalized version used earlier.

1975 saw a major restyling of the Eldorado, and the biggest changes were the rectangular headlamps in front and the disappearance of the rear fender skirts, which gave the car a much leaner, lighter, sportier appearance. The fixed quarter "Coach" windows now dipped down at the lower front edge to meet the fear fender line.

Of course, 1976 is probably best known for the final appearance of the Eldorado Convertible, but in reality the 1975 convertibles are more rare than the "last" convertibles. Four wheel power disc brakes became standard for 1976, and this greatly improved braking performance. Late in the year, a new Custom Biarritz trim package would be offered for the Coupe model, which included pillowed leather seating and heavy chrome moldings on the hood and upper doors. The Biarritz would become more popular in the years to come.

For 1977, the smaller 425 cubic inch V-8 engine became the only offering, and performance was now officially a memory. The Eldorado was the sole hold out of the downsized 1977 Cadillac model lineup, and that became very obvious in the showrooms, where the Eldorados appeared huge parked next to the new DeVilles and Fleetwoods.

1978 saw very few changes, as a totally new, third generation Fleetwood Eldorado would appear for 1979. Sales would remain strong, despite its now somewhat dated appearance. Four versions of the Coupe were available for 1978: Eldorado Coupe, Eldorado Custom Cabriolet, Eldorado Custom Biarritz, and the Eldorado Custom Biarritz Classic, with two tone exterior paint and interior leather seating.

Which 1971-1978 Eldorado is right for you? It all depends on what you want. Nothing beats a convertible when it comes to fun, of course, but it's hard to beat a Custom Biarritz, too. We'd encourage you to seek out some of the unique paint and interior colors of the time. Many were used only for a year or two, and are far more interesting than the typical colors found on cars over the years. After all, the 1971 Eldorado is a very unique car, and it takes a special person to fully appreciate the sheer joy that owning one can bring.

Our remedy for boredom? Get a 1971 Eldorado...either Coupe or Convertible...get in it and drive. You'll begin to feel better almost immediately, and that's not something to take lightly. Mix in a few envious looks from those you pass, and you'll find recovery is upon you.