View Full Version : 1978 Eldorado Biarritz

Faded Crest
04-24-08, 02:39 AM
I will start by saying that the '78 Biarritz wasn't, and isn't for everyone... This behemoth was tailor made, in my opinion, for a single man, or at least as a man's personal car. It epitomizes pure unadulterated, sexy, personal extravagence!

The body lines on the Biarritz are sleek and slightly contoured, yet suddenly angular... It is opulent and elegant, stopping just shy of excessive... and to behold one after seeing the base Eldorado is to be relieved that you got the option package.

Perhaps the most distinguishing external feature of the Biarritz is the front end. Prominent fender extensions bookend the nose of the car, extending about 4 inches forward of the bumper. This certainly reduces periphial headlight coverage, but styling came first in those days!

The enormous front fenders are triangular at the cap, and the original pinstripe scheme accentuates this. The convexed hubcaps on the Biarritz are color-keyed, which I find quite striking. The doors, of course, are enormous, but provided they are in adjustment, they pose no real inconvenience.

The roofline is low-profile compared to the car's overall body size, and is crowned with a custom-padded vinyl landau roof with an extra-small tailored rear window and two trapezoid-shaped quarter windows.

The rear quarter panels bellow slightly and flatten out into the rear nacelles, which offer a degree of symmetry to the front fender extensions. These nacelles, of course, serve the classic Cadillac vertical taillights.

The proportions of this vehicle are certainly remeniscent of the deusenberg... Long hood and short trunk... and this dynamic lends to the personal luxury status of the 1978 Eldorado.

As beautiful as she is, the true experience begins when you first open the door. All Biarritz' featured full leather interior, and in most cases, the cars were monochromatic. The seats are heavily padded, and feature very large square buttons, two on the lower seat, and two on the back part. Each front seat is full power, and are independently adjustable. Even those who sit in the rear enjoy a decent amount of leg room.


The Eldorado is suited for someone who enjoys a very large car. It was the largest and heaviest Cadillac made in that year's model run, and although mid '70's Fleetwoods and Sedans had it beat in length, the "hood view" of the Eldo makes it seems longer when you are in the front seat.

Drop it into drive, and you begin to experience one of the softest, smoothest, most isolated cars imaginable. This is American luxury at it's finest! If you are one who likes to "feel the road", then the Biarritz is NOT for you!

As you cruise up to speed, you will find the 425 to be an adequate powerplant, but only adequate. This car is about comfort... and if you own a Biarritz, you are in no hurry.

The Eldo is certainly most comfortable on the open road. Being front-wheel-drive, she lifts slightly during accelleration, which somehow seems to lighten the car. I have found that fuel economy is excellent on the highway for the size of car tht it is. On a trip from Charlotte, NC to Central Florida, I averaged close to 20 mpg at 70 mph. The only real issue on the highway is safe passing. The tailored rear window creates a pesky blind spot in the rear quarters.

In town, the Eldo is constricted. The blind spots are increasingly annoying in stop-and-go situations. Turning tight corners is cumbersome, given it's long nose, and finding a parking space worthy of the Biarritz is a challenge. Fuel economy in town drops drastically to 12-14 mpg.

I must mention the one part of this car that I abhor... That is the brake system. They are 4-wheel disc, which sounds great, but every Biarritz I have owned has had a very spongey break pedal with a lot of travel, leaving you very nervous in an emergency stopping situation. I think they would have been better served with rear drums, as were featured in 1975 Eldorados.

Since they were 4-wheel disc, the '78 used hydro-boost, sharing fluid with the steering system. INCREDIBLY bad idea! Lose a steering hose or line, and you lose ALL your brakes and steering at the same time! That happened to me. (fortunately, in a parking lot) So if you do buy one, replace both steering hoses as preventative maintenance, and check the steering pump closely... In fact, just change that too! (it's cheap, life isn't)

The bottom line is this... If you enjoy a soft, relaxing ride, and drive a lot on the highways and open roads, consider the Biarritz. I would compare the comfort and smoothness to the '93-'96 Fleetwoods, but certainly without the scalding power of the LT1. If you are a fan of the smaller, tighter, road-hugging high horsepower cars of the new Cadillac generation, you will find the Biarritz to be an impractical, obsolete dinosaur.

The 1978 Eldorado Biarritz was the last holdover of the older generation of boaty Cadillacs. It reluctantly marked the end of an era. Many people anticipated this, buying '78 Biarritz' to store for a future cash-out that never happened... or that hasn't happened yet.

You can find a near perfect, ultra low mileage Biarritz for about the price they were when they were new. Many more '78s met their end during the '80s when CV joint replacement costs exceeded the value of these cars.

My advice would be this... If they intrigue you, and you are considering one, be patient and find one with a very, very nice interior and no rust. (check those trouble areas behind the rear window). CV joints are dirt cheap now, at $99 for a half-shaft, so front-end rebuilding isn't the issue it once was. The '77 Biarritz is virtually the same car, the only difference being the grille. You might have better luck finding that year model.

I hope this has been an enjoyable read, I have enjoyed remeniscing over the Biarritz' I have owned.

04-24-08, 03:06 PM
Great review! :thumbsup:

05-03-08, 10:30 AM
I had a 76 eldo biarritz touring coupe. It was 1 of 1500 made. That was the coolest car ever! Great review.


08-30-09, 12:51 PM
Great review. I own both a '78 Biarritz and a '93 Fleetwood Brougham. The Biarritz rides much smoother than the Fleetwood any day. Of course, the Fleetwood handles better and gets much better gas mileage. I wouldn't trade either one for a new Cadillac!

02-06-11, 08:19 AM
Nice article. I presently own a 78 Eldo all white Biarritz. It's in excellent condition and has only 63k orignal miles on it. It's been in my family since it was two years old.

Indeed, this car was the personal limosine of it's day. Much like the Lincoln Mark IV was. But the Caddy is BIG! I've had several Caddy's in my day, but this one was always the Sunday car that doesn't come out to play if it even looks like rain.

To solve your spongy brake problems, just get a rebuilt Master Cylinder. From the factory, these units are exactly as you describe, (I have no idea why) and didn't hold up very long; but once rebuilt will provide a solid pedal. And ditto for the hoses and new power steering pump. Overall, the brakes will make you quite confident with these changes. Mine will almost slam it's bumper to the ground in a hard stop. (pretty scary, actually. LOL)

Be very mindful of the tire pressures. And NEVER climb curbs with this car. This heavy of a car bends the rims quite easily and you'll lose hubcaps. Since the caps on this car are color keyed for the car, replacement is pretty much impossible.

The Biarritz package included the Limo back window as you decribe, it also included the attached pillows in the seats, exterior Limo opera lights, hood, door, and tail chrome; automatic time out headlights, and dual lighted vanity mirrors. I added a steel continental trunk lid. I've had it for so long, I'm sure I've forgotten something. I had a 1977 all white and it looked bare sitting next to the Biarritz.

Yes, the 425 is fine, but not close to the 1973 507 they used in that day. But the 507 got 9 mpg no matter what. That thing was such a pig, it got 9mpg sitting in the driveway, turned off! I can't imagine what the 1971 525 must have been like! LOL A couple of years ago, I drove out to NYC, (I live in the Niagara region) and she got 19 mpg at 73mph. Not bad for the Queen Mary on wheels.

The halfshaft problem was very real, but if you caught the original rubber boots when they first cracked, you could pull the hub and install neopreme boots and the problem was solved. Mine are both original half shafts.

The auto-air ride was also a diaster. But I still have mine working after re-routing the wires away from the exhaust, and redoing the linkage, which was horrible.

As anyone knows who owns a vintage car, you must be able to do the work yourself, or/and have a killer shop where the people can think outside the box. I'm most proud of the fact that everything works on this car. Even the 8-track radio! And she's quick, it's not like trying to drive some old model A in traffic. With her square headlights, she blends right in until you pass them! Then the eyes bulge. LOL

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, and I hope I've been able to give you additional insights into this unbelievable automobile. The best Caddy ever made in the modern age.

One thing's for sure, if you crave attention, just drive this thing around. The people won't leave you alone. I wish I was that popular. LOL

By the way, the 1977 Biarritz is and even rarer car. It was an after January 1977. I've only seen one in my life.

03-15-11, 06:38 AM
I do not own this Cadillac, but this review is really well written ;)
thank you for it.

04-08-11, 10:12 AM
I have two 1978 Eldorados; one's a Biarritz, the other the coupe. My mechanic is currently working on the level ride system on one of them and needs to know where the relay is located for the level ride system; can anyone help? Tom

12-13-12, 12:39 AM
Good post

Thurston Howell III
04-22-14, 09:04 PM
These are all great posts. I need a bushel of advice. I'm concidering purchasing a 78 Eldorado up here in New England. The car has very low mileage but has always been garage kept. I seriously do not know what hazards to look for. Do I need to replace master cylinders and such right away if I were to purchase the car? Should I have it appraised right away to see if there are any underlying issue? Any advice that you have for me would be most appreciated. Thanks