: Cadillac quality throughout the years

11-26-09, 04:59 AM
What years do you think Cadillac quality was at it's finest, and when did it start to decline?

Personally when I owned both a 72 Deville and a 68 Coupe Deville, the quality of the interiors were very different and the 68 has nicer trim, yes there was plastic, but it was much better than the cheapness of the 72. Of course the older the better, but did interior quality ever improve in the 80's and 90's?

Because just the other day I was able to check out my neighbors 89 Coupe Deville, it's in really nice shape, so I decided to sit in the car for kicks. After a small inspection, I was surprised on how good the quality is in these cars. The dash is all padded vinyl, not much cheap plastic, besides a few trim pieces. I love the passenger reading lights near the C piller, very classy touch that doesn't exists today. Lights were all bright and, it has everything you need to keep you informed, distance to empty, gallons of gas left, inst MPG, for being such a old car it's still fairly modern and can easily compete with new Cadillac"s of today. The exterior trim is also another plus about these cars, my neighbors Deville has the half padded vinyl top, with the stainless trim, aww it's freakin gorgeous! You can't buy quality like that anymore.

I can tell a difference in quality from my 94 Fleetwood to my neighbors 89 Deville, there is more plastic trim in my 94 compared to his 89 especially under the dash, where the super cheap plastic cover always falls off because of the crappy plastic clips , his 89 doesn't have this problem. I means it's not extremely noticeable, but if you start to play with certain parts, then that's were the differences starts to show up. I can't outright say that 94 Cadillac's has worse quality than say the 90-92's, but maybe some people here can verify this.

So guys what years do you think Cadillac was at it's best, and when did it deteriorate? I am not talking on behalf of the cars reliability, but more so the interior quality parts, exterior trim items and overall solidness.

11-26-09, 10:43 AM
The farther back you go the better the quality.

11-26-09, 11:13 AM
I think Cadillac put out its best in 2008.

11-26-09, 11:26 AM
I think Cadillac put out its best in 2008.

But newer cars are full of plastic. Plus my 1964 is pretty darn comfortable.

11-26-09, 12:12 PM
yea, I was just playing. 96 brougham is where I stop. Dont do much for FWD.

11-26-09, 12:27 PM
yea, I was just playing. 96 brougham is where I stop. Dont do much for FWD.

It's hard to tell sarcasm on the internet. You know though, the farther back you go the more you realize we've just become cheap. It would probably cost 50,000 to build a 1964 Cadillac and a good 75,000 to build a 1940. That's why all our cars are made from plastic and are made with such shoddy quality.

11-26-09, 12:31 PM
We haven't become cheap, we've just become more worried about making profit than producing quality products. And plastic is cheaper than metal. Just like cubic zirconium is cheaper than diamonds.

11-26-09, 12:34 PM
We haven't become cheap, we've just become more worried about making profit than producing quality products. And plastic is cheaper than metal. Just like cubic zirconium is cheaper than diamonds.

It's sad to see how cars have slid over the years. I guess we can only accept it.

11-26-09, 01:13 PM
I have thougt about this too. And when it comes to interiour quality is the only Cadillacs I can compare on a deeper stage, my Fleetwood -76 and my dads Brougham -87.
One thing I have seen, is that some of whats make the weight differens between the two of them, is to be found in the interiour parts, (of cuorse is the shear differens in size the biggest reason for the weigt differens), for example the panels under the dash.
It's not really bad on the brougham but in the -76 is it steel with alot of padding and vinyl, and if it is screwed on proper it gives a heavy feel of quality (right or wrong- I dont know, but it feels better)

The "chromed" plastic like vents and trims does, on the other hand, not scream quality on the -76 not on the -87 either.


11-26-09, 03:54 PM
Quality started slipping in the early 1970s, improved in the late 70s, then tanked completely between 1981 and 1986. Things got better from 1987 forward, though they still aren't as well made overall as the pre-1971 Cadillacs.

11-26-09, 06:04 PM
I think '80-92's generally better quality , you could ever have a chromed tilt steering wheel unlike what we have in our 1993-96 FWBs , it's just a cheap plastic and I hate windshied wiper stalk as well.I have not seen anything worse than that in regards to the plastic quality or cheapness which is a shame .
What I like the most is chrome buttons which is very classy as well as exterior chrome trim .

11-26-09, 06:19 PM
I have always put the 1970 model year as the last year with very good build quality. I own or have owned a '69 Fleetwood Brougham, '70 Sedan de Ville and '71 Fleetwood Brougham. The doors close with a solid feel on the '69 and '70, not as solid sounding on the '71. The seats on the '69 and '70 are much softer than the '71 was.

Some of the inside tirm panels were separating on my '71 and were not on my '70 and '69.

As mentioned, build quality was even better going back futher. Hard to put an exact cut-off year for the older ones, but I think the 1966 and earlier had excellent build quality and very little plastic.

11-26-09, 06:59 PM
It depends on the standards you're using to measure quality. Those standards are going to be different for every last one of us.

11-26-09, 10:11 PM
Very good points guys! I also believe that around 1970, is when Cadillac built it's last finest auto. that is when parts were still heavy duty, doors were heavy, the hood was heavy, everything just felt tough on the outter body structure. You had the huge 472-500 blocks that still had the big horsepower with the ever reliable TH400 tranny.

I can't say the interior was great, because they weren't, they were just ok. I think the last great interiors Cadillac designed were the 65 Cadillac's, they had more chrome, and less plastic. I remember attending one of my local car swaps, and I recall spotting a really nice 65 Cad Deville, so I went over to the owner ask a few ??'s and was able to sit inside the car. The quality of trim items, the seat material, everything inside the car felt better and had more style than my 68.

So yeah 65 is probably the cut off year for interior quality.

All I know is my 94 Fleetwood Bro, is a much better built car than my 93 Town Car. The interior feels much tighter, and nothing creaks or rattles. The early 90's Town Cars have horrible interior trimmings, not too many soft places to touch. The worst offender is the creaky fake plastic wood piece that goes all the way across the dash:bigroll::eek:

11-26-09, 10:43 PM
My first Caddy was a 63 convertable and my 3rd caddy was a 63 fleetwood sixty special.. now that was a car.. on the dash and doors was real wood.. and it had 8 power windows.. 4 windows and 4 power vent windows... it had more buttons on the door than any other car I ever owned.. today I have a 92FWB and a 95FWB... the 92 is for around town.. the 95 is if I am going on the highway.. There is no comparison, the 95 is way ahead of any other caddy I ever owned at any time...
my 81 sdv is in storage for the winter...

11-26-09, 10:51 PM
1940 - the last year of the Fleetwood coach-built bodies. Moving forward I'd say 1977-78 was about it as far as attention to detail and excellence in class leading design. It's an incremental step to move from good to great and I dearly hope Cadillac sets the bar higher in terms of leading enginering, quality, styling, and excellence! :)

11-28-09, 10:24 PM
I was looking at 1990-92 Broughams and 93-96 Fleetwoods when I bought my car. IMO there is no comparison to the level and attention to detail on my 1991 compared with the 93-96 models. There is a lot more chrome trim on the exterior, and save for the grill, its all chrome plated steel or polished stainless.

The 93-96 models used some plastic coated junk on the upper chrome spear that wrinkles, the lower chrome rocker mouldings tend to come loose and fall off, there is the ugly grey plastic on the bumper trim, the vinyl top looks odd with the doors wrapping into the roof, door handles aren't chrome plated like my 1991.

Inside the 93-96 are very plain compared to my 91. Not as much detail in the dash, vents are ugly black plastic, the huge dash tends to crack, no embroidered Cadillac wreaths on the front seats, driver's side bottom cushion tends to tear and get matted down, hideous medium blue color, etc. Overall it just doesn't look as nice IMO

I'm not saying my 1991 is better in every way, the new ones are a lot quieter and have more options. Its just that it seems like they really cut corners on the interior, there are no really cool details like on my 1991.

11-29-09, 01:43 PM
My experience with the 50's, 60's and 70's Cadillacs are only from memory. I am pretty impressed with the build quality of the 2006 STS-V I currently own. The body panel gaps are tight and uniform. The paint still shines and has a deep quality to it. You open the door and the smell of leather hits you. There is stitched leather on the dash, door panels, console and all over the seats. The real wood trim is beautiful. The Suede inserts in the seats and doors are a nice touch. The carpet is plush and deep. The car is laden with techology, with voice command, NAV, XM Sat, Surround Sound with DTS and Dolby (I can watch a movie in surround sound while waiting for the kids to get out of the mall). I get compliments everywhere I go and get asked if this is a new car and when I tell them it is a 2006 I get raised eyebrows. When I drive my STS-V, I feel like I am driving a rare jewel of a car that has been specially built. I feel like have the plush comfy interior of the old, with the handling of a sports sedan, a smooth ride and high speed and performance that I like. Since I don't commute, but still managed to put on 9000 miles since August, you can say I love to drive the car.