Cadillac seemed more than likely a place for a closed coupled, personalized touring coupe to flourish. It may seem a bit surprising that Cadillac, given its success in the post war era and bountiful resources sitting on top of the General Motors throne, waited until 1967 to field one. Granted the financial losses on the Eldorado Brougham of the late 1950’s informed the decision to make the risk a cautiously executed once there had been a market determined.
Cadillac got a season and a half jump on Lincoln making a similar decision to re-enter this segment of the market with the personalized Mark Series Continental. The front wheel drive Eldorado ditched the premise of being the most deluxe of Cadillac convertibles in 1967. For the second full year jostling for King of The Road status, how did the ’68 Eldorado shape up against the pending Continental Mark III, and its lesser siblings the Riviera and Toronado for that matter?
The Eldorado had seen itself molded in a more youthful and sporting persona in 1967. Perhaps a bit too sporting for the traditional Cadillac buyer, as under the skin the Eldorado shared much with the road warrior Oldsmobile Toronado, 1966’s car of the year.
Along with the roadability prowess that was a calling card of all “E” body GM cars (including Buick’s Riviera) came less of the isolation that perhaps the traditional Cadillac buyer expected. In fact the roadholding behaviors were resoundedly praised by the press during the first season, yet softer spring rates came on line in ’68 to soothe the nerves of traditional Cadillac buyers looking for the most exclusive personally driven Standard of The World.
1968 also brought the first styling refinements. The directional signals moved from the front bumper to the filler panels in the front fenders. Out back there was more full bleed of the tail lamp lenses to the edge of the fenderline. Little else changed from the classic handsome lines draped over a rather bulky 220 inch body from the inaugural season.
These options came to a car that by 1960’s definitions, had just about everything a current luxury buyer could ask for. Found on the built sheets and standard or available included variable rate power steering, front disc brakes and automatic ride height control.
With one of the most premium pricetags on a mass-produced automobile, and could be optioned to be more unique to each perspective buyer. Most examples went with $2,500 worth of options on top of their heady for the times base price.
The Eldorado occupied the same territory that the Seville would hold, in terms of Cadillac snob appeal, less than a decade later. It was a zone Lincoln chose not to ignore using resources long at hand. Where the Cadillac massaged the all-new sophistication of the Toronado, the Continental Mark III went with the the Thunderbird platform, built it up, and actually handed back down a fair share of resources to the land bound bird.
Both of them went toe-to-toe, as the Lincoln would undercut the Eldorado slightly on base price and heightened the sense of isolation, and could smidge a few tenths of a second faster to 60 mph.
Cadillac upsized their V8 to 472 cubes and 375 horsepower to keep competitive with the Mark for 1968, but it would take another beefing up to 500 cubic inches the next year to satisfy all size queens in the thrust department.
With an extended model year going back to April of ’68, the Continental Mark III was able to best the Eldorado the next year by 7,000 units. Nevertheless, the Eldorado proved a formidable standard for that Mark III to live up to to begin with. Without having this basic standard for the world of luxury coupes to go buy, many affluent buyers would have been left with ordinary sedans from all luxury providers. One and always distinct, it’s best to put a Mr. in front of the name Eldorado.