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1954-1996 Cadillac Fleetwood

fleetwood-1936Fleetwood is known as Cadillac’s top-of-the-line limousines and semi-custom bodies from back in the day, but its beginnings were much more humble. Fleetwood started as a custom body manufacturer called Fleetwood Metal Body Company in 1909. It was acquired by General Motors in the purchase of Fisher Body in 1929, who had purchased Fleetwood in 1925. From 1925-29 Fleetwood Body built Cadillac bodies exclusively, offering them as an option from 1927-1934. After 1934 Fleetwood bodies were only available on the Series 75 and Series 90 Cadillacs, the most luxurious, largest and in most cases semi-custom bodies Cadillac made. Most all V12 and V16 Cadillacs had Fleetwood bodies.

When General Motors started designating different mass production platforms in 1936 with letters, the largest platform became the D-Body. Though similar to GM’s C-Body, it was always used on Cadillac’s largest models like limousines, and for professional chassis used for ambulances, hearses and flower cars.

fleetwood-1955From 1941 until the end of limousine production in 1988 all Cadillac Series 75 limousines were “Fleetwood 75 Limousines.” Fleetwood script began to appear on Cadillacs starting in 1947, which were continuations of pre-war bodies. Fisher Body manufactured the newer bodies used for mainstream Cadillacs at this time. Fleetwood designated bodies in 1955-56 were slightly different with longer wheelbases from the more mainstream Fisher Body Cadillacs. 

Fleetwood was designated as the body manufacturer for the Fleetwood Brougham from 1957-1960, though Pininnfarina actually manufactured the 1959-60 Broughams. With the addition of the Eldorado Biarritz in 1963 Fleetwood manufactured both the hardtop and convertible. Fleetwood crests appeared on the rear quarters and also on the rocker moldings.

fleetwood-1965The Eldorado, Sixty Special on the extended Cadillac chassis, and high end Series 75 models were placed under the Fleetwood banner, but there was no separate Fleetwood model until 1965 when it was used to designate the top-of-the-line models. One distinguishing characteristic of Fleetwood bodies in the 1960s and 1970s was the doors opening into the tops for easier access and a more formal, limousine look.

In 1977 the Sixty Special Brougham and Series 75 were renamed “Fleetwood Brougham” and “Fleetwood Limousine” respectively. In 1985 the Fleetwood name was used on the new front-wheel drive GM C-body platform, while the Brougham became a separate make on the rear-wheel drive GM D-body platform for a single year. In 1986 it became a DeVille option package, before becoming part of the Fleetwood Sixty Special on the stretched C-body platform, while the Fleetwood Series 75 used an even longer stretched C-body chassis. In this period there was a lot of back and forth with the Fleetwood designations and other models. In 1993 the Fleetwood name landed on the rear-wheel drive C-body four-door sedans. When this platform was retired in 1996 the Fleetwood name was retired as well.