Perhaps you remember the luxury car wars waged between Cadillac and Lincoln in the waning days of the traditional body-on-frame sedans. Outside some upscale restaurant, valets retrieve a Lincoln Town Car and a Cadillac Brougham like this one. As they are climbing in, the Lincoln driver glances at the long, white Cadillac and says, “Well, mine's pretty big,” as the obviously larger Cadillac motors off into the city.
By 1989, Cadillac had building these cars down to a science. In production since the late '70s, the Brougham existed under a number of different names and models, this car is a great example of why they were so popular. If you're looking for luxury that involves absolute silence, a ride that borders on that of a hovercraft, and acres of stretch-out room in back, there's just nothing like a big, rear-wheel-drive, body-on-frame Cadillac.
This beautiful Cotillion White Brougham is a one-owner vehicle that has been meticulously maintained since new by a very fussy owner, and shows just 43,332 original miles. Hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, it's clear that this was not a winter beater, and there's no sign of body rust or damage anywhere on the car. The long quarters are straight, the door bottoms are clean, and it is beautifully presented with the original red pinstripe running from nose to tail. The doors open and close properly, but you need to give them a good slam because Cadillac added extra seals to ensure silence in the interior, and this one seals up tight. The rear fender extensions which surround the rear tail lights are easily damaged and it's not unusual to see one of these cars with cracking paint in this area, but this car remains pristine. Equally surprising as the body's condition is the absolutely brilliant white vinyl top, which shows no stains or discoloration, and even the seams remain tight—brittle thread is a sure sign of long-term outdoor storage and UV damage. This is a very nice car.
The Brougham received a new vertical-slat grille for 1989, which was actually a re-cast from the 1980 grille, although the 1980 grille had five horizontal sections, while the 89-92 had only three horizontal sections. The big chrome bumpers are relics of an era that is behind us and are in excellent condition, matching the stainless strips that line the rocker panels and protect them from road debris. The long stainless strip that begins on the hood and stretches to the rear of the roof is bright and shiny, as is the rest of the window trim, which has never been off the car. Glass is good all around, with no chips or nicks in the windshield. All the Cadillac emblems, including the hood and trunk ornaments as well as the color-coded Brougham badges, are in place and untouched since new.
Power comes from a reliable and torquey Oldsmobile 307 cubic inch V8, which was the only motor available in the Brougham. Noted for running for hundreds of thousands of miles with only routine maintenance, these are great luxury car power plants, unobtrusive and happily going about their business without troubling the driver or passengers. The condition of the engine bay is further testament to this car's easy life out of the harsh salt and slush of winter—fittings are still bright and shiny, there's no rust on the inner fenders or firewall, and wiring remains corrosion free. Cadillac engineers took extra measures to ensure the silent operation of the Olds motor, including a larger air cleaner designed to hush intake noise, as well as thicker insulation under the hood. Everything is in operational condition, items like the coolant and washer fluid bottles are still clear and undamaged, and the belts and hoses look as if they've been recently replaced. Speaking from personal experience, if there's a better long-distance cruiser than this, I can't imagine what it is.
The only transmission available on the Brougham was a 200-4R 4-speed automatic driving a set of tall 2.93 gears in the rear pumpkin. The suspension is traditional coil springs all around, with an automatic self-leveling air suspension setup out back, so you can carry four passengers and all their luggage without fears of dragging that big rear bumper on driveway aprons. Brakes are power assisted discs up front, and the exhaust system is a single setup that emits barely a murmur as the V8 up front does its work. The chassis is solid and clean, having been undercoated from new, and shows no evidence of abuse, neglect, or damage. It rides on standard 15-inch steel wheels with wire wheel covers wearing 225/75/15 American Classic whitewall radials.
The red and white leather interior is what today's marketers would call “traditional American luxury.” With wide seat cushions made of glove-soft leather, it's like your grandmother's living room on wheels. The red and white combination is striking and somewhat flashy, perhaps suggesting that the people who ordered this car originally were more than just “traditional Americans.” The split bench up front is comfortable, if not especially supportive in the corners, but that's OK, because this car is designed to hammer across the plains of Texas at 80MPH, not carve corners. The red dash and steering wheel are in excellent condition, with just a speedometer and fuel gauge keeping an eye on the mechanicals, along with a row of warning lights in their own shelf up top. Electronic climate control was standard equipment, and at the push of a button, it'll also tell you about the temperature outside. In back, there's almost limousine-like amounts of legroom, and the wide white leather couch back there is big enough that you can let house guests spend then night in there. Everything works, from the power windows to the climate control, and if you don't feel just a little important behind the wheel of this Cadillac, then that's your problem, not the car's.
As a testament to this car's excellent care, it comes with an impressive folder of documentation that includes the original window sticker (showing a shockingly reasonable $28,771 sticker price), original owner's manual, warranty and service booklet, Uniroyal tire warranty brochure, and paperwork from the originating dealership.
These cars really were among the last of the traditional American luxury car, where isolation from the road was paramount, and handling dynamics were kind of an afterthought. If you think they're dinosaurs, you're right, but they can be a lot of fun to drive and they still have a quality about them that makes you feel like you're behind the wheel of something special. Not a lot of these cars were saved as collector's items, making clean, low-mileage specimens very difficult to find today. Having personally driven a car virtually identical to this across the country, I will personally attest that they glide along in almost eerie silence and that it takes a boulder the size of a basketball to upset the pillowy suspension. There's nothing you can buy today this side of a Phantom or a Maybach that offers this kind of stretch-out room inside, either. If you're talking acres of sheetmetal per dollar, the Brougham is the reigning champion. Call today!
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