• This 1978 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz epitomized Cadillac’s unique approach to 1970s luxury.
• The ninth-generation Eldorado was a symbol of wealth and success when new, especially in the full-fat Biarritz trim, but its appeal faded and many were scrapped in the 1990s.
• This low mileage coupe is now for sale Bring a trailerand the auction ends on April 25.
You’d never guess this from walking through the traffic jam of classic European econoboxes in my garage, but I love American land yachts. My parents owned a series of boat-like General Motors cars when I was a kid—I remember my dad having to diagonally park his 1985 Oldsmobile Delta 88 to put it in our garage—but none were as special as the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham from my step-grandfather. These massive Cadillacs have garnered a following in recent years, and there’s what looks like an unusually well-maintained 1978 Eldorado Biarritz, currently on display on Bring a Trailer — which, like Car and driveris part of Hearst Autos.
Finished in Ruidoso Saddle Metallic, this old-school coupe effortlessly illustrates what Cadillac stood for in the 1970s. It says “I’ve got it made” without trying or leaning too far to the gaudy side of the scale. They didn’t have to: everyone knew what they were looking at. In a way, Cadillac’s place in popular culture in the 1970s was the way Mercedes-Benz currently enjoys it. It’s not a Chevrolet Chevette or a Chrysler Cordoba that Johnny Cash built in “One Piece at a Time.”
The stately Eldorado was also a big deal; it was the epitome of the personal luxury car, that nebulous segment that took a nosedive in the 1980s and crashed hard in the 1990s. The one featured on Bring a Trailer was $15.074 new, which equates to about $66,700 in 2022, and it’s optional with a six-way power passenger seat, tilt steering column, cruise control and cassette player. And look at those Biarritz-specific cushion chairs! I’ll bet the inflation-adjusted cost of the optional heated rear window is at least as comfortable as the seats Cadillac puts in the 2022 CT5.
Stick your head into the cavernous engine bay and you’ll encounter a 425-cubic-inch (that’s 7.0 liter) V-8 that lazily developed 180 horsepower and a solid 320 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive, which the Eldorado used for the 1967 model year, and a three-speed automatic transmission were standard.
It wouldn’t be accurate to call the ninth-generation Eldorado rare: Cadillac produced 46,816 units during the 1978 model year, which was the last time for the drastically downsized 10egeneration model landed in showrooms. But two things make this example special: First, it survived. By the 1990s, these large coupes were widely regarded as anachronisms, and not very exotic ones, and many were driven into the ground by a succession of increasingly careless owners. Growing up in Utah in the 2000s, when Cadillac used art and science to break free from land hunts, the Eldorado was a common sight in self-service graveyards or stranded next to barns in rural parts of the state, landau roof-deep in weeds with rust holes large enough for a piston to pass through. Second, it survived with astonishingly low mileage. The odometer reads just under 20,000 miles, which equates to an annual average of about 450 miles.
What are the chances I’ll find another 20,000-mile Eldorado Biarritz with a large body in 1980 without traveling back to a used car parking lot? The bidding currently stands at $12,500, a sign that interest in these cars is growing.
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