The Cadillac Motor Car Division /ˈkædɪlæk/ is a division of the American automobile manufacturer General Motors Company (GM) that designs and builds luxury vehicles. Its major markets are the United States, Canada, and China. Cadillac models are distributed in 34 additional markets worldwide.
Pinnacles in luxury and dimension: 1960–1976
The dual-reservoir brake master cylinder, with separate front and rear hydraulic systems, was introduced in 1962, six years ahead of the Federal requirement. The first fully automatic heater-air conditioning system also appeared, as did the three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic automatic transmission; it would become the GM standard model for several decades. From the late 1960s, Cadillac offered a fiber-optic warning system to alert the driver to failed light bulbs. The use of extensive bright-work on the exterior and interior also decreased each year after 1959. By the 1966 model year, even the rear bumpers ceased to be all chrome—large portions were painted, including the headlight bezels.
In 1966, Cadillac had its best annual sales to that point, over 192,000 units (142,190 of them de Villes), an increase of more than 60%. This was exceeded in 1968, when Cadillac topped 200,000 units for the first time. 1967 and 1968 saw the introduction of a host of federally mandated safety features, including energy-absorbing steering columns and wheels, soft interior and instrument panel knobs and surfaces, front shoulder belts, and side marker lights.
The front-wheel-drive Eldorado was launched in 1967, setting a new standard for a personal luxury car. Its simple, elegant design was a far cry from the tailfin and chrome of the 1950s. Cadillac’s success grew against rivals Lincoln and Imperial, which had division sales topping all of Chrysler for the first time in 1970. The new 472 cu in (7.7 l) engine that debuted in the 1968 model year, designed for an ultimate capacity potential of 600 cu in (9.8 l), was increased to 500 cu in (8.2 l) for the 1970 Eldorado. It was adopted across the model range beginning in 1975. Driver and front passenger airbags (“Air Cushion Restraint System”) began to be offered on some Cadillac, as well as other Buick and Oldsmobile luxury models, in 1974, however this option was unpopular as was discontinued after the 1976 model year. The pillarless Coupe deVille ended with the 1973 model, while the Sedan deVille remained pillarless through 1976.
The 1970s saw new extremes in vehicle luxury and dimension. The 1972 Fleetwood was some 1.7 in (43 mm) longer in wheelbase and 4 in (100 mm) overall, compared to the 1960 Series 75 Fleetwood; the entry-level 1972 Calais was 2.4 in (61.0 mm) longer than the equivalent 1960 Series 62, on the same wheelbase. Models gained a smoother ride while vehicle weight, standard equipment, and engine displacement were all increased. Cadillac experienced record sales in 1973 and again in the late 1970s. In May 1975, the Seville was introduced as a competitor to the growing import luxury car market and was marketed as “international size”.