Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Alameda Street Sighting - 1989 Cadillac Brougham Hess & Eisenhardt 6-Door Limousine

The Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham is still a relatively common sight on American roads. A longtime favorite of senior citizens, the once-expensive Brougham has been trickling down into ordinary households for decades now. The 1977-1992 Fleetwood has also been a favorite for limousine conversions. Most Fleetwood limos I've seen have been a four-door stretch, but on rare occasions a six-door surfaces. I believe most six-door limos were built for and used by funeral homes, transporting the family of the deceased. Others did duty as glorified airport taxis.

A number of coachbuilders handled bodywork and construction of these limousines, and each has its own unique styling. I think this is the only one I've ever seen with this particular roofline in which the top of the rear door window continues in a perfectly straight line. Most Fleetwood rear door window frames curve slightly downward toward the C-pillar. I am told that this one was built by Hess & Eisenhardt.

This is one of the later Fleetwoods, one of the final cars before the aging platform switched to composite headlights in place of the old rectangular halogen units. By this time the Fleetwood was largely a relic in an era of modern unibody luxury sedans packed full of the latest in late-'80s tech. It didn't even have airbags available in its final years of production. Did GM really think their customers were going to cross-shop a Fleetwood Brougham and a Mercedes 560SEL or Acura Legend? The one thing it could do well was cruise in comfort. And that's what limousines primarily do when they're not a mobile dance club. Even if the interior plastics were cheap and cheesy GM bits, the car still had some class. This not your pink 24-passenger, 3-axle Hummer H2 chock full of neon lights and stripper poles.

This '89 Brougham bears a Fleetwood badge on the trunk, but all Broughams after 1987 were marketed simply as Cadillac Broughams to avoid confusion with the front wheel drive regular Fleetwoods - which were similar enough to a DeVille to confuse by themselves. Power comes from an Oldsmobile 307 V8, a far cry from the stonking Caddy big blocks the General used to shoehorn under that same hood in the late '70s. As is common with a 1980s GM car, the clearcoat is shot. The right front door sports significant orange peel consistent with a cheap repaint after repaired crash damage. The vinyl landau top is still in pretty good condition. Body color appears to be Sapphire Blue Firemist; an extra-cost color. Note the color-coded Brougham badges. That's not a side effect of a lousy masking job at Maaco, it's a factory detail. This car is pretty well worn, and I normally wouldn't feature a tired Cadillac limo, especially one this new. But it's rare to see a 6-door limo, at least in civilian hands.