Happy Birthday, America. You aren’t perfect, but I love you anyway. Just like this Cadillac. In 1976, the USA turned a nice, round 200 years old. Things were, to say, a bit off-kilter in the world of American cars. The muscle car era was dead and gone. Imports were starting to take the domestic companies’ lunch and dinner away. And safety mavens (or so they called themselves) had put to death the classic American big convertible. As safety regulations began to tighten more and more, less companies were inclined to build convertibles. By 1976, only one major American car company still had a convertible in their lineup, and it was Cadillac. Stubborn to the end, the Eldorado marketing team wanted to send their flagship (and it sure was a flagship, with sharp lines, king-size proportions, an incredible menu of standard equipment for the era, and a ride soft enough to keep a baby sleeping for hundreds of miles) out in style.
Cadillac decided that year to give Lady Liberty a special birthday present. Enter the Bicentennial Edition convertible. Cadillac made a specialty model out of the Eldo convertible, using the last 200 off the production line, as the starting point. Each one was painted Cotillion White, with a matching white interior and top. The seats were piped in red, and red carpeting and dashboard finishing completed the look. Cadillac then added red and blue pinstripes to top it all off. People took these and put them away, hoping to cash in big when the convertibles finally took to the big highway in the sky–but in 1982, Chrysler brought the LeBaron convertible to market, and Ford brought back the drop top Mustang a year later. Today, these Bicentennials are a curious and very intersting marketing example–and they’re worth good money too, thanks to the high survival rate (and instant collector status when new 40 years ago). This one is fully original, and at the Greenwich Concours, it didn’t win anything, but it represented the Malaise era in full zoot-suit style.
-Albert S. Davis