For seven presidents: Cadillac Fleetwood 75 1953 test drive


He’s worth it!

Although this Fleetwood was released in 1953, its model year is 1950. These machines were produced from 1950 to 1953, although much later moved to Fleetwood 1954 model year, which was produced until 1958. At the same time, some parts of this car were changed during production. Well, what was fundamentally new in it in 1950?

The most important thing is a fundamentally new “post-war” design, which other Cadillacs tried on back in 1948. Even strangely enough, the most expensive model was later updated with cheaper ones, although the previous generation of 1941-1949 looked great.

In the new generation of cars introduced all the most relevant at that time, designer and technical refinements. In particular, the steps were abandoned, and the windshield was made whole for the first time. The wheelbase grew from 3,500 to 3,730 mm (75 series, 67 series, with its own base). It is necessary to mention separately a bumper with characteristic “fangs” in the form of heads of shells – it is often called by own name “dagmar” (dagmar).

The history of the appearance of this name is naughty. According to the designers’ idea the projectiles were to symbolize the swiftness of the car, but the slang name “dagmar” was not connected with the speed, guns, shells and bullets. In the early 1950s in America was very popular actress Virginia Ruth Egnor, who acted under the pseudonym Dagmar. She gained fame primarily for her breasts and her manner of showing it on TV. The shape of her breasts seemed to the designers to be very similar to this bumper (or the shape of the bumper – the breast), which was immediately nicknamed “dagmar”. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the actress’s chest, but the bumper looks interesting.

Now let’s open the hood and watch the engine.

The engine of the first Fleetwood 75 came from the late version of the previous generation – 331st series (that’s how its volume is in cubic inches, in liters – 5,4). This engine was developed directly for the Cadillac and Oldsmobile. The power of the huge V8 today is not striking – only 170 hp, although in later versions after the installation of two four-chamber carburettors from it were able to squeeze out as much as 270 hp. (there were also intermediate versions with 230, 240 and 250 hp). The engine for that time (Lord, give me back my 53rd!) is quite traditional: short-stroke, with a full-bearing crankshaft and hydraulic compensators. By the way, the first hydraulic compensators appeared in the engines of Cadillac – on the engine V16 in the Model 452 1930, so it was not an innovation for Fleetwood. However, there was a nuance: hydraulic compensators did not work very well at high revs. That’s why in the distant 50s American “tuners” (or “collective farmers”?) simply threw them away and in return put ordinary pushers from the Studebaker V8 engine.

However, let’s go back to the undercover space – there is still a lot of interesting things here. First of all, what are these two glands sticking out on the right and left? And this is the compressor of the conditioner and the pump of GURA. Yes, both in 1953 were already on the Cadillac! However, as options, but hydraulic window lifters were “in the base”.

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And now let’s take a look at the battery. On American cars, it was often such an unusual form today – narrow and high. In our case, this form allows you to open access to candles for their replacement and to the oil dipstick of the box. However, any other battery can fit in here, too – places in bulk. Simply drain is more convenient.

So, what’s with the oil dipstick in the gearbox? This usually stands on the machine. Is it really…

Yes! Yes! Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen! It’s a real ACP, and it’s a four-step process. General Motors developed this box Hydra-Matic in the late 1930s, and for the first time it appeared in 1940 on Oldsmobile models, and then – on Cadillacs. A little later this world’s first production automatic was equipped with Pontiac, Bentley, Hudson, Kaiser, Nash and Rolls-Royce. What, citizens, is typical: the mechanical box, which was “in the base” (ACP is an option, the base it became the next generation in 1954), was just a three-stage. Well, well… It is very interesting how the car with 66-year-old automatic rifle rides!

Turn on the sound!

Now we have to pull ourselves together a little bit to avoid the luxury of 66 years ago. You should agree that not every car of that epoch could boast of such a set of options: air conditioner, window lifters, mountain lights and automatic transmissions… And also – natural wood, chrome and even a radio receiver. At the same time, there are usual “oars” that stand in cars with mechanical window lifters. Why are they here? And they are needed to open the windows.

Driver’s seat is unexpectedly convenient: there is a lot of space, the seat is unusually high for the American front sofa. In general, the interior, ergonomics and the entire dashboard here seem a little more modern than the exterior itself. Inside – the beginning of the sixties with this compact dashboard instead of scattered on the entire panel of individual scales and pointers, “licked” transition from the panel to the door cards, a large glovebox in front of the passenger. It seems that there has been more progress inside than outside. However, everything is very, very good. In the cabin, by the way, it is also much more convenient than in older cars at least 10 years older. Now the main thing is that it was better.

Usually the launch of the old V8 is a whole event, marked by the work of the gas pedal and the “suction”, then – the sound of the awakened gasoline eater. Everything in Fleetwood is somehow easier. Even the cold engine started at one turn of the key, and the sound… You know, to be honest, I expected more. If you listen to the motor from the outside, it sounds right – uterine, low, a little ominous, and very exciting. But there’s no sound inside. Most likely, it’s the “noise”, which strangely cuts off the low frequencies, letting in only the absurd squeak in the cabin. And it seems that in front of you there are not five and a half liters of Western luxury, but two liters of Eastern technology. It’s even a shame, by God.

Parking mode of the car park is not available. There is a neutral, drive mode (which is marked not as D, but as Dr), Low mode (first gear) and R mode. Therefore, before driving, it is necessary to remove the car from a parking brake for what the handle at the left hand should be turned aside and released. Now turn on the “Dr” and let’s go!

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Let’s be honest: it is impossible to “drive” like this. Still, 170 hp and 2.8 tons of weight are never a sports car. Yes, on the first gear it is possible even to polish with wheels wet asphalt. But Caddy, in general, doesn’t care about it. Wheels can throw out from under themselves even the whole layers of asphalt, the heavy car will touch quietly anyway. Maybe our tires are to blame, maybe – road conditions. It wouldn’t be fair to call this Fleetwood a “vegetable,” but he deserves the title of phlegmatic guy. For example, let’s take a little shit.

So, the start we get outwardly spectacular, but actually not the fastest. Now let’s try to turn around abruptly by giving gas. The back axis, as it should be, goes into a skid, but … But inside this stupid maneuver is felt only on a little gone trajectory. There is no screeching of tyres, an overwhelming heel, which you expect from a heavy limousine. Here the weight works and up to strange good noise isolation. The way out of the skidding, the gas in the floor – and nothing … Already in the second gear Fleetwood tries to behave as a pathos limousine, not a sports car. And he does it. There is no kickdown, so to get out of the way, you need to slow down to a minimum to start the first gear, and then press the gas. And only then it will be possible to leave quickly. Just in case, I will notice that “to leave quickly” is on the scale of today. For 1953, it was incredibly fast, instantaneous.

And now we will travel in a normal mode.

At the moment of gear shifting the shocks are still noticeable, but not critical. But the algorithm of ACS operation differs greatly from modern algorithms. When switching upwards, everything is predictable, but when switching downwards, it is not always clear what kind of gear the automaton will put in. More precisely, it is always unclear. There is no tachometer in the car, the box switches down inconspicuously, so it is impossible to predict how the car will respond to the subsequent pressing of the gas pedal after the speed is reset. Maybe it will tear forward, or maybe it will start to gain speed barely. The whole story reminds me of the good old West with AMT of the first year of production. The same damn thing, only with the “crawling” mode of ACP.

Surprisingly, but in the Cadillac there is no such feeling of retro, which is given by many post-war vehicles of this class: tightness behind the wheel, swelling, desire to leave the trajectory on a straight line, inaccuracy of heavy steering. Here everything is different. In his time, this Fleetwood really was on the front of the hull for many of his contemporaries. The steering is not only light thanks to the power steering, but also quite accurate. Though, as modern observers like to say about modern cars, “in a near-zero zone of a steering wheel not informative” – there is such business. In the corners of the Cadillac also follows the turn of the steering wheel very accurately.

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The engine with the box is mounted on the X-shaped frame through the thick rubber supports, so there is almost no vibration.

What Fleetwood lacks is good braking and vision. The brakes are drummed and can even start the car in the yuzzle. But the effort on the pedals is very large, and the reaction to the press is again difficult to guess. The pedal as if rests against a brick, but it does not mean that it is useless to press it. On the contrary, just after the “brick” brakes start working. It is impossible to calculate the effort, you just need to press the pedal at random. In the end, the Cadillac will stop after all, but it is likely that it will do so later than it would be desirable. It’s especially disappointing that the automatic transmission does not allow you to brake with the engine, so the drawbacks of brakes seem much more significant. Now let’s move on to the review.

What can I say: the hood cannot be short with a car length of six meters. Worse than that it is unrealistic to estimate dimensions: a mascot in the form of a goddess of speed with a waving shawl helps out a little, but here edges of front wings are not visible.

Rear-view mirrors then too have not yet learned to do. Looking in salon, it is possible only to paint sponges (though it is not exact, I did not try), and that which stands on a rack of a driver’s door, it is necessary only for beauty – on its case there is an engraving with an emblem of the Cadillac. You can only see in it a piece of board and a little bit of something behind it, which is absolutely not enough for safe driving. In the garage, I was only able to drive the car in reverse with the owner’s prompts, waving at me energetically (and sometimes panically) from the outside. And then I figured out how to get out of Caddy more than once: to open the door from the inside, you don’t have to pull or turn the handle, but move it back.

*  * *

As I said, the next fifth generation of Fleetwood 75 of 1954 was not so much a revolutionary as an evolutionary generation, resulting from the constant modernization of the previous generation. In principle, our fourth generation differed from the previous generation only in more modern design and the presence of ACP.

Americans, constantly changing equipment and some elements, remained true to their conservative views. Judge for yourself: the same platform GM D-platform (or simply D-body, D-cooses), on which this Fleetwood is built, existed from 1936 to 1976. Forty years! In 1977, the platform was greatly reduced, which was due to changes in U.S. law, and it ceased to exist as a classic GM D-platform. In 1985, the limousines were moved to a smaller C-platform.  The original D-platform, on which ten (!) generations of Cadillac limousines were built, was not at all. And two years later, the production of the 75 series was finally stopped, which led to the closure of the era of limousines Cadillac.

By Max W. Obama

Hey, there! My name is Cris W.Obama and I’m obsessed with travelling especially in Spain. Ever since I visited the country, I’ve become a frequent guest. On this blog you’ll see which places i visited and my travel guides.

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