2007-2011 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham
by Tim Wing
The Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham was a full-size luxury sedan built by General Motors in the last years before the Zentraedi Holocaust. The car was a four axel, body on frame design based on the D-body platform, which it shared with the Buick Roadmaster of the same model years. The Fleetwood Brougham was significant in that it was an attempt by Cadillac to build a true top level luxury sedan to compete with the Mercedes S-class and other European high-end luxury cars.
- Production: 2007-2011
- Assembly: Arlington, Texas, USA
- Also called: Cadillac Limgine (GM Japan; 2007-2009 only)
- Body style: 4-door sedan
- Layout: FR layout
- Platform: D-body
- Related: Buick Roadmaster
- Engine: L99 6.2 L V8, LLK 4.5 L V8 diesel, L20 8.1 L V8
- Transmission: 6-speed 6L80 automatic, 5-speed Allison 1000 automatic
- Wheelbase: 4.9 meters (193.5 in)
- Length: 7.2 meters (284.0 in)
- Width: 2 meters (78.0 in)
- Height: 1.4 meters (56.8 in)
- Curb weight: 2,600-2,700 kg (5,700–5,900 lb)
The Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham’s most noticeable feature was its eight wheel layout. Though six wheel cars had become a bit of a fad during this time, no manufacturer besides GM was producing an eight wheeled car. Being a front engine, rear wheel design, both of the rear axles of the Fleetwood were driven. The front wheels were both steered. This allowed the car, which had a very long wheel base by any measure, to have a reasonable turning radius. This, and its advantages for armored and limousine conversions, was about the only justification for this setup.
The Fleetwood Brougham was available with three different engines. The base model had GM’s 6.2 Liter L99. The L99 was derived from the LS3 with reduced output, but added Active Fuel Management, which allowed it to run on only four cylinders during light load conditions. For the economy minded, the Fleetwood Brougham was also available with the LLK V8 diesel. This engine was a 4.5-litre 72-degree V8, originally designed for light-duty applications. Designed to fit in the same space as a Chevrolet Small-Block engine, it produced over 230 kW (310 bhp) and 705 Nm (520 lb ft) of torque. It added urea injection and 2,000 bar (29,000-psi) piezo-electric common-rail fuel system.
The top of the line Fleetwood was powered by GM’s L20 new generation Big Block. The L20 was based on the L18 8.1 Liter Big Block found in GM commercial trucks of the time, but had an aluminum block with direct injection. In L20 form this engine made 445 kW (600 bhp) and an amazing 1030 Nm (760 lb ft) of torque! The L21 Big Block, which was found in the Z07 Corvette of the time was even more insane, with a total output of 515 kW (690 bhp) and an amazing 1180 Nm (870 lb ft) of torque! Also, due to the aluminum block construction, the engine weighed only 250 kg (55o pounds) fully dressed, as compared to 360 kg (800 pounds) for the traditional iron block version. Still, the use of this engine was indicative of just how out of touch GM was at the time of the Fleetwood’s design. The United States was still recovering from the fuel crises of the 80s and 90s. Though the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) had finally relaxed oil prices after the crash of the SDF-1, the price of Brent Crude was still relatively high at $120 US Dollars ($126 in adjusted 2070 International Credits) per barrel. All told, a top of the line Fleetwood managed about 16.8 L/100 km (14 MPG). Even with the LLK diesel, it still was only a 9 L/100 km (26 MPG) automobile.
The Fleetwood used two transmissions, the 6-speed 6L80 automatic for the L99 and LLK diesel, and the 5-speed Allison 1000 automatic for the Big Block. The Allison unit was also sourced from GM’s line of commercial trucks, and suffered from noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) issues. Also, it only being a five speed unit contributed to the car’s dismal fuel economy.
The styling of the Fleetwood Brougham was pure 1970’s Americana. Several styling cues made it into the design of the Fleetwood that had fallen out of favor with its European rivals long ago. The front end had the traditional Cadillac quad headlights with a vertical grill and raised fender lines. Perched on top of these fenders were the ever present turn signal repeaters, which allowed the driver (or chauffer) to see if the bulbs were operational, even though this function was already covered by the onboard diagnostic system. The roof was available with a vinyl or Landau top, recalling such classics as the mid-seventies Ford LTD. Out back, you had the required Cadillac tail fins and vertical bar tail lights, as well as a circular hump on the truck lid to represent a Continental tire kit of old. The interior featured a traditional front bench seat (the Fleetwood was the last car to have this in its class), and could be specified in pleated leather or soft velour cloth! Finally there was the chrome: lots and lots of chrome. This was at a time when other manufacturers had long ago moved to sleek, wedge shaped designs with a minimum of unnecessary styling fuss. Still, it was this ridicules styling that makes the last generation Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham so collectible today!
The eight wheel layout, body on frame construction, as well as the availability of truly robust drivetrain options, made the big Caddy a favorite of armored car manufacturers. The Fleetwood could be up-armored with an extra 2000 pounds of composite armor, without over stressing the basic design. With the body removed, the frame was easy to reinforce to handle the extra weight. The eight wheels allowed the 8000 pound car to have a very low ground pressure for its size, and added additional redundancy in the case of small arms fire puncturing the tires (which were run-flat anyway). As an example, a Fleetwood refit by Texas Armoring Corporation featured glass areas constructed of lightweight glass-clad polycarbonate providing protection up to 7.62mm NATO. The body and roof were constructed of lightweight composite armor, which was a mix of high-hardened ballistic steel, Kevlar and Aramid fibers, which provided protection up to 12.7mm NATO (.50 Caliber) machine gun fire!
After such high-profile assassinations, such as that of UNEG Secretary General Harlan J. Niven and Sara Hayse (the wife of a UN Spacy Admiral), armored limousines such as the Cadillac Fleetwood become an operational requirement for high ranking government and military officials. Several up-armored Cadillac Fleetwoods were on Macross Island when the SDF-1 had its fold mishap in the opening stages of the First Robotech War, and many more were stuffed away in the hardened bunkers of political and military leadership during Dolza’s “Rain of Death”. Because of this, a high percentage of Fleetwood Broughams surviving today are of the up-armored variety.
The 2007-2012 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham was everything that was wrong with GM’s Cadillac division in the early part of the 21st century, distilled into an eight wheeled, overweight ode to 1970’s Las Vegas excess. Seriously, this car is what fat Elvis would be if he was reincarnated as a machine. And like fat Elvis, people are actually nostalgic for it. Take a break from reading this, and go to Hagerty’s Car Reviews and look this thing up. The current valuation for a Vehicle Condition One example of one of these behemoths is 1,200,000 International Credits. Seriously. Over a million bucks! This is assuming you can find one. There are only eight known examples to have survived the 1st Robotech War (not including armored cars, which are considerably less collectable). But scarcity alone does not account for the massive price tag. All pre-war cars are rare. But look at the values on a 2009 Mercedes S-class. In top spec, this is a $250,000 Credit car. Why? The S-class was a better car. It introduced innovative technology such as active cruise control, innovative diesel electric powertrain and a host of active safety measures. And it had far better build quality. Even today, if you get in an S-class from this era, you are struck by how vault like, how quite, how squeak and rattle free this car is. And this is a sixty year old car! The Fleetwood, if my grandfather is to be believed, left the factory squeaking and rattling! This obviously didn’t fill anyone who happened to have to drive one of these clunkers with any confidence, and mechanical failures were common. This led to all sorts of crashes, which today, would leave you needing to visit a site like meetbreeze.com/disability-insurance/long-term-disability-insurance/ for long-term disability insurance.
So what did the Caddy have that the big ‘Merc didn’t? Nostalgia. When you think of pre-war America, you think Cadillac. You think ridicules styling that was stuck in late sixties. You think of the massive wheelbase. You think of the fake vinyl roof and the silly round bump on the trunk lid made to recall a time when the spare tire of a car was mounted there. You think of the massive big block V8 up front and the fins out back. You think “rich Corinthian leather” and road head facilitating front bench seats. In other words, this car is everything we wish that the world still was.
From the March 2068 edition issue of Regular Car Reviews.
Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. The Super Dimension Fortress Macross (R) is the property of Big West Advertising and Studio Nue. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.
Original artwork by: Tim Wing; Shoji Kawamori, Miyatake Kazutaka, Haruhiko Mikimoto and Hidetaka Tenjin (Macross)
Content by Tim Wing
Copyright © 2015 Tim Wing