1981 Cadillac Fleetwood Reviews from North America

1981 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham d'Elegance 6.0L 4-6-8

Model year1981
Year of manufacture1981
First year of ownership1998
Most recent year of ownership2006
Engine and transmission 6.0L 4-6-8 Automatic
Performance marks 5 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 10 / 10
Dealer Service marks 6 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 2 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.2 / 10
Distance when acquired93000 miles
Most recent distance125000 miles
Previous carCadillac Fleetwood

Summary:

As an occupant you are wrapped in the finest of luxury

Faults:

Heater core failed. Very easy to repair as the heater core housing is located in the engine compartment, not under the dashboard.

Constant Oil Leaks from valve covers. There is an after-market cork gasket for the covers, but the valve covers are not designed for it. This summer I am going to repair it as detailed in the GM Maintenance manual using Form-a-gasket.

Head Liner has come apart due to deterioration of foam backing. I am having great difficulties matching the fabric colour, so I believe that I am going to replace it with a close match this summer.

Failure of Variable Displacement solenoids. Unplugging the solenoids has reverted the engine to a permanent V8.

Failure of opera lamps on roof sails. They have had to stay inoperative as this seemed to be a crossover year. They made the lamps electro-luminescent, but they used the old style bulb housings. Cannot find new replacements.

General Comments:

The car is extremely comfortable to drive. The generous use of leather throughout the interior makes the car quite luxurious.

Fully loaded with every toy imaginable, even by today's standards. All the toys still work although the auto dimming headlamps have difficulty detecting modern directional headlamps.

The car is very well designed and easy to drive. Cadillac has (or had) a very straight forward approach to it's cars, and that is that there is the inside and the outside - and never the twain shall meet. Once you are in the car it is very quiet and the passengers aren't bothered by bumps or road noise. Unfortunately, the driver isn't bothered by much steering feedback either. It has a definite tendency to roll and dip because of the soft suspension, but I like it. Parallel parking is an art with the small limousine window in the aft and huge sail panels.

Due to the high price of gasoline, I don't think that we shall see it's kind pass this way again.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th March, 2006

31st Mar 2006, 05:25

Shame they don't make it like that any more. Too bad those cars were way slow.

31st Mar 2006, 22:22

The acceleration is a little annoying (I tried passing a couple of times, but it was too scary), but it makes up for it when you have people hanging out of their cars admiring it on the highway (true story).

1981 Cadillac Fleetwood 368 cid V8

Year of manufacture1981
First year of ownership1995
Most recent year of ownership2003
Engine and transmission 368 cid V8 Automatic
Performance marks 5 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.0 / 10
Distance when acquired165000 kilometres
Most recent distance197000 kilometres

Summary:

It is smooth, good handling and comfortable, but lacks acceleration with original engine

Faults:

When I bought the car, the original engine ran very rich due to a defective electronic fuel injection unit. This engine model was also notoriously unreliable due to its variable displacement feature. GM called this the V8-6-4 engine. It was cheaper to replace the engine with another, more conventional unit. I installed an Oldsmobile 455, with a carburetor, an easy bolt in swap with much more power.

I also had to replace the front suspension ball joints and drag link.

General Comments:

The car is very comfortable and has superior handling to Lincoln and Chrysler products from the early 1980's.

Parts and service is inexpensive and easy to find.

The power door locks and factory alarm system have never worked properly. All other electrics seem to be reliable.

The rear springs for the car are too soft, even when new. The rear of the car sags, unless the factory air shocks are inflated. However, even they are inadequate with a full load of passengers and luggage. I installed rear springs from a GM full size station wagon to give it a better load carrying capacity.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th May, 2003

20th Nov 2003, 22:23

I have not been able to resolve the hesitation problems when driving up steep hills. I suspect the barometric sensor may be faulty. It's a great car, but mechanics are afraid of it. Any pointers?

10th Sep 2004, 07:37

I never understood why Cadillac developed and placed such anemic engines in these beautiful cars. Sure they had gobs of torque, but anything under 180 horses (being conservative) under the hood of these land barges simply does not make sense.

Another thing that baffled me was the weird accelerator. It was a huge piece of metal, welded on the bottom to the floor of the car. Did the elderly back then actually think this was comfortable. I know I used to drive my bosses Fleetwood, loved it, but found the lack f power and the awkward accelerator disconcerting.

Average review marks: 6.6 / 10, based on 2 reviews