Cadillac does not currently make any big cars. The (discontinued) DTS was a mid-sized car at 207.6" long. The last full-sized Cadillac was the 1996 Fleetwood at 225" long.
It isn't even a question of 'better built' necessarily, it's just a question of MASS. You can't beat mass. True, the big cars were very well built, but in fairness, perhaps some of the plastic/aluminum cars are as well. It just doesn't matter - the massive vehicle will plow right through the light one.
Yes, in 1975 a car measuring 207 inches long would have been considered mid-size (on the smaller side to boot), however for the better part of 30 years a car that size has been considered full-size.
Personally I love the big land yachts from the 70s, measuring in at over 230 inches, however truth be told, for everyday driving a car around 210 inches long is a lot easier to drive and park.
Modern ones are nearly as roomy inside as the huge models of the past, and some models ride nearly as well as they did too. I would be perfectly happy if there were still cars close to 210 inches like the Buick Park Avenue or Cadillac DTS of recent years. Of course if there were bigger models around, admittedly I would probably buy them.
Modern "big" cars are just pathetic, and most are not much bigger than what was considered mid-size a few years ago.
Out of curiosity what constitues a full-size-car? Do you consider the Panther Platform cars full-size? They really weren't that big either at around 212 and 215 inches. Both would have been considered mid-size in the 70's. Actually FoMoCos mid-size models were longer than even the modern Town Car until the LTD II was discontinued in 1979.
For me Panther-platform are just barely 'full sized'. I grew up with a couple of these, and many more of the GM B-body 'full-sized cars, so to me these are the 'standard sized' cars - but I never felt that they were in any way 'large'. We always thought of them as trim and downsized, and with quite small motors (302s, 305s, 307s).
I also had a few 70s and 60s cars, and the only one of them that really seemed 'full sized' in the proper sense - that is, large - was my 1973 Cadillac. A car for 6 adults.
Panthers and GM B-Bodies are my idea of a good standard size for normal families or individuals.
I share the same sentiments. I used to own a 93 Town Car, which was actually pretty big inside, and very comparable to some 70's full size cars in interior room/leg room, but they still don't compare to the massive 70's Cad's and Linc's in terms of shoulder room, hip room and leg room. The only "modern" true full-size luxury car that shares similar dimensions of the older and bigger 70's luxury rides, if we're just talking strictly about interior space only, I have to say that the 93-96 Cadillac Fleetwood would be the only car on the road today that feels like you're driving a huge 70's Cadillac Deville, minus the shorter hood LOL, and it handles a lot better too.
Just today I sat inside a 77 Mercury Grand Marquis, which is the first time I have ever been inside one, and it was pretty enjoyable. But still, even though it's a big car, the same year Lincolns are more massive inside and just feel like a way bigger car.
I would say the 90-97 Town Cars had more space inside, which is definitely noticeable and feels very spacious compared to the later 98 on up models, which are very tight inside by comparison. The bubble years weren't that nice inside either; more cheap flimsy plastic, and crappy materials for a so called "luxury car' UGH... The 70's models were the best, even the materials were so much better; although plastic ruled in those days too, the plastics and vinyl were much sturdier, and actual metal was used on the inside on many trim components. The older the model, the better, especially if we're talking about Fords.
The smaller Cadillac Broughams from 77- 92 had such nice interiors that literally blew away any 80's Town Car with better materials, and details like emblems, door panel velour, cloth, and cool chrome accents that the Lincoln lacked severely, so that's one exception...
Also you can't substitute wheelbase. The older 70's Lincolns, Mercurys, and GM makes like Buicks, Cadillacs all rode on huge wheelbases that made them drive and ride so much better than the newer stuff. The Lincolns feeling the most isolated due to their superior body structure/solidarity and extra soft suspension setup. The heavy curb weight, solid heavy duty steel body panels, and great noise insulation materials made the old school rides the best long trip cruisers in the world. Even to this day, nothing rides like the 70's luxury cars, except for the BMW 7 Series and other higher end luxury makes. That is if you enjoy complete comfort and isolation from the road. The old school era was the best!!
It's all about proportioning. For instance, I recently ran into a 1963 Lincoln Continental, which is only 213.3 inches long; however, it looked much bigger than that. Even a 1980s Cadillac Brougham looks bigger than it really is, mainly due to its excellent proportioning. 1980 and up Lincolns don't have that on their side, making them seem smaller looking than they really are.
You have to keep in mind that after 1973, all American cars had to be fitted with the huge 5 mph bumpers that added at least 10-12 inches of extra length. These big chrome bumpers with their extending bumper guards were used well into the 1980s. Compared to a car of the early 60s, the bumpers would have extended out a lot less from the car, thus making for a shorter overall length. These days some car bumpers don't hardly extend from the car at all. This is kind of nice looking, but just asking for trouble in even a small fender bender. It doesn't help that most modern cars are void of any overhang at all either.