Man drives 1972 Cadillac like ‘little old lady’

Farm Forum

Sitting in a Minneapolis dealer’s showroom, a 1972 Cadillac with a 500-cubic-inch V-8 engine arrested the attention of John Manning, a professor at the University of Minnesota. Never mind that the horsepower output, courtesy of government regulations, was a mere 235 horsepower.

The all-white, two-door Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado, one of 32,099 such models manufactured for 1972, was soon in his possession. By the time Manning died in 2010, he had driven the Cadillac nearly 150,000 miles. His son, Jay, inherited the 4,682-pound Cadillac and arranged to have it transported to his home in Virginia.

Federal government emission regulations at the time were beginning to take effect back in the 1970s and 500-cubic-inch V-8 engines were frowned upon. The 500-cubic-inch V-8 engines in 1970 Cadillacs delivered 400 horsepower while the 500-cubic-inch V-8 engines in 1971 Cadillacs produced only 365 horsepower. The 1972 500-cubic-inch V-8 engines developed a mere 235 horsepower.

“I drive that car like an old lady,” Manning admits. The sheer size of the Cadillac is intimidating, he observes. He adds, “It’s slow to go and slow to stop.”

When new, the base price on the 1972 Eldorado was $7,230, which did not include additional extras. The white luxury car is highlighted by the contrasting pin striping that extends down the sides of the long engine hood. Inside, the leather upholstery, cloth trim and carpeting is a combination of tastefully styled tan and brown materials.

Manning observes, “The wide front seat is like a church pew.”

Once the occupants of the back seat are settled in comfort in the two-door car there is no way for them to exit. Cadillac designers foresaw this potential problem and placed not one, but two, door handles on the inside of the passenger side door, with a door handle at the rear of the door accessible by occupants of the back seat.

Engineers installed, in order to prevent damage during low-speed collisions, impact resistant front and rear bumpers with thin rubber strips along the full-bumper width that would reduce the possibility of any damage.

The existence of the 500-cubic-inch V-8 engine beneath the long engine hood was somewhat camouflaged with an 8.2-liter badge spelled out in small block letters on the rear edges of the front fenders below a thin chrome body side molding.

Giant Cadillacs such as this one were produced through 1978. Downsizing did not start until the 1979 models. As befitting a car of such gigantic proportions, Manning says, “It has a really nice horn.”

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