Gem of the Junkyard: 1972 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible

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Cadillac built Eldorados from model years 1953 through 2002, with the model becoming an enormous front-wheel drive equipped personal luxury coupe starting with the 1967 models. Of all those front-wheel drive/two-door Eldos, the largest and most opulent they were 1971-1978 cars; the most powerful of that group were the 1971 and 1972 models. Here’s one of those gorgeous, outrageous machines, recently found in a Denver-area self-service graveyard.

The pinnacle of Eldorado engine power was reached in the 1970 model year, when the 8.2-liter (500 cubic inch) Cadillac V8 was rated at 400 horsepower and 550 lb-ft of couple. Primitive tires of that era never stood a chance! The 500’s compression ratio dropped from 10:1 to 8.5:1 for 1971 (so it would run well on unleaded gasoline), dropping horsepower to 365 and torque to 535 lb-ft.

Keep in mind that these are gross horsepower ratings, not the net numbers we use today. Beginning with the 1972 model year, the State of California mandated that vehicles sold there be assigned net horsepower ratings for their engines, and the auto industry went ahead and transitioned to net horsepower ratings for the entire country that ‘year.

For the 1972 model year, the same engine that had been advertised with 365 gross horsepower the year before now had only 235 net horsepower, with the torque number dropping to 385 lb-ft. The Eldorado got slightly slower for 1972, but only because it put on more than 200 pounds of mass. The 500/8.2 engine remained in production until 1976, with horsepower being reduced – due to emissions requirements – to 210 and then to 190 before the end.

This generation’s convertible version of the Eldorado remained in production until 1976, when “the last of the convertibles” (it wasn’t) signaled the end of an era of open-top driving (it wasn’t).

This car has a solid body with no significant rust, but it has been outdoors in the harsh high plains climate for many years and as a result the interior has been completely destroyed.

Someone tried to sell it, perhaps during the Reagan administration, but found no takers.

The five digit odometer shows just over 60,000 miles which might be accurate.

MSRP on this car was $7,681, or approximately $55,640 in 2022 dollars. That comes to about $11.20 in inflation-adjusted dollars per pound of car, making the $16.89/pound cost of a new high-end Escalade a much worse deal for those buying their Cadillacs. per pound.

There is a lot of wildlife poop in this car, which would make an interior restoration a required respirator affair (for those who, rightly, fear the hantavirus).

A 1972 Eldorado convertible in pretty good shape seems to be worth less than $20,000 these days, making a car like today’s Junkyard Gem a poor investment for a restoration (unless you own an upholstery shop automotive). Still, it’s sad to see a car like this unable to find a forever home.

By 1976 it had come to this.

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