I notice it as I drive in. It’s a familiar car, so I’m somewhat relieved. Tonight won’t be as difficult as I expected. I approach the owner, Sam, and greet him. He smiles when he recognizes me and we shake hands. The car he’s leaning against, a 1995 Cadillac Eldorado, fits him incredibly well. It’s a personal luxury coupe; a quiet, comfortable barge from a time when such vehicles were on the way out of what was desirable in the mind of the American public.
However, unlike most personal luxury coupes of the segment’s golden age(The early 1950’s to the late 1970’s), the Eldorado has remarkably subtle styling. Likewise, Sam is a real Clark Kent type of guy; tall, but mild-mannered. Sure, the car is a Biarritz model with exterior chrome trim, but the bits of polished décor look as though they’ve been carefully applied with a thin icing nozzle, rather than slapped on with a knife.
The landau top also blends in surprising well. It’s a dark gray shroud over the Caddy’s deep black paint. The result is a tastefully outfitted luxury car that won’t attract much attention even if it’s parked far away from the front entrance at Walmart. As one might expect, it was the subtle looks that initially caught Sam’s eye, but he almost wasn’t able to buy the car at all.
Sam first saw the Eldorado while working at Carmax. A customer brought it in as a trade and it immediately grabbed his attention. The man who brought it in was an oil company executive. Being a self-described Cadillac geek, Sam quickly noticed that the car was a mid-level Biarritz model. He found it unusual that somebody as rich as an oil executive wouldn’t choose the most expensive model, but that didn’t change how much he wanted the car.
However, by the time he was able to ask about it, two of his co-workers were already in line ahead of him. Fortunately, both of them ended up deciding not to buy it. Sam bought the Eldorado, which he affectionately refers to as Jenny 3, and never looked back. He appreciates the car for what it is, even if it isn’t the easiest to wrench on.
While showing his beloved Caddy to me, Sam allowed me to see under the hood. The 4.6L Northstar V8 that powers the Eldorado isn’t the shiniest powerplant I’ve ever seen, but it’s clear that Sam puts as much effort into keeping the engine bay clean as he does with the rest of the car.
An example he gives of the work that goes into maintaining the car is replacing the sparkplugs. Half of the sparkplugs on the transversely mounted(mounted perpindicular to the direction the car is facing) engine are easily accessed because they face forward. The remaining four sparkplugs, on the other hand, require removing the strut bar, the engine cover, and the ignition coils to access. Installation, as always, is the opposite of removal. In spite of the work needed to keep the car running, Sam says it’s worth it.
As mentioned before, the car’s quiet styling and tasteful standard trim match Sam’s personality very well. While he enjoys bringing the Eldorado to car meets, Sam’s primary satisfaction with the car doesn’t come from showing it off. It comes from experiencing it on his own.
Being able to drive and maintain a quiet, comfortable luxury coupe is enough for him. Sam is also just happy to be driving a Cadillac. He’s had only one before, a 1973 Fleetwood Limo, but that car and its 8.2L V8 were enough to get him hooked. Sam came from a family of Buick owners, so large cars were normal to him when he bought his Fleetwood limo. Despite his familiarity with Buicks, he was drawn to the Fleetwood’s long roofline and its classic land barge shape. After buying and taking care of the Eldorado, it’s probably safe to say that he’s a Cadillac fan for life.