Classic Cars 065

Cadillac Sixty Special

The Sixty Special name has been used at Cadillac to denote a special model since the 1938 Bill Mitchell-designed Series 60 derivative. Although the 1938 model began in Cadillac's lowest price range, soon the Sixty Special name would be synonymous for some of Cadillac's most luxurious vehicles.


For 1938, the Bill Mitchell designed Sixty Special was added to Cadillac's lowest-priced line of cars - the Cadillac Series 60, and was Fisher bodied for that year only. The new four-door sedan, designed to look like a convertible, showcased trend-setting features including a completely integrated trunk, lack of side running boards (which all makes soon followed), and four front-hinged doors. It was built on a 127.0-inch (3,230 mm) wheelbase - 3-inch (76 mm) longer than the standard Series 60 cars. The new Sixty Special utilized a unique "X" frame underneath, which allowed the 4,170 lb (1,890 kg). car to sit within its frame. This not only gave the new Cadillac the stiffest chassis on the market, but it was also 3 inches lower than other Cadillacs - with no sacrifice in headroom. The disappearance of running boards along the side and its lack of belt-line trim made the sleek car appear even lower. More importantly, it allowed shoulder and hip room to increase by over 5 inches without an increase in overall width. When combined with the brand new column-mounted shift lever the cars offered true six passenger comfort. The Sixty Special was powered by Cadillac's standard 130 hp (97 kW), 346 cu in (5.67 L) V8 engine. In its debut year, 3,703 Sixty Specials were delivered, at a base cost of $2,090 each - it was a success in every measure. The new Sixty Special outsold every other Cadillac model in its first year accounting for 39% of all Cadillacs sold. In 1938, aside from the standard 4-door sedan, three special order models were built on the Sixty Special body - two very dashing four-door convertibles (each owned by GM executives), and one Sixty-Special coupe (the only one of its kind).

A pleasing new front end, a change in trim level, and some unique options appeared for Sixty Special in 1939. Starting in 1939, and for the remainder of its existence, the Sixty Special would be Fleetwood bodied, enjoying higher-priced molding, trim and upholstery like the Series 75 and 90. Thus it took over the Series 70's place, which was dropped for the 1938 model year, as Cadillac's most luxurious owner-driven large model, a role it would fill through 1976. First among the new options was a retractable metal panel above the front seat called a "Sunshine Turret Top Roof," a predecessor to the moon roof. The sliding roof, patented by GM's Ternstedt Hardware division, was operated by a hand crank. Second was a retractable division glass in between the front and rear seats. This partition did not have a header in the roof, only channels between the door posts for the retractable glass to travel in. The 1938 price of $2,090 remained for 1939 as well. More than 5,500 Sixty Specials were built for 1939, accounting for 40% of all Cadillacs sold, but only 280 of them were equipped with the sun roof option (of those 280 sun roof optioned cars, 55 of them were also equipped with the retractable glass partition).

For 1940, the price (for the third year in a row) and general styling remained the same, with only modest trim changes. Of special note is that 1940 was the last year that side-mounted spare tires (optional on all Cadillacs, including Sixty Special) were offered. The Sixty Special line expanded to four models this year: Touring Sedan (the base model), Imperial sedan (priced at $2,230, it featured a retractable glass partition between the front and rear seats), and two open-front Town Car models (one style with a painted roof, the other with a leather-covered roof). These two very formal cars had a removable roof section over the front seat and a glass division window. Of the Sixty Specials built in 1940, 4,242 of them were the Touring model. There were 113 Imperials (including 3 that were also equipped with the sun roof), and lastly, only 15 Town Car models. Of the 15, 9 had the painted metal roof (priced at $3,465), and 6 were the formal leather-covered roof version (priced at $3,820).

1941 was the last year of Bill Mitchell's original Sixty Special design, as an all-new 1942 model was in the works. Many consider the 1941 to the most beautiful of this series. A contemporary front end design blended well with the original body, and the rear fenders now held full skirts. For 1941, the wheelbase was reduced by 1 inch (25 mm), down to 126 in (3,200 mm). Sixty Special showed a $105 price increase (for the first time) to $2,195. Power was still supplied by the same 346 cu in (5.67 L) Cadillac engine as before, but now rated at 150 hp (110 kW). Production totals include 3,878 Touring sedans (including 185 with the sun roof option), and 220 Imperial sedans (now priced at $2,345). Only 1 Sixty Special Town Car was made this year. Featuring the leather-covered roof, it was the last one to come from Cadillac-Fleetwood.

There were nearly 17,900 Sixty Specials made from 1938 to 1941, including about a dozen custom bodied versions.


The completely new Sixty Special for 1942 was 7 inches (180 mm) longer and 1 inch (25 mm) lower than the 1941 model, and now riding a wheelbase of 133 inches (3,400 mm), longer than any other non-limousine Cadillac. This marked the beginning of what would become a central characteristic of the Sixty Special. For 28 of the next 34 model years of its existence the Sixty Special would feature a uniquely stretched GM C-Body with noticeably greater legroom and headroom.

Through 1948, Cadillac advertised the Sixty Special as a five-passenger car. This was the year that the bumper ‘bullets’ were introduced; they would remain a Cadillac styling feature through 1958. The slow-selling sunshine top (sun roof) option was discontinued at the end of the 1941 model year, and would not reappear in a Cadillac until the 1970 Eldorado. While the roomy interior was luxuriously outfitted, Cadillac depended on trim to differentiate the exterior of Sixty Special from its Cadillac siblings. Decorative chrome louvers - which would become a Sixty Special trademark ornament for years to come - were mounted in three locations on the 1942 model: behind the wheel well openings on the front and rear fenders, as well as mounted on the roof behind the rear door opening. In addition to the louvered trim, the Sixty Special had a wider “C-pillar” than other models, and retained its individual chrome bead around the side window glass – one of the only design features to carry over from the original Bill Mitchell design. Just two models were now available in the Sixty Special series – the standard sedan priced at $2,435 and a $2,589 Imperial sedan which featured an electrically adjustable glass division between the front and rear seats. Productions totals include 1,684 standard sedans and an additional 190 Imperial sedans. Because of World War II, Cadillac ended automobile production in February 1942 and began assembling military equipment.

On October 17, 1945, the first post-war Cadillac rolled off the assembly line. The 1946 Sixty Special was now very similar to the C-body Series 62, though a mild wheelbase stretch added more room to the rear seat area. The 1946 model showed few changes from the 1942 model, including a mild grille redesign and new bumpers. Parking lamps and turn signals were now mounted below the headlights. This was the first year the “V” was used underneath the Cadillac crest (the last vehicle to use this emblem would be the 1984 DeVille). Only one model remained in the Sixty Special lineup – the $3,054 standard sedan. Both sets of fender-mounted chrome louvers were gone, but roof-mounted ones remained. Cadillac now used a negative-ground battery on a 6-volt system. Sixty Special would only reach 5,700 units for 1946, as it did not go into production until later in the model year. An electric clock was standard.

Few changes greeted Sixty Special for 1947, as an all-new design was coming in 1948. Cadillac’s famed “sombrero” wheel covers – in bright stainless steel - debuted this year. Behind the redesigned grille was the same 346 cu in (5.67 L) engine that Cadillac had been using since 1936, now rated at 150 horsepower (110 kW). Bright metal stone shields – mounted on the forward edge of the rear fenders - replaced the black rubber pieces used on the 1946 model. The new grille was made up of five bars versus the previous six. Lastly, Cadillac script nameplates replaced the block letters used previously. Price was up to $3,195 – a pretty substantial jump from the 1942 price of $2,435 considering it was practically the same vehicle. Despite the steep price hike, production hit a new height at 8,500 units, but this represented only 14% of Cadillac's sales, down sharply from the 40% share they had represented in 1939. This was largely due to the tremendous sales success of the Series 61 and 62, whose low, runningboardless bodies, with broad shoulder room, had been inspired by the original Sixty Special.


Nearly every model was redesigned for 1948, including the $3,820 Sixty Special. With all-new sheet metal, but still riding an exclusive 133-inch wheelbase, the luxurious Sixty Special weighed in at 4,370 pounds shipping weight (over 4,500 pounds curb weight). Inside, electric window lifts and a two-way power bench seat were standard equipment. A clever rainbow-shaped instrument cluster which put all the gauges directly above the steering column in front of the driver was used for 1948 only, while a new curved dashboard design added to passenger roominess. The roof-mounted decorative chrome louvers and individually framed side door glass (a Sixty Special design element since 1938) were carried over to this latest model as well. With trim inspired by the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, the new Sixty Special featured simulated side-scoops and curious tail-fins - resembling the P-38’s vertical stabilizers.

1949 brought new power to Cadillac, in the form of the 331 cu in (5.42 L) OHV V8 engine. This new powerplant featured a short-stroke, high-compression design that provided both quiet, economical operation and smooth, high performance. Although the engine was smaller and shorter than its predecessor, it was 10 hp (7.5 kW) more powerful and 188 pounds lighter. With near-annual improvements, this engine was used through the 1955 model year. In typical Cadillac form, a new grille was in order for 1949 – this one appearing wider and lower than last year. With only a slight price increase, the $3,859 Sixty Special was now advertised as a six-passenger car, and sales reached a record 11,399 units. 1949 was the last year Sixty Special used a two-piece windshield with a vertical divider mounted in the center. Four Cadillacs were custom-made this year for the General Motors Automobile Show in New York. Three of them used the Sixty Special body – including a two-door pillar-less hardtop, built on a 133-inch Sixty Special wheelbase. The other two were specially outfitted and equipped standard Sixty Special sedans. The fourth car built for the show was a stock 1949 Cadillac Series 62 convertible – but with a custom western motif interior.


Throughout the 1950s, the Sixty Special would continue as a stretched and optioned-up version of the Cadillac Series 62, but lost the manual transmission.

For 1950, Cadillac showed all-new styling on every car in the lineup, including the $3,797 Sixty Special. While the opulent interior rivaled no other Cadillac, the exterior styling was nearly identical to the less-expensive Series 62 models. The chrome louver trim that was mounted on the rear roof panel since 1942 was now moved to the lower rear doors, just forward of the rear wheel wells. Although Cadillac utilized a wheelbase four inches (102 mm) longer than the Series 62, the 130-inch wheelbase was down 3 inches from the previous year. The 1950 Sixty Special weighed 4,136 pounds shipping weight in base form (over 4,300 pounds curb weight), and was powered by the same engine introduced for 1949 - the 331 cu in (5.42 L) Cadillac OHV V8 producing 160 horsepower (120 kW). For the first time in their history, over 100,000 Cadillacs were sold this year, and 13,755 of them was the Sixty Special – a new record for that model. Of historical note is that the actual 100,000th Cadillac that rolled off the assembly line was a 1950 Sixty Special.

1951 showed little change from 1950, apart from a new grille and bumper design, borrowing bumper bullets (or dagmars) from the 1951 GM Le Sabre show car. Inside, red warning "idiot" lamps replaced the gauges for secondary instruments like voltage and oil pressure. The same 331 cu in (5.42 L) engine, introduced in 1949, was utilized for the 1951 Cadillacs, but with minor revisions for the drivetrain. Despite a price jump to $4,060, the 4,155-pound-shipping-weight Sixty Special broke records for the second year in a row, as sales now hit 18,631.

Cadillac celebrated its Golden Anniversary in 1952. Changes were minimal – and mostly in back where the reverse lamps were now integral with the fin-mounted tail lamps, and the “Fleetwood” script returned to the trunk lid. In addition, the rear exhaust outlets were now in the form of two wide horizontal slots on the outer edges of the rear bumper. Also new for 1952 were winged crest emblems, mounted on the grille extensions below the headlights. With the addition of a down-draft carburetor, the 331 cu in (5.42 L) engine now produced 190 horsepower (140 kW). A revised automatic transmission was standard on Sixty Special, while power steering was offered at extra cost. Sales fell to 16,110 units, while the price and weight both rose, to $4,269 and 4,258 pounds shipping weight. Cadillac won Motor Trend's "Car of the Year" again in 1952.

Just more of the same for 1953 Sixty Special, as all the attention was towards the new Eldorado convertible. Minimal trim changes to the Sixty Special included wider rocker panel moldings, which moved the chrome louvers higher up on the rear doors, and a revised grille and bumper. However, significant engineering changes were made to the 1953 models, including a new 12-volt electrical system for the body, and a jump in power for the 331 cu in (5.42 L) engine – now rated at 210 hp (160 kW). Two new notable options debuted this year. First, the $619.55 trunk-mounted air conditioning unit – developed by Frigidaire – was available in all closed-body Cadillac models. Second, the dashboard-mounted “Autronic Eye” became available. This automated system, which automatically dimmed the high-beam headlights when a forward-facing sensor indicated oncoming traffic, would become a Cadillac option for nearly the next forty years. Also available – for $325 – was a set of five true wire-wheel rims, which hadn't been seen on factory Cadillacs since the 1930s. Wire-wheel rims would occasionally continue to be optionally available through 1992. The minor changes for the 1953 Sixty Special worked wonders, as sales of the $4,304 car was now up to a record 20,000 models. Weight was up to 4,415 pounds shipping weight, and optional wire wheels would add an additional 30 pounds.


All 1954 Cadillacs wore new sheet metal, but unfortunately the $4,683 Sixty Special still looked too much like its lower-priced sibling, the Series 62. Wheelbase for Sixty Special was back up to 133 inches – where it had been in 1949. Refined power steering, from Saginaw, became standard equipment, along with electric windshield washers. New options included a four-way electrically power bench seat, and power brakes from Bendix. As they had been doing since its introduction in 1949, Cadillac was able to pull more power out of its 331 cu in (5.42 L) engine, and now it was rated at 230. The eight chrome trim louvers moved lower onto the rear doors, back where they were in 1952. Sales dropped to 16,200 this year – down from 20,000 in 1953.

Sixty Special arrived with revised trim and more power (250 hp (190 kW), to be exact) for 1955, and while the $4,342 price was lower than last year, production rose slightly to 18,300 units. The eight chrome louvers – mounted on the lower rear doors since 1950, were replaced by 12 louvers mounted just ahead of the bumper on the rear fenders. Chrome rocker panel moldings – taller than the ones used on Series 62 models - stretched from the back of the rear wheel well to the rear bumper. A new grille held a bold eggcrate design, while the rear roof support fashioned a delicate Florentine curve – this design was also shared with the lower-rung Series 62. In back, six vertical chrome louvers were mounted on the panel below the trunk lid – three spaced on each side of the license plate mounting. The tinted band across the windshield header changed from green to gray this year. A new option, the remote control trunk release, debuted this year.

1956 was the last year for the knobby, P-38 inspired tail fins on the rear of most Cadillacs, including the $4,587 Sixty Special. While the Cadillac division broke records by surpassing 150,000 units, Sixty Special slipped down to an even 17,000 models this year. Revamped trim included Cadillac crests on the front fenders, and a new grille (with a finer eggcrate design from last year) bearing a Cadillac script emblem, mounted at an angle, on the driver’s side. Sixty Special script appeared on the front fenders below the Cadillac crest for the first time in the series history. Rear fenders held a chrome bead running along the top, while massive chrome spears with hash marks replaced the 1955’s delicate chrome louvers on the rear sides. This chrome side trim morphed into the oval exhaust ports in the redesigned rear bumper. An anodized gold grille was optionally available on Sixty Special, while power brakes became standard equipment. New for 1956 was a larger 365 cu in (5.98 L) powerplant producing 285 horsepower (213 kW) combined with a revamped automatic transmission. Sabre Spoke wheels - standard on Eldorado - became available for Sixty Special, while inside, passenger seatbelts appeared on the option list.


Cadillac introduced its first production four-door hardtop, the Sedan de Ville, in 1956. When Cadillac redesigned all of its standard models for 1957, the Sixty Special adopted the pillarless design as well. Priced at a hefty $5,539, the 4,761 pound (shipping weight) Sixty Special production reached an impressive 24,000 units - a sales plateau that the nameplate would never achieve again. The chrome fender louvers, a Sixty Special trademark since 1942, were gone in favor of a giant ribbed metallic panel that occupied the entire lower half of the rear fender. The Sixty Special script was gone but would return for its second and last appearance the following year. Engineering treats included moving the optional air conditioning unit from the trunk to a space under the hood, and a foot-operated parking brake that released when the car was put in gear. The 365 cu in (5.98 L) engine introduced last year was now bumped up to 300 hp (220 kW). In spite of all-new sheet metal on the 1957 models, much of Cadillac's attention was focused on the new limited production Eldorado Brougham. This new four-door model did not pose a threat to Sixty Special production, since the new Brougham was a hand-built, limited-production specialty model with a stupendously steep $13,074 price tag – more than double that of a new Sixty Special. Power windows and brakes were standard. A pre-selector radio was optional.

1958 saw extensive design changes, even though the cars were entirely revamped for 1957. Horsepower from the 365 cu in (5.98 L) engine was now at 310 hp (230 kW). Sparkling “studs” decorated the wide new grille, while the rubber-tipped bumper guards were moved further out towards the edges of the car – leaving a lower, wider look. Four headlights, a style that appeared on last year’s Eldorado Brougham, were adopted for all Cadillacs, including the $6,117 Sixty Special. Full fender skirts practically hid the rear wheels from sight, and the massive ribbed stainless steel trim occupied the lower half of the rear fender. Small vent windows were added to Sixty Special’s rear doors, and newly available power door locks were optional. This marked the last year that the Sixty Special would maintain a stretched GM C-Body until its return in the 1965 model year. The model year 1958 would also be the last that the Sixty Special script would actually appear anywhere on the car. Sales for the 4,930 pound (shipping weight) car slid to 12,900 units – nearly half of last year’s production.


In 1959, the memorable "zap!" fins appeared on nearly all Cadillacs this year, including the Sixty Special. Now riding a three-inch-shorter (76 mm) wheelbase (130 inches), the 225-inch-long Sixty Special continued as a pillar-less hardtop with its own distinct moldings - including a side-mounted dummy air-scoop on the rear fender, and a thin chrome bead that ran from the front fender back to the rear bumper, and then forward again to the front wheel well. The fin-mounted tail lights pods (which were body-colored on lesser Cadillacs) were chromed. The 390 cu in (6.4 L) engine provided 325 horsepower (242 kW). Air suspension, utilizing freon-filled shock absorbers, was optional on Sixty Special. Cadillac also advertised a new "Scientifically engineered" drainage system. Although the Sixty Special script was gone, the Fleetwood script remained, and since the only other Cadillac bodied by Fleetwood was the Series 75, for this and many other reasons, there was no confusing the Sixty Special with other Cadillacs. However a front fender-mounted cloisonne "Sixty Special" emblem would appear the following year and last through 1962.

1960 saw new (shorter) rear fins, and a cleaner side-trim design,as well as a rear "grille" design shared with Eldorado. The Sixty Special was also distinguished by a new front fender-mounted cloisonne "Sixty Special" emblem. Wheelbase remained 130 in (3,300 mm), and the $6,233 price was the same as the 1959. New for 1960 was a standard vinyl roof covering, and the small chrome "louvers" returned (first seen in 1942, last seen in 1956) mounted on the rear fenders, just ahead of the tail lights. Power steering and brakes were standard.


For 1961, Cadillac's Sixty Special received all-new sheet metal, with a crisp, formal roofline fitted with a vinyl covering and a mildly shorter 129.5 in (3,290 mm) wheelbase. The small decorative louvers were back, this time just ahead of the tail lights. Sales were up to 15,500 units. With the cancellation of the four-door Eldorado Brougham at the end of 1960, the 1961 Sixty Special now became the sedan companion to the Eldorado convertible. Power steering was standard.

1962's styling remained similar to 1961, and Sixty Special's fender louvers were moved up to the roof, directly behind the rear door opening. A revised grill up front, and a new trim panel below the rear deck lid rounded out the subtle changes. Sales slipped to 13,350 this year at a base price of $6,366.

1963 had all-new styling (on the same 129.5-inch wheelbase), and a brand new 325 hp (242 kW) powerplant. Sixty Special shared its (lack of) body-side trim with Eldorado - appearing very clean and formal when compared to the standard Cadillac models. Price was down to $6,300, and sales were up slightly 14,000. While the small decorative louvers continued on the C-pillar, a new Cadillac "wreath and crest" ornament was on the rear fender. The front fender-mounted cloisonne "Sixty Special" emblem (which appeared for 1960) was gone. The formerly standard vinyl top had now become a $125 option on Sixty-Special.

Other than a slightly revamped grille and rear bumper, 1964 saw few exterior changes - including the Cadillac wreath and crest ornament moving from the rear fender of the 1963 model to take the place of the C-pillar mounted louvers for 1964. The 1964 Sixty Special (and companion Eldorado convertible) now had nearly no side trim, except for a wide rocker-sill molding which ran from the rear-edge of the front fender wheel well to the rear of the car. Under the hood saw more significant changes as engine displacement was enlarged to 429 cu in (7.03 L), and the venerable Hydra-Matic transmission, first introduced in the 1940 model year, was replaced with the all-new Turbo-Hydromatic automatic transmission. The cost was back up to the 1962 price of $6,366, and sales were up to 14,500 units.


1965 featured all-new styling, and a longer 133-inch wheelbase with a stretched GM C-Body for the first time since the 1958 model year. The Sixty Special was now back to being a pillared sedan (the B-pillar was absent from 1957), and also new for 1965 was the available "Brougham" package, which added $194 to Sixty Special's base price of $6,479. Included in the package was a padded grained-vinyl roof covering with "Brougham" nomenclature on the C-pillar. 18,100 Sixty Specials were built for 1965. Also, with Eldorado having joined the Sixty Special in 1963 as the only other non-limousine Cadillac bodied by Fleetwood, perhaps the addition of the Brougham script made things a little more consistent in nomenclature, for recall that Eldorado was originally only available as a convertible, and that its later four-door sedan companion was denoted "Brougham". Also, Cadillac got rid of the X-frame and replaced it with a full-perimeter frame. A trunk lock light was standard.

1966, with minor trim changes, now offered Cadillac buyers two models in this series to choose from - the standard Sixty Special (priced at $6,378) and the new Sixty Special Brougham ($6,695). The Brougham option package proved so popular the previous year that it was named as a separate model for 1966. The Brougham model included a formal-looking vinyl roof covering, and luxurious appointments inside such as genuine walnut trim and, for rear seat passengers, lighted writing tables (through 1967), foot rests, and reading lamps. This was the last year that the Sixty Special would serve as a body-sharing companion to the Eldorado convertible, as the 1967 Eldorado moved to front-wheel drive and all -new sheet metal. The new Sixty Special Brougham sold over 13,630 copies, surpassing the standard Sixty Special which sold only 5,445 units.

1967 Cadillacs had all-new styling (but the Sixty-Special continued with an exclusive 133 in (3,400 mm) wheelbase), and the $6,739 Sixty Special Brougham continued to outsell the $6,423 Sixty Special - 12,750 units versus 3,550 standard Sixty Specials.

1968 featured mostly carry-over styling from 1967, but the hood was longer this year, as it extended all the way to the base of the windshield to cover the "hidden" windshield wipers. Also new for 1968 was a stylish beveled deck lid. The $6,867 vinyl-roofed Sixty Special Brougham sold 15,300 models this year, while the standard Sixty Special with its painted metal roof (priced at $6,552) sold just 3,300 cars. Most Cadillac buyers clearly considered the $315 price difference worthwhile.

1969 models ushered in all-new styling, and the two Sixty Special models had distinct rooflines from the other Cadillacs. A 60/40 split bench seat was standard in the Sixty Special Brougham, optional in Sixty Special. Safety was a new priority at Cadillac, which introduced a new steering column that not only was designed to absorb impact and collapse in a collision, but also had theft-deterrent features such as an ignition key switch activated steering wheel and transmission shifter lock mechanism. Head rests were standard on front seats, while seat belts were provided for all six passengers. The 375 hp (280 kW) 472 cu in (7.73 L) engine carried over from 1968. Also of note this year was the disappearance of the small vent windows on the front and rear doors. Sixty Special Brougham, at $7,092, included a vinyl roof top (available in six colors), as well as rear-seat foot rests and an automatic level control for the rear wheels which kept the car level despite the weight of fuel, passengers, or cargo. Sixty Special Brougham's sales of 17,300 units easily surpassed the 2,545 copies of the standard $6,761 Sixty Special.

The 1970 Sixty Special received few changes, aside from the usual new grille and tail lamps. Sixty Special had long been recognized for its bold, bare side body, but this year the models received a 'chrome with vinyl insert' body-side molding. It was really the first prominent side molding on Sixty Special since the 'rocket-ship' 1958 model. It did not take much away from Sixty Special's individuality, and certainly improved the chances of avoiding a devastating parking-lot door 'ding' on those smooth, slab sides. Sales and production figures include 16,913 units of the Sixty Special Brougham at $7,284; and just 1,738 units of the Sixty-Special at $6,953. This would be the last year for the standard, metal-roofed Sixty Special.


The new GM full-size bodies for 1971, at 64.3 inches front shoulder room (62.1 inches on Cadillac) and 63.4 inches rear shoulder room (64.0 inches on Cadillac) set a record for interior width that would not be matched by any car until the full-size GM rear-wheel-drive models of the early to mid-1990s. Following this remodel, the Sixty Special remained basically unchanged through 1976, save for front and rear-end refreshenings. The car shared styling cues with the lesser models. The most dramatic of these changes was the addition of rectangular headlamps in 1975 along with a completely new grille. This configuration also marked the end of the traditional large-size Cadillacs, as 1977 would see a dramatic down-sizing of all full-size Cadillacs except for the Eldorado.

For 1971, the lineup was trimmed down to just one Sixty Special model, the Sixty Special Brougham. It still rode on an exclusive 133.0 in (3,380 mm) wheelbase, but with all-new sheet metal and a distinctive roof design. The formal new roof was clearly reminiscent of Bill Mitchell's original 1938 Sixty Special, with individually framed, rounded-corner side glass (outlined by a thin chrome bead). Also new on the vinyl top were C-pillar mounted opera lamps and a thick B-pillar - all of which heightened the limousine effect. To complete the "custom-body" look, the front and rear side doors had a narrow body filler panel between them. Despite the formal new look and higher levels of luxury, sales dropped slightly from last year, down to 15,200 units.

Engine performance began to decrease with EPA restrictions on tailpipe emissions and grams per mile emissions requirements, forcing gear ratios to taller and taller ratios, dropping to as low as 2.41:1. A new common frame/suspension design was introduced in the latest generation Sixty Special which was also used in other GM full size cars. While the other GM divisions used a front-steer setup (steering linkage in front of the engine crossmember), all Cadillac RWDs retained the 1961-vintage front suspension (rear steering linkage, eccentric cams in the steering knuckle in lieu of shims, strut rods attached to the framerails for caster adjustment). Rear suspensions were now driven by the Pontiac-designed 8 78-inch ring-gear 10-bolt salisbury live axle. A new trailer towing package was added allowing larger trailer loads to be pulled. Coupled with heavy duty cooling, 3.23 gearing, high output 80 amp large frame alternator and heavy-duty THM400 transmission, the long wheelbase was ideal to pull trailers weighing up to 7,000 lb (3,200 kg).

1972 was Cadillac's 70th anniversary. One of the few changes on the 1972 was the addition of a chrome molding around the rear window. Sales were a robust 20,750 units at a base price of $7,585. The 1972 Sixty Special Brougham weighed in at an impressive 4,858 pounds shipping weight (over 5,000 pounds curb weight). Standard equipment included rear-seat reading lamps, automatic level control, and dual-comfort front seats. A wide range of upholstery was available in nine colors of "Sierra" grain leather, four colors of "Matador" cloth, a combination of "Matador" cloth and leather, a "Minuet" fabric in three colors, or a plush "Medici" crushed velour.

The 1974 model year saw the introduction of the "Air Cushion Restraint System" (airbags) activated when the car was hit from the front only. Hidden in the steering wheel, and passenger side of the instrument panel, were instantaneous-inflating nylon bags designed to prevent front seat occupants from hitting the windshield during a frontal collision. The option replaced the glove box with a lockable compartment under the dashboard. During the mid-seventies this option never caught on and was dropped from the option list after 1976. A digital clock was added.

When the Sixty Special Series was temporarily retired in 1977, the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham took its place as Cadillac's most luxurious owner-driven large sedan model through 1986.

Sixty Special Brougham d'Elegance for 1973

An option package available for the first time in 1973 was the "d'Elegance" package. Adding US$750, this package included a unique "pillow-style" velour seating trim as well as a more plush carpeting and a few additional features optional on the standard models. The same package was offered on the Coupe/Sedan de Ville models in 1974 with a different seating design. The package was available on the Fleetwood Brougham/ Brougham/ Fleetwood models throughout the 70's, 80's, and even well into the 90's. Standard features adjusted to suit the decades.

Sixty Special Brougham Talisman for 1974

Even more exclusive was the "Talisman" package available for the 60 Special for the 1974, 1975, and 1976 model years. By definition, the word talisman means "anything whose presence exercises a remarkable or powerful influence on human feelings or actions". The package was so exclusive that it essentially removed the "Brougham" identification from the car renaming it a "Fleetwood Talisman" per exterior badging. For 1974 the interior featured a center console in the front and rear-seat passenger compartments; the front console containing a writing tablet. The rear seat console contained only a storage space. This seating arrangement turned the hulking Fleetwood Brougham into a four-seater automobile which may have led to the discontinuation of the rear seat console in the 1975/76 editions. Seating was in "Medici" crushed velour and interior carpeting was virtually of a "shag carpet" nature. The price of this opulence was reflective as well-US$1800 for the velour seats and US$2450 for leather-an unheard of amount for "options" in 1974. The leather trim edition was dropped after 1974. A 1974 version of this model was owned by former First Lady, Pat Nixon.


The Sixty Special returned in 1987 as the top owner-driven model in the front-wheel-drive GM C-body lineup, with a planned production run of just 2,000 units. The 1987 and 1988 Sixty Specials were custom-crafted cars featuring a five-inch (127 mm) wheelbase stretch over the Deville on which they were based. Similarly equipped to the standard-size Fleetwood d'Elegance - the model on which it was based - the Sixty Special also included an anti-lock braking system (a $925 option on Fleetwood) and a stainless-steel exhaust system not available on other models. In 1987, Sixty Special was priced at $34,850 - more than $8,700 over the price of the Fleetwood d'Elegance. The price dropped by $100 for 1988. With their longer wheelbase, these cars were akin to "mini-limousines" that could be owner- or chauffeur-driven. In addition to 5 inches of extra rear seat leg room, they included exclusive amenities such as dual rear-seat headrests, three-position footrests (mounted onto the backs of the 55/45 split front seat) and two illuminated vanity mirrors located in an overhead console. A padded vinyl roof covering, which hid the body work where the additional section was added, carried over onto the elongated rear doors. Door sill plates and wide, ribbed lower body side moldings were positioned to hide the cobbled body work along the rocker panel.

For 1989, the De Ville, Fleetwood, and Sixty Special sedans were all built on a shared 113.8 in (2,890 mm) wheelbase. The Sixty Special was now priced at $34,230. When the Fleetwood name supplanted Brougham on the large rear-wheel-drive Cadillac in 1993, the model that had been the Fleetwood (which was really just a variant of the front-wheel-drive Sedan DeVille) was renamed, simply, "Sixty Special". It had been 55 years since the Sixty Special was introduced, and also the first time in 55 years that the "Fleetwood" name was not used with the "Sixty Special" designation.

While the 1987 and 1988 Sixty Special had their unique longer wheelbase, the 1989 through 1993 models were differentiated from the Deville by the special interior trim package that included 22-way power driver and passenger seats. Italian designer Giorgio Giugiaro created the glove-soft leather seating which included built-in heating elements and multiple lumbar adjustments, a center clamshell armrest in front and a rear armrest with dual slide-out cup holders, and an electrically powered slide-out storage bin between the front seats that also housed two cup holders. This seating package was standard from 1989 through 1992, and became optionally available in 1993.

For 1989, Cadillac produced 2,007 Sixty Special sedans. Pricing rose only slightly from the 1988 model, to $34,840. Exterior color choices nearly doubled from the previous year, now with 11 colors to pick from - five more than 1988. Interiors featured leather upholstery as standard equipment, available in 3 colors (Dark Blue, Deep Red, and Medium Gray). The 'clam-shell' front seat center armrest opened from the rear, allowing better access to back seat passengers, while the rear seat center armrest held a slide out console with two cup holders and a storage cubby.

The 1990 Sixty Special was priced at $36,980, and 1,817 were manufactured. A driver's-side airbag was now standard (optional last year), and the telescoping steering column was discontinued, although the tilt feature remained. Exteriors were available in 11 colors (including three shades of gray that were new for 1990 - Slate Gray, Medium Slate Gray, and Dark Slate Gray). Interiors were available in just three 'Ultrasoft' leather colors: Garnet Red, Very Dark Sapphire (Blue), and a new shade - Medium Slate Gray.

For 1991, the electrically powered slide out storage drawer was eliminated in favor of a storage armrest with a flip-out cup holder, removable coin holder, and compact disc storage. Adjustable air ducts for rear-seat passengers were added to the back of the revised front seat arm rest base. Cadillac manufactured 879 Sixty Specials for 1991, with a base price of $38,325.

For the 1992 model year, only 554 Sixty Special sedans (priced at $39,860) were produced.

In 1993, the Fleetwood name went onto a new, rear-wheel-drive vehicle (a replacement for the Cadillac Brougham), so the 1992 front-drive Fleetwood merged with the Sixty Special to become the 1993 Sixty Special (available only as a four-door). This was a step-down in furnishings and standard equipment for Sixty Special, as the car was similarly equipped to the 1992 Fleetwood it had replaced. Velour upholstery was now standard, leather optional. While Sixty Special retained genuine American walnut trim on the doors and dashboard, the custom seating that made the Sixty-Special unique since 1989 was now optional, available as part of a $3,550 "Ultra" package. Only 686 of the 5,286 Sixty Specials (priced at $37,230) built in 1993 were ordered with the "Ultra" interior. A 1993 Sixty Special Coupe was planned, and is referred to in the "Advance Preview Book" (a supplement that Cadillac dealer's received in July 1992 offering information about the upcoming 1993 model year). However, by September 12 of that year, the coupe was dropped from production after just one model was built (in Royal Maroon Metallic). Sixty Special sedan production (by color) is as follows: 3 Mary Kay Pink / 59 Dark Plum / 110 Light Sapphire Blue / 206 Slate-Bronze / 220 Academy Gray / 228 Carmine Red / 250 Platinum / 310 Sapphire Firemist Blue / 326 Taupe / 445 Royal Maroon / 477 Light Beige / 518 Slate Green / 578 Black / 707 Navy Blue / 849 White. While it was based upon the deVille, the Sixty Special included eleven items as standard equipment that were optional on deVille. In addition, there were options for the Sixty Special not available on the deVille, such as a driver's side 2-position memory seat and individual power recliners for the front seats. On the exterior, the most noticeable difference were the rear wheel fender skirts, giving the Sixty Special a more formal look than the deVille.


  • 1987–1989 4T60
  • 1990–1993 4T60E