Cadillac was the number one luxury American automaker in 1951. In 1951 the Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75 would represent the fourth generation of that model.
Out of a total production of Cadillac's in 1951, GM made only 1,090 of the Series 75 Sedan, 1,085 units of the Series 75 Fleetwood Limousine that accommodated 7-8 people and the Fleetwood Series 75 business Sedan of which only 30 vehicles were produced. In addition to this a total of 2,960 commercial chassis were produced. Some of these you would have seen as ambulances and hearses.
Fleetwood Coach Building
Fleetwood Pennsylvania at one time went by the names of Greentown and Coxville. Much of Pennsylvania was settled by German immigrants and many were quite skilled in the European trades of coach building and cabinet making.
tIt was in this town that the Fleetwood Metal Body Company, makers of strictly high end custom automobile bodies was established. The way their business worked was that the chassis of a luxury automobile such as a Packard, Pierce Arrow or Cadillac was sent to them accompanied by complete instructions as to the kind of body desired.
Many notable names were initially drawn to the Fleetwood coach builders. These included Andrew Carnegie, the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers who had all been owners of Fleetwood built automobiles.
General Motors determined that if their Cadillac brand was to grow going forward what was required was low cost, yet high quality custom coachwork that could be in-house. In 1925 Fisher Body, which had a majority of it's stock purchased by GM in 1919, purchased all of Fleetwood for $650,000. A year later GM purchased all of the remaining Fisher Body stock. In 1926 a lot of expansion was underway in Fleetwood Pennsylvania including the addition of factory buildings. To satisfy the projected demand for Fleetwood bodies, Fisher Body started construction of a new Detroit plant in 1929 for the exclusive use of Fleetwood.
Between 1929 and 1937, all Cadillac salesmen were issued a 70 page handbook called “The Book of Fleetwood”, which included picture and details of current model year styles, options, prices and color combinations as well as details of Fleetwood body construction.
From its beginning in 1941, until the line was discontinued at the end of the 1984 model year, Cadillac’s Series 75 limousines had Fleetwood badging and were assigned as Fleetwood 75 Limousines in all Cadillac advertising.
The 1951 Design.
Harley Earl's design team was responsible for the new 1950's Cadillac Series 75 look.The 1950's Cadillacs were known to have quite a bit of chrome laden glitter.
Styling in 1951 was not changed to any significant extent from 1950 although the 1950's styling itself was all new. It's important to note that the 1950 model had a new grille, one piece windshield and an overall lower look. For 1951 there were some trim changes and a very minor facelift and that was pretty much the extent.
You'll find that jumpseats were used in the Fleetwood Series 75's for both the sedan and limousine models. Other changes included a new combination grille and impact guards, a wider, more massive "V" set lower on the hood, chrome headlight rims, a wider, lower interior rear-view mirror, slim rear quarter panels to minimize blind spots.
Cadillac liked to tout that the Series 75 limousine was built for an exacting clientele and provided the ultimate in comfort. The car was designed to satisfy the most discriminating.
See these AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below...
An excellent photo archive book on the Cadillac Series 75 is Cadillac Fleetwood Seventy-Five Series Limousines 1937-1987 Photo Archive by Thomas A. McPherson and Walter McCall.
Another is Elvis and His 1955 Cadillac Limo by author Chris Osborne.
1951 Cadillac Fleetwood Limousine Specifications
The 1951 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75 came with a 160 horse power 331 cubic inch overhead valve V8 engine.
Transmission was either a three speed manual synchromesh or a 4 speed Hydra-Matic.
Brakes on this model were four wheel disc.
The wheelbase on the 51 Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood came in at 146.75 inches. The car's overall length was an impressive 236.25 inches. Width was 80.125 inches and height 64.063 inches.
Options for the 1951 Cadillac line included chrome hubcaps, heater and ventilation, a radio and antenna, white sidewall tires and power windows. The power windows were standard on all Series 75 models.
The 1950's Cadillac Limousine Collector's Market
Finding a Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood Limousine for sale might not be your toughest task. What you most likely will find is that they will come in a wide range of conditions and mileage.
As of this writing we find a 1950 model with an asking price of $35,000 to $40,000. You might also find a 1951 Cadillac limousine body shell to use as a project car for as low as $1,000.
(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)