The Cadillac Fleetwood is a model of luxury car that was manufactured by the Cadillac division of General Motors between 1976 and 1996. The “Fleetwood” name was previously used as a prefix on several of Cadillac’s models dating back to 1935. Four-door Fleetwoods generally had longer wheelbases than Cadillac’s more common Series 62 and DeVille models.
Through 1984, all Fleetwood series cars were rear-wheel drive. Between 1985 and 1992, the Fleetwood name was used on new front-wheel drive models that were closely related to the concurrent DeVille. The older RWD Fleetwood was also kept in production through 1992; it was first known as the Fleetwood Brougham through 1987 and from then on as simply Brougham. In 1987, a stretched-wheelbase version of the front-wheel drive model joined the lineup as the Fleetwood 60 Special, a name which was last used as a trim level on the 1970 Fleetwood. In 1993, a new rear-wheel drive Fleetwood was introduced and was built through 1996.
Before 1934, all Cadillac models could be ordered with bodies built by the General Motors Fleetwood coachbuilding operation in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania. Between 1935 and 1941, cars bearing the Fleetwood name were assembled there.
Lawrence P. Fisher was the Fisher brother most closely involved with Cadillac in its early years. In 1916 he joined the Fisher Body Company that had been formed by two of his brothers in 1908. Larry (as people knew him) was one of four of the seven Fisher brothers who brought Fisher Body Corporation under the General Motors umbrella in 1919. In May 1925 Alfred P. Sloan, then the head of General Motors, appointed Fisher as Cadillac General Manager, an office he retained through 1934. Fisher immediately went to work adding exclusive, custom bodies to the Cadillac range. Thus, he oversaw the purchase of the Fleetwood Metal Body Company by the Fisher Body Corporation in September 1925.
The Fleetwood Body Company of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, was founded by Harry Urich in the nineteenth century. It began as a small community of craftsmen founded by Henry Fleetwood, Esq. of Penwortham, near Lancaster, England (the Fleetwood family flourished in England in the 17th and 18th centuries). The rich traditions of 300 years of coach-building that the Fleetwood Body Company applied to its work on cars secured for it a high reputation in automobile circles worldwide by the 1920s. Coachwork was built by Fleetwood for a variety of luxury makes through 1924.
After the Fisher Body Corporation purchased the Fleetwood Body Company in 1925, Fleetwood bodies were reserved exclusively for Cadillac. By 1929 GM had purchased the remaining stock holdings of the Fisher Body Corporation and thus became sole owner of both the Fisher and Fleetwood companies. From 1927 through 1934 all Cadillac series offered Fleetwood bodies as an option.