Demon in the Rib: 1994 Cadillac Fleetwood Ownership Experience (part 2)
The neck of the fuel tank, by the way, is conveniently located above the rear bumper strictly in the center, covered by a shield to which the number of the American dimension was attached.
The weak point of the LT1 motor is Optispark’s proprietary GM technology, which was also used on the LT4 and LT99 engines. Because of it, our Fleetwood once (the only one staying in the property of the current owner) failed to start and had to ride on a tow truck …
Optispark is a small box with a rotating shaft. It is mounted on the front of the engine, under the antifreeze pump, driven directly from the motor and combines an optical (like a computer mouse) crankshaft position sensor and a high voltage distributor for the cylinders. In other words, it acts as a gear pulley, a traditional induction sensor and a distributor in one relatively compact housing. In principle, this solution was quite advanced for its time, but the location of the Optispark made it vulnerable to moisture – from the road, when washing the engine, from antifreeze leaks through the pump … A new unit costs forty thousand rubles to order from the United States, and In the circles of American breeders, there is a persistent prejudice that it is necessary to set only the original and nothing else. However, for this year the Chinese module has been working steadily on this Fleetwood with Aliexpress for 2,700 rubles …
Another interesting car system is pneumatic adjustment of the rear suspension level. If the trunk and seat are heavily loaded, the automation, by the signal of the sensor fixed between the bridge and the body, will track the subsidence of the stern, turn on the electric compressor located under the hood and pump up the rear shock struts. The system is structurally very simple, but has one unpleasant nuance. It consists in the fact that the compressor is constantly connected to the power supply and is not connected to the ignition switch. Accordingly, the automation controls the subsidence of the rear axle around the clock and regardless of whether the car is in operation or parked.
And when at least a small air leak occurs somewhere in the pneumatic system, the pressure sensor turns on the compressor for pumping. As a result, if the car is standing for several days in the parking lot, the pump manages to discharge the battery … However, all the “fleet drivers” are well aware of this and put an additional relay in the gap of the compressor power cable, which gives a plus to the rear strut pump system only after the engine is started – a problem disappears completely! Some American fanatics go further in caring for their favorites and try their best to save the resource of an expensive full-time compressor. Moreover, when the unit fails, the problem of its search is aggravated by the fact that various modifications of the pumps were in the Fleetwoods of 1993-1995, and they are pretty rare on the secondary market … As a result, some desperate enthusiasts preventively dismantle the compressor from under the hood and they take it home, where it is kept warm and dry … Instead, a piece of hose with an ordinary wheel nipple is connected to the pneumatic struts and hidden under a rear bumper. And if you occasionally need to lift your ass (with excessive load or when cold weather sets in, when air loses volume), this hose is simply removed and a little air is manually blown into the racks by the most common Chinese wheel compressor!
Like many similar cars, Fleetwood not only delivers comfort, but also vanity – in the end, there is nothing wrong with that! No one cares for a long time both on S-klasse and on other Maybachs, and in such a car the respect of others and positive emotions are always guaranteed to you. However, the owner of this Cadillac rides it constantly in everyday mode – this is no longer a retro festival or a weekend trip. How comfortable is it to drive such a car in a metropolis?
The first thing you, of course, encounter when driving a Fleetwood is the dimensions. Almost six meters is no joke! The front and sides can be seen on the whole not bad, the ass, of course, worse. It is not in vain that bumpers for “parking by ear” were made on the bumpers, and sometimes they, to be honest, are beneficial! The turning radius is large – the frame does not allow the wheels to turn with the same eversion, as in rear-wheel drive with a supporting body. However, even for a short test drive, I noticed how quickly getting used to the dimensions of such a “crocodile” when maneuvering in tight spaces. The owner, with his experience, has long been able to climb Cadillac into any back streets of the capital if necessary without much discomfort.
Of course, there is no acuity of control – a worm gearbox with a huge gear ratio and an extensive near-zero empty zone is used in the steering. At the same time, at speed, the machine does not require constant steering and goes very smoothly, not roaring, thanks to the standard steering damper too – a small shock absorber installed in the trapezium rods. The highway is generally an ideal environment for the “Fleet”, in it you quickly forget about the purpose and duration of the trip and in every way you want to wave your hand at them and go and go … The suspension swallows any bumps, the sound insulation is excellent even adjusted for age – on such a liner you can safely go on a voyage of any range.
The highest buzz and impressive speed is up to hundreds, but overall, the Fleet’s dynamics are fine, although for such a heavy car the arsenal of 260 “horses” is not impressive at first glance … LT1, as it should be, cannonally pulls literally from idle speed, cheerfully disperses the carcass of Fleetwood, easily tearing the rear wheels into thin section and generally slightly provoking an aggressive drive. Moreover, the muffler of the car was slightly modernized to give a slightly more noble and bass sound. This is especially evident if you give it 60-80 kilometers “to the floor” – the box falls from fourth gear to second, a delightful roar is heard and an intense adrenaline rush begins! However, while accelerating, we must not forget about the brakes – the pedal is long, designed for the comfort of passengers and preventing the car from biting its nose properly. The brakes are frankly sluggish, and on sharp spurt in the city traffic there is a risk of catching up with the future …
In the automotive world, confusion and confusion often occur when words that are secondary to the model names later become the names of new models. Especially often this happens in the Japanese auto industry, but also happens in the American one.
The name “Fleetwood” came to the vocabulary of General Motors in the 20s of the twentieth century, when automakers produced motorized chassis, and bodywork for them, as a rule, was built by separate bodywork companies. That was the Pennsylvania Fleetwood Metal Body, which GM eventually absorbed, making its products a line of exclusive premium bodies for Cadillac models. The word “Fleetwood” appeared in the names of Cadillac Eldorado, Sixty Special and some transitional models as optional. All these were expensive, large, powerful, rear-wheel drive cars.
A separate branch that added confusion to the classification and systematization was the premium rear-wheel drive model Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham, produced from 1977 to 1986. In 1987, its name was reduced to the simple Cadillac Brougham, and production continued until 1992. Meanwhile, in the 80-90s (or rather, from 1985 to 1992) Fleetwood appeared again for some time, becoming an independent model in the range of mid-size new products built on the GM C-body front-wheel drive platform – together with Cadillac DeVille, Buick Electra and Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight. This model is often called Fleetwood I.
However, rear-wheel drive and the huge full-size dimensions did not go away forever – they returned under the Fleetwood name in 1993 when the new Cadillac Fleetwood (also known as Fleetwood II) came out to fight for sales with the highly successful new Lincoln Towncar from Ford … And yes, the word “Brougham” surfaced again – already in the designation of the most elegant configuration Fleetwood …
Frankly, for the automotive industry, such a reversal from the miniaturization trends generated by the fuel crisis, the abandonment of frame structures and the reduction in the volume and power of engines to what they have been actively fighting against recently, is quite atypical – at least this has left Cadillac Fleetwood from 1993-1996 trace in the history of car evolution! A luxurious monster with a body length of 5.7 meters and a mass of 2.1 tons lasted on the assembly line until 1996, after which the competition in the segment of large passenger cars shifted to the class of all-wheel drive SUVs, and General Motors reoriented itself to the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe. The era of full-size sedans is over …