Cadillac Calais

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Cadillac Calais
1966 Cadillac Calais two door front.jpg
1966 Cadillac Calais Coupe
ManufacturerGeneral Motors
DesignerBill Mitchell
Body and chassis
ClassFullsize luxury car
LayoutFR layout
PredecessorCadillac Series 62
SuccessorCadillac Seville

The Calais was the entry-level Cadillac model that was sold from 1965 to 1976. Cadillac renamed its low-priced Series 62 "Calais" in 1965, after the French town and resort which overlooks the narrowest point in the English Channel. In Greek mythology, Calais was also one of two winged sons of Boreas, god of the North Wind, and Oreithyea. The Calais shared its styling with the better-equipped, more expensive De Ville.


First generation
1966 Cadillac Calais two door rear.jpg
Model years1965–1970
AssemblyDetroit, Michigan, United States
Body and chassis
Body style4-door hardtop
4-door sedan
2-door hardtop
RelatedCadillac Eldorado
Cadillac De Ville
Buick Electra
Oldsmobile 98
Engine429 cu in (7.0 L) OHV V8
472 cu in (7.7 L) OHV V8
Transmission3-speed TH-400, automatic
Wheelbase129.5 in (3,289 mm)[1]
Length1965–67: 224.0 in (5,690 mm)
1968: 224.7 in (5,710 mm)[2]
1969–70: 225.0 in (5,715 mm)[2]
Width1965–68: 79.9 in (2,029 mm)
1969–70: 79.8 in (2,027 mm)
Height1965–68: 55.6 in (1,412 mm)
1969–70: 56.2 in (1,427 mm)
Curb weight4,600–4,900 lb (2,100–2,200 kg)

In 1965 Calais tailfins were canted slightly downward, and sharp, distinct body lines were featured. The rear bumper was straight and the rear lamp clusters were vertical. The headlight pairs were vertical, permitting a wide grille. Side windows were curved and frameless. Perimeter frame construction allowed positioning of the engine forward in the frame, thus lowering the transmission hump and increasing interior room. The Calais was available as a 2- or 4-door hardtop as well as a "formal-roof" 4-door sedan, which was a hybrid with frameless, hardtop-like windows, but with a pillar between them. With the exception of having no convertible, the Calais mirrored the better-equipped, more expensive De Ville.

The primary differences between the Calais and the De Ville were trim levels and standard equipment. While the De Ville was delivered with such amenities as power windows and 2-way power seats as standard equipment, hand-cranked windows were standard on the Calais, with power a US$119 option.[3] At the same time, however, AM radio was a US$165 extra, as was air conditioning, at US$495, on either.[4] Standard equipment included power brakes; power steering; automatic transmission; dual back-up lights; windshield washers and dual speed wipers; full wheel discs; remote controlled outside rear view mirror; visor vanity mirror; oil filter; five tubeless black tires; heater; defroster; lamps for luggage, glove and rear passenger compartments; cornering lights and front and rear seat belts.[1]

Leather seating areas and vinyl roof trim were available on the De Ville, but not on the Calais (although a high-grade cloth-and-vinyl, similar to what was seen on top-line Buick Electras and Oldsmobile 98s, was). Another item not initially available on the Calais was the Cadillac-exclusive "firemist" paint, an extra-cost metallic paint. Both the high-end Buick and Oldsmobile models shared the GM C platform with Cadillac. Cadillac, always General Motors' technology leader, offered most De Ville options on the Calais, such as Twilight Sentinel and the GuideMatic headlight dimmer. In 1965, the new Turbo-Hydramatic, standard on the 1964 De Ville, but not the lower-priced Series 62, became standard throughout the Cadillac range – even the Calais. The 340 hp (254 kW) 429 cu in (7.0 l) V8 also remained the standard engine.[4]

Pricing of the Cadillac Calais started at nearly US$5,000, almost US$1,000 (or about 25%) more than the Electra 225 and Oldsmobile 98,[5] and about US$500 more than the top-line Buick Riviera.[6]

In 1966 changes included a somewhat coarser mesh for the radiator grille insert, which was now divided by a thick, bright metal horizontal center bar housing rectangular parking lamps at the outer ends. Separate rectangular side marker lamps replaced the integral grille extension designs. There was generally less chrome on all Cadillac models this year. Cadillac "firsts" this season included variable ratio steering and optional front seats with carbon cloth heating pads built into the cushions and seatbacks.[7] Comfort and convenience innovations were headrests, reclining seats and an AM/FM stereo system. Automatic level control was available. Engineering improvements made to the perimeter frame increased ride and handling ease. Newly designed piston and oil rings and a new engine mounting system and patented quiet exhaust were used. Head rests became an option[8]

The Calais was extensively restyled for 1967. Prominent styling features were given a powerful frontal appearance with "forward-leaning" front end, long sculptured body lines, and redefined rear fenders that had more than just a hint of tail fins in them. The full-width forward-thrust "eggcrate" grille was flanked by dual stacked headlights for the third consecutive year. The squarer cornered grille insert had blades that seemed to emphasize its vertical members and it appeared both above the bumper and through a horizontal slot cut into it. Rectangular parking lamps were built into the outer edges of the grille. Rear end styling revisions were highlighted by metal divided taillamps and a painted lower bumper section. For 1967, power windows became standard on the Calais line, although power seats were still optional even in the later-year models. Coupes got a new roofline, inspired by the Florentine show car created for the 1964 New York World's Fair, that gave rear seat passengers added privacy. As on that show car, the quarter window glass retracted rearward into a sail panel. New standard Calais features included non-glare rear-view mirror, electric clock, Automatic Climate Controls, padded dashboard, Hazard Warning system, outboard seatbelt retractors and rear cigarette lighters in all styles. A slide-out fuse box and safety front seat back lock for two-door models were additional Cadillac advances for the 1967 model year. Technical improvements included a revised engine valve train, different carburetor, Mylar printed circuit instrument panel, re-tuned body mounts, and a new engine fan with clutch for quieter operation. An energy absorbing steering column became optional.[9] 1967 was the last model year for pillared sedans.

In 1968 grilles had an insert with finer mesh and step down outer section which held the rectangular parking lights just a little higher than before. Rear end styling was modestly altered with the deck lid having more of a rake. The hood was re-designed to accommodate recessed windshield wiper-washers, which now came with three speeds standard. Of 20 exterior paint color combinations, 14 were totally new. On the inside enriched appointments included molded inner door panels with illuminated reflectors and a selection of 147 upholstery combinations, 76 in cloth, 67 in leather and four in vinyl. New standard features included a Light Group, a Mirror Group, a trip odometer and an ignition key warning buzzer.Like all other Cadillacs, the Calais received the 472 cu in (7.7 l) OHV V8 in 1968. 1968 was also the last year for the "stacked" dual headlights, which were replaced with side-by-side dual headlights in 1969. This was also the last year for vent windows.

In 1969 Calais was restyled in the Eldorado image. An Eldorado-like front fender treatment evolved and helped to emphasize a stronger horizontal design line. Rear quarters were extended to give the car a longer look. There was an all new grille with dual horizontal headlamps positioned in the outboard step down areas of the grille. The roofline was squarer and the rear deck and bumper more sculptured. A new ventilation system eliminated the need for vent windows, which provided a longer sleeker look and improved visibility. New standard features included front center seat armrests.

In 1970 a facelift included a grille with 13 vertical blades set against a delicately cross-hatched rectangular opening. The bright metal headlamp surrounds were bordered with body color to give a more refined look. Narrow vertical "v" taillights were seen again and had smaller V-shaped bottom lenses pointing downward in the bumper. Wheel discs and winged crest fender tip emblems were new. Exterior distinctions came from a Calais signature script above the rear end of the horizontal belt molding just ahead of the taillight dividers and from the use of small square back-up light lenses set into the lower bumper as opposed to the long rectangular lenses used on the De Ville. The traditional V emblem beneath the Cadillac crest on the hood and decklid was removed this year, not to return until 1972.


Second generation
Model years1971–1976
AssemblyDetroit, Michigan, United States
Linden, New Jersey, United States
Body and chassis
Body style4-door hardtop
2-door hardtop
2-door coupe
RelatedCadillac De Ville
Buick Electra
Oldsmobile 98
Buick Estate
Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser
Pontiac Grand Safari
Pontiac Safari
Chevrolet Kingswood Estate
Chevrolet Kingswood
Chevrolet Townsman
Engine472 cu in (7.7 L) OHV V8
500 cu in (8.2 L) OHV V8
Transmission3-speed TH-400, automatic
Wheelbase130.0 in (3,302 mm)
Length1971: 225.8 in (5,735 mm)
1972: 227.4 in (5,776 mm)
1973: 227.8 in (5,786 mm)
1974–76: 230.7 in (5,860 mm)
Width79.8 in (2,027 mm)
Height1971–73: 54.5 in (1,384 mm)
1974: 54.6 in (1,387 mm)
1975–76: 54.3 in (1,379 mm)
Curb weight4,800–5,300 lb (2,200–2,400 kg)

The new 1971 GM full-size bodies, at 64.3" front shoulder room (62.1" on Cadillac) and 63.4" rear shoulder room (64.0" 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. Pairs of individually housed round headlamps were wider apart, with a winged Cadillac crest set between each pair. The V-shaped grille had an eggcrate style insert and was protected by massive vertical guards framing a rectangular license plate indentation. A wide hood with full-length windsplints, a prominent center crease and hidden windshield wipers was seen. A Cadillac crest decorated the nose and new indicator lamps appeared atop each front fender. A horizontal beltline molding ran from behind the front wheel housing, almost to the rear stopping where an elliptical bulge in the body came to a point and where thin rectangular side markers were placed above and below the chrome strip. The rear wheel openings were again housed in fender skirts. Taillamps were of the same type as before but were no longer divided by a chrome bar. Long horizontal back-up lamps were set in the bumper, on either side of a deeply recessed license plate housing. The Calais wheelbase was extended to 130 in (3,302 mm).

In 1972 a modest frontal revision placed more emphasis on horizontal grille blades. The parking lamps were moved from the bumper to between the square bezeled headlamps, which were now set wider apart. V-shaped emblems made a return on hood and deck lid. New standard features included a bumper impact system, automatic parking brake release, passenger assist straps and flow through ventilation system. Externally the Calais was identified by front fender model script; thin horizontal belt moldings and a script on the right side of the trunk.

New energy absorbing bumpers were seen on all GM cars in 1973. Styling refinements to the Calais included a wider grille with an intricate eggcrate design. Larger vertical rectangles housed the parking lamps between wide spaced headlamps which had square bezels but round lenses. Bumpers ran fully across the front and wrapped around each end. Vertical guards were spaced much further apart at a point outboard of the grille. The rear end had a bumper with a flatter upper section housing an angled license plate recess. Border outline moldings vertically "veed" paralleled the fender edge shape at the rear bodysides. Single horizontally mounted rectangular rear side marker lamps were placed over and under the rear tip of the thin beltline trim. Cadillac script was seen on the front fender sides below the belt molding behind the wheel opening.

In 1974, a wider eggcrate grille was used. Dual round headlamps were mounted close together in square bezels. Further outboard were double deck wraparound parking lamps. Shorter vertical grille guards appeared in about the same position as before. Rear fendersides were flatter without the elliptical bulge. The thin beltline molding was positioned lower by several inches. The rear end had vertical bumper ends and new horizontal taillamps. Both bumpers, especially the rear, protruded further from the body. Coupes were no longer hardtops, instead sporting large wide "coach" windows giving a thick center pillar look. A new "space-aged" curved instrument panel housed a digital clock. New standard features included an integral litter receptacle.

1974 also saw the introduction of the optional "Air Cushion Restraint System". Known today as airbags, this option provided protection for front seat occupants in the case of a frontal collision. One bag was located in the steering wheel hub, while the other sat in place of the glove compartment on the lower passenger side of the dashboard. The glove box was replaced with a rectangular storage compartment, complete with a lockable wood-tone hinged front panel, centrally located under the dashboard. Additionally, there was a driver's side knee bolster panel with an ashtray to the right of the steering column and a small hinged-door storage compartment on the left side.

Styling changes for 1975 brought dual square headlight lenses flanked by rectangular cornering lights wrapped around the body. A new cross hatched grille also appeared. Sedans now featured slim triangular quarter windows that mimicked the coach windows that appeared on coupes the previous year. New standard equipment included front fender lamp monitors, power door locks, high energy ignition, steel-belted radial tires. The big 500 cu in (8.2 l) arrived in 1975.

In 1976 the grille saw a new finer crosshatching pattern. Cornering lamps got new horizontal chrome trim while taillamps also gained chrome trim. Eight different color accent stripes were available. Optional padded vinyl roof coverings were now stamped with an Elk grain pattern. New interior trim included sporty plaids, plush velours, knits, and 11 distinctive genuine leathers. Coupe models equipped with the available cabriolet vinyl top, covering the rear-half of the roof, were trimmed with a lower molding that served as a continuation of the door "belt" molding. A Controlled (limited-slip) Differential was included for extra traction. An optional illuminated entry and theft deterrent system was available. A new Freedom battery never needed water. Simulated wire wheel covers were available. New options included a push-button Weather Band built into the AM/FM stereo signal-seeking radio, plus power passenger and manual driver seatback recliners for 50/50 front seats. Of the 15 standard and six optional Firemist body colors, 13 were new this year. New standard features included map light, Soft-Ray tinted glass, spare tire cover, washer fluid level indicator, and steel belted radial whitewall tires. 1976 was the last year for the Calais.


  1. ^ a b "Directory Index: Cadillac/1965_Cadillac/1965_Cadillac_Brochure_1". Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  2. ^ a b Gunnell, John (2005). Standard Catalog of Cadillac 1903-2005. Krause publications. ISBN 0873492897.
  3. ^ Flory, J. "Kelly", Jr. American Cars 1960-1972 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Coy, 2004), p.348.
  4. ^ a b Flory, p.348.
  5. ^ Flory, pp.346, 389, 422, 425, & 467.
  6. ^ Flory, pp.348, 349, 423, 425, 497, & 500.
  7. ^ "Directory Index: Cadillac/1967_Cadillac/1967_Cadillac_Brochure". Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  8. ^ Gunnell, John A. (ed.). Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975. krause publications. ISBN 0-87341-027-0.
  9. ^ "Directory Index: Cadillac/1967_Cadillac/1967_Cadillac_Brochure". Retrieved 2011-11-20.