Land yacht (automobile)

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A land yacht is an informal term used to describe large automobiles.[1][2][3] While full-size cars are manufactured worldwide, the term is most often applied to cars built in the United States between 1960 and 1976.[4] While shorter and lighter than the largest full-size vans and SUVs, land yachts are among the largest mass-produced vehicles ever manufactured.[citation needed] Cars of various body styles have been described as land yachts, including four-door sedans, coupes, convertibles, and station wagons.[5][6]

Following the late 1970s era of downsizing, "land yacht" gradually took on a negative connotation, as buyers began to value fuel economy, handling, and modern styling over comfort and glamour alone.[citation needed]

Airstream, a manufacturer of RV trailers (caravans), have also used "land yacht" as a model name.

American cars[edit]

Common features of American 1960s and 1970s land yachts include large exterior proportions, large displacement V8 engines, somewhat vague steering and a soft ride.[7] They were designed "for the open road where living room comfortable seats made the front seat seem like a plush couch with a windshield and steering wheel in front of it."[7] Some people associate the term land yacht with positive attributes such as a the high level of features and comfort, and other people consider the term a derogatory reference to the poor handling and unwieldy size in comparison to smaller vehicles.

Brands which produced land yachts included Cadillac, Lincoln, Imperial and Buick.[8] During the 1970s, many examples were denoted by a "Brougham" trim level.[citation needed]

One of the largest production sedans was the 1974–1976 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 with a length of 252.2 in (6,406 mm) and a weight of 5,500–6,100 lb (2,500–2,800 kg).[9][10] As of the 2019 model year, it remains the largest vehicle ever produced by an American-market manufacturer (excluding limousines).[citation needed]

After the oil crises of the 1970s and 1980s, U.S. consumers become more interested in fuel economy than glamor. Downsizing by the American car manufacturers resulted in a greater focus on more efficient mid-size cars. When General Motors stopped production of the Buick Roadmaster, Chevrolet Caprice and Cadillac Fleetwood, it marked the end of production for American land yachts.[11]

German cars[edit]

1969 Mercedes-Benz 600

Cars built outside America are not generally referred to as land yachts, however several models from Mercedes Benz are of similar size and weight. The 1963-1981 Mercedes-Benz 600 has a length of up to 246 in (6.25 m) and a loaded weight of 3,048 kg (6,720 lb).

In more recent times, the 2017-present Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman has a total length of 260 in (6.60 m),[12] which is almost 4 in (10 cm) longer than the 1974-1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Seventy-Five.

Airstream RV trailers[edit]

Airstream three-axle travel trailer

Airstream, a manufacturer of RV trailers (caravans), used Land Yacht as the name of its flagship model line.[13][14][15][16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Burkhart, Bryan; Hunt, David (2000). Airstream: The History of the Land Yacht. Chronicle Books. ISBN 9780811824712.
  2. ^ "Definition of Land Yacht". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  3. ^ Dirven, René (2003). Metaphor and metonymy in comparison and contrast. Mouton de Gruyter. p. 504. ISBN 9783110173741. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  4. ^ Quinteros, Luis (10 October 2010). "Ten Great Land Yachts". Jalopnik. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  5. ^ Stone, Matt (19 August 2013). "American Dreamboats". Hagerty Classic Cars. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  6. ^ French, Laura (25 April 2008). "The Station Wagon: Though mostly gone, these noble land yachts had rich history". StarTribune. Minneapolis. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  7. ^ a b Sutherland, Jim (4 February 2012). "Why Every Car Guy Needs To Pilot A Giant Old School Land Yacht Barge". Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  8. ^ Kunz, Bruce (25 August 2014). "The Imperial Crown was Chrysler's top-of-the-line land yacht". Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  9. ^ Flammang, James (1999). Standard Catalog of American Cars 1976–1999 (Third ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 978-0873417556.
  10. ^ Niedermeyer, Paul (10 February 2013). "Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Curbside Classic: 1973 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 – The Longest Production Car Ever And The Red Giant Of Broughams". Curbside Classic. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  11. ^ Krebs, Michelle (19 May 1996). "Buick Roadmaster; A Land Yacht Sails Into the Sunset". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  12. ^ Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman (UK brochure MBX222PL/0517). Mercedes-Benz Cars UK Limited, Tongwell, Milton Keynes, MK15 8BA. Brochure date May 2017.
  13. ^ Burkhart, Bryan; Hunt, David (2000). Airstream: The History of the Land Yacht. Chronicle Books. ISBN 9780811824712.
  14. ^ Bleier, Evan. "Airstream's Last Land Yachts Are Sailing Away Into the Sunset". Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  15. ^ Cox, Tara (2013). Airstream: The Silver RV. Shire Publications. ISBN 9780747814054. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  16. ^ "Land Yacht". Airstream. Retrieved 27 May 2015.