This is a 1968 Cadillac Calais Hardtop Sedan. I’ve been waiting for one of these. Not specifically this model, but a big, American luxury sedan. It goes against all my better instincts to like something like this, and yet do. I do, alot.
Some people (likely the same people who pretend to enjoy kale and correct your pronunciation of “croissant”) will say that this Cadillac is a big, vulgar, gas guzzling and tasteless monstrosity that should be under a tarp somewhere or better yet, in a scrapyard. But those people are wrong. Dead wrong. Kale is a disgusting food. They’re also wrong about the car.
Back in the 1950s and 60s, you didn’t so much “choose” a Cadillac as “were fitted for one.” All Cadillacs of this vintage were pretty much the same, with the only distinction between them being general size. In 1968, you have five options: the Calais, the Deville, the Eldorado, the Fleetwood 60 and, the biggest of the big, the Fleetwood 75. This is a Calais, the smallest of the lineup, but don’t let that fool you. I decided to take a leisurely stroll around this car when I saw it, and it ended up being a decidedly long walk. It’s 19 feet long. Also Sprach Zathustra plays when it comes into view. It’s huge.
Power comes from a cast-iron V8 developing 375 horsepower, which is a fair amount even by today’s standards, routed through something called a Turbo-Hydramatic. I don’t know what that means, but I think it has three speeds. Needless to say, this car is intimidating, which is exactly what it should be.
Cadillacs will always hold a special place in my heart for a number of reasons, not the least among which being the fact that my family, in some capacity or another, has always owned one. They’re the ambassadors the the relaxed, quintessentially American way of getting around.
Most importantly, they’re not for everyone: Cadillacs from this era will not have the quickest acceleration or the latest technology. They’re not for people who design apps. You’ll never see a Calais on Buzzfeed. The Calais does not know what Buzzfeed is. They’re about simple pleasures. They’re about working hard at a blue-collar job your whole life until finally you can settle down and buy something nice, like my grandfather did with his Deville.
That’s just what Cadillacs are: nice. They’re about cruising, and yes, maybe a bit of showing off. And in case you thought I’d exhausted all the synonyms for “large” in the first half of this paragraph, they’re also gargantuan, elephantine, mondo, cyclopean, titanic and vast. They are even behemothic, which I am told is a synonym for big, though it’s probably only used by those smarmy kale-eaters.
-The Calais didn’t have a middle pillar, which meant that when you put the windows down, the front and the rear window openings became one.
-If you were buying one of these new, you could choose from 20 different colors and 147 different upholstery options: 76 types of cloth, 67 types of leather and 4 types of vinyl.