What kind of problems should I look for in a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible? - Mustang Evolution

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Old 03-01-2010, 02:30 PM   #1
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What kind of problems should I look for in a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible?

My favorite car ever made (looks-wise) is the 1975-1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, and with the economy in such bad shape I see them popping up everywhere. I found a 1976 with 47k miles on it at a car dealership that specializes in Ford Mustangs and am interested in buying it, but what kind of major (ie. expensive) problems should I look for that will be easy to notice. I intend to have a CarChex inspection on it in which they will perform a 155 point inspection, including a 5 mile test drive, however this costs $120+, therefore before I order the inspection I want to see if there is anything I can spot myself that will make me not want to waste my time and money.

I am well aware that this car is 30+ years old and that there will be some problems but as long as its not too bad I can fix it up.

Dealer claims everything is functioning on the car that he is aware of.
Dealer also claims the car had a complete tune up on 6/5/08 and had the Rochester Quadra Jet Carb (not sure what that is) rebuilt on 6/11/08.

Also, I know a little about cars but definitely would not consider myself and expert.
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Old 03-01-2010, 03:09 PM   #2
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What kind of problems should I look for in a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible?

I have 3 73's and a 75. Fun cars, especially if you like big cars. EFI was an option but the Quadrajet is a carburetor. Thats probably better than the efi at this stage because you have a much better chance of finding someone that can work on a carb than an early EFI system. As long as the people that did that work knew what they were doing those were good things to have done. The 500 engine was a very solid motor. By 76 it was very restricted by emissions so was sort of sad when it came to performance but that was the case with all cars in the mid 70's to mid 80's. Biggest concern about the engine is they (like most cars) used a plastic covered cam gear for the timing chain. Age and mileage is hard on them. If you pull the distributor out you can usually see enough of it to tell if its a plastic one and if its falling apart real bad. Problem in the eldo is that step one to remove timing cover is remove engine. There are ways around so it can be done in the car but long term its best to do it right. At this age even with low mileage other seals and gaskets are likely to be leaking so pulling the motor for a good external clean up and some new gaskets. Good news is if the chain let go it will not damage the engine, you will only be stranded. Parts of the gear also migrate into the oil pan and plug up the oil pump. Other good news is there are a few companies that specialize in those motors so you can easily get them back up to the 400hp that they started out at. 76 was the second year for catalitic converters. Above the cat is a common area for rust. Other areas for rust is between the front fenders and the door. Bottom of the doors. Inside the trunk lid. Clips that hold the rubber strips on the bumpers. Transmission internally was pretty much a THM400 which was GM's heavy duty transmission from the mid 60's to the mid 80's. Some parts for those are getting hard to find but its not a huge issue yet. Front brakes are not a problem, I have been told that rear disc parts are getting expensive and hard to come by (rear disc became standard in 76). Eldos came standard with rear air shocks. They used a vacuum powered compressor which most of the time no longer works and is very difficult to repair and find parts for. For about $80 you can buy a new set of air shocks with a manual fill valve you mount back near the gas fill so its hidden but easy to access if you need to adjust it. Front wheel bearings seem to be available again. Front end parts are still available but getting expensive. Drive shafts (CV's) still seem to be around but appear to be old stock so often the boots will crack just from old age sitting on the shelfs. I guess the inner boot is still made and the outer is the same as a late model chev 4x4. One side (cant remember which) originally came with a torsional damper in it (it looks like a soda can inline the middle of one of the shafts) but the ended up having trouble with them longterm so most of the time they were eliminated. I have had cars with both and it did not seem to make any difference weather it was in there or not as long as it was good. There is a different part number for the shafts but they 99% of the time they are going to be the same. The are the same length for both sides. Convertible top is unique to 71-76 full size GM. Make sure there is nothing on the upper deck of the trunk when you put the top down or it will crack the glass. When you release the latches leave the levers in the open position (if you close them they will be broken off as the top goes down). Sometimes you have to stop when the top is about 1' from all the way down to make sure things are tucked properly if you want to get a boot cover on. Hard boots are still available but expensive. On the way up when the top is about 1/2 way forward there should be 2 cords that pull a cross bar backward that then pushes the arms out to full width. If those cords are missing or adjusted wrong the bar wont pull back and could bind up and damage things. It will be obvious if you are looking at it.

How much are they asking? 10K should get you a very very nice driver. 20K should be pristine show quality. 3-5K should get you a drivable one 20/20 one (that is looks good from 20' or at 20mph). I have seen (in ads) several nice ones in that 3-5 range and they seem to sell at those prices. The higher ones dont seem to be selling.

Feel free to contact me Doornobk@yahoo.com if you have any more questions about these cars.
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Old 03-01-2010, 03:33 PM   #3
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What kind of problems should I look for in a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible?

mostly the rag top mechanic's ( not the rag ) you can fix but make sure frame work of top works - you can replace the body parts - top works by roush rag works $$$$$$$ - rag interior shop
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Old 03-01-2010, 03:44 PM   #4
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What kind of problems should I look for in a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible?

I had one of these at the shop. They were fine cars in their time but it doesn't sound like you realize that they are 30+ year old technology. That was before the factory machines were updated to compete with the Japanese machines we installed after WWII. That means they just don't last nearly as long as the new cars. You will have trouble with everything wearing out way before it would on a 90s up car. Also look for rust. You can only expect so much from a vehicle this old and it sounds like you have found one of the few survivors.
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Old 03-01-2010, 03:48 PM   #5
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What kind of problems should I look for in a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible?

With that kind of mileage I would think it is in pretty good shape but check it over to see if it is a repaint. The main problem with a convertible is to look for leaks that may occur in the trunk causing rust and rot around the rear quarter panels and in the trunk floor. Take someone with you that really knows cars and check it out. The Eldorado is a very nice car and many are in nice original shape but lift up the trunk carpet and look around the floor under that carpet.
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Old 03-01-2010, 04:05 PM   #6
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What kind of problems should I look for in a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible?

Before performing the inspection, test drive the car look for obvious stuff steering pull, Oil leaks, A/C & heater functioning properly. Check the fluids with white paper towel or rag for sign of darkness. Check the door locks, Power windows, antenna and everything else such as wipers, washer, interior/exterior lights, etc.

Here is million dollar advise. Before you buy this car find a Good Mechanic who is totally familiar with this type of cady and knows it real well. Have him do the pre-buy inspection. You can then use them for further repairs as well. Car being old, you may not be able to get good inspection at the Cadillac dealership. Most of their techs may only know the newer models. Believe me when I tell you this you need a good Mechanic that knows this car, this way he can save you money on repairs by spotting the problems before it gets bigger.
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