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Yank Tank in Britain: 1969 Cadillac Fleetwood

1969 Cadillac Fleetwood

Barn Finds reader Ricky M sent us a tip that a rather large piece of American iron had found its way to the UK and was for sale. At 19 feet long, this Cadillac must dwarf most cars, and probably some lorries on the British roads. Available now here on eBay UK for £4,750, the Fleetwood would certainly be a contrast to the “common” Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Jaguar luxury vehicles as it wafted along the motorways!

Cadillac Fleetwood Motor

Equipped with a 472 cubic inch V-8, I doubt that even a car this big is lacking for torque and power. Under hood pictures show some neglect, but the major components are there and the car is said to start, drive and shift well. While the pictures accompanying the ad are of mediocre quality, they are complete enough to show that although the Fleetwood has fallen on hard times and has obviously been stored outdoors, the basic structure still looks sound.

Cadillac Fleetwood Nose

What looks like moss or algae has covered a considerable part of the body, hiding what the seller says is “metallic deep purple” paint. The car was imported to the UK in 1999 for use as a wedding car, a common way for British enthusiasts to be able to afford to keep larger, thirstier classics. A quick check of websites today showed the average UK price of a US gallon of petrol (gasoline) to be $7.66 (!) today. In comparison, I passed $2.49 per gallon stations on my way home from the airport tonight. And I doubt that the Fleetwood is going to win any fuel economy awards!

Cadillac Interior

While the interior pictures are of similar quality to the exterior ones, the seats do look intact, although they could obviously benefit for a good cleaning. The ad does say that the driver’s door seal is leaking and it has allowed some water in; a good inspection is certainly in order.

Cadillac Fleetwood

One of the more unusual features to my eyes are the chrome side/tail pipes mounted at the bottom rear part of the fenders. I certainly don’t remember seeing those on any Cadillacs in the US, and the poor state of their chrome means they would probably have to be replaced anyway.

Fleetwood in Britain

The wheels are also somewhat rusty, although they seem very deep dish and are obviously aftermarket as well. Parts of the front bumper and grill do not appear to be lining up correctly. All the negatives aside, this is certainly a rare sight in the UK, and I wonder what our readers there think of this massive car. Would you have a spot for it in your garage and would it fit?


  1. MGsforMe

    When we were faced with the dilemma of towing a 21′ sailboat around to various races in the 90s, a ’75 battleship gray with red interior Fleetwood Brougham was the chosen solution. Two things I recall from that were: the car was only about one foot shorter then the trailer and boat, and while towing you forgot it was there. In so many ways I wanted to dislike that car but it always made me smile.

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  2. rancho bella

    Who would have thought this was a good idea to bring this behemoth to the U.K?
    Ever driven down a London street, driven a country road or purchased petrol there?
    Check out the moss inside and out…rain much?
    What gets into peoples minds boggles mine…………………

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  3. krash

    fleetwood max

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  4. RickyM

    I could not believe it when I saw it for sale – it would have been a real rarity on our English roads in ’69. Goodness knows where it can be parked. I have a Ford Galaxy MPV and I sometimes struggle to find a space big enough ! I feel very priviledged to a have a submission on the site. Thanks Guys !

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  5. Mark E

    The buyer will be looking for about 5 gallons of pool cleaner to get all that algae off!

    I remember when I toured the UK back in ’78 I saw an early ’70s Buick Electra in downtown London. By that time I was used to Brittan’s scale of what a large car was and the Electra seemed to be longer than a city block! In fact I’m sure there were many places it could NOT go due to it’s length…

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  6. John A

    No one said anything about the white Corvette setting next to it?? SURPRISING!!

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  7. Liam

    American cars of this size are far from a rare sight in the UK! There are thousands of American cars in the UK, you only need to attend one of the many many American cars show here every year, and you will see just how many large American cars are actually here, and always have been. The American car scene in the UK is HUGE!! There are many dealers here importing all the latest American cars, as well as all the classics. Sure there are many streets you could not take something the size of this Cadillac, but its no big deal, you simply take the next street?! I have driven a Lincoln Towncar 120 stretched limo around London on many occassions. Its like anything, you get used to it pretty quick. Check out classicamericanmagazine.co.uk if interested in getting an idea on the size of the UK American car interest. Thats one of the more popular American car mags over here.

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  8. Neil

    Yup, there is a big scene here in the UK but I believe the award for biggest US car nuts in Europe goes to the Norwegians!

    Unsurprisingly, that car didn’t sell. The owner invited offers over £5k ($8000) for something that needs a huge amount of work which, considering it needs paint, brakes, exhaust, wheels, tyres, welding etc. is just too much. A cursory glance through Hemmings, not even CL or other classifieds, shows you could land an immaculate one here in the UK for about $12k including shipping and taxes.

    At about £2k, I would have been interested in taking it on as I am still looking for a couple of 4-door sedans and a convertible for my business. I was talking to one of the BF regulars to act as an agent for me in the States but sadly he stopped replying to my emails after a while and hasn’t been on here for months.

    The problem we have is that there is no baseline for prices here in Europe – at least in the US you have Hagerty et.al. to at least establish if it’s in the ballpark, but over here I think sellers pull figures out of thin air. Prices are generally very, very high so it looks like I’m just going to have to bite the bullet and import them myself. It’s not difficult, but it’s hugely time consuming finding the right cars, getting the paperwork sorted and getting them transported to a port and shipped when you’re not a US citizen.

    Still, a good excuse for an extended Winter holiday somewhere warmer! Texas anyone?!

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    • ConservativesDefeated

      California………..would be a better bet.

      Which reminds me…in the summer of 1976 I lived in Helsingbord Sweden working surreptitiously in a paper factory, driving a ’74 Capri to work for the night shift. When I would get off work about 2 am I’d head down to a bar . One night parked outside in the fading sunlight….midsummer,,,,,,was a ’63 Chevrolet with a giant drivers’ door covering Confederate flag . Europeans and especially the Japanese have the weirdest way of twisting American iconography and using it inappropriately. But they do love THEIR virsion of America. So funny

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      • Neil

        California….. is expensive, comparatively (flights, accomodation, shipping – East Coast is much easier for us Europeans), but I take your point!

        You are absolutely right about the iconography – here in the UK there is a huge 1940s/50s revival scene and it is centered on Americana. It’s not just the cars – people are buying the 1940s machines because they’re a bit undervalued at the moment, whereas iconic 1950s vehicles command a huge price tag – but also original clothes, tin signs, petrol pumps, jukeboxes, you name it.

        My own feeling is that, despite the government’s claims, we’re still in the midst of a recession and the biggest cuts in public spending since the 1930s. America in the 40s and 50s wasn’t going through the post-war austerity measures that we were and there is a nostalgia for better times, better places when the squeeze is on. Millionaires will always be wealthy, regardless of the economy, but an Americana enthusiast can afford to join one of the dance clubs, go to the one of the retro diners and maybe import their own car.

        I think that some people here in the UK still think that perhaps parts of the USA are stuck in a 50s timewarp, the same way that some US peoples’ impression of the UK is that of a Downton Abbey/Hugh Grant caricature.

        I’ve spent a lot of time in the Southern States over the years and I can assure you there is nothing funnier than a bunch of northern English people trying to recreate a barn or line dance with a Liverpudlian leading it….imagine the Beatles doing a gig at a roadhouse and you’re someway there!

        It’s all just fun, escapism perhaps, and the cars are a part of it. I will never forget seeing a Sherman tank complete with full transporter arrive at a show in Manchester last year though, complete with a full section of perfectly dressed ‘GIs’. It weaved its way past the ’59 Caddies, the RoadRunners and the Chevelles, and diverted attention away from everything else there. Brilliant!

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  9. hhaleblian

    In the states we host British car shows. In the UK, American car shows. Every
    body wins!

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    • Neil

      Amen to that!

      I’m always disappointed to see enthusiasts on both side of the pond lament the ‘loss of history’ when cars get exported one way or the other.

      I’m delighted a load of MGs are still slowly decaying, sorry, I mean driving daily in the States, I love the fact that someone has been waiting for the 25-year cut-off to find their perfect European car to import and I love seeing fins and chrome burble their way through our tiny country roads.

      There are enough to go round :)

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  10. ConservativesDefeated

    @Neil: Forgot to add.that same summer I bought a ’52 MGYB from a guy who worked in the Tower of London or next to it. I sent it to the States and it arrrived in Maryland. I drove it….very… very slowly down to New Orleans where I lived. Had a ball refinishing the wooden dashboard..and the sliding sunroof, crank out windshield and semaphores were a blast. If I close my eyes I can stilll see the tool used to removed the locking cover for the spare tire. Funny what you remember Traded it for a ’67 Mercedes 200. I was a weird kid.

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    • Neil

      Sounds to me like you had a fantastic time in your youth, travelling the world even if it was just factory work at times. I suspect you have a really interesting book in you somewhere!

      I do sometimes wonder if the ‘net has made our world too small, so that people prefer to text or chat on forums, rather than get out there and experience the culture. As a gentleman I won’t ask too much about Sweden but I have a sneaking suspicion you would have been made, shall we say, very welcome there in the 70s!

      The MGYB would have been horribly old fashioned by the time you traded it. Now, it’s ‘iconic British culture’ (!) but I think you probably did ok with your bullet-proof Stuttgart express.There are now only around 60 examples of your MG on the road today but, in the same way my generation threw away and scrapped Capris, Cosworth Sierras, Daimlers, Jensens and unloved Lotuses, how could we possibly know?

      We traded or disposed of those in the same way USA consumers threw away some of the best muscle cars and cruisers of the era and it’s only fairly recently that sites like this highlight the efforts to bring them back.

      I have to say, though,if you offered me one of the YB or the 200 it would be a really tough choice… !

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  11. ConservativesDefeated


    Sweden had beautiful women for sure. My boss had a mid seventies Olds 442 wannabe (in other words it was a…. say…. ’75 Olds w a 442 badge) with T Tops……….he would roar through Southern Sweden getting traffic tickets. He was pretty proud of himself garnering loads of tickets as he befuddled the very law abiding Swede mentality by racing around waaay above the speed limit.

    As for the YB, it was obviously like driving a ’49 TC even then. Primitive makes it sound way too sophisticated! But I’ve always been more interested in the experience and not the creature comforts. My goal that summer was to get like a ’59 Jaguar Saloon……….but I bumped into the YB and that was that; though the Jaguar would have been a better car for the” Third World “New Orleans streets of the time. My Heckflosse was a lot of fun……….the thing is all through the seventies and even into the early 2000’s most any car was affordable here. By any car I mean cars I LIKE..from early 911’s to Heckflosses’s to Jags, to sixties American cars etc.

    The aging of my demographic and the concomittant ridiculous wealth of some has driven the price of cars way beyond their inherent value to me. So Barnfinds is a great armchair way to reconnect with that exoerience of finding cars as I once did to the tune of over a hundred in forty years…serially by the way.!

    Plus occcasionally one gets to shoot the breeze with other readers far away as we have done.

    For now I’ll content myself for as long as I can with my old 911 and ’47 Ford Woodie………………..long may they run!

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  12. Chris A.

    There was a special British car show held by Rolls Royce owners in the upstate NY area. A good number of owners brought their RRs to Rochester NY for a fund raiser and for a charitable contribution you got to pick which RR you wanted to ride in and you would get an hour’s ride around town. My sister picked a 60’s lavender Silver Cloud II as it exactly matched the summer outfit she had on. Great event and a successful fund raiser. Probably couldn’t do it now. But I wouldn’t hesitate to pay for an hours’ ride in a London-Edinburgh Tourer Silver Ghost.

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  13. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    The auction ended with no bids…

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