Things were more interesting in past eras when trim levels were designated by models (Biscayne, Bel Air, Impala). Today, we have one model name with trim levels like SL and LT that have absolutely no meaning . . . well, that’s not quite true, as certain names that used to have a certain caché now have to suffer the indignity of being watered down—perhaps “Sunfire GT” was a step up from the base Sunfire, but it’s hardly a Gran Turismo. “Brougham” has suffered a similar fate, although this happened around 40 years ago.
The Brougham was named after the British statesman Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux (1778-1868). He actually was the designer of the bodystyle that carries (pun not intended) his name, which resembles a small carriage version of a town car (meaning a driver up front with a separate, closed compartment for the aristocrats behind). Of course, the earliest automobiles resembled carriages without the horse, but the Brougham bodystyle eventually evolved into something that was prestigious but not as fancy or rich as the limousine-like, chauffeur-driven town car, according to a history lesson from Jalopnik.
From 1957-60, Cadillac produced the Eldorado Brougham, a competitor to the Continental Mark II (and priced like a Rolls-Royce) that was General Motors’ showcase of everything technological and futuristic. Eventually Americans would have the Pontiac Bonneville with the optional Brougham package, which featured an upgraded interior, but by the 1970s Americans would have Torino Broughams and the like that increasingly got more pimped out as the decade wore on.
Better than Torino SE, right?