By on May 21, 2020

A light dew suspends itself on finely manicured lawns as you glide past. Lucky Strike in hand, Miles Davis plays on the radio as you adjust the six-way power seat. At the office, the space in front of the door has your name on it.

The year is 1960, the winner of capitalism is you, and your car is the Cadillac Eldorado Seville.

The first Eldorado debuted as a new flagship for Cadillac in 1953. It was exclusive, wore a special body, and was available solely as a two-door convertible. Its official title at the onset was the Series 62 Eldorado, and it was twice as expensive as the 62 upon which it was based. In 1953 it cost $7,750, or about $75,000 adjusted for inflation.

Available for a single year only, the Eldorado set itself up as an American luxury standard; however, because it was so expensive, GM-required volume sales were impossible. Time for a change.

In 1954 the second generation Eldorado arrived, once more available only as convertible. This time, there was no unique body, and it looked very similar to the Series 62. Turned into a luxury trim, Eldorado sales soared. A product split occurred in 1956 when the hardtop Seville appeared, at which point the convertible received the Biarritz moniker. The Seville quickly accounted for a third of Eldorado sales.

Quick to move forward, the third Eldorado was ready for the ’57 model year. Standard Eldorados were still a trim of the Series 62, but Cadillac pulled out the stops for a new Series 70 Eldorado Brougham. Hand-built and with suicide doors, the sedan was $13,074 ($121,000 adjusted), and cost more than offerings like the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud. The Series 70 is worth its own Rare Rides article at a later date.

In 1959 a new Eldorado appeared yet again. Coupes and convertibles moved to their own body, a version called Series 6400, though they maintained the same wheelbase as the new Series 6200 sedan. The Eldorado Brougham was no longer hand-built; the less extravagant large sedan was on the Series 6900 body and built by Pininfarina in Italy.

The fourth generation Eldorado two-doors saw enormous fins and gigantic hunks of chrome trim applied liberally, as overall length grew to 225 inches. All were powered by a 390 cubic-inch (6.4L) V8 of 345 horsepower, which shifted through a four-speed automatic. Most everything was standard equipment, apart from air conditioning. 1960 was a revisionist year for the Eldorado; styling was smoothed and toned down a little. Pointy surfaces were reduced in number, there was less chrome up top (it migrated down below the doors), and the fins shrunk in size. Standard upholstery for 1960 was a Chadwick cloth, or upscale mixed Chambray cloth and leather.

Though the Eldorado name would continue on in 1961, 1960 was a last-of moment. At the end of the year, the Eldorado Seville and Eldorado Brougham were killed off, the Biarritz convertible being the lone survivor. The Eldorado name continued its decline for the rest of its life, culminating in its demise at the end of 2002.

Today’s pink Eldorado Seville is resplendent in metallic pink. It’s worth noting the interior is not original, lowering its value. It’s currently on eBay and asks $34,800.

[Images: seller]

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62 Comments on “Rare Rides: The Grandiose Cadillac Eldorado Seville, From 1960...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “The Eldorado name continued its decline for the rest of its life”

    I don’t think so, with the personal luxury coupe, front-drive Eldo of 1967 the name received a revival that had many years of success before they went into decline

    • 0 avatar

      Swapping a grand personal luxury coupe to front-drive like an economy car is the epitome of decline. No more special bodies, no Italian-built coachwork.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Economy cars weren’t associated with front-drive in 1967 and you seriously consider the UPP an example of “epitome of decline”?

        It may not have the Italian providence of this gilded parade float but the E-body might be one of the most exquisitely engineered machines GM ever pulled off.

      • 0 avatar
        snorlax

        What economy cars with front-wheel drive were sold in the US market in 1967?

        • 0 avatar
          2manycars

          For one, the MG 1100 “Sports Sedan” was sold in the U.S. in 1967, followed the next year by the 1300cc Austin America. Not only did these cars have front drive, but they had an available 4-speed fully automatic transmission. (Of course they tended to quickly grenade under U.S. conditions but that’s another story.)

        • 0 avatar
          2manycars

          For another, the 1100’s smaller brother, the Mini was also sold here.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Corey, the 1967 Eldo/Toronado were NOT economy front drive systems, they were elaborate, highly engineered systems long before transverse FWD econoboxes

        • 0 avatar
          2manycars

          I guess you’ve never seen a Mini or MG 1100, both of which were sold in the U.S. before GM’s front-drive behemoths.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            You’re splitting hairs, how many Mini or MG 1100s were sold in the US in 1967?

          • 0 avatar
            2manycars

            Well, Lie, it’s not splitting hairs. Not at all.

            You stated that the 1967 GM front drivers were – and I quote – “…elaborate, highly engineered systems long before transverse econoboxes.” The relative popularity of those transverse FWD econoboxes available at the time was not a factor in your statement.

            Thus what you stated is simply false. You have indulged in a blatant lie and now, having been caught at it, attempt to move the goalposts in a lame attempt to save face. All quite ironic given your screen name.

            For that matter starting the next year, 1968, the Austin America (a 1300cc, 2-door sibling of the MG) had a brief spurt of popularity in the United States. From 1968-1972 there were about 60,000 of them sold here. Not VW territory but enough to be noticed. Their front drive and 4-speed automatic transmission gave the Austin America a distinct competitive edge over other imports.

            Unfortunately owners found they quickly self-destructed and/or crumbled into rust. Few remember the Austin America today but I can recall when they were seen on the road pretty regularly.

            So there. I’ve run rings ’round your logic.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            How many Mini or MG 1100s were sold in the US in 1967?

            You didn’t answer my question. In 1967 these cars were not on anyone’s radar as being a FWD, transverse mounted engine car to be reckoned with. They did not take the auto world by storm. The FWD Eldo/Toronado WERE a big deal in the auto industry and started the shift to FWD that came later

            Great, so Mini/MG did it first, well Cord did it first and everyone else did it better

            So much for your rings

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I gotta disagree with you there.

        At the time, FWD was thought of as exotic and high-tech. Few cars used it, and (with bias-ply tires and primitive–if any–traction control systems) it had a lot of advantages to RWD. The Toronado and Eldorado E-bodies were highly praised for their use of the Unified Powerplant Package, which sat the engine beside the transmission, for a longitude-FWD setup.

        The Riviera, while also an E-body, weirdly remained RWD until 1979 (and even briefly became a B-body for 1977-78). Even through 85, these longitude-FWD personal luxury coupes were prestigious and sought-after.

        They were also very good in the snow and wet, compared to everything else.

        The true FWD “economy” cars came in the 1970s and 1980s, anyway.

        I think it was the 1986 downsizing and move to transverse-FWD that killed the Eldorado and its siblings, not to mention the death of the segment as a whole for domestic brands, as coming-of-age consumers looked past these Baroque-styled offerings and toward cleaner European and Asian shapes.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          Speaking of Toronado…

          Jetway 707. 28 feet long, 3 axles, 8 doors, seats 12-15, plus 100 sq. ft. of storage, and every passenger gets their own bucket seat.

          (and the rear overhang appears to be on the order of this ’60 Eldo)

          https://tinyurl.com/y9p78oh6

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Not only that it was also the base of the GMC Motorhome starting in 1972

            https://cdn-0.barnfinds.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/GMC-Motorhome-1973-Design-Interior-Exterior-Bus-101.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          dukeisduke

          Also, the Toronado (and Eldorado the next year) got specially designed bias-plies, to cope with the horsepower, torque, and forward weight bias of those cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        “The Eldorado was radically redesigned in 1967, becoming the brand’s first entry to capitalize on the era’s burgeoning personal luxury car market. Promoted as a “personal” Cadillac, it shared the E-body with the second-generation Buick Riviera and the first-generation Oldsmobile Toronado, which had been introduced the previous year. To enhance its distinctiveness, Cadillac adopted the Toronado’s front-wheel drive Unified Powerplant Package, adapted to a standard Cadillac 429 V8 coupled to a Turbo-Hydramatic 425 automatic transmission. Based on the Turbo-Hydramatic 400, the THM425 placed the torque converter next to the planetary gearbox, which it drove through a metal, motorcycle-style roller chain. Disc brakes were optional, and new standard safety equipment included an energy absorbing steering column and generously padded instrument panel. The Unified Powerplant Package was later shared with the GMC Motorhome starting in 1972.

        The 1967 Eldorado was a great departure from previous generations, which shared styling with Cadillac’s De Ville and Series 62, the exceptions being the rare 1953 model, and the even more rare 1957-60 Eldorado Brougham. The front drive Eldorado’s crisp styling, initiated by GM styling chief Bill Mitchell, was distinctive and unique, more angular than the streamlined Riviera and Toronado. The rear end was inspired by the GM-X Stiletto concept car. This was the only production Cadillac to be equipped with concealed headlights behind vacuum operated doors.

        Performance was 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in less than nine seconds and a top speed of 120 mph (192 km/h). Roadability and handling were highly praised by contemporaneous reviews, and sales were excellent despite high list prices. Its sales of 17,930 units, nearly three times the previous Eldorado high, helped give Cadillac its best year ever.”

        -Wikipedia

        Hardly a decline

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Yeah the Eldorado and Toronado received styling cues reminiscent of the FWD Cords which were the last FWD American autos. FWD was considered a plus not a negative. And when the Seville was switched to FWD in 1980 more old ladies than ever bought them because they handled the snow better than the DeVille Harold had left behind when he died.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Yes, the Cord was another highly engineered front drive luxury car from the 30s. GM did a tie-in with later Toronados that sported the “coffin nose” front end

        • 0 avatar
          RHD

          Write a perfectly good article, and you’ll get speared like a steering column through the driver of an old Cadillac after a fender-bender.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I agree completely, Lie2Me – maybe the ’67 Eldo wasn’t a hand-built, ultra-lux car, but it was a sensational looking car that still looks great today.

          If that’s a “step back,” I’ll step back all day long, folks.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Even as a kid I knew the Eldo/Toronado was a big deal. All the car/science/mechanical magazines went to great lengths to explain the technology of FWD and the advantages of the system. In those days Cadillac got all the gee-whiz stuff first and then it filtered through the ranks after

      • 0 avatar
        Mike Beranek

        They tried an exclusive, Special-body, Italian-built car- the Allante. That didn’t work out so well, except for Kelly Bundy.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Mile-long quarter panels like those are the best, and quite a feat to keep straight. Some of the 2-door Fords and Chryslers had them, too.

    Thanks for including the inflation-corrected prices. You get a lot more for your money today.

  • avatar
    MeJ

    Cool car.
    I opened a tab and played some Miles Davis on YouTube in the background while I read the article. Added a whole new level of entertainment!

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Likewise, the Riviera nameplate was used on several variants of Buick’s sedans and coupes throughout the 1950s, before it made its debut as a Thunderbird-fighting PLC in 1963.

    • 0 avatar
      Johnster

      The Riviera nameplate originally referred to Buicks with the hardtop body-style (both 2- and 4-door models), as well as to a long-wheelbase version of the Roadmaster 4-door sedan.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    As a high school senior in 1973 I drove something very similar to this car. It was the more plebeian Coupe de Ville in Fire Mist Red with a white roof. Needless to say the car attracted quite a bit of attention in the Senior Parking Lot. The back seat had a protective layer of that crinkle wrap you’d see on your grandma’s couch. It had been hit on the front drivers side when owned by the step-grandfather of my girlfriend. But the body work had been done at the local Cadillac dealer, so it was pretty hard to detect. It ran like a champ for a couple of years. My younger brother took it to his senior prom as its condition deteriorated (exhaust leaks and worn u-joints). I bought it for $500 in ’72 and sold it for $400 in ’76. Needed the money for college. It’s the one car I regretted selling. But I certainly got $100 worth looks driving it. The Big Red was a big hit cruising Friday nights on Whittier Boulevard.

  • avatar
    Mickiemac1

    Those wheel covers are not correct – they are from a 1957 vintage Cadillac. Still a beautiful example of luxury and I imagine it drives/rides like a California King mattress compared to what we are used to driving today.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    It’s 1960, you have your name on the office door, you just bought the big Cadillac, you listen to Miles Davis, and you smoke Lucky Strikes? Something doesn’t ring true there. Lucky Strikes were too blue-collar and Miles Davis too edgy.

    If you were a winner of capitalism in 1960, you felt comfortable. I think you probably smoked Pall Mall and listened to Steve & Eydie. Just my guess.

    • 0 avatar
      aja8888

      Wrong,my Mom smoked Pall Malls and so did other women from blue collar families in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Also,they smoked L & M’s with the filter. Luckies were a man’s smoke, and many sports figures and doctors advertised them.

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        But I heard “more doctors smoke Camels” etc.? I don’t know for sure, I wasn’t smoking anything in 1960. But I have seen plenty of vintage Lucky ads with ladies in them.

        It just didn’t sound like the best fit for the pastiche of imagery used in the lead-in. What sounds more apropos to me? Maybe not Pall Mall. Maybe Chesterfield, or Old Gold?

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          Not to sound like a scold but once the surgeon general report on smoking came out in 1964 it kind of put the fear of god in people. Unfortunately it didn’t have the impact on society and public health that it should of until the 90’s. I remember when they were.75-.89 per pack when I was graduating high school in 1979. When they went to $1.00 many of my friends were like “woah! they’re a buck, better quit”. Big tobacco and stubborn addictive Americans are a heck of a combination.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            That, and the fact that nicotine is a stone cold b*tch to kick. My mom tried kicking the smoking habit after she quit drinking, and failed. Given that she has well over 40 years of sobriety under her belt, that should tell you something.

            She finally did stop about 15 years ago, thank God, but my dad never did, and he died of lung cancer in 2008. My brother also smoked until he got diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, and died of that a couple of years back, aged 51.

            Cigarettes are bad, bad, bad s**t.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Don Draper smoked Lucky Strikes. Enough said.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    I remember these from when I was a little kid.
    I was always waiting for the rocket exhaust to come out of those tailights.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    You listened to Frank and maybe Dean, you ordered your steaks ‘this thick’, and you drank your Scotch ‘on the rocks’. You smoked cigars regularly. You belonged to a country club, where you played cards and discussed who you preferred, Angie Dickinson, Connie Stevens or Gina Lollobrigida.

    When I purchased my 59 it had previously only had one driver/owner (who sold it to the guy I bought it from). It came with full documentation. This owner had previously purchased a new Cadillac every year from 55 to 60. He preferred the 59 to the 60 and each subsequent year, until he finally sold in 76 because it was just ‘too big for man my age’. I agree with him on both counts.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    So much for the argument that pickups are too big… LOL

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      True this is incredibly long, but at least it doesn’t block the entire forward worldview of the driver behind it with a square box. Maybe just me but I could be happily stuck behind this beautiful boat all day whereas a pickup I’m ready to pass before I even get behind it. This and a pickup truck don’t even belong in the same thought.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    “Swapping a grand personal luxury coupe to front-drive like an economy car is the epitome of decline. No more special bodies, no Italian-built coachwork.”

    Upon which mount of non-knowledge do you reside?

    I couldn’t care less myself for the disguised pickup truck on wheels that Detroit churned out as mainline sedans for decades, whether lined in sheep’s fleece or Italian leather or equipped with Buck Jones von Braun V2 rocket fins. If you like those floppy barges, well good for you. Ladling on geegaws did nothing for the ancient engineering underneath.

    By 1966 I was a 19 year old mechanical engineering student and car nut, and when the Toronado was announced for 1966, I made sure to read the GM Engineering Journals in our engineering library. I later scored the bound year for 1966 many years later when there was a purge on periodicals. There were two entire quarterly issues devoted entirely to the engineering of that car. It was something special, let me assure you. Otherwise GM wouldn’t have rolled out its top execs to “write” some of the articles. They were inordinately proud of that car, and rightly so.

    So it’s with some sadness I read “front drive like an economy car” from someone I do have some respect for at this outlet. I guess as a youngster with little background into the days when cars were really a big deal in society, you may be prone to make sweeping generalizations of nonsense now and then. You weren’t around then so don’t know the reality, but you show little interest in learning either.

    If you had stated that the 1967 Eldorado was a rather crass redo of the groundbreaking ’66 Toronado but with softer suspension and far worse handling, then I’d have known you had some idea, some clue. But you didn’t. Too bad.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    One of those vehicles that started off as a top of the line package but later became its own model.
    Eldorado
    Seville
    Brougham
    Buick Riviera
    Ford Ranger-It was upscale trim package on the F-100 in the 70’s later became the compact and mid sized truck.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    That rear overhang looks massive. But then we do some math:

    1960 Eldorado overall length = 225″
    1960 Eldorado wheelbase = 130″

    (225-130)/12 means this vehicle has 7.9 feet of combined front/rear overhang [and most of it is not at the front]. Still seems huge. But…

    2020 Suburban overall length = 224.4″
    2020 Suburban wheelbase = 130″ (!)

    Google “2020 Suburban side view” – the overhangs look nothing like the Eldorado. Part of it is wheel size. The rest? No idea.

    Just for kicks:
    – 2021 Suburban overall length = 225.7″
    – 2021 Suburban wheelbase = 134″
    – 2020 Silverado overall length runs from 229.5 to 241.2″ (1500) and 235.5 to 266″ (3500HD)
    – 2020 Silverado wheelbase runs from 139.6 to 157″ (1500) and 141.6 to 172″ (3500HD)

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    Caddy Daddy approved. BTW A/C compressor is incorrect.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      It looks like it has aftermarket air conditioning. The factory unit has the long Fridgedaire compressor which is robust. Say what you want about GM over the years their air conditioning units, no matter the vehicle are rock solid.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    A 4-speed automatic in 1959? Is that a misprint? If not, that’s impressive because GM was long a holdout for minimal gears in an automatic.

    Forgive me because I wasn’t alive at the time and much of this comes from my dad’s telling, but IIRC, with the first Oldsmobile automatic, GM seemed to think the torque converter alone obviated the need for gears altogether. Then it was on to an embarrassingly long romance with 2-speed automatics — even in top-of-range vehicles like the boattail Riviera, and heavy vehicles like the New Look city bus.

    GM didn’t seem to have much use for multiple gear ratios period, come to think of it, even in vehicles so heavy that it seems like an insane choice. Even their Intercity Buses had only three automatic or four manual gears; meanwhile Crown Coach on the West Coast compensated for the meager power of late midcentury diesels by building buses with 10-speed manuals. (Crown’s other option to address the question of power was a ground-shaking Hall-Scott gasoline engine as used in Army tanks — infamous for shooting flames from the tailpipe on deceleration and maxing out at about 2 MPG.)

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      This was based on GMs first automatic offered as a four speed in 1940. It stayed in production until 1967. Used mostly in Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Pontiac (along with a bunch of other manufacturer’s including Rolls Royce).

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’ll chime in and disagree with Corey’s assessment of the ’67 Eldo – it was AWESOME.

    If anything, the Eldos between this model and the ’67 were the real backward steps – “Eldorado” basically became a higher DeVille trim level.

    The ’67 was something totally new, and it was stylistically and mechanically distinct from the rest of the line.

    I’d also listen to Sinatra in this car over Miles Davis, but other than that…it’s a pretty fabulous piece and a nice find.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    If you look closely, you can see styling cues from the ’67 Eldorado in the trunk of the latest XTS and if you squint a bit as well, in the CT4/CT5 too. But just a bit. The rest is modern generic sedan trying a bit too hard.

    .

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Cadillac has always been good at carrying their styling cues over the years and models. Even current models carry a hint of the fins/stiletto that became Cadillac’s trademark

  • avatar
    Polka King

    Baby Likes Back

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