Rare Rides Icons: The Cadillac Eldorado, Distinctly Luxurious (Part XVI)

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

We spent our last installment reviewing the more modern exterior styling of the 1957 Eldorado Seville, and new-yet-dated looking Eldorado Brougham. Those two followed our coverage of the Eldorado Biarritz, which was unable to adopt Cadilac’s 1957 roof and pillars design because of its canvas roof. This week we step inside the Eldorado, and see how removed it was from the 1956 models.

(Note: The teal and white interior is a 1956 Eldorado Biarritz, while the medium green is a 1957.)

Sliding into the driver's seat of the 1957 Eldorado revealed fairly extensive visual changes over the prior year. The dashboard looked more thickly padded, and wrapped around a bit further toward occupants than it did previously. The gauge cluster was more ovoid in its shape, and had a thinner chrome trim surround than in 1956. Dials and gauges themselves were newly separated into smaller ovoid pods within the larger cluster.

The leftmost pod contained an oil temperature reading, oil warning light, and the left turn signal. The right side contained the generator warning light, right turn signal indicator, and a fuel gauge. In the middle was the PRNDL indicator, surrounded by thick chrome trim. 

The speedometer was fully horizontal in 1957, the design updated to flatten the slight arc the numbers used in 1956 and prior. Numbers themselves were in white as before, but were larger and closer together. While this might have made the speedo more difficult to read at a glance, the situation was improved with a longer speedometer needle that actually bisected the numbers as it moved across them.

Under the gauge cluster were new climate controls that adopted the now familiar slider bar design. They replaced knobs that were more difficult to read (as chrome on chrome) from 1956. The shift lever and indicator stalks were thinner and looked more delicate in 1957. And they were attached to a steering column that was thinner and looked more modern. 

At the column’s end was a colored Cadillac crest that was previously unpainted metal. The steering wheel was still large and had a chromed horn ring, but now used only two spokes instead of three. Further right on the dash, the radio maintained its central location but had an updated look: Volume and tuning knobs were located left of the band indicator instead of at either side. 

The center dash trim was a smooth chrome bar, with padded material above and painted metal below it. Gone was all egg crate trim detailing of 1956. The analog clock was modified only slightly, to be wider and a bit flatter than in 1956. Its placement moved to the right slightly, closer to the passenger side. In front of passengers was simple Cadillac script lettering that replaced the crest badge and Nineteen Fifty-Six script. 

As the dash trim was now solid and could not conceal integrated air vents like it did previously, a new large central HVAC vent appeared underneath the middle of the dash. Heating and cooling was otherwise improved via new vents at floor level on the driver and passenger side firewalls. The vents were located just in front of the door line, where feet normally rest.

Interior door panels were notably new in 1957. The panel itself was a new design, and saw the door pull and vent adjuster relocated lower in the door. Power window switches were also relocated to the far edges of the dashboard! Looking back, it was an unusual placement decision to move all switches off the door. 

Beneath the lowered handles was a new, smaller padded armrest. Previously running the length of the door, in 1957 it was constrained to a padded circular bar in the middle. At either side of it were metal pointed spears which were not suitable for resting an arm. 

The thin chrome strip under the armrest of 1956 was gone, replaced with some padded vinyl material. It had its own angular detailing, below which there was revised vertically ribbed vinyl trim. At the bottom of the door was a new take on the chrome strip that concealed the integrated ventilation for rear passengers.

Seating accommodations were new and improved for 1957 as well. The seats had a more sculpted shape to them, with wider vertical ribbing with deeper stitching between segments to lend a more overstuffed look. Seat backs now had a larger smooth leather portion at the top, with a bigger Cadillac crest than in 1956. A center armrest was brand new, and a much needed modernization to the bench seat lifestyle.

The chrome perimeter trim around the seats was thinned in 1957, and also had an indention that curved inward below the shoulder level of the front passengers. Gone was the circular Eldorado badge at the base of the seat, replaced with a simple chrome bar of trim. At the front corners of the front seat there was a new lamp to illuminate the footwell and the door sill.

Rear seat passengers got an accommodation upgrade for 1957 as well. The armrests molded into either of the rear side panels were wider, and had their own ribbed detailing to match the front door panels. There was an additional heating vent on either side behind the door, and further comfort was assured by a carryover lighter, ash tray, and window switch assembly set into bullet-shaped trim. 

Rear passengers could roll down their own windows. And aside from the wind noise that would cause, there was additional noise from the new centrally mounted rear speaker. The center seatback was molded around it, a fine edit since the Eldorado was not meant to have three rear passengers.

As one might expect of a hand-built halo vehicle, the Eldorado Brougham had an interior that varied notably from the standard Eldorado Biarritz and Seville models. Designers went a little wild, and blessed it with some unusual styling details. That’s what we’ll cover in our next installment.

[Images: seller, BaT]

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Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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4 of 27 comments
  • Spamvw Spamvw on Feb 09, 2024

    I was in Best Buy this week helping a friend look at TV's, no car stereos, no install center.

    Fond memories of "Alpines" and Craig "Powerplay" radios.

    The funky Taurus Ovoid radios were the beginning of the end.

    I'm such a Dinosaur, I smile when broadcasters say, "Let's go to the tape"

    • Jeff Jeff on Feb 09, 2024

      Did Best Buy do away with car stereo installations? I had a new Alpine stereo cd din installed in my 99 S-10 at a Best Buy where I bought it about 7 years ago. I guess Best Buy only sells appliances, smart phones, computers, printers, TVs, and sound bars. I know that Best Buy was the largest seller of DVDs until the end of last year when they discontinued them and now its Walmart. I have bought a few $5 DVDs at Walmart recently but then eventually there will be no more DVDs offered for sale. Also bought the complete MASH series at Walmart.

  • The Oracle The Oracle on Feb 10, 2024

    This series is a snoozer 😴

    • See 1 previous
    • Jeff Jeff on Feb 11, 2024

      I appreciate the work Corey puts into these series. Corey and Murilee Martin are my two favorites on this site and look forward to reading all their articles.

  • Oberkanone Were these available with diesel?At $3700 this Volvo presents nicer than other vehicles I see at this asking price.
  • V16 Lobbyists, not a Senator from Missouri are the real power brokers in Washington.Money, the mother's milk of politics dictate every outcome.
  • The Oracle This one will push past 400K with another timing belt and basic maintenance.
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  • Daniel J Test drive the previous gen envision and couldn't bring myself to buy one over a Japanes made Mazda.