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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

In last week’s Eldorado installment, we reviewed the interior updates made to the Eldorado Seville and Biarritz. Their revised interiors added additional chrome, modernized gauges, and ditched the wrap-around look of the 1958 model. Across the showroom (probably behind velvet ropes) was the 1959 Eldorado Biarritz with its new interior. But were the changes made to the halo sedan a good thing?

(Note: The gray interior shown is the 1958 Eldorado Brougham, while the medium blue is a 1959 example. The red and white interior is a 1959 Eldorado Seville.)

Not especially. The interior of the 1957 and 1958 Eldorado Brougham featured an interior with its own styling unique to the model. Notable changes were made to the gauge cluster with its quad rocket-inspired pods, and the vertical stalks that held green turn indicator lights. Essentially, another cluster was layered atop the standard Eldorado’s for a unique appearance. Remember the first generation model was also on a special shortened wheelbase all its own, though still based upon the C-body used by other Eldorados.

The second generation in 1959 ditched any pretense of a custom chassis, and migrated to the standard C-body’s 130-inch wheelbase. Even though it was a four-door, the Eldorado Brougham shared a 225-inch length with its brethren, too. This enabled GM to increase parts commonality between the models. 

This change was immediately apparent when facing the gauges, as the cluster was exactly the same as other Eldorados in 1959. The horizontal speedometer with chromed ribbing detail replaced any prior rocket inspiration. Turn signals were integrated aside the temperature and fuel gauges, lacking any special design or ornamentation. 

The steering wheel which had a special central hub design in 1958 became a regular Eldorado wheel in 1959. The most notable wheel upgrade made for Brougham duty were silver painted sections on the wheel spokes for a more uniform appearance, where other Eldorados had color-matched paint. For additional visual impact, the lower half of the chromed horn rim was removed, leaving a half-circle exclusive to Brougham.

Elsewhere on the dash parts commonality continued with standard Eldorado and indeed other Cadillacs. The 1957-58 Brougham required custom work for its dash area at either side, as the forward scallop of the unique front doors cut toward the firewall area considerably. With a much more “standard” set of doors in 1959, such work was no longer necessary. 

The Eldorado’s dash was imported into the Brougham fully intact in 1959. To the left of the wheel in the Brougham, the decorative Cadillac crest pod of other Eldorados was always filled by the standard cruise control knob. Because the Brougham’s A-pillar was further forward and more traditionally upright than the curved design on the Eldorado, there was less space at the front corners of the dash. 

Thus it was not possible to mount the window controls ahead of the door like in Biarritz and Seville. To get out of custom work, GM placed simple caps at the corners of where the standard dash ended, and moved the window switches onto the door. More on that in a moment. 

In front of the passenger were similar radio controls as 1958, though the 1959 Brougham received a larger, nicer radio tuner. Chromed dash trim was replaced by vertically ribbed detailing, just like other Eldorados. There was a new, large Cadillac crest in front of the passenger which contained Eldorado Brougham lettering in script. The standard Autronic Eye shifted from the front left corner of the dash to have a more central placement, likely to receive light from oncoming traffic more reliably. 

The 1959 Brougham’s door panels picked up a more similar styling to other Cadillacs, though slightly revised given the door’s more square shape. Unlike the unique door panels of the 1958, the ‘59 took a revised trim approach. More subdued than the previous model, it was also more subdued looking than other Eldorados of that year. 

Artisans at Pininfarina installed a monochromatic door panel with a horizontally ribbed and pleated detail. This detailing curved downward at the switch panel in the front door, unlike the fully horizontal detailing on other Eldorados. The panel itself was large, chrome, and needed to contain all window and vent controls. Integrated with it was the interior door handle, which was the same as on other Cadillacs. In 1958 there was a unique cabinet pull door latch.

Elsewhere on the door panel there was a convenience light strip, which looked better integrated than the dual lamps on standard Eldorado models. The red safety lamp was located in a circular pod at the lower edge of the door. The lack of coach doors on the new design meant a B-pillar appeared in the middle of the car, and prevented that “pass-through” look.

The Brougham received its own seat design which was more basic than the prior model, and much simpler than other Eldorados in 1959. Benches front and rear were trimmed in a velour fabric, with little ornamentation. There was color-matched piping at the seat edge and on the middle part of the cushion, running horizontal and making a complete perimeter. The pleating design from the door panels was duplicated on the seats. Though it was less detailed overall than the prior model, the Brougham looked much more coherent inside than other Eldorados in 1959.

Rear doors opened wide, and entry was aided by the Brougham-specific sliding rear side glass mentioned previously. That meant there was a track that extended from the rear side panels and into the rear doors, and created another set of window seals. This area was trimmed in chrome. At the front of the rear doors there was an awkward piece of trim that stuck out in the air, but was required to meet the middle pillar when the door was closed. 

Rear seat passengers had nicer accommodation than in standard Eldorados with the additional doors, moving rear glass, and a lighted entry via twin lamps affixed to the decorative trim panel on the back of the front bench. Oddly, the only wood trim in the Brougham was a quadratic panel in the middle of the front seat back. Ringed in chrome, it contained something but your author can’t tell what it was. A mirror, or perhaps some sort of clock? Let me know in the comments. 

The Eldorados and Brougham were better equipped than ever in 1959, and as such there are no trims to review in this generation. In our next installment, we’ll talk about the manufacturing process for the illustrious Brougham. Then we’ll cover the 1960 styling edit for Eldorado (as well as the rest of the Cadillac line) which brought the two-doors in line with the subdued styling previewed on the 1959 Brougham. The tailfin began its descent.

[Images: dealer, dealer, dealer, GM]

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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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3 of 9 comments
  • Ravenuer Ravenuer on May 19, 2024

    Just curious, will the next installment cover the 59-60 Italian made Caddies? They're my absolute favorite Caddy.

    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on May 19, 2024

      The subject of this article is an Italian made Brougham. The next article will include the manufacturing of them, yes.

  • Ravenuer Ravenuer on May 20, 2024

    Looking forward to it!

  • 3-On-The-Tree I don’t think Toyotas going down.
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