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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

We close out the fourth generation Cadillac Eldorado and second (and final) Eldorado Brougham sedan with a discussion on sales figures and pricing. The figures set the stage for a time of decline in the Eldorado’s fortunes, while the pricing (particularly of the Brougham) meant General Motors would never attempt a halo Eldorado ever again. Adding insult to injury, it was the last time Eldorado was an independent model for some time.

The 1959 Cadillacs were bedazzled with a raucous optimism. Their fins reached for the stars, as Bill Mitchell allowed for one glorious final outing prior to general restraint in 1960 and onward. And that was true for the entire Cadillac line, not just the fanciful and more garish Eldorados.

For context, prior generation Eldorados were introduced while Cadillac was flying high and trouncing Lincoln in every way. Cadillac sold 146,481 cars in 1957. That figure fell to 121,778 in 1958, down to recession woes. But even though the brand was down, keep in mind that in 1958 Lincoln sold 17,134 cars total

Cadillac bounced back in 1959 with a total of 142,272 sales. The most popular line was the base model Series 62, with its two- and four-door configurations, and convertible. Total 62 production of 70,736 proved the six-window four-door was the most popular with 23,511 sales. The two-door hardtop was the next most popular, and sold 21,947 units. Less popular were the more formal four-door four-window sedan with 14,138 sales, and the convertible brought up the rear with 11,130. 

The DeVille (technically Series 63) also sold well, with over 50,000 examples in 1959. The most popular variant was the Coupe DeVille with 21,924 sales. The six-window proved more popular in DeVille guise as well, with 19,158 sales compared to the 12,308 of the four-window.

The standalone Sixty Special was popular in four-door hardtop guise, and sold 12,250 times that year. Stepping up to the Eldorado (and down in sales), the Seville and Biarritz changed places in 1959. The convertible Biarritz proved more appealing with 1,320 sales, while the Seville coupe sold only 975 times. 

Rounding out the upper end of Cadillac that year, Eldorado brougham reached only 99 sales. Potential customers were put off by the parts commonality with other four-door Cadillacs, and the shoddy, lead-intensive Pininfarina build quality. Series 75 fared much better, with 710 standard sedans and 690 Imperial Sedan limousines. And one of the 2,102 commercial chassis sold in 1959 later became the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters. 

Part of the Eldorado’s problem at the end of the Fifties was the waning of the “halo convertible” market, and a Sixties personal luxury coupe segment that hadn’t yet arrived. Remember, at the time the Thunderbird had only just gained four total seats, and the Buick Riviera was four years away. And the other part was down to pricing. 

In 1959 the Eldorado Seville and Biarritz asked $7,401 ($80,019 adj.). That was a considerable sum of money when one considered the two-door Series 62 convertible that was identical except for trim and badges was $5,455 ($58,979 adj.). Recall this was the first generation where the Eldorado wore a body that was identical to other Cadillacs in the lineup.  

But if the regular Eldroado was too much, the Eldorado Brougham was ludicrous. At $13,075 ($141,367 adj.), it was the most expensive domestic car on offer, and eclipsed even imported luxury options like Rolls-Royce in price. And when customers saw the build quality, the math wasn’t mathing for the Brougham. 

Despite revised styling that swept the Cadillac lineup in 1960 which saw a reduction in chrome, smoother and cleaner body lines, and much smaller fins, sales stayed put: 142,164 sales in total. The Series 62 was again the most popular model on offer, though sales slipped a few hundred to 70,824. The six-window sedan was the fastest selling body style (26,824) followed by the two-door hardtop (19,978). The convertible increased its sales to 14,000, but there was a big hit for the four-window sedan as only 9,984 sold. There were also two bare 62 chassis sold in 1960.

DeVille stayed strong with 53,389 sales. The six-window (22,579) and coupe (21,585) were nearly identical in sales, while the four-window with its more conservative vibe moved 9,225 examples. Sixty Special retracted slightly, but still managed 11,800 sales all on its own. 

Both variants of the Eldorado improved their fortunes slightly in 1960: The Biarritz remained on top with 1,285 sales, while Seville trailed with an improved 1,075. Perhaps the rest of the lineup’s correlation with the Eldorado Brougham’s looks made it more popular in 1960, as Cadillac managed to sell 101 on its final outing. The largest Series 75 segment also fared better in 1960, with 718 Series 75 sedans, 832 Imperial Sedan limousines, and 2,160 commercial chassis. 

Surprisingly, Cadillac matched its pricing from 1959 to 1960 across the lineup. Perhaps selling restyled cars at the same price was a marketing tactic, but the strategy worked to bump sales. What did not improve to a satisfactory level were sales of the Eldorado. 

The 1960 model year marked a recession point for Eldorado, and it was reshuffled lower into the brand’s offerings. Its name became less prominent, less luxurious, and available in only one shape. We’ll pick up there next time with the relatively forgotten fifth-generation Eldorado.

[Images: GM]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by  subscribing to our newsletter.

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.

More by Corey Lewis

Join the conversation
3 of 20 comments
  • Mike Beranek Mike Beranek on Jun 10, 2024

    The woman in the ad has that "you'd better have a Cadillac if you want to be with me" look on her face.

    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Jun 10, 2024

      "Sassy ladies" seemed to be the way of that brochure. Check upward a little for the discerning woman buying crystal wares. She's about town in her furs and Sedan DeVille.

  • Jimbo1126 Jimbo1126 7 days ago

    Can't believe I'm the first to comment that I find the 4 window sedans much more interesting than the 6 window ones.

  • 28-Cars-Later Can we end debt slavery next? Its getting to the point where its no longer voluntary.
  • Carson D Honda and Toyota still make the best American cars.
  • Slavuta I just though, with this rate we could make Cinco De Mayo a national holiday as well. Since we have tens of millions of American Mexicans, and probably more than African Americans
  • Wjtinfwb Well, it LOOKS pretty great for 36 years old and 356k miles! I've seen plenty of 2 decade newer trucks that looked like a shrapnel bomb went off inside and and exterior that looked worse. This owner got everything out of that truck it had. Time to let it retire to the farm.
  • Wjtinfwb Stellantis. They've gone from Hero to Zero in 24 months with some really stupid decisions and allowing politicians to influence their business. They also hung onto old products way too long and relied on RAM and Jeep to pull them through. RAM plays in the most competitive market of all, full-size trucks and competition is brutal with Ford and GM keeping their foot to the floor on development and improvement. Chrysler now has one model, a 5 year old van. Dodge made a living off old cars with stupendous power, that's gone with the mothballing of the Hemi. The Hornet is an overpriced joke. Now they have new Durango Pursuit's self-destruction because of a plastic oil cooler that self destructs and dumps oil into the coolant lunching the engine. Grand Cherokee, a staple of Jeep has not been well received and has limited power options due to canning the Hemi. Now they've got to build interest around the Hurricane turbo in-line 6 in trucks, Charger's and Jeeps. If that engine turns out to be problematic its likely lights out in Sterling Heights.