In our last installment of Rare Rides, we checked out the interior changes Cadillac’s engineers and designers made for the new and improved third generation Eldorado in 1957. And while the interior of the standard Eldorados that year was largely shared with the rest of the Cadillac lineup, there was an exception: Eldorado Brougham. Like we saw previously with the Brougham’s mix-and-match approach in use of old and new exterior styling cues, the interior went its own direction as well.
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.
Last week in our Cadillac Eldorado saga, we covered the visual updates in the new-for-’57 Eldorado Biarritz. Part of a styling revision across the line at Cadillac that year, the Eldorado in particular drifted away from the bulbous fenders and tall hood shapes that were a hallmark of post-WWII American car design. But there were two more Eldorados in 1957! One of them looked more daring than the Biarritz, and the other looked almost like it was from the past.
As we learned in our previous installment, the third generation Eldorado debuted in 1957 with a daring new X-frame chassis design. Launched across the entire Cadillac lineup that year, the X-frame would become controversial in short order due to safety concerns in side-impact crashes. Up top, Cadillac decided to make less controversial styling changes on the 1957 Eldorados. Designers advanced a styling theme that would reach its fin-happy and chrome bedazzled crescendo a couple of years later.
As we learned in our last installment, the Cadillac lineup was revised visually for 1957, and would be revised again in 1958 once quad headlamps became legal. Fins grew, hoods smoothed, roofs leaned backward, and there were more Eldorado variants than ever before. But styling and lineup changes weren’t the only new features in 1957: Cadillac was also eager to tout its Standard of the World engineering, safety, and engine advancements!
The second generation Cadillac Eldorado was met with immediate sales success after its repositioning from a halo vehicle to a more affordable upmarket trim package in 1954. Expanding upon the success in its third and final model year, the second-gen Eldorado sprouted a new body style (a hardtop coupe) called Seville in addition to the mainstay convertible sibling christened Biarritz. In 1958 it was time for all-new Eldorado(s), in a moment that would see the nameplate expand into a small lineup in two very distinct price brackets. Time for model range detail!
The product people at Cadillac made a crucial decision early in the Fifties with regard to the positioning of the second generation Eldorado: It would be less expensive, and less special. The unique content of the exclusive limited-run 1953 Eldorado meant it had a stratospheric price that put it out of reach for the vast majority of consumers. The subsequent 1954 Eldorado appeared with a more reasonable price, and was a fancy trim package atop the new Series 62 convertible. Sales skyrocketed, and the trajectory for the remainder of the second generation was set!
When it debuted in its second generation guise for the 1954 model year, the Cadillac Eldorado changed its approach from low-production halo car to expensive trim package. The new take and lower price resonated with consumers and sales jumped immediately. Boldened, in 1955 a refreshed Eldorado appeared with a new rear end treatment that featured large fins not found on other Cadillac models. Upon the Eldorado’s return to (partially) unique styling, sales nearly doubled. Cadillac wanted more, and so for its final second generation outing in 1956 Eldorado was expanded into a new body style and two luxurious new trim names.
We return to our Rare Rides Eldorado coverage this week, after a thorough review of the exterior and interior of the new-for-’54 Eldorado. The new model was meant to continue the excitement of the limited-run, very expensive 1953 Eldorado at a price that was notably more affordable to the American luxury car buyer. A more cynical take on a halo convertible, the 1954 went without any unique styling and instead focused on trim and badges to differentiate it from the garden variety Series 62 convertible upon which it was based. Normally this is the point where we’d talk about trims, but there weren’t any at the second Eldorado’s debut. It was not until after the model became a sales success that Cadillac debuted more variants.
In our last installment of Rare Rides Icons, we noted exterior visual differences between the Eldorados of 1953 and 1954. While the first Eldorado wore bodywork unique to the model, the second generation relied on trim and some badging to justify its price increase over the lesser Series 62. Today we slide into the Eldorado’s leather-clad interior to see how things fared in the transition to a mass-produced model.
We return to the Cadillac Eldorado saga today by popular demand. In our last entry, we delved into the engineering and platform changes that arrived for the entire Cadillac line in 1954. In short, the same C-body platform continued in use for Series 62, Sixty Special, and Eldorado with new bodywork and additional standard features. Eldorado was repositioned in ‘54 to become mass market, and lost its unique styling. That meant visual differences between it and the lesser Series 62 convertible were down to pieces of trim.
As we learned in our last installment, when the second generation Eldorado debuted in 1954 it was repositioned at Cadillac. No longer was it an ultra expensive and largely hand-built conveyance for a select few who could afford it. Rather it appeared as a sort of premium trim package on top of the company’s bread and butter Series 62. No unique body panels, no special interior design, no single-model windshield. Was there much left to differentiate Eldorado from its sibling?
Of the three high-dollar, limited-production two-door convertibles GM debuted in 1953, Cadillac’s Series 62 Eldorado was far and away the most expensive. With its drop-door styling, a loaded interior covered in additional leather, and a sky-high $7,750 price tag, Eldorado was out of the reach of the majority of consumers. And though it sold only 532 examples, GM felt the model’s future was bright. That is if they could just cut the asking price down to something more reasonable. Enter the all-new 1954 Eldorado, swimming in a sea of fins.
In our last Eldorado entry, we discussed the exterior differences between Cadillac’s standard Series 62 convertible and the limited production Eldorado. Visual differences were few, and limited to a revised window line via “drop door” sheet metal, and a wraparound windshield that was fitted only to the Eldorado in ‘53. There were interior differences too, though they didn’t quite add up to the “specially designed instrument panel” claim in the marketing.
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