The Eldorado model was part of the Cadillac line from 1953 to 2002. The Cadillac Eldorado was the longest running American personal luxury car as it was the only one sold after the 1998 model year. Its main competitors included the Lincoln Mark Series and the lower-priced Buick Riviera.
The name Eldorado comes from the Spanish words el dorado, meaning "the gilded one" [or the golden man]. "El" is the Spanish equivalent for "the". Cadillac selected the name for a special convertible show car built in 1952 to celebrate the company’s Golden Anniversary. It was suggested in an in-house competition by Mary-Ann Marini, nee Zukowsky, of Cadillac’s merchandising staff. The company adopted the name for the limited-edition, top-of-the-line Cadillac convertible of 1953. It was quickly changed from "El Dorado" (two words) to "Eldorado" (one word).
The luxurious El Dorado, a completely new car in the Cadillac line for 1953 dramatically presents a new trend in design for American motor cars. Its long low lines is accented by the new deep angle wrap-around windshield. The white or black Orlon top when down is completely concealed under a metal cover at the top of the rear deck. In body lines a bold downward sweep curve over the door sets a new characteristic. New chrome wire wheels add a special touch of distinction. Interiors of the El Dorado are completely trimmed in leather with horseshoe patterns on the seats and horizontal cord stitching.
The 1953 Eldorado was the first Cadillac with a wraparound windshield. It featured a dipped beltline and a metal cover that hid the top when it was down, and it came with virtually everything standard — including leather upholstery, radio, heater, windshield washer, Hydramatic automatic transmission, power steering and whitewall tires on real wire wheels.
This first Eldorado had a wraparound windshield and a cut-down beltline, the latter signifying a dip in the sheetmetal at the bottom of the side windows. These two touches were especially beloved by General Motors Styling Chief Harley Earl and subsequently were widely copied by other marques. In fact, throughout the 50s, Eldorado was GM’s styling leader, and since GM led the industry, where the Eldorado went, everyone else would tend to follow.
The engine, however, remained the 210 horsepower 331-cubic-inch OHV V8 found in all 1953 Caddies. Still, all that custom coachwork and luxury features didn’t come cheap, and the Eldorado carried a big $7,750 base price — almost $2,000 more than the next-most-expensive Cadillac, the Fleetwood 75 Imperia l eight-passenger limousine. That’s also more than twice the price of the $3,498 Corvette. It was no surprise then that only 532 Eldorados were sold that year.