1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible
The ’50s were a strange decade: on the one hand, the danger of nuclear annihilation grew bigger and bigger as tensions between East and West reached new peaks and, on the other hand, automotive design also reached new peaks - peaks touched by the ultra-high fins of cars like the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, a true symbol of its time.
When you think of American cars from the ’50s, depending on who you are, you’re bound to first picture in your head one of three cars: the 1957 Chevy Bel Air, the 1955 Ford Thunderbird or the 1959 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible. The latter is most definitely the showboat, figuratively and literally, of a whole design trend; a trend that climaxed with this very car that, in a way, managed to kill off the trend altogether. The trend I’m talking about is of aeronautical inspiration, and it took off (pun intended) in the late ’40s and early ’50s thanks to concept cars like the Buick Le Sabre and a host of other GM Motorama creations.
No, those chrome-bathed fins didn’t help the cars corner better nor did they aid the back end in sticking to the ground better - they were just for style, and 1959 was the year of all-out chrome and all-out fins. Some think those cars are everything that’s wrong with American cars, others simply think they’re flamboyant while others still adore them. I guess it’s a matter of personal preference but, undoubtedly, the ’59 Eldorado continues to turn heads 60 years later.
1931 Cadillac Series 370 Phaeton
In the late 1920s, most auto manufacturers had shifted production to multi-cylinder internal combustion engines. As such, Cadillac needed to keep up with the Joneses and began working on a V-12 and V-16 model. Even at that time, it didn’t take long, and by 1931 Cadillac began selling the Cadillac Series 370 V-12. Surprisingly, Cadillac offered the V-12 with the same bodywork as the V-16, despite the fact that it featured a shorter wheelbase. This left the V-12 model looking so similar to the V-16 model that the only easy way to tell a V-12 from a V-16 (unless they were parked next to each other) was to look for the V-12 Badge.
The Series 370 Phaeton that you see here was manufactured for the 1931 model year, making it one of the early 370s, also known as the 370A. As you can see, the car featured a classy design with a drop top and side-mounted spare tires. The hood was long, but not nearly as long as that of the V-16, which happened to be about four inches longer. The V-12 model was actually a huge seller for Cadillac, with a total of 5,733 examples sold in 1931 alone. That’s a whole heap more than the 363 examples of the V-16 model sold in the same year.
The model you see here was professionally restored back in the late 1990s and has only been driven 169 miles since resto completion. It will be going under the hammer during Monterey Car Week at the Mecum Auction and is expected to grab anywhere between $210,000 and $250,000 on the stand. Before that happens, let’s take a better look at this beautiful 370 Series and talk a little more about it.
Read our full review on the 1931 Cadillac Series 370 Phaeton below
Cadillac is a company that has had some fantastic highs as well as some depressing Cimarron-level lows. The prewar V-16 models were world leaders in luxury, but even after WWII, Cadillac had a few offerings that still put it at the front of the pack. Some early versions of the Eldorado were in a price bracket with Rolls-Royce, and then there were the Series 62 Ghia coupes. Coachbuilt cars in general were far less plentiful by 1953 when the Ghia coupes were built, and Cadillacs even more so. The company had invested heavily in coachbuilding during the ’20s in order to be able to offer a staggering number of body styles and customization options without buyers needing to go to a third party to have a body built.
So even in the ’30s, couchbuilt Cadillacs were already rare, but in 1953, the Ghia coupe was something extra special. But what makes these cars so great, apart from the fact that they are so very rare, is that they are also something of a mystery. Very little information, paperwork or even photos from the period remain, and there are even unconfirmed rumors about the cars that get passed around as facts.
Continue reading to learn more about the 1953 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe By Ghia.
It might be hard to tell now, after the massive hit that Cadillac’s reputation took during the malaise era, but there was once a time when Cadillac’s drive to be the best luxury car company in the world was absolutely maniacal. This drive led to the purchase of two different coachbuilders, Fleetwood and Fisher, in the mid-’20s, so that Cadillac could offer everything for its cars in-house. The norm at the time for luxury cars was to buy just a chassis from the manufacturer and then a separate custom body from a coachbuilder. Cadillac wanted a customer to be able to order a full custom car from it, thus streamlining the process and potentially offering a greater range of custom options.
The other big push at the time was to develop a V16 engine, essentially just to show up Packard, Cadillac’s biggest rival, that had just debuted a new V12. And thus was born the Cadillac V16, sometimes just called the “Sixteen,” Cadillac’s top of the line model from 1930 to 1940. It was offered with a dizzying list of options, all right from Cadillac, and special requests were of course welcome. It was an era-defining luxury car.
Continue reading to learn more about the 1930 Cadillac V-16 Two-Passenger Coupe by Fleetwood.
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.
Eldorado was a model built by Cadillac from 1953 to 2002. The name Eldorado was derived from the Spanish words "el dorado", the "gilded one"; the name was given originally to the legendary chief or "cacique" of a South American Indian tribe. Legend has it that his followers would sprinkle his body with gold dust on ceremonial occasions and he would wash it off again by diving into a lake. The name more frequently refers to a legendary city of fabulous riches, somewhere in South America, that inspired many European expeditions, including one to the Orinoco by England’s Sir Walter Raleigh.