2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom EWB – Bespoke Couture

Posted in Extreme Luxury, Grande Marque, Rolls-Royce with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2018 by 99MilesPerHour

“Nil Fato Relinquemus…”

A Rolls-Royce Phantom EWB is the closest thing to nirvana one will ever experience in motorcar form. It’s writing its own legacy one magnificent model at a time. For 2018, Rolls-Royce engineers used a clean sheet approach endowing Phantom with extraordinary new levels of comfort and sophistication resulting in the most technologically advanced motorcar in the history of the brand.

Phantom EWB remains true to its eloquent heritage offering deep-seated luxury, spaciousness, and performance of the highest order. It has maintained an enviable reputation of being the finest handcrafted saloon in a very elite market niche. The 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom EWB continues the formidable tradition as the pride of the UK…and the envy of the entire world –  

A Rolls-Royce Phantom ferries its passengers along completely oblivious to the world outside the vehicle. Phantom EWB escalates this elite sophistication to a new level of exclusivity… 

The ultimate improved upon…

Phantom’s silhouette has been completely redefined…what didn’t change is the fact it retains the unmistakable hallmarks of the marque with its new poised dignity, sheer opulence, and impeccable handcrafting. The Phantom EWB shares identical coachwork with Phantom SWB. The added length is discretely incorporated into the rear portion of the bodyshell. Elegant forward-opening rear coach doors augment Phantom EWB’s eminence. Modular componentry of “The Architecture of Luxury” is modified refining the SWB into the EWB luxury saloon.

All future Rolls-Royce models will be underpinned with the new all-aluminium spaceframe architecture. New model Research & Development will benefit enhanced functionality from blueprint to production efficiency with greatly reduced timeframes. When the new generation Phantom MK VII was released in 2003, the EWB version didn’t come about until the 2005 model year. The Architecture of Luxury allowed Rolls-Royce engineers to release both Phantom MK VIII SWB and EWB together. Phantom is the perfect synthesis of Rolls-Royce virtues and 21st Century engineering prowess. 

Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII special edition “A moment in time”

Advanced technology unobtrusively makes its contribution. The next generation of the Rolls-Royce motorcar is built upon all-new “Electronic Architecture” the largest and most complex electronic platform ever made by the BMW Group. The entire car networks together optimizing the Rolls-Royce experience.

Electronic engine controls coordinate functions under the bonnet while a GPS aided 8-speed electronic ZF gearbox scans digital maps preparing the car for the road ahead. Phantom’s electronic ‘thinking’ suspension levels itself automatically maintaining its poise under all driving conditions. Phantom EWB ‘floats’ on a cushion of air further enhancing the famous “Magic Carpet Ride.” If you’ve ever driven a Rolls-Royce motorcar, you’ll agree…it’s truly a performance of considerable virtuosity –  

Legendary luxury and eloquence…

1959 Rolls-Royce Phantom V with Park Ward coachwork

Historically, Rolls-Royce Phantom models represent limousines of distinction. Each one has been handcrafted into bespoke resplendence. Once upon a time these eminent saloons exited the assembly hall at the famous Crewe facility in the UK. These luxury icons established pride in perfection with a poised dignity which became the hallmark of every Rolls-Royce motorcar.

The world’s leading luxury item is now in theatre in the UK at the high-tech Goodwood facility continuing the formidable Rolls-Royce legacy. Times have changed but one Rolls-Royce mission statement has not: “The quality will remain long after the price has been forgotten…”  

Rolls-Royce Phantom MK VII

Contemporary limousines are designed with shorter, lower exterior dimensions and more sophisticated upscale cabins. These radical new designs have spacious interiors to repose in luxurious comfort. Phantom EWB redefines luxury travel with “The Suite” a highly bespoke approach in personal commissioning.

Long wheelbase saloons by Rolls-Royce typically focus on the rear passenger compartment. Phantom EWB may be equipped as a rolling boardroom for executives that work as they travel. It may also be configured with premium entertainment and communication systems enhancing the car’s interconnectivity with the world-wide web making each journey as rewarding as its destination. 

Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII EWB special edition”Whispered Muse”

“The Gallery” expresses the patron’s individuality…

The Phantom EWB is the ultimate flagship saloon. Upon initial contact, one’s sense of touch is delighted by the feel of the hand-polished stainless-steel exterior door handles. This car has an elegance no other motorcar can match. Once inside the car, the assistant or valet steps toward the door…a light touch of the sensor in the door handle quietly whisks the door closed.

All four doors may be effortlessly closed at the touch of a button from the inside the cabin by each occupant. “The Embrace” virtually surrounds passengers in the epitome of luxury. A vast array of handcrafted wood veneers, hand-cut/hand-stitched natural grain leather, and deep pile carpet are made available to the client through comprehensive personal commissioning. Clients may log in via internet portal to observe their car’s stage of build. 

Beneath Phantom EWB’s handcrafted aluminium coachwork is an athletic grand touring limousine. The ceremonious entrance of this new generation Rolls-Royce motorcar includes a freshly minted 6.8 litre twin-turbocharged V12 engine. This elegant saloon produces an impressive 563 hp packing a prolific punch with 900 Nm of peak torque.

Luxury not only assumes an entirely new identity but a spirited new attitude as well. Both engine and transmission retain their anonymity during Phantom EWB’s effortless motoring virtues. Why waste this exhilarating limousine on a chauffeur? 

Rolls-Royce is synonymous with bespoke…

Every Rolls-Royce motorcar is handcrafted per owner requisites. You will never see two alike. Limited editions, exclusive one-off creations, and a “sky’s the limit” approach to personal commissioning make Rolls-Royce motorcars uniquely distinctive. There’s one thing all Rolls-Royce patrons share collectively, they appreciate the degree of craft that goes into the build of “The Best Car in the World.” The latest edition is another superlative in the elite continuing saga of The Spirit of Ecstasy – 

The result of Rolls-Royce endeavors once again yields a motorcar of absolutes sharing neither engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, nor coach crafting with its predecessors. A new Rolls-Royce motorcar redefines the attributes that have made the marque famous escalating them to new heights in exclusivity and supremacy. The 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom continues the eminent heritage. In the making of a Rolls-Royce motorcar, every detail must have its function and the beauty of form must derive from its fitness for purpose.  

Photos/specifications courtesy Rolls-Royce Press Club

The 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom EWB is NotoriousLuxury © 2018


2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom – A Serendipitous Adventure in Paradise

Posted in Editorials, Extreme Luxury, Grande Marque, Rolls Royce, Symbol with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2018 by 99MilesPerHour

A New legend is launched…

The iconic “Spirit of Ecstasy” adorns an all-new interpretation of the Rolls-Royce Phantom for the 2018 model year. Introduction of a Rolls-Royce motorcar never comes as the result of a blinding flash of inspiration. Through evolution, each new model is built upon the laurels of its predecessor adding the latest technology available. Only after inexhaustible research and testing, it is further refined to sheer magnificence.

This total redesign is the second completely new edition under BMW management for the 21st Century. Now that’s progressive, the marque has refined a legend while gaining new acclaim in such a short length of time. Phantom is powered by a newly minted 6.8 litre twin-turbo V12 engine. The new saloon is built upon the Rolls-Royce patented “Architecture of Luxury” a new concept making the car lighter, quieter, more rigid and technologically advanced than the previous model. A new legend is launched…

Automobile journalists world-wide whip out the ruler once again. The Rolls-Royce Phantom is the standard by which ALL other ultra-luxury cars are judged. Any Rolls-Royce motorcar is one class act…and an extremely tough act – which no other luxury car – can follow. The eighth generation Phantom introduces a Luxury Suite approach redefining comfort and convenience escalating opulence to new heights in exclusivity and supremacy.

Thoughtful amenities such as “The Embrace” of its self-closing doors and “The Gallery” imposed into the elegant newly designed dash fascia of the control center, alerts one to the fact this is no ordinary automobile. Phantom’s new look highlights an impressive new interpretation of Rolls-Royce luxury. However; some things will never change:” The loudest sound one will ever hear inside the cabin of a Rolls-Royce motorcar – is the beating of their heart…”

Rolls-Royce Phantom MK VIII

Phantom is graciously designed with 21st Century virtues. The exquisitely handcrafted architecture has been totally restyled to reflect the distinctive character of Phantom’s tasteful heritage. It is also designed so as not to render the previous models redundant out of owner loyalty and respect.

Rolls-Royce Phantom MK VII

An aluminium space frame design ends the love affair between Rolls-Royce and monocoque construction. The big news for the Phantom VIII is the “Architecture of Luxury.” The integrated network further refines the “Magic Carpet Ride” ride into superlatives. This revolutionary new approach for the automotive industry has been designed and engineered from the ground up to adapt to the size and weight requirements for future Rolls-Royce model logistics.

This platform is 30% more rigid than previous applications. Its lightweight design, increased torsional rigidity, and modular componentry can be adapted to the next generation of Rolls-Royce motorcars that will follow. Suspension dynamics are further optimized by innovative new processes which enhance the sensation of soaring – one of the true hallmarks of a Rolls-Royce motorcar.

The Rolls-Royce relentless pursuit of exemplary coachbuilding and engineering par excellence once again yields “The Best Car in the World.” To say Phantom set new benchmarks in the industry is grossly understated. Its Electronic Architecture is the largest and most sophisticated component produced by the BMW Group.

This highly intelligent system networks together coordinating every function of the entire vehicle from its overall operational dynamics to the latest navigation and entertainment systems. The eighth generation of the formidable Phantom series is the preface to a new breed of Rolls-Royce motorcars. Phantom is the very essence of the brand…

The formidable new look of authority…

The Architecture of Luxury is augmented by exquisite coach crafting. Modular symmetry integrated into Phantom’s engineering DNA is adaptable for future applications. Monocoque construction throughout the Rolls-Royce model range will ultimately be replaced by this new technology. Phantom’s poised dignity is embodied within a totally new yet familiar design completely in character with a flagship of its stature.

Phantom’s aluminium bodyshell is crafted using a precision body pre-joining process. A single stamped body panel takes the place of multiple components. This refinement not only reduces visible seams between body panels, but also aids aerodynamics. The result is a radical contemporization of the illustrious Phantom saloon. The new edition through historic evolution, is a visual composition hinting at the classic Silver Cloud borrowing styling cues from the Silver Shadow, Silver Spirit, as well as the Silver Seraph saloons. The 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom is a tasteful new rendition of a time-honored legend. Its beauty is exceeded only by the prestige of ownership…

The iconic ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ and signature radiator grille have been refined for the new flagship. We cannot forget the flying lady mascot which has adorned Rolls-Royce motorcars since 1911. “Emily” the silver goddess, was created by Charles Sykes to keep the Rolls-Royce motorcar appearance uniform as a thing of beauty. She has undergone many changes during her tenure.  The new Phantom captures the essence of the original in a stunning contemporary form.

Phantom’s classic inspiration is the basis of its timeless beauty, making it the epitome of luxury. The hand polished radiator grille has been integrated into surrounding bodywork. The taller, more upright dominance creates an elegant new look of authority. A new headlamp design gives daylight running lamps a holographic look from a graphic laser light system. Phantom electronically casts light 600 metres down the road to assist driving after dark. This is the most advanced lighting system of any automobile on the road today.

Phantom is synonymous with technology. The entire automobile networks together in electronic harmony and sophistication.  A 4-camera system around the vehicle includes panoramic and helicopter views for optimal all-around visibility and security. Night Vision, Vision Assistant, Active Cruise Control, Collision Warning, and lane departure/lane change notification are just a few of the many features and accessories that contribute to Phantom’s overall operational efficiency. High-resolution head-up display, digital on-board electronics, Wi-Fi hotspots, and state of the art navigation/entertainment systems all aid the car’s interconnectivity into today’s world.

The electronic interface within Phantom is an endless array of technical insight. Electronic Stability Control (ESC), with ABS and driveline traction control systems constantly monitor and calibrate each wheel individually as the transmission scans geographical maps preparing the car for the road ahead.

Phantom’s electronic self-leveling system allows the car to ‘glide’ on a cushion of air enhancing the famous “Magic Carpet Ride.” The system is so sensitive it adjusts the ride height to compensate for fuel used from the tank as well as changes in load. Ingenious 4-wheel steering provides unrivaled steering precision…allowing the car to remain poised minding its manners at all times. A Rolls-Royce does everything a little better than its ultra-luxury competitors. Effortless…totally effortless operation is what one has come to expect from the brand.

Phantom’s highly bespoke nature gives the client limitless possibilities for both comfort and convenience. The all-new Luxury Suite approach redefines the cabin’s exclusivity. Individual lounge-type seating with a fixed center console includes carefully angled seating positions enabling occupants to converse without strain.

An elegant bench-type seat with sofa-like proportions has a wide folding center armrest. A newly designed sleeping-seat arrangement is available for extraordinary comfort on extended journeys. The seats have been refined and handcrafted using the seating ‘bullet’ previously used on the Rolls-Royce Dawn and Wraith models.

In order to fully appreciate today’s Rolls-Royce, one must see how this grand marque evolved…the progression is tasteful, gradual, never outlandish nor shockingly out of sequence.

This is the first contemporary redesign…Phantom VII

Silver Seraph is the last new model of the 20th Century…

Silver Spirit and the EWB version Silver Spur

Silver Shadow and the EWB version Silver Wraith II

Silver Cloud I, II, & III. (Phantom V & VI) This iconic presence is the single most immediately identifiable of all Rolls-Royce model series. It’s classic eminence which endures…

Here’s Rolls-Royce refinement during the early 1950s. These automobiles have become cherished collectibles among connoisseurs all over the world. Rolls-Royce pre-eminence ages gracefully. “A thing of beauty is a joy forever – “

1933 Phantom III is among the purveyors of motoring eloquence

A New legend takes shape…

Phantom’s overall exterior design sports a slightly lower silhouette than its predecessor creating its own signature. Elegant forward-opening rear coach doors remain Phantom’s focal point. For added convenience, all four doors may now be closed automatically at the touch of a button. It’s the most exclusive “Embrace” in the industry.

This is a striking example of contemporary abstract automotive art. Phantom exudes a contemporary understated elegance. Restrained use of ornamentation is tasteful. The makers of “The Best Car in the World” have once again created an automotive masterpiece that doesn’t require pomposity to impress with crude assertions of status and wealth. It is satisfying as a fine Chateau Lafite Rothschild or a Cohiba Behike…rich and rare.

A Rolls-Royce is ride-engineered for outstanding comfort and convenience. Phantom’s independent suspension is equipped with double wishbones up front and a 5-link system at the rear. It rides on large 22 X 9.5” forged aluminium wheels. The tires are developed with Continental and are filled with 2kg of “Silent Seal” foam to eliminate even more road noise and vibration. The 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom SWB saloon has the luxury length of 226.8” and rides upon a long 140.6” wheelbase. The Phantom EWB has an even longer length at 235.5” riding upon a longer 148.5” wheelbase.

The Silent motorcar returns…

Phantom’s all-new V12 with advanced electronic engine controls produces more low-end output at lower revs to cancel even more noise and vibration than previously achieved. The lightweight aluminium 6.8 litre twin turbocharged engine yields an impressive 563 hp @ 5,000 rpm packing a prolific punch with 900 Nm of peak torque @ 1,700 rpm. The engine is mated to an electronic GPS aided 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox. The 2018 edition of The Best car in the World is configured as front engine rear-wheel drive. (Whisper…tick…soar)

A Rolls-Royce Phantom is “The Rolls-Royce of Rolls-Royces.” These prestigious flagship saloons have always been hand-built at a highly restricted pace from their inception in 1925. It simply upends the theory of the inability to “have it all.” The new Rolls-Royce Phantom by tradition, is a blank canvas for the client to create their very own unique work of automotive art.

Each and every Phantom is a highly bespoke masterpiece. No other ultra-luxury motorcar garners the respect and admiration afforded this supreme achievement in motoring. The next generation of the ultra-luxury saloon will exceed the parameters of bespoke elegance once again raising the bar of success even higher in this exclusive market niche…

The “Gallery” is an area for personalization. Intricately detailed marquetry may also reflect the requisites of the client. The 2018 Phantom’s new fascia makes an elegant new manner in which to express one’s self. All switch gear is rendered luxuriously in metal, glass, or wrapped in leather. Everything is designed to be beautiful with a jewel-like crystal effect.

All controls and gauges are on display behind an expanse of glass…as if they were in an art gallery or in a display case at Tiffany & Co. Leather and wood appointments will always be totally unique from vehicle to vehicle. Technology is hidden until required…screens, keyboards, and the like are stored away behind hidden panels. No two Rolls-Royce Phantoms will ever be alike because of natural materials and the extensive use of hand-finishing throughout the vehicle.

1915 Silver Ghost

“The Best Car in the World” award is bestowed upon superlative endeavors in the industry. Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost is a sparkling example. ‘Autocar’ named it as such in 1907 because of its revolutionary concept…Silver Ghost’s virtual silent operation and its notorious reliability gained world-wide acclaim. Chassis # AX201 is valued at $35,000,000 USD garnering the title of “Most Valuable Car in the World” in 2005.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom was judged “The Best Car in the World” upon its inception in 1925. This eminent automotive series historically is classified as a very, very special automobile reserved for very, very special clientele. The 2018 edition escalates this exclusivity while retaining the poised dignity which is the hallmark of every Rolls-Royce motorcar. Modern day accolades include the prestigious “Luxury Car of the Year” award in the UK  from BBC Top Gear Magazine received just weeks after the Phantom debuted on lovely Lake Lucerne in Vitznau, Switzerland on November 27, 2017.

1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Ascot Sport Phaeton

1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II

Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery…

“Monty’s” 1936 Rolls-Royce Phantom III by Freestone & Webb

“A keen believer in the power of the image, Montgomery used his Rolls-Royce Phantom to communicate permanence, solidity and reliability – a signal to his men that he was there to stay.”

Rolls-Royce Phantom IV chassis #4AF6 scrapped in 1959

1963 Rolls-Royce Phantom V coachbuilt by Mulliner Park Ward

1992 Rolls-Royce Phantom VI coachbuilt by HJ Mulliner

Rolls-Royce Phantom VII (Celestial Phantom 1 of only 1)

Phantom’s graciously refined resplendence heralds a dramatic new era in luxury motoring. Its unpretentious opulence doesn’t scream accomplishment it simply whispers success. The 2018 Phantom is the most technologically advanced model in Rolls-Royce history setting new industry benchmarks.

“The Architecture of Luxury” is the basis of an entirely new concept in luxury motorcar manufacturing. This modular platform will be used for future Rolls-Royce models replacing monocoque construction. The revolutionary new approach will adapt to size and weight requirements evolving to meet the corporate mission.

Phantom’s technology includes “Electronic Architecture” rated as the largest and most complex electronic platform ever built by the BMW Group. Advanced electronic intelligence aids Rolls-Royce Phantom’s overall operational logistics, active and passive accident avoidance systems, as well as state of the art navigation and entertainment systems.

This is the company flagship that’s extremely rewarding to own…and fine enough to preclude the restless quest for something finer to replace it. The 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom EWB is the one thing missing from me right now to achieve total happiness –

Special thanks to Park Ward Motors Museum, and Daniel Schmitt Classic Cars for classic Rolls-Royce photos. Special thanks to the Rolls-Royce Press Club for press releases, specifications, and photos for the 2018 Phantom.

The 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom is NotoriousLuxury  © 2018

Facel Vega Excellence 4-door Hardtop Saloon – Grande Routière Par Excellence III

Posted in Facel Vega, Grande Marque, Grande Routière Par Excellence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2018 by 99MilesPerHour

Facel Vega Excellence EX1

Facel Vega Excellence is a successful confluence of classic old-world charm and vicious MOPAR high-performance. The Excellence was introduced by Facel Vega of Paris France at the Paris Auto Show in October 1956. Actual production began in 1958 and ceased in 1964 after building only 156 vehicles. Classic simplicity gives the Excellence a tasteful understated luxury. Its elite provenance eminently qualifies it as a limousine. This car’s base price was a staggering $12,800. 

The coachwork is stunning…timeless…its neo-classic silhouette will challenge the years gracefully. Elegant forward-opening rear coach doors augment its stately appearance. This is the only four-door saloon ever built by the brand. The Excellence hardtop saloon was more of a ‘made to order’ model for the USA. This is the manner of luxury Americans thrived upon from the 1940s through 1970s. EX 1 models were built from 1958 until 1961 and EX2 finishing the production tenure through 1964.

Facel Vega Excellence EX2

Handcrafted, hand-stitched supple natural grain leather by Connolly Brothers lavishly upholsters the Facel Vega Excellence cabin. Luxurious Wilton hand-tufted 100% wool carpet finishes Jean Daninos subtle elegance. Pay special attention to the dash detailing…this is the beast faux woodwork in the industry. Opulent switch gear and other minute attention to detail is reflected through patient handcrafting. For a company the size of Facel Vega to do what Jean Daninos achieved in a decade is considered an amazing feat.

Cette femme mystérieuse a un secret…”

The Facel Vega Excellence lends an air of the aristocrat with its strong sense of propriety. Their sleek pillarless hardtop sedan design is inspired by American luxury cars from this period. Besides the obvious powerplant upgrades, The Facel Vega Excellence was hardly changed during its production tenure.

Distinguishing features include the rear end styling which is immediately apparent. The EX1 has pointed tail fins and a wide panoramic windscreen. The EX2 clipped those tailfins and revised the “A-pillars” to a forward rake eliminating those knee-busting doglegs for a more contemporary look. Either version retains a poised dignity few cars could replicate.

Facel Vega HK-500 (Courtesy, Daniel Schmitt Classic Cars)

Jean Daninos extremely tasteful designs aren’t cluttered with trendy, useless trim and gaudy ornamentation. The Facel Vega Excellence has a style that sweeps gracefully. This car really struts its proverbial stuff. Daninos used the same tricks back then as luxury car manufacturers are using today such as taking a standard platform and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g it to create a new model. He used a modified platform from the FVS series. The nose (grille, bumper headlamp assemblies, and front fenders) is interchangeable between the FVS/HK-500/Excellence models.

Saloon architecture behind the windscreen to the tail fins is model-specific to the Facel Vega Excellence. Strong body on frame construction highlights its traditional build. The compact 205.9” total length has a wide 72” stance. It rides upon a long 124.8” wheelbase which is longer then its Yankee counterparts for the day. The Excellence has an extremely low ride height of 54.3” making it appear longer, lower, and wider – like American automobiles. This four-door luxury/performance hybrid weighs in at a hefty 4,233 pounds.

Facel Vega ‘DNA’ is evident from model to model

“Cette voiture appartenait à une personne très spéciale”

Facel Vega Excellence is from a very special genre in luxury motoring. The handcrafted, Detroit-built 1957-1958 Cadillac Series 70 Eldorado Brougham hardtop sedan is another example of  this type of eloquence. This is luxury at its finest. The Excellence is as luxurious as a Cadillac…as quick as a Chrysler 300…and as prestigious as a Rolls-Royce. There are only 60 built for the 1960 model year, 62 built for 1962, and only 34 built for 1962. In fact, this hardtop saloon is so elegant and stately it can double as a limousine.

Cadillac Series 70 Eldorado Brougham hardtop sedan

The formidable “Beautiful Brute” powers the Facel Vega Excellence prodigiously. MOPAR’s mighty Chrysler 300 letter series is an adrenalin-boosting headrush, boasting the highest horsepower ratings of any American automobile for the day! Call it “The racetrack bully” with an indomitable recalcitrance nobody could tame – when one looked into their rearview mirror and spotted that trapezoid grille…one moved out-of-the-way – quickly! That is what’s hidden beneath Facel Vega Excellence…

The Facel Vega Excellence could have had a different historical twist. It was originally intended to become the ultimate luxury high-performance saloon/limousine embodied as the grand luxe Packard. This ‘revival’ would have been a badge-engineered venture. The car was to retail for an estimated $15,000 and would have been sold exclusively through upscale Studebaker-Packard dealerships. Daimler-Benz sold cars under Mercedes of North America through Studebaker-Packard dealerships also. Daimler-Benz didn’t want French competitors in-house which threw a serious curve into the mix thus, shelving the project all together.


In Grande Routière Par Excellence Part I, I mentioned Ava Gardner, American actress with a career spanning four decades owning three Facel Vega Motorcars. Meet Ava’s personal limousine, a 1958 Excellence four-door hardtop saloon. This car has proven documentation and chassis number registering the vehicle back to 1958 with Ms. Gardner.

This car may be purchased through Legendary Classics located in the lovely southern region of The Netherlands in Etten-Leur. Ask for Vincent or Dominique, tell them Greg sent you. The purchase price is 219,500 € which is $269,533.50 USD (exchange rate as of 2/21/2018). Per Legendary Classics, this car was sold on the auction block at Bonham’s a few years ago and has resurfaced recently from a Dutch collection. This lovely Excellence EX1 is in excellent original condition with one re-paint. 

The EX1 is equipped with the Chrysler “B-Series” Firebolt engine. ** The 5.9 litre 16-valve 360 CID naturally aspirated V8 is factory fitted with a Carter WFCB 4-bbl carburetor set-up. It cranks 355 hp @ 4,600 rpm with 540 Nm of peak torque @ 3,600 rpm. The engine is mated to the Chrysler 3-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission.

Its top speed is in the 118-124 mph range but we all know a tweaked MOPAR from this genre can easily hit 160 mph without breaking into a sweat. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 8.8 seconds, 0-100 mph in 23.5 seconds and it can do the ¼ mile @ 85 mph in 16.4 seconds. (A 4-speed manual Pont-à-Mousson gearbox was available enabling the 360 CID to crank 360 hp @ 5,200 rpm with no increase in torque.) ** Some 5.8 litre 354 CID Hemi V8 engines are also used. Facel Vega Excellence EX1 is a 4-door saloon with the spirit of a sports car.

The EX2 is built with Chrysler’s “B-Series” FirePower engine. This extremely potent 6.3 litre 16-valve 383 CID naturally aspirated V8 is equipped with a Carter WFCB 4-bbl carburetor. (With the mighty MOPAR, a dual 4-bbl carburetted version would virtually blow the doors off anything in the car’s wake!) This performance behemoth endows the Excellence with 355 hp @ 4,800 rpm and 576 Nm of peak torque @ 2,800 rpm.

The engine is mated to Chrysler’s 3-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 8 seconds, 0-100 mph in 20.7 seconds with a top speed in the 122-mph range. It can do the ¼ mile @ 88 mph in 15.8 seconds. (A 4-speed manual Pont-à-Mousson gearbox was available enabling the 383 CID to crank 390 hp @ 5,400 rpm with 624 Nm of peak torque @ 2,800 rpm.)

This 1960 Facel Vega Excellence sold at Bonham’s October 8, 2012 in the condition seen – for $159,000 USD. It’s chassis #B068 and is one of the last EX1 models built with updates from the EX2. It was originally owned by the French Ambassador to the USA. This should give you a rough guesstimate of what it is valued at in today’s collector car market. With only 156 total Facel Vega Excellence models built, you will expect to see a spike in the car’s appreciation rapidly.

Voici un diamant à l’état brut.

These are the proverbial good-old-days for the luxury saloon. A true luxury car had to achieve one purpose…and one purpose only: to be a luxury automobile, no might-be nor maybe. It didn’t have to accelerate from zero to sixty miles per hour in a nanosecond either. They didn’t have to obtain 60 mpg city, 125 mpg highway to become the kitschy-faux, make-believe luxury saloons of today’s world. Jean Daninos had the right idea. The Facel Vega Excellence remains as the consummate status symbol…the epitome of classic luxury…and a chic Paris fashion. A Facel Vega will always be at the height of exclusivity and supremacy in a motorcar – regardless of what century it resides…after all, good taste is never rendered redundant.

It’s hard to imagine what the Facel Vega models would be like in the contemporary world with hideous impact-absorbing front and rear bumpers and smog controls. I truly believe, Facel Vega would have retained its exclusive niche had it not been for one model fail. These eminent motorcars were the height of fashion when new. They were the cars of the stars, aristocrats, and other high-profile public officials.

Jean Daninos applied his ingenuity and experience creating motorcars of absolute distinction. Had France NOT imposed special taxation based upon a car’s high-performance…look at how many “Grand Voitures” and other world-class automobiles that would be still going strong. Jean Daninos and his legend lives – this is something time cannot erase from history. Ava Gardner’s Facel Vega Excellence…just as she herself  – simply drips with sophistication and class…

Speaking of class, special thanks goes out to my friends Vincent and Dominique at Legendary Classics in The Netherlands – you guys are one class act!

Welcome to Greg’s World…

…Greg’s World IS NotoriousLuxury © 2018

Facel Vega FV4 Typhoon Hardtop Coupé – Grande Routière Par Excellence II

Posted in Classic Exotic Luxury, Facel Vega, Grande Marque, Grande Routière Par Excellence with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2018 by 99MilesPerHour

Le Facel Vega est l’un des plus élégants automobiles de grand tourisme en existence. Peu de gens en sont même conscients dans le monde des voitures classiques. C’est un Saloon de luxe comme aucun autre loin en avant de son temps. C’est cher, élégant, luxueux, et très rapide. Je crois sincèrement, si plus d’essais ont été accomplis, ces belles voitures seraient encore avec nous aujourd’hui. Mais nous avons encore quelques rares précieux qui restent dans les mains de connaisseurs astucieux partout dans le monde.

Facel Vega FV1 – the pioneer

Facel Vega exudes an aura of classic distinction. Styling continuity is evident within each model series. What could be more charismatic than the romance of French design with the brawn of American muscle? These fine automobiles exhibit exemplary coachwork. The doors shut with vault-like resonance. Body panels fit seamlessly. Door, trunk, and hood shut lines are precise. Attention to detail is obvious throughout the car’s build. Stainless-steel bright work accents the graceful architecture. The Ford Comète and Bentley Cresta inspired Jean Daninos to create the Facel Vega brand.

Bentley Cresta by Facel-Métallon

1954 Ford Comète Monte Carlo by Facel-Métallon

Game of Thrones

Not many are aware of the fact France shaped the first motorcar…thus, the motorcar industry was born. In 1770 Nicolas Joseph Cugnot invented a massive steam-powered vehicle called “the fardier a vapeur, or steam dray” which was an odd three-wheeled carriage. Some of the most desirable automobiles in history were built in France during the first half of the 20th Century. It’s the French coachbuilders’ ingenuity that defined and dictated new standards while influencing new automotive design trends. These notorious works of automotive art are justifiably titled “Grand Voitures.” 

Not only were these motorcars superlatives, the French automotive industry attained dominance through bold initiatives, shrewd engineering prowess, and methodical business skills. Eventually, their technical savvy would be shared internationally through licensing agreements. This is what gave Jean Daninos vision in the automotive industry. His expertise with good old Yankee ingenuity produced a motorcar of distinction that is like no other.

Notable luminaries of French automotive history include Delahaye, Bugatti, Delage, Talbot, and Citroen. Unfortunately, performance Grand Voitures were extinct by the mid-1950s. The French Government imposed stiff post-war taxation on high performance automobiles sucking the legendary horsepower right out of the engine bays depositing it into the annals of history.

1957 Facel Vega FV4 hardtop coupé

The ultimate Vega production car in the FV/FVS series is the FV4 Typhoon coupé built from 1957 through 1958 model years. These luxurious brutes are equipped with the largest MOPAR powerplants in the FV/FVS series. (Only 36 FV4’s are equipped with the larger dual-quad Hemi-head V8 engines) It’s equipped with the naturally aspirated Chrysler FirePower 5.8 litre 16-valve 354 CID V8. The engine cranks 325 hp @ 4,600 rpm packing a prolific punch with 583 Nm of peak torque @ 2,800 rpm.

Notorious American Muscle…

This is the same engine powering the famous Chrysler 300 including the vicious dual 4-bbl carburetor set-up. These are among the most flamboyant luxury/sport cars in automotive history. The engine is mated to a manual 4-speed Pont-à-Mousson gearbox or the elaborate 3-speed Chrysler TorqueFlite automatic transmission. (some versions use the 2-speed PowerFlite push button automatic transmission) Longitudinal acceleration is rated as: 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds, 0-100 mph in 20.2 seconds with a top speed in the 140-mph range. It can do the ¼ mile @ 78 mph in 17.3 seconds.

Chrysler C-300 FirePower Hemi V8

The pièce de résistance is the intricate dash treatment reintroduced by the FVS that was first used on the coachbuilt Facel-Bentley. This is the best “faux” woodwork ever used by any manufacturer. To look at it, one would think the delicate burled trim is from trees at least 100 years old. It even mocks the patina of real wood as it ages – it crinkles just like real wood! The cabin sports Jaeger gauges and elegant chrome switch gear. 

Top grain, hand-stitched leather trim by Connolly Brothers cloaked the gran turismo style 2+2 seating with elegant sophistication. Wilton hand-tufted 100% wool carpet enhances its luxurious ambiance. The Franco-American allegiance yielded stylish, luxurious, and fast automobiles.

Photos courtesy Daniel Schmitt Classic Cars

Jean Daninos signature design feature is inspired by his love for pillarless hardtop styling. It highlights Facel Vega’s neoclassic architecture. Each Facel Vega model presents an elegance which forces the eyes to roam its entirety in a single appraisal. Restrained use of ornamentation is tasteful. Facel Vega’s Yankee influence is apparent from the rake of its panoramic windscreen to the long, low-slung slab sides of the body.

1958 FV4 Typhoon hardtop coupé

The Facel Vega FV4 Typhoon coupé is a cherished Grande Routière. It’s simply another one of the brightest stars in the constellation. These exotic luxury/performance hybrids fetch six figures on the auction block in today’s world. Enjoy the photographs…this is as close to an FV4 Typhoon hardtop coupé as you may ever get in a lifetime…

The FV4 Typhoon hardtop coupé looks as good in today’s world as it did when it first prowled the pavement. Power and prestige go hand in hand with its classic good looks. Jean Daninos bestowed a timeless essence creating a motorcar of absolute distinction.

This is going fast with very, very much class – these exclusive classics are hardly if ever shown publicly. What’s truly amazing is the fact a company the size of Facel Vega produced such high quality motorcars with exquisite fit and finish. These cars were in the class of Rolls-Royce when new…they even use RR power window motors.

Photos courtesy TopSpeed

The conventional build of the Facel Vega FV4 Typhoon has its body welded to a tube frame which reinforces the car’s structural integrity. Its independent front suspension with unequal length “A-arms” is equipped with helical coli springs and telescopic dampers. The rear suspension is augmented by a live rear axle with longitudinal semi-elliptic springs and telescopic dampers. The FV4 Typhoon is brought to a halt with a 4-wheel Lockheed-Bendix hydraulic drum-type braking system. This is a car that may be driven fast because of its sports car virtues but also provides a luxurious ride driven at highway speeds for a relaxing leafy run through the countryside.

There aren’t many FV/FVS convertibles built by Facel Vega because Jean Daninos didn’t approve of this body style. He stated the separate tube frame wasn’t substantial enough for convertible architecture without a fixed roof structure. The roof is the major structure of a vehicle. Once compromised, the body has to maintain a lower center of gravity not only regarding structural integrity but to also prevent roll-overs. This is an FVS ragtop.

A special word of sincere gratitude is expressed to all who have contributed to this series. Special special thanks to Daniel Schmitt Classic Cars, TopSpeed, Wallpaperup, and Artcurial Motorcars of Paris, France for the use of their beautiful photos of these rare beauties!

Jean Daninos short tenure in the industry from 1954 to 1964 has turned into a legacy. His unusual motorcars have all become cherished collectibles. The Facel Vega FV4 Typhoon hardtop coupé is not an automobile that one will see at every traffic light. They are so rich and rare, they are hardly if ever seen in public.

These charismatic classics began in the league with Rolls-Royce and Bentley…Facel Vega models remain in the classic Rolls-Royce and Bentley price range of at least six figures. FV/FVS models inherited the mighty MOPAR Hemi head V8 engines which makes them unique in the entire world. The Facel Vega FV4 Typhoon hardtop coupé is an audacious French luxury/performance hybrid powered by old school American Muscle.

The Facel Vega FV4 Typhoon hardtop coupé IS NotoriousLuxury

Welcome to Greg’s World…

…Greg’s World is NotoriousLuxury © 2018

Facel Vega – Grande Routière Par Excellence

Posted in Classic Exotic Luxury, Facel Vega, Grande Marque, Luxury Sport Cars with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2018 by 99MilesPerHour

Expensive, stylish, luxurious, and very fast are the attributes of the exotic Facel Vega. These beautiful motorcars eloquently compliment the Neo-Classic era in automotive design. The brand is beyond conjecture, a rare masterwork representing the best of everything that makes a luxury grand tourer irresistible. They are the precursor to contemporary supercars.

Facel Vega could be considered a luxury/performance hybrid in 21st Century terminology. Facel Vega’s advertising campaign slogan read: “For the few who want the finest.” Its mystique remains prominent to the affluent collector. These elusive motorcars attract the true connoisseur who desires something distinctively different. Only 2,897 total vehicles were built during Facel Vega’s manufacturing tenure.

Facel – acronym for – Forges et Ateliers de Construction d’Eure-et-Loir, was a metal stamping company that expanded into automobile manufacturing. Facel Vega production cars are built as Vega, FV/FVS hardtop coupé (a few convertible coupés were built also), the elegant HK-500 hardtop coupé, and Excellence EX1 and EX2 4-door luxury hardtop sedans.

Finale for the brand includes Facel II, Facellia, Facel III and Facel 6 hardtop coupé models. Facel Vega motorcars were built from 1954 until the company ceased production in 1964 when the factory closed. It’s one of the rarest of the rare bona fide classic automobiles. These unique motorcars fetch six figures in today’s collector car market – IF one can be found for sale. Facel Vega is the Parisian on holiday in America…


Bespoke coachbuilt Bentley Cresta

Jean Daninos (1906-2001) is the founder of the French luxury car firm Facel Vega. He is associated with the last motorcars of grandeur in France. Jean Daninos envisioned Facel Vega as an automotive renaissance. It was to be a revival of the classic French grand marque. There’s nothing plebian about these unusual masterpieces. Facel Vega has a secret behind its overall appearance.

It’s based upon the elegant Bentley Cresta and exotic Ford Comète. Facel guru Fred Kanter calls it a cross between a Lincoln Continental and a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. They all come together as a resplendent rendition of Franco-American excellence. It takes an acquired taste to revel in the beauty of Facel Vega. It’s a shame the marque had to be an ‘export-only’ venture to exist. Sir Stirling Moss, Tony Curtis, and Ringo Star are just a few of the famous names to own a Facel Vega – Ava Gardner had three of them!

Exotic Ford Comète Monte-Carlo

1954 Vega FV1 Chassis # FV-54-002  1st prototype

Paris “Retromobile by Artcurial Motorcars”, 5th February 2016

Forges et Ateliers de Constructions d’Eure-et-Loir or Facel S.A. was founded in December 1939 by Bronzavia, a French manufacturer of military aircraft components. In 1945, Facel merged with Métallon forming Facel-Métallon to coachbuild special projects for Simca, Ford, Panhard, and Delahaye. Jean Daninos, former technical director for Bronzavia took charge of Facel-Métallon in 1945. He began his career with Citroen – a French automotive brand – designing Traction coupés and cabriolets.

In 1948, a luxury car division was established. They specialized making various Simca Sport models gaining publicity in collaboration with Pinin Farina Design Studio. A special bodied Bentley was built on the Bentley MK VI chassis resulting in the famous Bentley Cresta. The exclusive Ford Comète began production September of 1951 and ended in 1955 when Simca took over Ford of France.

Under the Facel-Métallon union, scooters were built for Vespa, Piaggio, and Motobécane. Army jeeps were built for Delahaye. Special production runs for Simca, Delahaye, and Somua trucks were expedited. The company also built Massey Ferguson tractors. Stainless steel bumpers, hubcaps, and grilles were stamped for Simca, Ford, and Renault. Monocoque construction became popular with mass-produced cars forcing Facel-Métallon to lose their larger flagship accounts. The partnership lasted through 1953.

1954 FV1

Jean Daninos wanted to build a French grand marque to compete with the luxury grand touring automobiles of the world. He ventured out making these cars using Chrysler V8 powerplants. Volvo and Austin engines were alternatives towards the end of the venture. Daninos gained knowledge during WWII working with General Aircraft here in the USA with experience gained using Bronzavia patents.

The Chrysler powered French luxury saloon concept became a Franco-American luxury/performance hybrid named Facel Vega. Classy styling continuity boasts elegant cosmopolitan-inspired architecture for each model. A fresh, pillarless hardtop design makes them as classic as they are contemporary for their day. All Facel Vega motorcars are built as traditional body on frame construction configured as front engine rear-wheel drive.

The first prototype was drawn in 1951. By October 1952 the prototype was fully functional and was taken out on the road in the real world for testing. It was sent to Chrysler here in the USA for further testing. Chassis # FV-54-002 is the pioneer ‘Vega’ in its initial stage. This car’s unique tubular frame is designed by Lance Macklin, son of Sir Noel Macklin of Railton fame. Lance is a former member of the HWM racing team with Stirling Moss and Mike Collins.

The super-strength cruciform chassis is a deep-seated combo of tubular and channel steel members. These cross-braced members, some placed diagonally, uses two 3.5” forward side tubes. The insides are welded channel-section steel with forward flanges that broaden at the front. The tubes are curved upward increasing torsional rigidity. The framework is designed to sit deeper into the driveshaft centerline between the wheelbase. These are extremely heavy cars that require this type of backbone.

Jean Daninos unveiled the first car in 1954 with the “Vega” nameplate at the Paris Salon. The car was originally painted a shade of light blue-gray with a Brunswick blue roof. It was later refinished in Danino’s favorite livery colors of all black.

The cosmetics were also freshened to reflect the ‘Facel-Vega’ upgrades modifying the headlamp arrangement, and adding the same mesh grille work. This prototype belonged to Jean Daninos himself. It was sold at auction for 226,480 € at Rétromobile 2016 by Artcurial Motorcars – 05 February 2016. Only 46 vehicles were built as “Vega” models for the 1954/1955 model years.

1956 FV2B 

The Vega name was combined with Facel in 1956 to create the ‘Facel Vega’ moniker. The 1956 model year also refined the FV series into the FVS (Facel Vega Sport) and introduced the FV4 Typhoon.  The FVS was built from 1956 through 1957 and only 227 were built, most of these were imported to the USA. Another 130 FVS models were built in 1958 with an increase of 1.5″ in length.

The early FV is powered by a DeSoto 4.5 litre Hemi with a six-volt electrical system. A 4.7 litre Fireflite Hemi was used later in the model year. The FV4 received a 5.8 litre Hemi V8 and 12-volt electrical system. The FVS successor  evolved into the formidable HK-500 for the 1959 model year.

They are unique in every manner built on a tubular chassis featuring coil springs, independent front double wishbone suspension and a live rear axle on semi-elliptic leaf springs with hypoid final drive. Its cam and roller type steering system enables Facel Vega to perform as a true sports car. The beast is brought to a halt via hydraulic 4-wheel aluminium 11” diameter drum-type braking system. Front disc brakes were optional at extra cost.

These exotic beauties ride on classy Robergel genuine long-laced wire wheels. The FV carried a hefty $7000 price tag which was as much as a Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn from the genre. The FVS series had a $7500 base price tag. Prices were expensive to facilitate the double-duty the company had to pay per vehicle. Chrysler parts were taxed upon entry into France to build the cars and another tax upon the completed motorcars exported to the country of the sale.

Jean Daninos ‘voiture de sport’ virtues highlight Facel Vega’s cabin in a most felicitous manner. It’s richly upholstered in natural grain handcrafted leather by Connolly Brothers. Plush carpet is under foot lavishly. Daninos creation could be compared to as an American car with European manners. All appointments are gracious, tasteful…nothing seems out-of-place. Its muscular elegance is the best of both worlds…it packs a punch with a velvet-lined boxing glove. These luxury sport motorcars still targets the wealthiest…most ‘en vogue’ clientele in the world…

Two prototypes were built for the FV (1/10/53 & 11/8/54 and another became FV4). Eleven production cars were built from March to May 1955. FV1 had a total of 32 cars 7 of which are convertibles. The FV1 has a longer roofline and overall length. One car received power steering, 27 are built as manual and 5 automatics.

FV2 yields 30 cars built between November 1955 and March 1956. The FV2 introduced the faux wood dash treatment and panoramic windscreen. Five cars were built with power steering, 6 cars built with 2-speed PowerFlite automatic transmissions and 24 built as manual. FV2B cars got a price increase to 2,950,000 € with 74 cars built from April 1956 to October 1956 (including 2 convertibles) one coupé became an FV4 model. Twenty cars were built with power steering, half of the cars were built as automatic and the balance with manual gearboxes.

FV3 cars received an improved front suspension. Twenty-eight FV3 models (including one convertible) were built in 1956 and another twenty in 1957. Price increased to 3,125,000 € for the FV3, 12 were built with power steering, 24 were built as manual and the balance of 24 received automatic transmissions.

FV3B models show a price increase to 3,250,000 € with a total of 90 vehicles built from 1957 to 1958. The FV4 shows 67 total vehicles – the first 35 were fitted with Chrysler C-300B Hemi 5.8 litre V8 engines and the last 32 are built with the 6.3 litre V8. Only 8 of the 67 were built with manual gearboxes and only 9 were built without power steering.

FV4 Typhoon hardtop coupé

Facel Vega motorcars were sold here in the USA and were imported through two ports of entry. California was the first venture into the states with Charles Hornburg who specialized in Jaguar motorcars on the west coast. Max Hoffman aka the godfather of the import car business, has introduced Americans to more foreign grand marques than anyone else. Hoffman Motors sold the Facel brand on the east coast through 1963.

When I started drafting the copy for this highly collectible motorcar I ran across so many interesting historical facts that I had to re-write this…three times, to make certain I cover certain ideas in-depth. For this reason, I am presenting “Grande Routière Par Excellence” as its own little mini-series. I thought I was the only Facel Vega aficionado until I was contacted by one of my audience suggesting the marque…

OK Chris Bridges out in Los Angeles California in the beautiful U.S.ofA – here’s your fifteen minutes of fame I promised. Thanks for the push! Next, special thanks to Jean-Claude in gorgeous St. Tropez for technical specifications. Pierre in Monaco…thanks for the notes helping me to place facts in chronological order. Special thanks to Artcurial Motorcars of Paris for the use of these classic motorcar photos. It would fill three pages if I were to thank all who added to this tribute. Make sure to read the next dramatic episode. I’ll show you why Facel Vega remains one of the brightest stars in the constellation…

Welcome to Greg’s World….

Greg’s World IS NotoriousLuxury © 2018

1960 Cadillac Series 6300 Coupe deVille – Dignity,Distinction, Grace, and Beauty

Posted in "As the Standard of the World Turns", Cadillac, Cadillac Historical, Cadillac: Masterpiece from the Master Craftsmen, Classic American Marques with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2017 by 99MilesPerHour

Welcome to the pomp and splendor of the traditional Cadillac motorcar. It is more than a mere automobile…it is a legend and a lifestyle. Cadillac earned the reputation as the superlative of superlatives through sophisticated engineering and exemplary craftsmanship. A traditional Cadillac moves with tremendous verve and élan. Luxury and innovation is the constant companion when one chose to drive the formidable “Standard of the World.”

The traditional Cadillac remains as one of the most revered automobiles to connoisseurs world-wide. One model in particular dominated this rare arena becoming “America’s favorite luxury car.” The iconic and unforgettable DeVille series is a jewel in the crown of General Motors. Coupes deVille and Sedans deVille consistently took turns leading sales production totals. Their unequalled pre-eminence made them the universal status symbol.

The 1960 Cadillac Series 6300 Coupe deVille is the quintessential example of American excess – flamboyant…yet tasteful. It echoes success. There’s new elegance and refinement. The epochal “Standard of the World” had once again left its indelible signature in the ultra-luxury car segment. Bill Mitchell, chief design engineer for General Motors gave the 1960 Cadillac an elegant poised dignity.

Overall styling refinement and restrained use of ornamentation diminished the bling from the 1959 Harley Earl design. These new models advanced the Cadillac tradition of excellence to an extraordinary degree. The 1960 Cadillac Series 6300 Coupe deVille showcases its dignity, refinement, and dramatic beauty…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

The traditional Cadillac is the most charismatic luxury automobile to motor out of Detroit, Michigan. It was the American dream. Life…liberty…and the pursuit of Cadillac – nothing on the road could compare. The “Standard of the World” is an innovator, it follows in no other auto manufacturer’s tire tracks. It never took styling cues from the competition, Cadillac designed its cars to be ultra-exclusive. The entire auto industry took note. The “other” luxury car was forced into submission by the “Standard of the World.”

Exquisite fit & finish, superb engineering, and an inexhaustible dedication to excellence allowed it to carve its own exclusive niche in the luxury car segment. The traditional Cadillac is the most impressive and the most glamorous of all American Grand Marques…it’s the iconic tail fins that made it most charismatic. In 1960, Cadillac had been “Standard of the World” for fifty-eight years. These cars were built when “Made in the U.S.A.” meant something special…

The Beauty

For 1960, Cadillac presented a refined new sophistication. The tail fins were trimmed and tapered into the bodywork. This made the entire vehicle appear longer, lower, and wider. Bill Mitchell removed the ‘excess’ from Harley Earl’s genre making Cadillac even more luxurious. The tail lamps are now integrated into the fins for Mitchell’s “tailored look.” Turn signal lamps and back-up lamps are neatly set into chrome oval nacelles coordinating the contemporary new restyle.

The front-end ensemble is augmented by its wide cross-hatch grille design with alternate bars beveled to reflect a contrasting jewel-like pattern. A less ornate bumper is more sophisticated. Turn signal monitors integrated into the top of the crown moldings atop of each fender flash small amber lights alerting the driver to left and right turns. The overall look enhanced Coupe deVille’s sweeping silhouette making it lower, more refined yet completely in character with the “Standard of the World.” It’s remarkable how just a few changes made the 1960 model look completely restyled when it was not. Restrained use of ornamentation gives the car an understated elegance.

1959 Cadillacs sported the tallest tail fins in the industry

Series 6200, 6300, and 6400 use the same bodyshell

Comfort and convenience

Coupe deVille’s cabin is an exercise in sheer splendor. The luxury continues to proliferate…Cadillac-Style. A newly designed instrument panel places pertinent information directly in the driver’s sight for quick assessment; the instrument cluster is recessed into the dash eliminating annoying reflection.

The DeVille series is endowed with special appointments to make each journey as rewarding as the destination. Wide folding center armrests front and rear augment the wide bench seating for sofa-like comfort. Coupe deVille’s deep-seated elegance pampers up to six passengers spaciously. Power windows, 2-way power seat, power steering and brakes all provide a constant source of pleasure.

Cadillac Air Conditioning was a popular option

One may repose within the epitome of luxury with the standard diamond patterned nylon Chadwick tailored cloth interior or optional Cambray cloth with Florentine leather bolsters. Elegant Trieste nylon blend deep loop-pile carpeting flows lavishly throughout covering floor, lower door kick panels, and cowl sidewalls. The front floor tunnel is lower and narrower as a result of a more compact design of the transmission housing.

This equates to even more foot room for front seat passengers. The accelerator pedal has a recess at the base which the ladies like; this accommodates high heels making the alternation between the brake pedal easier. The pedals have improved spacing for added convenience. Coupe deVille interiors are designed and handcrafted by Fleetwood to suit the most discriminating taste.

The dramatic elegance and majesty of Coupe deVille for 1960 could have been ordered to suit the buyer. These amenities include Cadillac Air Conditioning that not only heats, cools but also removes dust, pollen, and smoke. The convenience of power door locks allows front seat passengers to lock and unlock the doors at the touch of a button.

A power trunk lock not only releases the deck lid but also when the lid is lowered it is securely locked automatically. Cruise Control maintains a set speed reducing fatigue on long journeys. Exclusive Cadillac Guide-Matic headlamp control automatically dips the high beams upon the approach of on-coming vehicles; the high beams ‘blink-off’ a second time as a reminder to the on-coming vehicle to dip their high beams as well. The traditional Cadillac was a blank canvas to become as individual as one’s own fingerprints.

Model # 60-63J style # 6337J 1960 Cadillac Series 6300 Coupe deVille two-door hardtop was base priced at $5,252, has a base shipping weight of 4,705 pounds, and 21,585 were built. Coupe deVille for 1960 has the luxury length of 225”, rides a long 130” wheelbase, and is 79.9” wide. It is a very large front engine rear-wheel drive vehicle. Hagerty Insurance Agency of Traverse City, Michigan values the 1960 Coupe deVille as: $47,200 USD for Concours condition, $29,800 USD for excellent condition, $21,100 USD for good condition, and $13,300 USD for fair condition.

Engine and Chassis

1960 Cadillacs are powered as a true luxury leader should be. The Cadillac 6.4 litre 16-valve 390 CID V8 provides effortless, silky-smooth operation at all speeds. It’s built using a cast iron block and cylinder heads mounted at three points with Vulcanized rubber engine mounts. The engine is equipped with a Carter AFB 2814S 4-bbl downdraft carburetor with equalized manifolding, mechanical fuel pump, dry-pack air cleaner, intake silencer, automatic choke, and dual exhaust.

These cars may be driven using only two primary barrels of the four to aid fuel economy. The trick is not to press the accelerator too hard leaving traffic lights and stop signs…but you have to move quickly through to the third gear. Not saying jack-rabbit starts but you need to get from a standing start to third gear quickly. When the accelerator pedal is depressed quickly beyond 75% the secondary barrels open. (burp-n-slurp!)

Ahhh…a real Cadillac engine

Cadillac has built some really impressive V8 engines. The magnificent 390 CID V8 cranks 325 hp @ 4,800 rpm with 583 Nm of peak torque @ 3,100 rpm. It is capable of obtaining 14 mpg if properly maintained and driven with the primary barrels. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as: 0-60 mph in 10.6 seconds, 0-100 mpg in 29.2 seconds with a top speed in the 122-125 range. It can do the ¼ mile @ 83 mph in 17.7 seconds. This engine delivers more hp per pound of engine weight than any other luxury car in its class for 1960.

The engine is mated to the highly successful Cadillac Hydra-Matic transmission. It provides dual drive range operation. So, what’s dual range? The left-hand side DR (Drive Range) position allows four forward gear ratios automatically. The right-hand position DR is for city driving locking out fourth gear up to 75 mph providing instant acceleration without step-down. LO range is provided for deep sand or mud and steep grades.

Coupe deVille has a traditional build as body on frame construction. Cadillac’s rugged tubular X-frame yields lower body mounts equating to more interior room and improved overall appearance. The front suspension has upper and lower control arms with spherical joints and helical coil springs which is sturdier than contemporary build automobiles.

The rear suspension fine tunes the Cadillac Magic Carpet Ride further with 4-link drive and helical coil springs. The Hypoid type rear axle has an off-set differential housing to facilitate Cadillac’s straight-line-drive. Coupe deVille’s power brakes are drum type with self-adjusting shoes. The brakes calibrate themselves each time the car is driven in reverse and the brakes applied. The rear drums are finned to dissipate heat rapidly.

New for 1960 is an automatic vacuum release parking brake that doubles as a tandem auxiliary brake in an emergency. This system evolved into Cadillac’s “Triple Braking System” for the 1962 model year. A split hydraulic master cylinder has independent front and rear braking systems in case one set fails the other set will still maintain 100% braking ability.

This 1960 Cadillac Series 6300 Coupe deVille has a secret. It belonged at one time to a very special person. It was the personal car for Canadian-born Ann Rutherford Dozier (1917-2012). She had the role of Poly Benedict in the 1930s and 1940s in “The Andy Hardy” series. She also had the role of Scarlett O’Hara’s sister Carreen in “Gone with the Wind.” Her illustrious career spanned five decades. The car was sold by Daniel Schmitt Classic Cars.

Cadillac motorcars from this genre are unique luxury automobiles. They paved the way for contemporary auto manufacturers with innovation and engineering setting industry standards. The 1960 Edition of the “Standard of the World” is another jewel in the legend’s crown. It’s a fine automobile that not only delivered the epitome of luxury and opulence but high performance as well. Only sports cars from Coupe deVille’s day share prodigious power exceeding 300 hp making DeVille a unique expression of American luxury. It reinforced Cadillac’s omnipotence in the luxury marketplace.

The traditional Cadillac is second to none. Coupe deVille is a very eloquent example of the mission while retaining the poised dignity that is the hallmark of every traditional Cadillac. Today’s luxury cars are ephemeral. Their transitory and unsubstantial designs are blamed on aerodynamics to optimize fuel economy. Luxury automobiles such as the magnificent 1960 Series 6300 Coupe deVille have become cherished classics. The traditional Cadillac motorcar will always be showcased…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

1960 Cadillac Series 6200 convertible coupé 

1960 Cadillac Series 6200 two-door hardtop coupé 

1960 Cadillac Series 6400 Eldorado Biarritz convertible coupé 

1960 Cadillac Series 6300 Coupe deVille

…the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns”

Welcome to Greg’s World…

Greg’s World IS NotoriousLuxury  © 2018

1966 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado Convertible – The Last of an Eloquent Breed

Posted in "As the Standard of the World Turns", Cadillac, Cadillac Historical, Classic American Marques with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2017 by 99MilesPerHour

Luxury car manufacturers played in a different league at one time. It is the American ultra-luxury automobile that led the entire world in sophistication, design & engineering prowess…the charismatics alone sent shock waves throughout the auto industry. One guess who had the competition running scared…annually. The iconic “Standard of the World” intrigued luxury car buyers with tasteful ad campaigns as we waited with bated breath for the new “Cadillac of Cadillacs” to debut.

The Cadillac Motor Division of General Motors crafted a “Standard of Excellence” no other luxury automobile could match. The traditional Cadillac motorcar is a true masterpiece from the Master Craftsmen. I prefaced the story this way to prove a point. I keep writing about a special kind of Cadillac…the ‘traditional’ Cadillac because it was an institution. I am not saying let’s get locked in a time warp in the past – why not: “Give Americans the luxury icon we had come to know. Cadillac is a legend…as well as a lifestyle!” This my friend…is the true penalty of leadership –

1953 Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado convertible coupé

The traditional Cadillac became synonymous with success – its hallmark…was a poised dignity no other luxury car in the world could replicate. The formidable Cadillac reputation was consistently refined and managed through a process of evolution. Eldorado is Cadillac’s first real glamour car. This name prodigiously represents Cadillac’s most exclusive flagship models. It began as an extremely successful concept in luxury convertibles in 1953. Eldorado luxury hardtop coupé and convertible coupé models were built at a highly restricted pace to retain their exclusivity.

It became Cadillac’s most luxurious model when Eldorado morphed into the Brougham, a four-door pillarless hardtop sedan that’s also a limited edition. The last of the rear-wheel drive models is the 1966 Fleetwood Eldorado convertible coupé. These luxurious automobiles are indicative of Cadillac’s pre-eminence in the luxury car segment. Their impeccable craftsmanship reflects the pride associated with the brand. Eldorado Elegance, Excellence, and Excitement continues…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

1957-1958 Series 70 Eldorado Brougham by Fleetwood

The Fabulous Fleetwood-bodied Series 70 Eldorado Brougham is the most expensive luxury car made in America for the day at $13,074 USD. It is the counter to Ford Motor Company’s 1956 Continental MK II.

Fleetwood Eldorados from this genre share platforms and body components with the DeVille series. They are a little more than a “dolled-up” DeVille as many assume. Being a member of the elite Fleetwood series has its perks. The iconic laurel wreath and crest badging is an honor in magnificence and dignity. Fleetwood-bodied Cadillacs are flagship models that epitomize the brand.

Eldorado – The Gilded One – is a paragon of automotive success. The formidable Eldorado models introduced new design features and accessories that would eventually find their way onto other Cadillac models. Eldorados also have the distinction of being the only two-door models built by Fleetwood. This was the in-house coachcrafting division for the brand that handcrafted ALL Cadillac interiors.

A “Fleetwood-bodied” Cadillac, is handcrafted in its entirety by Fleetwood. This is the element which made these distinguished  motorcars elusive. Eldorado was the styling predictor, the trendsetter, offering an audacious eminence as its signature. Cadillac convertible coupé models are elegant but a Fleetwood convertible coupé drips with sheer opulence in the grand Cadillac manner.

Model # 66-684 style # 68567-E 1966 Fleetwood Eldorado convertible coupé had a base price of $6631, a base shipping weight of 4,500 pounds, and only 2,250 were built. Let’s face it – when America drove luxury automobiles such as this no one was concerned with gasoline mileage, ugly touch-screen navigation systems, nor were we interested in a luxury car that sprints from 0-60 mph in a nanosecond.

Old school luxury…that’s right – cars that ride like a big ‘ole rollin’ Barco lounger completely impervious to the outside world –  is what we want. Being a Cadillac, it should do each task with poise. Nothing could be compared to the traditional Cadillac. When one purchased a 1966 Cadillac…they also inherited the legend and the lifestyle. The formidable reputation acquired was historically slow in the making therefore, this impeccable reputation should be restored in all its glamour in a form that’s right for the 21st Century…

Headrests are a rarity from this genre

The inside story is equally impressive. Fleetwood Eldorado has a unique character from the standard Cadillac models for 1966. Any Cadillac convertible exudes a youthful spirit…the Eldorado captures this essence delivering it as the most luxurious open grand tourer on the road. Impeccably tailored leather upholstery has a perforated seat back and seat cushion design to allow the seats to ‘breathe’ for comfort. Sporty bucket seats were an option at no extra cost which adds panache to Eldorado’s already dramatic style.

The Cadillac Eldorado augments the flagship model hierarchy as the superlative of superlatives. It’s ultra-exclusive even among other Cadillac models – extra special in a way such as “Harry Finley’s Flowers” or “Petrossian Caviar” – providing an added touch of opulence. Cadillac celebrated a banner model year breaking sales records for the day at 205,001 vehicles…this is the fifth consecutive model year to do so at the time. Cadillac led the automotive industry with luxury and innovation. Can we bring this ‘exclusivity’ into the 21st Century?

Fleetwood Eldorado’s fully automatic, power, folding fabric roof opens and closes swiftly at the touch of a button. The warmth of richly grained genuine walnut spans the upper door and rear garnish panels. This elegant trim is resin impregnated for longevity. Power windows, power seat with wide folding center armrest, and Variable Ratio power steering are among the vast array of gracious appointments in the grand Fleetwood tradition. The Fleetwood Eldorado was the only Cadillac to provide whitewall tires as standard equipment for the day.

These classic land yachts provide a ride today’s cars cannot replicate. 1966 Cadillacs are built as body on frame construction. Being an offspring of Fleetwood decent, it is endowed with standard Automatic Level Control to maintain proper ride height regardless of load or road condition. (With fender skirts!)

Traditional Cadillacs didn’t rely on gimmicky ad campaigns and cars boasting superficial bells and whistles. There was actually a time when Cadillac didn’t have to advertise its prowess in the luxury car segment. This breed of the illustrious Eldorado reaffirmed the “Standard of the World” mission luxuriously, lavishly, with Cadillac-Style. (And fender skirts!)

And lest we forget…the superb Cadillac engine and first-class drive train. Cadillac is the first luxury brand to build the inherently balanced 8-cylinder 90-degree V-type engine in 1923. Did you also know that Cadillac is the first automobile manufacturer to offer a complete line of multi-cylinder cars of all “V-types” by 1930? But the mother of all engineering feats is the magnificent V8 engine introduced in 1948. This all-new V8 is smaller, more economical, with refined overall operation. This OHV V8 is a milestone for the brand. Cadillac engines were continually refined through evolution for excellence. (No dinky 6-bangers here, lol!)

Here is the styling continuity from 1965 (top) to 1966 (below). Cadillac styling didn’t spring forth from a blinding flash of inspiration – nor were they dashed off a stylist’s pencil right into the assembly hall. Cadillac designed their cars to be aesthetically pleasing as possible through evolution; the new designs usually happened over a two model year cycle and the new model never ever made the previous offering redundant.

Bill Mitchell would not redesign the tail fin if the front end ensemble was freshened during the 1960s. His “tailored look” made the brand extremely tasteful – the Fleetwood Eldorado is “The Outlaw” …the quintessential bad boy of the bunch with a different style of its own…arrogance but not conceit – this car was not for everyone. Collectors are going bonkers over it today.

1966 Cadillac motorcars are equipped with the 7.0 litre 16-valve 429 CID V8 engine. Its fuel system consists of either a 4-bbl Carter AFB 3903S or a 4-bbl Rochester #7026030 carburetor with equalized manifolding, mechanical fuel pump, automatic choke and dry type air filter. Cylinder heads and cylinder block are made of cast iron. The engine is mounted to the frame at three points in rubber. It cranks 340 hp @ 4,600 rpm with 651 Nm of peak torque @ 3,000 rpm.

Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 8.9 seconds with a top speed in the 124-mph range. It does the ¼ mile @ 85 mph in 16.5 seconds. GM’s silky smooth THM-400 3-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic transmission provides effortless operation with imperceptible gear changes. The transmission uses a torque converter which multiplies engine torque for increased driving thrust to the rear drive wheels during acceleration in any gear.

Rear end styling for 1965 (left) was freshened for 1966 (right)

The 1964 Fleetwood Eldorado is another significant model year. It is the last year for the iconic tail fin. It is also the only rear-wheel drive Eldorado of the 1960s going commando without fender skirts. This is the last time Eldorado would use “Biarritz” nomenclature on a production ragtop. The Biarritz name was revamped in the 1970s but as a posh limited edition fixedhead coupé.

1964 Cadillacs are among the most popular in the history of the brand. Special thanks to my friend Jim Hailey for the use of photos from his private collection of the drop-dead gorgeous 1964 Biarritz and the shockingly beautiful 1966 Eldo. Also, I salute Daniel Schmitt Classic Cars and Bob Adams Classic Cars – two if the finest caretakers in the business.

1964 Fleetwood Eldorado Biarritz convertible coupé 

1960 Cadillac Series 6400 Eldorado Biarritz

The traditional Cadillac is an automobile that defines an illustrious heritage. Its engineering innovation and advanced design concepts introduced industry-wide refinement leading to contemporary automobile evolution. The Cadillac Fleetwood series was augmented by the Eldorado which showcased everything majestic that made a Cadillac a Cadillac. It was unique even among other Cadillac models. They were the universal dream car and the ultimate symbol of success for the day. Eldorado is Cadillac’s first real glamour car, it was never intended to shatter sales production records.

Eldorado is an image car…that ‘extra-special something’ in vehicle form. It was built as a rear-wheel drive luxury convertible only from 1961 until the last Eldorado convertible exited the assembly hall in 1966. Each and every traditional Cadillac was built to the highest standards…the same standards which made it the “Standard of the World.” Will Cadillac ever rule the roads of the world again in high style with the formidable eloquence that used to be synonymous with the brand? The 1966 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado convertible coupé throws the other classic luxury cars shade…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

NotoriousLuxury presents a 30 year contrast for the Eldorado

1956 Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado Biarritz convertible coupé

1966 Fleetwood Eldorado convertible coupé

1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible coupé

Interior room is significantly larger with front-wheel drive

It was the only true luxury convertible built in the land

The 1976 Eldorado is the last to use the formidable 8.2 litre V8 

It was rumored at one time the Cadillac Elmiraj concept would be the new Eldorado. It’s a classy rendition of a classic Cadillac by all means. The contemporary proportions are just what the Cadillac buyer wants. What Cadillac seemed to have forgotten, once the Cadillac buyer has owned cars such as Fleetwood Broughams, the Eldorado Biarritz, Coupes deVille, and Sedans deVille…the contemporary versions are unreasonable facsimiles – 

Let’s let Casey/Art and Colour design the new Cadillacs! Look at the class this concept exudes. It also has the poised dignity that used to be the hallmark of every Cadillac. You GO Casey!