The greatest year in the history of a great American motorcar was the 1954 Cadillac model year. The “Standard of the World” had a complete make over and not the “Cadillac beauty treatment.” With its individually longer wheelbase, the Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special had the magic carpet ride Cadillac was famous for.
This magnificent new automobile was longer, lower, and more luxurious than the previous model year. The iconic Cadillac tail fin had undergone its third redesign since their inception for the 1948 Cadillac model year. The “Standard of the World” was continuing its success. Here is the story of the fabulous 1954 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special, another superlative in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”
The Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special was a significant model in 1938, it was a Bill Mitchell design that was at first meant to be the lower priced entry-level range but grew to be the brand’s most luxurious and prestigious model series. There was nothing more majestic than a Fleetwood. Being fabulously outfitted, the Sixty-Special was spacious and its interior elegant, it relied on its exterior trim to differentiate it from the other Cadillacs. Decorative chrome louvers were found in various locations throughout its production run. Model #54-60 6019X Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special had a base price at $4,683 (no not a typo). 16,200 units were built for the 1954 model year.
The bullet bumpers were also a signature feature for the luxurious Sixty-Special. It rode on a commanding 133” wheelbase that also became an eventual signature feature. The Sixty-Special also had a wider “C” pillar with chrome trim. The Sixty-Special had evolved into the Fleetwood family of fine coachbuilt Cadillacs. It continued on successfully as a stretched and highly optioned Series 62 throughout the 1950s with growing esteem.
For the 1954 model year, the Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special rode its 133’ wheelbase with all new sheet metal. The chrome louvers were moved to the bottom of the rear doors. Electric windshield wiper/washers and Saginaw power steering were now standard. Options included a 4-way power seat and power brakes. Horsepower was increased. The 1954-1956 Cadillacs were the iconic model years that really put Cadillac into orbit. The iconic “Standard of the World” had once again proven far superior than any other luxury brand.
The 1954 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special was powered by Cadillac’s 331 CID 16-valve OHV V8 equipped with a Carter 4-bbl down-draft carburetor with equalized manifold, mechanical fuel pump, oil-bath type air cleaner, intake silencer, and automatic choke. The engine was mated to GM’s Hydra-Matic (Flash-away) 4-speed automatic transmission.
The engine produced 215 hp @ 4,400 rpm with 440 Nm of peak torque @ 2,500 rpm. Performance was rated as 0-60 mph in 14.8 seconds, 0-100 mph in 73 seconds, and had a top speed of 104 mph. It did the ¼ mile @ 73 mph in 20.3 seconds. The engine had a cast iron block and heads, five main bearings, hydraulic lifters, and a dual exhaust system.
The 1954 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special was built as body on frame construction. It was built on Cadillac’s rugged X-frame with reinforced side rails and deep X-member junction. Its 133” wheelbase hadn’t been used since the 1949 model year for the Sixty-Special. It had the luxury length of 227” and was 79.8” wide.
The front suspension was the traditional upper and lower control arm with independent knee action and helical coil springs. The rear used five-leaf semi-elliptic springs, a hypoid semi-floating type axle and offset differential housing to facilitate Straight-Line Drive.
The interior was upholstered in a nylon fabric, all-wool broadcloth, or V-Crest pattern nylon in four colors. Power windows and power two-way seat were standard. The new panoramic windshield increased front side visibility. Air conditioning was optional and priced at $620.
Power brakes were an additional $48. If you opted for the Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels it was $325 extra. The list of standard and optional equipment grew as the years progressed. The 1954 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special was the “Standard of the World” in comfort and convenience.
This owner had the seats covered with custom plastic seat covers
The 1954 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special was the Flagship sedan. Its new sheet metal made the car look sleeker and more modern for the day. The 331 CID V8 had power in reserve. The 1954 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special is an excellent investment for a collectible car. Hagerty Classic Car price guide valued it currently at $20,724.
The 1954-1956 Cadillacs were glamorous even to the special world of Cadillac. The brand’s reputation for advanced engineering and precise manufacture was universally acknowledged. Many major features found on most cars today were pioneered by Cadillac. For the 1954 model year, the Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special was another of the successful chapters in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”
Many thanks to Left Coast Classics for these lovely photos