1961 Cadillac DeVille Town Sedan
A totally new concept in fine car design…
The Town Sedan shared the same luxury as the Sedan deVille
The “Short-Deck” was designed for the Park Avenue lifestyle…
Cadillac had a complete re-design for the 1961 model year. They were lower and more refined. Chrome was used at an absolute minimum for a change and the iconic Cadillac tail fins were tapered more into the architecture. Cadillac engineering refinement included a smoother performing V8 engine, a new front suspension system and a chassis designed to be lubrication free. The 1961 Cadillacs were contemporary and crafted with the legendary superlative fit and finish. Cadillac introduced a new concept in luxury car design mid-year in 1961.
Another classic from Daniel Schmitt Classic Cars
Cadillac introduced a new completely new body style for the 1961 model year. This new concept provided the exact same Cadillac luxury as the regular production Sedan deVille, it provided the exact same interior dimensions, in fact, it was the exact same car from the axle forward. The difference being its overall length. The 1961 Short Deck Town Sedan was a splittin’ image of its Sedan deVille counterpart, it had shorter rear over-hang. Its pillarless six-window styling was distinctively Cadillac. The Short Deck Town Sedan was a radiant new star in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”
No more gracious and luxurious town car existed in the world more elegant than this classic Cadillac creation. It was specifically designed with a shorter rear deck, but retained all of its six passenger spaciousness and Cadillac luxury. It was particularly appealing to the ladies. The Town Sedan was 7” shorter than the Sedan deVille. It was designed for easier parking on Park Avenue. Model #61-63C 6399C Town Sedan was base priced at $5,498 and with its introduction mid-year there were only 3,756 built for the 1961 model year making this a rare not to mention unusual collectible.
The Cadillac Town Sedan had the same all-new styling. The tail fins were trimmed once again for a more contemporary look. New for the first time were the lower rear tail fins or “skegs” as they were called, as accents to add symmetry to the styling continuity. The 1961 re-design was tasteful, all of the flamboyant lines of the 1959-1960 models were tamed and refined, yet unmistakably Cadillac. The Town Sedan offered the same magic carpet ride and luxurious Cadillac attributes. Its extraordinary grace and charm were complimented by the marvelous Cadillac comfort and convenience features and accessories. The 1961 Cadillac Town Sedan was a new way to experience the elegant world of Cadillac. The 1961 Town Sedan retained that poised dignity which was the hallmark of every Cadillac.
The 1961 Cadillac Town Sedan was powered by the Cadillac 390 CID 16-valve OHV V8 engine. It was equipped with a Rochester #701930 4-bbl downdraft Quadrajet with equalized manifold, mechanical fuel pump, polyurethane air filter, intake silencer, and automatic choke. The engine had a cast iron block and heads, five main bearings, and hydraulic valve lifters. This highly refined Cadillac engine delivered brilliant performance and proven dependability. Performance was rated as 0-60 mph in 10.4 seconds, 0-100 mph in 29 seconds with a top speed of 125 mph. It did the ¼ mile @ 84 mph in 17.6 seconds. The 390 CID V8 produced 325 hp @ 4,800 rpm with 583 Nm of peak torque @ 3,100 rpm. The engine was mated to GM’s Hydra-Matic (Jet-away) 4-speed automatic transmission.
The short deck Town Sedan rode on a long 129.5” wheelbase. It was 215” long compared to the 222” length of the Sedan deVille. The Town Sedan had the exact same width of 79.8” as the Sedan deVille. The 1961 Cadillacs were built as body on frame construction using Cadillac’s rugged tubular center X-frame with new front frame members. This permitted a lower front floor for increased seat height and headroom. The redesigned chassis for the 1961 model was designed to be lubrication-free.
There were improvements made to steering for greater maneuverability, newly refined braking for shorter, straighter stopping, and new suspension system advancements to assure even greater quiet and comfort. The front suspension used the traditional upper and lower control arms with independent helical coil springs. New rubber mounted strut rods with rubber bushings isolated road noise and absorbed impact for improved ride quality. The rear suspension used a four-link drive, helical coil springs, and rubber bushings for a quieter softer ride. It used a hypoid type rear axle with off-set differential housing to facilitate Straight-Line Drive.
The Cadillac short deck Town Sedan was contrary to what Cadillac was really all about, and that was….excess. The Town Sedan like the Park Avenue Sedan deVille model that followed went over like a lead balloon in the day but the survivors are like the proverbial ugly ducklings. These cars appeared “strange” if you had never seen one and it was your first time. I was in grade school and I thought the one I saw had been totaled and repaired incorrectly. The car just appears awkward from some angles. It was such a strange idea, the modest amount chopped off was negligible when it came to parking, so why the chop? After all, didn’t one purchase a Cadillac for its capacious interior and land-yacht exterior attributes?
The 1961 Cadillac short deck Town Sedan was a gracious and luxurious town car. It had a shorter overall length but retained its six passenger spaciousness and Cadillac luxury. It was a motorcar of particular appeal to the ladies. Unmistakably Cadillac in stature and majesty, the short deck Town Sedan represented a totally new concept in luxury car design. The crisp, sculptured design confers a distinction entirely new to motoring. The 1961 short deck Town Sedan was a Cadillac in every respect. The highly refined Cadillac V8 engine, newly refined braking for shorter straighter stopping, and new suspension system advancements assured even greater comfort and convenience. The 1961 Cadillac short deck Town Sedan was another unique expression of luxury in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”
1961 Cadillac short deck DeVille Town Sedan
I have one and love it !!
Keep it! They are super rare! The tail fins and “Skegs” also add special interest to the vehicle.
Are they sought after ??
Any Cadillac minted in small numbers is valuable ONLY if they are not put up for sale all at once. Rule of thumb with collectible cars: scope out the markets all over the world observing what prices are requested. If there are only a couple, yes, the entire world will beat a path to your door. But…if the car you are researching pops up one or two at a time every time you are looking – the value will be much lower. Hold onto the car until the rest are extinct. And also…the precious few that are left will appreciate favorably.
Of course, vehicle condition is important. Rust-free, ding-free, originals go for a lot more that a rusty, dented car with a tiny crack in the windscreen. Bright work, paint, equipment, and ALL numbers matching is in the top 10 requisites for collectible cars. Keep it clean, chrome and all exterior lights should be polished as well as paint work. Keep the car as original as possible. The fun part of collecting is the treasure hunt finding the parts you need.
Town and Park Avenue sedans are rare but most fin-aficionados are looking for the classic Cadillacs that are at least a city block long sporting those fins. This is the primary reason a short-deck Cadillac was treated like the bastard at the Cadillac family reunion! The Town and Park Avenue sedans were popular with the ladies because they are a little easier to park. But then also consider the fact that you could be coming out of Auto Zone with a can of polish and someone will walk up to you and make you an offer on the spot – KEEP IT SHINY!
I have a black one love it !! I need a heater control nob !!
I’m sure the offering of a shorter Cadillac was in response to the new downsized Lincoln Continental which was a few inches shorter than the Town Sedan version Cadillac.
Nope…it is just what it is: a Park-Avenue Sedan deVille. This was easier for the ladies to park…AND it took up less space on “Park Avenue!” Remember one thing about the traditional “Standard of the World.” It did NOT follow any other auto manufacturer. Cadillac was the pioneer….others emulated but could not duplicate the savvy, the panache of a Cadillac!
How much are 1961 cadillac short tail worth ? I have a black one like new !!
My late father brought home a brand-new dark-grey Firemist 1961 Cadillac Sedan de Ville Town Sedan on 12 July 1961 just before I started the fourth grade. We kept that car through out my college years.
I noticed that nowhere on the outside of this car did the name “Cadillac” appear–not the hood, trunk, fenders,doors, sail panel,windshield, bumpers, grille; “Cadillac” was spelled out in tasteful block letters on the instrument panel. The “V” and crest did appear on the hood/trunk/wheel covers, but not the actual name. I asked my father how the meter maid would write up a ticket for the car is the name didn’t appear. The classic Cadillac shape (even under a layer of snow) was all that was needed.
The “de Ville” script appeared on the leading edge of each front fender.
It carried six people in comfort and all their luggage. The doors opened wide and it could handle furniture, bicycles, and anything else required for a dormitory room/college apartment.
Several of us in the family had passed our driver’s test in that car–the turning angle was increased from Model Year 1960 and the tips of the fins indicated exactly where the rear bumper was for parking situations. Even the leading end of the hood was helpful in parking back in the day . . . .
Hello Dennis! Those were Cadillac’s greatest days when they were considered the “Standard of the World” and it looks like we will never have another “Standard of the World” again! 1961 was beginning the modernization trimming humongous fins lowering the silhouette. I am impressed by the “Skegs” and how they added to the car’s character. OMG, if you still had that car today Dennis. Those are among the rarest of the rare.
“No more gracious and luxurious town car existed in the world more elegant than this classic Cadillac creation. It was specifically designed with a shorter rear deck, but retained all of its six passenger spaciousness and Cadillac luxury” . . .
“These cars appeared “strange” if you had never seen one and it was your first time. I was in grade school and I thought the one I saw had been totaled and repaired incorrectly. The car just appears awkward from some angles.”
Which one is it, then?
Hello Brian! The Cadillac Town Sedan was designed more for the ladies. They complained at the time how hard it was to park and had an even harder time trying to find a parking spot that would fit the standard Cadillac. This is where the Town Sedan came into play. it was merely for the people who didn’t want the length but wanted Cadillac appeal. They were popular on Park Avenue where parking was tight. Cars were huge back then taking up most of the street when they were parked. This model didn’t sit well with Cadillac aficionados because of what you just said: “They looked awkward from some angles,” therefore the model was dropped. Cadillac always tried to give their clientele just what they wanted in a luxury sedan.
In my eyes, it actually makes the old 61′ look a bit more “leaned back” which I like. Moreover, on the 61′ in particular, the large fins themselves exude length, so the difference is not as noticeable, then lets say, the 62-64 years. All models of the 61 were beautiful.
Still a highly desirable car, and If you look on the Cadillac Lasalle forums, people appreciate it just the same as a regular 61 Deville. A Fully furbished Short deck sold for $30,000, on collectingcars . com so their “resale value” is not “awful” by any means! As have several other short decks, for just as high prices. People still want them just as much as any good quality 61 Cadillac.
The Town Sedan and Park Avenue Sedan deVille are now in a different arena. They are considered highly collectible since they are as rare as they are. ANY classic Cadillac will bring top dollar in today’s collectible car market. The design fizzled fast back in the day when they were being built because NOBODY wanted the short deck.
They wanted their “Standard of the World” to have every square inch in the traditional Cadillac heritage of sheer excess. There’s nothing ‘awful’ about any classic Cadillac re-sale value today. That re-sale value back then wasn’t as great. Many who bought the short deck Cadillacs traded them in the next year for the traditional length Cadillac. The reason I am so familiar with this is due to the fact my dad purchased a new Cadillac every year so we were always at the dealership. My godmother had the short-deck Sedan deVille and she didn’t like it at all! She would always point to the back of it asking “where’s the rest of the Cadillac?” This is why the short-deck Cadillacs didn’t sell. America was ‘the land of excess’ back in the 1960s and anything short of being a city-block long wasn’t considered ‘in the league’ therefore it got snubbed.
It’s the same scenario as Rolls-Royce vs Bentley back in the day when the only difference between a Bentley and a Rolls-Royce was the bonnet and radiator grille. Nobody wanted the Bentley therefore it was minted at a slower pace which now makes it a rarity compared to the Rolls-Royce. Now, any classic Bentley is upstaging the Rolls-Royce.