Fresh Metal: 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz

The formidable Eldorado legend continues in…

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

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The year was 1956…the Cadillac Eldorado was the epitome of Cadillac luxury and elegance. It was the flashy Cadillac Eldorado that was the glamour car of the 1950s. Available as the Seville hardtop coupé, and the Biarritz convertible, they augmented the Cadillac model hierarchy as the company Flagships for the 1956 model year. A total of 6,050 1956 Eldorados were built with 3,900 being the Biarritz and 2,150 as the Seville. There was nothing more majestic than Cadillac’s Eldorado series.

The 1956 Biarritz convertible was the beginning of the more luxurious Flagship Biarritz convertibles that would reign as king through the 1964 model year. The Biarritz was the most aristocratic of convertibles. These motorcars were unsurpassed in dignity, comfort, and distinction. The ride was incredibly smooth, interior was sumptuously appointed, the 1956 Eldorado Biarritz, style code 6267S “E” was base priced at $6,064 was the most elegant convertible in the world. The Eldorado legend continues…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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The Eldorado accounted for nearly 4% of all Cadillacs sold. Cadillac was the most distinguished automotive possession in America. The superiority of its many quality features, the economy of operation, and its high re-sale value made the Eldorado Biarritz convertible for 1956 the luxury leader in this elite market segment. The Eldorado Biarritz was proof to the fact that Cadillac was the “Standard of the World” in preeminence in the luxury car segment.

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The 1956 Eldorado Biarritz combined a special 305 hp V8 engine, distinctive appointments, exclusive trim level, and most every feature and accessory imaginable as standard equipment. The Eldorado Seville and Biarritz were two of the most glamorous vehicles ever to bear the Cadillac crest.

From the tapered lines of its twin hood ornament to the sharply accented rear tail fins, the Eldorado Biarritz convertible was a masterpiece from the master craftsmen. Every line and contour was designed for a longer, sleeker look…there was no mistaking that this luxurious beauty was the art of Cadillac stylists.

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The 1956 Eldorado Seville hardtop coupé

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The 1956 Eldorado Biarritz convertible was powered by Cadillac’s 365 CID 16-valve OHV V8 engine equipped with two Carter WCFB2371 4-bbl carburetors, mechanical fuel pump, hydraulic valve lifters, and five main bearings. The engine used a new high-lift valve mechanism (aids good engine breathing, more efficient air/fuel mixture, and escape of exhaust gasses), new exhaust manifold, larger bore and piston displacement, a new combustion chamber, larger exhaust ports (to increase the breathing efficiency), new crankshaft rigidity and durability, and new distributor.

A more powerful starter, a sealed voltage regulator, and a new 11-plate battery refined the electrical system. Through the use of a new dual exhaust system, separate exhaust manifolds, mufflers, resonators, and tail pipes for each bank of four cylinders minimized back pressure contributing to smooth, powerful, and economical operation. The 1956 Eldorado Biarritz was even quieter due to its 5” longer mufflers.

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The Eldorado 365 CID V8 engine produced 305 hp @ 4,700 rpm with 542 Nm of peak torque @ 3,200 rpm. The engine was mated to GM’s Hydra-Matic (Jetaway, Flashaway) 4-speed automatic transmission without torque converter. Performance was rated as 0-60 mph in 11 seconds, 0-100 mph in 33.1 seconds, and had a top speed of 117 mph. It could do the ¼ mile @ 80 mph in 18 seconds.

The 1956 Eldorado Biarritz benefited from a new waterproof ignition system. It used neoprene rubber for ignition wires and spark plug boots. Distributor ends of ignition wires were shielded by vinyl caps. The distributor itself was designed to shed water effectively. A new sealed generator regulator further assures dependable operation under wet weather driving situations.

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The gleaming Sabre-spoke wheels, the slim-line of its Cadillac-style tail fins with twin tubular housings for tail lamps and back-up lamps were signature Eldorado exterior features. Standard equipment included: power steering, power brakes, power windows, power six-way seat, and Hydra-Matic 4-speed automatic transmission.

The Biarritz convertible came standard with genuine English grain leather upholstery. More standard features included; electric clock, courtesy lighting, heater/defroster, outside left hand remote controlled mirror, E-Z Eye 3-way inside rearview mirror, robe cords on front seat backs, windshield wiper/washers, and wide whitewall tires.

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The interior celebrated the thrill of open-air motoring in the grandest of the grand tourers. The glamorous beauty of the Eldorado Biarritz was never more evident than in the enchanting décor of the 1956 edition. The exquisite beauty and sleek lines of the Biarritz were augmented by luxuriously appointed interiors.

Its door panels featured 1” hand-pleated leather trim that concealed a convenient storage pocket. The center of the door panel contained the armrest and power window controls with darker toned leather framed by a bright chrome molding. Above the armrest was a lighter toned leather with a light toned painted panel of forward swept lines. The vent wing and door handle were mounted in a satin-black and chrome insert.

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The seat cushions and seat backs in the 1956 Biarritz were tailored of genuine leather in red, black, blue, or green with fine grained white leather bolsters. The seat cushions were constructed with 1” narrow pleats, French seams and raised leather piping. At the top of each seatback were contrasting smooth-leathered “V” inset with miniature chrome Cadillac crests. The carpet was dark toned nylon and rayon with aluminum ribbed rubber floor pads in matching colors.

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The 1956 Eldorado Biarritz used a new technology sealed beam headlamp design that was more powerful. The lower beam hit the right side of the road 80’ farther than previous low beams. The low beam filament was designed with a shield that prevented light rays from blinding on-coming drivers at night.

The Panoramic Windshield, imitated in the auto industry was pioneered by the Cadillac Eldorado in 1953. The front corners of its design were moved back to a more vertical position giving the driver more visibility eliminating the traditional blind spots. The windshield was made of laminated safety plate glass as were the side windows. The backglass was tempered plate glass. This assured maximum safety for the vehicle occupants.

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Cadillac’s new frame for the 1956 model year provided sturdy channel-section side rails with rugged “I-beam” and “X” member extending beneath the entire passenger compartment. This provided a rigid backbone for the entire vehicle. Its rugged front crossmember provided sturdy support for the engine, steering, and front suspension components.

Because of its long wheelbase there was less ‘pitch’ to the car as it negotiated uneven pavement. This long wheelbase provided more interior legroom both front and rear. The excellent framework for the 1956 Eldorado Biarritz resulted in a near 50/50 weight distribution which assured greater traction for all four wheels with greater control rounding curves and surer more positive braking. Contributing further to the road-hugging qualities of the 1956 Eldorado Biarritz was the lower center of gravity that is so important to convertibles to resist rollovers.

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The 1956 Eldorado Biarritz used the “Hotchkiss Drive” theory which is a method of transferring thrust of the rear wheels to the frame through the rear springs. Hotchkiss Drive cushions driving forces through rear springs for a smoother ride.

In other words the springs in this fashion, ‘cushion’ the starting or stopping energy of the car so that the occupants sense a smooth, gradual, feeling of motion whether accelerating or braking.

The 1956 Cadillacs used long, wide rear springs to flex, easier absorbing road irregularities without intrusion to the body or frame. Resistance to ‘side-to-side’ motion was provided by the wider leaves. The 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz had the luxury length of 222.2” and was 80” wide.

The front suspension used independent helical coil springs which allowed either front wheel to encounter shock without affecting the opposite wheel. As a result there was virtually no travel of the negative energy affecting the frame, body, nor jostling the occupants.

Cadillac designers provided ample room for wheel travel for both compression and rebounds enabling the front suspension to absorb negative energy without “bottoming-out.”

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The 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz was the most aristocratic of all luxury convertibles. Eldorado was a glamour car throughout the 1950s and 1960s. The 1956 Eldorado Biarritz combined the power of a special 305 hp V8 engine with distinctive appointments and trim. It was standard equipped with more options and accessories than the other luxury brands. Open air motoring was never more exciting than this grand tourer.

It was Cadillac engineering at its finest with the special Fleetwood fit & finish. This long, low, and wide convertible was the epitome of Cadillac luxury and elegance. The Cadillac Eldorados were all motorcars of unsurpassed comfort and distinction, they maintained a poised dignity that was the hallmark of every Cadillac. This was another success story in the formidable Eldorado legend. The 1956 Eldorado Biarritz convertible is another dramatic encore performance…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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The 1964 model year was the last to wear the “Biarritz” name as rear-wheel drive. 1966 Was the last rear drive Eldorado.

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“As the Standard of the World Turns”

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Here’s 30 years of the Cadillac Eldorado

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The classic 1956 Biarritz and the 1976 Eldorado convertible

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The 1966 Cadillac Eldorado

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The last production convertible

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The last time for the 8.2 litre 500 CID V8 

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The 1976 Eldorado was the last full-size convertible

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The 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz

3 Responses to “Fresh Metal: 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz”

  1. […] Fresh Metal: 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz […]

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