…This was when Cadillac ROCKED the world with prestige
The continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns”
The year was 1956. The average price of a new home was $11,700…a gallon of petrol was $.22 (no not a typo)…and Elvis Presley sang “Heartbreak Hotel” on the Ed Sullivan Show. Life was good…Americans were livin’ large. Cadillac was the “Standard of the World” in prestige. Cadillac for 1956 was one of the most magnificent model years in the brand’s history. Cadillac “Presented the most inspiring motorcars the world had ever seen…”
They featured the finest performance in Cadillac history. For the adventure-seeker, the brilliantly engineered Cadillac Series Sixty-two convertible with its youthful appearance had the perfect balance of performance and luxury.
There was nothing more glamorous than a Cadillac convertible in one’s driveway…The spirited 1956 Series sixty-two convertible provided elegance and distinction combined with Cadillac quality and craftsmanship. Here is another eloquent encore performance…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”
The 1956 model year received a “Cadillac Beauty treatment.” With its massive new front end ensemble, and tapered rear bumper with exhaust ports, it presented a fresh new look. The iconic Cadillac tail fins made the Series Sixty-two convertible appear even longer…the rear end styling was augmented by those fins.
Cadillac had once again set the pace in automotive styling elegance for the entire industry. This classic convertible maintained a poised dignity which was the hallmark of every Cadillac. The Series Sixty-Two was truly a masterpiece from the master craftsmen.
This beautiful convertible came standard with a leather upholstered interior. The seat cushions were restyled for 1956 to be even more comfortable. Richly textured “Elascofab” was used for the door panels and arm rests.
Standard features for the 1956 Series Sixty-two convertible were; power windows, power seat, power steering and brakes, glare-proof rear view mirror, robe cords on front seat backs, courtesy lighting, and a fully automatic, power folding fabric roof.
The 1956 Cadillac was built as body on frame construction. It used GM’s rugged I-beam, X-member frame for strength and rigidity. This was new for the 1956 model year. The construction provided the safety of sturdy, channel-section side rails with rugged I-beam and X-member extending beneath the passenger compartment.
This type of build is usually reserved for convertible models by some auto makers because it supplied a strong, rigid backbone to the entire car. Its sturdy front cross member provided extra support for the engine, steering and front suspension components.
The front suspension used upper and lower control arms with independent helical coil springs. Ample provision for wheel travel for both compression and rebound enabled the front suspension to absorb road impact without bottoming out.
New direct-Acting hydraulic shock absorbers utilized a floating base valve that offered no resistance to the gentle flexing of the springs. On rough roads, the greater flexing of the springs forced the floating base valve as far as it could travel, then it provided progressively greater resistance to flexing of the springs minimizing pitch to hold the vehicle level.
The rear suspension featured semi-elliptic long, wide, splay mounted springs with fewer leaves. The spring leaves were lubricated with wax impregnated liners. This enabled the springs to flex easily absorbing small road irregularities without noticeable action to the frame or body. Resistance to side-to-side motion is provided by the wide leaves, by mounting the springs with a ‘toed-in’ effect and by the inverted “V” mounting of shock absorbers.
The 1956 Cadillacs used Hotchkiss Drive. This is the name given to the method of transferring the thrust of the rear wheels to the frame through the rear springs. The springs cushion starting/stopping motion of the car, the passengers sense a smooth gradual feeling of motion. Unsprung weight is minimized with Hotchkiss Drive.
The 1956 Cadillacs has a near 50/50 weight distribution which provided excellent traction and stability. Because of the long 129” wheelbase there was less ‘pitch’ to the car as it negotiated potholes or uneven pavement. The longer wheelbase also increased interior legroom.
The luxury length of 223.3” and the hefty 80” wide stance gave the Series Sixty-two convertible a solid feel with Cadillac’s magic carpet ride. The lower center of gravity contributed to enhanced road-holding qualities, amazing cornering ability, and resistance to roll-over which is so important to a rag top.
Engineering developments included an all-new 365 CID 16-valve OHV V8 engine. It produced 285 hp @ 4,600 rpm with 542 Nm of peak torque @ 2,800 rpm. Performance was rated as 0-60 mph in 11.3 seconds, 0-100 mph in 35.5 seconds with a top speed of 115 mph. It did the ¼ mile @ 80 mph in 18.2 seconds.
The engine utilized a new combustion chamber to assure progressive and complete burning of each air/fuel charge. The force exerted on the piston head was smoother with powerful thrusts without sudden shock or strain to the piston head or other engine parts. This new system with the use of high-octane fuel permitted higher compression power and performance without engine ‘ping’.
The engine was equipped with a new high-lift camshaft. Higher cams lift the valves higher off their seats. They were built with super hard friction-resistance cam and bearing surfaces, and wide cams which increase contact surface and minimize wear on cams and tappets.
The engine block and heads were made from cast iron. The all-new engine featured a new piston-crankshaft assembly. The five main bearing crankshaft was made even more rigid through larger main bearing journals and heavier bearing caps for increased strength and durability.
Other engine refinement included a new high-lift valve mechanism to aid the engine’s breathing ability. With the valves lifted higher off their seats, provides larger openings for the entrance of air/fuel mixture and faster escape of exhaust gases. New valve lifters were designed to maintain constant contact with the cam surfaces at any engine speed for smooth and quiet operation.
This new engine used larger exhaust ports. This increased the breathing efficiency permitting rapid exit of exhaust gases so that there is minimum back-pressure and minimum dilution of the fresh air/fuel mixture as it enters the cylinders. Large intake valves and ports enhance the engine’s breathing ability.
The engine was fitted with a new four-barrel carburetor. The carter WCFB 2370S 4-bbl was designed with larger primary barrels, increased to the size of the secondary barrels. This allows more air to be drawn into the carburetor then into the intake manifold. The manifold was the free-flow type to accommodate the larger primary barrels.
The larger passages provided a uniform charge of air/fuel to each cylinder for smooth, powerful performance. The greater volume of air entering the cylinders combined with the higher compression ratio increased the power and torque. A separate idle air inlet provided the exact amount of air required for smooth consistent idling. A vapor vent provided quick starting when the engine was hot by preventing the accumulation of fumes.
The 1956 Cadillacs used an improved Hydra-Matic (Jetaway, Flashaway) 4-speed automatic transmission. The new refinements yielded new smoothness and greater dependability. The band and multiple disc clutch on the front gear set were replaced by a simple one-way clutch that required no adjustment.
The rear gear set received a one-way clutch also and a smoother more consistent application of the rear multiple disc clutch enlarging the clutch face area and improved control of oil pressure. New gear ratios provided more even stops between gears further enhancing shifting during acceleration or deceleration.
A unique new feature for the power brakes was the design and location of the foot pedal. It was lower and extra-wide providing advantages in safety, plus comfort and convenience. Since the brake pedal was located closer to the floor it took less time to swing the toe from accelerator to brake pedal. It also took less pedal travel to apply the brakes.
The name “Cadillac” has for years earned the total respect and admiration of the luxury car following. The 1956 Cadillacs heightened its reputation among those whose motoring requirements were well beyond the ordinary…It was a different clientele…professionals, Actors & Actresses, Public Officials, Presidents…CEO’s, CFO’s, COO’s…lest we forget the wealthy…all turned to Cadillac luxury. Cadillac was “Standard of the World” and the luxury leader.
The Cadillac Series Sixty-two convertible was the quintessential status symbol of the 1950s…glamour was synonymous with the Cadillac convertible. Its esteem was further dramatized by its performance. It had power to spare with the hefty 285 hp V8 engine that was all-new for 1956…combined with the improved Hydra-Matic transmission and Cadillac’s engineering prowess.
The 1956 Cadillacs were the latest editions of “Standard of the World” luxury. With legendary Cadillac exemplary fit & finish, the 1956 Cadillac Series Sixty-two convertible was a superb example of American luxury car ingenuity. This drop-dead gorgeous Doll is another classic tribute…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”
Here ends still another successful episode…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”
1956 Cadillac Series Sixty-two convertible