The iconic Cadillac Eldorado is a legend. It maintained flagship status as the uppermost pinnacle of Cadillac luxury and elegance when bigger was better with exquisite refinement and distinctive designs. From its inception in 1953, the Series 62 Eldorado became an instant favorite among luxury car enthusiasts. The Eldorado has taken many luxurious forms throughout its tenure.
Whether it is configured as an elegant open tourer, luxurious hardtop coupé, or opulent 4-door hardtop sedan – this was the finest expression of Cadillac – it forever established General Motors, prestige division. The 1978 model year is the last of the traditional Eldorados. NotoriousLuxury chronicles the evolution of the most coveted Cadillac of all…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”
“El Dorado” is Spanish for “the gilded one” according to ancient folklore. It was a golden kingdom of wealth and fabulous riches. The Cadillac Eldorado became synonymous with the good life – the absolute best of everything. It began as GM’s image car…the ultimate prestige car. The Eldorado is based upon a show car for Cadillac’s Golden Anniversary in 1952. The 1953 Series 62 convertible is the base for the ultra-luxurious limited-edition style-leader. The very first generation of “The Gilded One” reinforced Cadillac’s “Standard of the World” exclusivity.
You could have parked one of the 532 examples in your garage for a staggering $7750. This is almost the price of two production Series 62 convertibles. The 1953 Series 62 Eldorado convertible sports a 3” lower silhouette with a lower custom beltline resembling a cupid’s bow, panoramic windscreen and a flush metal convertible parade boot. These subtle changes make the car appear longer, lower and leaner than its sister models.
Standard amenities placed the Eldorado in a class by itself. Now, remember this is circa 1953. Here’s a car endowed with standard touches of elegance which include sparkling Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels, wide whitewall tires, power steering, Hydra-Matic drive, radio, and heater. The Eldorado was Cadillac’s showcase for exclusive styling cues, features, and accessories that eventually found their way on future production models. Eldorado’s panoramic windscreen became standard on all 1954 Cadillacs. Also, check out the 1954 model’s sculpted beltline and overall silhouette…look familiar? Eldorados eloquently led the way – Cadillac Style!
This is how exclusivity began. There was Cadillac…and then there was “Cadillac.” The illustrious Series 62 Eldorado was “The Cadillac – of Cadillacs” when it came to model hierarchy. Any Cadillac Eldorado was minted in such low numbers when one did present itself…it had instant admiration and respect. The Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado is built from 1953 as the first generation, 1954-1956 second generation, and 1957-1958 as the third generation.
Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado 2nd generation (1954-1956)
1954 Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado
Style code # 6267-S Series 62 Eldorado became a stand-alone production model beginning the 1954 model year. It now shared its body shell with the Series 62. It also had a lower base price of $5738. A total of 2,150 examples were built. The Eldorado name eventually personified Cadillac’s flagship models. The famous “Dagmar” bumper guards are integrated elegantly into the front end ensemble. The 1954 Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado could have been ordered in Aztec Red, Azure Blue, Alpine White, and Apollo Gold which are “exclusive to Eldorado” exterior colors.
The 1955 Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado is a certified Milestone vehicle
Cadillac Eldorado remained true to its exclusivity for the 1955 model year. All-new styling is augmented by a lower silhouette. Radiused rear wheel openings allowed Eldorado to ‘go commando’ without fender skirts. This feature showcased the new Sabre-spoke aluminum wheels that are exclusive to Eldorado. Distinctive new tail fins distinguished the Eldorado from the standard Cadillacs from 1955 continuing through the 1958 model year. The 1955 Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado is considered a milestone vehicle. Style code # 6267-S Eldorado convertible had a base price of $5,814 and 3,950 were built.
The Cadillac-built 331 CID OHV V8 engine is equipped with 2 4-bbl carburetors enabling Eldorado to crank 270-hp @ 4,800 rpm with 468 Nm of peak torque @ 3,200 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 11.8 seconds with a top speed in the 113 mph range. (This is heavy all-metal construction with a cast-iron engine block and NO plastic) Cadillac Eldorados are tuned to be a tad bit more spirited than the standard models. It does the 1/4 mile @ 78-mph in 18.6 seconds.
1956 Series 62 Eldorado Biarritz convertible
Once again, the ultra-luxurious Eldorado flaunts its exclusivity. The convertible is joined by a handsome new hardtop coupé for 1956. The Eldorado convertible was re-named “Biarritz” and the 2-door hardtop named “Seville” to further distinguish the two. The Seville sports a luxurious roof covering in Cadillac’s exclusive Vicodec. Eldorado nomenclature dominated the upper high-end model hierarchy throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
Model # 55-62 body style code # 6267SX 1956 Series 62 Eldorado Biarritz had a base price of $6,501 and only 2,150 were built. The Eldorado special convertible is lyrically graceful, dramatically conceived, and was at the time offered to America’s most discerning motorists. From the elegant sweep of the panoramic windscreen to the elegant contours of its custom-crafted bodywork – the Series 62 Eldorado is the ultimate prestige car.
1956 Series 62 Eldorado Seville hardtop coupé
Model # 55-62 body style code # 6237SDX 1956 Series 62 Eldorado Seville hardtop coupé was base-priced at $6,501 USD and only 3,900 were built. The Series 62 Eldorado is hand-crafted by Fleetwood with styling augmented by a lower silhouette. The Seville became popular quickly outselling the Series 62 Biarritz convertible.
Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado Third generation (1957-1958)
Model # 6237SDX 1957 Eldorado Seville hardtop coupé and model # 6267SX 1957 Biarritz sport convertible were base-priced at $7286. There are 2,100 Sevilles and 1,800 Biarritz models built for 1957.
Once again Cadillac was the “Standard of the World” in prolific luxury. GM’s glamour car offered the choice of a hardtop coupé and convertible coupé making the Series 62 Eldorado they style trendsetter. The super luxurious Biarritz sport convertible and Seville hardtop coupé are exquisite hand-crafted masterpieces for the day. All-new exterior trim adorned the 1957 model and is heavily inspired by the Park Avenue show car from the 1954 GM Motorama.
Cadillac’s new tubular center X-frame increased structural rigidity while contributing to their low-slung appearance. The 1957 Series 62 Eldorado sports a new set of tailfins exclusive to this model. The sloping rear deck flanked by rounded fenders earned the 1957-1958 Eldorados the nickname “Chipmunk Cheeks.”
The Cadillac-built 6 litre 365 CID naturally aspirated V8 engine is used for both 1957 and 1958 Eldorados. For the 1957 model year, the 365 is equipped with 2 4-bbl Carter WCFB 2583/2584 carburetors cranking 325 hp @ 4,800 rpm with 542 Nm of peak torque @ 3,300 rpm. For 1958 a 3 2-bbl Rochester carburetor set-up became standard for the Eldorados producing 335 hp @ 4,800 rpm with 542 Nm of peak torque @ 3,200 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration for both is rated as 0-60 mph in 10.7 seconds with a top speed in the 124 mph range. The 365 CID V8 can do the 1/4 mile @ 83 mph in 17.7 seconds.
Very little changed for the 1958 model year. The front end design used new quad headlamps. The grille and bumper are revised making it appear lower and wider.
Model # 6237SDX 1958 Eldorado Seville hardtop coupé and model # 6267SX 1958 Eldorado Biarritz sport convertible were both base-priced at $7500. There are only 855 Sevilles and 815 Biarritz models built for the 1958 model year. Notice the “Dagmars” are shrinking?
1957-1958 Series 70 Eldorado Brougham hardtop sedan
The absolute last word in luxury and exclusivity is the fabulous Cadillac Series 70 Eldorado Brougham. The Detroit-built versions for 1957 and 1958 are the most unique. They share no sheet metal or trim with any other Cadillac model. These limited edition 4-door hardtop sedans were the most expensive automobiles built in America at $13,074. They were also eye candy for GM and not intended for profit. (The leader truly leads)
A Brougham included virtually every comfort and convenience feature offered by Cadillac as standard equipment. This was GM’s counter targeting Ford’s 1956-1957 Continental MK II. There were only 400 Broughams built for 1957 and 304 for 1958 making them extremely collectible. Their brushed stainless-steel roof cap and elegant forward-opening rear coach doors add intrigue. Their extensive hand-finishing slowed the Fleetwood assembly line tremendously. But one cannot clock perfection – Cadillac-Style!
The first three generations of glamour for the Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado reinforced The “Standard of the World” reputation. “The Gilded One” became the epitome of Cadillac luxury and opulence. There was no more elegant manner to experience the spirited performance from the luxury leader than Eldorado. Not only was it the most luxurious Cadillac in the model hierarchy – but it is also tuned to be the most powerful Cadillac. It caught the attention of the most demanding connoisseurs from its inception in 1953 as a special limited edition based upon the Series 62, Cadillac’s ‘bread and butter’ car for the day.
Legendary Cadillac excellence had been escalated to new heights in its class. Luxury assumes money is no object. After all, one cannot place a price tag on the satisfaction of owning a supreme achievement in motoring. Whether one chose the youthful zest of Series 62 Eldorado Biarritz convertible coupé…the panache of Series 62 Eldorado Seville hardtop coupé…or the eminence of the totally avant-garde Series 70 Eldorado Brougham four-door hardtop sedan – it was the ultimate expression of Cadillac. The Cadillac Eldorado legend lives…in the continuing saga of “As The Standard of the World Turns.”
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Cadillac Eldorado Generations 4 thru 6 are coming – stay tuned!!!