Archive for Classic Cadillac Convertibles

1966 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado Convertible – The Last of an Eloquent Breed

Posted in "As the Standard of the World Turns", Cadillac, Cadillac Historical, Classic American Marques with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2017 by 99MilesPerHour

Luxury car manufacturers played in a different league at one time. It is the American ultra-luxury automobile that led the entire world in sophistication, design & engineering prowess…the charismatics alone sent shock waves throughout the auto industry. One guess who had the competition running scared…annually. The iconic “Standard of the World” intrigued luxury car buyers with tasteful ad campaigns as we waited with bated breath for the new “Cadillac of Cadillacs” to debut.

The Cadillac Motor Division of General Motors crafted a “Standard of Excellence” no other luxury automobile could match. The traditional Cadillac motorcar is a true masterpiece from the Master Craftsmen. I prefaced the story this way to prove a point. I keep writing about a special kind of Cadillac…the ‘traditional’ Cadillac because it was an institution. I am not saying let’s get locked in a time warp in the past – why not: “Give Americans the luxury icon we had come to know. Cadillac is a legend…as well as a lifestyle!” This my friend…is the true penalty of leadership –

1953 Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado convertible coupé

The traditional Cadillac became synonymous with success – its hallmark…was a poised dignity no other luxury car in the world could replicate. The formidable Cadillac reputation was consistently refined and managed through a process of evolution. Eldorado is Cadillac’s first real glamour car. This name prodigiously represents Cadillac’s most exclusive flagship models. It began as an extremely successful concept in luxury convertibles in 1953. Eldorado luxury hardtop coupé and convertible coupé models were built at a highly restricted pace to retain their exclusivity.

It became Cadillac’s most luxurious model when Eldorado morphed into the Brougham, a four-door pillarless hardtop sedan that’s also a limited edition. The last of the rear-wheel drive models is the 1966 Fleetwood Eldorado convertible coupé. These luxurious automobiles are indicative of Cadillac’s pre-eminence in the luxury car segment. Their impeccable craftsmanship reflects the pride associated with the brand. Eldorado Elegance, Excellence, and Excitement continues…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

1957-1958 Series 70 Eldorado Brougham by Fleetwood

The Fabulous Fleetwood-bodied Series 70 Eldorado Brougham is the most expensive luxury car made in America for the day at $13,074 USD. It is the counter to Ford Motor Company’s 1956 Continental MK II.

Fleetwood Eldorados from this genre share platforms and body components with the DeVille series. They are a little more than a “dolled-up” DeVille as many assume. Being a member of the elite Fleetwood series has its perks. The iconic laurel wreath and crest badging is an honor in magnificence and dignity. Fleetwood-bodied Cadillacs are flagship models that epitomize the brand.

Eldorado – The Gilded One – is a paragon of automotive success. The formidable Eldorado models introduced new design features and accessories that would eventually find their way onto other Cadillac models. Eldorados also have the distinction of being the only two-door models built by Fleetwood. This was the in-house coachcrafting division for the brand that handcrafted ALL Cadillac interiors.

A “Fleetwood-bodied” Cadillac, is handcrafted in its entirety by Fleetwood. This is the element which made these distinguished  motorcars elusive. Eldorado was the styling predictor, the trendsetter, offering an audacious eminence as its signature. Cadillac convertible coupé models are elegant but a Fleetwood convertible coupé drips with sheer opulence in the grand Cadillac manner.

Model # 66-684 style # 68567-E 1966 Fleetwood Eldorado convertible coupé had a base price of $6631, a base shipping weight of 4,500 pounds, and only 2,250 were built. Let’s face it – when America drove luxury automobiles such as this no one was concerned with gasoline mileage, ugly touch-screen navigation systems, nor were we interested in a luxury car that sprints from 0-60 mph in a nanosecond.

Old school luxury…that’s right – cars that ride like a big ‘ole rollin’ Barco lounger completely impervious to the outside world –  is what we want. Being a Cadillac, it should do each task with poise. Nothing could be compared to the traditional Cadillac. When one purchased a 1966 Cadillac…they also inherited the legend and the lifestyle. The formidable reputation acquired was historically slow in the making therefore, this impeccable reputation should be restored in all its glamour in a form that’s right for the 21st Century…

Headrests are a rarity from this genre

The inside story is equally impressive. Fleetwood Eldorado has a unique character from the standard Cadillac models for 1966. Any Cadillac convertible exudes a youthful spirit…the Eldorado captures this essence delivering it as the most luxurious open grand tourer on the road. Impeccably tailored leather upholstery has a perforated seat back and seat cushion design to allow the seats to ‘breathe’ for comfort. Sporty bucket seats were an option at no extra cost which adds panache to Eldorado’s already dramatic style.

The Cadillac Eldorado augments the flagship model hierarchy as the superlative of superlatives. It’s ultra-exclusive even among other Cadillac models – extra special in a way such as “Harry Finley’s Flowers” or “Petrossian Caviar” – providing an added touch of opulence. Cadillac celebrated a banner model year breaking sales records for the day at 205,001 vehicles…this is the fifth consecutive model year to do so at the time. Cadillac led the automotive industry with luxury and innovation. Can we bring this ‘exclusivity’ into the 21st Century?

Fleetwood Eldorado’s fully automatic, power, folding fabric roof opens and closes swiftly at the touch of a button. The warmth of richly grained genuine walnut spans the upper door and rear garnish panels. This elegant trim is resin impregnated for longevity. Power windows, power seat with wide folding center armrest, and Variable Ratio power steering are among the vast array of gracious appointments in the grand Fleetwood tradition. The Fleetwood Eldorado was the only Cadillac to provide whitewall tires as standard equipment for the day.

These classic land yachts provide a ride today’s cars cannot replicate. 1966 Cadillacs are built as body on frame construction. Being an offspring of Fleetwood decent, it is endowed with standard Automatic Level Control to maintain proper ride height regardless of load or road condition. (With fender skirts!)

Traditional Cadillacs didn’t rely on gimmicky ad campaigns and cars boasting superficial bells and whistles. There was actually a time when Cadillac didn’t have to advertise its prowess in the luxury car segment. This breed of the illustrious Eldorado reaffirmed the “Standard of the World” mission luxuriously, lavishly, with Cadillac-Style. (And fender skirts!)

And lest we forget…the superb Cadillac engine and first-class drive train. Cadillac is the first luxury brand to build the inherently balanced 8-cylinder 90-degree V-type engine in 1923. Did you also know that Cadillac is the first automobile manufacturer to offer a complete line of multi-cylinder cars of all “V-types” by 1930? But the mother of all engineering feats is the magnificent V8 engine introduced in 1948. This all-new V8 is smaller, more economical, with refined overall operation. This OHV V8 is a milestone for the brand. Cadillac engines were continually refined through evolution for excellence. (No dinky 6-bangers here, lol!)

Here is the styling continuity from 1965 (top) to 1966 (below). Cadillac styling didn’t spring forth from a blinding flash of inspiration – nor were they dashed off a stylist’s pencil right into the assembly hall. Cadillac designed their cars to be aesthetically pleasing as possible through evolution; the new designs usually happened over a two model year cycle and the new model never ever made the previous offering redundant.

Bill Mitchell would not redesign the tail fin if the front end ensemble was freshened during the 1960s. His “tailored look” made the brand extremely tasteful – the Fleetwood Eldorado is “The Outlaw” …the quintessential bad boy of the bunch with a different style of its own…arrogance but not conceit – this car was not for everyone. Collectors are going bonkers over it today.

1966 Cadillac motorcars are equipped with the 7.0 litre 16-valve 429 CID V8 engine. Its fuel system consists of either a 4-bbl Carter AFB 3903S or a 4-bbl Rochester #7026030 carburetor with equalized manifolding, mechanical fuel pump, automatic choke and dry type air filter. Cylinder heads and cylinder block are made of cast iron. The engine is mounted to the frame at three points in rubber. It cranks 340 hp @ 4,600 rpm with 651 Nm of peak torque @ 3,000 rpm.

Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 8.9 seconds with a top speed in the 124-mph range. It does the ¼ mile @ 85 mph in 16.5 seconds. GM’s silky smooth THM-400 3-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic transmission provides effortless operation with imperceptible gear changes. The transmission uses a torque converter which multiplies engine torque for increased driving thrust to the rear drive wheels during acceleration in any gear.

Rear end styling for 1965 (left) was freshened for 1966 (right)

The 1964 Fleetwood Eldorado is another significant model year. It is the last year for the iconic tail fin. It is also the only rear-wheel drive Eldorado of the 1960s going commando without fender skirts. This is the last time Eldorado would use “Biarritz” nomenclature on a production ragtop. The Biarritz name was revamped in the 1970s but as a posh limited edition fixedhead coupé.

1964 Cadillacs are among the most popular in the history of the brand. Special thanks to my friend Jim Hailey for the use of photos from his private collection of the drop-dead gorgeous 1964 Biarritz and the shockingly beautiful 1966 Eldo. Also, I salute Daniel Schmitt Classic Cars and Bob Adams Classic Cars – two if the finest caretakers in the business.

1964 Fleetwood Eldorado Biarritz convertible coupé 

1960 Cadillac Series 6400 Eldorado Biarritz

The traditional Cadillac is an automobile that defines an illustrious heritage. Its engineering innovation and advanced design concepts introduced industry-wide refinement leading to contemporary automobile evolution. The Cadillac Fleetwood series was augmented by the Eldorado which showcased everything majestic that made a Cadillac a Cadillac. It was unique even among other Cadillac models. They were the universal dream car and the ultimate symbol of success for the day. Eldorado is Cadillac’s first real glamour car, it was never intended to shatter sales production records.

Eldorado is an image car…that ‘extra-special something’ in vehicle form. It was built as a rear-wheel drive luxury convertible only from 1961 until the last Eldorado convertible exited the assembly hall in 1966. Each and every traditional Cadillac was built to the highest standards…the same standards which made it the “Standard of the World.” Will Cadillac ever rule the roads of the world again in high style with the formidable eloquence that used to be synonymous with the brand? The 1966 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado convertible coupé throws the other classic luxury cars shade…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

NotoriousLuxury presents a 30 year contrast for the Eldorado

1956 Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado Biarritz convertible coupé

1966 Fleetwood Eldorado convertible coupé

1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible coupé

Interior room is significantly larger with front-wheel drive

It was the only true luxury convertible built in the land

The 1976 Eldorado is the last to use the formidable 8.2 litre V8 

It was rumored at one time the Cadillac Elmiraj concept would be the new Eldorado. It’s a classy rendition of a classic Cadillac by all means. The contemporary proportions are just what the Cadillac buyer wants. What Cadillac seemed to have forgotten, once the Cadillac buyer has owned cars such as Fleetwood Broughams, the Eldorado Biarritz, Coupes deVille, and Sedans deVille…the contemporary versions are unreasonable facsimiles – 

Let’s let Casey/Art and Colour design the new Cadillacs! Look at the class this concept exudes. It also has the poised dignity that used to be the hallmark of every Cadillac. You GO Casey!

1969 Cadillac DeVille Convertible: A Masterpiece From The Master Craftsmen

Posted in "As the Standard of the World Turns", Cadillac, Cadillac Historical, Classic American Marques, Editorials with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2015 by 99MilesPerHour

Rock steady…

1969 DeVille

“As the Standard of the World Turns”

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The 1969 Cadillacs are masterpieces from the master craftsmen. Cadillac had an all-new design that made them longer, lower, and wider…they hugged the road. The DeVille was the only luxury convertible built in the land at the time. There is no finer way to view the world than from behind the wheel of a 1969 Cadillac. It is open air motoring at its finest. Powered by a 375 hp V8 engine, makes it a rare combination of luxury and high-performance few automobiles would ever achieve. The dramatic elegance and majesty of its new design is eloquently portrayed with the classic DeVille convertible. The 1969 Cadillac DeVille convertible makes a stunning encore performance…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.“

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This is a unique era in motoring. An automobile of such stature had never before been endowed with this type of spirited high-performance. Cadillac had surpassed its own great reputation with the introduction of the 1969 Cadillacs. In luxury…in performance…and in craftsmanship, these new Cadillac creations by far, surpassed the famous cars they supersede. For 1969, there’s a new spirit of vitality and youth in the dramatic DeVille convertible. Luxury is your constant companion.

It is the most eloquent expression of glamour. Among all the manufactured products available, few can claim the excellence of design, dedication of assembly, and the universal acceptance that was at the time…accorded the Cadillac automobile – Cadillac was without conjecture the finest expression of the new era of automobile elegance and exclusivity…will the brand ever return to such regal stature?

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1967 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado

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The all-new 1969 Cadillacs are a design based upon the highly successful 1967 Fleetwood Eldorado. It is the chiseled front and rear fenders that makes it so distinguished in appearance. The all-new wrap-around parking/turn signal and cornering lamp modular unit and its integrated appearance would soon be copied throughout the industry. Cadillac was a style leader…never a follower. The long hood and short rear deck are designed to make the car appear even longer than it is. The front and rear bumpers are sculptured artfully into the architecture.

Dual horizontal headlamps and a wider grille gives it a more refined look. The 1969 model distinction is a winner; it is one of the most popular Cadillacs in the history of the brand. For the 1969 production run, 163,048 Cadillac DeVille models were built. The aggregate total for the DeVille model alone exceeded the entire total production run for the competition combined for the 1969 model year. The calendar year production for 1969 is 223,237 total units built. The 1968 production totals are 230,003. The reason the sales for the 1969 models are lower is because of the strikes that interrupted the 1969 production run.

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The 1969 Cadillacs were completely redesigned from the ground up. The rear ensemble for the DeVille, Calais, and Fleetwood models are totally in character for a Cadillac. The tapered tail fins and Cadillac-style taillamps make it exceptionally beautiful. The beveled rear deck lid is in proportion with the elegant styling. There isn’t a single line on the 1969 Cadillac that isn’t out sync.

The silhouette looks as though it spans for miles. With the top folded the car looks even longer, lower, and wider than the other Cadillac models. The neatly chiseled lines and shadows create a luxury car of distinction. It also is adorned with fancy fender skirts – these are my favorite feature on luxury automobiles from this genre. It gives the car a finished look. The 1969 Cadillac DeVille convertible is a masterpiece from the master craftsmen – 

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Model #69-683 Style code #68367F two-door DeVille convertible for 1969 was base priced at $5,905 and only 16,445 were built. The base shipping weight is 4,590 pounds. Here are some interesting production milestones: Cadillac built its four millionth car as a 1969 Coupe deVille on June 19, 1969.

Cadillac was so successful that it took 47 years to build the first million cars…nine more years to build the second millionth vehicle…the three millionth vehicle came just six years later, and only five years more to build the four millionth Cadillac – now that’s an impressive production history…Cadillac used to be the world’s most desired luxury automobile.

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Less than four percent of all 1969 Cadillacs were built without air conditioning. It was all about luxury back then. Cadillac had all the glitz and glamour of a true thoroughbred automobile. There were 11 distinctive models available in three series: Calais, DeVille, and Fleetwood.

The best-selling model for the 1969 model year is the hardtop Sedan deVille with a total production of 72,958 units which is the best ever for a single Cadillac model. This was the most popular luxury automobile in America. The Sedan deVille held this title until the 1973 model year when it was outsold by the Coupe deVille. This is why the Cadillac DeVille Series was and always will be America’s favorite luxury cars…

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Among new innovation for the 1969 Cadillacs are a theft-deterrent steering wheel, ignition, and transmission lock which is so important for convertible lovers. Once the key is removed from the ignition, the car is disabled. Power front disc brakes are standard equipment on all 1969 Cadillacs. It has noticeably reduced pedal effort. A new Flow-through ventilation system eliminates the need for front vent windows. This not only contributes to the long, sleek look of the roofline but also increases visibility.

For the 1969 model year, Cadillac introduced a closed cooling system which is the first of this type in the entire industry at the time. A translucent plastic reservoir connected to the radiator’s overflow line captures coolant as it expands and contracts according to engine temperature.

This prevents an overflow when a hot engine is shut down, and captures excess coolant that is returned to the radiator by vacuum as the car’s engine cools. This new system allowed 1969 Cadillacs to idle for prolonged periods of time with the air conditioning system operating without over heating the engine. This closed cooling system soon spread throughout the industry. Cadillac has always been an eminent trend setter introducing firsts to the automotive industry – 

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1949 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe deVille

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DeVille exclusivity dates back to 1949 when it was a prestige trim level for the Series 62 luxury coupe. It is among the first pillarless hardtops in the entire industry. The Series 62 Coupe deVille was opulently trimmed. Inside, there are stainless-steel roof bows to give it the appearance of a convertible hood lining. The Coupe deVille was introduced at the 1949 GM Autorama. It was built on the long wheelbase Series 60 Special platform.

The production version was released late in the 1949 model year. The Cadillac DeVille was an immediate success. It became available as a full production model. In 1956, Cadillac introduced the four-door hardtop Sedan deVille, and in 1964 the elegant DeVille convertible was introduced to the world of luxury. DeVille production ran from 1949 until 2005 when DeVille nomenclature was retired. It was renamed “DTS” until its demise. The last one rolled off the assembly line at GM’s Hamtrack plant in 2011 – 

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The 1969 DeVille convertible is not only beautiful but powerful as well. The 472 CID was introduced the previous year and further refined for 1969. This was the largest production passenger car engine in the industry at the time. Cadillac introduced an engine with even larger displacement for the 1970 Fleetwood Eldorado which was 8.2 litres and 500 cubic inches. Cadillac powered their luxury cars with engines rockin’ the largest displacement in the industry to satisfy their customers – the “Standard of the World” gave the world luxury automobiles of distinction.

The 1969 Cadillacs are powered by the Cadillac 7.7 litre 16-valve 472 CID naturally aspirated V8 engine. The engine has a cast iron block and cylinder heads. It is equipped with overhead valves, a #7028230 Rochester 4-bbl downdraft Quadrajet carburetor, hydraulic lifters, and equalized manifold. It has an intake silencer, improved automatic choke, mechanical fuel pump, and dry-type air filter. The engine runs in five main bearings. An Air-injection Reactor system was added to reduce hydrocarbons in the exhaust for cleaner air. The engine is mated to GM’s Turbo Hydra-Matic 3-speed automatic transmission. It has a torque converter with fixed stator. The converter multiplies engine torque for increased driving thrust to the rear drive wheels during acceleration in any gear.

The aggressive 472 CID V8 engine produces an astounding 375 hp @ 4,400 rpm packing a prolific punch with 678 Nm of peak torque @ 3,000 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as: 0-60 mph in 8.6 seconds, 0-100 mph in 25 seconds, and 0-110 mph in 34.9 seconds. It does the ¼ mile @ 86 mph in just 16.3 seconds. It has a top speed in the 126 mph range. 

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The 1969 Cadillac DeVille convertible’s interior elegantly compliments its exterior styling. A new instrument panel groups the controls in front of the driver and allows more front seat passenger room. The biggest styling refinement is the deep-seated high-back lounge seating. The front seats have adjustable head restraints and a center folding arm rest. This type of six passenger spaciousness was usually found in four-door sedans. The DeVille came standard with a power, fully automatic folding fabric roof.

A Cadillac DeVille convertible has a youthful zest. Cadillac had no peer among open luxury automobiles. Handsome new Ostrich grain leather upholsters the interior lavishly…Cadillac-style. The 1969 DeVille convertible provided power windows, power two-way adjustable front seat, Variable Ratio Power Steering, power brakes, and automatic transmission as standard equipment. Power 60/40 individually adjustable front seats were a popular option along with power door locks, power trunk release, cruise control, and Automatic Climate Control air conditioning. The 1969 Cadillacs are more luxurious than the models they supersede – 

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The 1969 DeVille convertible is built as body on frame construction. It uses a new, longer perimeter frame that is boxed in its entirety. The frame has hidden bulkheads for additional rigidity. The 1969 DeVille has the luxury length of 225”; it rides upon a long 129.5” wheelbase and is 79.8” in width. It is a very large, front engine rear-wheel drive vehicle. It is built in the solid Cadillac tradition.

The front suspension uses Cadillac’s traditional upper and lower control arm configuration with spherical ball joints and independent helical coil springs. Rubber-mounted strut rods and rubber bushings absorb road impact and isolate road noise. The rear suspension is Cadillac’s four-link drive, along with helical coil springs. Rubber bushings are used to quiet and soften the suspension. The rear hypoid type rear axle has an offset differential housing to facilitate Cadillac’s Straight-line Drive. It has a stronger axle and differential that is designed to accept the unusually high engine torque of the ferocious 472 CID V8. These fine automobiles are among the last of a dying breed…

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Cadillac used a triple braking system. The brakes are self-adjusting each time the car is driven in reverse and the brakes applied. The braking system used front discs and rear drums. A split hydraulic master cylinder provides independent operation of front and rear braking systems. The vacuum release parking brake is a true auxiliary brake and could be used as an emergency brake since it would not lock with the engine running and the car in a drive gear.

Also standard is Cadillac’s Variable Ratio Power Steering. It provides fast response and a shorter turning diameter. An energy-absorbing steering column and heavily padded steering wheel hub has been incorporated for safety. This type of steering is effortless; it makes the 1969 Cadillac DeVille drive like a much smaller vehicle. The variable ratio is precise and is constantly changing to suit the driving situation.

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With its many power assists and personal conveniences, color combinations, and its wide selection of options and accessories, the 1969 Cadillac DeVille convertible is an outstanding classic automobile for investment purposes. It has a youthful zest. Open air motoring is no more magnificently stated than in the only luxury convertible built in the land. It’s long, low, and sleeker than previous models.  An automobile of such elegant stature had never before been endowed with such high-performance that would shame a sports car, as the DeVille convertible.

Cadillac was completely redesigned for the 1969 model year. The design is based upon the highly successful 1967 Fleetwood Eldorado. The 1969 Cadillacs are among the most popular models in the history of the brand. Power, performance, and presence are yours with the Cadillac DeVille convertible. It is one of the world’s most exciting motorcars. There is no automobile more glamorous than a classic Cadillac convertible. NotoriousLuxury gives a round of applause and a standing ovation to this luxury barouche…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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The 1969 and 1970 Cadillacs are truly the end of a spirited era of motoring…one of which we will never enjoy again – 

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Special thanks to Liberty Old Timers, Daniel Schmitt Classic Cars, and Bob Adams Classic Cars for the photos of these extremely rare automobiles – 

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NotoriousLuxury presents three decades of the Cadillac DeVille

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1949 Cadillac Series 62 with Coupe deVille option

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1959 Cadillac Series 6200 Coupe deVille

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1969 Cadillac DeVille convertible

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…those fabulous fins

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The flamboyant 1959 Cadillac is still a favorite

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The fins of change…

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1949

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1969

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NotoriousLuxury salutes America’s favorite luxury car…

Greg's World

…”As the Standard of the World Turns”