Archive for General Motors

The Elite 1960 Cadillac Series 6900 Eldorado Brougham

Posted in Cadillac, Cadillac Historical, Editorials with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2017 by 99MilesPerHour

The formidable Eldorado legend continues…

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…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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Once upon a time in America there was a thing called the luxury automobile. These fabulous cars are a city block long and half a city block wide. They float along the road like a big ‘ole rollin’ Barco lounger. The elegance and prestige lineages evolved through impeccable craftsmanship, America was renowned for such. The Cadillac motorcar became the most enviable of all automotive legacies. The Cadillac name was a byword for superlative in any field of endeavor…

The Fleetwood division meticulously handcrafted the finest automobiles to motor out of Detroit, Michigan. The most eminent and revered models were Fleetwood-bodied Cadillacs. They are the last of the hand-built motorcars. The Brougham augmented the Fleetwood model hierarchy as the epitome of elegance. They were the most luxurious owner-driven sedans from the brand. The 1960 Cadillac Series 6900 Eldorado Brougham is the last of this distinguished coachbuilt series. NotoriousLuxury presents an encore performance…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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Eldorado Broughams are among the rarest of all Cadillac motorcars. They were coachbuilt by Fleetwood for the 1957 through the 1958 model years in Detroit. These luxury sedans required countless hours of manpower while in theatre, because of the extensive handcrafting that was involved in order to build them. They slowed the Fleetwood assembly line tremendously. These magnificent Broughams sold for an ostentatious $13,074. Due to the nature of their build, Cadillac didn’t make a profit.

A decision was made to farm out their production to Pininfarina of Italy who are prominent coachbuilders specializing in the world of bespoke craftsmanship. This decision by GM freed the Fleetwood assembly hall to build more of the top-selling Fleetwood models such as the Series Sixty-Special. It was more cost efficient for Cadillac. Pininfarina handbuilt the Brougham for the 1959 and 1960 model years.

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Very little has ever been written about the 1960 Eldorado Brougham. Many automotive enthusiasts have never even seen one. They are elegantly exotic in appearance. It takes the eagle eye to discern them from the standard Cadillac models for 1960. These were the most opulent custom crafted models in the Cadillac model range. The Eldorado Brougham was so swank, it was only briefly mentioned in the sales brochure. Interested clients were advised to contact a Cadillac dealer for details because the car was so highly bespoke –

It’s the Cadillac of Cadillacs and the finest expression of the new era in automotive design. The 1957-1958 Detroit-built Series 70 Eldorado Broughams were totally exclusive from other Cadillac models sharing no sheet metal or trim. The 1959-1960 Series 6900 Eldorado Broughams shared mechanical components, floor platforms, dash panels, wheels, bumpers, fender skirts, and headlamp bezels with other Fleetwood models.

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1957-1958 Cadillac Series 70 Eldorado Brougham

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1960 Cadillac Series 6900 Eldorado Brougham

Pininfarina hand-built the custom bodyshells. This added a romantic aura to this ultra-exclusive model…what could be more alluring than an Italian hand-built Cadillac? None of the standard Cadillac sheet metal was integrated into the Brougham. The roofline and glass are totally unique to the glamorous Italian-built Broughams.

The 1960 Brougham is the styling-lead to the 1961 Cadillac model design. This is apparent in the windshield, roof design, and lower overall silhouette. The Brougham’s sleek pillarless design is highlighted by smaller power rear quarter windows that automatically open when the coordinating rear door opens for ease of entry and exit. The Broughams are crafted a tad bit lower than standard Cadillac models. 

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1960 Cadillac Series 6400 Eldorado Seville hardtop coupé

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1960 Cadillac Series 6900 Eldorado Brougham

There’s very little to distinguish the Brougham from a head-on view. Many dispute the fact the 1960 Eldorado Brougham isn’t totally unique from the rest of the standard Cadillac and Eldorado models. Due to the fact that the Broughams were not top-selling models, it wasn’t feasible to make them as exclusive as the 1957-1958 Detroit-built models. They had their own separate set of production tooling and dies than the standard 1957-1958 Cadillac models. The proof is in the photos, YOU be the judge.

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The custom crafted 1960 Series 6900 Eldorado Brougham has an intriguing rear end design. It has tail lamps that are modified slightly and built into the bumper nacelles elegantly. The upper slim recessed taillamps from the standard models are eliminated. The Brougham’s tail fins are trimmed lower. It introduced lower body fins called “Skegs” which would be featured on all Cadillac models for 1961 and 1962. The Eldorado has always featured styling that would eventually be found on other Cadillac motorcars.

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Cadillac featured a gracious styling continuity when it reigned as the “Standard of the World.” The 1961 Cadillac Series 6300 Sedan deVille shown displays the 1960 Eldorado Brougham inspired roofline and glass.

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The lower fins aka “kegs” balanced the styling theme gracefully

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The Brougham’s expanse of glass influenced the 1961 Cadillacs

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The tail fin design of the 1960 Eldorado Brougham isn’t as radical as the standard Cadillac models. The iconic tail fins were starting to disappear. The Eldorado Brougham has an overall lower profile.

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The Eldorado Brougham is almost verbatim up front

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The Eldorado Brougham has a customized appearance

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1960 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

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The 1960 Eldorado Brougham is built as body on frame construction. Cadillac’s rugged tubular-center X-frame permits a lower body design for improved appearance, and enhanced stability with a lower center of gravity. The majestic Eldorado Brougham has the same dimensions as the Eldorado Biarritz and Eldorado Seville except for its height. It has the luxury length of 225” with a low 55” height and is 79.9” wide. It rides upon a long 130” wheelbase. Model #60-69 body style #6929P 1960 Series 6900 Eldorado Brougham four-door hardtop sedan had a base price of $13,075 and only 101 were built.

The 1960 Eldorado Brougham was the most expensive American automobile for the day. There was no better symbol of one’s success than to view the world from behind the wheel of an Eldorado Brougham. This was a supreme achievement in motoring. Bigger is better was the premise behind these luxury land yachts. It was all about those “Car wars” – every American automobile manufacturer stretched the limits in design. Luxury was the theme. No one really cared about fuel economy because the cost of a gallon of petrol was insignificant.

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Cadillac was the undisputed luxury leader. Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell, chief designers for GM, created automotive masterpieces for the 1950s – 1960s. The Eldorado Brougham epitomized the Cadillac brand with an eloquence no other motorcar could replicate. These handcrafted beauties command top dollar, many of which fetch at least six figures today. They will never be forgotten. Cadillac at the time, was considered as prolific opulence…the envy of the driveway…the “Standard of the World” was the most desired luxury automobile in the entire world.

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These magnificent motorcars were decadently luxurious. The custom tailored interiors were completely in character with Cadillac. This is eloquence in the grand Cadillac tradition. There were two sumptuous broadcloth styles and all leather trim available. Deep plush nylon or mouton carpets were available to lavishly complete the experience tastefully. As far as appointments and amenities – it was a luxury car complete.

Virtually every comfort and luxury feature was provided in the grand Cadillac manner. Standard equipment includes: a heating and air conditioning system, electric door locks, power trunk release, signal-seeking radio with power antenna, two electric clocks (one for front seat passengers and another for the rear compartment), remote control outside rearview mirror, power windows, power vent windows, cruise control, power 6-way front seat, automatic parking brake release, Guidematic headlamp dimmer, power steering & brakes, and air suspension.

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The Eldorado Brougham epitomized the Cadillac brand…

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The Brougham was the most luxurious owner-driven model 

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The 1960 Eldorado Brougham is powered by the Cadillac 6.4 litre 16-valve 390 CID V8 engine. This naturally aspirated powerplant is equipped with three Rochester 2-bbl carburetors in the formidable Eldorado tradition with equalized manifolding, mechanical fuel pump, dry-pack type air cleaner, overhead valves, hydraulic lifters, intake silencer and automatic choke. The engine is mounted at three points in rubber.

This superb Cadillac V8 cranked 345 hp @ 4,800 rpm with 590 Nm of peak torque @ 3,400 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 10.7 seconds, 0-100 mph in 29.7 seconds with a top speed in the 124 mph ungoverned range. It can do the ¼ mile @ 82 mph in just 17.9 seconds. Remember, this is a 5,420 pound all-iron land yacht with NO aerodynamics. Eldorado models were always tuned to be the most spirited performers of all Cadillacs. 

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The engine is mated to GM’s Jetaway/Flashaway Hydra-Matic 4-speed automatic transmission without torque converter. Hydra-Matic Drive is the step-gear type with controlled fluid coupling on the forward gear-set which delivers nearly imperceptible shifting. These transmissions provided two drive ranges – the left hand position reduces engine speed to increase economy.

For more efficient hill climbing and descending, the right hand position is used to improve acceleration with the first, second, and third gears available. This selection is used to increase the engine braking effort when descending grades. Lo-range is available for driving in deep sand, mud, or snow. This range is also useful for very steep inclines where only first and second gears are required. The famous Hydra-Matic Drive is a highly efficient and reliable transmission…in fact, this was so reliable and efficient that Rolls Royce adapted it into their automobiles back in the day –

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The famous Cadillac Red-Carpet ride was also the envy of the industry. The front suspension uses the traditional upper and lower control arms with spherical joints and helical coil springs. The rear suspension is the Cadillac 4-link drive with helical coil springs. The Eldorado Brougham came standard with air suspension. It is set up with individual air springs in rubber bags at each wheel that would automatically maintain the correct ride height for optimum performance and perfect poise regardless of load or road conditions.

The rubber bags were pressurized by an electric motor regulated by leveling valves. It also had manual height control to adjust for steep sloping driveways and inclines. Sadly, this idealistic system was unreliable and prone to fail at embarrassing times forcing the driver to “limp” into the dealership for repairs that did not last. The 1960 model year was the last time Cadillac used air suspensions.

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The Eldorado Broughams were more of an “image car” for General Motors. They are among the few Cadillac models that did not make a profit for the division. They are also the rarest of the rare Cadillac models with 400 built for the 1957 model year, 304 for 1958, 99 built for 1959, and 101 built for 1960. The 1957-1958 Detroit-built Eldorado Broughams are certified milestone vehicles by the Milestone Car Society which is dedicated to distinctive domestic and foreign motorcars built during the first two post-war decades.

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1957-1958 Cadillac Series 70 Eldorado Brougham

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1959 Cadillac Series 6900 Eldorado Brougham

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Special thanks to Jim Hailey & Daniel Schmitt & Bob Adams

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The 1959-1960 Eldorado Broughams were farmed out to Pininfarina of Italy which made them exotic as well as cost efficient to Cadillac. This move freed the Fleetwood assembly hall to build more of the Series Sixty-Special, Eldorado Biarritz, and Eldorado Seville models which outsold the Broughams. The 1959-1960 Italian-built models did not have the superior build quality of the Detroit-built models. They required a lot of extra hand finishing and electrical work by the Fleetwood division once the cars were returned to the USA.

They were more of a liability than an asset at the time. These cars have a charisma among collectors despite the issues they had. Ultra-luxury cars such as these are examples of American extravagance for the day. They epitomized the Cadillac brand with their coachbuilt enigma. The 1960 Eldorado Brougham leaves its indelible impression…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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Welcome to Greg’s World of NotoriousLuxury © 2017

It’s Yesterday Once More: The Incomparable 1968 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado

Posted in "As the Standard of the World Turns", Cadillac, Cadillac Historical, Classic American Marques, Notorious Retrospect with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2017 by 99MilesPerHour

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

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Cadillac Style – “The only way to travel…is Cadillac Style.” What is Cadillac Style? A Cadillac Fleetwood is Cadillac Style. This is Cadillac in its most eminent form. Fleetwood used to do all upholstery work for every Cadillac model…but a Cadillac Fleetwood is a very very special version of the epochal “Standard of the World.” Fleetwood crafted the entire car. It was so special during its heyday, it had its own dedicated assembly line.  A Fleetwood-bodied Cadillac was crafted by talented artisans to be not only the finest automobile in the world…but it was also the paradigm of all luxury sedans.

The only two-door Fleetwood model ever, is the magnificent Fleetwood Eldorado. (Excluding the mid-1980s Fleetwood Brougham two-door coupé as it is merely a Coupe deVille with a custom padded roof and Brougham-style interior…it was not an exclusive Fleetwood-bodied Cadillac) The most notable are the 1967 – 1970 Fleetwood Eldorado model years. They are the pioneers for Cadillac’s front-wheel drive models. The 1968 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado makes a cameo appearance…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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The majestic Fleetwood series catapulted Cadillac to “Standard of the World” status. These ultra-luxurious motorcars were crafted mostly by hand and augmented the Cadillac model hierarchy annually. For the 1968 model year, the fabulous Fleetwood Eldorado was in its second production year as the world’s foremost personal luxury car.

It was the only automobile in its class to offer the impressive traction of front wheel drive…Automatic Level Control to maintain its poise regardless of load or road conditions…and the maneuverability of Variable Ratio Power Steering – all as standard amenities. Model #68-693 Body Style #69347H 1968 Fleetwood Eldorado two-door coupé had a base price of $6,605. It debuted September 21, 1967 and a total of 24,528 were built for the model year. The Fleetwood Eldorado is a unique expression of Cadillac excellence.

Timeless in styling, superb Cadillac engineering, and impeccable craftsmanship…to put it simply – the Fleetwood Eldorado was designed to be one of the finest production automobiles in the world. It introduced a completely new concept which placed it in a class no other motorcar could match. GM is the purveyor of the personal luxury automobile.

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GM was the first American automobile manufacturer to offer front-wheel drive since the 1936-1937 Cord 810/812 series. It was the Oldsmobile Toronado that started the dance. It used the GM “E” platform from the 1963 Buick Riviera. The Oldsmobile Toronado was introduced in 1965 as a 1966 model. One year later the 1967 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado was introduced. The Eldorado, Toronado, and Riviera all shared the same platform; however, the Buick Riviera didn’t adopt front-wheel drive until the 1979 model year. Cadillac fine-tuned the Eldorado to suit the most demanding connoisseur.

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Big news for Cadillac’s 1968 model year is the introduction of an all-new powerplant. Cadillac V8 engines were legendary and this one is no exception. It is the largest engine to power a passenger production automobile for the 1968 model year – 

The spirited 7.7 litre 16-valve 472 CID V8 cranks an impressive 375 hp @ 4,400 rpm packing a prolific punch with 712 Nm of peak torque @ 3,000 rpm. Cadillac’s unsurpassed craftsmanship was never more evident. It is equipped with a Rochester 4-bbl downdraft Quadrajet carburetor with equalized manifold, mechanical fuel pump, dry-type air filter, and a new automatic choke. An Air Injection Reactor system was introduced to reduce hydrocarbons in the exhaust. The engine is built with a cast iron block and cylinder heads, overhead valves, and hydraulic lifters.

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Cadillac engineers spent many years developing this powerful new V8 engine. It underwent over half a million miles of lab testing to study performance and fatigue life of engine components. This rigorous fatigue testing was far more punishment than would be experienced during the life of the car. Radioactive isotopes determined oil consumption. It was not only lab tested, it was taken out into the real world for over two million miles of road testing on every type of road in all-weather conditions. To date, this was only the fourth time Cadillac designed completely new engine architecture.

The first Cadillac V8 engine was designed in 1914, the second in 1936, and the third is the monumental 1949 version with an overhead valve design that utilized wedge-shaped combustion chambers for higher compression ratios. Cadillac is the first automobile manufacturer in the USA to build a production V-type water-cooled 8 cylinder engine by the way. Cadillac received accolades for the 1914 V8 instantly for its quiet, efficient operation, and notorious dependability. The 472 CID V8 shows the same dedication to quality. For example, every crankshaft in a Cadillac engine was dynamically balanced which means it is balanced while rotating. This is done to cancel vibration for enhanced overall operation.

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The 472 CID V8 aggrandized the 1968 Fleetwood Eldorado’s performance. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 8.1 seconds, 0-100 mph in 22.4 seconds with an ungoverned top speed in the 128 mph range. The engine is mated to the GM Turbo Hydra-Matic THM 425 3-speed automatic front-wheel drive transmission. Cadillac adopted the Olds Toronado’s “Unified Powerplant Package”(UPP). This technical engineering was a unique manner of transferring the engine’s power directly to the front wheels. The longitudinal mounted engine/transmission configuration is driven by a silent chain that changed the direction of power by 180 degrees.

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Body by Fleetwood

A Fleetwood-bodied Cadillac is unequalled in all of motordom. Uncompromised luxury and elegance with impeccable fit and finish highlighted the majestic Fleetwood series. It’s preeminence in the luxury car segment is without conjecture the finest expression of automotive excellence. The Fleetwood Eldorado’s long, low architecture was like nothing else on the road at the time. Cadillac had once again created an automotive masterpiece.

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Its stunning front end ensemble is augmented by hidden headlamps. The outer ends of the wide egg crate grille work opens downward to expose the twin headlamp clusters. The parking lamps are relocated from the bumper to the fenders. Those prominent knife-blade fenders run the entire length of the car’s architecture separate from the body ending at the rear with sharp, angular end caps housing the taillamps. Both hood and rear deck lid are sculpted to compliment the Fleetwood Eldorado’s dramatic design. The rear end styling is equally intriguing. The shark fin design with a deeply contoured bumper gives the car a futuristic flair.

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The Fleetwood Eldorado’s avant-garde silhouette retains the poised dignity which was the hallmark of every Cadillac of the genre. The hood is one of the longest in the industry, it had been lengthened to provide a cove to hide the windshield wipers cleverly. Cars from this period are styled with a long nose and short rear deck. The Fleetwood Eldorado sports this design well.

The long low roofline with wide rear sail panels uses small rear quarter windows for privacy. A contoured back glass completed the look of luxury tastefully. The Cadillac Eldorado has always been the styling predictor which showcased designs that would eventually find their way to other Cadillac models. It is the 1967 Fleetwood Eldorado that highly influenced the styling for the 1969-1970 Cadillac Calais, DeVille, and Fleetwood models.

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1970 Coupe deVille and the 1968 Fleetwood Eldorado

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1967 Fleetwood Eldorado

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The comfort zone…

Welcome to the inner world of Fleetwood Eldorado. It’s luxury on the grand Cadillac scale in the gracious Fleetwood manner. This is elegance modern cars cannot replicate. The comfort of the wide notchback front seat rivals that of your living room sofa. Have a seat…pull down the padded standard front seat center armrest. Adjust the optional 6-way power seat. Relax in traditional Cadillac luxury.

One of the benefits of front-wheel drive is the absence of the transmission tunnel hump which equates to more legroom for passengers to stretch out. Activate the optional Automatic Climate Control – set the temperature – no further intervention is necessary. Automatically lock both doors with one touch from the optional power door lock button for added security and peace of mind. The instrument panel has been revised with more padding for safety.

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There are two cloth styles for 1968 available for Fleetwood Eldorado. Deauville and Diamond cloth with vinyl bolsters adds character. The optional full leather trim provides not only a regal touch of distinction but also adds longevity to the interior. The optional Strato bucket seats lends a unique sporting appeal to Fleetwood Eldorado’s demeanor. The bucket seat style interior comes with head restraints and a locking center console. The passenger seat has an optional recliner. All interior knobs and switches have been redesigned to be safer to lessen injury.

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Structural logistics

The 1968 Fleetwood Eldorado is a large, comfortable automobile unlike the dinky under-embellished puddle jumpers with front-wheel drive made today. It’s built as body on frame construction. The fully boxed perimeter frame has hidden bulkheads for safety and is specially designed for front-wheel drive. These cars float along; boulevard travel is negligible.

Its torsion bar front suspension has upper and lower control arms with rubber bushings to absorb road shock and cancels vibration before it reaches the cabin. The rear suspension is equipped with single-leaf springs, two horizontal and two vertical shock absorbers. Cadillac’s exclusive Automatic level Control was standard on all Fleetwood models to maintain vehicle poise under any load or road conditions. The Fleetwood Eldorado has the luxury length of 221”, is 80” wide, 53” in height, and rides upon a long 120” wheelbase.   

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The luxury leader – Cadillac Style

Cadillac’s engineering prowess was never more evident. Apart from the all-new V8 engine, the Fleetwood Eldorado for 1968 is bristling with bravado. Cadillac’s triple braking system highlights its safety features. The power braking system is equipped with unique self-adjusting shoes and heat dissipating drums. The brakes automatically calibrate themselves each time the car is driven in reverse and the brakes applied.

The sophisticated hydraulic master cylinder uses two separate reservoirs to provide independent operation of the front and rear brakes. In the event one system fails, the other will bring the car safely to a halt. The parking brake is a true auxiliary brake. Its automatic power vacuum release will not lock in position with the engine running and the vehicle in gear. Front disc brakes were optional. Cadillac led the industry with innovation and technology that took the competition years to catch up.

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For the 1968 model year Cadillac further enhanced its reputation as the “Standard of the World.” The 1967-1970 Fleetwood Eldorado is a milestone vehicle. It was created by Bill Mitchell chief designer for General Motors. The Eldorados from this genre were unlike any Cadillac that preceded them. The personal luxury car had been under research and tested as early as 1961. It was designed to be a large and luxurious Cadillac with traditional virtues yet contemporary acclaim…Cadillac Style – 

The Fleetwood Eldorado is tomorrow’s classic today.  With its Cadillac Style and gracious appointments, the 1968 Fleetwood Eldorado in my opinion is one of the foremost motorcars to bear the charismatic “Standard of the World” title. It retains the poised dignity which was the hallmark of every Cadillac. This is what made the brand the most desired luxury car in the entire world – it’s a shame the brand sank into obscurity. It’s going to take a miracle for the brand to return to its exponential integrity to save it from the mediocrity it currently resides. So, after DTS…CTS…ATS…XTS…and CT6, what’s next – the OMG?

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This editorial is dedicated to “That Hartford Guy!”                                                This one’s for you…kid –  

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Here’s your baby immortalized for prosperity!

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The formidable 1970 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado

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The 1967 Eldorado-inspired 1970 Cadillac Coupe deVille

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There’s no more deep-seated luxury like this

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1968 Fleetwood Eldorado custom convertible

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Here’s a dream with a little bit of fantasy from the creative master Casey Art & Colour http://artandcolourcars.blogspot.com/

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This is his Eldorado to counter Lincoln’s Continental

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Special thanks to Daniel Schmitt Classic Cars http://www.schmitt.com/

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“As the Standard of the World Turns” is Greg’s World

Once Upon A Time…

Posted in Buick, Cadillac, Cadillac Historical, Chrysler, Classic American Marques, Editorials, Imperial, Oldsmobile with tags , , , , , on January 27, 2016 by 99MilesPerHour

Happy Birthday David Boyer!

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The entire world wishes you a Happy Birthday!!

1928 Ford

1928 Ford

Once upon a time…life in America was simple – this was before computers, texting on cellphones, automation running rampant, and various other forms of modern technology. Life in America in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s emphasized the family. With the luggage in the trunk and the kids in the back seat…off we’d go for a weekend excursion. The automobile played an important role in the American lifestyle. Detroit, Michigan was known as “The Motor City Capital of the World.” Automobile manufacturing was America’s foremost institution. 

Plymouth, Mercury, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and the likes were alive and cruising along the highways and byways.  America had automobiles of all sizes available to suit almost every taste…from a basic family sedan or wagon to the most elegant coachbuilt limousine. These cars ranged in size from a city-block long and half a city-block wide…to something even larger. There was no such thing as an economy car here…but then, who cared when a gallon of gasoline was far less than a buck! Welcome to Fantasy Island –

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                                                                   Bette Davis

We would switch on the TV (no remote, we did it manually) to watch Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Spencer Tracy, Barbara Stanwyck, Dorothy Dandridge, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Paul Newman, Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, and Clark Gable.

The ladies were elegant… such as Lena Horne. The gentlemen were impeccable…like Patrick MacNee. The 1960s presented us with femme fatales such as Anne Francis and Diana Rigg. Those were the proverbial good old days. It was Ward & June Cleaver that exemplified the idealized suburban life.

Marilyn Monroe

                   Marilyn Monroe

Clark Gable

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Spencer Tracy

                       Spencer Tracy

Ward & June Cleaver

                Ward & June Cleaver

Anne Francis

                                             Anne Francis

Diana Rigg

                                                Diana Rigg

Emma & Honey

Emma Peel (left)  Honey West (right)

This elusive trip down memory lane doesn’t include computers, cell phones, iPods, Compact Disc Players, Flat screen TVs, X-boxes, or digital clocks. Color TV was just coming into the American homes. Every home didn’t have air conditioning. Kids were kids…and played outside until the street lights came on.

Families were close-knit. The father was the head of the household and the kids obeyed their elders. Mom was the glue that held the family together with her love and harmony. America watched Ozzie & Harriet Nelson raise their family on TV from 1952 until 1966. The automobile was always in the picture…America moved about freely. More and more miles were put on the family car year to year.

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           The Nelson family, Ozzie & Harriet with David & Ricky

1953 Corvette

In the garage was a Pontiac, Chevrolet, or Buick…maybe a Plymouth.  Ford…Chrysler…and General Motors built automotive legends. Cadillac was the indomitable “Standard of the World.” The Lincoln Continental and Chrysler Imperial were the alternative luxury car choices.  America had an automobile for every taste and every wallet. These were REAL cars, unlike today’s make-believe cars which are plastic, aerodynamic, death-traps.

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Take the Sensational Sixties for example…a new build home cost around $12,700…we paid $.04 for 1st class postage stamps…and a dozen eggs were $.57. The median household income was $5,600. The cost of admission to the Six Flags Amusement Park was $2.75. We would pull into a full-service gas station; and for $.31 per gallon we would get an attendant who’d pump the gas, check the air in the tires, AND wash the windshield! Hurt feelings are the only thing you’d get for $.31 at a gas station today.

There were “gas-wars” where gas stations would actually lower the prices to beat the competitors…today; the competitors are merely beaten. Fast food restaurants were coming into existence. Those of you old enough can remember the “BBF.” Their slogan was: “Come to the home of the whirling satellite for the world’s biggest and best $.15 hamburger –“ Hurt feelings are all you’d get at today’s fast food restaurants for $.15 –

1949 Kaiser Virginian

1949 Kaiser Virginian

1950 Studebaker Starlight

1950 Studebaker Starlight

1953 Studebaker Commander

1953 Studebaker Commander

1949 Olds 88

1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88

In the 1950s through the 1960s, the average cost of a new car was around $3,000. The basic family car would fall into this range. The Oldsmobile Rocket 88, Chevrolet Impala, Ford Fairlane 500, and the Plymouth Belvedere were the top-selling cars in this price range. There were basic grocery-getters that doubled as track-stars such as the Dodge 330 with a “Max-Wedge” under the hood. Studebaker, DeSoto, Edsel, and Rambler fell into the mid-range price category; and didn’t quite make it as far as their showroom appeal was concerned.  The Edsel had strange styling cues that resembled a possum sucking persimmons.

1953 Kaiser Dragon

1953 Kaiser Dragon

1953 Kaiser Dragon 2

1956 DeSoto Fireflite 1

1956 DeSoto Fireflite convertible

1956 DeSoto Fireflite 2

1958 Plymouth Fury

1958 Plymouth Fury

1958 Desoto

1958 DeSoto

1960 De Soto Fireflite

1960 Desoto Adventurer

Cars like the Rambler, Studebaker, and Kaiser were ok as far as taxi cabs and police cars were concerned; but their bland, generic, and nondescript styling limited their popularity. DeSoto and Plymouth were attractive in the 1950s but the charisma fizzled out in the 1960s…their design was stodgy, and old-fashioned.

They looked as though Depends undergarments, Poly grip, Metamucil, and walkers were standard features along with a “save $50” coupon to the mortuary of your choice in the glove box. Packard was a celebrated luxury car in the 1940s & 1950s; but their slab-sided, clumsy, awkward look led to their demise. You could have put wheels on “Orca the killer whale” and Voilà – the Packard Clipper was designed!

1954 Packard Clipper

1954 Packard Clipper

1954 Packard Clipper 2

1959 Edsel

It does resemble a possum sucking persimmons!!!

1958 Edsel

1958 Edsel 

1958 Edsel Corsair 1

1958 Edsel Corsair

1958 Edsel 2

1963 Rambler Ambassador

1963 Rambler Ambassador

1953 Chevrolet Corvette 1

1953 Chevrolet Corvette

1953 Chevrolet Corvette 2

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible

Chevrolet has always had an offering that was right for its day. It still remains one of America’s favorite automobile brands. Remember the ad campaign: “Baseball…hot dogs…apple pie…and Chevrolet?” The 1957 Chevy Bel Air is one of America’s hottest classic cars. Both Bel Air and Impala made the brand a star.

The Chevy Corvair was outlawed thanks to Ralph Nader due to safety concerns.  Chevrolet introduced the Corvette in 1953; it became one of the world’s most popular sports cars. Chevrolet built convertibles, coupes, sedans, and station wagons for every wallet. From economy to high performance, Chevy offers a car to fit the need.

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air 2

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air 3

1964 Chevy Impala SS 1

1964 Chevrolet Impala SS

1964 Chevy Impala SS 2

1964 Chevy Impala SS 3

1960 Chevrolet Corvair

1960 Chevrolet Corvair This one’s for you Ralph Nader

This one’s for you Ralph Nader!

Happy Birthday David Boyer 3

1950 Pontiac Star Chief Custom Catalina hardtop

1950 Pontiac Star Chief Custom Catalina

1959 Bonneville

1959 Pontiac Bonneville

Pontiac was one of General Motors money makers. This brand boasted high performance. They invented the sport “Wide-tracking” for the 1959 model year. It was the widest automobile in the industry…even wider than a Cadillac! “Pontiaction” and “Tri-power” blew the doors off the competition. It was the Pontiac Bonneville that reigned supreme from 1957 through 1969. The Bonneville was a unique automobile that combined luxury and high performance with a big-body look. Pontiac offered the Catalina, Star Chief, and the Bonneville for those who sought full-size performance.

Harley Earl’s 1959 Pontiac Catalina Pink Lady 2

Harley Earl’s 1959 Pontiac Catalina “Pink Lady”

Harley Earl’s 1959 Pontiac Catalina Pink Lady

1969 Pontiac GTO 2

1969 Pontiac GTO

1969 Pontiac GTO

The LeMans GTO (Gran Turismo Omologato) became one of Pontiac’s hottest mid-sized performance cars. The Grand Prix was high performance with the emphasis on luxury and was built on the Catalina platform.  Pontiac offered the GTO, GTO Judge, LeMans…and the Bonneville with Tri-power as their high performance stars. Pontiac died because they couldn’t make fake cars! Just like Oldsmobile….they couldn’t make fake cars either. The Rocket Olds was all about performance. The Olds 442…the Hurst Olds, or just a plain Cutlass…all kicked-butt!! Olds was famous for the Rocket V8 engine!

1964 Pontiac Grand Prix

1964 Pontiac Grand Prix

1964 Pontiac Grand Prix 2

1953 Olds Fiesta 98 convertible

1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta 98 convertible

1955 Oldsmobile Super 88 Two-Door Sedan

1955 Oldsmobile Super 88

1966 Olds 98 Holiday Sedan

1966 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Holiday sedan

Oldsmobile was the oldest American automaker at the time. The Rocket Olds V8 engine put it in a class all by itself. The mid-priced Olds 88 was extremely popular and was available in many different trim levels. The Series 98 was their luxury offering. The Olds 88 and 98 were test cars for Cadillac. Before GM would introduce new features and accessories for the Cadillac brand, they were first introduced on the Oldsmobile brand, if it was a success, it was available on Cadillac.

1970 Olds 442

1970 Oldsmobile 442

1957 Ford Thunderbird

1957 Ford Thunderbird

Ford introduced the Thunderbird in the mid-1950s. It began as a two-seat luxury tourer. Then a few years later a back seat was added.  Ford added two doors in 1967. By the 1976 model year, Ford had created a bloated monstrosity! 

The once highly acclaimed fit & finish had vanished…it was then known as “Ford’s Luxury Lemon!”  Rust ate the T-Birds from the 1970s…relentlessly!  They tried to revamp the Thunderbird for the 21st century but the damage had been done…

1966 Ford Thunderbird

1966 Ford Thunderbird

1976 Ford Thunderbird

1976 Ford Thunderbird

2001 Ford Thunderbird

2001 Ford Thunderbird

1965 Ford Mustang Fastback

1965 Ford Mustang fastback

2013 Ford Mustang Roush Edition

2013 Ford Mustang Roush Edition

The Ford Mustang remained true to form. It remains popular among high performance enthusiasts all over the world. Ford learned not to mess with the Mustang…when they built the Mustang II in the late 1970s. Those horrid little puddle jumpers barely made it off the assembly line…and got NO miles to the gallon because they were always either on the back of a tow truck or already in a service bay.

1978 Mustang II

The wretched 1978 Ford Mustang II (BOO-HISSS)

2014 Mustang GT

2014 Mustang GT

1969 Mercury Cougar Eliminator

1969 Mercury Cougar Eliminator

Mercury killed the Cougar in a similar series of design failures. It began as a popular mid-size high performance coupe. The Cougar also blew up to monstrous proportions. The designers added two doors…and just kept adding to it until no one…not even the designers drove them anymore.

It completely lost its identity when the designers got the bright idea to make a family sedan out of it. They may as well have made it into a hearse. Mercury has always been an interesting hodge-podge of leftover Ford parts. It’s like taking a meal you have been eating for a month…adding a little of this…a lot of that, recolor and change the texture,  you tell yourself it is something else…but your taste buds are going….”no-way!”

1954 Mercury Sun Valley

1954 Mercury Sun Valley

1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser

1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser

1959 Mercury Four Door Hardtop

1959 Mercury Park Lane

1959 Mercury Colony Park Country Cruiser

1970 Mercury Marquis

1970 Mercury Marquis Brougham sedan

The Mercury Marquis was known as “The poor man’s Lincoln” and was absolutely stunning when it debuted in the late 1960s. The big “M” lost its identity when the brand offered it in different trim levels…blowing it up to gargantuan proportions. Ford could never leave a good thing alone.

The public lost interest in the Mercury brand because they forgot what one looked like…so did the designers. It was axed in 2011 after an agonizingly slow, grisly, torture. It should have been euthanized last century. The Mercury brand had been around for 72 years and was merely taking up space in the dealer’s inventory…the last ones are really nice cars, it’s a shame Ford didn’t know how to market them –

1955 Ford Fairlane Crown Victoria

1955 Ford Fairlane Crown Victoria

1959 Ford Galaxy

1959 Ford Galaxy

1959 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner

1959 Ford Fairlane Skyliner

Ford was impressive with its wide range of models to choose from. It was a full-size economy car priced in the mid-range where the working people could afford them. They came in convertible, coupe, sedan, and hardtop sedan versions. There was a Ford for every wallet.

 In the 1950s, the Fairlane 500 was their bread and butter car. Then the Galaxy 500 took over. The Ford Sky Liner was one of the first retractable hardtops. With all its gadgetry, it was the fascination of the automotive industry. The Ford LTD was the working person’s luxury car. It was totally impressive for a car in its price range.

1959 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner 2

1959 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner 3

Ford seemed to always get lost with downsizing and restyling. They only knew one dimension: HUGE. The Fairlane 500, Galaxy 500, LTD, and Crown Victoria were really hot models when they were introduced…but they aged horridly. If I were to ask you “What does Ford make currently” Could you answer? Neither can their designers. The only thing that comes immediately to mind is the Mustang…

1957 Lincoln Premiere 2

1957 Lincoln Premier

1961 Lincoln Continental 1

1961 Lincoln Continental

1961 Lincoln Continental 2

The Lincoln Continental was really impressive after Elwood Engel gave it an identity for the 1961 model year. It was tough competition for Cadillac and the Imperial by Chrysler. This exclusive land yacht reeked eminence and was immediately identified in any gathering of fine automobiles. It was one of the first automobiles to be stretched into a limousine.

Lehmann-Peterson built luxury stretch limousines of distinction and their work remains highly collectible among classic automobiles. Lincoln was the only automaker to offer a four-door convertible in the 1960s. The elegant forward-opening rear coach doors gave the Continental an exclusive touch making it unique in the luxury car segment.

1961 Lincoln Continental 3

1968 Lehmann-Peterson

1968 Lehmann-Peterson stretch limousine

Lincoln really, truly, suffered. After they axed the Town Car, coachbuilders no longer had a platform to fashion limousines and hearses. They lost quite a bit of their following building those “MK” things.

Hopefully, the new Continental will restore their credibility in the luxury car arena. It seems that Lincoln and Cadillac are having a contest to see how many customers they could lose by making austere, nondescript luxury cars. They are running neck to neck building cars the public can forget. Do you remember what they offer? Neither can their designers –

Lincoln Continental Concept

Happy Birthday David Boyer 1

1958 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

1958 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

1957 and 1958 Cadillac

Cadillac splendor was never more magnificent than in the 1950s through the 1960s. They had class, style, panache. From the avant-garde convertibles to the eloquence of the Fleetwood hand-crafted sedans, the undisputed “Standard of the World” ruled the luxury car segment. The Cadillac motorcar was the most desired dream car in the entire world.

The elegant Eldorado was the Flagship and was available in three distinctive models. The eminent Fleetwood coachbuilt sedans were built at a highly restricted pace to retain their exclusivity. America’s favorite luxury car was the impressive DeVille series; they were available as a luxury convertible, a hardtop coupe and sedan, and a pillared four-door sedan. The brand was at an all-time high.

1959 Cadillac 3

1959 Cadillac Series Sixty-Two “Flat Top” sedan

1959 Cadillac 1

1959 Cadillac 2

1959 Cadillac 4

It’s shocking to see what was once considered the “Standard of the World” reduced to kitsch. Their present three-letter naming convention should include names such as: “EEK,” “OMG,” and “YUK.”  Could someone remind them they are a luxury brand and to stop riding the coat tails of BMW and Mercedes-Benz?

 Back in the good old days Cadillac built a total of eleven models in three series. Since the contemporary offerings are make-believe…when we drive them are we supposed to pretend we are in a real Cadillac? It’s a shame that all good things must come to an end. I hope they wake up before it’s too late –

1961 Imperial LeBaron 2

1961 Imperial LeBaron by Chrysler

1961 Imperial LeBaron

Chrysler has a long and successful tenure. Throughout the 1950s Chrysler Letter Series 300 models scorched the tracks at Daytona. MOPAR was flying high in the performance arena. They were unstoppable. And…as far as luxury was concerned…enter the eminent Imperial by Chrysler.

It was a stand-alone make in the 1950s. Virgil Exner gave it his exclusive “Forward Look.”  The Imperial had stiff competition from Cadillac and Lincoln. Imperials were stately, eminent, and eloquent in their demeanor. With the formidable Hemi-Head V8 under the hood, the Imperial was considered “The Banker’s Hotrod.”

1961 Imperial LeBaron 3

1957 Chrysler 300C

1957 Chrysler 300C The Beautiful Brute

2016 Chrysler 300

2016 Chrysler 300

Chrysler had a stable full of luxury cars.  Virgil Exner’s “One Hundred Million Dollar Look” catapulted the brand to stardom in 1955. The New Yorker and the Newport were full-size luxury cars with performance in mind. Every car produced by Chrysler in the 1950s was all about high performance. The DeSoto was to Chrysler as Mercury was to Ford. It was a hodge-podge of Chrysler/Plymouth/Dodge parts. Virgil Exner’s design expertise is evident. The “Flite-Swept” styling made the DeSoto elegant from bumper to bumper.

The Plymouth and Dodge Divisions cranked out high performance vehicles that also scorched the tracks. MOPAR was one of the most formidable automakers in existence. With a Hemi, or even a Max-Wedge under the hood any Chrysler product was a high performance behemoth. The 1958 Plymouth Fury played the role of “Christine” in the Stephen King novel of the same name. The Dodge brand survived for the 21st century with cars like the Viper and the Challenger. The Challenger’s retro look is vicious. The contemporary Chrysler 300 has an available Hemi V8 that cranks 410 horses without effort…in the true MOPAR tradition –

1960 Dodge Polara Matador

1960 Dodge Pioneer

1960 Plymouth Fury convertible

1960 Plymouth Fury convertible

1960 Imperial Crown convertible

1960 Imperial Crown convertible by Chrysler

Dodge Viper

1959 Buick

1959 Buick Invicta convertible

1968 Buick Electra 225

1968 Buick Electra 255 Custom

1968 Electra Limited 2

1968 Buick Electra 225 Custom Limited hardtop sedan

1968 Electra Limited 1

The automobile has gone through a startling metamorphosis. Convertibles, hardtop coupe and sedan models disappeared along with the family station wagon. The full-size cars have been replaced with SUV’s and minivans. I refer to the good old days as the “Ward & June Cleaver/Ozzie & Harriet Nelson Era.”

This was a time when family life was more important than anything else…families were close knit…a dollar was worth 100 pennies…and Americans had morals and scruples that included love and respect for each other. The automobile augmented our lifestyle, when gas was cheap…we would travel from coast to coast. Detroit, Michigan was known as “The Motor City Capital of the World.” They built automotive legends that will live on in history. Gone are the shiny, big, gas-guzzling land yachts we loved so well…it’s a different world –

Happy Birthday David Boyer 4

Happy Birthday David Boyer 9

Enjoy your special day David

Happy Birthday David Boyer 5

Happy Birthday David Boyer 7

Happy Birthday David Boyer 10

I want you and Janet to dance!

Happy Birthday David Boyer 11

…and you thought you were gonna keep your big day a secret! People all over the world are partying with you and Janet! God Bless you both! I know it was hard for Janet to keep this surprise a secret! I want everyone reading this to wish David Boyer a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Happy Birthday David Boyer 6

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU…HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU…HAPPY BRITHDAY DEAR DAVID BOYER…HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!! THE ENTIRE WORLD LOVES YOU!!! ENJOY YOUR DAY!!!!!

 

Futuristic 3

Futuristic 4

Futuristic 5

 

Enjoy your day David!

Cadillac: The Standard of the Entire World

Posted in "As the Standard of the World Turns", Cadillac, Cadillac Historical, Classic American Marques, Editorials, Extreme Luxury, Grande Marque, Luxury Sedans, Notorious Retrospect, Requiem For A Legend with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2015 by 99MilesPerHour

…Automotive milestones

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…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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Theodore MacManus wrote in his famous “The Penalty of Leadership” advertisement: “That which is good or great makes itself known, no matter how loud the clamor of denial.” Cadillac prowess in the luxury car arena made headlines all over the world. From the massive V16 and V12 powerplants to the modern V8 engines…Cadillac was the master builder of the luxury automobile.

Fisher Body, Harley Earl, Bill Mitchell, and a host of other talent made the brand the undisputed “Standard of the World”…in the entire world. Will the brand ever stop chasing everything that moves in Europe…and return to being the pride of the USA and the envy of the world? NotoriousLuxury retros back to the days when Cadillac reigned supreme…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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There was a time when Cadillac had no product recalls…they even sold without advertising. Cadillac was recognized as the luxury leader world-wide. The mere mention of “Cadillac” had the competition in a nervous frenzy. The brand had absolutely no interest comparing itself to European brands simply because the European brands were taking notes from Cadillac success!

The “Standard of the World” was the innovator displaying engineering prowess with outstanding fit & finish. Cadillac couldn’t have cared less about achieving 0-60 mph in a nanosecond, nor was it trying to compete in every automotive class – a Cadillac was a luxury car…period. Cadillac has since forgotten all of its loyal following that made it the “Standard of the World.”

1976 Coupe deVille 1

1976 Cadillac Coupe deVille

1976 Coupe deVille 2

The Cadillac name was synonymous with luxury, prestige, and quality. The association was that of superlative status such as the Cadillac of appliances…the Cadillac of electronics; this meant the product or service was the best in its industry. And of course…the Cadillac of automobiles was the one and only “Standard of the World.” It was everyone’s dream car…the envy of the driveway.

The mere sight of a big, shiny, classy Cadillac sent shock waves throughout the entire automotive industry. The exclusivity and supremacy made quite a statement about its owner. A Cadillac was a supreme achievement in motoring…I used to polish mine for hours upon end to a glassy mirror-like reflection that was so shiny, my girlfriends used to apply their make-up using my Cadillacs as a mirror! Those were the good old days.

1976 Coupe deVille 3

1976 Coupe deVille 4

Once seated behind the wheel…a turn of the ignition key brought the powerful V8 engine to life…it didn’t roar its existence – it whispered its presence. The transmission engaged imperceptibly…the steering was light as a feather…I could turn the steering wheel with one finger action.

Once the ride was under way, boulevard travel intrusion was negligible…a Cadillac managed the roughest pavement with ease. There was nothing else on the road quite like it. In fact, there was no more magnificent manner in which to view the world than from behind the wheel of the “Standard of the World.” Its presence enhanced any occasion…its eminence never went unnoticed –

1970

Not many truly understand this automobile’s illustrious heritage. Let’s take a look into the history of the “Standard of the World.” The brand was established in 1899 as The Detroit Auto Company. It was the first venture of its type in Detroit. It was struggling to survive; the company floundered and was dissolved in January 1901 after only 20 vehicles were built.

The company was reorganized on November 20, 1901 as The Henry Ford Company. Henry ran the company for three weeks then resigned to move on to other endeavors. Henry Martyn Leland, a reserved traditional entrepreneur, reorganized the venture and the company was renamed after Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the founder of the city of Detroit. The Cadillac Model A was introduced in 1903.

The brand did not spring forth as the “Standard of the World.” This formidable title was garnered through evolution and dedication to quality. It’s an American success story that unfortunately has a not so happy ending. To regain the illustrious title the brand must cease and desist with the kitschy-faux, make-believe unreasonable facsimiles and build real luxury automobiles once again –

1904 Model B Touring 1

1904 Cadillac Model B Touring

1908 Model S

1908 Cadillac Model S

Model 30 1913 2

1913 Cadillac Model 30

Model 30 1913 1

1918 Model 57 Raceabout

1918 Cadillac Model 57 Raceabout

Fisher Body, the coachbuilder for GM was founded in 1908 by Fred and Charles Fisher of the famous Fisher brothers in Detroit, Michigan. It all began here in Ohio in the beautiful area of Norwalk in the late 1800s building horse-drawn carriages. The transition became necessary because the internal combustion engine and its torque created way too much vibration and the bodies of the horse-drawn units couldn’t withstand the forces.

1929 Cadillac V-8 Dual Cowl Phaeton

Before Fisher Body became a company, the Fisher brothers built bodies for Cadillac. By 1910, Fisher Body became the supplier of all closed bodies for Cadillac. They also built bodies for Buick, Abbot, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Packard, Studebaker…even Ford. By 1913 Fisher Body had the capacity to build 100,000 bodies per year. This success caused the company to expand into Canada right across the lake from Detroit. By 1914 they grew becoming the world’s largest manufacturer of automobile bodies.

In 1916 Larry Fisher joined the company placing emphasis on the Cadillac brand. He wanted exclusivity for the brand. Fisher Body developed the art of interchangeability of wood body parts. They created precision wood working tools, thus, increasing production output. The company became The Fisher Body Corporation in 1916 with the capacity to build 370,000 bodies per year. Larry Fisher became general manager from 1925 until 1934. He oversaw the purchase of The Fleetwood Metal Body Company of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania in 1925.

V16 1

Cadillac was the first American car in 1914 to introduce a V-type water-cooled 8 cylinder engine and was also the first to use a thermostatic controlled cooling system. In 1920 the Clark Avenue plant was built in Detroit, Michigan and was the most modern facility in the entire industry. In 1922 Cadillac introduced a thermostatic carburetor control for efficiency. For the 1923 model year Cadillac was the first in the industry to build the inherently balanced V8 engine with a compensated crankshaft…and a four-wheel braking system.

Cadillac was the first in the industry in 1926 to offer a comprehensive service policy on a nationwide basis. In 1928 Cadillac developed the clashless synchromesh transmission that eliminated the chafing noise and friction of gear shifting, thus, laying the foundation for the first fully automatic transmission called the Hydra-Matic in 1941 which eliminated the clutch and manual shifting. In 1929 chrome plated accessories were standard.

1930 Cadillac Model 452 V16

1930 Cadillac Model 452 V16

1930 V16 convertible

1930 Cadillac V16 Roadster

1930 V16 Roadsters were the world’s most luxurious cars

1930 V16 Phaeton 1

1930 Cadillac V16 Phaeton

1930 V16 Phaeton 2

1930 V16 Phaeton 3

After the stock market crash in the 1920s with The Great Depression, GM never lost money due to its diversity under the leadership of Larry Fisher. Fisher Body was an innovator in the industry. They introduced car window regulators to raise and lower windows, closed bodies offering year round comfort wet or dry…rain or snow, and many other features automakers take for granted today. The Fishers turned a $1,000 investment from Fred’s sister into a multi-million dollar company a few years later. In 1919 General Motors paid $27.6 Million USD for 60 percent of Fisher Body, and in 1926 GM paid another $208 Million USD for the remaining 40 percent of Fisher Body.

And in case you didn’t know…Cadillac was a pioneer in the automotive industry. Cadillac luxury and elegance are prominent attributes but innovation and engineering prowess were paramount. Cadillac introduced many firsts to the automotive industry. It is the only ‘foreign’ automobile to win the coveted Dewar Trophy from the Royal Automobile Club of Great Britain…not once…but twice. In 1908 Cadillac won for introducing standardization and interchangeability of parts. In 1912 it won for introducing the Delco electric lighting and ignition system. In 1905 Cadillac was the first to offer a multi-cylinder engine. In 1910 it was the first auto manufacturer to offer closed bodies as standard equipment. For the 1911 model year the illustrious Fleetwood hand-crafted coachwork made its grand entrance.

1930-1932

This is one of Cadillac’s coupé body designs from 1930-1932

1931 Cadillac V12

1931 Cadillac V12

1933 Cadillac V16

1933 Fleetwood-bodied V16

1936 Series 90

1936 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 90

Next…enter Harley Earl. He created Cadillac works of art. Harley Earl initiated the process of freeform sketching and hand sculpture techniques. His “concept car” theory is still used today for the design process. He was discovered by Larry Fisher who was intrigued by Earl’s concept car and clay model processes. Harley Earl’s methodology was far ahead of its time. The comradery began in 1927 when Fisher commissioned Harley Earl to design the 1927 LaSalle which was to be a companion entry-level car for Cadillac.

Harley Earl was named the first director of GM’s Art & Colour Section which was an in-house design studio and is an industry first, established December 15, 1935. Earl’s legendary techniques were a shock to conservatives at General Motors. He brought luxurious style to Cadillac…just what Larry Fisher wanted.  Before the Art & Colour Section, there really wasn’t a great importance to how an auto body looked. By 1937 The Art & Colour Section was renamed “The Styling Section” and Harley Earl was named vice president. This is the first time in automotive history that a designer became a VP of a large corporation.

1936 Cadillac V16 Series 90 Town Cabriolet

1936 Cadillac V16 Series 90 Town Cabriolet

The big news was the ultimate automobile powerplants introduced in 1930. The massive 16 and 12 cylinder engines, both V-types…made Cadillac the first auto manufacturer to offer a complete line of multi-cylinder automobiles. Cadillac introduced the hydraulic valve silencers the same year; Cadillac was the master builder for multi-cylinder engines.

This made the competition appear dated – placing the competitors even further behind…for the 1932 model year Cadillac introduced safety headlamps, an air-cooled generator, a completely silent transmission, and full-range ride regulator. And you thought Cadillac was merely a luxury car…Cadillac was the engineering leader…it “started the dance” the rest of the auto industry followed in subservience…especially European luxury “wannabes.” 

V16 2

1936 Series 70 V8 coupe

1936 Cadillac Series 70 V8 coupé

1936 V16 convertible

1936 Cadillac V16 Convertible coupé

1939 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Derham Town Car 1

1939 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special with body by Derham

1939 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Derham Town Car 2

1939 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Derham Town Car 3

1940 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special 1

1940 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

1940 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special 5

The glamour of a Cadillac was second to none. There was style…grace…and the poised dignity which was the hallmark of every Cadillac. It used to be the luxury car enjoyed by more luxury car buyers than any other brand. These resplendent automobiles were an ultra-exclusive realm of motoring majesty. Now…enter Bill Mitchell, a bright and talented advertising illustrator.

Harley Earl recruited him to join the GM Art & Colour Section in 1935. Bill Mitchell designed the fabulous Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special. He influenced the design of over 72.5 million GM automobiles. Some of his monumental designs include the 1955-1957 Chevy Bel Air, the 1961-1976 Corvette Stingray, the 1963 Buick Riviera, and the 1975-1979 Cadillac Seville. Bill Mitchell eventually became the VP of Design for GM.

1940 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special 6

Beginning the 1934 model year, Cadillac was the first to begin stream lining the coachwork…the spare tire was now concealed within the body. The 1936 model year is another important milestone year. Bill Mitchell designed the Fleetwood-bodied Series Sixty-Special. This car revolutionized luxury automobiles. It was the first car to use fender mounted headlamps when everyone else attached them to the hood.

The elegant Series Sixty-Special was sans running boards which was shocking at the time. It had a faired-in rear deck lid, thin door posts, and chrome banded window frames which became Fleetwood signature features for many years. A hydraulic braking system was also introduced by Cadillac in 1936 as a first to the industry. The Sixty-Special was released for the 1938 model year; its design was copied by the rest of the auto industry. This milestone vehicle made everything on the road appear outmoded. This car influenced automotive design for an entire generation.

1940 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special 2

1940 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special 3

1940 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special 4

1940 Series 72

For the 1940 model year, Cadillac was the first to introduce an ultra-modern large, luxurious motorcar to the industry known as the Fleetwood Series Seventy-Two. It was similar to the Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five but is 3″ shorter. It rides upon a long 138″ wheelbase. The Fleetwood Series Seventy-Two is powered by a 346 CID V8 engine that produces 140 hp.

The Fleetwood Series Seventy-Two uses a 3-speed manual transmission and is equipped with a four-wheel hydraulic braking system. This is the only year it was produced and only 18 were built. 1940 introduced the first ball bearing steering system making these large vehicles easier to maneuver.

1941 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

1941 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

1941 Cadillac Sixty-two Coupe

1941 Cadillac Series 62 coupé

1947 Cadillac Series 62 convertible

1947 Cadillac Series 62 convertible coupé

1948 Cadillac Series 62 convertible 5

1948 Cadillac Series 62 convertible 

Harley Earl’s first monumental design is the 1948 Cadillac. This is the birth of the iconic Cadillac tail fin. The Lockheed P-38 was the inspiration. During this genre, air craft and space rockets dominated the designers’ imagination for automotive design. The tail fin wars of the 1950s were instigated by Harley Earl and Chrysler’s chief designer Virgil Exner. Tail fin mania spread like wildfire throughout the industry. The greatest engineering achievement in 45 years was Cadillac’s new compact…more economical and smoother operating overhead valve V8 engine for the 1948 model year. 

1948 Cadillac Series 62 convertible 1

1948 Cadillac Series 62 convertible 2

1948 Cadillac Series 62 convertible 4

1948 Cadillac Series 62 convertible 3

Harley Earl and Alfred P. Sloan, GM’s president at the time developed the annual model change implemented as “Dynamic Obsolescence.” This associated model identity to a specific year for product success. This principle is used in the marketing strategies today. Harley Earl is the pioneer of using clay models to evolve various body components. He is the first designer to create complete automobiles; blending the main body structure with hoods, fenders, lights, and trim to enhance styling continuity. The rest of the auto industry scrambled to adopt this theory.

1949 Series 62 Coupe deVille 2

1949 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe deVille

1949 Series 62 Coupe deVille 4

Public acceptance was important to Harley Earl. It was his fabulous idea that led to the formidable GM Motoramas. Between 1949 and 1961 these glitzy, glamorous extravaganzas showcased notorious conceptual designs aimed at public reaction. Comments were taken seriously and used towards production models. Harley Earl designed the pillarless hardtop design which was the first of its kind in the automotive industry.

He ordered the two-door hardtop design into production as the very first Coupe deVille for the 1949 model year. Earl visited Italy and after seeing a Lancia sedan sans “B” pillars…he introduced the hardtop Sedan deVille for the 1956 model year for luxury car buyers that wanted a pillarless four-door configuration. The Orleans four-door hardtop sedan was a concept car that debuted at the 1953 Motorama which appealed to customers and spawned the Sedan deVille. The DeVille series is among the longest and most successful production runs in the history of the brand. They earned the title as “America’s favorite luxury cars.”

1949 Series 62 Coupe deVille 7

1949 Series 62 Coupe deVille 3

The Coupe deVille mocked a convertible with chrome roof bows

1949 Series 62 Coupe deVille 5

1949 Series 62 Coupe deVille 6

1949 Series 62 Coupe deVille 8

1949 Series Sixty-Special 2

1949 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special

1949 Series 62 convertible

1949 Cadillac Series 62 convertible

1950 Cadillac Sixty-two Convertible

1950 Cadillac Series 62 convertible

1953 Series 62 Eldorado 4

1953 Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado convertible

Cadillac even outdid itself for the 1953 model year slapping the competition with the highest horsepower V8 engine to power a domestic production vehicle with an astounding 220 hp in the magnificent limited edition Series 62 Eldorado convertible…a Harley Earl masterwork! The 1953 Cadillac Eldorado is an exclusive trim option package for the Series 62 and the image car for General Motors. It was also the most expensive model at $7,750…you could have purchased two Cadillacs for this price.

Distinctive signature features which set it apart from the stock convertible are a wrap-around panoramic windscreen, a sculpted beltline that incorporates a cupid’s bow in its design, a sleek metal parade boot, and Kelsey-Hayes genuine wire-laced wheels. Only 532 were built making it highly sought by collectors world-wide today. They now sell for six figures…that is if you can find one for sale – Harley Earl’s legend will live on forever. He and Bill Mitchell made Cadillac the quintessential luxury icon.

1955 Cadillac for racing 1

Cadillac was into stock car racing, 1955 Series 62 coupé shown

1955 Cadillac for racing 2

1955 Eldorado

1955 Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado convertible

1956 Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five

1956 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five limousine

1956 Series 62 Sedan deVille 1

1956 Cadillac Series 62 Sedan deVille

1956 Series 62 Sedan deVille 2

The pillarless hardtop Sedan deVille became an instant success

1956 Series 62 Sedan deVille 3

1958 Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five

1958 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five limousine

Series 70 Eldorado Brougham 1

1957-1958 Series 70 Eldorado Brougham

Series 70 Eldorado Brougham 3

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The last of Harley Earl’s masterpiece designs is the magnificent 1957-1958 Series 70 Eldorado Broughams. This is the most spectacular Cadillac motorcar of the 1950s. Its sheet metal wasn’t shared with any other Cadillac. The Eldorado Brougham was one of the world’s most expensive cars at the time selling at $13,074. Understated luxury from bumper to bumper with a custom appearance makes this automobile totally unique for the genre. Harley Earl designed some of the most significant Cadillacs of all time. He retired at age 65 in 1958 shortly after directing the design of the iconic 1959 Cadillacs. By this time, General Motors had become the largest corporation in the world.

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The 1959 tail fin

The iconic tail fin from the 1959 Cadillac

1959 Series 62 Flat Top 1

1959 Cadillac Series 62 “Flat Top” hardtop sedan

1959 Series 62 Flat Top 2

1959 Series 62 Flat Top 3

1959 Series 62 Flat Top 6

1959 Series 62 Flat Top 5

1959 Series 62 Flat Top 4

1959 Eldorado Biarritz convertible

1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible

1960 Eldorado Biarritz convertible 1

1960 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible

1960 Eldorado Biarritz convertible 2

1960 Eldorado Biarritz convertible 3

For the 1960s, Bill Mitchell promoted what he called the “Sheer Look.” It was an aerodynamic design that is sleeker and more contemporary. He broke away from the designs of Harley Earl with his own interpretations of what a luxury car should be. The designs under his direction are noted as the “Bill Mitchell Era.”

He gave GM vehicles a more conservative, streamlined look. His restrained use of ornamentation, less chrome, and the elimination of tail fins instituted an understatement which made these automobiles timeless challenging the years gracefully. Mitchell’s last accomplishments are the radically down-sized Cadillacs for the 1977 model year. Both Bill Mitchell and Harley Earl left an indelible impression on the automotive industry.

1960 Eldorado Biarritz convertible 5

1960 Series 62 convertible 1

1960 Cadillac Series 62 convertible

1960 Series 62 convertible 2

1960 Series 62 convertible 3

Cadillac was still a heart-throb with its “Sheer Look”

1960 Series 62 convertible 4

1960 Series 62 convertible 6

1960 Series 62 convertible 5

1960 Series 62 convertible 7

1967 Fleetwood Eldorado

The 1967 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado with front-wheel drive is the world’s finest personal luxury automobile. It successfully combined the traction of front-wheel drive, maintained perfect poise with Automatic Level Control, and the maneuverability of Variable Ratio Power Steering…all as standard equipment. This car gangster-slapped the industry big-time!

1971 Coupe deVille 1

1971 Cadillac Coupe deVille

1971 Coupe deVille 2

The Bill Mitchell Era exemplified Cadillac luxury and distinction to new heights in exclusivity and supremacy. This elegant era in luxury motoring was augmented by “Cadillac-Style!” Bill Mitchell had the entire industry “nervous.” Each time the competition ‘thought’ they had caught up with Cadillac-Style…Bill Mitchell bitch-slapped them with something more intriguing…with an attitude –

1971 Coupe deVille 3

1971 Coupe deVille 4

1971 Coupe deVille 5

1972 Fleetwood Brougham

1972 Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Brougham

1972 Fleetwood Brougham 2

1972 Fleetwood Brougham 6

1972 Fleetwood Brougham 3

1972 Fleetwood Brougham 4

1972 Fleetwood Brougham 7

Cadillac pioneered many features and accessories the auto industry takes for granted. I could go on and on with praise for the brand’s outstanding automotive achievement. The 1960s and 1970s were equally as innovative…but something happened during the mid to late 1970s. The music stopped for Cadillac in the 1980s – it became adulterated with so many generic shortcuts which made it a mere hodgepodge of GM parts adorned with Cadillac nomenclature. Quality, fit & finish came to an abrupt halt. Its styling became nondescript and austere.

And as the years went by, it began chasing/emulating anything that moved from Europe. It has become too many things: a jack of all trades and a master of none. Its luxurious demeanor has become diluted to the point of kitsch. All models are recalled annually because of defects and short-sighted engineering. It is no longer a real luxury car…it masquerades as everything. In order to regain its stature, it must cease and desist with the intent of trying to be all things competing in areas which it should not.

Cadillac was snob wagon supreme…formidable in its existence, causing the competition to take note. The entire world waits with bated-breath for the supremacy and exclusivity once presented by Cadillac to dominate the industry and once again become the pride of the USA and the envy of the world. This is another NOTORIOUS flashback…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

1973 Coupe deVille 1

1973 Cadillac Coupe deVille

1973 Coupe deVille 2

1973 Coupe deVille 3

1973 Coupe deVille 4

1973 Coupe deVille 5

Fisher Body Logo

“GM mark of excellence…”

1975 Fleetwood Brougham

1975 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special Brougham

1976 Fleetwood Castilian Estate wagon 2

1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Castilian Estate wagon

1976 Fleetwood Castilian Estate wagon 1

1990-1992 Brougham 3

1990-1992 Cadillac Brougham 

1990-1992 Brougham 2

1990-1992 Brougham 1

1990-1992 Brougham 4

Brougham d’Elegance interior

1990-1992 Brougham 5

Special thanks to the best caretakers in the classic car business: Daniel Schmitt Classic Cars, Jim Hailey’s Classic cars, Matt Garrett/GM Classics, MJC Classic Cars, Liberty Old Timers, Bob Adams Classic Cars, and Park Ward Motors Museum.

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Will there ever be another “Standard of the World” creation?

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