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1950's Cadillacs



  • berriberri Posts: 4,013
    I know I'm probably a minority, but generally I've tended to prefer the B-O-P lines to the Caddy's.
  • In 1953 you prefer the BOP style? I dunno.....the '53 Pontiac is no show dog, nor the Olds. The Buick is pretty attractive thoug--I could see being hard to choose between Cad and Buick that year.

    Of course, that was BACK WHEN a Buick was considered a pretty upscale car. It was generally billed as the "doctor's car".
  • berriberri Posts: 4,013
    Yeah, you're right on the 53/54 Pontiac/ Olds, and the 58 Olds wasn't a beauty IMO either. I know the 58 Pontiac isn't necessarily a real popular car, but I actually like that year Bonneville better than the Impala (then again I liked a lot of the 59 GM vehicles!). I know 50's Cadillac were well built and modern for their time cars, but I found most of them kind of dull in the styling arena (except for the '59!). Overall, I'd probably go with the 55/56 Buick or Olds from that decade. But this is what is so neat about the 50's and 60's - you can find a lot of different styles and opinions.
  • GM was *so* awesome then. Cadillac billed itself as the "Standard of the World" and it was, too, hard as it is for the young 'uns to believe. The Cadillac was coveted by celebrities, star athletes, and heads of state---to say nothing of mobsters---oh wait, I already said heads of state....

    There was really no other car on earth that could touch it. Oh, the Rolls cost more, but it was a dowdy, unreliable thing....the Ferrari was faster, but noisy and tempermental and hardly luxurious back then. The Imperial and Lincoln were nice but they had no glamor--they were decidedly not "sexy" like a Cadillac.

    For power, highway cruising, luxury, reliability, curb appeal---nothing in the world could do ALL of those things so well.

    True, it couldn't stop or steer worth a damn, but in a country with cheap gas, big wide, straight, often empty roads---it was more like driving in the Roman Empire when you owned a Caddy. You didn't *need* to turn very much and as for stopping--well if you hit anything, you demolished it.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,599
    The Imperial and Lincoln were nice but they had no glamor--they were decidedly not "sexy" like a Cadillac.

    Imperial's problem, IMO, is that they never were fully able to distinguish it from lesser Chrysler models. For the most part, they were elongated New Yorkers. Then, for 1955, when they started to try to break away, they were elongated New Yorkers with 300 grilles. They came into their own for 1957, with their own unique body, and incidentally was Imperial's best year ever. According to some sources, they actually beat out Lincoln! But even then, they were forced to share the New Yorker engine. While a 350 hp 392 Hemi was a great engine, the New Yorker was probably about 500-600 lb lighter, so it would be a better performer. But, maybe that wasn't quite the embarrassment by that time? I'm sure a Mercury with the right engine would take a Lincoln, and an upper level Buick or Olds would probably take a Caddy. But still, it was the SAME engine, whereas Cadillac used its own engine, which probably added some prestige.

    And I never really thought of Lincolns as all that glamorous. Maybe some of the old 30's and 40's specialty models, those first Continentals, etc. But by and large, Lincoln seemed more a competitor to the Buick Roadmaster and Chrysler New Yorker, than full-on luxury cars like Imperial and Cadillac. Until maybe 1956-57. By then they got pretty big, and I could see them being glamorous for the time. And in an era where size mattered, the 1957 Lincoln was king. IIRC, it measured 227" long, whereas the Imperial was "only" 225 inches. Unless you went with the Series 75, or maybe even the 60 special, the Caddies were relatively diminutive. I think the coupes were 221" and the sedans were 216".

    As hideous as the '59 Cadillac is considered to be by many, look at its competition. The Imperial was a '57 with a very clumsy facelift, and GM did to the industry in 1959 what Chrysler did in 1957...made the competition look old. The Imperial is a hulking, outdated looking thing compared to the Caddy, while the Lincoln is a heavily sculpted brick with slanty headlights.

    Lincoln definitely had a resurgence for 1961, but Cadillac was far and away the leader in luxury cars in this country. And would continue to be, until two gas crises, recession, shooting themselves in the foot with bad engines, and a poorly-timed second wave of downsizing would finally set the seeds to bring them to their knees.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,120
    edited September 2010
    Which brings us to the present, when Cadillac is, if not re-emerging, at least re-establishing itself as a serious contender in the luxury market. Meanwhile, Imperial is no more, and Lincoln is struggling to figure out what it wants to be.

    I know that this discussion is about classic cars, but if we can look ahead for just a moment, any guess as to where Cadillac and Lincoln will be in five years, relative to Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, Infiniti, Audi, Acura, Volvo and, dare I say, Hyundai's RWD models?
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,693
    edited September 2010
    Sure okay, as long as we refer back to 50s Cadillacs and that concept of "luxury", yes? Otherwise we'll fly off into Topic Drift Hell.

    Modern luxury cars are morphing their "glamour" or 'sexiness' into high-tech forms, so cars will compete on how gadget-y they are, how fast they go, how many Gs they pull in a turn-- it's going to be a sort of "electronic/technological prestige". I mean, really, the average 13-15 year old of today is not going to much notice the newest Cadillac or Chevrolet, and probably cannot identify most new cars from 10 feet away.

    So what I mean is, that unlike 50s Cadillacs, which based prestige on how they LOOKED, modern cars base prestige on what they DO.

    When American luxury cars, operating on home turf, had such a remarkable advantage in size and power over their foreign competition, it wasn't necessary to advertise what the car DID--it wasn't even necessary that it excel at much. As long as that Cadillac nose rose up when you hit the gas, and as long as you were as isolated as possible from the noise and bumps of the road, as long as you glimmered and sparkled with chrome, then you were the object of desire.

    1950s was the "Rolls Royce Model" (bulk, quietness, torque, luxurious interiors) for luxury cars

    2000s is the "Lexus/Benz/BMW" model (technical superiority, handling, braking, acceleration, tasteful styling that is not vulgar or ostentatious, and still, that luxury interior!).
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,599
    1950s was the "Rolls Royce Model" (bulk, quietness, torque, luxurious interiors) for luxury cars

    Yeah, I think that's the problem...Cadillac was great at building cars like that, and when that's what the people wanted, they did just fine. But, nobody really wants a car like that anymore. I think Cadillac did a pretty good job modernizing that type of car with the DTS, but even it's considered too big by most people these days.

    The Lincoln Town Car's not too bad, and probably fits that traditional mold better as it's full-frame, more traditional full-sized, and RWD. But they just don't feel all that luxurious inside anymore. I swear, the 80's and 90's Town Cars had more of a quality, luxury feel to them, where the current one seems more like a taxi with leather seats.

    The Town Car's days are numbered though, if it hasn't been killed already. And the DTS isn't long for this world either.

    To be fair though, I don't think that they sell a whole lot of 7-Series, S-class, A8, LS460 etc cars, either. The bulk of BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and Lexus cars are the smaller models. In the past, that was the bread-and-butter of Cadillac sales. There just aren't that many people anymore who want a large-ish luxury car.
  • Cars reflect the world their drivers live in.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,120
    I think you're right on target, shifty and andre. Since the new luxury cars have more gadgets and features than I feel I need or prefer, I think my reaction will be to either stay with the older luxury cars (pre-'08 or so), or go down scale.

    Those multi-hundred page owners manuals are a turnoff to me. Also, with the proliferation of speed cameras and speed bumps, not to mention traffic, who needs 400 horsepower?

    On the other hand, while I enjoy reading about classic and collector cars, I'd never want to own a carburated car again. I'm using carburater metaphorically here, since I'd put vacuum wipers and even hand cranked windows in the same category. And, oh, a/c is also a must have for me. I guess what I'm saying is that the features the luxury brands were adding until recent years were appealing, but some of the more recent electronic ones detract from the driving experience.
  • I like what some people are doing with "retro-rods". They build motors with aftermarket fuel injection----you don't even need a laptop to program them---they sell you a little gadget along with the injection system and the motor, and you just make a few simple adjustments (the motors are pre-run with the injection in place and calibrated for you).

    So you CAN have a 50s or 60s car with more torque, better gas mileage, faster cold starts and more power at altitude. What you can't have is a totally "correct" car.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,362
    Yeah, I know but pretty soon your '55 Chevy isn't a 55 Chevy anymore.

    It still looks like one but it's something else.

    Carburators work just find providing you can find someone who knows how to work on one!
  • yeah, it's called "reading directions". Everyone likes to twist and turn those little screws, don't they?
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,120
    Deciding between a "correct" old car and one with modern mechanicals would be a really tough call for me.
  • A few trips on a hot summer day, with vapor lock, overheating and spongy brakes would cure you of most of your nostalgia I think. Of course, some people like the challenge of nursing the smoking, bullet-ridden fighter plane back to base, so if that's your thing, well then, authenticity, by all means!!

    Some old cars are more competent than others, and some more vulnerable to depreciation if altered. It depends on the car: If it were a '50 Caddy 4-door, I'd modify it without blinking. If it were a '55 Eldo, then probably not--or all the mods would be hidden from view and easily reversible (like say electronic ignition and radial tires).
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,120
    edited September 2010
    Well, yeah, while the nostalgia's there, as evidenced by my participation in the classic car discussions, the patience with old technology isn't, so I could be persuaded by your arguments. As it stands, though, I'm in that category of enthusiasts who loves chatting, viewing and listening to collectible cars (and new ones too, for that matter), but prefers not to own one. I suppose that makes me an armchair collector, if such a term exists. The history of the cars, and the people and companies associated with them fascinate me to no end too.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,599
    On the other hand, while I enjoy reading about classic and collector cars, I'd never want to own a carburated car again. I'm using carburater metaphorically here, since I'd put vacuum wipers and even hand cranked windows in the same category.

    I guess carburetors don't bother me so much because I still deal with them on a regular basis. I have a feeling though, that if I was removed from carbs for a long period of time, it would be hard to go back.

    I had a similar experience with crank windows. Never bothered me in the past, but lately, I just haven't been getting cars with crank windows, even old cars. I think the last car I got with crank windows was a 1967 Newport, back in 1999, and I only had it a few months before getting rid of it soon after buying my Intrepid. I didn't drive it much, either.

    Well, the Intrepid had power windows, and so did every car after that...5th Ave, pickup, LeMans, NYer. And now the Park Ave. My '67 Catalina has crank windows, and in the past they didn't bother me so much, but after I got it fixed up and started driving it a lot more, I kept thinking damn these crank windows SUCK!! Part of the problem too, is that car is so big, that it's hard to reach the passenger side. Just for kicks, I took a tape measure to that car...62.5" of shoulder room up front...probably more than any car made today.

    Windshield wipers? Yeah, that's something else that I had forgotten about, how bad the old ones were. Now my Chryslers actually have interval wipers, and I think they work better than the ones on my Buick! But I remember the last time I got caught in the rain in my '76 LeMans...2-speed wipers with the settings of "fast" and "faster", and no delay. Oh, the humanity!!

    Air conditioning, I can still live without, although a black convertible top and black vinyl interior don't make the best combination for really hot weather, especially when you're stuck in traffic. Those old cars tend to "breathe" better than newer ones, since they had better fresh-air ventilation to make up for the relative scarcity of a/c. By the 1970's though, they it was less likely that you'd have a rear door window that rolled down all the way, and in coupes a window that opened at all became a rarity. With the more integrated HVAC systems, it was less likely you'd have those nice fresh air vents under the dash. And front vent windows went the way of the dinosaur. Cars also became more airtight, with better insulation and padding, which also meant they kept in more heat. And with more rakish windshields, rear windows, and curved side glass, more of the sun's rays came into the car, and the roof gave the interior less shade.

    I think in a daily driver, a/c would be mandatory, but in my old cars, I can deal without it for the short periods of time I usually drive them.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,075
    edited September 2010
    I saw a very nice black 1951 Cadillac Series 62 sedan at my club's national fall meet. Were the grille "bullets" that would house optional driving lights painted black or body color? The surface would have a chrome cover or house driving lights, but would the shell be black or body color? A friend who was with me suggested they might've been painted black to match the "waffle" pattern on each side of the grille.

    Here is an example for clarification:

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,362
    Well, I kept my brakes bled and I never had a vapor lock on any old car I owned.

    If they overheated, we had the radiators rodded out and in extreme cases, whe had a "four row" radiator installed.

    But, I lived on the coast where it never got very hot in the summer.

    Someone driving a correct old car has to respect it's age. You don't drive 80 MPH in the left lane. You don't tailgate people and you drive carefully.

    If you aren't willing to do these things, you can just buy a modern car or take a nice old car and Mickey Mouse...modify it.
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