1950's Cadillacs

parmparm Member Posts: 724
edited May 2010 in Cadillac
I have an inane question that’s been bugging me for a while about 1950’s GM body styles – specifically Cadillac’s. Not sure how to ask this, but I’ll try to be as succinct as I can.

Using Chevrolet as the baseline, we all know of the famous tri-year models in 1955-57. 1958 was a one-year only body style and the 1959-60 models started the low and wide styling cue. As far as I can tell, Buick, Pontiac and Oldsmobile followed the same suit. But, Cadillac was a bit different. Not sure about the differences in Cadillac’s 1950-53 line up because these cars aren’t quite as interesting to me. But, Cadillac’s tri-year period was 1954-1956. The 1957 Cadillac represented a model change which carried over to 1958. Then, for 1959-60, Cadillac fell in line with the rest of the GM family.

So, here’s my question. Did the 1954-56 Cadillac’s use the same platform as the tri-year (55-57) Chevy’s? Given it was clearly GM’s flagship line, Cadillac tended to get the new innovations first. Then, said innovations would trickle down to the rest of the GM family the following years. Having said that, it would also appear Cadillac again got a one year jump in 1957 – with the rest of the GM family having to wait until 1958 for this body style.

Here’s another way to look at it. Comparing a ’57 Chevy to a ’57 Buick/Olds/Pontiac is pretty much an apples-to-apples comparison (aside from engine differences). But, comparing a ’57 Chevy to a ’57 Cadillac is like comparing an apple to an orange. Correct?


  • texasestexases Member Posts: 10,057
    edited May 2010
    Speaking from not much knowledge on this, I don't think Caddy used any Chevy-related platforms until decades later. So apples and oranges.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    As for as the 1950 Cadillac goes. My father took factory delivery of a Series 61 four door sedan. It was two tone; light green over dark green metallic. 331 ci V8 with a 4 speed Hydramatic. My impression was standard Cadillac from the dash forward, interior was of Chevrolet quality and all incorporated in a Buick Special body.

    The Series 62 was definitely a Cadillac with a longer body and wheelbase.

    Power steering was not available until 1952.
  • grbeckgrbeck Member Posts: 2,358
    Cadillac, Buick and Oldsmobile were all-new for 1954. They used the same basic body shell, with regular facelifts, through the 1956 model year.

    Chevrolet and Pontiac got all-new bodies for 1955, and used those bodies through the 1957 model year.

    Cadillac, Buick and Oldsmobile were again all-new for 1957. Those bodies were heavily facelifted for 1958, when Chevrolet and Pontiac were also given all-new bodies.

    The all-new bodies for 1957 were supposed to last through the 1959 model year for Cadillac, Buick and Oldsmobile. But Chrysler's all-new 1957 line shocked GM, and forced it to scrap its plans beyond 1958. GM's planned 1959 lines looked out-of-date compared to the 1957 Mopars.

    As a result, GM brought out all-new bodies for ALL of its divisions for 1959, and the 1958 Chevrolets and Pontiacs had the dubious distinction of being one-year-only bodies.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    the 1958 Chevrolets and Pontiacs had the dubious distinction of being one-year-only bodies.

    Too bad that can't be said about the '98 Town Car! :sick:
  • parmparm Member Posts: 724
    edited May 2010
    OK, yes that makes sense. I now seem to recall an auction where a Cadillac, Olds and Buick of the same year (1953? 54?) were being sold. The auction company made a big production about how they were essentially sister cars. So, I can see where some of my assumptions were wrong. But, my gut inclination that a '57 Cadillac and a '57 Chevy are different animals was correct.

    Seems like every time a '57 Bonneville rolls across the auction block, the commentators always make a connection to the '57 Chevy. I guess I just kind of assumed the family tree also extended to Buick and Olds too. Thanks for clarifying that for me. Mystery solved! ;)

    Yes, I too had heard that Chrysler's long and low design basically ate GM's lunch at the styling table and made The General call an audible resulting in some one-year orphan body styles. I remember seeing an interview with Dave Hollis (?) - who I believe was generally regarded as the chief stylist for the '59 Cadillac. He talked about how he and some fellow GM designers had sneaked around a Chrysler facility to catch a peek at Virgil Exner's new designs and were pretty much blown away by what they saw. Talk about sophisticated corporate spying. Too bad those days are gone. My wife and I are talking about getting a new car and I honestly can't get terribly excited anymore. Never thought I'd EVER say that. But, cars today are such well-engineered applicances and designed to look like everyone else's that it kind of sucks the passion out of the new car buying experience.

    However, the prospect of buying a collector car? Now THAT gets my adrenaline pumping!
  • parmparm Member Posts: 724
    edited September 2010
    1950 Series 62 Coupe

    These have always reminded of an upside down bathtub and they have a front end in desperate need of Nutri-System, but this one really looks good to my eye. Has this been chopped or lowered? Love the color combination and the interior looks very nice too. Almost looks like the top has been slightly chopped. Interesting that the photos don't show a head-on shot, which I think is the worst angle on these.

    I won't even hazard a guess as to how much this will sell for, because common sense out there is as rare as a sober bidder. :P It goes across the auction block on Friday almost half-way thru the day, so it may be on TV. B-J tends to give their better cars TV coverage.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    Series 61 is what it is for two reasons.

    Series 62 had a chrome piece just behind the front wheel well. (pants)

    Series 62 had a more luxurious interior.

    Neither had Power Steering, but still a great road car back then. :)
  • parmparm Member Posts: 724
    You're kidding me? A Cadillac in 1950 did not have power steering?
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,887
    1959 was the year that GM really started aligning their bodies, so that they could share as much roofline as possible. In 1958, there was still a distinct A (Chevy/Pontiac), B (Olds, Buick Special/Century) and C (bigger Buicks and Cadillacs) body hierarchy. However, just to add to the confusion, the frames were different! Chevy, Pontiac, and Cadillac used that dangerous wasp-waisted "X-frame", while Buick and Olds used a much sturdier setup that was a combination of X-frame and perimeter frame. So, a C-body Buick would actually use a DIFFERENT frame from a C-body Cadillac! Now, I'm not sure if the Cadillac X-frame was exactly the same as the Chevy/Pontiac frame. I'd hope that in addition to being longer, it was also beefier.

    For 1959, I don't know if they still used the A-body designation, but by that time the Chevies, Pontiacs, smaller Buicks, and smaller Oldsmobiles were all the same basic body, although they might have still called one A- and the other B-), while the Buick Electra, Olds 98, and Cadillacs were on the C-body. Again though, the frames were different. This time, Chevy, Buick, and Cadillac used an X-frame, while Pontiac and Olds used a perimeter frame. It wouldn't be until 1965 that all the big cars went to a perimeter frame, although the old Caddy 75 stuck it out on the X-frame for 1965.

    At a car show last year, I remember seeing a '59 Cadillac and a '59 Pontiac Catalina, both 4-door hardtops, parked side-by-side, and I'll be damned if I could tell a difference in the passenger cabin area. The Caddy was longer, to be sure, but all that extra length seemed to be in back of the rear window, and maybe a little bit in front. All the glass though, and door openings, seemed identical, and as far as interior room goes, I don't think the Caddy was any bigger inside than the Pontiac.

    I guess it could be an optical illusion. It's not easy to just look at the interior of a car and guess how big it is, without actually sitting in it. But, I do remember an issue of Consumer Reports, from around 1961 or 1962, where they were griping that a Ford Galaxie had more legroom in back than a Cadillac! So I guess it's possible that by the 1959-64 era, Cadillac was sharing a bit too much with Chevy, and that made the big cars a bit inadequate with interior room? Or, maybe a '60-64 Ford was just a BIG, roomy car!

    Chrysler had pulled a similar stunt in 1957, where all the cars except Imperial shared the same basic body. It wasn't as noticeable with the coupes, but with the 4-door sedans and hardtops, you could really tell. The Plymouths, Dodges, DeSotos, and Chryslers were all the same size inside. All they did was start off with the Plymouth, on a 118" wheelbase. To make a Dodge, they stuck 4" in wheelbase at the back, giving you a longer trunk, but no extra interior room. Then to make a DeSoto or Chrysler, they stuck an extra 4" in front, giving you a longer hood and fenders, perhaps making the engine bay a little less crammed, and giving a better ride, but again, no extra interior room. The Dodge/DeSoto/Chrysler did have a bigger trunk than the Plymouth, though.

    And, one good thing about the way Chrysler did it, is that instead of having Chryslers and DeSotos that were small for their class, you ended up having Plymouths that were big for theirs. The down side though, is that it still ended up giving less incentive to move up to a pricier brand.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    One thing you can be sure of...it'll sell for less than the cost to restore it to that level.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,887
    I don't think the top has been chopped...it's just that these things were long cars with fairly small greenhouses, and that might make it look a bit disproportionate compared to something like, say, a Chevy Bel Air hardtop. However, it does look like it's riding on modern radials with wide whitewalls, and they might give it a lower profile overall than the original bias-ply tires.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    "More Wine for my Bidders!"

    "Launch the TV Cameras!"

    "Summon the Shills!"

    Let the bidding begin.......
  • parmparm Member Posts: 724
    So, when was power steering available on non entry level Cadillacs?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    edited September 2010
    you mean entry-level?

    Across the board power steering for Cadillac was 1954. First offered as an option in 1952 my book says.

    I think Chrysler beat them to it. 1951 Chrysler Imperial, called "Hyraglide".

    Of course, military vehicles and commercial vehicles had this earlier IIRC.
  • parmparm Member Posts: 724
    Actually, I mean do mean "non"-entry level. Cadillac usually had an entry level model. In the mid 1960's, it was the Calias (sp?). Before that, it was the Series 62. In 1950, I'm guessing the Series 61 was the entry level model. When it first came out, I suspect power steering was standard on the "non"-entry level models such as the Deville line - thereby providing an inducement to the entry-level buyer to move up to the more up-scale model such as the Series 62 in 1950.

    In a nutshell, whatever year power steering was standard equipment on Cadillac's up scale (ie., non-entry level) model, that was probably the first year it was available at all (in the Cadillac world).

    Wow! Power steering wasn't available until 1954? I'm surprised to learn that. Not that cars of the early 1950's could be considered as "svelte", but Cadillac's were particularly hefty. Surely, Cadillac had some gimmickry (even if employed only by the marketing dept.) that made steering somewhat easier and to differentiate them from Buick and Olds, did they not? I thought women were one of the groups targeted by Cadillac's sales department - supposedly because they were easier to drive?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    edited September 2010
    Power steering was very expensive to produce in the early days, so it makes sense that it would filter from luxury models down to entry level over a period of years.

    So according to my sources, NO Cadillac had power steering in 1951, then top of the line models got it in 1952, then all models in 1954.

    People were used to cranking those steering wheels using their body weight. As for women, they were ferrying bombers in WW II, so I imagine any woman who really wanted to drive a Cadillac just did it, regardless of the steering.

    I don't see women behind the wheel in these ads until well into the late 50s/early 60s. All guys.

    My impression from studying very early 50s Cadillac ads was that women were mostly passengers. A little later on, we see them behind the wheel.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,887
    Well, I did a little digging around online, and it looks like Chrysler was the first to offer power steering as an option, in 1951. 1954 was the year Cadillac made power steering STANDARD across the board. So, I'd imagine it first came out as an option in either 1952 or 1953 (or even late 1951?).

    Those cars were heavy, but with the big steering wheels, and different ratios for the steering gear, and smaller tire footprints, they probably weren't all that difficult to steer. Maneuvering in tight spaces as slow speed, such as parallel parking and such, was probably hard, but otherwise, they probably weren't THAT bad.

    I'm sure that when the power steering pump failed in my '68 Dart, but I kept driving it, that probably required a lot more effort than an old 50's car with non-power steering. And even that wasn't bad in most driving, although in tight, low-speed maneuvering, it was quite the bicep/tricep builder!

    I wonder what the "lock-to-lock" (how many turns of the steering wheel to go from full-left to full-right) was on those older cars? On my old Dart, for power steering it was 3.5 turns, and for manual it was 5.3. Modern cars are much tighter. My 2000 Intrepid was only 3.1 turns lock to lock, while my 2000 Park Ave is 2.93.

    I'd hate to try driving my Park Ave with no power steering. Nose-heavy FWD, fairly large tires, and that tight lock-to-lock would probably make out for a heck of an arm workout!
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    1952 was the first year for optional power steering in the Caddy. It wasn't an option before that year. My Dad would increase the air pressure in the front tires and lube the steering mechanism every 500 miles, but when on a long trip, the air pressure was reduced. He drove that Series 61 for 10 years & 150,000 miles. For cardiac reasons, he bought a new 60 Pontiac Catalina with the 389E engine, Hydramatic and power steering. Back then, the Freeways were Funways. :)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Chrysler's power steering was notorious for being the most pinky-friendly. Those 50s Mopars really did feel like the steering wheel was simply not connected to the tires except by perhaps a voice-tube from an old steamship: "Turn left at the corner helmsman!"

    (from the steerage below) "Aye, Aye, Captain!"
  • parmparm Member Posts: 724
    1950 Series 62 Coupe

    Assuming this car is as good as it looks, I would think the highest this car would sell for in a private transaction would be around $30K. But, at Barrett-Jackson, it's probably worth closer to $40K . . . . . which, of course, means it'll hammer sold for closer to $50K (and that's before buyer's commission). :confuse: Let's see how close I am.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I'd guess real money is $35K, plus add for the B-J inflation, plus add the buyer's fees, so yeah, it could hit $40K--$42K.

    Hard to say---the extreme upper end of the classic car market is *HOT* but the under $50K market is a bit soft, and really, not too many people want early 50s car---so we'll have to see.
  • parmparm Member Posts: 724
    A soft market for cars less than $50K is certainly no surprise. But, I must say, I'm rather amazed to hear the $50K+ market described as "HOT". Heck, I didn't think there was ANY sector of ANY market (guns, butter, take your pick) that could be described as being any better than "luke warm" right now. I wonder why that is?

    I'll render a guess. Obviously, there will always be some market participants who aren't fazed by economic conditions, no matter how bad they get. These folks would tend to gravitate toward cars in the $50K+ range. Likewise, some sellers of $50K+ cars have probably been negatively impacted by the economy and thus may be unloading some of their toys at disposition/liquidation prices (at least according to them) - thereby creating the "perfect storm". Am I close???? :blush:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    edited September 2010
    I don't see how the uber-wealthy would be interested in $50K cars. They are currently buying in the $ 1/4 million to $15 million collector car market.

    I think what we see here is merely a reflection of the decline of the American middle class. Whether permanent or temporary, we don't know. Certainly, this rich/poor -with-nothing-in-between economic model has been predicted in some circles for the last decade, otherwise known as the "Banana Republic Syndrome" (my terms).

    On the other hand it could be nothing more than the usual depression of the "Toy Market" when we have recession.

    It is sobering however, to watch the enormous sums of money being spent, as we speak, as unrelenting waves of cash crash against spectacular cars with mind-boggling prices. It's not just the occasional $10 million dollar bidder---they are lining up to buy. There is not even the hint of recession at the tonier auctions, neither inside or outside the tent. It felt to me more like a Parallel Universe that I obviously don't live in :shades:
  • parmparm Member Posts: 724
    You're probably right. But, "On the other hand it could be nothing more than the usual depression of the "Toy Market" when we have recession." if that were true, then it should impact values across the board - not just those less than $50K. Naturally, and as you pointed out, nothing impacts cars in the "uber-wealthy" segment which is really a market unto itself that knows no world market economic contraints.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    "Those who can - do, and those who can't- philosophize".
  • parmparm Member Posts: 724
    Guilty as charged. With two kids in college and my business volume down right now, all I can afford to do at the moment is philosophize. :sick: That's kind of the point of this discussion group. ;)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well to a point but there are players in the big bucks car game who are vulnerable. We have seen some very ugly bubbles burst in the collector car market, even in the multi-million dollar realm.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    So Plato was a business failure? :P

    No we aren't philsophers. We are Classic Car Market Pundits! I mean, the people who claim to be "experts" and do cameos on economics on various TV news shows have proven to be as equally wrong as we have been.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,887
    I wonder if this recession has has caused very many people to re-think their attitude on money and what they spend it on? While the recession has been officially "over" since June of 2009, there's still a lot of pain and suffering going on, and a great deal of people will probably never recover financially. I'm sure that's taken a lot of people out of the collector car market, or at least, the lower end of it.

    I'm sure that by now, a lot of people who were well-off before the recession are even more well-off now. Recessions tend to widen the gap between rich and poor. While the poor get laid off, lose their home, have to cash in savings and investments, etc, the rich can simply move funds around, and buy more stocks, mutual funds, real estate, etc, at drastically reduced prices, and reap the rewards when the economy, and prices, finally improve.

    But still, I'd imagine a lot of people, even the more well-off, are more cautious these days. I'm actually better off financially now than I was 3 years ago, when we started sliding into the recession. But, I'm also a lot more cautious. I saw my portfolio drop by slightly more than half, at the worst of the market, only to have it rebound to its previous peak and then some. But, if it did it once, it can do it again. And that has me thinking twice on whether I want to buy any more classic cars. Heck, I'm even beginning to wish, sometimes, that I hadn't embarked on my journey to get my '57 DeSoto roadworthy again! But, if I didn't do it now, I'd never do it. And the longer it sat, I'm sure the more it would deteriorate.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    When I ws a wee tot, my parents had a 1951 Buick Roadmaster. I remember my dad saying that it bacame an option in 1952 and he looked into seeing if it could be installed on the '51. I guess the answer was no or it would have been too expensive.

    My mother was pretty petite yet she would back that Buick out of our one car garage down a long driveway. Very little clearance. A fence on one side and the house and a planter on the other. No side view mirrors yet she could do it in no time at all and never scraped it.

    I honestly don't know if I could do that now!
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,887
    My mother was pretty petite yet she would back that Buick out of our one car garage down a long driveway. Very little clearance. A fence on one side and the house and a planter on the other. No side view mirrors yet she could do it in no time at all and never scraped it.

    That got me thinking, about my grandmother on my Dad's side of the family. Pretty petitie, around 5'2". Their first car was a used 1949 Ford, and their second was a brand-new '57 Fairlane 500 4-door hardtop. Looking back, I don't ever remember Grandmom driving...whenever I visited them and we went anywhere, it was always Granddad doing the driving.

    In fact, the one instance I can think of her driving was met with disaster. Granddad had a foot operation and had a cast on, and Grandmom was driving him either two or from a doctor's visit, in their '89 Taurus, which was only a few months old. Well, they ended up getting broadsided by a non-English speaking woman in a '75 Catalina, that pushed them into a telephone pole.

    Did something like $6,000 worth of damage to the Taurus, which sure seemed like a lot at the time, but nowadays, I'm sure it would be more. For comparison, when my uncle hit a deer with his '03 Corolla, in late '03, the damage was around $4700-4800.

    I'd guess that Grandmom didn't know how to drive when they had the '49 Ford, but by '57 she did. So, the power steering was never an issue for her.

    I'll have to ask my Grandmom on Mom's side of the family when she first learned how to drive. I think Granddad taught her. He had a 1939 Chrysler when he met her in 1946, so I dunno if he taught her on that, or on something later. This Grandma, however, was, well, let's just say pretty "rugged" back in her day, so I'm sure she had no trouble back in those pre-power steering days.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    so why do I need it on the pickup?" She asked ;)
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAMember Posts: 15,261
    edited September 2010
    I wonder if this recession has has caused very many people to re-think their attitude on money and what they spend it on?

    Yeah, I saw fewer people at this year's car shows but a lot at last week's gun show! :surprise:
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    edited September 2010
    what they spend it on?

    We had been members for over 10 years of Portland Opera, but when the price of renewing our seats went up 44% we bailed.

    As long as our cars don't get killed in a crash, we will continue to drive them.

    As long as we can hire help to care for the home, we will not go condo shopping.

    We have continued to contribute to the church at the same figure though
  • parmparm Member Posts: 724
    OK, that 1950 Series 62 Cadillac coupe just hammered sold at Barrett Jackson for $37,000. Add the buyer's premium and you're at $40,700. I thought the B-J factor would bump it more. Mr. Shiftright (who predicted $40K-$42K with premium), you're UNCANNY!
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    And w/o Air and Power Steering?? :P
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well you can't really penalize a car on value if the equipment lacking never came that way at time of manufacture.

    For instance, you can penalize an MGTD that is right hand drive (In the USA I mean) a good 30%, because TDs were made either way, but not an MGTC, which was never made with left hand drive.

    So the Cadillac never had p/s or AC. AC first came out for Cadillac in 1953.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    I understand, but would prefer spending that amount of cash on a 53 with Air & PS.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Oh yeah, me too, good year 1953, because it also introduced 12V electrics in Cadillac, Buick and Olds.

    A '53 Eldo would be the prize.
  • berriberri Member Posts: 10,165
    I mean, the people who claim to be "experts" and do cameos on economics on various TV news shows have proven to be as equally wrong as we have been.

    Worst than that, often they are selling something and hoping to influence the market direction, which is their motivation to do the cameo in the first place.
  • berriberri Member Posts: 10,165
    I know I'm probably a minority, but generally I've tended to prefer the B-O-P lines to the Caddy's.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    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 Member Posts: 10,165
    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.
  • wevkwevk Member Posts: 179
    Speaking of "experts" being wrong:

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    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 Member Posts: 24,887
    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 Member Posts: 4,600
    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?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    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 Member Posts: 24,887
    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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Cars reflect the world their drivers live in.
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