Showing posts with label Cadillac. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cadillac. Show all posts

Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz

Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz 1950s American classic car

The Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz was one outrageous roadster. Launched in '59, it looked like a Saturn space-rocket. Certainly, you could have seen it coming from a mile away. Not that it would have arrived as quickly as a rocket - its top speed being 115mph. It would have helped, too, had said mile been a smooth stretch of freeway. The Biarritz's springy suspension might have got the jitters, otherwise. But - given the right road - the Biarritz was a car like no other. The epitome of OTT styling, it took Fifties sci-fi mania to another level. Rear fins had never been higher - up to a skyscraper-like 42″. Jutting out of them was a ray-gun of indicators and brake-lights. And - were they tail-lights or after-burners? A cosmetic rear grille inspired further flights of spaced-out fancy.

Powering the plot was a 6.3-litre V8. It made a more than respectable 345bhp. Much of that, though, was soaked up by the Biarritz's two-ton weight problem. It did not do the fuel economy any favours, either. A measly 8mpg were available. There again, petrol in '50s America was cheap as chips. Holding it all together was a perimeter frame chassis. Drum brakes were fitted all round. Not exactly space-age, technically. But, then, that had been sorted by the design department!

The Biarritz was off-the-clock comfortable. Zero-gravity, you might say! That was due, mainly, to its super-soft suspension settings. All six seats were power-adjustable. The boot-lid opened electrically. Headlight-dipping was automatic. Of course, there was power-steering. The hood and windows were also electrically-operated. Transmission was via a 3-speed auto. The car was named after a mythical city, made out of gold - and a sophisticated French seaside resort. Cadillac's Eldorado Biarritz was everything you would expect from a machine so dubbed. Oh - space-walks were an extra!

Cadillac El Camino

Cadillac El Camino 1950s classic concept car

When it came to Fifties 'dream cars', GM set the bar high. The Motorama was a travelling show of avant-garde automobilia. The Cadillac El Camino was a 'space-age' case in point. El Camino Real - The Royal Highway - was a sobriquet for Highway 101. While the El Camino sounded Spanish, it was American as apple pie. It was also one of the most influential concept cars ever created. Many El Camino features would be seen on production Cadillacs, by decade's end.

Show car though it was, a V8 was duly dropped into the engine bay. 230bhp was, in theory, available. El Camino capacity was 5,422cc. Had Cadillac's boffins wanted it to go touring, it was good to go. As it was, the lure of the open road played second fiddle to the car's publicity-seeking uses.

To that end, the El Camino had styling to die for. Its pearlescent paint-job, in particular, was a cinch to turn heads. Silver had never looked so good! And the radical roof-line was almost as engaging. Curvaceous windows - and deftly-drawn pillars - were a visual treat. Brilliantly topped off by brushed aluminium. Front bumpers referenced bullets. Front arches revealed intricate wheels. At the rear, tail-fins were a pop-up delight. The El Camino blended seamlessly into the Motorama mix. Cadillac's class of '54 also comprised the Espada and Park Avenue. But the El Camino, above all, would be their blueprint for the future.

Cadillac Eldorado Brougham

Cadillac Eldorado Brougham 1950s American classic car

As '50s cars go, the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham was understated. Next to its sibling, the Eldorado Biarritz, for example, the Brougham's tail fins were positively petite. Such delicacies were to be found on other parts of the car, too. The aluminium roof - minus pillars - was a shining example. And the narrow, whitewall tyres were a stylish delight. From a design history point of view, the Brougham was the first car to feature twin headlights. It was based on a 'dream car' prototype - first shown at '54's Motorama. The 'Park Avenue' was a four-door sedan. It made serious waves when exhibited on GM's stand. As a result, Harley Earl - General Motors' head of design - hinted it might go into production. It duly did. The Eldorado Brougham was released in '57.

The Brougham's brand of elegance was more than skin-deep. The interior accessories list was a long one. It comprised items more associated with fashion than automobiles. Female passengers were particularly pampered. How about polarised sun visors, magnetised tumblers - and cigarette and tissue dispensers? Lipstick and cologne, a compact and powder puff, and a mirror and comb were thoughtfully provided. There was even an Arpege atomiser - with Lanvin perfume. And carpeting was in karakul - or lambskin. Hey, any lady who complained about that little lot might be asked to exit at the next set of lights!

But, the Brougham's litany of luxuries did not stop there. It was only right that more masculine tastes be catered to, too. Like a 6.3-litre V8 - dishing up 325bhp. It was hitched up to GM's 'Hydramatic' transmission. The chassis was 'X-frame' - held up by air-assisted suspension. There were both power brakes and steering. Plus, electrically-operated seats and windows. The cabin was wired for pretty much everything - given that this was still the Fifties. Gadgets and gizmos abounded. The Cadillac Eldorado Brougham was one of the most exotic cars ever to have come out of Detroit. A skilfully contrived cocktail of restrained glamour. And on top of all that, it could be customised. With 44 trim combinations available, your dream Caddy was a cinch!