Personal Luxury Cars from The Past: The Cadillac Eldorado!

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The Cadillac Eldorado was the exemplar of the personal luxury car for almost 50 years. It is a two-door vehicle manufactured by the Cadillac Division of General Motors from 1953 to 2002.

Originally the name “Eldorado” was proposed for a special show car that was constructed in 1952 for the Cadillac’s Golden Anniversary, and later adopted by the company for a new convertible in limited edition that was added to the line in 1953. “Eldorado” derives from the Spanish word “el dorado” that means “the golden one”.
Only 532 Eldorado’s were made at the beginnings, in 1953. It was expensive, rare and trend setter. With unique body panels and fashionable cues by Harley Earl, the new Eldorado set the trend to the new American luxury cars.

In 1956 was introduced the coupe version, named the Eldorado Seville. The next year, in 1957, was introduced the Brougham, the four door hardtop with the first power memory seats, stainless steel roof, rear-hinged doors and air suspension. The car cost $13,074 that was more than a new Rolls-Royce Solver Cloud. The car was equipped with niceties that made it very elegant such as makeup kit, writing tables, cigarette case, a dry bar setup with stainless cups and a perfume spray of Arpege, Lanvin of Paris perfume.

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The 1960’s saw disappear the Eldorado Seville and the convertible version was assembled by Pininfarina of Italy. On the other hand the Eldorado was simply fancier version of standard Cadillacs.

The earlier models of the decade had the roof-lines more squared off in comparison with other Cadillac models, but the differences became less and less. As a consequence, by 1964 the only difference between Cadillac Eldorado and a standard one was the missing fender skirts.

The year 1967 saw breakthrough in the evolution of the Eldorado. The new front-wheel drive E-body personal Cadillac had crisp styling, better performance and a smaller wheelbase. The sales were high, so Cadillac had their best year ever, although the car had high list price. Until 1970, the Cadillac Eldorado had 500hp engine and lost its hidden headlights, besides that grew a ‘halo’ vinyl roof.

The company redesigned the Eldorado adding a convertible in 1971. The new models retake the length, big car feel and fender skirt and they stayed in production until 1979 being the largest Cadillac available after the 1977 downsizing. The company stopped building convertibles in 1976 making the Eldorado “The Last American Convertible”.

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Until 1979 most of the car models had already been downsized and Eldorado started to look ridiculous in comparison with them. In that way appeared the need for another redesign of the Eldorado and until the middle of 1980’s Eldorado lost 16 inches of the length, but also most of its class and style and all of its personal luxury distinction. For buyers that were looking for a large luxury car, the reduced size of the new Eldorado made no sense.

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The end of the Cadillac Eldorado came in 2003, after all the unsuccessful attempts of the 1990’s models to recover the popularity and the luxury of the first Eldorado models. Nowadays, only the early models, the Brougham and the “Last American Convertibles” are seen as collectible, but the Cadillac Eldorado remains to be the ultimate exemplar of a ‘personal luxury car’.

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