Fenders were no longer separated from the hood but formed a continuous unit, housing the recessed-mounted headlights for an overall sleek, fluid appearance inspired by the world’s latest wonder at the time, the airplane.
The flying machines weren’t exactly a novelty in the late forties, but the war pushed the development of airplanes like nothing else. Carmakers took inspiration and paid homage to this triumph of science. Cadillac started the trend with the tail fins on the third generation of the Sixty-Two. A staple of the brand’s styling language for the oncoming decades, the rear fender design hinted at the P-38 fighter’s unmistakable twin-tail-boom shape.
A decade later, the fluid-coupling transmission had already proven itself, so it didn’t take anyone by surprise when the postwar cars carried over the reliable assembly. However, in the third generation of the Sixty-Two, a new engine was mated to it. A two-barrel 331-cubic-inch (5.4 liters) over-head valve V8 accounted for 160 hp (162 PS) and 312 lb-ft (423 Nm).
The oversquare engine - ‘designed and precision-built by Cadillac’ - (3 13/16 x 3 5/8 - 96.8 mm x 92.1 mm) saw its baptism by fire in 1950. Cadillac could have chosen an indiscriminate number of ways to put the 331 CID V8 through all the imaginable stress. Still, GM went all in and crossed the Atlantic to France. Out of all the places in the world, the majestic American boat landed at Le Mans for the hell-bending trials of endurance racing.
The novelty of the 1951 drivetrain was the seamless shift from forward to reverse – the operation could be accomplished with the engine running. Cadillac presented this in a very appealing manner, stating that it allowed complete freedom to ‘rock’ the car in difficult situations.
Apart from this mechanical innovation, the Series 62 offered other amenities like a heating and ventilation system with under-seat installed fans or hydraulically-operated power windows and soft-top (the latter for the convertible models). One survivor from the 6,117-unit production run of the 1951 Cadillac Series Sixty-Two Convertible Coupe is featured in the video below, getting a well-deserved detailing after a three-decade storage.
As advanced as it may have been in 1951, the system had a major flaw: the seals would corrode over time, and the fluid began to leak, eating away the paint and rendering inoperable the lowering and raising of the side glass and ragtop.
This Cadillac also came with a retractable antenna radio (the telescopic rod mounted on the front left fender extended ten feet up, as we can see in the video) and enough chrome to make Hollywood look like the Dark Ages. Another neat feature of this GM luxury car is the owner’s identification card holder under the hood, in front of the radiator.
The convertible coupe was Cadillac’s second most expensive automobile in 1951, with a base price of $3,987, outranked only by the $5,400 Series 75 Fleetwood limousine. That’s not saying much, but relay this price to the $1,300 label of a low-end Chevrolet Business Coupe of the same year.
This convertible spoiled its passengers with red leather seats, which, after 72 years, have no cracks or other signs of neglect or abuse. The cleaning job – a great one, at that – brings out the deep, bright color. Red was one of just three interior single-color choices offered by Cadillac in 1951, alongside two-tone combinations of green or blue.
The one-off canopy also allowed the crowds to see the high-rank visitors up close. Elizabeth Dutchess of Edinburgh, and Phillip Duke of Edinburgh also rode on the back of the Cadillac, sitting on the retracted top and waving at the crowds in Toronto. Less than tow years later, the farytale princess would become Queen Elizabeth II.