After the war, the high-end manufacturer consolidated its foothold on the luxury segment of the American market. The production numbers grew steadily, practically unchallenged by pricey brands from rivals. In the 50s, the GM top division looked down on some of the competitors' mainstream brands.
But despite its resounding success, Cadillac had its feet firmly planted on the ground from which it grew and didn’t boast opulent exclusivity or blue-blooded unreachability. It was still a car – albeit a high-quality one – and didn’t brag with nonsensical traits like obscenely high prices, costly materials, or artisan craftsmanship. The Caddy was a great automobile, not a status quo, first and foremost.
It was America at its finest self – adaptable, reliable, straightforward, honest, and innovative, always eager to take on a challenge, and never ready to settle for second place. It spewed its allegiance to the star-spangled banner with absolute devotion, and there was nothing better for 1950s America. Cadillac got it perfectly suitable – and the public acknowledged it.
Today, the brand makes oversized SUVs and unimpressive muscle sedans – then again, who doesn’t? But in the 50s, Cadillac had much to offer its buyers. Practically, anything a prospect was looking for in a car was available in the Cadillac catalog back then. Remember, muscle cars weren’t a thing yet, and sportscars had just begun to sprout alongside the personal luxury cars.
Granted, Caddy didn’t offer a two-door, two-seater convertible alternative to the Ford Thunderbird of the mid-50s, but it did come up with drop propositions of its own. The Series Sixty-Two and the Eldorado Biarritz were the Cadillac counteroffer for the roofless-adoring motorists. Granted, the two models would put the Thunderbird in the watch pocket with their sheer size, but that’s not the point.
To be fair, Ford realized that Americans preferred a second row of seats in their cars and quickly scrapped the initial platform of the T-bird in favor of the two-door, six-passenger architecture at the end of 1957. That is precisely what Cadillac was advocating with the aforementioned nameplates. The Sixty-Two was by far the most popular choice among the convertible duo, with 9,000 units sold over the Biarritz’s 1,800.
The tubular-center X-frame was the big news for the year, which allowed a lower stance for the car without compromising ride comfort or performance. Visually, the low-slung cars appeared wider, thanks to their flatter surfaces and even profile between the hood, deck lid, and fenders. The signature Dagmar shells on the front bumper grew to their most majestic proportions ever. From 1958 onward, those giant ornaments began to shrink until they dissipated utterly.
The car featured in the video below (courtesy of Lou Costabile) is a tribute paid to the two owners’ father, who drove one back in its heyday. I can’t think of any reason to say that this big Cadillac - with 74,000 miles / 119k kilometers - isn’t just as at home on the roads of 2024 as it was in 1957.