This is an ongoing series in which I examine Cadillac, and try and think about how Cadillac can successfully go upmarket. We looked at one of the most opulent Cadillacs ever, the V-16. Now let’s take a look at a truly outlandish Cadillac, offered between 1957 and 1960, the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham.
Derived from a Cadillac concept vehicle exhibited during the GM Motorama of 1955, the Eldorado Brougham models of 1957 through 1960 were designed to showcase Cadillac’s abilities as a maker of ultra luxury vehicles. The Brougham was an example the company’s new styling direction. Instead of rounded fenders and curved shapes, the Eldorado Brougham was presented as a sharp tailored vehicle with crisp lines and intricate detailing. While no single Cadillac stylist may be credited with the final design, overall supervision was supervised by Charles “Chuck” Jordan. The Eldorado Brougham was the product of several years of engineering and styling development. It was preceded by a number of experimental models and concept vehicles, each one drawing closer to the final production version. The first production Eldorado Brougham made its debut at the New York Salon in January 1957, later to be used in a factory promotional film set in New York’s Central Park, where it stole the limelight from a specially-appointed Cadillac Sixty Special. Its extravagant price tag (for the time) of more than $13,000 made it a low-production car, with 904 vehicles sold. The Eldorado Brougham had no options, but it was factory equipped with features that we take for granted today, including the Hydramatic automatic transmission, power assisted steering and brakes, air conditioning, electric windows, electrically adjustable seat with memory, and power door locks. There were several unique features included as well ranging from a brushed stainless steel roof, a vanity compartment in the instrument panel, drinking cups in the glove compartment (what would MADD say about that today?), and a rear armrest compartment that contained an atomizer filled with perfume. The 1959 Eldorado Brougham–distinct from the 1957 and 1958 models–was a custom-designed and built vehicle, and was a radical departure for Cadillac styling. Every feature offered for comfort, convenience, luxury and performance was utilized to make the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham a state-of-the-art automobile for its time. Cadillac offered air conditioning, cruise control and automatic headlamp control as standard equipment among its many features on this limited production vehicle. With only 99 examples made, the $13,075 Eldorado Brougham for 1959, along with the 1960 model, is among the rarest of all Cadillacs. The chassis were shipped from Detroit to Italy, where they were mated to handcrafted Pinninfarina bodies, predating the Allante experiment by decades. Interiors were exceptionally elegant and the unique coachwork–which discarded the standard model’s over-the-top fins–offered a preview of the 1960 Cadillac at the rear and of the 1961-62 cars in the windshield and roofline. Chrome was uncharacteristically absent from this model and therefore was rather understated in its elegance. In my final part I will look at a missed opportunity that Cadillac created, as well as the upcoming replacement for the DTS and the STS that was not a part of my original article. In the meantime, why not read my entire article over at Automotive Traveler.