The 1956 Cadillac 60 Special Fleetwood had the Sixty Special designation below the Cadillac crest on both the front fenders. A Fleetwood name could also be found on the rear face of the deck lid. Pricing for the 4-door sedan was listed just above $6,000 and around 17,000 examples were produced. Power was from an overhead valve, V8 which displaced 365 cubic-inches and offered 285 horsepower.
By Daniel Vaughan | May 2013
The designation Sixty Special has denoted a specific model since 1938. At first the name was saved for Cadillac's lowest price range but eventually the Sixty Special name would be reserved for Cadillac's most luxurious automobiles. 1941 was the final year of Bill Mitchell's original Sixty Special design and a brand new 1942 model was in the cards. Nearly 17,900 Sixty Specials were produced from 1938 through 1941 including around a dozen custom bodied versions.
In 1942 the all-new Sixty Special was 7 inches longer and 1 inch lower than the previous model and rode on top of a 133-inch wheelbase. The Sixty Special was advertised as a five-passenger vehicle throughout 1948. New bumper ‘bullets' were introduced and became a styling standard on Cadillac's until 1958. Unfortunately the sunshine top/sun roof was not a popular feature and was discontinued at the end of the 1941 model year and wouldn't appear on another Caddie until the 1970 Eldorado.
Fabulously outfitted, the Sixty Special featured a very roomy interior and Cadillac relied on the trim to differentiate the exterior of the Sixty Special from its family members. A Sixty Special trademark were the decorative chrome louvers that could be found on three different locations on the 1942 model; mounted on the roof behind the rear door opening, and behind the wheel well openings on the front and rear fenders. The Sixty Special also held a wider 'C-pillar' than other models and also kept its individual chrome bead. At this time only two models were available in the Sixty Special series; the standard sedan that was priced at $2,435 and a Imperial sedan priced at $2,589. A total of 1,684 standard sedans were sold along with an additional 190 Imperial sedans. Due to the impending WW II, automobile production halted and the assembling of military equipment took precedence in February of 1942.
The first post-war Caddie was unveiled on October 17, 1945. The '46 Sixty Special was very similar to the C-body Series 62 though more room was added to the rear seat area through a minor wheelbase stretch. Very few changes had been made from the 1942 model to the 1946 one, except for the addition of new bumpers and a mild grille redesign. Mounted below the headlights were the turn signals and parking lamps. 1946 was the initial year for the 'V' that was placed underneath the Cadillac crest. The $3,054 standard sedan was the only model that remained in the Sixty Special line-up. The roof mounted chrome louvers remained on this model, but both sets of fender-mounted chrome louvers were deleted. On a 6-volt system, Cadillac now used a negative-ground battery. A total of 5,700 units produced was the highest peak for that year.
For the 1947 Sixty Special not many changes were made since an all-new design was destined for the 1948 model year. The '47 model year did introduce the Cadillac's famous 'sombrero' wheel covers in bright stainless steel. The grille was updated with 5 bars instead of four, but the same 346 cu in (5.67 L) engine that had been used since 1936 was still there, though now rated at 150 horsepower. Originally black rubber pieces had been used, but now they were replaced with bright metal stone shields that were mounted on the forward edge of the rear fenders. The block letters depicting Caddie's nameplate were replaced with script ones. The '47 Sixty Special sold for $3,195, a substantial jump from 1942's $2,435 price-tag. Fortunately this hike in price didn't affect sales, and Cadillac experienced great success with a total of 8,500 units sold.
For 1948, Cadillac cleaned house and revamped nearly all of their models. Weighing in at 4,370 lbs, the '48 Sixty Special featured all new sheet metal though it remained on an exclusive 133' wheelbase. Standard equipment on the Sixty Special were electric window lifts and a two-way power bench seat. All the driver's gages were placed directly above the steering column in front of the driver in a clever rainbow-shaped instrument cluster. An all-new curved dashboard design was added to allow for a more roomy interior. The individually framed side door glass and the room-mounted decorative chrome louvers were carried over to this model. The Sixty Special showcased side-scoops and curious tail-fins.
The 1949 Sixty Special received a burst in power in the form of the 331 cu in (5.42 L) OHV V8 engine. Featuring higher performance along with a more economical and smooth operation, the new powerplant featured a short-stroke, high-compression design.
This new engine was more compact and than the previous one, and it also weighed 188lbs lighter and was 10hp more powerful. This engine remained in the Sixty Special all the way through the 1955 model year.
A new grille was introduced, slightly wider and lower than the previous model's. Now advertised as a six-passenger automobile, the '49 Sixty Special was sold at $3,859 and sales reached an astonishing 11,399 units. This was also the final year that the Sixty Special utilized a two-piece windshield with the vertical divider mounted in the center.
Brand-new styling was showcased on every car in Cadillac's line-up and of course this included the Sixty Special. Priced at $3,797, the exterior of the Sixty Special was virtually identical to the cheaper Series 62 models, but the luxurious interior of the Sixty was unmatched by no other model. For this year, the chrome louver trim that had been mounted on the rear roof panel since 1942 was suddenly relocated to the lower rear doors, just forward of the rear wheel wells. The '50 Sixty Special now weighed in at 4,136 lbs as a base model, and retained the same engine from the previous year. A total of 13,755 Sixty Special's were produced for the 1950 model year.
The Sixty Special continued on as a stretched and optioned-up version of the Cadillac Series 62 throughout the 1950's. Not many changes were made for the 1951 model except for a new grille and bumper design. Also the interior received red warning lamps in place of the gauges for secondary instruments like oil pressure and voltage. The engine from 1949 remained in the Sixty Special but received minor tweaks to the drivetrain. The price of the 1951 model jumped to 4,060 and the weight was now up to 4,155lbs. Sales climaxed at 18,631, the highest it had yet been.
1952 was the year that marked Cadillac's Golden Anniversary. Very few changes were made for this model year to the Sixty Special. The ‘Fleetwood' script returned to the trunk lid while the reverse lamps were now integral with the fin-mounted tail lamps. The rear exhaust outlets were now in the form of two wide horizontal slots on the outer edges of the rear bumper. New winged crest emblems were new this model year and were placed on the outer edges of the rear bumper. The engine remained the same, but received a down-draft carburetor and could now achieve 190 hp. Standard on the Sixty Special was a newly revised automatic transmission and power steering was available at an additional cost. Sales unfortunately dropped to 16,110 units for 1952 though the price rose to $4,269 and the weight also rose to 4,258 lbs.
In 1953 most of the attention was focused on the all-new Eldorado convertible, not much effort was spent on the Sixty Special at the time. Only minor trim updates were made the Sixty Special, and these included an updated grille and bumper, and wider rocker panel moldings. A new 12-volt electrical system was introduced for the body though, and an increase in hp for the 331 cu in engine now brought it up to 210 hp. Developed by Frigidaire, the A.C. unit cost $619.55 and was trunk-mounted and available in an all closed body Cadillac models. The all-new dashboard-mounted 'Autronic Eye' was also introduced this year and automatically dimmed the high-beam headlights when a forward-facing sensor indicated oncoming traffic. This became a Cadillac option for the next forty years. A set of five true wire-wheels rims was also available for an additional $325. Up until 1992 the wire-wheel rims were occasionally offered as an option. Sales for this year were up to an astonishing record-breaking 20,000 models and the price was $4,304 for the 4,415lb vehicle.
For the 1954 model year, Cadillac's received new sheetmetal, but the Sixty Special too closely resembled the less expensive Series 62. The Sixty Special's wheelbase was bumped up to 133', the same wheelbase it had been in 1949. Newly standard this year was electric windshield washers and refined power steering, from Saginaw. Optional was a four-way electrically-powered bench seat and power brakes. The horsepower was up to 230 and the eight chrome trim louvers were moved lower onto the rear doors, the same place they had been two years prior. Unfortunately sales dipped a bit, and capped at 16,200 units.
In 1955 the Sixty Special received updated trim along with even more horsepower; 250 hp (190 kW). The price was reduced a bit for this year, at $4,342 and production rose to 18,300 units. The chrome louvers were replaced with 12 louvers now mounted just ahead of the bumper on the rear fenders. New, taller chrome rocker panel moldings were stretched from the back of the rear wheel well to the rear bumper. A snazzy eggcrate design could be found on the new grille, and the rear roof support featured an elegant Florentine curve. Mounted on the panel below the trunk lid were six vertical chrome louvers, three placed on each side of the license plate mounting. New for this year was the option of a remote control trunk release.
1956 ushered in a new advancement for the Sixty Special and the P-38 inspired tail fins on the rear were deleted. The vehicle was now priced at $4,587 and only 17,000 units were sold this year, though the Cadillac division broke major records by selling more than 150,000 units. A new grille that showcased a Cadillac script emblem, mounted at an angle was placed on the driver's side. Cadillac crests were also placed on the front fenders this year, while the rear fenders held a chrome bead that ran along the top while large chrome spears with hash marks took the place of the previous years graceful chrome louvers on the rear sides. An option for the '56 Sixty Special was an anodized gold grille. Power brakes became standard equipment this year. Capable of producing 285 horsepower, a new, larger 365 cu in (5.98 L) powerplant was joined to a revamped automatic transmission. Options for the 1956 Sixty Special included Sabre Spoke wheels and passenger seatbelts.
For 1957 the Sixty Special updated to the pillarless design much like all standard Cadillac models for this year. Weighing in at 4,761lbs, the Sixty Special was priced at $5,539 for this year and production skyrocketed to a very monumental 24,000 units. The chrome fender louvers that had been a Sixty Special emblem since 1942 were replaced with a large ribbed metallic panel that filled the entire lower half of the rear fender. The optional A.C. unit was moved from the trunk to a space directly under the hood. A foot-operated parking brake was also added that released when the car was put in gear. The engine from the previous year now achieved 300 hp.
The following year horsepower in the Sixty Special was upped to an impressive 310 hp. A new wider grille sparkled with ‘studs' and a lower, much wider look was achieved by moving the rubber-tipped bumper guards further out towards the edges of the car. Adopted from the Eldorado Brougham, four headlights were placed on the Sixty Special.
The vehicle received small vent windows on the rear doors and full fender skirts nearly hid the rear wheels from sight while the large ribbed aluminum trim occupied the lower half of the rear fender. Power door locks were available this year. The 1958 model cost $6,117 and weighing in at 4,930 lbs, the total years production was only 12,900.
For the 1959 model the unforgettable 'zap!' fins made an appearance on nearly all Cadillac's. The Sixty Special now rode a three-inch shorter wheelbase and continued to retain the pillar-less hardtop with its own unique moldings. These included a side-mounted dummy air-scoop on the rear fender, and a thin chrome bead that ran from the front fender back to the rear bumper, and then forward again to the front wheel well. The fin-mounted taillight pods were chromes and the engine was now at 325 horsepower. Newly optional on the Sixty Special was air suspension, utilizing Freon-filled shock absorbers.
For 1960 the rear ‘grille' received the same design as the Eldorado, along with new, shorter rear fins and a cleaner side-trim design. The price remained $6,233, the same as the previous year, and the wheelbase also remained unchanged. A vinyl roof covering became standard this year, and the small chrome ‘louvers' returned once again from 1956 and 1942 and were now mounted on the rear fenders, just in front of the taillights.
The following year, Cadillac's Fleetwood Sixty Special was on the receiving end of all-new sheet metal. The wheelbase was shortened slightly to 129.5 inches and a new formal roofline fitted with a vinyl covering was introduced. The sparkly louvers were once again back and this time placed just ahead of the taillights. Sales peaked at 15,500 units, and the 1961 Fleetwood Sixty Special became the sedan companion to the Eldorado coupe following the deletion of the four-door Eldorado Brougham.
Not much was updated in 1962 from the previous year except the fender louvers being moved up to the roof, directly behind the rear door opening. Minor changes included a new trim panel below the rear deck lid and a revised grill up front. The base price in 1962 was $6,366 and sales for this year plummeted to 13,350.
The following year exclusive new styling was unveiled, along with a brand new 325 hp powerplant. Compared to other Cadillac models, the Sixty Special followed the Eldorado's lack of body-side trim, and featured a very austere, clean look. A new Cadillac 'wreath and crest' ornament was located on the rear fender, while the small decorative louvers remained on the C-pillar. The front fender-mounted 'Sixty Special' emblem was deleted, and the vinyl top that had been standard was now made optional and priced at $125. Sales were up marginally to 14,000 units and the price was reduced slightly to $6,300.
Very few changes were made to the 1964 Sixty Special. The rear bumper and the grille were both updated slightly and the Cadillac wreath and crest ornament were moved from the rear fender to take the place of the C-pillar mounted louvers. Barely any side trim could be found on the Sixty Special, the only being a wide rocker-sill molding, which ran from the rear-edge of the front fender wheel well to the rear of the car. Prices went back to $6,366 and sales stayed pretty steady at 14,500 units.
A longer 133' wheelbase was introduced in 1965, along with some more new styling. An all-new available 'Brougham' package was introduced for this year, which was $194 more than the base model. This packaged included a padded grained-vinyl roof covering with 'Brougham' designation on the C-pillar. The Fleetwood Sixty Special returned to being a pillared sedan. A total of 18,100 units were produced for the 1965 year.
For 1966, the two versions were once again offered, and customers could choose from the $6,378 standard Fleetwood Sixty Special or the new $6,695 Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham. Due to the Brougham's extreme popularity, the option package became its own model in 1966. Inside the Brougham model was genuine walnut trim and lighted picnic tables in the rear, reading lamps and foot rests, and on the interior was a very formal-looking vinyl roof covering. This was the final year that the Sixty Special would remain a body-sharing companion to the Eldorado convertible as the following year's Eldorado model would receive all new sheet metal and move to front-wheel drive. A total of 13,630 Fleetwood Brougham's were sold while only 5,445 standard models were sold in 1966.
The $6,739 Fleetwood Brougham once again outsold the $6,423 Sixty-Special, 12,750 units compared to the standards 3,550 units sold in 1967. No changes were made for this year.
A lot of the same styling was carried over the following year, but the hood of the Sixty Special was made longer and now extended all the way to the base of the windshield to cover the ‘hidden' windshield wipers. A very unique beveled deck lid was introduced for 1968. A total of 15,300 vinyl-roofed Fleetwood Brougham's were sold at a rate of $6,867 per model while the standard model was priced at $6,552 and only sold 3,300 vehicles.
For 1969 the styling was revamped and the two Sixty-Special models carried unique rooflines in comparison to other Cadillac models. The Fleetwood Brougham featured a 60/40 split bench seat as standard and was an optional feature in the Sixty Special. The new priority for Cadillac in 1969 was safety, safety and more safety. An all-new steering column was introduced to not only absorb impact and collapse in the event of a collision, but it also held theft-deterrent features such as transmission shifter lock mechanism and an ignition key switch activated steering wheel. On the front seats headrests were standard features along with seatbelts for all six passengers. The 1968 engine carried over to the 1969 model but the small vent windows on the front and rear doors were deleted. Priced at $7,092 the Brougham came with a vinyl roof top that was available in a variety of 6 colors, featured rear-seat foot rests and an automatic level control for the rear wheels that would keep the vehicle level despite the weight of cargo, passengers or fuel. The Brougham once again rocked the sales with a total of 17,300 units sold in 1969 and 2,545 of the standard $6,761 Sixty Special.
Very few changes were made for the 1970 model year, but those that were made included the very typical new grille and tail lamps. For this year the Sixty Special received a ‘chrome with vinyl insert' body-side molding, taking it image far away from its ‘bold, bare side body'. Thankfully this didn't take away from the special uniqueness from the Sixty-Special's look. A total of 16,913 Fleetwood Brougham's were sold for this year, while only 1,738 of the standard Sixty-Special were sold. This was the final year for the standard, metal-roofed Sixty-Special.
For 1971 the line was updated to showcase just one Sixty-Special model, the Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham. The Brougham continued to ride on a particular 133 inch wheelbase, but it received brand-new sheet metal along with a very unique roof design. The roof design was nostalgic to Bill Mitchell's pioneer design with its individually-framed, rounded-corner side glass. The C-pillar mounted opera lamps were new on the vinyl top, along with a thick B-pillar which added the limousine look and feel. Unfortunately, even though the model was much more elaborate and extravagant than previous models, sales dropped down to 15,200 units.
The final year for the Sixty-Special was 1972, and also the 70th anniversary of Cadillac. Only a few minor changes were made, one of these being the addition of a chrome molding around the rear window. Sales peaked at an impressive 20,750 units, the Sixty Special sold at a base price of $7,585. Weighing a very sturdy 4,858 lbs, the 1972 Brougham featured standard equipment that included dual-comfort front seats, rear-seat reading lamps and automatic level control. A variety of upholstery options were available this year. The 1973 model would simply be called 'Fleetwood Brougham' as the Sixty Special name was finally retired.
In 1987 the Fleetwood Sixty Special model returned as the upper model in the front wheel drive Fleetwood lineup. Both the 1987 and 1988 models were custom-crafted vehicles that came with a five-inch wheelbase increase in comparison the Cadillac Deville upon which they were based. The rear seat leg room took up the increase of the five inches. The Sixty-Special was similar to 'Mini-Limousines' that could be either chauffeur or owner driven.
For 1989 the Fleetwood Sixty Special returned and now shared the standard 113.8 inch wheelbase as the Fleetwood and the Deville. The Fleetwood continued in production until 1993. This year marked 55 years since the Sixty Special had been first unveiled, this was the first in over 50 years that the 'Fleetwood' designation had not been used with the 'Sixty Special' nomenclature.
From 1989 through 1993 the Sixty Special featured a distinct, much longer wheelbase that was differentiated from the Cadillac Deville by the unique interior trim package that incorporated 22-way power driver and passenger seats. Giorgio Giugiaro is responsible for the glove-soft leather seating that included built-in heating elements, an electrically-powered slide-out storage bin and a center clamshell armrest with flip-up seat adjustment control panel. This seating package remained a standard element from 1989 through 1992.
The Fleetwood nomenclature remained in 1993 on an all-new rear-wheel drive vehicle which was a replacement for the rear-wheel drive Brougham. The 1992 front-drive Fleetwood morphed into the 1992 Sixty-Special that was available as only a four door vehicle. In 1993 a total of 5,292 Sixty Specials were produced.By Jessica Donaldson