1956 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Concept
High bid of $460,000 at 2011 RM Auctions - Automobiles of Amelia Island. (did not sell)Sold for $258,500 at 2012 RM-Automobiles of Arizona.
This one-of-a-kind 1956 El Dorado Brougham Town Car is one of the rarest concept cars. Known as XP-48 it was featured in the General Motors 1956 Motorama 'Highway of Tomorrow' and later that year was featured in the Paris, France Auto Show.
It is made of fiberglass and stands 55.5 inches tall with a 129.5-inch wheelbase. The rear compartment is done in beige leather with all appointments in gold. The chauffeurs' area is done in black Moroccan leather.
Initial plans called for the Eldorado Brougham, which used a different body than the rest of the Cadillac line, to go into limited production in 1956. It would take another year to come about, so instead another Brougham dream car made the show circuit, the Town Car. Unlike the 1955 Eldorado Brougham and the 1957 production car, it used fiberglass body construction. It featured an open compartment in black Moroccan leather for the driver and enclosed beige themed passenger abode.
Among the features awaiting the driven were radio-telephone, air conditioning controls, women's vanity, cigar humidor, thermos bottle and glassware.
An electronic locking system both secured the doors when the vehicle was in motion and opened the center-opening doors when needed. Larger than the 1955 Brougham, it was 219.9-inches long and 55.8-inches high. Wheelbase was 129.5 inches. Save for the construction and roof design, the 1956 Town Car pretty well illustrated what was the come for 1957.
It was ordered destroyed but the salvage yard owner could not bring himself to destroy the car and covered it with a tarp where it remained until 1989.
High bid of $460,000 at 2011 RM Auctions - Automobiles of Amelia Island. (did not sell)Sold for $258,500 at 2012 RM-Automobiles of Arizona.
Considered the 'Cadillac of all Cadillacs', the Brougham edition of the Eldorado was perhaps the most notable and memorable designs ever to be produced by General Motors.
The Eldorado had started out in 1953 as a special-bodied car that was meant to be a low-production model of the 1952 El Dorado 'Golden Anniversary' concept car. Drawing its name from the fabled city of riches that inspired many European explorers, the 'Eldorado' would have a nameplate of gold and would be a limited edition convertible amongst Cadillac's top of the line.
When the Eldorado made its first appearance in 1953 it came with a wraparound windshield and a price tag nearly twice as much as the 62 Series, which shared the same engine with the Eldorado. The 1953 Eldorado would end up being truly unique and a very limited edition Cadillac as the 1954 model would lose its unique sheetmetal shape.
In an effort to reduce the cost of the car, and thereby, increase production and sales the sheetmetal body would be dropped in favor of a shell similar to that of other Cadillacs. Very little would differentiate the Eldorado from other Cadillac models except for its trim features.
The 1955 edition of the Eldorado would again share a good deal of similarity with many of Cadillac's other models. However, besides the trim, the 1955 edition of the Eldorado would be much more easily recognized with its ingenious rear end. High, pointed and slender tailfins would give the car a striking rear end and would be a rather sensuous departure from the more normal thick fins that adorned so many other models of cars during the time. The car continued to be a leader amongst Cadillac's line of automobiles as the 1956 model would include an option for a two-door hardtop coupe. This particular model would be known as the Eldorado Seville.
1956 would also see the introduction of what would sometimes be called Cadillac's answer to the Ford Continental Mark II. At the 1956 Motorama the world would be introduced to perhaps one of the most memorable designs ever to be produced by GM. Styled by Ed Glowacke, Cadillac's Chief Designer, with the help of Bob Scheelk, a new concept would be introduced. The car would be known as the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham.
The Eldorado Brougham name had initially been instroduced at the Waldorf Astoria the year before. Under the direction of Harley Earl, the new concept featured such luxurious amenities as a brushed stainless steel roof, four-door pillarless hardtop and panoramic windshields, quad headlights, Autronic Eye, swivel seats and air conditioning.
When the car was introduced the following year, fully intent on production, the Eldorado Brougham would have such unforgettable design features as the Dagmar bumpers, compound curved panoramic windshield, suicide doors, stainless steel roof and the swept-back fins.
The Eldorado Brougham was to reflect nothing but luxury and a glance throughout the interior of the car would expose the luxurious elements that would make the Brougham second to none. The glove compartment had areas for tissues, a cigarette case, stainless steel tumblers, an Evans Carryall that contained ladies powder, lipstick, comb and nickel holder. The luxuries continued with a beveled mirror in the armrest and an ounce bottle of Arpege Extrait de Lanvin perfume.
Seduced with such luxury it would be easy to overlook the fact there were actually two cars that made their debuts in 1956. While the Eldorado Brougham was already luxurious enough in and of itself, Cadillac would also introduce a Town Car concept. Making its debut at the New York Motorama, the Town Car was a league unto itself.
Constructed of fiberglass, the car had a half-roof over the passenger compartment which would be covered in nothing less than black leather. The chauffer's compartment would sport an open roof and would have a different roofline. Gold trimmed, the passenger compartment would be lavishly finished in beige leather. The chauffer would also find himself amongst luxury driving a car surrounded by black Moroccan leather and chrome.
The car would tell a story in two parts. The front of the car, up to the passenger compartment, would be a story of simplicity and understated luxury. However, the passenger compartment and the last half of the story would be that of supple appointments and trimmings that certainly would have attracted attention to whoever it was that was to step out of the car. Almost a story of Jekyll and Hyde, the front was very simple and straight-forward while the rear of the car was much more attention-getting and wild.
Appearing at this year's RM Auction in Arizona would be the one Town Car Concept that would be produced and debuted at the New York Motorama and Paris Salon. Chassis number S02491 was almost something of a very distant memory as it would be saved from destruction and hidden away until the 1980s. But at this year's RM Auction, bidders would have the opportunity to own a truly rare and luxurious Cadillac, perhaps the most elite of the Brougham Eldorados ever produced.
Called the 'Highway of Tomorrow', the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Town Car Concept would provide attendees of the New York Motorama an apparent glimpse into an extravagant future. Much praise would be lauded upon the car when it appeared at the Paris Salon in October of 1956. However, after much praise, the Town Car model would be lost into the background as production of the Eldorado Brougham kicked into gear.
The Town Car Concept would be ordered to the Warhoops salvage yard to be destroyed. However, the staff at Warhoops could not bring themselves to destroy the car and would hide it away under a tarpaulin until it came to be discovered by the renowned Joe Bortz in 1989. Bortz would take the car and would not restore it, but instead, would sell it to Roy Warshawsky of J.C. Whitney.
After Warshawsky's passing, Dick Baruk would come to own the car and would send the car to RM Auto Restoration to complete the car's restoration. By the time the car's restoration would be completed it would be mated to a 1956 365-cubic inch V-8 engine and would sport such trimmings as gold-plated valve covers and dual four-barrel carburetors. Interestingly, since the car began its life as a concept and would be brought to working order through the restoration the car would not be road legal, but would be the perfect automobile to unload at a show.
Though not the Town Car Concept, the Eldorado Brougham would still command kingly sums. Often twice the price of other Eldorado, and even more than the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud of the same year, the Eldorado Brougham was considered the pinnacle. Equipped with air suspension and power seats, the Eldorado Brougham the ride in the car was sheer luxury and comfort. The car rode as high over the bumps as its stratospheric price.
While the Eldorado Brougham would be considered one of the most priceless jewels in Cadillac's crown, the Town Car Concept would have to be considered the rarest of the priceless jewels. And it almost had been lost forever. Instead, the non road legal Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Town Car Concept was expected shine once more and garner between $300,000 and $500,000.Sources:
Durmisevich, Glen. '1957 & 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham', (http://history.gmheritagecenter.com/wiki/index.php/1957_%26_58_Cadillac_Eldorado_Brougham). Heritage Center: Generations of GM History. http://history.gmheritagecenter.com/wiki/index.php/1957_%26_58_Cadillac_Eldorado_Brougham. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
'Cadillac Eldorado: Cadillac Eldorado Information', (http://cadillacforums.com/cadillac-models/cadillac-eldorado.html. CadillacOwners.com. http://cadillacforums.com/cadillac-models/cadillac-eldorado.html. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
'Feature Lots: Lot No. 115: 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Town Car Concept', (http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ12&CarID=r166). RM Auctions. http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ12&CarID=r166. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
By Jeremy McMullen
Wikipedia contributors, 'Cadillac Eldorado', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 1 January 2012, 09:18 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Cadillac_Eldorado&oldid=468909857 accessed 3 January 2012
The Eldorado was a word with many meanings. It was chosen as the name to adore an upscale car that was built by Cadillac to celebrate its Golden Anniversary in 1952. Mary-Ann Zukosky, a secretary in the merchandising department, participated in an in-house competition and suggested the name. Eldorado was derived from the Spanish words 'el dorado' meaning 'golden one'. The name had first been used by the chief of a South American Indian tribe. The story was that his followers and tribe would sprinkle his body with gold dust on ceremonial occasions. He would later cleanse himself by diving into a lake.
Another story states the name represents a legendary but undiscovered city in South America filled with riches. Many European adventurers have long sought for this city including England's Sir Walter Raleigh.
'Palm Spring Life' magazine claimed the name Eldorado was derived from a Californian resort that was frequently visited by General Motors executives. The name of the resort located in Coachella Valley was the Eldorado Country Club.
In respect to the automobile built by General Motors, the Eldorado name was first used in 1953 and given to a limited-edition, low production, convertible and would continue to be used for many years. The original Eldorado was indeed a limited-production vehicle with only 532 examples created. The year prior, GM had shown the 'El Dorado' concept car in celebration of its 50 year anniversary. The Eldorado was the production version of this concept. It was based on the Series 62 and carried no special badging except a golden nameplate 'Eldorado' could be found in the center of the dash.
The convertible tops were available in black or white while the rest of the body could be ordered in one of four colors that included Azure Blue, Artisan Ochre, Alpine White, and Aztec Red. It carried a factory sticker price of $7,750 which was nearly twice as expensive as the vehicle it had been based, the Series 62.
The styling was influenced by the legendary Harley Earl who championed the wraparound windshield design along with other unique and stylish features.
The following year the Eldorado lost much of its unique qualities as it began sharing its body with other standard Cadillac's. This standardization allowed for lower, more cost-effective pricing.
For 1955 the Eldorado continued to grow in bold features and radical designs. Tailfins could now be found in the rear giving the impression the car was in motion or pointing forward, even at a standstill. The following year Cadillac introduced the Eldorado Seville, a two-door hardtop coupe version.
One of the most memorable and sought-after designs of the Eldorado appeared in 1957, the Eldorado Brougham. At a price of over $13,000, the Brougham brought ulta-luxury and four doors. Event at this high price, it is estimated that GM lost over $10,000 on each of these hand-assembled masterpieces. It cost more than most luxury marque models such as Rolls-Royce. The hardtop roof was stainless steel and it included almost every convenience option offered by General Motors, including dual headlights and air suspension. During its two-year production run, only 704 examples were produced.
1957 also saw a new rear-end design on the Eldorado, often referred to as the 'chipmunk cheeks.' Little changed in 1958 and in 1959 Cadillac scaled back on the design. Though it was a couple years older its price remained relatively the same, selling at around $13,075. The assembly was handled by the famous Italian coachbuilder, Pinin Farina. These virtually hand-built machines had large fins, 'rocket-ship' taillights, and a very modern design for its era.
1960 was the last year Cadillac built the Seville version. GM made the Eldorado a trim option on the standard Cadillac convertible which would continue until 1966.
In 1967 the Eldorado was redesigned and now shared an E-Body platform with the Build Riviera and the Oldsmobile Toronado. The styling had been courtesy of GM's styling chief Bill Mitchell. One of the more distinctive features were the hidden lights. It continued to define luxury, prestige, and style. Under the hood lurked a potent 429 cubic-inch V8 which drove the front wheels. Zero-to-sixty took less than 9 seconds. This excellent performance did not translate to all of its mechanical components and its drum brakes were rather inadequate for its size and speed. Disc brakes could be purchased for an additional price.
Strict government regulations, emissions, and safety concerns meant the Eldorado changed slightly in aesthetics and mechanical components for 1968. For 1969 the hidden headlights were no longer part of the Eldorado design. A halo vinyl roof was offered as optional equipment.
A massive 500 cubic-inch V8 engine capable of producing 400 horsepower was offered exclusively on the Eldorado from 1970 through 1975. Thereafter, it was standard on all full-size Cadillac's.
GM redesigned its full-size cars in 1971, with the new design lasting until 1975. The Eldorado was again offered as a convertible with fender skirts. The opera window design was all new and would prove to be very popular, indicated by its imitation by almost every domestic manufacturer. The opera window was a fixed rear side window surrounded by a vinyl roof.
Near the close of the 1970's, many marques were decreasing the size of their cars. The Eldorado and Toronado continued to remain large and luxurious. In 1979 the Eldorado decreased in size and now sat atop a chassis which it shared with the Buick Riviera and the Toronado. Due to increasing oil prices and stricter government regulations, the engines began to decrease in size as well.
The notchback roofline was perhaps the most distinctive feature on the Eldorado. Its rear window was nearly vertical. An independent rear suspension could now be found on the Eldorado, offering more rear passenger seating and a larger trunk while retaining a smaller body. The Eldorado Biarritz model was offered with a stainless-steel roof, just like the one that had been used on the first Brougham.
To further comply with evolving government regulations and rising fuel concerns, GM introduced a variable displacement engine in 1981. The idea was to turn off inactive cylinders while not in use. When power was needed, those sleeping cylinders would come alive and provide the power that was need. The idea was genius, but the execution was disastrous. On many occasions, it did not work well or at all which did much to scare the reputation of the Eldorado resulting in poor sales. Within the next few years, the sales rebound and the Eldorado was able to regain its market share.
By 1986, the size of the Eldorado had decreased substantially, now being similar in size to a compact car. The design was mediocre and for the first time in its history, it was available with sedan frames around its windows. Many believed that this drastic change was due to fears of skyrocketing fuel prices that would send consumers running to smaller, lighter, and fuel-efficient vehicles. Rather, fuel prices remained reasonable and the Eldorado sales plummeted. There were future revisions and aesthetic changes but sales continued to slow for the following years.
In 1992 the Cadillac Eldorado was reborn. Though it did not grow much in size it gained much ground in the styling department. Its design drew from its past and incorporated the frameless window glass that was distinctive to the Eldorado. The Northstar V8 was placed under the hood and provided excellent power and response. The styling and power resulted in increased sales and popularity. Though the four-door Cadillac Seville consistently outsold the two-door Eldorado, it had regained much of its prestige that it had lost.
For the following years, there were minor enhancements to the design and the interior.
In 2003, Cadillac celebrated the 50th model year of this nameplate. An ETC version was offered that produced an astonishing 300 horsepower. A limited number of red and white-colored cars, the same as the 1953 convertible, were produced as a tribute to the legacy of the Eldorado.
On April 22, 2002, the production of the Eldorado ceased.By Daniel Vaughan | May 2006