The newly sworn-in President of the USA and war hero, Dwight Eisenhower, stood on the back seat the white convertible as he celebrated his inauguration parade through the streets of Washington DC. The car in which he stood was General Motors (GM) new range topper, the Cadillac Eldorado.
Never has a car had such a powerful introduction and global endorsement. When Cadillac was truly the ‘standard of the world’ the Eldorado stood above and beyond all else.
It was the lowest, sleekest American automobile of its era. The styling derived directly from GM's 1951 La Sabre and 1952 Cadillac show cars. The convertible top was hidden below a smooth metal cover that fitted flush with the rear deck.
Nothing interrupted the flowing lines of this aspiration on wheels. It was the first production car to have a wrap around windscreen which set a style trend for the next decade. It was the dream car you could buy in your local Cadillac dealership.
Every luxury option in the known universe was standard on this baby. GM made just 533 Eldorados in 1953. They priced it three times higher than a normal Cadillac and sold every one of them. While the 1953 example is the star of the lineage, the 1957/58 four door hardtop Eldorado Brougham and the front drive 1967 Eldorado are similarly lusted after.
The 1957 Brougham is one mother of a car. They made only 700 of these sleek hardtops with their brushed stainless steel roofs and ‘suicide’ rear doors. Prices started at a jaw dropping $13,500, which could have bought you two houses in a good Los Angeles suburb at the time. A new Rolls Royce was only $9000.
Then there's the ‘67 Eldorado. Styled by David North and based on the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado, (also penned by North), the ‘67 is often seen as the pinnacle of GM design in the 20th century. Big and low, vast and fast, it carried a 7.7 litre V8 under its long bonnet. Its flanks are sheer and clean of chrome and it demands your absolute attention.
At the recent RMs Auction of the Don Davis collection, his white ‘53 Eldorado went for $231,000 and the ‘57 pink Brougham was snapped up for $253,000.
David Burrell is the editor of Retroautos.com.au