People who were coming of age in the latter part of the 1960s and 1970s will remember how head-turning the razor sharp, sporty, classy and sexy Cadillac Eldorado was. This was a time when the “personal luxury car” was taking off after the niche was carved out by the Ford Thunderbird that made its debut for the 1955 model year.
The Eldorado was first introduced a couple of years earlier, in 1953, but it was offered as a specialty vehicle, a two-door convertible that would in fact be a great find today. There were just 532 specimens of the 1953 Cadillac Eldorado produced, carrying a price tag of $7,750. General Motors design wizard Harley Earl, the creator of the Corvette, was said to be especially fond of the stylistic effect of the Eldo’s wraparound windshield.
The cutting-edge Eldorado became the General Motors standard bearer for style, and the second generation of the car lasted from 1955 to 1958 and was offered as a two or four-door hardtop in addition to the two-door convertible. The third generation of Eldorado spanned from 1959 to 1966, and in 1967 the fourth generation hit the showrooms, and this restyling was profound as General Motors aimed the car toward the personal luxury car market that was hitting full stride at that time.
The fourth generation Eldorado was similar in appearance to the Oldsmobile Toronado that made its debut in 1966, sharing the same E-body platform. It was powered by the Caddy 429 ci V8 engine in ’67; in ’68 it was offered with a 472 cubic inch V8; and in 1970 the huge 500 ci V8, rated at an incredible 400 horsepower, was introduced.
The fifth generation of the Eldorado was rolled out for the 1971 model year and lasted through 1978. The 1973 Cadillac Eldorado was selected to be the Pace Car at the Indianapolis 500, and this resulted in some rarities. Cadillac manufactured 566 ’73 Eldo Indy Pace Car convertibles, using 33 at Indianapolis and selling the rest publicly, allotting one of them to each dealership.
The Eldorado mystique continued through the sixth generation that began in 1979 and lasted through the middle of the 1980s, and they actually sold around 100,000 units in 1984. But the car was downsized for the seventh generation that began in 1986, and it looked like another class of vehicle. By 1990 Eldorado sales had plummeted to less than 21,000 units.
The car stayed in production through the 2002 model year, but it never recaptured its true glory. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but many would agree that the Cadillac Eldorado in its best years was one of the most stunning cars to ever grace the American roadways.
Contributed by Fossil Cars Staff Writer