Cadillac began the 1950s with carefully considered updates to its basic 1948 design, which was good enough to remain popular through 1953. As General Motors designer Mitchell once noted: "A traditional look is always preserved. If a grille is changed, the tail end is left alone; if a fin is changed, the grille is not monkeyed with."
And so it was: a new one-piece windshield and revamped grille for 1950, small auxiliary grilles beneath the headlamps for 1951, a winged badge in that spot for 1952, one-piece rear windows and suggestive "Dagmar" pointed front bumper guards for 1953. Equally wise, Cadillac gave up on fastbacks much earlier than sister GM makes, switching all of its 1950 coupes to notchback profiles with hardtop rooflines a la Coupe de Ville.
Models also didn't change much through 1953. Still accounting for most sales, the Series 62 offered a four-door sedan, convertible, Coupe de Ville, and a less-deluxe hardtop coupe, all on the usual 126-inch wheelbase.
The Cadillac Sixty Special remained a solitary super-luxury four-door on its own wheelbase, which was now 130 inches versus 133 for 1942-1948. The Series 75 still listed its customary array of limousines and long-wheelbase sedans on a 146.8-inch chassis. Cadillac also continued supplying chassis for various coachbuilders, averaging about 2,000 a year through 1959.
The "entry-level" Series 61 was still around in 1950, but its sedan and De Ville-inspired coupe were demoted to a 122-inch wheelbase (from 126 in the 1940s). Manual transmission remained standard here (and on 75s), but other Caddys now came with Hydra-Matic at no extra cost.
The Series 61 models still lacked chrome rocker moldings and had plainer interiors, but also lower prices (by about $575). But with record 1950 sales of 100,000-plus, Cadillac no longer needed a "price leader," so the Series 61 was cancelled after 1951, this time for good.
After observing its Golden Anniversary with a little-changed fleet for 1952, Cadillac issued a flashy limited-edition convertible, the 1953 Series 62 Eldorado. Like that year's new Buick Skylark and Olds 98 Fiesta, it boasted features previewed on recent GM Motorama show cars: custom interior, special cut-down "Panoramic" wraparound windshield, a sporty "notched" beltline (below the side windows), and a metal lid instead of a canvas boot to cover the lowered top. A striking piece, the Eldorado was a preview of Cadillacs to come, but only 532 of the '53s were built, largely because the price was a towering $7,750.
Cadillac sales -- and horsepower -- continued to climb from 1954 to 1956. For more on this Cadillac era, read on.
For more infomation on Cadillac, see:
- Cadillac: Learn the history of America's premier luxury car, from 1930s classics to today's newest Cadillac models.
- Consumer Guide New Car Reviews and Prices: Road test results, photos, specifications, and prices for 2007 Cadillacs and hundreds of other new cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVs.
- 1940-1949 Cadillac: Cadillac produces some of its most beautiful cars and some of its most important engineering developments -- not to mention the tailfin.
- 1960-1969 Cadillac: Cadillac brings unmatched elegance to the luxury market and is rewarded with unchallenged popularity.