The first minutes of meetings concerning the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham were recorded on May 4, 1954, shortly after the last stop of the 1954 Motorama. At this first meeting, preliminary specifications and dimensions were laid down. Styling responsibility was turned over to Ed Glowacke, who headed the Cadillac studio. Engineering was handled by Fred Arnold, Cadillac's Chief Engineer.
Unlike so many of the industry's immobile show cars of the period, the first Eldorado Brougham was a fully operational model with an all-steel body, conventional Cadillac engine, and a full complement of working accessories.
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The 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham that was produced had some design differences from the prototype.
While the prototype, first displayed in early 1955, was essentially a 1955 Cadillac from an engineering standpoint (the chassis notwithstanding), the production model had all of the engineering advances of the 1957 models, including a 365-cubic-inch V-8. In the Eldorado Brougham it developed 325 horsepower at 4800 rpm, and featured a 10.0:1 compression ratio and two Carter four-barrel carburetors.
This engine was optional on the Series Sixty-Two Eldorado Specials, the Seville coupe and Biarritz convertible. It was combined with a conventional GM Hydra-Matic four-speed automatic transmission. Power steering, power brakes, and air conditioning were all standard. While fuel injection was seriously considered for the production models, at no time was it ever incorporated.
The Motorama Eldorado Brougham was rushed from preliminary sketches to completion in less than 10 months. Assembly got underway on November 6, 1954. Amazingly, the finished car was previewed by the industry in New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel on January 19, 1955, literally with the paint still drying. Somehow, when the car was being unloaded at 2 a.m. it fell off its jacks, tearing the front fender and gouging the rear bumper. Some pretty frantic scurrying must have followed because the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham was revolving sedately on its turntable at 4 p.m. when the cocktail crowd of over 5000 arrived.
GM designer Harley Earl had made an appearance on Arthur Godfrey's TV show the previous morning, where he strongly hinted that the flashy Brougham would be put into limited production. By the time the first of six Motorama stops was over, a week later, it was almost a foregone conclusion that this unique Cadillac creation would in fact be put into limited production.
The prototype stood on a 124-inch wheelbase; the production wheelbase was pegged at 126 inches. The length of both the prototype and production models was 216.3 inches, about the same as the 1957 Series Sixty-Two sedan. But whereas the Sixty-Two stood 59 inches high, the production Brougham was down to 55.5 inches and its 77.5-inch width was 2.5 inches less than the standard production car. Despite the trimmer exterior dimensions, front and rear headroom was actually greater than in the Sixty-Two sedan. Front leg room was about the same, but rear leg room was uncomfortably less.
The prototype's front fenders were one continuous piece, and there was a forward-hinged hood. The centerpost between the doors was cut down to a mere stub with the doors locking against each other. This dictated that the rear doors be hinged at the rear "suicide" style, a feature that never took hold at GM, but was popularized a few years later by the Lincoln Continental. The windshield had the same wraparound treatment as the prototype. Since the car was to offer air conditioning as standard equipment, wind wings were eliminated. Instead, aircraft type air scoops were incorporated in the cowl area, and functional vertical exhaust slots were found on the rear doors.
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