Jordan's staff touched up the 1962 Cadillac to bring it more in character with previous models. By the time this face-lift was begun, Mitchell had replaced Earl as General Motors' design vice president, bringing with him a new design sensibility.
"Bill thought we were heading down the wrong path with Cadillac," comments Dave Holls. "He didn't like the 1961 front end. He said it would make a great front for a Chevrolet, and when I was transferred to Chevrolet, we did the 1963 Chevrolet grille like the 1961 Cadillac. But Bill wanted to get back to a more traditional Cadillac front end.
"We used to have photographs up on the board with all the Cadillac fronts from 1941 on, and Bill felt that the 1961 grille didn't say Cadillac. It was a beautiful front, but it was like the 1939, which wasn't a very good Cadillac, either. Nothing wrong except it just wasn't Cadillac. So part of our assignment was to change that."
The grille took on a more traditional look for 1962, with a floating, horizontal bar across the middle. The car also pioneered clear-lens taillights that turned red when they lit up. These 1962 lamps stood upright and their bezels were smaller than those used in 1961. This change came about at the request of hearse builders who wanted more tailgate width, according to designer Jerry Brochstein.
Cadillac's trademark fins were shaved incrementally and lost the chrome beading that had edged previous versions. (Fleetwood 75s carried on with 1961 fins, however.)
There was also a major shake-up in roof designs. The thin-pillar coupe and overhanging four-window four-door hardtop roofs were replaced by a decidedly more formal top with a thick sail panel that in profile looked a little like a convertible with its top up.
Production of the Series 62 Town Sedan was transferred from the six-window body to this new four-window style and the De Ville got a companion "short deck" car -- dubbed the Park Avenue -- but it, too, lagged in sales.
The most notable mechanical improvements for 1962 involved the addition of a dual-circuit brake master cylinder and the inclusion of radio and heater as standard equipment in the Series 62. Nonetheless, the year proved a good one for the division; Cadillac assembled 160,840 cars for the model year to break a production record that had stood for six years -- and better 1961 output by more than 22,000 units.
After seeing to it that the grille had been straightened up, Mitchell next turned his attention to the skegs, which he felt made the rear end look too much like a rocketship. For the 1963 Cadillac, Mitchell told Jordan, "Let's get off those skegs."
Yet Jordan and his crew initially kept coming up with low fins. Finally, according to Holls, "Bill said, 'Goddammit, get off those skegs! You know, three times and you're fired.' He wasn't really mad; he was just guiding the studio." Jordan got the message, and the 1963 Cadillac not only lost the skegs but went back to a more solid, more elegant 1959-1960 feel.
For more on the 1963 Cadillac, see the next page.
For more information on cars, see: