Like this 1963 Series 62 Cadillac, the 1964 version boasted Hydra-Matic transmission.

1964 Cadillac

The big news for the 1964 Cadillac was under the hood. Bore was increased to 4.13 inches and stroke grew to 4 inches, adding up to 429 cid. Horsepower went to 340 at 4,600 rpm and torque rose by 50 pound-feet to 480 at 3,000 rpm.

This resulted in a marked improvement in performance, not that Cadillacs had been sluggish before. The 1964 Cadillac boasted a top speed of 122 mph, with 0-to-60 mph in 8.5 seconds and the quarter mile coming up in 16.8 seconds at 85 mph.

Cadillac owners valued effortless performance, and this engine provided it with silence and reliability. Fuel economy, however, dropped from around 13 mpg in 1963 to 10 mpg in the 1964 models.

Series 62 and Fleetwood 75 models carried on with the Hydra-Matic automatic transmission, but De Villes and 60 Specials were fitted with a new Turbo Hydra-Matic autobox. The three-speed unit made use of a torque converter.

Cadillac's big convenience innovation for 1964 was Comfort Control, the industry's first fully automatic, thermal resistor-type climate control system. Comfort Control allowed the driver to choose a temperature setting and forget about ever adjusting it again. Summer or winter, the interior temperature and humidity remained the same (in theory, at least). Also available for the first time were Twilight Sentinel automatic headlights.

With technology in the spotlight, styling stood pat for 1964. Cadillacs gained a half inch in length as the vertical taillight bezels in the bumper came in for a slight outward bend at the center. Up front, 1963's small round parking lights were replaced by larger panels integrated into the lower grille.

The most notable change came on the renamed Fleetwood Eldorado. Fender skirts were deleted in favor of a bright-rimmed open-wheel look that resulted in the most distinctive Eldorado in several years; production edged up to 1,870 units. Also, the Series 62 lost its convertible as the entry-level Cadillac ragtop got a promotion to the De Ville ranks.

The good days were hardly over for Cadillac. Sales rose steadily every year through 1970 and the dramatic front-wheel-drive Eldorado coupe's debut in 1967 reaffirmed the division's role as a style leader.

The marque continued to dominate the American luxury field and didn't begin to suffer the effects of overseas competition for another decade. These large, prestigious automobiles -- the Cadillacs of 1961 through 1964 -- did their part to maintain the standard of the world in look, feel, and reputation.

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