The rocket ship for the road that was the 1959 Cadillac Cyclone represented Harley Earl's vision of the future. To realize that vision, he enlisted the talents of veteran designer Carl Renner, who recalled his role in the project (coded XP-74) in an interview in the May 1997 issue of Collectible Automobile.
"[In 1958], Mr. Earl appointed me to head Studio IV. My first assignment in Advance IV...was the XP-96, a new Corvette program...Mr. Earl also had me head a personal project he had going...the Cadillac Cyclone," said Renner. "With Advance IV and the Cyclone studio located next to each other, Mr. Earl had a door cut in the wall so I could go from one studio to the next. We finished the Cyclone before Mr. Earl retired [in December 1958]."
Some of the dream cars were built for display only, with no engine or driveline, but with their suspensions adjusted to achieve a normal appearance. Others were meant to be operating vehicles with varying degrees of finish and driveability. The Cyclone was intended to be a completely functional car, and there was some talk around the company that Earl might take this final creation with him to drive in retirement.
As it turned out, he took the Oldsmobile F-88 dream car instead, and for a multitude of good reasons. Though it was graced with high style and dramatic appearance, the 1959 Cadillac Cyclone also contained futuristic features that were untested, untried, and in some ways unattainable, as it included some dreams to which technology had not yet caught up.
The 1959 Cadillac Cyclone was equipped with the new-for-1959 325-bhp, 390-cid Cadillac V-8, driven through a stock Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. It was equipped with a two-speed differential, to allow six speeds forward. A new, low-profile four barrel carburetor was used without an air cleaner to further reduce overall height, but there was a filtered air scoop opening through the hood.
The engine exhaust travelled through dual mufflers located in the engine compartment, next to the engine, to exit through dual ports located in the front fenders ahead of the tires.
An unusual feature was that all the engine-driven accessories such as the air-suspension compressor, power steering pump, generator, water pump, and air-conditioning compressor were mounted in front of the engine, not on top of it, and driven by belts from the crankshaft pulley.
Further, two fans sat in front of all this to bring air through the newly designed aluminum cross-flow radiator. The power brakes used a pressure servo rather than a vacuum type, and drew pressure from the air-ride reserve tank for this purpose. It had variable-ratio Saginaw rotary-valve power steering, a feature that would become a welcome standard on Cadillacs in future years.
For more information on the 1959 Cadillac Cyclone classic car, continue on to the next page.
For more information on cars, see: