1958, 1959 Cadillac Eldorado
The 1958 and 1959 Cadillac Eldorados diverged in strategy. Cadillac stood more or less pat on a winning hand for the 1958. Styling changes involved minor sheetmetal reshaping and ornamentation shuffling, and all models acquired the new four-headlamp system, first seen at Cadillac on the Brougham, in line with an industry trend.
Styling became more glittery on the 1958 Biarritz. Price was up by $762.
ldorado performance was substantially improved with the adoption of three two-barrel carburetors, which boosted output to 335 horsepower, 25 horsepower up on the single-four-barrel engine used elsewhere in the line.
The Brougham's astronomical price was unchanged, but the Seville and Biarritz, which consistently bore identical price tags, rose a startling $762. The timing of such a substantial increase proved to be ill-advised in this deep recession year, and sales fell by more than half. The Brougham fared little better, production stopping at a mere 304 units.
Model year 1959 brought another complete restyle for the entire Cadillac line and -- except for the Eldorado Brougham -- the wildest tailfins Detroit would ever produce. Cadillac historian Walter McCall described these appendages as "flamboyant," "ludicrous," and "of questionable taste." Other critics have said harsher things, but the public seemed to go along with the excess. The economy had picked up somewhat and, as elsewhere in the industry, Cadillac sales improved a bit.
Air suspension, pioneered by the Brougham two years earlier, was now standard for Biarritz and Seville. Though it offered a cloud-like ride and the convenience of automatic self-leveling in response to changes in load, the airbag setup was leak-prone and troublesome. Cadillac would abandon it after 1960 as Detroit's fascination with such gimmicks waned in proportion to a growing number of customer complaints.
The Eldorados became more like their lesser linemates for 1959, losing their unique
tail treatment and wheels.
Eldorado horses again numbered 20 more than on other Cadillacs. Thanks to a longer 3.88-inch stroke and another compression tweak, the figure was now 345 for the newly enlarged 390-cid V-8, which would prove to be the all-time power peak for a rear-drive Eldo.
Echoing 1954, the Biarritz and Seville lost much of their previous styling distinction this year. Their only differences from comparable Series 62s were a chrome swath along the upper rear fender contour and the Eldorado name in neat block letters along the lower edge of the front fenders.
The Brougham was another matter entirely. Now bearing coachwork built and styled by Pinin Farina of Italy, it was far different in character than the 1957-1958 design and actually predicted a number of styling features that would be adopted for the regular 1961-1962 production models.
To learn more about the 1960, 1961, and 1962 Eldorado model years, see the next page.
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