1953-1966 Cadillac Eldorado

1963, 1964, 1965, 1966 Cadillac Eldorado

A more distinguished-looking Cadillac Biarritz arrived for 1963. The lower body "skeg" lines of 1961-1962 were erased on all Cadillacs, and wide brushed-finish rocker panel moldings gave the Biarritz closer kinship with the svelte Sixty Special. The price remained stable -- a nominal two dollars less than the year before -- and production, though still limited, increased significantly.

The off-again/on-again rear fender skirts were gone again for 1964. Otherwise, this year's Fleetwood Eldorado convertible looked very much like the 1963 Biarritz.

1964 Cadillac Eldorado
The newly named Fleetwood Eldorado saw 1,870 copies for 1964.

Price went up by a paltry $22, but performance went up in a big way as both bore and stroke were increased (to 4.13 × 4.00 inches) for 429 cid and 340 horsepower. A significant development was the arrival of GM's new Turbo-Hydramatic transmission.

Except for the Series 75, the entire Cadillac line was again totally redesigned for 1965. Appearance was smoother and more rounded, thanks in part to the division's first use of curved side glass, and the tailfins -- a Cadillac tradition since 1948 -- were gone.

The big V-8 was repositioned six inches forward of its previous location in a new box-section perimeter frame, replacing the old X-type. A completely new four-link rear suspension system combined with front suspension refinements for an even smoother ride, and a revised exhaust setup brought an already quiet automobile even closer to silence.

1964 Cadillac Eldorado
Another handsomely restored 1964. Eldo’s rear fender skirts were off again that year.

­It had been a long time since Cadillac had made so many significant advances in a single model year. Naturally, the Fleetwood Eldorado convertible shared in these. Like the Sixty-Special, it was again bereft of bodyside trim apart from the wide rocker moldings, but the fender skirts were back once more as standard. Predictably, Eldorado sales, like those of the entire Cadillac line, increased markedly.

Little change was evident for 1966, the final season for the rear-drive Eldorado. This was a record sales year for Cadillac, its fifth in a row, and 1966 Eldorado production was exceeded only by the 1955 total. And that's as it should be, for a car with such a great heritage should end on a note of triumph.

But by now, Cadillac had decided it was again time for something truly new. It appeared the following year in the form of the first front-wheel-drive Eldorado, which would set a new standard for personal-luxury transportation. This car would only strengthen Cadillac's dominance in the upper end of the market. In first-year sales alone it exceeded its predecessor's combined total for the previous 10.

Nevertheless, this success wouldn't have been possible had it not been for the memorable Eldorados of the 1950s and early '60s. With the best of everything Cadillac had to offer in those years, they left an indelible impression in the minds and hearts of owners and would-be owners everywhere, and you can't ask much more than that.

Find specifications for the Cadillac Eldorado in our final section.

For more information on cars, see: