1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham and Other High-End GM Cars
GM's auto designer Harley Earl went to the 1954 Motorama with the El Camino coupe, La Espada roadster, and four-door Park Avenue. The last not only very accurately predicted the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, but the rest of the 1957 Cadillac line, and, to a lesser degree, the 1957 Buick and Oldsmobile.
Though the Park Avenue wasn't a true four-door hardtop, the attractive stainless window frame treatment made it look deceptively like one. The top was brushed aluminum. Again, Earl noted the reaction from those who could really afford such cars, and the overwhelming choice was the Park Avenue sedan.
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The grille on the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham was more extreme than that on the standard Cadillac and was complemented by dual headlights. The aggressive-looking tailfins housed neatly integrated vertical taillights.
This was followed up at the 1955 Motorama with a fully operational prototype Cadillac Eldorado Brougham that was close -- but not identical to -- the Park Avenue. The Cadillac Eldorado Brougham was a true four-door hardtop, not a four-door sedan. It was lower than the Park Avenue (and seven inches lower than production Cadillacs) and considerably shorter in the rear. Its roof was brushed stainless steel rather than aluminum, and the wraparound windshield was vertical at the A-pillars rather than swept back into the doors.
By this time, it was crystal clear in Earl's mind what the public wanted in a very high-end GM car -- and it had very little to do with the Continental Mark II, which was officially introduced in late September 1955.
The Brougham wasn't committed to production until about the time of the 1955 Motorama. It was built by the Cadillac Division at the Cadillac plant in Detroit, Michigan, with not nearly the same degree of commitment or necessity to turn a profit as had been the case with the Mark II.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The instrument panel of the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham also sported fins! Chrome was in great abundance, and the glovebox housed silver magnetized drink tumblers.
Earl told Motor Trend magazine in 1955: "From the outset it was apparent that we must incorporate certain features known to be acceptable to our customers by virtue of Motorama experience and reception of our regular production cars, such as pillarless body construction, Panoramic windshield, pivoting front seats, and such landmarks as gull-type front bumper, 'egg-crate' grille, rear fender fins, and the projectile shapes on the rear fenders similar to the 1955 Eldorado convertible."
The Cadillac Eldorado Brougham boasted the first four-headlight lighting system in the industry, along with the soon-to-be-extinct Nash. Unlike air suspension, this feature quickly spread to practically every production car in the U.S. It was the norm for nearly three decades (toward the end with rectangular lamps), until new legislation allowed the now-universal aero-headlights to take over.
But in the late Fifties, when the U. S. Interstate Highway system was just beginning to take shape, the dual-beam single headlights of the late Thirties were still the standard. One reason for this was outmoded laws, which in many states didn't permit a true quad-lamp setup. However, the new system, introduced by Cadillac on the 1957 Brougham, was quickly approved by all states and became the industry standard in 1958. It utilized outer lamps with both high and low beams and inner lamps with high beam only.
The outer lamps on low beam were used for city driving and when there was oncoming traffic. Inner lamps and outer lamps on high beam were used for highway/freeway driving. Combined wattage of the four lamps was much greater than two-lamp systems, thus furnishing better illumination. In addition, the light was directed so that a driver got maximum visibility while creating minimal glare for drivers of oncoming cars -- as long as the headlights were in proper alignment.
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