Design Elements of the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham
While the differences between the prototype of the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham and the production model were subtle, the trained eye could easily pick them up.
Side trim on the production model had slightly more chrome and glitz, and small vent windows appeared. The prototype had very restrained fins containing conservative taillights at the top, and the rear deck was sloped. The production Brougham openly conceded to the Cadillac mentality with a tail treatment vacillating between that of the Eldorado Seville/Biarritz and the standard Caddys.
The fins were larger, the taillights were moved down, exhaust pods were tamed, and the deck was less sloped than on the Seville/Biarritz. Even the front-end treatment on the production model moved more closely to the mass-produced 1957 models. Obviously, GM designer Harley Earl was hedging his bets.
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By 1958 the regular Cadillacs had adopted the Brougham-style fins and dual headlights. Still, the more compact size of the Brougham plus other exclusive styling features kept it exclusive, as this 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham demonstrates.
Although the prototype's dashboard predicted the panel of the 1957 Cadillac, there were no interchangeable parts. Controls included three knobs in the driver's door to operate the "memory seat," buttons for the electric door locks and power-actuated trunklid, plus a warning light for low air pressure in the suspension system. The car could not be started with either rear door open, and all doors locked automatically when the car was put into gear. Standard equipment included an Autronic-Eye headlight dimmer and virtually every other accessory offered as an option, even on the Fleetwood series.
A fully transistorized radio boasted front and rear speakers and an antenna that popped up and down automatically when the radio was turned on and off. Seats, both front and rear, were contoured to accommodate two passengers. The front seats were separate and independently adjustable -- and they swung out. This resulted in extremely wide and comfortable seating for two across, but made it quite uncomfortable for an uninvited third party.
Upholstery materials ranging from all-leather to sedate and tailored broadcloth could be had in 44 variations. Mouton carpeting was standard, or the buyer could opt for wooly Karakul or lambskin at no additional cost. As Motor Trend noted in January 1957: "Completely equipped vanity cases, front and rear, even contained a complimentary ounce of Arpège Extrait de Lanvin, a perfume in the Brougham price class."
It should be noted that the Continental Mark II suffered to a degree because it didn't embrace any major innovations that the potential buyer could see or experience. While the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham never did receive fuel injection, it did have two other features with buyer appeal. These were the first air-suspension system on any production car in the world and the industry's first quad headlight setup (along with the 1957 Nash). Less appealing at the time, but new nonetheless, were the industry's first low-profile tires with thin whitewalls.
The Cadillac Eldorado Brougham's air suspension was designed by Lester D. Milliken and Fred H. Cowin, both engineers with the Cadillac Division. Cowin further developed a tubular X-frame to complement this new suspension setup. This type of frame was quickly adopted for all 1957 Cadillacs, which were coil sprung at all four corners. The 126-inch-wheelbase Brougham version was 3.5 inches shorter than the Series Sixty-Two, but the tread front and rear remained the same at 61 inches, making it a very stable compact design.
To learn about sales of the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, continue on to the next page.
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