Cadillac extended its 1950s success to record heights in the "Soaring Sixties." Though Lincoln and Imperial were stronger rivals in these years than they had been in the '50s, neither could match Cadillac's brand cachet, broad model line or astute marketing.
Add in progressively cleaner styling, new convenience features and a daring new Eldorado, and it's no wonder Cadillac remained America's luxury favorite by far throughout the 1960s. It also helped that the national economy rebounded strongly from the "Eisenhower Recession" of 1957-60.
After the garish rocketry of 1959, the 1960 Cadillacs were greeted as a welcome sign that saner heads were prevailing at giant General Motors. These cars were just a facelift of the year-old '59 design, but they were arguably more elegant with their cleaner grilles and, in a reversal for Cadillac, lowered tailfins.
The 1960 Cadillac model offerings stayed the same. So did prices, ranging from $4,892 for the Series 62 hardtop coupe to $9,748 for the big Series 75 limousine. Mechanical specifications also stood pat.
Cadillac had run ninth in U.S. model-year production for 1956-57, and then dropped to 10th, where it would remain through 1964. Still, that was impressive going for a luxury make.
For 1961 came another new GM C-body for the cleanest Cadillacs in years. This reflected the influence of Bill Mitchell, who favored a more-chiseled look and less chrome than Harley Earl. The grille was reduced to a modest grid, and wrapped windshields were abandoned (except on Series 75s, which would retain their existing D-bodies through '66). The Eldorado Seville hardtop coupe and Brougham sedan disappeared due to lack of sales, while the Biarritz convertible was downgraded to the same 325-horsepower V-8 as other models.
GM settled into a styling groove under Mitchell, so the 1962 Cadillacs were basically toned-down '61s. Fins were lowered again, front-fender cornering lights appeared as a new option, and backup/turn/stop lights were combined behind a single white lens for an ultra-tidy appearance. Four-window sedans received more-orthodox rooflines but still included a pair of short-deck variants, now called Series 62 Town Sedan and De Ville Park Avenue. Anticipating future federal requirements was a new "safety" braking system with dual master cylinder and separate front and rear hydraulic lines. Model-year output rose to nearly 161,000, up some 23,000 over '61.
Major engine alterations, resulting in an even smoother, quieter ride, were on tap for the 1963 Cadillac. The 1963 and 1964 models are discussed next.
For more information on Cadillac, see:
- Cadillac: Learn the history of America's premier luxury car, from 1930s classics to today's newest Cadillac models.
- Consumer Guide New Car Reviews and Prices: Road test results, photos, specifications, and prices for 2007 Cadillacs and hundreds of other new cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVs.
- 1950-1959 Cadillac: Cadillac symbolizes the optimism of a swaggering America with soaring tailfins and Elvis-era glamour.
- 1970-1979 Cadillac: See how Cadillac maintained its hold on the premium market by adroitly changing consumer demands.