1961-1964 Cadillac

1963 Cadillac

The 1963 Cadillac Eldorado featured a shorter front end, but longer rear end.
The 1963 Cadillac Eldorado featured a shorter front end, but longer rear end.

Jerry Brochstein, who arrived in the Cadillac studio in 1959, recalls that the 1961 Lincoln shook everyone up and made Cadillac designers think about simplifying the body sides for the 1963 Cadillac, "... to get away from those corrugated surfaces."

Brochstein says that on one of Jordan's flights back to Detroit after visiting his parents in California, the studio chief sketched what essentially became the 1963 Cadillac on an air sickness bag. He brought the very sketch into the studio, where it served as the concept drawing for the production car.

"The 1963 Cadillac had more of the substance, the solidity, and presence of the 1959-1960 production models," contends Jordan. "We never wanted to make it as heavy in appearance as those earlier cars. We were after a leaner-looking Cadillac; lighter. You'll notice that in 1963 and 1964, we went back to that smoother, more solid shape, and the more regal, snooty front. I think the 1963 was the best of those cars."

The two 1963 Cadillac two-door hard-tops had noticeably longer rear decks as a result of the adoption of shorter roof sail panels. "We started working on the 1963 models by first doing the Coupe de Ville. Well, I had an idea one day when I saw this new four-door hardtop they were working on at Chevrolet," explains Chuck Jordan.

"I said to myself, 'Hey, why not put the Chevrolet four-door hardtop roof on the Coupe de Ville ... mount it physically on the Cadillac lower and see, because of the Cadillac's extra length, if the Chevy sedan roof doesn't make a good Cadillac coupe.' And boy, that was it. That was it. We couldn't afford another upper, but with that shorter four-door Chevrolet roof, nobody ever caught us. And it looked great."

The more compact roofline gave coupes a seven-inch increase in rear deck length, despite a one-inch gain in body length for all Cadillacs (except the short-deck four-door, which remained at 215 inches).

Fins were reduced about an inch in height. A simple thin chrome strip ran front to back on the sides of Series 62s, De Villes, and Series 75s. With the skegs gone, heavy rocker panel trim bands were extended from behind the front wheel openings to the back bumper on the 60 Special and Eldorado convertible. They also both adopted chrome block-letter identification forward of the front doors and wreath-encircled Cadillac crests on their rear fenders.

Perhaps it was no surprise, then, that the Eldorado had its best year since 1959 -- when it came in coupe and convertible form. The short-deck Series 62 Town Sedan was discontinued, leaving the De Ville-based Park Avenue to soldier on by itself. But after just 1,575 were made for the year, it, too, was consigned to history.

The 1963 Cadillac dash was redesigned with driver comfort in mind. The 1963 Cadillac dash was redesigned with driver comfort in mind.
The 1963 Cadillac dash was redesigned with driver comfort in mind.

A new dashboard design placed the fuel and temperature gauges to the right of the carryover strip speedometer, and pulled the clock and radio closer to the driver than they had been previously. Cadillac made a tilt steering column available in 1963, but the most important mechanical difference was an engine not derived from that of the 1949 Cadillac.

Cadillac engineers knew that anything bigger than 390 cid would be pushing the old V-8's displacement limit. They also recognized that cars would become bigger, heavier, and more power-hungry, especially Cadillacs.

So the division's chief engineer, Charles F. Arnold, decided to develop a new V-8, one that was lighter, stiffer, more durable, easier to manufacture, and easier to work on. It turned out to be one of the quietest re-engineering jobs on record. Few Cadillac partisans were aware that the 1963 engine was altogether different from the previous V-8.

That was because, for one thing, the 1963 Cadillac engine displaced the same 390 cubic inches as its predecessor. It even used the same bore and stroke: 4 × 3.875 inches. Horsepower and torque stayed the same, too: 325 bhp at 4,800 rpm and 430 pound-feet at 3100, respectively. Compression held at a ratio of 10.5:1.

So why did Cadillac go to a new engine that was so similar in so many ways to the one it replaced?

First and foremost, the new V-8 had a lot more growth potential. The 1963 powerplant contained enough meat to go out to 500 cubic inches, which it would for 1970. Another reason had to do with compactness and the rapid disappearance of under-hood space due to an expanding accessory list. The new block stood an inch lower, 1.25 inches shorter, and four inches narrower. It proved to be sturdier -- and lighter than its predecessor by about 50 pounds.

A new ArmaSteel cast crankshaft could handle greater loads, especially with its main-bearing widths going from 2.63 to 3 inches. Accessory drives became more compact and accessible, and the front covers used more alloy for less weight. The only components carried over from the previous engine were the heads, connecting rods, valves and rocker arms.

The package of new styling and engineering added up to another record year for production with 163,174 1963 Cadillacs moving off the lines. Output moved up to 165,959 for 1964, the final go-round for the 1961 design generation.

To learn more about the 1964 Cadillac, continue to the next page.

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