Eldorado still going for gold at 65

Sixty five years ago, the newly sworn-in President of the United States and war hero, Dwight Eisenhower, stood on the back seat of a big, white convertible as he celebrated his inauguration parade through the streets of Washington DC.

The car in which he stood was General Motors (GM) new range topper, the Cadillac Eldorado.

Never has a car had such a powerful introduction and global endorsement.

When Cadillac was truly the ‘standard of the world’ the Eldorado stood above and beyond all else.

It was the lowest, sleekest American automobile of its era.

The big car was offered in convertible format only.

The styling derived directly from GM’s 1951 Le Sabre and 1952 Cadillac show cars.

It was the first production car to have a wrap around windscreen which set a trend for the next decade.

The convertible top was hidden below a smooth metal cover that fitted flush with the rear deck.

Nothing interrupted the flowing lines of this aspirational machine, except for the notch in the belt line — a motif always favoured by GM’s design supremo, Harley Earl.

The Eldorado was the dream car you could buy in your local Cadillac dealership.

Every luxury option in the known universe was standard on this baby.

GM made just 532 Eldorados in 1953.

They priced it three times higher than a normal Cadillac and sold every one of them.

The first Eldorado established the legend and in subsequent years the brand name became synonymous with chic luxury and success.

When someone said “I bought an Eldorado” you knew exactly what it meant and much about the buyer.

It is a name that Cadillac could well use today instead of confusing letters and numbers, like XT5, which fail to convey any sense of meaning.

“I bought an XT5” has minimal cut-through when every other car, especially the cheap and cheerful brands, are similarly tagged these days.

The XT5 is an SUV, btw.

David Burrell is the editor of retroautos.com.au

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