Category Archives: Cadillac

Coupe de Ville: Caddy casual

To quote Barry White, "so much to love.."

To quote Barry White, “so much to love..”

The idea of the biggest possible car expressed via a two door coupé seems oxymoronic on the surface.  Why wouldn’t you want a behemoth like that equipped with doors in the back?  Come on, nobody would mistake a land yacht like this to be a sports car.

Yet, when Cadillac added “de Ville” to Coupé” back in 1949 while dropping the accent aigu,  the comparatively sporty two door rose to become one of Cadillac’s best sellers. The air of genteel informality it conveys is truly intoxicating.

Suddenly, it's 1960!

Suddenly, it’s 1960!

Our fixation on these rolling paradoxes was catalyzed by an encounter with a buttercup yellow 1960 Coupe deVille parked near the Rat Pack-y Purple Room in Palm Springs. In essence, it was a minimally toned-down version of the eye popping ’59 Cadillac that was the apex of juke box-inspired style.

Jimmy Hoffa approved

Jimmy Hoffa approved

Soon thereafter we encountered a dusty but, otherwise, quite perfect 1973 Coupe deVille (yes, also in Palm Springs) that has aged well over the past 4+ decades, the car has an aura of dignity that serves it well.  It’s restrained in the manner of a mob don who wears well tailored suits with a certain menacing assuredness, as only a car weighing 5,000 pounds (two and half tons?) powered by a 7.7 liter motor can. Sexy but scary!

This thing has got it all: wire wheels, skinny whitewalls, a “cow catcher” bumper, fender skirts, padded vinyl top.  An eloquent expression of graceful heft if ever there was.

Spacial profiling

Spacial profiling

A while back we cottoned up to this wonderful white ’61 Coupe de Ville.  While it’s true that fin height was down from its 1959 apogee, this was the year that Caddy’s sprouted dorsal fins under the rear fenders.  We’re talking NASA style in no uncertain terms and keep in mind that  The Jetsons didn’t premiere until a year after this was introduced.

Fintacular

Fintacular

Isn’t that roof line as Mid Century Modern as you could ever hope?  To borrow from the great Charles Phoenix, “I knoooow…”

Coupe de la Nouvelle Frontière

Coupe de la Nouvelle Frontière

Lastly we offer a work-in-progress, a ’64 Coupe de Ville that seems to be on the receiving end of some TLC.   We’d love to see how this one turns out after the right front fender is reprimered — not to mention the left front and left and right rear fenders, too.

Full frontal, Cadillac style

Full frontal, Cadillac style

Cadillac has recently signaled interest in revisiting the two door luxury market.  There was a CTS coupe that looked like no other car: an oragami-inspired folded planes exercise that is, perhaps, too futuristic for some.  That car wasn’t really much of a sales success so was discontinued but Cadillac does offer a two door version of its smallish ATS series that is not as radically styled as its immediate predecessor.  We find this a bit reminiscent of the ’59 – ’60 return from the brink of outrageousness

Points well taken

Points well taken

These cars and their reputation for excellence starts at the source: the Cadillac assembly line about which Albert King sings and plays so wonderfully in this performance filmed in Sweden in 1980.

We’re not prone to long distance psychoanalysis but we’ve concluded that you’d have to be completely out of your mind if you ignore this breathtaking low mileage (under 10,000) ’73 Coupe de Ville  offered for a negligible $18,350 in nearby Millbank SD.  What, we’re moved to ask, are you waiting for??  A new season of Fargo, perhaps?

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 9.43.09 PM

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

Magic location for motion pictured cars

Movin' Malibu

Chevelle: so swell

Our aim is always to capture and dissect, in a manner of speaking, vehicles seen in the wild but we never shoot or accept photos taken at car shows, auctions or used/classic car lots.  As a result, we do tend to ferret out featured feral finds when they’re parked. It’s one thing to nail ’em when they’re at a standstill as opposed to documenting them in motion.

There she goes

Movin’ Malibu

We’ve found that two corners right near Feral Car’s international HQ in Los Angeles have yielded a disproportionate number of very interesting, very notable cars in full flight.  We’re talking about the intersection of Rosewood Avenue and Rossmore Boulevard and, just three blocks to the east, the intersection of Rosewood and Larchmont Boulevard.

Do we have to spell it out? Cadillac means l-u-x-u-r-y.

Do we have to spell it out? Cadillac means l-u-x-u-r-y.

These are the crossroads where we’ve seen lots of vintage VWs, Valiants and the like as well as some more esoteric conveyances.  We’ve gone back into our image bank and sorted out a few shots of cars in motion captured at these locations that really underscore just what a phenomenal breeding ground this area happens to be.

Fender skirts standard, of course

Fender skirts standard, of course

We were most impressed with the bone stock ’71 Chevelle Malibu encountered at Rossmore and Rosewood just the other day.  You just don’t see these as untampered with as this one.  Our guess is that this unrestored California car wears its original 45-year old factory Antique White paint job.  Kudos to the owner who resisted pressure to change out the original wheel covers.

Actin' chill: big ol' Coupe DeVille

When it absolutely, positively has to get there in style.

Over at Larchmont and Rosewood we found a similarly unmessed-with Cadillac DeVillle, also a ’71.  We find the juxtaposition of the sky blue padded top over the Brittany blue body calming and reassuring on this,  a pristine enthralling example of traditional American luxury in motion.

Junk or punk in the trunk?

Junk or punk in the trunk?

At the same intersection we came upon a ’76 Cadillac Coupe DeVille that seemed raked, the front end higher than the back, perhaps due to a heavy load in the trunk.  We’ll refrain from theorizing on just what might have been weighing this magnificent Caddy down except to suggest that Good Fellas is available on Netflix.

Pretty Poncho

Pretty Poncho

Now it’s back to Rossmore and Rosewood for a gander at a super clean ’66 Pontiac LeMans.  It has the same bearing as the higher performance GTO but this one is equipped with a 326 cubic inch V8 rather than the 389 found under the hood of “The Goat.”  Yes, those wheels  and everything else appear to be totally stock and that’s the way we like it. You really can’t improve on perfection, so why try?

Near perfect "Pon-ton"

Near perfect “Pon-ton”

At the other end of the spectrum is this ’79 Buick Skyhawk that is completely intact but appears to be suffering from an advance case of benign neglect.  That brushed chrome band running up the b-pillars and over the roof may be perceived as a “lipstick on a pig” concept but we find it charming in a gauche sort of way.  The spoiler is a nice, touch, too.

Not entirely sure we'd rather have it but will certainly consider

Not entirely sure we’d rather have it but will certainly consider

Banded baby Buick

Banded baby Buick

These fecund intersections yield more than just GM-built transients.  Take, for example this stunning ’61 Rambler Classic.  While it’s true that Rambler ran third to Chevy’s #1 and Ford’s #2 on the sales charts back then, there are very few survivors built during the time of the (George) Romney administration of American Motors.   It’s paradoxical that upright Rambler sedans like this often doubled as eastern European cars in limited budget spy shows like Mission Impossible, Get Smart and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  while Romney and AMC were on the front lines defending American capitalism from godless (and unprofitable) socialism.

Ramblin' man

Ramblin’ man

Remnant from the first (and last) Romney administration

Remnant from the first (and last) Romney administration

Lastly, we offer our pièce de résistance. We, too, thought we might be hallucinating but we shot this fantastic Citroën SM around 9 AM and hadn’t had any mushrooms for dinner the night before. 

L'avenir est arrivé dans le passé

L’avenir est arrivé dans le passé

The car was the product of Citroën’s acquisition of perpetually floundering Maserati in the early ’70s.  The hydropneumatic suspension was all French, derived from the system that kept the groundbreaking Citroën DS (literally) afloat since 1955. Power was provided by a Maserati V6 that was mounted backwards (!)  aft of the front axle; the transmission out in front of the motor.  The design is breathtaking, the interior exquisite and but the Franco-Italo alliance advanced Citroën’s march into insolvency and ultimate acquisition by rival Peugeot.

Allons enfants avec grâce à puissance italienne

Allons enfants avec grâce à puissance italienne

If you find yourself in Southern California you really should make it a point to amble down Rosewood Avenue between Larchmont and Rossmore Boulevards.  We’d love to know if you encounter any of these inspiring full motion relics.

We found this well-priced (under $80K) ’72 CitroënSM for sale in nearby St. Louis and urge you to consider its purchase.  We predict you’ll double your money if you sell it ten years hence, if you don’t factor in the cost of maintenance — some contend that “SM” stands for exactly what you’re thinking it does. Ouch!

Less, exotic, perhaps is this TV commercial for the ’71 Chevelle.  Dinah Shore-approved!

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

 

The Standard of the World (sometimes)

Caddy affords older fellas a chance to do some Harry Stylin'

Swell Caddy affords post-teen dudes a chance to do some Harry Stylin’

Apart from a car show or museum display it’s not often that one encounters a pristine 1960 Cadillac Series 62 convertible, as we did the other day.   Loaded with four madcap guys (one of whom was actually wearing a mad cap), it was about to depart when we nailed down these shots.  To their credit, the driver and passengers offered to get out of their topless land whale for our impromptu photo session but we thought the cause was better served with all four fun and sun seekers aboard.  In this instance size not only matters but is most noteworthy:  the car weighs over 5,000 lbs and measures 225 inches from bumper to bumper. Yes, it’s two and a half tons of fun and almost nineteen feet of over-the-top mid century American excess and we love it.

Partying like it 1960

Partying like it 1960

The  fins on ’60 Cadillac were less pronounced and sleeker than those on its legendary ’59 rolling jukebox predecessor.  The Eisenhower years were drawing to a close and fins were out of place during the time of the New Frontier and a new sense of sleekness became the order of the day. We covered another ’60 Cadillac, a six-window sedan, in an earlier post.  Sure, it could use a little “work” — can’t we all? —  but it still has gobs of presence!

Six windows and counting

Six windows and counting

Peter Andrews, Feral Cars Field Scout extraordinaire, found this ’76 Eldorado convertible that dates from the model year Cadillac claimed it was building “the last convertible.”  It made up for its lack of fins with an elongated hood that was more akin to the prow of a Navy destroyer.  We’re still not sure we can get our heads around a Caddy convertible without fender skirts but, as Le Sieur Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac,  the French explorer who founded Detroit in 1701, might have said, “chacun à son goût.”

Big, bigger, biggest

“Last” but not least

American front

American front

We go from the sublime and larger-than-life to the commonplace and hum drum.  It’s a (sort of) Cadillac.. a Catera, one of Cadillac’s numerous attempts at marketing a small car with a Cadillac crest (actually Antoine de la Mothe’s coat-of-arm) affixed.  It was actually a re-badged Opel Omega made not in Detroit but rather in Rüsselsheim. These were sold for a few years, starting in the mid ’90s,  to compete with Mercedes Benz and BMW.  Hey, they were made in Germany but that’s where the comparison, sadly, ends.

It doesn't look or smell like a Cadillac so it it really?

If it doesn’t look or smell like a Cadillac so is it really a Cadillac?

This does give us an excuse to link to the TV commercial in which supermodel Cindy Crawford, decked out like a dominatrix,  launched “the Caddy that zigs” campaign though no actual explanation was ever provided about what that was supposed to mean.  The spot debuted on the Super Bowl and was shortly withdrawn thereafter “because of concerns that the ad might offend women.”  Was it that wolf whistle on the soundtrack?  The boots?  The black leather mini dress?

Says here it's a Cadillac but it is?

Says here it is…

We found this pink Mary Kay Cadillac of fairly recent vintage that should, by all rights, offend men and anybody else with a semblance of taste. It’s a patriotic-themed horror show and we only wish that Mary Kay (the company — not the actual Mary Kay who died, bouffant ‘do still in place, in 2001) would switch to some foreign brand.  We’re thinking  a pink Hyundai Equus — their spelling, not ours — should be used as the incentive to give distributors who sell over a $100,000 worth of their face paint per year.  We have our national dignity to maintain!

Think pink (and red, white and blue)

Think pink (and red, white and blue)

Seriously, we think highly of Cadillac, the slogan for which was “The Standard of the World.” This downsized ’83 Eldorado Biarritz doesn’t really seem to true to that credo, thanks to dulled paint and a vinyl roof that is “bleeding” rust.

Eldo with "issues"

Substandard of the World

Eldo-rot-o

Eldo-rot-o

We don’t like to “pile on” but couldn’t resist providing this portrait of abject decay: an ’84 Eldorado convertible with some needs.  See?  They lied when they said the ’76 was going to be the last Caddy ragtop but, based on this tawdry example, maybe they should have really called it quits in that bicentennial year.

Trash-o Eldo

Trash-o Eldo

Illin' grill

Emergency automotive orthodontics, STAT!

Let’s bring our Cadillac celebration to a conclusion on an upbeat note.  It’s an Allanté, a two seater roadster that Cadillac introduced in 1986 to compete with the Mercedes Benz SL.

Italo-American

Italo-American

The design was by  Carozzeria Pininfarina and they actually manufactured the bodies  in Turin and shipped them back to Detroit, 56 at a time, on specially fitted Alitalia and Lufthansa Boeing 747s. Back in the USA these fetching Italian bodies were mated with chassis and power trains.  The Allanté Air Bridge lasted a few years after which production, sexy Italian-designed body and domestic mechanical soul, went totally domestic.

No dropa the car!

Ciao bella!

This one is a ’93, the last year of production and the only one in which the car was equipped with Cadillac’s vaunted North Star System, a marketing handle for a 4.6 liter dual overhead cam V8, rated at 295 hp.  In typical GM fashion, they got it “right” just as they decided to walk away from the ideal. A total of 21,430 units were built over the course of eight model years.

Information overload

Badges of honor or information overload?

Check out this utopian Allanté Air Bridge video.  See?  We can all get along!

Lastly, if ever a car could be thought of as aspirational it’s a Cadillac convertible such as the spiffy ’60 model that started this post.  You can avail yourself of that same Cadillac lifestyle for a measly $49,900 — that’s less than $50,000! — by buying this nice white one on offer in nearby Frankfort, IL.  It’s your duty to uphold The Standard of the World.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

 

Postwarriors: “the greatest generation” revisited

After having been so rudely interrupted by Pearl Harbor, domestic auto production resumed in 1946. GM, Ford, Chrysler and the independents — Packard, Studebaker, Nash, Hudson — had spent the war years building tanks, planes and whatever was needed to ensure victory over the Axis powers. This United Auto Workers song gives an encapsulated history of the union’s efforts to organize Ford Motor and to rally behind the war effort.  It really speaks volumes about that extraordinary time.

Delightfullly delovely

Delightfullly delovely and, yes, that’s an AMC Hornet aft of its stern

Initial postwar cars were, essentially, carry overs from the 1942 model year as was this ’47 or ’48 DeSoto sedan we found the other day  mouldering away and dragging its tail a bit.  It’s impressive in terms of sheer mass and presence — the roof being more than 5′ 6″ above the road) and that front grill is straight out of the deco age.

Bulbosity

Bulbosity sans filler cap

We think it just hangs around the eastern fringe of Hollywood hoping to be cast in a remake of a  film noir of the era like Dead Reckoning starring George Clooney in the Bogart role and Scarlett Johansson in the part Lizabeth Scott (born Emma Matzo — no kidding!)  created.  Hard core hip-hopper culture devotees should check on this “grill.” Surely, it will soon be the envy of L’il Wayne.

Thrill grill

Thrill grill

DeSoto was an object of middle class aspirations to move up a notch from lower class Dodge but stopping short of the old money subtext underpinning the upmarket Chrysler.  The back end on this one seems to have given way though it may have been intentionally lowered. Tough guys know that a few stiffs in the trunk tend to make a car ride on the low side and draw suspicion which some might think a “dead giveaway.”

Sophie Tucker, your Uber is here.

“Sophie Tucker, your Uber car has arrived.”

In an earlier post we covered this ’49 Packard Custom 8, photographed by Feral Cars Field Scout Davin Seay.  It, too, seems to have been designed by adherents of the  pontoon school of styling back in New Deal days.  Packard was a car for patricians, Cadillac being for the nouveau riche as well as for prosperous, yet showy, ethnic types. While a DeSoto could be had for far less than a Packard, Chevrolet was very much an entry level play.

Heavy Chevy

Heavy Chevy

We’re just nuts about the patina on this, apparently, untouched mid-line ’48 Chevrolet Fleetmaster sedan. It’s noteworthy that all the trim pieces, both bright and body-colored, are right where they should be and all are in undamaged, original condition.  We do think those whitewalls and the chrome wheel trim rings are un peu de trop for a car with such unassuming working class roots.  Then, again, maybe they’re a reflection of hopes for upward mobility during that ever so optimistic post war era.

Medicaremobile

Qualifies for Medicare

The origins of the brand names of these three cars bear addressing.  Packard, the oldest marque here, was founded in Warren, Ohio in 1899 by brothers  James Ward Packard and William Doud Packard.  Chevrolet came next, founded next in 1911. The car was initially a partnership between former Fiat and Buick race car driver Louis Chevrolet (b.1878 in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel) and GM founder Billy Durant, then on the outs with the company, to build a low priced Ford competitor.

DeSoto is, strictly, the product of marketing.  The name on Chrysler’s one-step-down (from Chrysler, itself) and two-steps-up (from Plymouth and Dodge) marque was derived from Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. This was an obvious attempt to mimic Cadillac, named in 1902 after the French explorer who 200 years earlier, founded Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit.  While he’s credited for being the first Westerner to see the Mississippi River back in 1541, de Soto’s resume also includes the destruction of the Inca civilization, introducing plagues of fatal diseases to the New World, not to mention the wholesale massacre of indigenous people.  And you thought Jeep’s Cherokee is an example of corporate insensitivity!

Hernando's ride away

Hernando’s rideaway

Badging on our ’48 DeSoto is a mid-century vamp on Hernanado de Soto’s family coat of arms.  That’s a profile of the fun-loving conquistador, himself, above a stylized representation of his crest.  Class! See?

DeSoto, Packard, Chevrolet and lots of other makes are chronicled in this Noire Car video guide with a very ‘cool school’ vibe.

We sincerely urge you to purchase this extended wheelbase 1946 DeSoto Custom that has only 76,000 miles.  You’ll make the $19K asking price back in a few weeks by renting out this 7-passenger party van of its day for weddings, bar mitzvahs and bank robberies.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com.  Include your name, location of the car and some thoughts about the vehicle and we’ll look into getting it posted

 

 

Caddys chronicled

Eisenhower era cruiser

Eisenhower era cruiser

We witnessed a 1956 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible glide by, unheralded, early in the morning; the experience was nothing short of breathtaking.  It was thrilling when we encountered this symbol of post war optimism and assurance idling, ever so silently, at an intersection, an automotive apparition from a bygone era.

Iceberg tipped

Iceberg tipped

It’s not as flashy as its hugely befinned successors as conservative times called for a modicum of understatement.  The U.S. Secretary of Defense at the time of this car’s manufacturer was Charles E. Wilson, former Chairman of GM, under whose watch this model was developed. After his appointment by President Eisenhower, he remarked, “what was good for our country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”  Corporate logic held sway then as now, it seems.

No thrills Seville

No thrills Seville

Flash forward thirty years to reign of Reagan when this ’86 Seville hit the showroom floor.  It was an anemically powered front wheel car that would have been categorized as compact in the ’50s; it weighed under 3,500 pounds.  Obviously, things were in decline and Cadillac seemed to have lost its luster, not to mention its signature fins.

Styled with by T-square

Styled with by T-square

We found a ’68 Convertible DeVille parked at the curb and think the stacked headlights provide good counterpoint to all those horizontal lines.  This one weighs almost as much as its 1956 antecedent and cost $5700 which translates to a tad under 40,000 2014 dollars.  As these things go, quite a bargain!

Stacked!

Stacked!

We dig this rough ’64 Coupe deVille that seems to be either a work-in-progress or an “as is” daily driver.  We don’t even miss the lost fender skirt.  Well, maybe a little.

Funky but chic

Funky but chic

It's fin-damental!

It’s fin-damental!

This ’63 Sedan deVille has its skirts but seems to be in search of wheel covers.  We just love the fact that it’s still a freeway flyer after 51 years.

Highway star

Highway star

Lastly, we have Feral Cars Field Scout Alex “Bosco” Merlis to thank for this unrestored ’77 Fleetwood Brougham which carried vestigial fins at the dawn of the Carter years. The car was shot in Brookline, MA and wears Connecticut tags indicating it’s capable of being driven more than one hundred miles.  With a 7 liter V8 and fuel consumption rated a tad over 11 mpg, you’d only have to fill it once or twice to make the run.

Spirit of '76

Spirit of ’76

It's a given that a Caddy will impress the ladies

It’s long been a given that a Caddy will impress the ladies but, aparently, not all of them..

The Brougham soldiered on into the early ’90s, continuing as the most traditional (read: big) Caddy in the model range.  We love the emphasis in this commercial from 1986 on enormity, bulk and girth.  That’s Cadillac!  There’s a truly fabulous low mileage (67,000) ’56 Coupe for sale in nearby Biddefore, ME for a paltry $27,500.  This could be your chance to put some Cadillac Style into your life.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com.  Include your name, location of the car and some thoughts about the vehicle and we’ll look into getting it posted