Category Archives: Cadillac

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cadillac keepers: superannuated standard bearers

The jewel within still shines

The jewel within still shines

We just encountered  a very “original” (meaning unrestored, unfettered and unmonkeyed with) ’69 Cadillac Hardtop Sedan de Ville that we find to be a fitting Memorial Day cover car.  It couldn’t be more American and more worth fighting for. The Vietnam War was raging and Dick Nixon’s mailing address was about to change from Palookaville to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue when this big, bad Cad was introduced.  There are 472 cubic inches of good old pushrod V8 under that front hood-cum aircraft carrier deck with 375 horses of ‘go power’ providing convincing locomotive force for all 4660 pounds of cushioned luxury. All told, this is almost 19 linear feet of muffled rolling thunder that floats — on land.

Queen of patina

Queen of patina

We really have a soft spot for veteran Cads still in service, their faded elegance is, perhaps, a reflection of our appreciation for Gloria Swanson’s performance in Sunset Boulevard. Here’s an “as is” ’63 Sedan de Ville sweating it out on a Noe Valley street in San Francisco.  Sorry about the parking ticket — no respect for the elders!

Caddy condensation

Caddy condensation

This ’64 Coupe de Ville is noteworthy for the fact that it doesn’t have a vinyl-clad top.  That rear deck lid looks like it could accommodate a small helicopter, doesn’t it? This was the last model year that Cadillac fins were distinct from the rear fenders, the end of an era that had begun in 1948 and reached its apogee in 1959.

Collolasal Coupe de Ville

Colossal Coupe de Ville

And weren’t we lucky to get a view of this ’64 Sedan de Ville as it shot past on the freeway?  The red wheels add some nice counterpoint to the Bahamaha Sand body color and we’re digging the intact rear fender skirts.

No tuboat required

Under its own steam, no tugboat required

Here are the hind quarters of an ’82 Fleetwood Brougham, a latter day behemoth in the same larger-than-life Caddy tradition. This full size Cad had it all, including the much cherchezed optional “d’Elegance” package that included button-tufted seating and rear-seat reading lamps. Missing in action are the plastic inserts between the end of the rear fenders and start of the rear bumper which, typically, age at a more accelerated rate than the metal parts to which they were formerly juxtaposed.

Très, très elegant!

Très, très elegant!

Yes, they had to spell it out for us

Yes, they had to spell it out for us

Tush plush d'Elegance

Tush, plush and tufted

We admit a fascination with rolling ruins and offer these images of Cadillac badging, distressed yet enduring.

Faded but not forgotten

Faded but not forgotten

 

Formerly much for Bia-ritz

Echoes of a Bia-rritzy past

We’re over the moon about this ’63 Cadillac TV spot. The announcer proclaims, in tones most stentorian,  “These are extraordinary Cadillacs, Cadillacs that can do things that no other motor car ever did.”  Not sure what that those things are but we’re pretty thrilled that they’ve been doing them for more than 50 years.. and counting.

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.

 

 

We’re batty for this Caddy!

Totally rad Cad

Totally rad Cad

We happened upon this 1960 Cadillac Series 62 six window hardtop sedan a month and a half ago and, of course, made a mental note to post a piece about it before long.  In the interim we’ve covered some swell SAABs, amusing Mustangs, potent Packards and original Oldmobiles and kind of lost track of things. We got a vivid reminder,  just a day or two ago, when this big old Cad which had vanished from our neighborhood showed up once more.  We took its return, presumably from Arizona where it’s registered,  as a sign to do it up right.

"Marca de excellenzia"

“Marca de excellenzia”

Yes, it has some dents and scrapes but that’s why we love it.  You can always find a perfectly restored old Cadillac at a car show or a totally trashed out one mouldering under a tarp, its restoration put off “until we get around to it.”  This one is original, all the parts are there where they should be, just as they were installed, ahem, One Piece At A Time, more than a half century ago.

Of course, a smarty like Ella knows that Cadillac means luxury

Of course, a smarty like Ella knows that ‘Cadillac means luxury.’

Tail fins have always been a point of conversational departure for Caddys of this era but the ’60 model was the first time that the height of the fins went down from one model year to the next.  Its predecessor’s over-the-top, juke box style, hind quarter appurtenances were the apogee of GM styling chief Harley Earl’s Sir Mix Alot-esque obsession with big rears.  We think Ella Von Baron, our spokesmodel, was correct to call our attention to the dazzling front end with those subtle creased “v” marks above the quad headlights and the grill that screams Hollywood Regency style with jewel-like chrome protrusions.  Something like this might make you gulp hard were you to find it occupying 100% of your rear view mirror.

Insert Cadillac Ranch reference here

Insert Cadillac Ranch reference here

The fins were a tasteful approach to Cadillac’s commitment to presenting something uplifting to those who found themselves behind or having been passed by an exemplar of the far from self effacing slogan “The Standard of the World.” We think they’re the best effort since the 1956 model.  Yeah, it’s a very subjective thing so if you want to chime in please do and we do love comments.

Parting shot

Parting shot

There’s a super clean, un-restored, low mileage (only 64K) one of these offered on Ebay right now.  It’s even the same color as our neighborhood visitor so redeem those cans and bottles right away and put some Cadillac style into your life!

And, by all means, click here to view an unbiased film promoting the manifest virtues of the first Cadillac of the 1960’s, produced by Cadillac’s Merchandising Department.

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.

 

DRIVEN to remind

Slide show ride

Slide show ride

Ever so brief reminder here, should you find your way to Palm Springs this Wednesday evening, February 19. Drive over to DRIVEN, an art installation sponsored by Feralcars.com, featuring the noir car art of Eric Nash plus curated car show by Matthew Reader. The evening’s host is Billy F Gibbons.   The fun starts at 5 and we’ll be running a big, boss FeralCars slide show that includes this ’64 Buick Riviera booty shot and lots of other scrumptious car flesh visuals.

Cadillac by Nash, yes it really is

Cadillac by Nash

Host d with ehydrated band members + The Reverend Willy G + Wiilys + freeze dried band members a.k.a "Flavor KryZZtals"

The Reverend Willy G + Wiilys + freeze-dried band members a.k.a “Flavor KryZZtals”

The Archdeacon Gallery is located at 865 North Palm Canyon Drive, deep in the heart of Palm Springs’ très chic Uptown Arts District.   Stop by to ogle, mingle and enjoy a cocktail courtesy of the good folks at Pura Vida

Speaking of "Dat Gibbons boy!"

Speaking of “dat Gibbons boy”

Product placement pro

Product placement pro

 

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.