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.
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!
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.”
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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