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