Cars We Love: 1953 Cadillac Eldorado

1953 Cadillac EldoradoThe Cadillac Eldorado was the most expensive car offered by Detroit for 1953. When the average annual income was $4,011 and you could buy a house for $17,400, the 1953 Cadillac Eldorado sold for an astounding $7,750! This was almost twice the cost of a Cadillac Series 62 convertible and $2,000 more than their previous most expensive model, the Series 75 Fleetwood Imperial Sedan.

Cadillac had been a major player in the prestige car market since the late 1920s and had a long history with the ‘halo car’ – a car that’s designed more to capture the public’s imagination than to be a top seller. When Cadillac’s V12 was competing against the likes of Packard, Marmon, Lincoln, and Pierce-Arrow who also offered V12s, Cadillac introduced the first American production V16 engined ‘halo’ car at the New York Automobile Show in 1930, and set themselves apart from the crowded field.

The 1953 Eldorado was a production version of the 1952 El Dorado ‘Golden Anniversary’ concept car shown at the ’52 Motorama exhibit to celebrate Cadillac’s golden anniversary. Based on a Series 62 convertible, the ’53 Eldorado was distinguished by the first ‘Panoramic’ wrap-around windshield, special cut-down doors to give the body line a dip at the cockpit, and a hard boot to cover the top when it was lowered. Standing only 58 inches tall, the Eldorado had a long and low profile, three inches lower than the Series 62 convertible.

As one might expect from the most expensive American car of its time, standard equipment was plentiful, including such items as whitewall tires, wire wheels, power seats, power windows, power steering, signal-seeking radio, fog lights, an automatic heating system, windshield washers, and license plate frames. A new option for 1953 was the Autronic Eye that automatically dimmed the headlights for oncoming cars.

The Eldorado was powered by Cadillac’s usual powertrain, a 331 cu. in. V8 that produced 210 horsepower and a four-speed Hydra-Matic transmission. 1953 saw the introduction of a 12-volt electrical system, a feature that would be found on most other cars within three years.

In a brilliant marketing stroke, Cadillac arranged for incoming president Dwight Eisenhower to ride in the second production Eldorado in his inaugural parade, giving the new car unparalleled media exposure.

Only 532 Eldorados were produced for 1953 and today all are highly sought-after collectible cars.


Photo by Jmabel



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