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CADILLAC ELDORADO 1953

Eldorado — in proper Spanish, El Dorado-means “The Gilded One.” In the lore of the ancients it was a legendary golden kingdom, a place of fabulous riches located — or so it was believed — high in the snow-capped mountains of what is now Colombia. Over the years, “Eldorado” thus came to represent the best of everything: opulence, wealth, the good life. So it was also a completely logical choice as the name for a stunning new convertible that arrived as Cadillac’s style leader and its ultimate prestige car for 1953.


1953 Cadillac EldoradoCadillac had startled the automotive world back in 1930 with America’s first sixteen-cylinder motorcar. The V-16 line never made a nickel in its 11 years of production. Chances are it wasn’t intended to. It was an image-builder. And with the help of these magnificent machines, Cadillac was indeed able to elbow its way past Packard to become the country’s most prestigious luxury make.


1953 Cadillac EldoradoThe original Eldorado can be viewed in the same light, though the image it projected was vastly different. Instead of staid, classic dignity, it had flair, e´lan, panache. But like the Sixteen, it cost the world: $7750, fully 87 percent more than the standard Series 62 convertible. Also like its distinguished Thirties forebear, it was scarce: only 532 were built in that inaugural model year.


1953 Cadillac EldoradoMany of us first saw the Eldorado on television. The date was January 20, 1953, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, easily the most popular hero of World War II, was being driven down Pennsylvania Avenue to his first inauguration as President of the United States Setting a jaunty tone for the new administration, our soon-to-be-anointed leader was shown in the back seat of the exotic new Cadillac we’d been reading about. (And how strange to recall a time not all that long ago when our President could greet a crowd from an open car without the need for a bulletproof barrier.) Of course, in the minds of committed car buffs the Chief Executive had been upstaged: we couldn’t take our eyes off that gorgeous Eldorado, the most glamorous machine yet seen from postwar Detroit.


1953 Cadillac EldoradoThe first production Eldorado was inspired by a 1952 show car based on the normal Series 62 convertible as modified under the aegis of General Motors design chief Harley Earl. Along with the 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, it was the first of GM’s Motorama dream machines to be offered for public sale. Among its features were the new “Panoramic” wraparound windshields harbinger of things to come — plus a stylishly notched beltline and a flush-fitting metal cover to conceal the folded cloth top. Standing some three inches lower than its Series 62 cousin, the Eldorado had a longer, slinkier appearance, though its overall length was the same. Its interior, was upholstered in the finest leather, and a sparkling set of chromed wire wheels added a final touch of elegance. Standard equipment included radio, heater, white-sidewall tires, power steering and, of course, Hydra-Matic transmission. If there were any doubts that Cadillac reigned supreme in the prestige class, the Eldorado forever laid them to rest.Standard equipment included Hydra-Matic drive, wraparound windshield, special cut-down doors, rich leather-and-cloth upholstery, wire wheels, white sidewall tires, fog lamps, vanity and side mirrors, metal tonneau cover and signal-seeking radio. The convertible is a certified Milestone Car. The futuristic Cadillac LeMans show car convertible was displayed in 1953 and heavily influenced the styling of the 1954 Eldorado.

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