|The 1959 Cadillac: Its Historical Significance
"The Most Extravagant Production Car of All Time"
The late fifties was an extraordinary epoch in history. America was going through many powerful, fundamental changes in rapid succession. From the despair and desperation of the depression, the country was thrust into the terror and ferocity of World War II. America's might brought victory, and from there society's emotional roller coaster ride accelerated to dizzying new heights in the fifties.
America was the unquestioned leader of the world: economically, militarily, and technologically. Heads were spinning as new ideas, new products, and new life styles constantly came forth. Even the sky was no longer the limit, as we prepared to enter the Space Age.
Proliferation of television, jets, rockets, atomic bombs, and Rock n Roll all came within a decade. Where would it end? What was next?
In this electrifying time, the automobile became a central possession of modern life. Cars were no longer just transportation, they showcased a growing attention to style. Nowhere was the lavishness and unrestrained feeling of the time better brought to form than in the 1959 Cadillac.
Cadillac was "The Standard of the World". From its beginning, Cadillac led the world's motorcar manufacturers in successfully bringing out the most important design innovations (see Cadillac Innovations & Milestones). Cadillac was the first with precision machining of parts, the first with interchangeability of parts, the pioneer in multi-cylinder development, the first with electrical and starting systems, the first with synchromesh transmissions, and the first with modern chrome plating, to name just a few. The post-war years saw Cadillac further its technological lead with the most advanced automatic transmissions, used by Rolls-Royce, and the most powerful OHV V-8, in its debut year winning three of the top dozen places at Lemans. The world also looked to Cadillac for the luxury options of the future, such as cruise control, and automatic air conditioning.
Cadillac's most visible lead, however, was in styling. Cadillac was the first to set up a styling and design studio, and continued to create the major trends. In the fifties, Cadillac had already introduced wrap-around windshields, the dropped door line (the "belted" look that lasted more than a decade), forged aluminum wheels, fabric covered tops, quad headlights, and, of course, fins.
Fins are the most notorious styling trend of all times. Fins influenced automobile manufacturers throughout the world for more than a decade and a half. Cadillac's fins were timidly copied by Mercedes-Benz and other luxury car makers. The fin styling theme spread to a host of industries in addition to the automobile - even conservative Chris Craft boats had a half dozen high finned models. Cadillac was the first with fins, starting with the 1948 models. Cadillac was the most extravagant with fins, the 1959 Cadillac being king.
1959 Cadillacs are already the most publicized American luxury car of all, with the Eldorado being the most desirable. Many indicators suggest that 1959 Cadillacs will become the most notable post-war American car among collectors. For example, no other make and year car has received so many WANTED ads year after year in Hemmings Motor News, the "bible" for collector cars.
Public popularization of 1959 Cadillacs also has been steadily growing, to the extent that virtually every newsstand in America has a magazine featuring a 1959 Cadillac in an article or ad. The motoring press is beginning to perceive the historical significance of 1959 Cadillacs. Just one example is Motor Trend's recent issue detailing the first 100 years of the automobile. In choosing four models to feature from of all the cars ever produced; the only post-war car Motor Trend selected was the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado. What did Life magazine chose for the cover car for their special issue on the first hundred years of the automobile? Again, the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado.
Check out "The Gagnon Murder Car" to see the lowest mileage 1959 Cadillac in existence, or check "Eldorado -- The Crown Jewel" to learn more about the most prized models of the 1959 Cadillac.
|The 1959 Cadillac was chosen as the cover car for Life Magazine's issue on the first hundred years of the automobile. (Click photo for larger view)|
|The amount of 1959 Cadillac memorabilia is evidence of the stature it has attained. What other car has calculators and telephones made in its image? (Click photo for larger view)|
|"Fins" were the most pervasive styling trend in history. Even boats copied the fins Cadillac introduced, as seen in this 1958 Chris Craft catalog found in the trunk of the Gagnon Murder Car. (Click photo for larger view)|
|Fins reached their grandest form in the 1959 Cadillac, and were displayed prominently in Cadillac's magazine advertising. (Click photo for larger view)|
|The first set of stamps paying tribute to the automobile featured two 1959 Cadillac tail fin profiles. (Click photo for larger view)|
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