Cody's Car Talk: The '57-'58 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham

1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham

BY CODY FACTEAU

I have to admit, I have read The Last Rock and Roll Show by David White at least two times. If you haven't read this book yet, track it down. It's got everything you need for a great story: teenagers, travel and adventure, rock and roll music and, of course, really cool cars. In this story one of the characters has a 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. This has got to be one of my favorite cars of all time.

1957 can be remembered for many things, one of them being GM's most memorable design of the Series 70 Eldorado Brougham. It was announced in December of 1956 and released around March of 1957. The Eldorado Brougham was a hand built, limited car devised from a combination of the Park Avenue and Orleans show cars of 1953-54. Designed by Ed Glowacke, it featured the first appearance of quad headlights and a totally unique trim. The exterior ornamentation included wide, ribbed lower rear quarter "beauty" panels which extended along the rocker sills and a rectangularly sculptured side body "cove" which was highlighted with five horizontal windsplits on the rear doors. The tail styling followed the Eldorado pattern and no, this wasn't the year with the high tailfins. That came later. The '57 & '58 Eldorado Brougham's fins were modest and graceful, like the whole car.

This four-door hardtop with rear-hinged doors was an ultra-luxury car that cost an astonishing $13,074-twice the price of any other 1957 Eldorado and more than the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud of the same year. Just for fun, I looked up what $13,074 in 1957 would mean to us in 2012. (You can do this by going to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov). In today's market, that is equivalent to $107,059 which is about the same price as a 2012 Corvette ZR1. In 1957 gas cost about 30 cents a gallon and bread was like 18 cents a loaf.

Some of the reasons I like this car so much is that it was full of amazing innovations for the time. It featured a stainless steel roof, air suspension, the first automatic two-position "memory" seats, a dual four-barrel V-8, low profile tires with thin white-walls, automatic trunk opener, and get this ... Cruise Control. It also had a high pressure cooling system, polarized sun visors, Signal-Seeking twin speaker radio, electric antenna, electric door locks, a dual heating system and a silver magnetized glove box. Drink tumblers, cigarette and tissue dispensers, lipstick and cologne, ladies compact with powder puff, mirror and matching leather notebook, Arpege atomizer with Lanvin perfume and the list of personal luxuries goes on and on. It also came with automatic restart, an Autroic Eye, a drum-style electric clock, power windows, forged aluminum wheels and, the big tamale, was of course ... air conditioning. Buyers of the Broughams had a choice of 44 full leather interior and trim options and could select such items as Mouton, Karakul or lambskin carpeting.

One of the flaws of this car was difficulties with the air suspension, and most owners just found it easier and cheaper to have the system removed and replaced with conventional coil springs.

Only 400 Cadillac Eldorado Broughams were sold in 1957 and 304 in 1958. My mom asked me if I had to choose between today's Corvette ZR1 and a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, and the answer was a prompt, unequivocal, "The 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham." I definitely think I was born too late for all the cool cars!

Cody Facteau is a 16-year old homeschooler from East Burke. He enjoys anything to do with cars, particularly the Classics. He loves Le Mans racing, his favorite TV shows are Gearz with Stacey David & Top Gear (BBC), hobbies are Legos and PlayStation. Career goals? What else, cars!

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