Happy Birthday to Dr. Zal! Although he is my best friend and we have known each other for more than 50 years, he doesn’t read this blog very often. He is not a “car guy.”
Dr. Zal, another close friend (also a Ph.D. in a science discipline, let’s call him Dr. Hoss—he is not a regular Disaffected Musings reader, either) and I were all born in the same hospital 11 days apart. We all attended the same elementary, junior high and high school. (An aside: yesterday our high school became the first school in state history to win three straight state basketball titles at the 3A level. When we attended many years ago, the school was a football power, but a basketball non-entity. The only constant in the world is change.)
On this day in 1957 Cadillac made its stunning Eldorado Brougham available to the public. I have had the good fortune to see one in person, but lost the photos when I switched “smartphones” in December. (A “smartphone” is only as smart as the person using it.) Never fear…
From curbsideclassic.com a picture of a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. The Brougham was derived from the Park Avenue and Orleans show cars from earlier in the 1950s.
I don’t know if you can tell from the photo, but that’s a brushed stainless steel roof. Yes, it has suicide doors. The Eldorado Brougham was truly a loaded car. The quad headlights were a first for Cadillac and maybe for all American cars; sorry, but I’m not sure and a quick search provided conflicting accounts. The list of features is very long so here are just a few: self-leveling air suspension (which proved to be problematic and was replaced by some owners), the first automatic multi-position memory seats, low-profile tires, dual four-barrel carburetors, cruise control, electric door locks. The Brougham was 18 feet long and weighed about 5,300 pounds. The engine was rated at 325 HP/400 LB-FT of torque.
This was the most expensive US-made car in 1957, even more expensive than the $10,000 Continental Mark II. The Eldorado Brougham was priced at $13,074. In today’s dollars, depending on your assumptions, that’s about $120,000-$125,000. Of course, many vehicles today cost more than that. I tried to compare the cost of the Brougham to the cost of a new house, but couldn’t find a consistent value for 1957. I can tell you that according to the Census Bureau, the median price of a new home in 1963—six years later—was about $18,000. It is certainly not a stretch, therefore, to say the Brougham cost more than a large percentage of new homes in 1957.
Not surprisingly, Cadillac didn’t sell many of these cars: just 400 in 1957. The Brougham was about twice the price of any other Eldorado and was even more expensive than the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud.
Just like I think Rolls-Royce has lost some of its prestige I believe the same has happened to Cadillac. Many Americans used to aspire to own a Cadillac. Maybe the make needs to introduce an ultra-luxury model above anything it currently produces. Maybe the Escala will be that car…
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