The 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible / Specs and History

The beautifully restored automobile featured in this article is the 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible. As you can see the car is absolutely stunning inside and out.

1958 cadillac eldorado convertible

1958 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible

The Cadillac Motor Company

An interesting piece of automobile history is that Cadillac was formed by the breakup of Henry Ford's company in 1902 due to a dispute between Ford and his investors.

The investors were trying to sell the assets from the closed factory when instead they decided to continue making automobiles by the urging of Henry Leland a Detroit manufacturer who also happened to have built a new engine. Leland convinced the investors that his new engine was stronger than that of Olds and he could produce them cheaper. The Cadillac name chosen for this new venture was the namesake of the explorer and  Detroit's founder, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac.

General Motors would go on to purchase Cadillac in 1909 and eventually Cadillac became the luxury automobile and SUV division of General Motors Corporation.

cadillac eldorado convertibleThe Cadillac Eldorado

The Cadillac Eldorado was a top of the line model. The Eldorado was introduced in 1953 and lasted continuously to 2002. The 1953 Eldorado was a limited edition convertible.  The 1958 Cadillac Eldorado shown here is of the third generation models which were built from the 1957 through 1960 model years.

The Cadillacs of the 1950's are remembered by their vast display of chrome.

Harley Earl and the new 1958 Cadillacs

Automobile design historians are well aware of the long tenure at General Motors by design chief Harley Earl. In short, Earl was hired by Alfred Sloan to be in charge of the styling section to design LaSalles. That worked out well and Earl was then put in charge of GM's new "Art and Styling Studio" where he would head design for GM's entire line. Essentially Harley Earl joined General Motors as a head designer and remained so for over thirty years.

Harley Earl was the head designer of the team working on the new 1957 Cadillac designs. These designs would mark the 1957 and 1958 Cadillacs. One of the major changes to these third generation models were the double headlights on each front side. The 1959 models would have much larger tail fins and perhaps the largest ever.

The 1958 Cadillacs received a modest facelift. Cadillacs for 1958 were basically carryover models from 1957 with a facelift on all but the Brougham. There was a new grille with multiple round "cleats" at the joining of horizontal and vertical members. The grille was wider and the bumper guards were set lower to the parking lamps. New quad headlights were seen on all Cadillac lines and small chrome fins were placed on the front fenders. Tailfins were somewhat less pronounced in 58 and trim attachments were revised. The Cadillac name was seen, in block letters, on the tailfins of Series 62 base models. On the sides of these models were five longer horizontal windsplits placedahead of the unskirted rear wheel housings.

The 1958 Recession Automobile Market

Sales were relatively poor in 1958. The reason was not the automobile itself but rather a recession that the country was in. Cadillac produced a total of 121,700 vehicles for the 58 model year.

The 1958 recession brought about the worst car sales year since World War Two. Overall American new car sales decreased 31 percent from 1957 levels. Fortunately, the recession ended during the last half of the year and sales picked up for 1959.

1958 Cadillac Eldorado Specifications

The 1958 Cadillac Eldorado had a 365 cubic inch V-8. The engine delivered 312 HP and was used in all Cadillacs that year. Eldorado performance was substantially improved with the adoption of three two-barrel carburetors, which boosted output to 335 HP.

cadillac tailfins

The 58 Eldorado's distinctive tailfins

Transmission was a 4 speed Hydra-Matic.

Wheelbase was 129.5 inches with an overall length of 221.8 inches.

A total of 7,825 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible Coups were produced for 1958.

See additional Auto Museum Online articles found on the links below...

The 1951 Cadillac Series 61 Sedan

The 1958 Cadillac Coupe De Ville

The 1931 Cadillac V-16

The 1958 Cadillac Collector Car Values

Cadillac has long been a popular collector car. The Cadillac's of the 1920's and 1930's have very distinctive and luxurious styling of that era.

1958 eldorado prices

58 Eldorado dashboard

Cadillac during the 1950's were known for plenty of chrome and some of the most advanced accessories available. Many of these accessories that were optional on most automobiles were standard equipment with Cadillac. Power windows and seats, power antennas were what the 50's Cadillacs offered as standard equipment.

The 1958 Cadillac found itself in the era of tail fins. Some larger than others but the tail fin was a common theme in almost all American cars from 1956 to 1960 and Cadillac was the automaker with some of the biggest tail fins on the road.

Current values for 1958 Cadillacs remain strong, in particular with the convertible models. Top end prices for the restored original Eldorado Biarritz Convertible can be in the $150,000 area. For the Series 62 Eldorado Convertible about half that at $75,000. These prices reflect models in perfect condition inside and out. Series 62 hardtops and coupes may be found in the $25,000 to $38,000 range for top priced models.

Reference material for this article and some good reads include...The Cadillac Story: The Post War Years by Thomas Bonsall.....Cadillac: A Century of Excellence by authors Robert Leicester Wagner...Cadillac: The Tailfin Years by Robert J. Headrick Jr.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)

1969 Pontiac Firebird Convertible / Specs, Photos, More

 

Our featured car is a 1969 Pontiac Firebird Convertible. This very popular Pontiac model came into being in 1967 during John Z. Deloreans tenure at General Motors. The first generation Firebirds included the 1967 through 1969 models. The first generation Pontiac Firebird  offered two different design options for buyers. These were a  2-door hardtop coupe and a convertible.

first generation pontiac firebird

1969 Pontiac Firebird

1969 Restyling

The 1969 Pontiac Firebird received a restyling similar to the same year Camaro's. Restyling included broader fenders with a new front end that separated the headlights from the grille. There was a minor change to the interior and with the exception of these three things the Pontiac Firebird had the same elements as the 68 model.

The Pontiac Firebird and the Chevy Camaro

Both being models from General Motors, some may think that the first 1967 Pontiac Firebird was merely a repackaging of the Camaro, but that really is not an accurate picture. There is no doubt at all that the Pontiac Firebird when it was first introduced in 1967 was influenced by the Camaro particularly with the Firebird hitting the market five months after the Chevy Camaro. The Firebird may have never have been developed had it not been for the Camaro but there was a basic difference. The Pontiac Firebird utilized genuine Pontiac engines. The Firebird would clearly distinguish itself from Camaro and would attract much more popularity during the 1970's.

1969 pontiac firebird convertible

Distinctive Firebird front end

Pontiac Firebird buyers had the choice of six and eight cylinder engines. The Firebird was using a Camaro chassis and some body panels. Regardless, the Firebird’s styled split front grille, beaked hood, and GTO slitted taillights gave it a distinctly Pontiac appearance. What really set the Firebird apart from the Chevy Camaro was found under the hood. The Firebird offered a good selection of Pontiac engines.

As an example, the “Sprint” version got the buyer a 230 inline 6 with a 4 barrel carburetor rated at 215 HP. Either one of the six cylinder engines was linked to either a three or four speed manual or two-speed automatic transmission. The majority of Firebird buyers however chose one of the available V8 engines. At the bottom was Pontiac’s 326 V8 with a two barrel carb that was rated at 250 bhp. A special “H.O.” (High Output) version of the 326 V8 along with a four barrel carburetor was rated at 285 HP. The biggest V-8 was the 400 V8 that was taken from the Pontiac GTO and it was rated at 325 HP.

The 1969 Pontiac Firebird Trans AM

Of special note for 1969 was the introduction of the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. Pontiac had to pay the SCCA for use of the Trans Am name but it turned out to be well worth it. The Trans AM name is very recognizable even today. The Pontiac Trans Am was built with the Ram Air III at 335 HP engine hooked up to a heavy duty 3-speed manual, or the Ram Air IV at 345 HP with a 4-speed manual. The Trans AM with a great sports look came with a rear spoiler, dual hood and fender scoops, lower sports suspension, large performance tires, bigger anti-sway bars. The model had a race car look of blue stripes on a white background. The Pontiac Trans AM was known for great looks and superb handling.

1969 Pontiac Firebird Specifications

As noted above, there was a variety of engines and horsepower available to Firebird buyers. In 1969 there were eight different engines available. There were two Inline six engines and six V-8's. Horsepower ranged from 175 to 345.

Brakes were front disc with rear hydraulic drums.

Front suspension was independent coil springs and rear was longitudinal springs and live axle.

1969 firebird dashboard

Firebird dash

Wheelbase was 108.1 inches, overall length 191.1 inches, width 73.9 inches and height 49.6 inches. Average curb weight was 3,500 lbs.

For the 1969 model year, there were a total of 87,708 Pontiac Firebirds built. For the same model year there was a total of 697 Trans AM's produced. As a comparison, Chevy produced 243,000 Camaro's for 1969.

See additional Auto Museum Online articles from the links below...

The 1960 Pontiac Star Chief

The 1969 Pontiac GTO

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Excellent reference resources regarding the popular Pontiac Firebird included...Pontiac Firebird: The Auto-Biography by author Marc Cranswick...Pontiac Firebird : 50 Years by David Newhardt.

First Generation Pontiac Firebird Collector Values

pontiac firebird pony car

The first generation Pontiac Firebirds are very popular collector cars. When you consider that under 700 Trans AM's were built in 1969 and of those only eight Trans AM convertibles were built, you have some rare cars indeed.

At this date, valuations cover a wide range due to overall condition, originality, mileage and model. In general the Trans AM's are valued higher. Asking prices are generally from $25,000 to $75,000 with exceptions on both ends.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)

1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster Coupe / Photos, Specs, More

Featured in this article is a good looking 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster Coupe. When the Chevy Fleetmaster was introduced in 1946 it was a top of the line Chevrolet model that replaced the Chevy Special Deluxe.

chevy fleetmaster coupe

1948 Chevy Fleetmaster Coupe

The Chevrolet Fleetmaster

Chevrolet produced it's Fleetmaster model for the 1946, 1947 and 1948 model years. The post war Fleetmaster was styled from the prewar 1942 Chevys and had little changes between 1946 and 1948.

Some exceptions were that the grille was made full width in 1947 and in 1948 added a center vertical bar to the grille. There was a sub series Fleetline offered that included both two and four door fastback designs.Beginning with 1949, the Fleetmaster was replaced by the Chevy Deluxe which had sub series of Fleetlines and Stylelines.

Post War Chevrolets

When the war ended in 1945, automakers had much of the tooling still in place that was used for the 1942 models. The fact that civilian car production ended in February 1942, designing essentially ceased and when the war did end the models turned out for 1946, 1947 and 1948, in the case with Chevrolet, looked very similar to the 42's.

1948 chevy fleetmaster

Vertical center bar added to the 1948 Fleetmaster grille

The first entirely new post war Chevrolet appeared for 1949. Production totaled over 400,000 vehicles. This big bump up in sales no doubt had to do with the new post war design introduced that year.

Interestingly enough, with four years of no civilian U.S. auto production due to the war, demand for new cars immediately after the war was off the charts and the fact that the design had no major changes since 1942 did not effect sales. If the car was new it sold fast and this probably kept the automakers from making significant design changes sooner.

The 1948 Chevy Fleetmaster Advancements

The 48 Chevy Fleetmaster was the last of it's line and while the basic design was years old this model did benefit from advancements made since 1941. This included advancements in both materials used and engineering.

As an example, the inline six engine in the 1948 Fleetmaster was built with precision type main bearings. The three speed column shifter was given a vacuum assist.

1948 Chevy Fleetmaster Specifications

As mentioned above, the 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster had a 216 Cubic Inch Inline Six engine rated at 90 horsepower. Remarkably this 216 inline six was Chevrolet's only engine from 1929 to 1954 when at that time they offered a small block V-8. While this was Chevy's sole engine for several decades, improvements to it were made. As an example, in 1941 with the Chevrolet Special Deluxe, cylinder heads were redesigned and new pistons were introduced. The engine's horsepower was raised to 90 from 85. In 1941 Chevy did build a 235 cubic inch version of the 216 inline six that was used in large trucks.

Transmission was a synchromesh three speed manual column mounted.  An automatic was offered as an option beginning with 1950 Chevrolets.

Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum.

Suspension was front independent with a semi-floating rear axle.

Wheelbase was 116.0 inches...overall length was 197.75 inches... width 73.4 inches...height 66.1 inches. Curb weight estimated at 3,330 lbs.

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1948 Packard Custom Eight

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1941 Chevy Fleetline Convertible

chevrolet fleetmaster design and styling

48 Fleetmaster dash

Reference material for the Chevrolet Fleetmaster includes the Complete Book of Collectible Cars by the editors of Consumer Guide and GM/Chevrolet Archives.

Chevrolet Fleetmaster Collector Cars and Values

The Chevy Fleetmaster is a relatively popular collector car.From the three model years that the Chevy Fleetmaster was produced, the 1948 model was considered the best of the three. This is mainly because of the engine improvements and more ornate grille styling for the 48 models. While the same basic styling was beginning to get old for 1948, the cars had a reputation of being quite well built.

Collectors that have interest in early post war classics would find the Chevy Fleetmaster a so,ewhat inexpensive way to start a collection. As of this writing, values for restored 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmasters average from about $16,000 to $20,000. To be sure, there are variances to these values based on mileage, originality and date of restoration.

chevy fleetmaster specificationsVintage Chevrolet Club of America is a great source of information for all early post war Chevys and much more. They are a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and restoration of all years of Chevrolets. One of the best benefits of belonging to the VCCA is taking your vehicles on tours. The Touring Committee is dedicated to the promotion and enjoyment of owning and driving Chevrolets, social interaction and fellowship among members, and increasing awareness of the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America in the general public. Their website is  www.vcca.org

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)