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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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)