The automobile featured in this article is a beautifully restored 1951 Cadillac Series 61 Sedan. The 1951 model year was the last for the Cadillac Series 61. The Series 61 was popular in as much as it offered a lower priced Cadillac but still offered the smooth Cadillac ride not to mention carrying the prestigious Cadillac badge.
Cadillac initially came up with their Series 61 due to the Great Depression which of course put downward pressure on prices. Price point, even to sell Cadillacs, was important. Some of the independent luxury automakers that didn't have the resources of a company like GM simply went out of business.
The New Post War Cadillac Design
New post war Cadillac design was introduced with the 1948 model. Up until that point designs had their roots in the pre war models. The 1948 Cadillac came in a Sixty-One model and a Sixty-Two Model. Among other differences, the Sixty-One Series had less trim than the Sixty-Twos.
The new post war design was spearheaded by Frank Hershey, working under Harley Earl, who is credited for the first tail fins on a Cadillac, and the 1955 Thunderbird.
These automobiles considered some of the most elegant automobiles of that period with smooth flowing lines. The new design also sported a tail fin that housed the tail lights. These new tail fins were reportedly had their origins based on the P-38 military fighter airplane. Fins would become a trademark of Cadillacs for many years thereafter. The 48 model year will always be remembered as the year Cadillac came out with tail fins which hit it's most extravagant design in the 1958 to 1960 period.
In 1949 the most significant engineering change involved the introduction of the new overhead valve 331 cubic inch V8 engine.
A major design change occurred in 1950. These changes included a longer rear deck, a lower and heavier look and a broken rear fender line. Also, 1950 saw the new one piece windshield. The 1951 model had a minor facelift from the previous year.
As mentioned above, the 1951 Cadillac Series 61 was the lower priced Cadillac. This model also had a shorter wheelbase than the Series 62. (122 inch vs.126 inch)
Cadillac had mixed results catering to middle class buyers. No doubt a strong effort was made to accomplish this but the Series 61 was discontinued in mid-year. The most popular seller in 1951 was Cadillac's Series 62 four door sedan. The Cadillac Series 62 was available as a pillared coupe, convertible or Coupe de Ville.
1951 Cadillac Series 61 Specifications
Standard engine for the 1951 Cadillac 61 Sedan was a 331 cubic inch V-8. Horsepower was rated at 160. Top speed for this model came in at just under 100 MPH.
Gearbox was a three speed manual or a four speed Hydra-Matic.
Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum.
Front suspension were independent coil springs with rear being semi-ellipical leaf springs.
Dimensions and weight include a wheelbase of 122.0 inches, an overall length of 211.5 inches, width 80.123 inches, height 61.69 inches and a curb weight of about of 4,000 lbs. The Hydra-Matic model about 4,100 lbs. New car price for the 51 Cadillac Series 61 Sedan was about $2,700.
Total 1951 production of the Cadillac Series 6
was about 4,700 vehicles. Out of this total 2,300 Series 61 Sedans were built.
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Reference material for this article included, GM Archives, The Book of Collector Cars, American Automobile History, NADA.
1951 Cadillac Collector Cars and Values
We believe that basically all Cadillacs from the early 1900's through the 1950's make good collector cars. The 1948 Cadillac can be considered a milestone car in as much as it represents the new post war design.
Cadillacs from 1950 through 1956 are especially popular starting with the significant design change of 1950. Cadillacs had the distinction of looking unique. During this period when you saw a Cadillac you knew beyond doubt that it was a Cadillac. The 1955 classic Coupe deVille is an excellent example.
In general, values for very good conditioned and better 1951 Cadillac Series 61 range from about $11,000 to $25,000. The top price in this category is a professionally restored model. Interestingly enough, the Two Door Coupe appears to garner $5,000 to $10,000 more than the sedans. For the 1951 model year the Cadillac Series 62 Convertible comes in at the highest valuation in a range of $50,000 to $90,000. Again, this range goes from very good to excellent. The higher prices are not considered daily drivers.
An excellent website for Cadillac enthusiasts is ...http://www.cadillaccountryclub.com/ Here you will find information ranging from classics to the new Cadillac Escalade. For a list of Cadillac Car Clubs see website...http://www.carclubsworldwide.com/cadillac-car-clubs.php
(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)