For a brief but glorious period, Cadillac convertibles had a monopoly on the 'glamour' car segment of General Motors. From the magnificent Fleetwood Series 452 V16 Phaeton of the 1930s to the equally desirable Series 62 Eldorado convertibles of the 1950s, Cadillac soft tops were the height of luxurious motoring. By the time the last convertible rolled off the assembly line in 1976, Cadillac had established itself as the 'standard of the world' - a title it more than lived up to with its high-class rides. Other than the occasional concept car, we've not seen a new Cadilac convertible for 44 years. But while they may be gone, they're most certainly not forgotten. For a lesson in what Cadillac can achieve when it's firing on all cylinders, check out our round up of the 10 best Cadillac convertibles of all time.
1. 1941 Series 62 Convertible
By today's standards, the 1941 Series 62 Convertible might not be up to much from a performance standpoint. Its engine would be considered clucky, its top speeds would be laughed out of town. But back in 1941, it was at the cutting edge of motoring innovation. And boy, was it a head turner. Designed by the heavenly duo of Earl Harley and Bill Mitchell, its iconic "torpedo" exterior with its low streamlined runningboardless body and expansive shoulder room drew its inspiration from the American Space Program. Now touted as one of the most beautiful Caddy's ever built, it was a huge hit on its release, selling four times as many units as its predecessor and accounting for 37% of Cadillac sales in the first year alone.
2. 1959 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible
There are good cars and then there are great cars. Every once in a while, you might even be lucky enough to stumble on an iconic car. The 1959 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible falls into the last category. With its elongated rear shark fins and its classic 50s stylings, it exemplifies exactly what makes Cadillac such a legendary car maker. At the time of its release, it was marketed as “the new standard of the world in splendor.” For once, the marketing team weren't relying on hyperbole. As carbuyerlabs.com writes, this is a car that transports you back to a time when cars were driven for the sake of being driven... and for that, we can all be thankful.
3. 1953 Eldorado Convertible
As thethings.com notes, it would be impossible to compile a list of the greatest Cadillac convertibles and not include the 1953 Eldorado Convertible. The Eldorado series spanned a huge period of Cadillac's history, but it wouldn't have got off the ground without this classic model from the early 50s. At the time of its release, it was the most expensive American car on the road. With its distinct bodyshell, wraparound windshield, and availability in a choice of four unique colors (Aztec red, Alpine white, azure blue and artisan ochre), it was also one of the most beautiful.
4. 1957 Cadillac DeVille
If you thought Cadillac's were expensive now, you should have seen the price tags in the 50s. Costing more than most people could save in a lifetime, they were the preserve of the rich and the famous. The 1957 Cadillac DeVille was no exception. Joni Mitchell owned one. Bruce Springsteen had one. Aretha Franklin was apparently devoted to hers. And Elvis Presley went as far as buying one for his mother. Why? For a start, they drove like the clappers. Secondly, they were gorgeous. And thirdly... well, they had the money.
5. 1964 DeVille convertible coupé
In 1964, Cadillac didn't just make one of its best ever convertibles, it made one of its best ever cars, period. As notoriousluxury.com writes, at the time of its release, the 1964 DeVille convertible coupé was the only true luxury convertible to come from an American manufacturer. With its superbly spacious, comfortable interior and classically elegant exterior, it was a masterclass in high-end design. And it didn't exactly let itself down on a performance front, either. Its 429 CID V8 engine was a beast, delivering 340 hp with 651 Nm of peak torque. Top speeds came in at an impressive 123mph, while the acceleration of 0-60 mph in a mere 8.8 seconds put it among the most powerful cars on the road. All these years later, it's still considered one of the most desirable Caddy's of all time.
6. 1976 Eldorado Fleetwood Convertible
By the mid 1970s, the age of the convertible was drawing to a close. The market had moved on (or so General Motors would have us believe) - the convertible was done. But if you're going to go out, you may as well go out with a bang. On April 22, 1976, the "last American convertible" was delivered to its waiting public. They weren't disappointed. The 1976 Eldorado Fleetwood Convertible proved to be one of Cadillac's best creations to date. Its all-white design was more than a bit of all-right, while its high-performance functionality made it the equal of any other car on the road. As it turned out, GM were wrong about the convertible. But Cadillac was definitely not wrong about 1976 Eldorado Fleetwood Convertible.
7. Series 67 Park Avenue
The Series 67 Park Avenue was flashy, ostentations, even a little obscene. It was also insanely desirable. If you had money and wanted people to know about it, this was the car you flashed your checkbook at in the 1960s. Big, luxurious, and imposing, it didn't just turn heads, it kept them turned. These days, it's just as desirable- expect to pay upwards of $20,000 at auction if you're lucky enough to find one.
8. Cadillac Ciel
Mass produced Caddy convertibles may have bitten the dust in 1976, but as its fans will know, Cadillac does love a concept car. In 2011, it revisited the soft top with the Cadillac Ciel, a concept car that drew on the 1937 Cadillac Phaeton 5859 for its inspiration. Featuring everything from an aromatherapy system to a floating center console, the interior of the Ciel was almost other-worldly. The exterior was none too shabby either, while the high performing twin turbocharged V6 engine delivered the kind of power that ran rings around the competition.
9. 1905 Cadillac Model D
If we're looking at the greatest Cadillac convertibles ever made, it would be remis of us not to mention the car that started it all. The 1905 Cadillac Model D was the first Caddy ever sold with a manual convertible top. It was also the first car in the world to feature a governed throttle. Its 300 cu-in (4.9L) four-cylinder L-head engine may have struggled to deliver anything more than 30 hp, but by the day's standards, it was legendary. As the first convertible and basically the first car with cruise control, it's quite literally the daddy of the modern convertible.
10. 1937 Cadillac Series 60 Convertible
As autowise.com rightfully comments, the 1937 Cadillac Series 60 Convertible was a good-looking car. It didn't, however, rely on its good looks alone to get by. This was a car that stood on the cutting edge of technical innovation, featuring the kind of details (a Fisher Body Turret Top one-piece roof, Bendix dual-servo brakes, and a "Knee-Action” independent suspension to name but a few) that set it apart from any other car on the road. In its first year on the market, it accounted for half of all Cadillacs sold.
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Written by Benjamin Smith
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