Well, you've done it again - voted into the Jalopnik Fantasy Garage another glass-and-steel piece of history which some, but not all, agree would make for a great addition: the Lotus Eleven. Last week saw no progress towards filling the garage due to Geneva Motor Show shenanigans, but that just gave us some extra time to think about what to offer up this week. Sometimes it's hard to be objective when selecting nominees, this week's pick is a personal favorite from a bygone era of high rollers, big egos, and uncompromising style - the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham.
In the postwar era, Cadillac was a dominant force in the world of luxury automobile, outpacing its previous rival, Packard, with styling innovations such as the famous tail fins, as well as myriad luxury options. Cadillac in the 1950s proudly proclaimed its "Standard of the World" slogan. In order to truly own that idea though, Cadillac needed to build something with unsurpassed luxury, besting even its peers from across the pond.
Originally shown as a concept at the 1955 L.A. Auto Show, the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham was put into production in 1957 and was at the time the pinnacle of luxury and innovation. It featured numerous options, some of which are still not available today. The engine was a 365 cubic-inch V8, breathing though twin four-barrel carburetors and running through a 4-speed automatic transmission. The body was long, low and extravagant, with a pillarless four-door design and the rear doors opening suicide style (and you know how much we love suicide doors). At the behest of GM styling guru Harley Earl, the car recived a slick stainless-steel roof and road-adjusting quad headlights for better illumination. The suspension was as advanced as anything GM had in it's arsenal at the time: a centrally controlled, self-leveling and auto-adjusting air suspension which provided an uncompromisingly smooth ride.
Where the Caddy really shimmered was in the amenities. Independent of each other, they seem underwhelming, but that all of the features lived in one car in 1957 is incredible. On the inside, drivers were greeted with power seats that included memory settings, remote-adjustable side mirrors and an auto-adjusting rear-view mirror, an all-transistor automatic-station-seeking radio with twin speakers, all-electric windows, a power locking system, and a power open AND close trunk lid. Now that's just the normal stuff. Here's where things get crazy. The designers also saw fit to throw in a stainless steel drinking set for the glove box, a cigarette dispenser, various vanity elements for the ladies, and a perfume dispenser filled with Arpege Extrait de Lanvin perfume. Say what?!
Of course, anything can be built when money is not option, and here's where the Eldorado Brougham took no prisoners. The base retail price in 1957 was $13,074, exceeding even the most pricey Rolls of the time. Toss that number into the Federal Reserve consumer price index calculator and that tally in 2008 dollars rings the bell at $100,311. Only the Cadillac XLR-V has ever commanded a sum so high, and that Caddy merely goes fast and has a lovely Eucalyptus wood interior. The Brougham was offered for only two years; total production of the princely luxo-yachts was 704 vehicles. After the initial run, production was farmed out to Pininfarina, where a redesign was executed, but the quality in craftsmanship just wasn't the same.
The '57 Eldorado Brougham was probably the finest post-war Cadillac produced to date. Peerless in its design and attention to detail, it was the pinnacle of what an American boulevardier could ever be. Smooth, technically savvy, staggeringly handsome and cranking out as much power as the average Eisenhower Era captain of industry would ever need. It's not difficult to imagine driving this car on a lazy, cross-country summer roadtrip, dusk creeping across the sky, the calm glow of an old dashboard and a crackly radio serving as background noise. Not all of the best driving is done at the limit of grip. [image credits to Eldorado Brougham]
The Jalopnik Fantasy Garage:
1978 Aston Martin V8 Vantage | Honda 1300 Coupe 9 | 1931 Daimler Double Six 50 Corsica Drophead Coupe | Ferrari 288 GTO | Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 | 1970 Buick GSX 455 | First Generation BMW M Coupe | Bugatti Veyron 16.4 | Ford GT | Citroen SM | Porsche 928 | Jensen FF | DeTomaso Vallelunga | Audi Quattro S1 | Buick GNX | Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R | Honorary Fantasy Garager: The LS1 Powered Rotus | Lamborghini LM002 | Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe | Ferrari 250 GTO | Bentley Speed Six | Talbot-Lago T150C SS Figoni et Falaschi Raindrop/Teardrop Coupe | Porsche 917 | Audi RS4 Avant | Lamborghini Miura | Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 | BMW E39 M5 | Jaguar E-type | Mercedes-Benz 300 SL | Dodge Charger/Challenger R/T | Toyota 2000GT | Facel Vega HK500 | Voisin C28 Aerosport | Bugatti Type 41 Royale | McLaren F1 | Maserati Bora | Continental MK II | Tucker 48 | Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato | BMW 507 | Porsche 959 | 1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom 1 Jonckheere Coupe | Land Rover Defender | Lotus Eleven