Since it’s very name refers to a mythical city of riches and gold hidden in South America, it’s no surprise that the 1953 Eldorado is a rare and revered gem.
The iconic vehicles of yesteryear don’t only appeal to car lovers, but also attract those passionate about engineering, design, art and yes, history. Before cars were built for efficiency and speed, it was about the experience, style, exclusivity and ultimately, craftsmanship – making them timeless, works of art.
For many classic car collectors, owning a piece of automotive history is still considered to be a luxury, which is perhaps why Cadillac’s 1953 Eldorado has remained at the top of the wish list for many motor enthusiasts. After all, Cadillac has long held the prestigious title of being one of the world’s most opulent automotive brands – but what’s all the fuss about when it comes to this particular model, and why is it regarded as a particularly rare collectors item?
Celebrating The Golden Era Of Cadillac
As one of the world’s oldest motor vehicle manufacturers, the Cadillac brand roared to life all the way back in 1902. Founded by Henry Leland, who named the company after Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, in just six short years the company went on to bring the idea of interchangeable parts to the automotive industry, and were pioneers when it came to laying the groundwork for modern mass production of automobiles at the turn of the century.
By the time General Motors purchased the company in 1909, Cadillac had already established itself as one of America’s premier luxury car makers. By 1912, Cadillac had already become the first manufacturer to offer a passenger car with a fully enclosed cabin, along with the release of the Model Thirty. This resembled the brand’s first foray into paying attention to the finer details, as this was indeed the world’s first car with no crank, otherwise known as an electronic self starter.
Needless to say, it didn’t take long for the Cadillac brand to cement themselves as one of the jewels in the General Motors automotive crown. Manufactured between 1953 to 2002, the Eldorado was regarded as the top – or at the very least, close to the top – of the production line when it came to Cadillac’s best in show.
The name “Eldorado” was suggested by Mary-Ann Sukosky, a secretary in the merchandising department at General Motors, to use for a special convertible car built in 1952 to commemorate the company’s golden anniversary. The vehicle’s nameplate is a nod to the Spanish phrase “the gilded or golden one”, and no doubt also refers to El Dorado, the mythical South American “Lost City Of Gold” that inspired and baffled many Spanish explorers across a period that spanned centuries.
The very first 1953 Eldorado produced by Cadillac went on to join other high end models released by Oldsmobile and Buick as top of the line, limited production specialty convertibles released in the same year, as a means for General Motors to promote it’s innovative design leadership.
The 1953 Eldorado featured a full assortment of deluxe accessories, introduced the wraparound windshield, as well as a cut down beltline to Cadillac standard production. The expansive frontal glass and distinctive dip in the sheet metal at the bottom of the side windows were particularly beloved by Harley Earl, the head styling chief of General Motors at the time. As a result, this look was widely adopted by other marques across the production line.
Deemed to be the epitome of Cadillac style, the 1953 Eldorado incorporated the last of the trend setting looks of the 1948-1949 models with their egg crate grills, yet were equipped with most of the mechanical upgrades that make the later Cadillacs so desirable. This was also the first year that air conditioning was available in a Cadillac, via a luxurious system that consisted of not one, but two blowers for maximum cooling. It was also the first Cadillac to feature a 12-volt electrical system.
However, the 1953 Eldorado didn’t just look good – it had the power under the hood too. The 331-cu in V8 now featured new pistons and a higher-lift camshaft, which made it develop a user-friendly 210 horsepower. The car also carried no special badging, other than a gold coloured “Eldorado” nameplate in the centre of the dash.
While all Cadillacs are generally beloved by classic automotive enthusiasts, what’s so special about the 1953 Eldorado? Well, apart from its top level design, it’s the simple fact that only 532 were ever made. Although it was restored to being in an all but perfect condition, the highest sale price ever commanded for a 1953 Eldorado Convertible was an eye watering $495,000. Thus, it’s safe to say the popularity and legend of the 1953 Eldorado doesn’t look to be fading anytime soon.