1961 Cadillac Eldorado
Year of manufacture1961
Formerly the property of Martin and Sandra Button, Chair of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Élégance
1961 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible
Chassis no. 61E015185
With their jet fighter styling, glitzy chrome trim, colour-matched interiors and jukebox instrumentation, Cadillacs of the late 1950s/early '60s epitomise an era when nothing succeeded like excess. Their over-the-top tail fins remain controversial even today.
Founded by Henry Leland and Robert Faulconer, the Cadillac Automobile Company of Detroit, Michigan completed its first car in October 1902, the firm's superior precision manufacturing technology soon establishing it as the foremost builder of quality cars in the USA. Cadillac was among the pioneers of the V8 engine and introduced the first synchromesh gearbox on its 1929 range. Always innovators in automobile technology, the company continues to produce cars recognised everywhere as symbols of wealth and prestige.
By the late 1950s Cadillacs incorporated new X-braced tubular chassis frames that increased structural rigidity while making possible lower body lines without loss of interior space; although hardly any larger than before, these restyled and low-slung Caddies looked bigger, which was all that mattered. They also sported fashionable tail fins. General Motors' chief stylist Harley Earl had introduced fins on the 1948 Cadillacs and the device would reach its zenith in 1959 before fading away.
For 1960 the fins were toned down just a little and the overall look was slightly more restrained. A more extensive cosmetic makeover distinguished the 1961 models, while beneath the skin the troublesome air suspension was replaced with rubberised springs. All models came with a 390ci (6.4-litre) 325bhp V8 engine under the hood. Base-model Series 6200 cars featured power steering, power brakes, and automatic transmission as standard, while the DeVille 6300 Sub-Series offered power windows and seats in addition. Now part of the DeVille range, the Eldorado Biarritz Convertible added power vent windows, whitewall tyres, and a remote control trunk lock to the mix. Priced at $6,477, the Biarritz Convertible was one of the most expensive cars of its day and sold in commensurately low numbers, only 1,450 being made out of a total Cadillac production of 138,379 units in the 1961 model year. Today this breathtakingly styled car is one of the most sought after of post-WW2 Cadillacs. Purchased in the USA and offered with US title, this beautifully restored example has belonged to the current vendor, a prominent Netherlands-based collector, since 2016.