In 1957, Cadillac felt it was in competition with Lincoln for top billing in the luxury auto market. Both automakers were looking for the edge that would put them over the top for first place in the hearts of new car buyers. So they came out with the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, the marque which was to be the the ultimate in luxury motoring, and set Cadillac as America’s top luxury car maker. This was not a quest for profit, it was a marketing tactic to capture brand awareness.
To produce the Eldorado Brougham, the bodies were hand built at the Fleetwood plant and then shipped to Cadillac’s Clark Street plant for assembly. They were equipped with extravagant and expensive features, including, a brushed stainless steel roof, pillarless suicide rear doors, quad headlamps, memory seats, cruise control, automatic trunk opener, forged aluminum wheels, transistorized radio, plus a choice of 45 full leather trim combinations. It was upscale and exclusive, like no other automobile before it. Every conceivable luxury feature was standard on the Brougham.
Cadillac engineers added features such as air suspension, the four headlamp system and the tubular center X-frame. The suspension required an individual air spring at each wheel. The air ride was an amazing improvement in smooth load leveling comfort. There were also special heating units in the front and back seats. Power steering, power brakes, power windows, power door locks and a power deck lid were all standard on the Broughams. Even the radio antenna was automatic. They also came with air conditioning. Cadillac engineers also came up with six way power seats with memory settings.
The base price was $13,074. You could buy a new Ferrari or Rolls-Royce for less. So only 400 were built that first year.
The Eldorado Brougham was so expensive to build that GM would report losing $10,000 for each car they sold. It is often argued that the 1957-58 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham did not exist to make a profit. They simply were produced to make a point. It proved what Cadillac could do and would continue to do in the U.S. automotive markets for decads to come.
1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Surfaces
Yesterday, North Shore Classics in Mundelein, Illinois listed a rare 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham in black finish with the signature stainless steel roof. They tell us it has original interior and nice original chrome and trim. The odometer shows only 18,460 miles. As you may have guessed, they say it runs and drives like a Cadillac should.
These Brougham special editions do not come up for sale very often. You might want to check the photos on their ad page. This is an interesting find for a Cadillac collector.
Although it is a ’57, first year Brougham, it has the Tri-Carb set up like the 1958’s had. You would have to have it inspected to see how the air suspension system is set up. Many of these cars were changed over to shock absorbers because of problems with the load leveling valves in the air suspension system.
As recently as 2012, MSNBC cited the Eldorado Brougham as one of America’s Top Ten Sexiest Cars of All Time. It featured stylized front bumpers, gracefully pulled back grille, swept-back fins, rear-hinged suicide doors and a brushed stainless steel roof. This was enough to entice many of America’s most affluent families and European ruling monarchs. Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra both owned a Brougham.
The Eldorado Brougham has earned its place in automotive history despite a limited production run of just 704 units over a two-year period, 1957 and 1958. According to the Cadillac Database, there are thought to be over 400 of these cars still in existence. They remain very difficult to restore however, since all of the body panels on the Broughams are one-off and do not exchange with other Eldorado body parts of that era.
These cars were so far ahead of their time that they are still an amazing site today. The collector community surely prizes them.
You will find more amazing classic Cadillacs in the Cars-On-Line Cadillac Section online.