Sunday, July 26, 2015

Show Car Sunday returns with the true king of 1957

CALIFORNIA DREAM MACHINE
What else is new? I was driving along some street in Alameda with an old friend when we passed this majestic beast, long-extinct on the East Coast:
I mean really California, do you have to be so smug about how your cars don't rust? This is a 1957 Cadillac Series 62 Sedan De Ville in Tahoe Blue. An amazing and luxurious beast of a ride!
When I was a kid the '57 Chevy was the most iconic of all the classics (these days they've been toppled by Muscle Cars and European Sports Cars). This is the vastly superior older brother of the Chevy, being the top of the GM heap. This car is dripping with ostentatious styling.
The front is just beautiful in my opinion. The hooded headlights are similar to those of the Chevy from that year, but just about everything else is unique. This large conical points jutting out of the grill are referred to as Dagmars after the stage name of the rather busty first female star of television Virginia Ruth Egnor. The wraparound mesh detail between the headlight and the bumpers are strictly for show. The dual round light on the lower bumper corner are the turn signal and running lights. Sedan de Ville is written out in full, though de Ville would be combined in the '60s to become DeVille.
Everything is swoopy and ready for launch in this Jet Age cruiser. The Sputnik was launched in October of '57 which heralded the Space Age, making this the last gasp of Jet Age design. Styling cues abound from the wings and chrome spear on the side to the full-on jet hood ornament. Notice that this is a true hardtop, meaning that with all the windows rolled down there is no pillar between the front and rear opening.
A rip on the seat is about as much damage as this car seems to have sustained in its 58 years. The interior looks much like interiors would through the end of the '70s with that clean speedometer, column shift automatic, central radio with ashtray below, and clock on the far side. However since this is a Cadillac there is a fancy bit of lined chrome trim adorning the footwell!
Classic Jet Age action; chrome spear and a faux vent with chrome gills. Looks like 3 of those gills have gone missing and good luck finding those!
Not only does this Caddy have all its original hubcaps but she's rolling on vintage look wide whitewalls complete with the old Firestone lettering. Cool! 
This car is enormous but manages to keep it together in a tidy package. The dynamic rear window shape goes a long way I think.
Look at that Caddy symbol which is as stylized as the Batman symbol in Frank Millers Dark Knight. These fins are pronounced but still nothing compared to just 2 years later when the Ecto-1 was built.
I really love everything about this car which is unusual for a 4 door. My ultimate favorite "if I actually won a hundred million Powerball jackpot" car is a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible which shares many of the styling cues of this ride. 
The way to fill 'er up on the '57 Caddy is amazing; that little red reflector between the round lights is actually a button. Press that button and the chrome housing that holds those 2 lights swings up on a hinge, exposing the hidden gas cap inside! Had I thought of it at the time I would've taken a shot.
By the way the exhaust comes out of those vents on the bumper corners!
How much could you fit in the trunk? Probably a full size Weber gas grill no problem, or a mid-size refrigerator on its side.
*That's my buddy Daves unbelievably sweet Scout sitting up there at the stop sign. I jumped out on the spot and ran around this Caddy while he idled.
When you take a step back and see some other cars parked near something like this it makes them all look so terrible. The Scout is definitely holding its own, but that Dodge crew cab? Puh-leeze! The Caddy's standing around the party in a tuxedo while everyone else is wearing shorts.
This long hood contains a 365 V8 mated to a 4-speed Hydromatic transmission. Cadillac had the same mission for the entirety of the last century; the engine should be powerful enough to do whatever you asked of it but do it in a silent, effortless manner. They succeeded. 
Air conditioning became an option starting with the 1953 Cadillacs, and this one most likely has it assuming it was originally sold in California. The a/c unit was built by none other than Frigidaire. 
We'll leave with a close up of the mighty Caddy schnoz. The 2 tall chrome spears standing tall on the hood are meant to mimic the tails of a jet. The crest refers to the family coat of arms of the Cadillac division namesake Antoine de Lamothe-Cadillac, a French explorer who landed in Detroit which at the time was located in New France. When the emblem was redesigned in 2002 the small ducks sadly disappeared. The large V under the crest generally refers to cars powered by V8 engines.
Next up; something less luxurious!

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