The standard of the world. That’s what they called Cadillac. Details like this ashtray console in the rear passenger door would be the kind of thing supporting the idea of Cadillac’s general excellence…
You could land a helicopter on that surface. It has its own cigar lighter and is also home to the electric window control. Apart from that it’s made out of metal too: some pieces are cast and some are stamped. The effect is to make one wish to take a back seat and ride through town in a haze of cigar fumes, preferably Wuhrmann Habana Feus, please.
Events conspired to make it impossible to photograph the driver’s ashtray. This because the car lived in a big barn with only partial lighting. I’d planned to move the car out into the daylight but the automated mechanism that should have freed the park brake took a holiday, leaving the car running and straining to reverse but not rolling an inch. The fumes stank.
A verbal description of the driver’s ashtray and a stock photo follow:
You can see a black cylindrical surface running from right to left starting at the vent on the right. There is a highlight which is interrupted. One of those interruptions is where the drop-drown glove box is. Another one is the drop-down horizontally-hinged ashtray which has rolled sheet steel for its outer shell and more pressed steel inside. It didn’t move too smoothly.
Even with a flattened rope-flange to soften the edge it fouled with the adjacent glove box lid. As a concept it was magnificent, a deep and wide cavern ready for at least sixty cigarettes or one day of Archie Vicar’s consumption. The rear ashtrays are not that generous, though of undoubtedly high quality.
Like other American cars of the time, the space is across the car, rather than from front to back, despite the humongous length. Although I would not call the rear compartment cramped, it is strangely like a waiting room sofa to sit on: a big seat which extends without deviation from side to side and you are perched upright. There is no set place to sit, no bucketing.
The same goes for the seat back: another continuous projection of a single curve from one door to the other. I suppose one could seat four people back there. If just two then they’ll float about either side of the rear centre armrest if the driving gets spirited. Even if not, the only thing holding one in place is the sink of the seating.
To be fair, Mercedes and other cars of the period have similarly simplistic chairs. Alfa Romeo and Jaguar’s bucket seats for rear passengers must have seemed very daring. Look again at this marvel, one of Alfa Romeo’s masterpieces. Sod the engines and handling, check out the comfort of that little aedicule:
Not having sat in on of these 1960s Cadillacs before, I noticed the driving position felt odd: upright back, splayed legs and the steering wheel very close to my chest. The whole front chair moved by electric motors, by the way.
The doors are frameless and there’s a rear-centre arm-rest. It is a Cadillac after all. To drive, I can only guess: start it up, roll slowly onto the road and waft gently while the 8-cylinder engine (5.7 or 6.0 litres) drag along its two tonne heft.
This model was the Park Avenue variant of the Cadillac DeVille, meaning it had a boot that was a foot shorter than the standard car. Bill Mitchell oversaw the styling.
I will return to the exterior and the topic of steel pressings at a later time.