If the Hue Fits

A retrospective glance at Cadillac’s glory days.

All images – courtesy of the author.

Long-standing Driven to Write readers will undoubtedly be aware that the site once hosted a monthly theme. Amongst them, the DTW Brochures section has lain dormant for quite some time, so in an attempt to breathe life into the subject, we hereby offer a new chapter. If the readership approves, more can (and possibly will) follow.

At first sight it might not appear obvious, but the 1960 Cadillac was the first step away from the baroque forms of (former styling chief) Harley Earl’s later years as GM design supremo. Earl had retired in 1958 and Bill Mitchell was appointed as his successor. Mitchell’s more international and youthful style would subsequently guide GM design in a new direction.

The 1960 model being a facelift only, there were of course limits to what could be achieved using the same bodyshell – nevertheless a little over an inch was shaved off the height of the tailfins and the frontal aspect
(although still rich in chromed fittings) was trimmed down for a less heavy appearance.

On the top-end Eldorado, the 1959 model’s thick chrome spear-like trim running from below the rear view mirror along the underside of the fin towards the rear bumper and back again towards the front wheel opening now remained only in a slim outline of its former self. Compare both model years and most would agree that the changes noticeably reduce the visual weight of the design.

Now to the brochure itself: the item you see here is the so called ‘prestige catalog’ – this to differentiate it in collector’s terms from the regular, much smaller brochure. These large brochures intended for serious sales prospects only, usually came in an envelope and were printed on thicker quality paper. The size is about double that of the regular item – this one is approximately the size of an LP record album.

The plain white covers have the Cadillac crest and V printed onto them in silver relief, and although this is not clearly visible in the photo, 1960 is embossed in the paper. The envelope is similar but here the model year is simply printed in black. It opens with an introductory text praising the virtues of that year’s new standard of the world (in those days that claim still carried some weight and did not lead to scoffing and spilled drinks as it would after, say, 1966 or so).

It is obvious that a lot of thought has gone into the layout, colours and choice of artwork and photography. Each page presents a different Cadillac model and is separated by smaller half pages showing presumed typical Cadillac owners in suitably salubrious locations.

Notice how the colours in each half page photo complement the colour of the car shown opposite of it. In most of them, there is even added subtlety demonstrated by smaller details in the photo previewing the colour of the Cadillac on the next page.

This is evident on the photo of the green Eldorado Biarritz for example, where the same shade of green is repeated in the half page photo, but the light source in the top right corner and the reflection next to the lady’s head are the same golden hue as the Eldorado Seville on the next page.

The last two Cadillacs presented are the Fleetwood Seventy-Five Limousine, and the exclusive and very expensive bespoke Eldorado Brougham. The Brougham cost an eye-watering $13,075, while the Eldorado -itself not exactly a downmarket car – left the showroom for $7,401.

The high price of the Eldorado Brougham can be explained by the fact that it was special-order only, hand-built by Pinin Farina in Turin, mounted on a stock Cadillac chassis shipped to Italy from Detroit. When finished, the Broughams returned to the USA to be delivered.

Although superficially it appears the same, the Eldorado Brougham shares virtually no body parts with the regular Cadillac and previewed styling details that would only surface on production Cadillacs later on, such as the roofline and DLO configuration. Unsurprisingly at this price point, only 101 were built and the 1960 Eldorado Broughams were the last of a series that started in 1957 (the 1957 and 1958 Eldorado Broughams were built at Cadillac’s own factory and Pininfarina had no involvement in them).

This is a brochure in keeping with Cadillac’s status within the American automobile realm as it was at the time. These large prestige versions are not easy to find outside of the USA – especially with the original envelope – but the good news for bargain hunters is that the regular version, although smaller and printed on lesser quality paper, is virtually identical in layout and quite a bit more affordable.

Author: brrrruno

Car brochure collector, Thai food lover, not a morning person before my first cup of coffee

12 thoughts on “If the Hue Fits”

  1. Thanks for sharing, Bruno. Those were the days, for Cadillac at least, I wasn’t even born when this car and brochure became available. In truth these cars are quite far removed from what I would consider ideal, but I have a huge soft spot for Detroit metal from the 50’s and 60’s. I’ve mentioned in a comment on Daniel’s excellent article about the not so excellent Vega I like the promo videos that the American manufacturers made. The same is true for the printed ads and the car brochures. As far as I’m concerned I definitely wouldn’t mind a sequel to this article.

  2. Hi Bruno. I would definitely second Freerk’s vote in favour of a return of the Brochures theme. The Cadillac brochures you feature today really are very artistic in their use of colour as you describe and were, no doubt, designed to promote an aspirational lifestyle as much as the car itself.

    Regarding the cars, here’s a good comparative photo of 1959, vs 1960 that shows Mitchell’s relatively modest but successful reworking of the elements you describe:

    I hadn’t noticed it before, but the change to the heavy-handed chrome treatment on the flanks is at least as important as the reduction in height of the fins and removal of the ‘double-barreled’ tail lights in cleaning up the profile. Here are the 1959 and 1960 Eldorado Biarritz convertibles together for comparison:

    1. Thanks, Daniel. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ’59 next to a ’60 Cadillac. Obvioulsy very similar, but still quite different at the same time.

  3. Yes – I’d like to add my vote for more, please.

    I think I like brochures for the same reason it’s interesting to see prototypes – you get some broader insight in to the thought processes involved, and how the manufacturer would like you to see the car. There’s also the way the car is put in to its historical and social context.

    Some of the artwork and photography is worthy of consideration in its own right, of course.

  4. Do hard-copy car brochures even exist anymore? I have one for our 2014 MINI, the last car we bought new. It’s quite dark and moody, like the MINI showrooms that resemble nightclubs inside and are a striking contrast to the ‘mainly white and grey, with highlights in our corporate colour’ efforts that are the norm elsewhere.

    1. Hello Daniel,

      I know that Toyota, Ford, Vauxhall, Hyundai, Honda and Suzuki, among others, will still send one to you in the post in the UK.

      The German brands seem to prefer online versions.

      I suspect that C19 will see them vanish from showrooms, though.

    2. Daniel, the last hard-copy brochure I have is from a Volvo XC40, dating from 2019. I’ve seen a brochure of the BMW 8-series and a BMW individual brochure at a BMW dealer in the Netherlands, so it’s safe to say there are still a few around.

  5. There was a time between 200 and, I think, 2010 when I used to order old brochures from a dealer- one or two at a time. There´d be a ceremonious opening of the pack and a good hour spent gazing in wonder at the supernaturally preserved ephemera. I still have most of them and never got around to obtaining a Volvo 262 brochure. I suppose eBay has it all now . It was a nice process, a little more personal than using PayPal to pay “AutoMags 456” or “BestCarzMagz1992” as one does now.

    1. Hello Richard,

      I used to use (what was) Chater & Scott for old motoring magazines, etc. They are still going as Chater’s. It was very exciting opening the envelope, as you’d never really know what you were going to get. Now, you can flick through things online, which often puts me off actually buying.

  6. Thank you all for your positive comments; it’s settled then- I will do my best to get a monthly brochure article ready for DTW!

  7. Those weren’t Cadillac’s glory days, not by a long shot.
    Cadillac had their heydays in the early Thirties, when their cars weren’t designed around Buick doors yet.

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