1959 Cadillac Fleetwood

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Aristocrats and the elite have always lived in comfort and well. The Roman rich had villas with heated floors, and the Egyptian pharaohs were considered representatives of the gods on earth and could get anything they wanted. But ordinary people had never before lived in such wealth and enjoyed the benefits and advances of civilization as Americans did in the postwar era. In what other post-war country could a person afford a big house in the suburbs with air conditioning, a TV, a washing machine and a vacuum cleaner? America is unique in that it has given the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of civilization to the masses of people in the 50s of the 20th century. And Cadillac cars have become one of the symbols of these goods. The symbol of Americans’ readiness to go forward.

Perhaps the ’59 Eldorado has become the most significant car of the brand. It eclipses even the pre-war V16 and front-wheel-drive convertible ’76 with a huge 8.2 liter V8. Probably it is connected with the fact, that Eldorado represented another, much brighter for usual Americans epoch. It was a time of Elvis Presley and endless perspective, not a time of the great depression, or the fuel crisis. It was a time of huge fins on hind wings. Neither before nor after, was there a car with fins as huge as the ’59 Cadillac. I think everyone’s heard the story from which the name Eldorado sprang. The Spanish conquistadors called a mythical city all covered in gold. But now I would like to talk not about the ’59 Eldorado itself, but about its rare sub-series.

The 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood is a modification of the Eldorado. Technically it is the same car, but Fleetwood has features in the exterior trim. And these changes turned this subseries into a very rare car even in those years.

Sale and price of the 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood.

A new Fleetwood in hardtop body could be bought for $6,233. At the time, one could already own a large Studebaker, or Oldsmobile for $2,000. The longer Fleetwood 75 Sedan was $9,355. It was an expensive car, but its prices today are just as impressive. For a quality restored specimen, or for a car with low, native mileage, they can ask for more than $200,000.

Appearance and photo.

If someone does not know, the hardtop is a car which visually resembles a sedan, but without a central body pillar. Thus, when you lower the side windows, there is absolutely nothing between the front and rear roof pillar of this car. Such a design requires high body rigidity and of course the Fleetwood, like any of the Eldorado of the time, had a frame construction. But the frame here is not staircase-type, but X-shaped. In addition to the hardtop, the Fleetwood was available as a four-door convertible and limousine.
The 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood is visually recognizable most easily by its rear air intakes.

This, stylistic element captures the area of the rear door and fender. But it is present only on the 60-series sedan and convertible. The 75-series limousine doesn’t have this stylistic detail. The Fleetwood lettering is on the chrome edge of the trunk lid. But the inscription on the front fender, just behind the wheel, which is on the hardtop and convertible, is absent on the limousine, too.

Probably, GM decided that the limousine will attract attention simply due to its size and it does not need additional changes in body’s features. At the same time, the 75th series limousine could be equipped with additional headlights mounted on the front fenders. Similar spotlights are installed on police cars and controlled from the cabin. The roof of the limousine could be covered with vinyl.

The standard ’59 Fleetwood hardtop had a body length of 12,525 inches and a wheelbase of 13,302 inches. The curb weight of this machine was 2572 kg. The Series 75 limousine had a body length of 258 cu. ft. and a wheelbase of 159 cu. ft.
The distinctive feature of all Eldorado’s was a low rear fender, but the Fleetwood has a different, non-standard shape. Cadillac has a retractable antenna in the front, right wing.

Not only the fins, but also the taillights, which resemble a rocket flame in its shape, have long been a cult object. Many, when creating unique hot-rods, use these very lights. Holes in the rear bumper are stylized as rocket nozzles. And if you look closely, you can see how with its cells, the rear bumper imitates the front radiator grille. Just under the keyhole, behind the bumper cells, the gas tank hatch is hidden. In the front bumper of the Eldorado, additional headlights are installed.
From the photo you can see how thin the roof pillars are. Of course, the frame provides the body with high rigidity, but it is impossible to imagine the racks of such thickness on a modern car.

Interior and equipment.

Not every modern car has electric seat adjustment. In this Cadillac, the seat was servo-adjustable in 6 directions! It had air conditioning, cruise control, and electrically operated windows up and down. Even the sliders in the front doors were servo-operated! No less than the equipment, all this equipment is still working today in the majority of cars, even with high mileage.

There is a clock above the ignition switch. That was a time when the era of onboard computers has not yet arrived, and perhaps Cadillac decided to emphasize the good equipment of his car by installing it pointer clock. It may seem strange today, but the Eldorado’s huge steering wheel does not have a steering wheel cushion in the traditional sense of the word. Now I’m not speaking about the airbag, but about the airbag, which occupies the central place of a steering wheel. Though there is no steering wheel cushion, there is Cadillac emblem on the central part of the steering wheel, which underlines the exclusivity and peculiarity of the car. And of course Fleetwood is equipped with hydraulic power steering and vacuum booster brakes. Another very unusual thing is that on the ends of the backrest of the front sofa installed ventilation holes.

The speedometer is programmed to 120 mph. If you remember that in ’59 the time of muscle cars had not yet come, the Eldorado was probably one of the fastest cars on American roads. It also has an incredibly wide brake pedal. Later, the tradition of making a very wide brake pedal on modern cars designed for the U.S. market began with such luxury cars as the Eldorado ’59. Recall at least the Toyota Tundra, not to mention purely American Escalade, or Navigator.

The Fleetwood 75-series deserves special mention. It has a glass wall for driver and passenger compartment. Lighting fixtures were mounted on this bulkhead (they are also found in the back of the front sofa, in the hardtop and convertible). A clock and two ashtrays were built into the bulkhead of the limousine. A special footrest is provided for the legs of the rear passengers of the limousine. There are also two reclining seats in the passenger compartment, which could have been occupied by security. So Fleetwood limousine is an 8-seater car.

Just on the floor of the trunk of the Eldorado is a full-size, spare tire. It doesn’t just lie there, but is fixed with special fasteners and won’t move around the trunk while.

Engine and Specifications 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood.

If you lift up the huge hood of this Cadillac, you immediately notice how big the space between the front bumper and the radiator of the cooling system is. Yes – the engine is huge, but the engine compartment is so big, that the engine after a while ceases to seem too big.
The valve covers of the big V8 have Cadillac lettering on them. Apparently this was done for the owner or service technician not to forget about the car belonging to the iconic brand during maintenance. The oil filter is at the very top of the engine, so it is easy to change. The same can be said for the fuel filter. GM made the engine not only powerful, but easy to service.
The engine power of the 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood is impressive even today. The 390 cubic inch (6.4L) V8 has an unusually high compression ratio for American cars of that time. Here it is 10.5:1! Maximum power of 330 hp is reached at 4,800 rpm. The torque of 583N.M is available at 3,000 rpm. Even if we assume that these power figures were measured not on the wheels, but on the flywheel – the figures are still very decent. Especially when you remember when this car was produced.
The main gear ratio is 3.36:1, and the gearbox is a three-speed automatic. The top speed of this Cadillac hardtop is 185 kilometers per hour, which is very decent for such a heavy car with an anachronistic gearbox. The big V8 is powered by three Rochester carburetors.
Examining the engine compartment you will notice the air conditioning compressor, as it is mounted on top of the engine. In front of the main radiator is the air conditioner radiator, which is also easily accessible. The main radiator is blown by an electric fan.

Any modification of the ’59 Eldorado is a terrific car. But in the Fleetwood version, it gets even more stylistic features that highlight the automotive fashion of the time. This is Cadillac, which means that this car used not only the most advanced technology, but also ideas.
As early as the next year, the fins became smaller, and the aero-design theme began to fade into the past. The Eldorado continued to impress fans of the model in the next generations of its car. But I don’t think in any – other generation, the Eldorado didn’t produce the same strong wow effect as the ’59 and especially the Fleetwood version did.

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