Cadillac has been America’s No. 1 luxury car since World War II. There have been other successful luxury cars built in this country like Pierce-Arrow, Duesenberg, Packard, Lincoln and Chrysler Imperial, but Cadillac has consistently been the top U.S. luxury car brand. Almost everyone knows that, with people using the Cadillac name to imply the best products (e.g. “that’s the Cadillac of golf clubs” or “that’s the Cadillac of toasters”).
Cadillac has been around a long time. The car was named after Antoine de la Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, but he had nothing to do with cars. The French explorer founded Detroit in 1701. The Cadillac Automobile Co. was established 120 years ago using the assets of the Henry Ford Co. after Henry Ford left that company following disagreements with some of his major investors (Henry did alright for himself later).
General Motors acquired Cadillac in 1909, and by then it was already a premium luxury car. Cadillac was the first American car to win England’s Dewar Trophy for demonstrating the interchangeability of precision parts in 1908, giving the basis for Cadillac’s slogan of the “Standard of the World.” Also, it wasn’t Henry Ford who developed the V8 engine; it was Cadillac. Cadillac was also the first with a steel roof, full electrical systems, synchromesh transmission and safety glass.
The last year that Packard outsold Cadillac was 1949, when Packard produced 104,593 cars to Cadillac’s 81,545. In 1953, the first Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado convertible was built, clearly becoming America’s most luxurious convertible with even better-styled cars being planned.
The 1957 Cadillac was completely restyled from the previous year and offered impressive comfort in an enviably styled ragtop. They were almost 3 inches lower than the previous year’s model and retained the “Dagmar” bumper guards (ask a senior who Dagmar was). The base price was $5,225, or just less than 10% of what it would cost in today’s dollars. Standard equipment included power steering, brakes, windows and top, an electric clock and automatic Hydramatic transmission. The car had an elegant bench front seat with a folding arm rest, and the rear seat back had a chrome speaker built in.
This issue’s feature is a 1957 Cadillac Series 62 convertible owned by East Bay resident Phil Toy, a professional photographer who has won 29 national and international awards and specializes in photographing cars. Toy graduated from UC Berkeley in architecture but always liked photography. He says his architectural training has benefited him n his profession and that he has always had a special affection for Cadillacs.
“My grandfather had a pink 1957 Cadillac Sedan de Ville, and as a little boy I grew up washing and waxing those fins. Years ago, a friend showed me a 1959 Cadillac. He let me borrow it for a weekend. The next thing I knew come Monday, I had to have it.”
That was his first Cadillac. The owner bought this issue’s Cadillac from a dealer many years ago for about $10,000, and it was pretty much in the same condition as it is today. He said the only additional expenses involved have been for routine maintenance. He is unsure of its mileage, as the odometer reads 17,000 but has probably turned over at least once. The car has been repainted the original factory color (“Orion Blue”) with a white interior and has a 365-cubic-inch V8 engine rated at 300 horsepower.
“As a photographer, I appreciate design and color,” Toy says.
This six-passenger Cadillac convertible is an award winner, winning Best in Show in Danville’s Hot Summer Nights show just this past July, and Toy has no plans to ever sell it (“I’ll never find another one” is his reasoning). This Cadillac has most of the creature comforts of its day but no air conditioning. That was a very expensive option in 1957, costing about $5,000 in today’s dollars. A popular feature in the 1950s was the hidden gas filler. Cadillac did it best with the gas filler completely hidden under the left taillight.
As nice as it is to win local shows, Toy informed me that two of his Cadillacs, including this blue ’57 convertible, were invited to go to Taiwan sponsored by the American Embassy for the July 4th America Week Celebration in 1994.
“It was a huge success. I was there for a month with the American Embassy doing various PR events.”
It seems there are two kinds of classic car owners — collectors and traders. Phil Toy is a classic car collector. While he does have other makes of classics he likes, I think Cadillac is his classic car of choice. My reasoning? He has at least a half-dozen of them.
Have an interesting vehicle? Contact David Krumboltz at [email protected] To view more photos of this and other issues’ vehicles or to read more of Dave’s columns, visit mercurynews.com/author/david-krumboltz.
Soruce : https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/09/18/me-my-car-east-bay-mans-57-cadillac-convertible-an-award-winner/