For two decades following WWII, GM's Cadillac Motor Car Division was riding high as the World's premier manufacturer of eminently stylish luxury automobiles, rightfully called "Standard of the World." Within this time period, the 1950s brought about a completely re-styled range of models proudly billed masterpieces of motordom in styling and performance, culminating with the flamboyant 1959 Cadillacs, the biggest and boldest Detroit offerings ever.
Today's classic car enthusiasts celebrate 1959 as the pinnacle of tail-finned, chrome-bedecked land yachts, and the 1959 Cadillacs with their rocket-like styling forever epitomize this era of exuberant excess. Especially the 1959 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible, of which 11,130 were manufactured, has gained cult status worldwide and is often seen at the most desirable tailfin car of them all.
More than half a Century after they first hit the highways, excellent survivors of the tailfin years -- cars that were able to escape the ravages of time unharmed, never needing restoration -- are almost impossible to find, even in sunny Southern California.
Here's one such survivor, fresh from its hiding place in a long-time, elderly owner's garage. It's still registered to the original, very sought-after and valuable 1959 yellow-and-black California license plates.
Let's check it out!
Clean engine compartment houses Cadillac's 390 cu.in. power plant, rated at a whopping 325 horsepower. Everything looks factory stock and original. Standard power equipment includes power steering, power brakes, and the Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. The big block runs like the proverbial watch, with all the oomph needed to smoothly propel the 5,000-pound behemoth to freeway speeds and beyond. There are no ill manners at all, such as overheating, oil drinking, dripping, slipping, clunking, or smoking, to report.
Turning our attention to the car's exterior, we are absolutely amazed by the superb coachwork. This Cadillac displays super straight flanks, with not a wrinkle or ripple in sight. A 56 year-old car with showroom-crisp lines, its heavy-gauge Detroit metal is devoid of dings, dents, scratches, or bubbles, with perfect hood and door gaps. The lavishly applied chrome and stainless trim remains in a similar state of preservation, with a few signs of use, but no pitting or peeling to report.
Matching light blue convertible top is in excellent condition. There are no tears or holes, and the rear window is clear. The electro-hydraulics work perfectly, raising or lowering the top at the touch of a button.
Also present is the metallic-blue soft vinyl top boot, which fits perfectly and is easy to install.
Gloriously finished in its original Georgian Blue (factory paint code 24), the Caddy features a quintessential Fifties look. The paint is old and displays a period-correct luster. There are virtually no nicks, chips, dings, or other blemishes to report; this masterpiece is truly ready to be shown with pride.
Let's have a look inside!
Cadillac's design splendor continues inside the cockpit with lots of brightwork, a wrinkle and crack-free padded dash, and color-coordinated materials throughout. The deeply-recessed, fully chromed instrument cluster with symetrically arranged gauges and controls scores exceedingly well compared to the bland offerings of 21
In 1959, a Cadillac was king-of-the-hill, and its exalted status was consciously reflected in every facet of its design.
Optional six-way power front bench seat with comfy center arm rest is covered in real leather. The darn cat liked sleeping here, apparently, as a few miniscule claw marks can be found on top of the seatback. Other than that, the leather is soft, supple and pretty much flawless thoughout.
Incredibly well preserved rear bench is also leather-clad. Note chromed speaker grille in the center of the rear seat. The original [Wonderbar?] radio actually turns on, but does not emit a sound; new speakers may be needed. On a positive note, all interior and dash lights are in perfect working order.
Impressive rear treatment with simulated jet exhaust ports topped by sky-high fins indulges in taking the jet/rocket theme to the extreme.
Chrome looks fabulous and is dent free.
Cavernous luggage compartment is immaculately dressed in correct cloth lining.
Stripped of its clothes, a reference quality trunk floor appears, totally original and undisturbed, 100% corrosion free.
Click on any of the above images for a full-size view
Above photos show the undercarriage in more detail.
March 10 provided us with another perfect opportunity to take the blue Cadillac for a drive and take these pictures. With blue skies over Ventura, we took our place behind the wheel and headed for the hills, right into the plush Hobson Heights neighborhood.
The big Cad starts easily, idles silently, runs super strong, shifts smoothly, brakes surprisingly well, and floats over any surface like . . well, like a Cadillac! You just have to watch out for amazed motorists who tend to lose concentration because they're busy training their phone cameras on you when the rocket ship passes them! We have enjoyed many fine cars over the years; hardly ever have we experienced as many enthusiastic smiles, "thumbs up" signs and exclamations of delight as when chauffeuring this '59.
Though almost 225 inches long, the Caddy can be guided with one finger on the wheel, even at freeway speeds. You ride tall, which enables you to see all four corners of the car for ease of parallel parking. The dual exhaust emits a lusty, but not intrusive, burble, and the power windows and power top operate smoothly. Life's good!
Looking back over the past hundred years of automobile history, there are two pronounced eras of ostentatiousness and abundant display of wealth: the early-to-mid 1930s and the late 1950s. Naturally, the best surviving luxury cars from those years will continue to be highly sought after, continue to appreciate in value, and continue to draw crowds wherever they appear.
With its outrageous, rocket-inspired styling and powerful engine, this fantastic '59 Cadillac Convertible from sunny California is a blue chip collectible that will instill pride and bring joy to whomever is fortunate enough to count it as a prized possession.
We sold this fabulous Cadillac in March of 2015 to an enthusiast in upstate New York.