The 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz was the standard of the world

At the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, looming high above the Cadillac stand like an automotive guardian angel, sits a lipstick-red 1959 Eldorado Biarritz convertible. Its gloriously flamboyant styling serves as a reminder of when the automobile was a rolling expression of postwar jet-age optimism.

The sheer hugeness of this Cadillac hardly fits into a photo frame. At 225 inches long, the car is virtually the same length as a current Escalade ESV (or its sibling, the Chevrolet Suburban). And, well, there’s just a lot of sheet metal. Hood, interior, and rear are split into equal thirds, resulting in a surprising lack of rear seat space for something so massive.

1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz badge
1959 Cadillac Eldorado Sandon Voelker
1959 Cadillac Eldorado front 3/4
1959 Cadillac Eldorado Sandon Voelker

The presence of this car is undeniable. And while ’59 Cadillacs are famous for having the largest tail fins ever, there is so much more to the design than those specific styling elements. A line of polished chrome traces the car front to rear, accentuating the body’s low, long shape. And punctuating the corners of the hood are a pair of mini-fins, providing a much-needed frame of reference for those daring enough to get behind the wheel of this land yacht.

Owned by the GM Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Michigan, this 5100-pound Cadillac highlights the height of automotive opulence of the late ’50s. And while $7401—about $64,000 today—was a big chunk of change in its day, the price seems a relative bargain for the combination of power, technology, and luxury that this drop-top was offering. Here’s hoping this Red Biarritz’s spirit makes its way back into Cadillac as it launches new offerings, such as the XT6, and leads the way into GM’s EV Future. It’s a long road back to the top.

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