1958 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz: Rocket Chariot
Have you ever seen a car you really, really loved? And then totally forgot about it? Say, for a period of several years? It’s happened to me. Case in point: Today’s most excellent ’50s-fabulous Cadillac.
I have an equally Cadillac-obsessed friend in Texas named Jayson Coombes. Since we share a love of all things Broughamtastic from the Standard of the World, we exchange car show finds via text, email, or Messenger all the time. All. The. Time. And so it was back in June 2018 when he let me know he was taking a road trip. To a Cadillac LaSalle Club meet in San Marcos, Texas, to be precise.
He found a wide variety of gorgeous Cadillacs there. Total sensory overload, according to Jayson. In fact, one of the cars from that event—a 1953 Fleetwood Sixty Special—has already been written by yours truly.
Despite all the fine Cadillacs in attendance, there were still standouts. Such as that ’53 Fleetwood, a 1961 Eldorado Biarritz in Fontana Rose metallic with matching rose leather interior, a turquoise 1958 Fleetwood Sixty Special, and today’s subject, a 1958 Eldorado Biarritz, resplendent in Dakota Red with red leather.
It was gorgeous. And rare. All Eldorados, at least pre 1967, when the front-wheel drive E-body personal luxury coupe debuted, were rare. Even amongst Cadillacs, they were expensive. Production was such that there were plenty of Cadillac dealerships in the ’50s that never had one to display in their showroom.
I loved this car. And Jayson took plenty of pictures. And I got all excited, meant to do an article right away. And now it is 2021. Oops. But, hey, I finally remembered!
As I previously mentioned, Eldorados were pretty uncommon when they were new. How so? In 1958, there were two “standard” Eldorado models, the two-door Biarritz convertible, two-door Seville two-door hardtop, and uber-expensive Eldorado Brougham four-door hardtop with built-in minibar, center-opening doors, and stainless-steel-finished roof.
Production of the Biarritz convertible was 815 units, with a base price of $7500. That’s like $71,000 today. The Seville coupe was also $7500; 855 sold. And the eye-wateringly expensive, $13,074 (almost $125K) Eldorado Brougham? Only 304.
So, these were definitely not on every street corner or parked at every country club. Like all Cadillacs, they were powered by a 368-cubic-inch V-8. All non-Eldorado Cadillac models breathed through a single four-barrel carburetor and made 310 horsepower.
Eldorado models got triple tw-barrel carburetors, good for 335 hp. This triple-carb setup was an available option on all other 1958 Cadillacs. The Eldorado Biarritz (and its Seville stablemate) rode a 129.5-inch wheelbase and had an overall length of 223.4 inches.
That $7500 was a lot of money in 1958, even amongst Cadillacs. For instance, a new Series 62 four-door hardtop, like this one also displayed at the San Marcos show, sold for $4891. An extended-deck version, with an even longer trunk, was $5079.
That still got you quite a lot of luxury and status, and it was much lower than the mighty Eldorados. And that $13K Eldorado Brougham? For comparison’s sake, a ’58 Chevy Biscayne four-door sedan with a V-8 was $2397, and a ’58 Rambler American Deluxe two-door sedan was $1789.
So the lady or gentleman who plunked down big bucks for a new Biarritz was most certainly well-heeled and knew exactly what he or she wanted: luxury, prestige, and fine open-air motoring.
Regarding this particular car, Jayson related, “I believe the red Eldorado had just completed a full restoration and was being delivered from the restoration company to the new owner just in time for the Concours.”
And, of course, he loved the car, as he took a total of 22 photos. Just of this car. It’s quite likely he took 1000 pictures of classic Cadillacs during the entire event.
And there are more cars from this show that I plan to write about sometime in the future, including an immaculate light yellow 1973 Coupe de Ville and the previously-mentioned aqua ’58 Sixty Special. For today, let’s just bask in the red excellence of this Biarritz.