1954 Cadillac Eldorado: The Gilded One, in Chicagoland
One gray Friday, as things were getting pretty slow at the office, I needed some inspiration to write. I’ve attended many, many car shows over the years, and “The Vault”— my desktop database of car pictures—was enlisted to provide something interesting for all you fine folks. I zeroed in on this gorgeous Azure Blue 1954 Cadillac Eldorado convertible.
I spied this particular car at the 2017 All-GM car show held at Shirey Cadillac in Oak Lawn, Illinois. I’ve attended every show since 2015 (except for 2020, because, you know …) and always have a great time. Even better, the Shirey folks not only host an excellent car show, they also grill lunch for all the exhibitors and spectators. It’s a fine time. The show is held at the Shirey Cadillac Used Car Center, which back in the ’60s and ’70s, was a new car dealership. It’s not a very big show, but the cars that attend are always interesting and high-quality. I get to meet my Cadillac Chicagoland pals (Jim Smith, Bill Buckingham, Ron Schweitzer and Andrew Bobis), talk cars, take approximately 532 photos, and in general, have a grand time.
The 2017 event was held on Memorial Day Weekend, and as usual, it was a bright, pleasant, warm day. I parked my Town Car (fortunately, the Caddy folks give me a pass on driving a Lincoln, since I love Cadillacs equally), walked in, said hi to Ron, and proceeded to do my first circuit of the show field.
My heart likely skipped a beat when I spied today’s featured car.
The first Cadillac Eldorado was a one-off show car for the 1952 GM Motorama. It was built to celebrate Cadillac’s Golden Anniversary, so small wonder the special convertible was called Eldorado, which means, “the gilded one.”
Public response was positive, and so it was that for the 1953 model year the Eldorado became a production model, albeit in strictly limited quantities. Only 532 were built. One was pressed into service as Dwight D. Eisenhower’s inauguration chariot.
While the 1953 Eldorado was partially custom, with its cut down doors and quarters, the ’54 model, while still swank, had more in common with the luxurious (but still slightly less exclusive) Series 62 convertible.
All 1954 Cadillacs were restyled, with more squared-off looks. The Eldorado used the Series 62 convertible body, unlike the custom ’53 version, but added a more sumptuous interior and exclusive trim on the exterior, the most obvious being the aluminum accents on the rear quarter panels.
The 1954 Eldorado convertible was model #54-62, Style 62675X, and it cost a princely $5738 (that’s $57,422 today). For comparison’s sake, a Series 62 coupe was $3838 ($38,409); the top sedan, the Sixty Special, was $4683 ($46,864); and the gilded gentry limousine, the Series 75 Imperial Sedan (with divider window, naturally), went for $6090 ($60,944).
Like all 1954 Cadillacs, the Eldorado was powered by a 331-cubic-inch V-8. Power was ample: 230 horsepower at 4400 rpm. Compression ratio was 8.25:1, and breathing was accomplished through a four-barrel carburetor.
For 1954, Eldorados and all other Cadillacs—save the Fleetwood Sixty Special and Fleetwood Seventy Five limousines—rode a 129-inch wheelbase. Overall length on ’54 Eldos was 223 7/16th inches. All mowed gears thru Hydra-Matic drive, GM’s most excellent and robust automatic transmission.
A total of 2150 Eldorados were built—all convertibles. However, a single Eldorado hardtop coupe was built for the president of Reynolds Aluminum. Wonder if it survived to the present day?
This Eldorado was amazing. When I first arrived at the show I took five or six photos, gawking at it, before returning to my friends and yakking about it incessantly.
But throughout the morning and early afternoon, I found myself returning again and again for one more picture. And one more. And one more.
It didn’t hurt—and maybe goes without saying—that this was the first 1954 Eldorado that I had ever seen. And that it was gorgeous. And that it was in a most pleasing color combination.
She was a beaut! And it was a good thing I took so many pictures, as I’ve never seen this car again, despite attending the 2018 and ’19 Shirey shows. Fortunately, I took enough photos to share her finery with all you fine folks.