Nineteen sixty-five was a big year. For Cadillac, for GM, and for the U.S. auto industry as a whole. Many, many records were set that year. Many new models, lots of attractive new designs, and big sales. All the full-size GM cars—from Chevrolet to Cadillac—were new, the Corvair was new, and even the midsize cars got a major revision. And everything looked attractive. So many eye-catching cars, and not just at The General. You also had the new Mustang, a facelifted Lincoln Continental, and fresh full-sizers as well.
Basically, you could be blindfolded, throw a dart at a chart with every new domestic car listed, and still likely pick an attractive and enjoyable machine.
Back to Cadillac. For the first time since 1948, the fins were gone. Gone! Instead, the rear quarter panels ran straight as an arrow to a bladed rear bumper with vertical taillights. Of course, even those crisply straightened quarter panels had the suggestion of fins, thanks to a bit of metal origami on the rear bumper.
Also new were curved side windows and frameless glass. In addition, a pillared sedan returned to the lineup. The former Series 62 was renamed Calais and was the lowest-priced Cadillac. Please don’t call it cheap. After all, it was still a Cadillac, powered by a 429-cubic-inch V-8, with four-barrel carburetor, producing 340 horsepower at 4600 rpm.
Standard features on the Calais included power steering and brakes, cornering lamps, heater and defroster (A/C was a $495 extra), automatic transmission, aforementioned V-8, backup lights, and front and rear seat belts.
For those wanting a bit more flash and status, there was the De Ville series, which also, unlike the Calais, offered a soft top model. Extras above and beyond the Calais included the classy De Ville scripts on the rear fenders, fancier upholstery and door panels, and standard power windows.
The De Ville convertible had a base price of $5639. A total of 19,200 were produced, and each weighed a significant 4690 pounds. This most excellent example was espied by your author at the Des Moines Concours d’Elegance, back in September 2016. It was the first time I attended the event. My good friend Dave Mitchell, who makes a living restoring classic prewar Packards, had entered his 1934 Cadillac V-16 town car, and encouraged me to attend. I was glad I did. The East and West coasts are quite a distance away for many fine folks in the collector hobby, so this is a great event to see some very sharp classic cars.
I was smitten by the color combination, as I’ve always thought black with a white leather interior to be close to perfect for these.
Yes, the ’65s were a big deal. The giant Cadillac factory on Clark Street in Detroit closed on July 8, 1964 to retool for the new cars. It reopened and began cranking out new ’65s on August 24. It was the longest plant shutdown in Cadillac history.
Also, the three millionth Cadillac was built during the 1965 model year. Cadillac, naturally, still had a sterling reputation at this time. Power, status, and quality construction. If you were luxury car shopping in the summer of ’65, you couldn’t go wrong with a Cadillac. And a convertible? Well, you’d be stylish in any situation.