Cadillac Eldorado, 1959
The Eldorado model was part of the Cadillac line from 1953 to 2002. The Cadillac Eldorado was the longest running American personal luxury car as it was the only one sold after the 1998 model year. Its main competitors included the Mark Series and the lower-priced Buick Riviera. The name Eldorado was derived from the Spanish words "el dorado", the "gilded one"; the name was given originally to the legendary chief or "cacique" of a S. American Indian tribe. Legend has it that his followers would sprinkle his body with gold dust on ceremonial occasions and he would wash it off again by diving into a lake. The name more frequently refers to a legendary city of fabulous riches, somewhere in S. America, that inspired many European expeditions, including one to the Orinoco by England's Sir Walter Raleigh.
The name was proposed for a special show car built in 1952 to mark Cadillac's Golden Anniversary; it was the result of an in-house competition won by Mary-Ann Zukosky (married name = Marini), a secretary in the company's merchandising department. Another source, Palm Springs Life magazine, attributes the name to a resort destination in California's Coachella Valley that was a favorite of General Motors executives, the Eldorado Country Club. In any case, the name was adopted by the company for a new, limited-edition convertible that was added to the line in 1953.
A different Eldorado Brougham was sold for 1959 and 1960. These cars were not quite so extravagantly styled but were very unusual pieces in themselves. Priced at $13,075, they cost $1 more, each, than their older siblings. The design was 100% Cadillac but the company contracted out the assembly to Pinin Farina of Italy, with whom the division has had a long-running relationship, and these Eldorados were essentially hand-built in Italy. Their discreet, narrow taillights, nicely integrated into modest tailfins, contrasted sharply with the "rocketship" taillights and massive fins of the standard 1959 Cadillacs and were an indication of where Caddy styling would go in the next few years. However, build quality was not nearly to the standard of the Detroit hand-built 1957–1958s, and the 1959–1960 Broughams are less desirable, it seems, than the 1st generation Broughams, although their value and collectibility remain high.
The last Eldorado Seville was built in 1960. After that, the Eldorado convertible became essentially a trim version of the standard Cadillac convertible. With the end of the importation of the Italian-built Eldorados in 1960, the name entered something of a fallow period.