1957 was a part of the giant population explosion known as the Baby Boom.
Consequently, most families were more concerned about their diaper budget and placed no emphasis on ultra-luxury car models like the 1957 Cadillac El Dorado Brougham, a “Cadillac’s Cadillac”, to coin one dealer’s marketing slogans for the ’57 Eldorado Brougham.
Bear in mind the Cadillac marque was considered the high-water mark for luxury during the 1950s. The car brand was intended to be a high-end purchase for a high roller customer who wanted a luxury ride that reflected his station in life at the top of the heap in economic terms. Interest in a diaper budget was not on the front-burner for a typical Cadillac buyer because the car’s target customer was older and much more affluent than an average family guy who was looking at Chevy sedans and wagons in 1957.
Caddies were elegant land barges that made a strong success statement every time their owners (or the owner’s driver) got behind the wheel and took them to the streets.
Many descriptions for high standards of product and service excellence included the Cadillac name in their praise, so the Caddy brand became a standard for unsurpassed quality.
These days Cadillac has been edged out by other luxury brands that compete directly against Caddy in a changing international automotive market that embraces newer and sportier models with even higher standards of excellence in many cases.
In 1957, the only car that could trump a Caddy was an even more expensive Caddy, namely the ’57 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. At almost 14,000 dollars, the ’57 El Dorado Brougham model cost more than a Rolls Royce and was even more expensive than an average house in North America that year.
Even worse, the car is rumored to have cost General Motors about 10,000 bucks per vehicle, a grim accounting fact that made the 1957 Cadillac El Dorado one of the most expensive financial anchors ever built by GM.
However, a solid argument could be put forth about the incredible build quality found in every 1957 Eldorado Brougham because the cars were essentially hand-built and laden with every creature comfort available in cars 66 years ago. Cadillac only built about 400 El Dorado Broughams in 1957 because the kind of buyer who could afford these incredible cars was as rare as polka music on a rock and roll station at the time.
Maybe it was the 1957 Eldo’s smooth and quiet 365 cubic inch V-8 engine, its four-speed automatic transmission, power everything (including steering, windows, door locks, trunk, 6-way memory front seat and radio antenna), AC, four under-seat heater fans, or an innovative air ride suspension that sold pampered customers on the car’s ultra comfortable road habits. Or maybe it was the long list of personal (shot glasses, pencils and paper pads) and vanity items (lipstick, perfume and mirrors) that came with the car.
Or maybe the stainless-steel roof on a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham was its mark of distinction-unless one considered the rear suicide doors on the luxurious 4-door hardtop Caddy.
In 1957, these finned ultra-luxury barges were darlings of the rich and famous because a ‘57 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham was the ultimate luxury vehicle that year.
BY: Jim Sutherland
Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.