The rock and roll era was in its early stages when the 1954 Cadillac debuted in General Motors showrooms and a young Elvis was still unknown to most of the world.
The ’54 Caddy was GM’s flagship model and a symbol of automotive luxury that indicated its owners had really made it big.
There is a very good reason for the Cadillac’s lofty stature during the early 1950s–it was an amazing car.
Stan Strahl discovered his 1954 Cadillac by accident 30 years ago while he was in Montana on a parts search for a Cadillac Eldorado project. His conversations with locals led him to the car-even though he was not looking for a car stored in a chicken coop for 17 years.
The ’54 Caddy blew him away when he saw it and realized the car was a true survivor car, given its long residency in a chicken barn and overall good condition. Stan also loved the style of a car built during the early days of tailfins when Caddies blazed a trail in this department.
The technology and engineering found in Stan’s 68-year-old Cadillac also blew him away and offered a strong argument for the lofty stature of these cars on the automotive totem pole in 1954.
Stan pointed to the windshield washer system on the Caddy and explained that it was vacuum-operated and not manual or electric. He also noted the massive air conditioning system in the car and how it ran from the AC components in the trunk to the large pump under the hood. Even more amazing, the system still works like a charm and includes a cabin filter, according to Stan.
Some MyStarCollectorCar readers will be surprised to learn Stan’s 1954 Cadillac also has power windows, power steering, power antenna, and even a power front seat. The Caddy’s factory tube radio adds to the creature comforts found in this vintage automobile.
The Caddy has its original 331 cubic inch V-8 built during an era when GM stablemate Chevy only offered a straight six for its models. The engine is still hooked up to the Caddy’s original Hydramatic automatic transmission, also a rare feature during an era when three-on-the-tree manual transmissions were much more common.
Stan pointed out another one of the more unusual factory features found on his Caddy, namely an Autronic-Eye automatic headlight dimming system. It works when oncoming car headlights trigger a photosensor in a vacuum tube and subsequently amplifies to a relay system that dims the Cadillac’s headlights.
The wonders of early 1950s automotive technology could be found in a 1954 Cadillac, a fact not lost on Stan.
Which brings MyStarCollectorCar to our final point: Stan was one province (Alberta) away from the British Columbia coastal finish line of a long road trip with the Coasters, a collection of car guys and girls who take their vintage vehicles from one side of Canada to the other-this time from the Maritime provinces on the Atlantic Ocean to Canada’s West Coast on the Pacific Ocean.
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.