AlthoughCadillac styling ultimately drifted to chrome-laden glitter, reaching a low point with the 1958-59 models, the basic 1948 tailfinned design, inspired by wartime aircraft and originated by Franklin Q. Hershey under the watchful eye of GM design director Harley Earl, was good enough to remain largely intact through 1953. This was no real surprise. As Cadillac styling chief Bill Mitchell noted: “A traditional look is always preserved. If a grille is changed, the tail end is left alone; if a fin is changed, the grille is not monkeyed with.”
And so it was: a new one-piece windshield, revamped grille, and a somewhat bulkier lower-body look for ’50; small auxiliary grilles under the headlamps for ’51; a winged badge in that spot for ’52; one-piece rear windows and suggestive “Dagmar” bumper bullets for ’53.
Otherwise, the Cadillac lineup didn’t change much in this period. Still accounting for most sales, the Series 62 offered four-door sedan, pillared coupe, pillarless Coupe de Ville, and convertible, all on the usual 3200mm wheelbase. The familiar Sixty Special continued as a solitary super-luxury sedan on its own 3302mm platform (versus 3378mm in the Forties), while the Series 75 continued its traditional array of limousines and long owner-driver sedans on a 3729mm chassis. The Series 61, still the “entry-level” Caddy, was demoted to a 3099mm wheelbase (from 3200mm), but again offered a sedan plus newly styled de Ville-inspired pillared coupe. Manual shift was standard on 61s, which were otherwise identical to 62s except for chrome rocker moldings and slightly plainer interiors. Cadillac also continued supplying chassis for various coachbuilders, averaging about 2000 units per year through 1959.
The division really didn’t need a “price leader” anymore, so the 61s were dropped after 1951, never to return. Rival Packard, meantime, was still pushing cars priced up to $750 less than the Series 61s, a mistake that Packard didn’t fully realize until too late.
1951 Cadillac Notes
The Series 61 line was discontinued in the middle of the year due to lagging sales.
Don E. Ahrens was general manager
Charles F. Arnold was chief engineer
Edward Glowacke was chief designer (Cadillac Studio)
James M. Roche was general sales manager
Cadillac production figures
Series 614,700 (decreased 22,072)
Series 6271,603 (increased 11,785)
Coupe de Ville10,241 (increased 5,734)
Series 6018,631 (increased 4,876)
Series 755,165 (increased 1,653)
1951 Automotive Notes
The industry produces 5.3 million cars
Charles E. Wilson was president of GM
Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. was chairman of the board at GM
Chrysler introduces its first “Hemi” Firepower V-8 engine
Ford, Plymouth, Hudson, and Packard finally offer hardtop pillarless coupes
Chrysler is first to offer Hydraglide power steering
A Chrysler Saratoga is third in the Carrera Panamericana road race
Ford introduces its 3-speed automatic transmission built with Warner Gear and calls it Ford-O-Matic and Merc-O-Matic
Last year for Frazer
Kaiser introduces its economy Henry J
Hudson introduces its Hornet which wins in stock-car races
Hudson also offers GM’s Hydra-Matic transmission as well as their semi-automatics, Drive-Master and Super-Matic
Last year for the Nash “inverted bathtub” style
Oldsmobile continues to win stock-car events
Packard finally re-designs their cars, the first full change in ten years.
Plymouth introduces Oriflow shock absorbers
Studebaker first to install Orlon convertible tops