Havingbecome America’s undisputed luxury leader well before the Sixties, Cadillac maintained its sales supremacy by continuing to emphasize mechanical refinement and the latest comfort and convenience features. Yet perhaps more of its great success in these years was owed to styling that became progressively more graceful and restrained, though still recognizably Cadillac. Nowhere was the turn from Fifties flamboyance to conservative good taste more evident than in the gradual shrinking of Cadillac’s famous tailfins; having reached mountainous proportions for 1959, they would be all but gone six years later.
The Sixties brought few engineering advances of the sort that had earned Cadillac such great renown during the previous 20 years. Its most technically interesting car of this decade was the front-drive Eldorado, introduced for 1967. The smallest Cadillac since the last 1940 LaSalle, it combined mechanical innovation with traditional Cadillac lines that still look good today.
But it was consistently good styling across the broadest model line in the luxury field that helped Cadillac to new sales records most every year during the Sixties. The company’s gradual transition from glittery excess to stately elegance seemed to anticipate the luxury buyer’s tastes.
The cleanup began right away with a facelifted 1960 line bearing simpler grilles and lower-profile fins. Offerings stayed the same, as did prices, ranging from $4892 for the Series 62 hardtop coupe to $9748 for the big Series 75 limousine. Mechanical specifications also stood pat. Standard horsepower remained 325, with 345 reserved for the Eldorado Biarritz convertible and Seville hardtop coupe, both courtesy of the 6.4 Liter V-8 introduced for 1959.
Series 62 remained the volume leader, but the mid-range DeVille, another ’59 development, was coming on strong. As before, both series had no pillared sedans but did offer two hardtop four-doors: a flat-top “Vista roof” job with radically wrapped backlight, and a more conventional “six-window” style with rear-door ventpanes. Returning for its final year was the Eldorado Brougham hardtop sedan, unchanged from ’59 as an evolution of the intriguing but unsuccessful 1957-58 model. Still priced at a towering $13,075 but now boasting bodywork by Pininfarina of Italy, it sold only 101 copies in 1960 — less than even the original Brougham’s 704. Worse, they were built nowhere near as well. Overall, Cadillac remained 10th in model-year production for 1960 (a position held since ’58) and would remain there through 1964, though that was still impressive for a luxury make.
Carrying another new GM C-body, the ’61s were the cleanest Cadillacs in years. They were also the first influenced by William L. Mitchell, who had been installed as GM design chief in 1958. Mitchell favored a more chiseled look than his predecessor, Harley Earl, and wasn’t as enamored of chrome. Grilles became a prominent grid, while fins were trimmed again. The Eldorado Seville disappeared with the Brougham, while the Biarritz was down-graded to the standard 325-bhp V-8.
1961 Cadillac Notes
Total model year output for all 1961 cars amounted to 138,379 units.
A limited slip differential was optional at $53.70.
Reached top speed of 185 km/h
Acceleration of 0-96.6 km/h in 9.5 seconds, 0-129 km/h in 17.8 seconds
Standing quarter mile in 17.1 seconds
Normal range of gas consumption was 19.6 L/100km to 16.8 L/100km.
Cadillac offers lifetime chassis lubrication
Harold G. Warner was general manager
Charles F. Arnold was chief engineer
Charles Jordan was chief designer (Cadillac Studio)
Fred H. Murray was general sales manager
Cadillac production figures
Series 6262,426 (decreased 8,398)
Sedan de Ville35,018 (increased 3,214)
Coupe de Ville20,156 (decreased 1,429)
Eldorado1,450 (decreased 910)
Series 6015,500 (increased 3,700)
Series 753,829 (increased 119)
1961 Automotive Notes
Four new upscale mid-size are introduced: Buick Special, Oldsmobile F-85, Pontiac Tempest, and Dodge Lancer
New models include Buick Skylark, Dodge 770 Lancer Sport Coupe, Ford Falcon Futura, Mercury Comet S-22, Oldsmobile Starfire covertible, F-85 3-seat wagon, Cutlass, and Pontiac Tempest Le Mans
New-car warranty increases to 12-months or 12,000 miles, but Continental doubles it
Chevrolet drops the fins
Chevrolet offers the Super Sport option with bigger V-8
Corvair introduces a mini-wagon and rampside (van front and truck bed)
Last year for the Chrysler Windsor
Chrysler introduces the Newport series
Last year for the DeSoto
Dodge introduces the compact Valiant
T-bird features a “Swing-Away” steering wheel
Ford offers its first 4-speed manual transmission
AMC is first to offer an aluminum-silicon alloy engine for Rambler Classic
Rambler American offers a convertible
John F. Gordon was president of GM
Frederic G. Donner was chairman of the board at GM