Courtesy of Worldwide Auctioneers
By the early 1950s, Cadillac had finally displaced cross-town rival Packard at the summit of the American fine car market. In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Cadillac and its General Motors corporate parent, the Motorama-inspired Eldorado crowned its model range for 1953. Equipped with Cadillac’s state-of-the-art 331-ci V8, the Eldorado was offered only one way — fully loaded. A 1953 Cadillac sales brochure declared the Eldorado as having been “dramatically styled by Fleetwood to capture the heart of all America,” and this was no overstatement. The Eldorado was so celebrated that it joined the regular Cadillac model line for 1954. A wonderful example of what many marque enthusiasts and collectors regard as one of the most beautiful Cadillac models ever produced, this 1954 Cadillac Eldorado convertible coupe is presented in correct Alpine White over correct red-and-white leather upholstery. It continues to show the benefits of a very thorough restoration that was completed approximately seven years ago. This highly desirable and enjoyable 1954 Cadillac Eldorado had just received a thorough detailing of the engine compartment. As offered, it stands as a prime example of Cadillac’s highly sought-after models of the “Fabulous Fifties.”  

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1954 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible
Years Produced:1954
Number Produced:2,150
Original List Price:$5,738
SCM Valuation:$66,000
Tune Up Cost:$450
Chassis Number Location:Plate on right door frame rail
Engine Number Location:Upper right corner on right cylinder head
Club Info:Cadillac & LaSalle Club
Alternatives:1953 Buick Skylark, 1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta, 1954 Packard Caribbean convertible
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 2, sold for $118,800, including buyer’s premium, at Worldwide Auctioneers’ sale in Arlington, TX, on April 21, 2018.

During the early 1950s, General Motors owned the domestic-car market. They had a 54% market share, and they had sold their 50 millionth automobile.

GM had a well-defined marketing strategy that took you from the entry-level Chevrolet and, as your fortunes improved, through a Pontiac, Oldsmobile and possibly a Buick. If you reached the corner office, you just might deserve a Cadillac.

If it was the large corner office, an Eldorado might be in order.

The Eldorado name was the result of an in-house competition for the 1953 concept car that Cadillac planned for the company’s 50th Anniversary at the GM Motorama. The Spanish name translates to “Golden One,” which was certainly appropriate.

As an aside, Palm Springs Life magazine attributed the name to the Eldorado Country Club in Indian Wells, where a number of retired Cadillac executives lived, but that was not possible, as the resort was founded in 1957.

A Motorama spectacle

The General Motors Motorama was established in 1949 and continued in one form or another until 1961. It was first held at the New York Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and was called the Transportation Unlimited Autorama. In 1953 it became a traveling show, with the 1953 Eldorado joining the Buick Skylark and the Oldsmobile Fiesta in a traveling show that was supported by the “Parade of Progress” and a dozen Futurliner custom buses.

The 1953 Eldorado was a sensational car that featured “Dagmar” front-rubber bumpers from the 1951 LeSabre concept car, a customized body, a wraparound windshield and a stylish cut-down beltline.

The first Eldorado was fully loaded. It also was priced at a sensational $7,750. As such, only 532 left dealer showrooms, and Cadillac lost money on each one produced.

The Eldorado did, however, serve as a magnet that drew prospective buyers to the showrooms, so the car was continued for 1954. It was restyled, as was the entire line, and it had a standard body.

As a result, the 1954 Eldorado was offered at a more-reasonable $5,738, and 2,150 were sold.

A lavish car in 1954

The 1954 Eldorado was easily recognizable, with anodized aluminum rear lower quarter panels and lavish amounts of gold and chrome trim.

It featured chrome door-guard trim and the EZ Eye windshield. It had Kelsey-Hayes wires, with rear fender skirts and vent wings, which were new for 1954.

The interior was equally luxurious, with power windows, heavily padded leather seating and a fiberglass parade boot that covered the top when it was powered down.

The power antenna was raised and lowered with the flick of a switch. It also had an Autronic Eye automatic headlamp dimmer, which was rather primitive by modern standards, but it was quite the thing in 1954.

The optional “Sport Deck” rear-tire carrier, otherwise known as a Continental kit, was not ordered on our subject car, but the exhaust is correctly routed through the rear bumper.

Condition determines value

The Eldorado was an expensive car to manufacture in the day and is an expensive car to restore today. As such, the value of the 1954 Eldorado depends on condition.

The SCM Platinum Auction Database shows us that two high-point examples sold in the $160k range during the past few years, but the vast majority of cars sold under $100k.

The auction description states that this car received a thorough restoration about seven years back. It also goes on to state that it recently received an engine detail and is an enjoyable driver. This leads me to believe that this car had been driven and enjoyed with some moderate signs of use.

This is a car that can be driven without concern, but it is still fresh enough to receive accolades at regional events. This is just the way we like them, and it changed hands at a price that was fair to both seller and buyer. A solid transaction all around. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Worldwide Auctioneers.)

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