In 1958, Cadillac produced a total of 815 Biarritz convertibles. Five were taken straight from the assembly line to GM’s super-secret Styling Center, where they were highly modified. At least one of these cars has survived, reportedly the prototype of the “Raindrop” modification, and is presented here as part of the Wiseman Collection.
At first glance, this unique convertible, finished in its original shade of red, may look like its regular Biarritz counterparts, but the rear-end styling used on this car was a precursor to the giant tailfins later used on the 1959 Cadillacs. Likewise, the dual pointed projectile-shaped taillights were also a preview of things to come. However, the most distinguishing characteristic of this car was its unique “Raindrop” feature.
Fitted to the car was a special electronic sensor programmed to snap into action the moment a drop of rain was detected. Once this occurred, it would automatically lift the three-piece special boot cover and raise the roof to its full, snug-fitting “up” position. To further protect the interior and ensure it remained dry, all of the windows would close.
During the restoration, it was discovered that the rear portion of the car, from the door posts (or B-pillars) back, had been created by using laminated fiberglass to achieve the desired contours and deviations from the regular production Biarritz.
According to legend, the Raindrop’s creation was done under the orders of Harley Earl, the man in charge of GM styling. After its completion in 1958, Mr. Earl was seen driving the car on several occasions near his home in Florida.
Once GM retired the car, it was reportedly cut into two pieces, with the chassis and running gear scrapped, and the body sent to a local Detroit wrecking yard to be destroyed. This did not occur, however, and the parts of the car were hidden away for many years until a Cadillac dealer in Ohio learned of their existence. A 1958 Cadillac chassis was sourced and restoration was completed in the mid 1990s.
General Motors rarely let concept vehicles escape, and it is by pure luck that this car has endured. What happened to the other four modified Eldorado Biarritz cars remains a mystery, and while rumors hint there may be another in the Midwest, this is the only confirmed survivor.
Its restoration was a preservation of a piece of history. As such, its sale presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and should you be the winner, and others rain on your parade, at least the top will come up automatically, because that’s the way GM planned it.