Its massive fins reflect the height of American optimism, a sculptural
representation of the opulence of the era


This 1959 Cadillac convertible was previously owned by Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis of German Royalty. The onetime waitress who used to be known as the "Punk Princess" because of her wild clothes and hairstyles is now one of the richest people in the world, worth $1.4 billion.
This 1959 Series 62 Convertible was shipped back to the U.S. for a complete restoration in excess of $100,000. With only five miles on her completely rebuilt 390 V8 engine, everything but the radio is in top working condition and ready for the next owner. You'll feel like royalty when you drive this Caddy.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1959 Cadillac Series 62
Years Produced:1959
Number Produced:11,130
Original List Price:$5,455
SCM Valuation:$35,000-$65,000
Tune Up Cost:$150-$400
Distributor Caps:$12
Chassis Number Location:to of left air duct cover near cowl
Engine Number Location:left lower side of engine block
Club Info:Cadillac-LaSalle Club, P.O. Box 360835, Columbus, OH, 43236
Alternatives:1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible, 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang convertible
Investment Grade:B

This 1959 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible sold for $96,120 at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale, held on January 25-28, 2005.
I’ll never forget seeing a 1959 Cadillac parked outside a church in Florence, Italy, on a Saturday night. Resplendent in all its pointy glory, and surrounded by Smart cars, scooters, and European econoboxes, it was taking up at least nine parking spaces. I instantly missed home.
Among American automotive icons of the 1950s, there is nothing that compares to the ’59 Cadillac. Its massive fins reflect the height of American optimism, a sculptural representation of the opulence of the era, a tangible history lesson. Because of this, ’59 Caddys are coveted by both enthusiasts and non-car people alike.
It’s not just the fins, although they’re a big part of it. There’s also an extravagant grille, of which one was apparently not enough. The detail in the rear end of the car from the trunk to the rear bumper is so complex and extensive, Cadillac referred to it as the “rear grille.” Hugely flamboyant, with pounds of chrome, 1959 Cadillacs are accented by the pointiest pod taillights in existence. It’s as though the design was scrawled on the back of a school notebook by an enthusiastic adolescent.
This is perhaps not too far from the truth, as Harley Earl tapped a twenty-something Dave Holls to take on the design of the ’59. Herb Karow, the vice president of the regional Cadillac-LaSalle club here in Minneapolis, told me a story about Holls’ attitude towards the outrageous ’59s. In a conversation at a club dinner, Holls said that they were never his favorite. After the more subdued 1960 Cadillac came out (with a treatment not unlike the Pinin Farina-bodied ’59 Eldorado Brougham), Holls told the production staff, “We finally got it right.”
The many ’59 fans would disagree, and from the lowliest four-door sedan to the top-of-the-line Eldorado, 1959 Cadillacs have always been desirable. The basic 130-inch-wheelbase Cadillac was available as a sedan, a two-door hardtop coupe, and convertible, with two different rooflines available for the sedan: a four-window flattop and a six-window model with a sloping roof. These models were offered in several series, from the base Series 62 to the more luxury-laden DeVilles, Eldorados and Fleetwoods.
“A New Realm of Motoring Majesty” was the slogan Cadillac used to tout its radically redesigned ’59. The cars were certainly regal in appearance, but that’s not all that was memorable. The 390-ci V8 made 325 hp in a standard configuration, while a 345-hp version with three two-barrel carburetors came standard in the Eldorado models and could be ordered as an option on other series. Either powerplant was good for cruising at 100-plus mph, so thankfully all 1959 Cadillacs came with power brakes.
The first thing to consider in looking for a 1959 Cadillac is the size of your garage. This seems silly, but these are among the longest non-limousine passenger cars ever built. Parts are available, but expensive. Cosmetic equipment is interchangeable, and it is certainly possible to dress a Series 62 car up like an Eldorado, so be sure to verify the serial number.
Many 1959 Cadillacs came equipped with “Air-Ride” suspension, a feature that was dumped for 1961, and has also been replaced on most restored cars. It was problematic, fairly expensive to maintain, and complicated to work on. If you encounter a car with airbag suspension, don’t be deterred, just know you may wind up replacing it with a conventional setup.
The tri-carb motor’s throttle is said to be tricky to get used to. While there’s more than enough power to move the car, the additional jets have a tendency to be slow opening and closing, which can make for some interesting city driving.
The Eldorado Brougham was the rarest of the 1959s. Cadillac built 100 chassis and sent them off to Pinin Farina for handcrafted bodies. The story is that only 99 cars made it back to the U.S., as one fell off the pier in Italy. While the Brougham may be scarce, it doesn’t have the big-draw fins of the other ’59s, making it something of an oddity.
That leaves the most desirable ’59 as the Eldorado Biarritz convertible. With a production total of about 1,300 cars, there were far fewer of these produced than the standard Series 62 convertible. Biarritz Eldos (and Seville hardtops) can be identified by their full-length sill moldings that curve back up in the rear and around the beltline.
While the 1959 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible pictured here has these moldings, according to the serial number it is, in fact, a Series 62, not a Biarritz. If it were, the sale price would not seem so wild, as we’ve seen well-restored Eldorado Biarritz convertibles sell in the six figures before. But Series 62 convertibles are usually worth far less, trading in the $35,000-$65,000 range.
In this case it seems that the seller chose to class up her Series 62 with Biarritz brightwork during the claimed six-figure restoration. The sale price certainly seemed to indicate a good return on the $5,000 to $7,000 the additional chrome trim cost.
By comparison, a real ’59 Eldorado Biarritz at the same sale, restored but in a subdued silver rather than the breathtaking black over red of our Series 62, actually made about $10k less than this car, selling for $86,400. This just goes to show that insistence on absolute originality with a premium on factory correctness is more the province of purist “car collectors” rather than those who just prize ’59 Cadillacs because of their aesthetics and nostalgia.
Luckily for the seller, the ’59 Caddy bidders at this auction were apparently more concerned with visual sizzle than VIN steak, and had deep pockets to back up their automotive desires.
(Historical and descriptive information courtesy of the auction company.)

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