Lot 622: Cadillac Series 62 Coupe DeVille
For 1956, Cadillac models received a new look, even if they weren’t actually new models. The facelift involved a revised grille, revised front bumper and repositioned parking lights. Buyers had a choice of the standard satin finish or gold for the grille. Other molding and trim changes were hallmarks of the ’56 models.
Most owners probably didn’t care about the minor changes. What they cared about was that they could show neighbors, friends and business associates that they were successful. And it took success to shell out between $4,200 and $4,700 for a new Series 62 Cadillac.
Under the stylish, but only cosmetically-changed skin, was a standard boxed chassis frame with independent coil spring front suspension and a solid rear axle. The power-assisted hydraulic brakes used big drums at all corners.
One of the features that made Cadillac so special at the time was the mighty overhead valve V-8 that nestled under the bonnet of every model. The standard engine displaced 365 cubic-inches and was rated at 285 horsepower. Compression was a high 9.75:1 and induction was the job of a big four-barrel Carter carburetor. In addition to that massive and powerful V-8, another luxury a Cadillac owner could count on was that they would never have to shift for themselves thanks to GM’s silky smooth Hydra-Matic automatic transmission.
Any Cadillac was a mighty fine ride in 1956, but a Coupe DeVille was really something special. When you wrote the check for about $4,600, there was no need to add anything extra for the hydraulic window lifts, which were optional on lesser models. Throw in all that engine, power steering, power brakes and the Hydra-Matic, and few cars offered more luxury—at any price.
Close your eyes and imagine the business man who probably ordered this new Cadillac. He was probably tall, his suit was conservatively cut, but expensive, his shoes gleamed and he wore a hat—most likely a fedora. When he went to that dealership, he didn’t order a car in an insipid light blue or a flamboyant red; it was the ever-popular basic black. The interior was white and green—just like the envy on his neighbors’ faces. And just imagine the response the first time he took his wife to the country club for the Saturday night dinner dance. The young valets jostled to be the one to take this car away. That quarter tip wasn’t what they were after; they just wanted bragging rights for driving this fine set of wheels to the back lot and back.
In the past 49 years, this lovely black Coupe DeVille has had just three owners, the last of whom has had the fuel tank, lines and pumps replaced. The odometer reads 77,000, which may well be original on what the owner calls an “accident-free” car. This is the kind of car that makes you yearn for a road trip. But the road trip this car demands involves Eisenhower’s national highway system, sit down restaurants—where they serve martinis--and good hotels where you never ever have to carry your own bags.
Collectors' Motor Cars|
Bonhams & Butterfields, Larz Anderson Auto Museum, Brookline
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