Sunday, October 23, 2011

Re-imagining one of William Mitchell's flawless 1965 Cadillacs. Caddy built short-deck 6-window hardtop sedans in 1961, and 4-window short-decks in 62 and '63. They produced full-size 6-window sedans all the way through '64. Though they dropped the short-deck for '64, my chop presumes they decided to try again in '65 with the '61 formula—short-deck, 6-window—though pillared this time. Click on image to enlarge, as always.

C H O P S — Oftentimes, to relax, I'll peruse eBay's cars for sale. I'll pick a "marque  of the night," say Mercury, or Hudson, or Nash, and then go through the years and see what is still out there. Tonight I picked Cadillac—1961-72. I was struck how many 6-window sedans Cadillac showed up. They were very light-looking, almost sporty rooflines for such a stately luxury car. I found examples of them for sale right up through 1964, the last year for the bodystyle. It got me thinking of what a 6-window 1965 Cadillac might have looked like. The birth of a chop idea!

I found a good image of an appropriate car, a mint condition low-line '65 Calais pillared sedan, with the proper focus and resolution, thanks to Google Images. My "vision" wasn't quite as easy as just adding the C pillar window, though. Besides adding the extra glass, I ended up lowering the roofline, changing the angle of the C pillar and enlarging the rear window, all in order to get the same "sporty" feeling as those earlier 6-window Caddys. 

I liked how it looked at that point, but decided to "step it up a notch" and recreate a little-known version of the Caddy sedan offered in the early '60s. the short-deck. From 1961 through '63 Cadillac offered a version of their sedan with a six-inch shorter trunk for customers with pre-war garages which tended to be smaller than postwar garages. Offered at first in their base Series 62, as a 6-window, for '62 and '63 it was offered only as a 4-window, though a De Ville-level model was added. The base short-deck for '62 was named the Town Sedan and the step-up version, the Park Avenue. For '63, only the Park Avenue was offered. Since I had started out with the low-line '65 Calais, I named this chop the Town Sedan. Besides shortening the trunk, I reshuffled the chrome trim, taking off the mid-body chrome spear and adding chrome rocker panel moldings to further differentiate this shorter sedan from its longer kin. 

In the end, I liked the way it came out, but in no way do I think it's "better" than the cars Mitchell approved. The 1965 full sized cars he presented to the world, from Chevy through Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac, are all examples of a design manager at the very tippy top of his game. There isn't a bad line on any one of them, and they've all more than withstood the test of time.
  • I photographed a derelict '62 Park Avenue more than 20 years ago. For my blog post, click here. 
  • 1961 Cadillac DeVille info here.
  • 1962 Cadillac DeVille info here
  • 1963 Cadillac DeVille info here.

B O N U S   1 0 - M IN U T E   C H O P :
A reader, Bobf, mentioned he'd like to see an early '60s Caddy with a fastback roof similar to the '67 and '68 GM full sized coupes. I've thought about a car like that for a while, too. It's difficult to find decent high-resolution photos of older cars, though. I've been checking out '68 Cadillacs on eBay and Hemming's lately, and had in my files this medium-resolution photo of a gold Coupe de Ville. I'm particularly partial to '68s as my father gave me a '68 Hardtop Sedan de Ville for my 20th birthday back in 1977. I loved that car and kept it for about 10 years. 

I spent about 10 minutes this morning mocking up a fastback '68 Coupe de Ville to see how it would work, and I love the results. I'll keep looking for a high-resolution photo to start with, and create a real chop one of these days. This car looks like such a natural, it's too bad Caddy didn't offer it in addition to their much more formal coupe. The '68 Buick LeSabre/Wildcat looked awesome with this roofline, especially with the optional fender skirts. 

Update: As one of my loyal readers, PaulNYC, pointed out, this could logically have been a return of the "B Body" Cadillac, similar in marketing as the Series 61, discontinued in the early '50s. Perhaps the entry level Calais could have been differentiated more from the De Ville series this way.

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