The 1964 Cadillac was the end of an era. Sure, there would be great Cadillacs for years after, but 1964 was extra special. It marked the final year of the fin. While the totally redesigned 1965 Cadillacs would still have a squared-off blade on their rear quarter panels, and said protuberances would last way, way wayyy up to the final 1992 Cadillac Brougham and Brougham d’Elegance, 1964 was the last year of the true, unedited, unmitigated Cadillac shark fin.
The thing I love the most about Cadillac in the 1960s is that no matter what model you chose, you got a great car. A high-quality car, whether a Series 62, de Ville, Fleetwood Sixty Special or Eldorado.
As the literature for the 1964 Cadillac stated, “You’ll thrill to Cadillac’s new measure of performance!” And it was true. All Cadillacs received a 429 CID V8 with 340 hp at 4600 rpm. All breathed through a Carter AFB four-barrel carburetor, model 3655S. Other engine features included five main bearings and hydraulic valve lifters. And you had the luxury of size, for even the Series 62 sported a 129.5 inch wheelbase and overall length of 223.5 inches.
Yes, in 1964, a Cadillac was still clearly a Cadillac. Something special. Something to aspire to. Something wonderful. Something beautiful. Bill Mitchell was the head of GM Styling, and it showed.
Clean, elegant lines. Fins still clearly in evidence, but none of the flamboyance and over-the-top wildness of say, 1959. Still clearly a Cadillac, but smooth. Classy. A car to aspire to.
Even the standard Cadillac, the Series 62, was a beauty. As the standard Cadillac (please don’t call it cheap or base model, thank you very much) it was still a very nice automobile. The six-window Series 62 four-door hardtop, along with the four-window four-door hardtop, retailed at $5236. The Series 62 two-door hardtop was the Cadillac price leader, at $5048.
But that didn’t mean cheap. You still got the Cadillac engine, the Turbo Hydra-matic automatic transmission, the long wheelbase, and the fins. And the style!
In 1964, 9,243 six-window Series 62 four-door hardtops were built. And all were stunning. But this particular example, in Turino Turquoise metallic, is especially striking.
And with an interior in matching turquoise cloth, it’s a dreamboat! With emphasis on the boat.
This was not only the final year for proper bladed fins, but also the last year for the Series 62 model. Starting in 1965, the standard Cadillac would become the Calais. So ’64 was the end of many things at Cadillac that had been going concerns since the late ’40s, at least.
And while the Series 62 may have been the least fancy Cadillac, it was still a damn fine automobile! At a base price of $5048-5236 depending on the body style, it was still way, way wayyy above the $2927 1964 Chevrolet Impala convertible, $3499 1964 Pontiac Grand Prix and even the $4318 1964 Buick Riviera two door hardtop.
A Cadillac was still a Cadillac. No junior editions! All were full-blooded, full-size V8s, with plush upholstery, automatic transmission, and stretch-out room to spare!
In 1964, there were no Lexuses, Infinitis, Acuras, and Teslas to show off at the country club. BMW? They sold those little enclosed motorcycles, didn’t they? Mercedes-Benz. OK, they had some beautiful cars, but for a price, and even the top trim 250SEs had hang-under-the-dash air conditioners. Lincoln was doing well with their oh so modern Continentals, and even the Imperial was selling pretty good, albeit not nearly to the volume as Cadillac or even Lincoln.
Cadillac was still king. Sure, you wouldn’t look bad arriving at the country club in a Continental or Imperial Crown, but nothing said you made it in 1964 quite like a brand new Cadillac, whether it was a Series 62, Sixty Special or Eldorado convertible. They spelled success.
As the 1964 brochure stated, “Come in expecting a lot. You won’t be disappointed. But just a word of caution-go easy on the accelerator until you get used to Cadillac’s new kind of action. Even if you have known Cadillac for years, this one holds a bounty or surprises-every one wonderful.” Now how can you not love a car like that?
Indeed a very fine car ~ you have to actually ride in or drive one to fully comprehend how nice these were, even as well used beaters in the 1970’s they held up very well and never looked overly dated to me .
This is the “cheap” one, but just look at the quality of the interior. Lots of stainless steel and deep chromed real metal trim, plush yet extremely tasteful and durable seat fabrics. This quality is why I became so disappointed with Cadillac starting in the late 60s when plastic wood and chrome, and less tasteful materials became the Cadillac norm.
I’m with stingray, after 1966, Cadillac took advantage of the new interior safety requirements to cheapen the dash, vents and door panels. Safer and less elegant by the year.
This late comment is just a small correction for the text, plus other info.
In 1964 the series 62 did not have the turbo hydramatic transmission, nor was it available as a regular option. The Deville, Eldorado, Fleetwood 60S did have the turbo hydramatic as standard (the first year for the TH400 with torque converter). An easy way to tell from the drivers seat is the shifter on the hydramatic is thin metal like a 1960 shifter but the turbohydramatic has a wide knob of coloured vinyl on the end of the shifter, plus the quadrant has a different shifting order.
The series 75 kept the old Hydramatic just like the series 62, only in this case it wasn’t so much to save money as it was because the 75 was basically a 59 car underneath, with 64 shaped front and rear ends (notice the doors are still 59 and 60 shaped, and fenders and quarters had to be leaded in custom to make them line up to the doors). Although in 1965 that same 1959 type limo continued with 64 styling but finally got it’s turbohydramatic.
On another note, much is made in comments about why Cad would update their 77’s in 80 with all new sheetmetal after only 3 years for a slight change in style, but Cad always updated sheetmetal every year or every 2-3 years at most. Between 59 and 70 they completely retooled the entire body sheetmetal 8 times. Between 70 and 79 3 times. I think they are in the modern mindset where beancounters rule and sheetmetal lasts from 1980 to 1992 on RWD Cads or 1992-2002 on Eldos. I think the greatest thing we don’t understand is that in the 60s, we got a completely new Cadillac every year, and because of this, many folks treated themselves to a new one annually, so they wouldn’t be seen in a used car, and that’s my point here, that in the 60s you knew who had money because you couldn’t get away with driving a 2 year old car without everyone knowing it’s a 2 year old car. These days you can drive a 5 year old Mercedes S class and it looks identical the current model, so we have a lot of cheaters or poseurs as we used to say, who seek out used versions of current cars to seem more successful than they are.