The Coupe de Ville. Is there a more famous Cadillac? Oh sure, most people who are into cars know the classic Cadillac model names. Sedan de Ville, Fleetwood Brougham, Seville, Eldorado, Sixty Special. But Coupe de Ville is such a great name. And it was attached to great cars. From 1949 to 1993, they were the sporty Cadillac, the Cadillac for flashy types. And pretty much every year they were good looking cars, perhaps some years more than others. But any 1950s Coupe de Ville was a sharp set of wheels! Today we look at the 1957 model.
The Coupe de Ville first appeared, as previously mentioned, in 1949. The name was given to the first Cadillac hardtop coupe, which eliminated the B-pillar and, with the windows down, have a very airy appearance, like a convertible with the top up.
It remained the sole De Ville offering through 1955, but in 1956 was joined by the Sedan de Ville, which was the first pillarless hardtop sedan Cadillac offered.
Although it was technically in the Series Sixty-Two range, it was usually referred to as simply the Coupe de Ville or Sedan de Ville. Interiors were generally more flashy and with fancier trim and upholstery, and of course, it had a cool name!
The Sixty-Two coupes and sedans were still plush, and every inch a Cadillac in the 1950s, but the Coupe de Ville, with the exception of the extremely limited production Eldorados, was the glamour model in the Cadillac line.
The Cadillac fin had first appeared with the postwar 1948 Cadillac. Reminiscent of the P-38 WWII fighter plane, they slowly but steadily got bigger, albeit retaining their original fishtail shape.
But in 1957, all Cadillacs were redesigned, and the fins got much bigger. The lenses moved from being integrated into the top of the fin to being housed in chrome bezels at the base of the fin. There were even fins up front, in the dual-bladed chrome hood ornament.
The 1957 Coupe de Ville had a base price of $5,048. Curb weight was 4,620 pounds and 23,813 were built for the year. This was, of course, a luxury car and not cheap. It wasn’t supposed to be. In the 1950s, Cadillac was still the gold standard in cars in the United States. For comparison’s sake, a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air two-door hardtop, that darling of the collector car scene these days, had a base price of $2,299 with the six and $2,399 with a V8.
The Series Sixty-Two was essentially the same car, but with a less ostentatious interior and less standard features. But it was still a premium offering, make no mistake! A Sixty-Two two-door hardtop was approximately $550 less than the Coupe de Ville. Sales were slightly higher than the CDV, to the tune of 25,120 units.
And of course, it was the Fifties. Color was king! Especially for those who had ‘made it’ and wanted to celebrate with a brand new Cadillac. The color palette for ’57 Cadillacs was very enticing! And of course, your could get a pink Cadillac, dubbed Mountain Laurel by GM.
It was, and is not now, that hot pink you see on toy Cadillacs and restored versions. Though clearly not any color BUT pink, it is nonetheless a subtler shade than the hue you see on many today. People weren’t afraid of color then!
Trim options for the Coupe de Ville and Sedan de Ville included gray and silver Sahara cloth with white leather, blue Sahara cloth and leather, beige Sahara cloth and leather, green Sahara cloth and leather, black and Mountain Laurel (AKA pink) Corinthian cloth with matching leather, gray and silver brocade with white leather, blue brocade with blue leather, or green brocade with green leather. Such choice!
And the cloth was some seriously plush material, unlike most of today’s cloth interiors, which tend to be cheap tan or gray cloth, even on the pricier 2018 cars. If offered at all. You see, cloth used to be the premium material in luxury cars. The Cadillac factory limousines generally had wool or broadcloth seating, while the chauffeur up front rode on plain black leather seats. How times change, huh?
All 1957 Cadillacs were, of course, V8 powered. Standard power in Coupe de Villes was the 365 CID engine with 325 horsepower at 4800 rpm. It breathed through a Rochester four-barrel carburetor.
1957 Coupe de Villes rode the same 129.5 inch wheel base as other Series 62s, with an overall length of 220.9 inches on Coupe de Villes and the Series 62 hardtop coupe and convertible.
The featured Coupe de Ville was at the 2018 CLC meet in San Marcos, Texas. Like the posts I wrote on the 1977 Seville and 1958 Fleetwood Sixty Special, it was photographed by my friend Jayson Coombes, who has a couple of Cadillacs of his own and is a CLC member in good standing. Special thanks to him for taking so many terrific pictures of the Cadillacs at this event!
The ad shows the change over time. Todays luxury cars try to show the cars as refined and elegant while the people are a diverse everyman. Here a newly more flashy offering are shown with an almost otherworldly refined and elegant couple. Perhaps giving permission for all the new flash, these ideal people still like it.
I love those light colors .
Cadillac advertising in the 50s was top drawer, no matter the model shown, the impression was that you bought the lifestyle when you purchased the car. Each surround was subtly different for each model, but each evoked an image that was as probably as desired as the car itself, at least by most potential buyers. Features? Horsepower? Sure, but what do you REALLY want??? The scene in “Mad Men” when Don Draper goes to buy the ’62 Cadillac shows a businessman in the background walking around another de Ville, almost in an attitude of worship, a perfect symbol of the effect of the Cadillac image.
Imagine ordering a new Escalade in Mountain Laurel 🙂
Great car – all it needs for the complete effect is Elvis behind the wheel.
Lovely car. That’s what I imagine Maybellene driving when Chuck Berry was trying to catch up to her (yes, I know this car is two years newer than the song).
What do you think was the last great Coupe de Ville? My nominee is 1979. After that came the chopped back window…then the V-8-6-4…then the HT4100…and then the downsizing that made a 1986 Coupe de Ville shorter than a 1986 Cutlass Supreme.
FYI: I understand that the rubber tips on the end of the Dagmars on the front bumpers are known as Pasties! GM started using them in ’57.