Finding this fine Bill Mitchell-era Cadillac was all due to a battery failure. Not to get too deep into it, but I wear a cochlear implant, as I lost my “factory” hearing back in 1996. It uses rechargeable batteries, and when it goes out, I can’t hear. Really. You could fire a shotgun behind me, and I wouldn’t hear it. I’d probably feel the vibrations in the ground, but I’d perceive exactly zero sounds. So you can thank my forgetting a spare battery for this topless luxocruiser.
I was at my parents’ one weekend, and we decided to go see Lincoln (sorry, no Continentals in this flick; good, nonetheless). About ten minutes after we got to the theater, my battery went flat. I normally carry a spare at all times, but for some reason, I didn’t grab it when I left my place that day. Murphy’s Law, had to have happened after we got there, and not on the way! So, I borrowed my parents’ car, left them at the theater to get tickets and seats, and dashed back home for a fresh battery. But as I was returning to the theater, sitting at a red light, I spotted a 1963 Cadillac at a distance, parked at K-Mart. Movie or no movie, I had to stop.
The 1963-64 Cadillacs were sharp cars. They are a favorite of mine, as are pretty much all Cadillacs from the Sixties. But few are seen at shows, outside of Cadillac-LaSalle Club meets. You know the drill at most car shows: Red Camaro, Red Camaro, Red Camaro, Red Corvette, brand new red Mustang, etc. Bleah! But I digress. What makes this find all the more remarkable was that it was taken in December 2012, in the Midwest. At that time we were having a rare run of nice weather, so this ’63’s owner took advantage while he or she could. It was about 55° that late afternoon.
Dusk was rapidly approaching too, so please excuse the somewhat shadowy interior pics. White with a black interior is about my least favorite color combination on a car (give me a nice navy, burgundy or jade green, please) but the 1963 Cadillac still looks damn fine in near any color combination.
Judging from the lack of stainless steel rocker trim and the upholstery style, this one is not an Eldorado Biarritz, but the standard convertible. The 62 was the entry-level Cadillac, and while the drop top was not precisely a 62 Series, (more on that later), it was closer to that model line and definitely not in the de Ville series. The $5590 Cadillac convertible was clearly not for everyone’s pocketbook, but 17,600 were sold, and it was the only convertible Cadillac other than the top-tier Eldorado, which sported a much higher $6609 sticker.
Despite being less expensive than a de Ville hardtop sedan (the de Ville would not gain a proper convertible model until ’64, when the convertible was moved to the higher-trimmed series) this car; indeed any Cadillac, was still a plush vehicle, with standard power steering, power brakes, automatic transmission, and, of course, the mighty 325-hp 390 V8.
So even the least expensive Cadillacs were not exactly a skinflint’s dream; a ’63 Chevrolet Biscayne two-door sedan was $2429 with a V8; even the tony ’63 Impala convertible was a mere $3,024 with V8 power, a darn sight lower than the $5509 Cadillac. No, back then a Cadillac was still a Cadillac–even the standard model. Maybe with less gadgets, but still a fine car. In fact, the convertible was kind of its own series this year. It was always referred to as simply the Cadillac Convertible. And while it wore Sixty-Two exterior trim, it wore no nameplates and had a much more plushly-trimmed interior, as you can see in the brochure picture below.
It seems like until fairly recently, the Sixty-Two and later Calais are the Rodney Dangerfield of classic Cadillacs: No respect. Everyone wants a Coupe de Ville or Fleetwood or Eldorado. I don’t think that’s fair. I am of the opinion that any Sixty-Two was a great deal. It was much less than a de Ville or Fleetwood Sixty Special, yet still wore the stunning Bill Mitchell-designed sheetmetal that made everyone know you made it! And all the important stuff, the design, engine, transmission, and careful assembly and quality that came with purchasing a Cadillac back then, was intact.
Bill Mitchell, GM’s design chief from the late ’50s through the late ’70s, knew elegance and restraint. Smooth flanks, nice fins, imposing grille, proven power and every gadget known to mankind–if not standard, then certainly available for a bit more. I would rather have had one with a red interior, though.
This one certainly grabbed my attention, even at a distance. And after my little detour, I got my battery and made it back to the theater in no time. A good movie, despite the lack of cars. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I found a Cadillac while on my way to go see Lincoln.