The  1955 Cadillac Eldorado and its 270 HP twin 4-barrel V-8.  In all domestic V-8s,
only the Chrysler 300 and the Packard Caribbean exceeded it in power.

1953-1960 Cadillac
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Bonus – 1953-60 Cadillac V-8 Engines

Cadillac Goes Hot Rod – 1953 through 1960

Flashback to 1955 . . .

We surely know that performance brings excitement to a brand – heck it’s been going on since the automobile was invented. But luxury brands didn’t seem to be interested in promoting performance in the early 50s. Well, they talked about their new OHV V-8s but it was more a “state of the art” expression rather than a performance pitch.

Why then did Chrysler and Cadillac suddenly put a performance model out there, starting in 1955: the Chrysler 300 is one and well known, but Cadillac? Yes Cadillac had a performance car too and it was called the Eldorado! We all know about the 300’s 300 HP and it’s being touted in advertising of the day. But sitting right there was Caddy’s entry with 270 horsepower at 4800 RPM and two Rochester 4GC four-barrel carbs!

Why would both performance cars suddenly appear – it wasn’t as if people weren’t buying Hemi V-8 Chryslers and OHV Cadillacs as fast as they were produced, so what prompted these to prestige brands to pop out a performance car? We think we know . . . Lincoln. You see Lincoln decided that instead of just touting the technology of their V-8, they were going to go racing.  And consecutive 1, 2, 3, finishes in the Panamerican Road race in ’52 ’53 and ’54 established the car’s performance potential. By 1953, Lincoln’s sales had almost doubled and we’re sure that Cadillac and Chrysler took notice.

The Eldorado, in production since 1953, was merely a custom coach Series 62 convertible through 1954. The perky Cadillac V-8 installed in this car was fine – but it relied on its design to move the Cadillac line of cars along. That was no different at Chrysler. The decision to up-engine the Eldorado had to be based upon the idea that this car now had to be not only unique from the regular car line in styling, but it had to have performance to match, and it had to go head-to-head with the Chrysler 300.

Whether the same buyer checked out both the Chrysler and the Cadillac, we’ll never know – but it worked for Cadillac, with the sales of the Eldorado jumping from 2,150 in 1954 to 3,950 in 1955 and topping out at 6,050 in 1956!  Those sales – of a much more expensive Eldorado overshadowed the Chrysler 300 by almost 5 to 1 in 1956!

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