Classic Cars

CLASSIC CLASSICS: 1954 Cadillac Eldorado: Was a teenager’s dream car | Business

CLASSIC CLASSICS: 1954 Cadillac Eldorado: Was a teenager's dream car |  Business

When Richard Sisson was a preteen, his dad drove home in a brand new 1954 Buick. He was impressed with his dad’s new car, but a little disappointed too.

“Even then I was good with cars,” Sisson said.

He couldn’t understand why his father hadn’t spent a few extra dollars on a Cadillac Eldorado.

The 1954 Cadillac Eldorado was an 18 foot, 7 inch long convertible coupe. A total of 2,150 such models were produced.

As an adult, Sisson decided the time was right to get his dream car. His search took him across the country until he found the Cadillac he was looking for in Texas. The original 4,815-pound car’s odometer had registered just 76,554 miles.

The story of the Eldorado is remarkably complete. Records show it had a base price of $5,738 and was delivered to its first owner in San Francisco. The second owner kept the finned Cadillac in the Bay Area until it was sold to the third owner who moved it to Texas.

“Dude, oh dude!” Sisson exclaimed as he sat behind the two-tone red and white steering wheel featuring a 360-degree chrome horn ring. The Cadillac was as beautiful as she remembered it from nearly half a century ago.

“There are no seat belts, of course,” he said. After all, this is a 1954 model, a time before seat belts became standard equipment. General Motors dressed the exclusive Eldorado model inside and out with an abundance of stainless steel, anodized aluminum and chrome. Four floor mats specially designed for Eldorado, made of anodized aluminum and red rubber strips, are screwed to the floor.

The interior upholstery in red and white leather is incredibly beautiful. It is obvious that the car led a sheltered existence. “Even the electric clock keeps perfect time,” Sisson said in amazement. The 331 cubic inch V8 engine still delivers 230 horsepower and needs no attention.

Sisson worked to improve his car and keep his mechanical parts in top condition. During the winter months, the Hydramatic transmission was rebuilt. Cosmetically, it replaced the white soft top. He thinks this is the third top of the car. All three were white. Tucked away in the cavernous trunk are the fiberglass pieces that make up the boot to cover the top when lowered.

Sisson said, “Seventy-two percent of 1954 Eldorados were painted white.” His car was repainted once, long before he owned it.

The sharp tips of the big balls on the front bumper have been flattened slightly over the years when encountering various obstacles.

Every 1954 Eldorado with standard equipment left the factory well equipped. Sisson’s Cadillac is equipped with a front seat with four power adjustments, a device that automatically dims the headlights for oncoming traffic, tinted plexiglass sun visors and electric windows.

Additionally, the Cadillac convertible features a Wonder Bar AM radio with a floor-mounted button that can be stepped on to automatically change stations. “It’s really alive,” he said with a smile. Every time Sisson opens the door to get into his car, chrome hinges are exposed.

As he settles comfortably behind the wheel, with his decidedly dangerous pointed steering hub, he looks at the 110 mph speedometer and says, “That’s a nice original car.”

— Vern Parker, Motor Matters

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