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Monday, October 30, 2023

Vintage Elegance: The 1956 Eldorado Brougham Town Car

ONE-OFF - When we delve into the world of classic cars, one cannot help but be captivated by the allure of Cadillac. In particular, the 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Town Car concept holds a special place in automotive history, with its timeless elegance and undeniable influence on luxury car design. This exceptional vehicle not only showcased the pinnacle of opulence but also set a standard that would resonate through the years.
1956 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Town Car concept. (Picture from: BornRich)
In the mid-1950s, Cadillac was determined to assert its dominance in the luxury car market. The Eldorado Brougham was conceived as a response to Ford Motor Company's Continental Mark II, but in reality, it surpassed the Mark II in various aspects. It was more exotic, more exclusive, and boasted a price tag nearly a third higher than the Mark II's $10,000.

Under the hood, the Eldorado Brougham featured a V8 OHV engine with an impressive 305bhp output. Its engine was a work of art, with gold-plated valve covers, dual 4-barrel carburetors, and custom-made air cleaners. This powerhouse was complemented by a 4-speed Hydramatic automatic transmission, independent front suspension, and 4-wheel hydraulic drum brakes, which ensured a smooth and comfortable ride.
The engine view of 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Town Car concept included the gold plated valve covers. (Picture from: DiarioMotor)
While the Brougham was ready for production in 1957, it made its debut on the show circuit in 1956, including appearances at the Motorama tour and the Paris Salon. Known as project XP-48 within GM Styling, the four-door hardtop Brougham had a lesser-known sibling, the Eldorado Brougham Town Car, which premiered at the New York Motorama held at the illustrious Waldorf Astoria.

The Town Car, constructed primarily from fiberglass, was more of a concept car than a prototype. Standing at just 55.5 inches in height, it featured a half-roof over the passenger compartment, adorned with luxurious black leather. Unlike its hardtop counterpart, the Town Car sported an open chauffeur's compartment, a different roofline, and more understated side trim.
The passenger compartment interior view of 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Town Car concept with gold trim. (Picture from: DiarioMotor)
The interior of the Town Car was a testament to luxury. The passenger compartment was appointed with beige leather in a "biscuit and button" motif, accented with gold trim. The chauffeur's area featured black Moroccan leather and chrome accents. The passenger section was equipped with twin compartments, complete with a decanter and cups, a vanity case, and a tissue dispenser – all meticulously plated in gold. A sliding glass window in the divider bulkhead allowed for communication with the chauffeur, and a bulkhead-mounted telephone, also in gold, made communication even more convenient.

The 1956 Motorama tour, known as the "Highway of Tomorrow," took the Town Car from New York to Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston. In October, it graced the stage at the Paris Salon, where it garnered considerable acclaim. However, as the season ended, the Brougham entered production, and the Town Car began to fade into obscurity. Like many GM concepts and prototypes, it found its place in the Warhoops salvage yard outside Detroit in December 1959.
The passenger compartment interior view of 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Town Car concept with gold trim. (Picture from: DiarioMotor)
But fate had other plans for this extraordinary creation. The Town Car remained under a tarp for years until it was rediscovered by Joe Bortz, a renowned Chicago entrepreneur, collector, and restorer, in 1989. Bortz, known for his passion for rescuing and collecting concept cars and GM Motorama alumni, did not undertake its restoration. Instead, he sold it to Roy Warshawsky, owner of J.C. Whitney, in the early 1990s. Unfortunately, Warshawsky's untimely passing left the restoration unfinished. The car then changed hands, with Dick Baruk of Detroit briefly owning it.
Rear side view of 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Town Car concept. (Picture from: BornRich)
Finally, RM Auto Restoration took on the task of restoring this gem. A significant part of the project involved fitting the car with a V8 engine from a 1956 Cadillac sedan donor car. The engine compartment received the same lavish treatment, with gold-plated valve covers, dual four-barrel carburetors, and unique air cleaners. Although the restoration was not geared towards making the car roadworthy, it was designed to enable the lucky new owner to showcase the car at events and transport it on and off trailers.

After its restoration was complete, the Cadillac found a new home in the collection of John O'Quinn, a prominent Houston collector. It was meticulously cared for in a climate-controlled environment and occasionally lent out for museum exhibits.
Although several years have passed since its restoration, the Town Car still exudes a timeless charm. The whitewall tires may have yellowed slightly, but the gold trim remains vibrant. The steering wheel and dashboard are well-preserved, featuring the original Wonderbar signal-seeking radio. The car boasts air conditioning for both the front and rear, and the passenger compartment is adorned with deep-pile Wilton carpeting that perfectly complements the beige leather.

In a world where bulky stretch limousines have become the norm, the Eldorado Brougham Town Car stands out as a svelte and sophisticated classic. Its allure, elegance, and undeniable influence on luxury car design make it the perfect choice to astonish onlookers at any concours event. This Motorama show car, once a star in its own right, remains a testament to Cadillac's commitment to pushing the boundaries of luxury and style. *** [EKA [28072015] | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | AUTOBLOG | HEMMINGS | RM AUCTIONS | DIARIOMOTOR | BORNRICH ]
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