The Brougham next door
|Quad headlights announced Cadillac's showpiece, the 1958 Brougham.|
Chamonix White on the outside, white leather with black trim on the inside, this was one of just 704 Broughams produced in 1957 and '58. As Cadillac's showpiece, the Brougham was set apart by quad headlamps, brushed stainless steel roof and rear-hinged rear doors. Self-levelling air suspension cushioned the ride as a 365-cubic-inch V-8 engine (fed by a pair of four-barrel carburetors in the first year, three two-barrels in the second) powered it along the new Interstate highways.
|Rear-hinged doors and stainless steel roof were other Brougham hallmarks.|
With no centre pillar, swinging open the four doors allowed easy access and an unimpeded view of the contoured seats and other luxuries within. Many of the Brougham's standard features would not arrive in other cars for decades — automatic locks, power seats with memory settings, power trunk lid, auto-dipping headlamps. In addition, it was famously fitted with "vanities" that included stainless steel drinking tumblers, a leather-clad notebook with Cross sterling silver pencil and a one-ounce bottle of Arpège Extrait de Lanvin perfume.
At $13,074, it was fabulously expensive. Even then, General Motors reportedly lost thousands on every Brougham sold.
|Love lost, and found: This Brougham could be No. 650.|
This Brougham, I was told, had just been parked outside Vintage Motors by new owners taking delivery. Given the model's low production total and worldwide following, the history of many Broughams has been well documented. This could be Brougham No. 650, which according to the definitive New Cadillac Database maintained by Yann Saunders, figured in a classic automotive love story.
Bought new by an American family, it was coveted by the 14-year-old boy who lived next door. Decades later, he would buy the car from the estate and own it for several years. Later, it became part of the collection of the Sterling McCall Cadillac Museum in Texas. Today, just weeks after I saw it in Florida, it's for sale again at the Bay City Motor Co. in Michigan with an asking price of $149,900.
Brougham No. 650 has lived all its life in the United States. But 703 other Broughams were built for 1957 and 1958, and some have been lost to history. Most of the missing were no doubt scrapped years ago, and others could rest in anonymous private collections.
And a few, perhaps, await the day they again see the Havana sunlight.
|Could this all-American Brougham have some Cuban cousins?|