One of One: 1961 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible

Eldorado-today

Oh, the things people will park in their barn and just leave to fall into disrepair! It is hard to believe that anyone would let this amazing 1961 Cadillac Eldorado prototype decay in storage. Not only is it a beautiful car, but it is an important part of automotive history. Some of the styling cues featured on this car are still impacting design today. Reader Nadeem K. came across it while surfing craigslist and decided to take a look. After further inspection, he decided he needed to save it. He now has it running and driving, but it needs work to be auto show ready again…

Eldorado-in-1961

Finding the history and provenance of this Caddy has taken some work, but with the help of the internet and some very knowledgeable Cadillac fans, Nadeem was able to find a little history on it and has confirmed that this is the Cadillacs shown at the 1962 Chicago Auto Show. The previous owner claimed that this one had been owned by golfer Walter Hagen, but other than a Traverse City Golf and Country Club pencil and two golf balls, Nadeem hasn’t been able to make any connection between his Caddy and Hagen. The previous owner also claimed that there was another one of these built and that that one was owned by Bing Crosby, but based on the information Nadeem got from GM this seems unlikely.

Eldorado-interior-in-1961

After contacting GM, he was finally able to get some information and photos of the car when it was new. A few things have changed since 1961, such as the grill, rear badge, and paint, but it’s otherwise the way Cadillac intended it to be. Nadeem has already fixed a few problem areas, such as damage to the rocker trim, grill, and some of the paint. He plans on preserving as much of the car as possible and restoring that which needs to be to make it safe to drive, but this is a costly and time consuming process, especially with a one-off like this. If finding information for it has been hard, imagine finding parts.

eldorado-interior

The interior looks fantastic for its age and really only needed a good cleaning. After detailing it and applying some new lacquer to the wood pieces, he has the interior looking like new. It is amazing how well it survived the past 30 years of storage, but it is testament to Cadillac’s build quality. The interior is loaded with unique one-off touches, such as the center console with floor mounted shifter, two spoke steering wheel, custom door panels, leather bucket seats, and ample amounts of aluminum trim.

1962-chicago-auto-show

From what we have read about Nadeem from this thread on JalopyJournal, it sounds like he is the perfect person to be caring for this special car. He has made some great progress since buying it and has even had the joy of showing it at Amelia Island. We wish him the best and we hope he will keep us updated on his progress! Does anyone here know more about the connection between Walter Hagen and this Caddy? It’s the one piece of the puzzle that Nadeem has yet to find.

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Comments

  1. MH in MN

    Great find! How much did you pay for it?

    • Jim

      I guess I wanted to know also. Makes me mosey I guess

      • Nadeem

        $16,000

  2. Mark

    I love it, esp the floor shift! Great find if there ever was one.

  3. Jim Stewart

    Wow! Caddy fan or not, this is the kind of find all gearheads dream of!

  4. Cool Cadillac Cat

    I’d have **gladly** taken that dive off the deep end!

    I cannot believe the interior was in that good of condition. Normally, in cases like these…and ‘verts are even worse…critters have taken up residence and ruined everything.

  5. paul

    Wow lot’s of unique features, very interesting for sure.

  6. Don Andreina

    A find like that makes life worth living. Cadillac had an agreement with Pininfarina to build some prototypes around this time. I have no idea whether this is one of those cars; earlier examples include the Jacqueline and Starlight. But a road-capable styling prototype like this; just WOW.

  7. Dolphin Dolphin Member

    I really like entries like this because they are about readers who have bought a special car like some of those that appear on Barn Finds and have begun the work of getting them running and bringing them back to good driver condition, or even better.

    Thanks to Nadeem K. for the photos and update, and I hope we can see more entries like this. I want to know what readers are buying and working on.

  8. MadHungarian

    The steering wheel previews the 1962-63 design. The standard ’61 wheel was also a two-spoke design but it was different.

  9. jboat48

    America at it’s finest. Light up a big Cohiba, pop some Tony Bennet into the 8 track and cruise until you hit the end of the highway.

    • NadeemK

      Every ashtray had cigarette butts in it.

      • Will Fox

        Nadeem, if you do some searching for photos of him, there is a color image of GM’s Bill Mitchel standing with the door open of this Eldorado; he drove it as his personal car for at least a few months in `62. I believe in the photo he is wearing a blue sport coat.

    • Rick Rothermel

      No 8 tracks for a while after this one was hatched. The seriously musical would rig up a reel to reel tape recorder…

      • Nadeem Khan

        That photo was found in the last couple of years, I’m trying to post it. My wife and daughter got me a matching suit like thecine worn by Bill Mitchell.

  10. NadeemK

    Wow what a surprise, thanks for featuring this car.
    The car was built by Cadillac on Clark Street in Detroit, I’m sure it was designed by Dave Holls, not Pininfarina, the interior possibly by Blaine Jenkins.
    The grille and badging were changed by Cadillac for display at the 1962 Chicago Auto Show, why an obviously year old design was shown is a mystery to me.
    The one -off hub caps were missing, I replicated them myself as best as I could.
    I also a Pinin Farina built 1960 Eldorado Brougham, #86 of 101 built, it was designed by Dave Holls also.

    • Don Andreina

      Nadeem, what a superb find. It has to be a keeper.

      The agreement with Pinin Farina appears to cover manufacturing 200 units for production (59, 60 Eldo – both designed in the states) and a series of PF penned styling prototypes starting in 58 with the ‘Coupe’ and ‘Cabriolet’. The Starlight is by far one of PF’s best ever designs, but seems to be overshadowed by the Jacqueline.

      What’s the build quality on the 60 Eldo like?

      • NadeemK

        It is superb, the car is all hand made, every panel is hand beaten, it definitely looks hand made, it doesn’t have the utter crispness of factory body stamping and there is lots of lead used in smoothing the panels.
        The 61 Eldorado has some quite crude work on it, angle iron supports and the like, the hand made pieces are beautifully finished on the visible surfaces but underneath not so much.

      • Don Andreina

        I had a bit of a read of your jalopy blog. Every aspect of this story is perfect; from the CL listing and your being the only person interested, to the very assuring discovery that the fins were all metal. A story for the ages and already my find of the year. Might be worth getting a 3D scan of the fibreglass bumper if its possible. Cheers and good luck.

  11. Chris A.

    The very fine mesh detail in the grill reminds me of the 1963 Buick Riviera. That is one awesome Caddy. Kudos to Nadeem K. for the save and researched restoration.

    • Nadeem

      I love the original grille GM installed, it would be very hard to duplicate.

  12. Jim-Bob

    What an amazing find! It’s great to see that it is in such good original condition after all these years. Even the leather seats look like they were well cared for!

    (Why do I have “Fly Me to the Moon” stuck in my head after seeing this car?)

  13. jim s

    i too am glad this one was saved and is being driven. i wonder what happens to the prototypes of today. are they cared for or cast aside to become barn finds someday?

  14. ConservativesDefeated

    What a find! Super cool. Take that my P car peeps!

  15. krash

    Nadeem.

    ..I, for one, don’t care for the car….

    because {sob…sniffle) it’s not mine!

    great car, great story…congratulations on a wonderful discovery…

    • Frank dawson

      Is this ‘krash’ as in dan from Mass?

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