Rare Fins: 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville

In the mid-to-late 1950s, the Cadillac Eldorado Seville was a 2-door super luxury automobile of the similar stature as the Lincoln Continental Mark II. For 1957, the car received new styling that included an exclusive rear-end design that was capped by pointed inboard fins. The lower rear quarter panels were trimmed with broad, sculptured stainless steel pieces that blended into the split rear wraparound bumper assemblies. Needless to say, the look was instantly recognizable. Production was relatively low and the car rather expensive for the day, including this edition in Lynnwood, Washington that has seen better days. Time and curiosity seekers have taken their toll on this car, which is available here on eBay with a starting bid of $1,000. There is a Buy It Now price of $3,999 so you can jump to the front of the line.

Cadillac first used the Seville name on a hardtop version of the 1956 Cadillac Eldorado convertible. With a hefty price tag of $7,750 (nearly 10 times this in today’s dollars), only 532 copies were made that year. Both pricing strategy and styling cues would change for 1957, which contributed to production numbers increasing to 2,100, which still wouldn’t consider it a high-volume car. Those distinctive new rear fenders were sometimes called “chipmunk cheeks” in the trade and helped give the car its own unique look. The Seville was powered by a 365 cubic inch V8 that was rated at 300 hp with a single 4-barrel carburetor – but with optional twin carbs – the output increased to 325.

The seller of this car – who is also a dealer – may be torn as to what to do with it. For now, he’s decided to sell it as-is and let someone else undertake a restoration. But at one point he considered rebuilding it as a pro-touring custom street rod or just redo it factory specs and save it for one of the big car auctions next year where he expects it could bring six figures. Either way, a lot of work lies in the future of the car’s next custodian, given the cosmetic as well as mechanical condition of this rare automobile which is said to be mostly complete.

Rust in the rear quarter panels looks to be the most challenging of the bodywork issues. The holes are almost big enough for you to put your fist through. The chrome pieces, especially the bumpers, are a little rough, and replating them won’t be cheap. The hood has more surface rust than the rest of the lower body pieces, which suggests maybe it was replaced at some point. At one time, this car wore lime green paint flanked by a vinyl top, which has been removed (or deteriorated away).

The interior is probably the worst part of the car, especially the dashboard which looks as though scavengers have targeted it for parts. Considering the rarity of these cars (the seller estimates only 400 have survived), finding the pieces to replace what’s missing will be a big project in itself. Considering cars like this had complicated electrical systems to run all the gadgetry, an automotive electrician is going to have his hands full with this one. And so, will the head mechanic as most of the top half of the motor has been picked through.

Make no mistake, restoring this car will be both difficult and expensive with the cost of its acquisition possibly being the cheapest part. But beautiful editions of these cars are known to go for at least $75,000, according to Hagerty. And given the investment that will be required here, let’s hope this is a conservative estimate. Thanks, Barn Finds reader Larry D, for bringing this once cool car to our attention!

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  1. Will Fox

    Like I always say, buy the best example of the car you want that you can afford; you are better off in the long run. This one is far too rusted for my money;the tin worm has gone all the way through the middle of the rear fenders, and no telling what the trunk or interior floors look like. Even if it were a solid car, these are $100K+ to restore.

    Like 16
  2. DRV

    At best it’s a parts car. There is lots of unobtanium needed , especially for the interior which is the high point of these cars. Every part that someone would want from this for their restoration is worse than their part I’m sure. Having had the ’58 version in near perfect original condition, I love these in all of their hand built beauty.

    Like 11
  3. Big Al

    Mostly complete(ly rotted out). The Six figures, counting the two to the right of the decimal point.

    Like 1
  4. grant

    It wouldn’t make financial sense to restore this, but I hope someone has more money and less brains than I do.

    Like 7

    Restored to perfect original maybe not but for this car a restomod rebirth would not be a sin and could be far less expensive.

    Like 11
  6. EPO3

    If you have a 1957 cad for the dash would make one bad ass resto mod.

    Like 2
  7. Bob K

    I hate to see something so iconic and special end up looking like a rusty old model T.
    I’m sorry but the writer was a bit careless in suggesting these were at the same level as a Continental Mark Ii, which cost almost 50% more and was much closer to handmade.

    Like 6
  8. Bob Mck Member

    The pictures bring a tear to my eye.

    Like 6
  9. Mountainwoodie

    A disgrace.

    Like 2
  10. Bob

    The interior and dashboard give me the willies. How do you claw back from fixing that nightmare? My best shot on getting this car back on the road is to make a restomod out of it. Do the bodywork so it’s original appearance is pristine. Go with a custom dash, instruments and interior. Pray the suspension, brakes and frame can be repaired or replaced with 21st century components. All said and done you are looking at $45,000.00 – $55,000.00. If done right you may break even.

    Like 1
  11. Maestro1

    Will Fox is quite right. Buy the best one you can afford and not this one, sorry to say. The car is too far gone even if you decided to be a hero and try to rescue the thing.

    Like 2
  12. Derek

    Now, that’s a dog of a car. £100 at best.

    Nice dagmars…

    Like 1
  13. B.A. Schoen

    Looks like this already was a donor car.
    It needs a great welder/fabricater/body genius to repair the extensive body rust.
    I say put the body on modern frame (Denali?) and make a killer restomod.

    Like 1
  14. CharlesSawka

    I truly love Caddies. This one breaks my heart.

    Like 2
  15. Ric


  16. George Mattar

    Agree with Will Fox. Buy the best you can. Been there, done that. It cost me far more to restore my Corvette than buy a better car. My VISA bill was frightening each month until I was done. Very sad sight as today Cadillac is a joke and just builds stupid SUVs and a couple of cars that are butt ugly and cost $80,000 plus. This car is too far gone even for the most skilled of people. Strip what’s left and crush. $100,000 is a low estimate as to restoration costs and then it isn’t even worth $80,000.

    Like 1
  17. Bill McCoskey

    There is another unknown problem that’s right in the open. These came with a padded fabric roof covering. As they aged, that fabric became porous, and the padding absorbed water. The steel top was only painted with primer. So the roof panel often ended up like swiss cheese. This problem also cropped up with the 1956 Packard Caribbean hardtops.

    Like 2

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