Standard Of The World: 1950 Cadillac Club Coupe

I am sad to report that another Cadillac general manager has been released from his duties and the brand is, yet again, adrift in the marketplace.  For decades, Cadillac’s slogan was “Standard of the World.”  That may seem like just another advertising claim today, but from the early seventies back that slogan meant something.  Cadillacs were a car you aspired to own, and the purchase of one meant that you had “arrived.”  If you need proof, look carefully at this 1950 Cadillac Series 61 Club Coupe for sale here on eBay out of Alpharetta, Georgia.  Everything about this car radiates quality.  Form the leather interior to the smooth V-8 under the hood, this car sends a message about an owner’s tastes and affluence.  Unbelievably, bidding has only reached $10,600 with four days to go.  Would you put this Midnight Blue coupe in your garage if the price were right?

If you said I was a little put out by GMs treatment of the Cadillac brand, you would be right.  My family has a history with these cars.  My great grandfather’s original favorites were air-cooled Franklins.  The little problem of Franklin going belly up forced him to switch to Cadillacs.  They served him well all of his life, with his last Cadillac before blindness robbed him of his ability to drive being a black 1955 Cadillac sedan.  I barely remember the car as a kid.  My grandfather followed in his footsteps, switching over from Buicks in the early seventies.  He purchased a fire engine red 1973 Coupe De Ville with a white vinyl top and white leather interior.  Riding in it was like being in a locomotive that floated along on marshmallow cream.  I still lust for that car.

When rust started forming under the vinyl top, the 1973 Cadillac was sold and a white 1977 Sedan de Ville with the d’Elegance package replaced it.  The velvet upholstery and pillowed seats made long distance trips almost effortless.  There was a tangible difference in quality between it and the 1973, but it was still an awesome road car.  The 1977 outlasted my grandfather, and my grandmother eventually replaced it with a 1989 Sedan de Ville.  I have nothing nice to say about that car.  If we are truly rewarded for our sins, then I suspect that everyone who cheapened Cadillacs to make a lousy buck will spend an eternity in Hades either limping these wrecks down the road or waiting for a tow truck that never comes.  While they have often built some very good cars, the brand has been lost in the woods since then.

So, what is the solution?  If I were the head of General Motors, then I would take every executive involved with Cadillac over to GM’s Heritage Collection.  This huge repository holds some of the best cars General Motors has ever produced.  Of course, there are a number of classic Cadillacs under that roof.  I’d start handing out keys and tell them to come back to work when they understood what a Cadillac was.  GM could also spend some of that research and development money to purchase a fleet of vintage Cadillacs to drive and examine.  Even the most casual car buff knows what a Mercedes, BMW, and Porsche are by the way they look, feel, and drive.  No matter if it is a fifty year old car or one on the showroom floor, the essence of these brands is tangible.  Cadillac was once that way, and it can be again.

The previous owners of this 1950 Cadillac obviously felt the same way.  Other than the car being treated to a cosmetic restoration around 20 years ago, this car is largely original.  The 331 cubic inch V-8 is original to the car, and it is backed up by a Hydramatic automatic transmission.  According to the seller, the previous owner was the proprietor of an automobile repair business.  He made sure that the car was kept in tip-top shape mechanically during his tenure.  The car has a few scrapes and paint chips but is said to be largely ready to drive wherever and is in good enough condition to participate in any show.

From any angle, this Cadillac is stunning.  The Midnight Blue paint contrasts well with the rich chrome trim and the elegant lines of the car.  While the bidding has not hit the reserve as of yet, it will be interesting to see what the car tops out at.  While I have no business adding another car to my already neglected collection, I would love to bid on this one.  You see, my wife doesn’t appreciate my tastes in cars.  I like cars with stiff suspensions and lots of horsepower.  However, I have promised her that one day I will buy a vintage Cadillac to drive her around in.  Repeatedly, she has had to endure the promise that riding in a classic Cadillac is an unparalleled experience she must take part in.  Only those who have experienced one will understand.

Maybe I should go talk to my banker friend in the morning.  This Cadillac might be the one I have been waiting for.  After all, owning one is a family tradition.

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Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    I have my eye on a ’64 Deville right now myself. After a series of small European
    cars with 4-cylinders and 4-speeds, I’m ready for something big with power steering and AC!

  2. IkeyHeyman Member

    Nice write-up, Jeff. This is a gorgeous car, you should really consider adding this to your collection. Everyone has his or her own opinion about when Cadillac ceased to be the “Standard of the World”, but for me it happened when they started major component sharing with other divisions, like using Oldsmobile engines in the 70’s.

    24
    • IkeyHeyman Member

      In other words, the “bean counters” won.

      22
  3. RayT Member

    This year and model Cad has the distinction of being the only Cadillac to be entered in the 24-hour race at Le Mans. It finished, too, and in 10th place. It was, if I’m remembering correctly “modified” to the extent of having the stock intake manifold replaced with one that held two carburetors.

    One place behind it was “Le Monstre,” another Cunningham entry. It has a stock Cad chassis with an aerodynamic — but ugly — body fitted.

    I was once lucky enough to have a nice talk with Briggs, who recounted wonderful stories of his Cadillac adventure at Le Mans. Makes me wish I could buy this one.

    11
    • RayT Member

      Since one can’t edit an “Early Access” comment — WHY????? — I have to point out the “Briggs” referred to in my previous comment was Briggs Cunningham, who was the entrant of the “stock” Series 61 Cadillac and “Le Monstre” in the 1950 245 Hours of Le Mans. He was, of course, also the builder of the Cunningham sports cars.

      • Francisco

        245 hours! Wow, that was some race (over 10 days!)

  4. Chinga-Trailer

    You say “Unbelievably, bidding has only reached $10,600 with four days to go” as if that’s unexpected. If you were a serious bidder, would you enter ANY bid this early? Of course not, the only time that matters in an online auction is the last several minutes. I sure wouldn’t bid this early on something I seriously wanted. I think early bids, particularly when it’s a “reserve not met” situation are the handiwork of Mr. Hill, that’s Mr. S Hill and he’s apparently quite prevalent on eBay.

  5. Rex Kahrs Member

    Personally I won’t buy a car at any auction. The auction format favors the seller and the auctioneer. And, it pits two interested parties against one another, causing emotion to overtake reason, and thus driving the price up unnecessarily. Oh, and as Trailer says, there is shill bidding.

    A guy I know who sells cars on BaT once texted me to bid one of his cars up because bidding was slow. I flat refused.

    17
  6. Steve

    Tom McCahill (Mechanics Illustrated) voted the 1950 Caddy the best American car for 1950. My dad always wanted one after reading his endorsement. But alas, the big C took him before that could happen. He would love this one.

  7. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    Nice write-up, Jeff! Great to hear your history with these magnificent cars. I’ve had little history with Cadillacs other than helping one of my best friends build a custom ’49 Cadillac Sedanette. I learned about the stock ones during that process. The automatic transmission would have had *four* forward speeds, an advance that most of us didn’t see until the mid ’80s. Automatic climate control, power windows and seats, and a completely separate heater core and fan for the rear passengers. Fabulous! I love the deep blue on this feature car. I hope it goes to a good home and spends some time on the road. As for the newer ones, some years ago I *thought* the CTS-V would be the ultimate replacement for my modified ’02 Regal GS until, that is, I sat in one and the quality of the plastics and knobs, etc. seemed like a decided step down from the Buick, even. Sad to say but I ended up with a used BMW 750Li, which I still think of as “a better handling Buick.” I love the idea of a six-speed V8 luxury sedan. Where are they?

  8. joeinthousandoaks

    Beautiful car but I can’t help but wish the interior was done with correct materials

  9. DETROIT LAND YACHT

    Beautiful car.
    Indeed…Cadillac has been hit-or-miss (mostly miss) with cars for the last 40+ years.The Escalade probably saved Caddy…and is still pretty much the only reason anyone pays attention to them at all. Nobody had the guts to green-light The Elmiraj or the Ciel 4 door ragtop. They will explain that away as people favoring SUVs in this day and age. But either of those two concepts would’ve developed a loyal following…and restored the upscale image of the brand.(assuming quality materials & performance) All that outta the way…did I mention that this is a beautiful car?

  10. Mountainwoodie

    My sisters godfather had a 1950 Caddy 4 door. When he died, for reasons I dont know, his wife gave the car to my Dad. It was only about ten years old. I was just a little kid but I’ll never forget learning that the gas filler was under the tail light. I must have pushed that thing a hundred times before my Dad gave me the look that said …the beating will be forthcoming! LOL It was a stately dark grey.I think they are really beautiful cars only surpassed by the ’49 Sedanette……and then I got hooked on the mid fifties Caddies….my grandmother had a 55 limo with a division window and jump seats…whenever I got a chance to ride in it you know where I was!

  11. Ken Tilly

    I had a.1947 Caddy 4 door which had a 4.speed auto box, however, first gear only served to get the car up to about 5 mph before changing up to second.

  12. Kenny Brooks

    Oh how I miss my 1966 Fleetwood 75. Such a splendid way to motor everywhere. It spoke of classic elegance and magnificent quality.A day long gone,sadly, at Cadillac…

  13. Jack Quantrill

    True classic! No one made a better looking grill than this.

  14. Grizz

    This car is a beauty from every angle, the colour and the placement of the chrome is perfect. I would love to own such a stately machine.

  15. Bob Member

    I do love Cadillacs. Currently own a 56, 59 and 60. Would love to add this beauty to the collection. There is no such thing as owning too many Cadillacs.

  16. John

    I don’t believe these were ever offered with the type of leather seating material seen in this example. Most were a sort of stiff velvet fabric that we all referred to as mouse fur. But they were luxurious. Ours (an almost identical 49 model) had issues with the vacuum operated wipers and I never did figure out why its electric windows were so slow. But it was built like a tank. My Dad used it to haul hay bales from the feed store and then meticulously cleaned it so that it could go to church on Sunday. He fell in love with a tutone green 56 4dr Sedan De’Ville so the wonderful coupe (that I had so hoped would be mine someday) got relegated to a dealer’s used car lot. It didn’t stay there long. It was a wonderful car.

  17. normadesmond

    The vinyl interior is hideous. A crime.

  18. Del

    Good write up Jeff.

    Nada says 10 grand low retail and 33 grand high retail.

    I say this example is worth about 27 grand.

    Bidding only at 15 grand. Do not think it will reach whatever reserve is

  19. Rich Nepon

    My grandfather always bought Cadillac. I most recall the ‘53 with A/C (tubes in rear window). Power everything. He traded it in 67 for the car I inherited and promptly wholesaled off. It was a dog. Most interesting thing was that his business partner bought one at the same time and apparently the titles were switched from new. No one knew until I sold the car and almost got arrested. Had to track down the very old guy and switch titles. That was in 1974. I was driving a 64 Lincoln.

  20. Sedoy

    Yes, the old Cadillacs were real! They were from real iron! And they had an outstanding design!
    Unfortunately, today’s Cadillacs are a bunch of plastic with a lot of sensors and electronics. Although all modern cars are now just a parody of real cars.
    Therefore, I do not agree with the fact that Mercedes, BMW or Porsche which are sold now are something outstanding. This is the same piece of plastic stuffed with electronics. For a long time German cars are not something reliable and respected. Unfortunately, people still mistakenly believe that owning a German car is prestigious. Even Korean cars are now more reliable than German ones. My work is related to car repairs and I know what I’m talking about.
    If all people suddenly stopped buying this modern scrap in one moment, then manufacturers would probably think about the quality and reliability of the products. But unfortunately, people believe in advertising and continue to buy unreliable cars made of plastic at inflated prices. And if there is a demand for a product of this quality, then there will be an offer.
    Unfortunately, most people have forgotten (and the new generation does not know) what it means to have a quality and reliable car.

    • Jfc

      Agree Sedoy with your analysis of today’s cars! Thin sheet metal and plastic! A minor front end collision totals the car. I own a 1966 Mustang coupe that Is great, easy to repair, parts are readily available and is a pleasure to drive. Also own a 2016 Ford Fusion that is a nice car with the electronic gadgets, but doubt I will keep it for many miles. Afraid after thousands of miles, a major repair will cost big bucks. Do not think car manufacturers will ever change and continue the present trends.

    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Disagree. Quality and reliability have never been better. Fit and finish? Perfect. One of my rigs is a 1999 Grand Cherokee, 20 years old now with 192000 miles. Runs great and no rust, and I live in Wisconsin. Sounds to me, if it was up to you, we would all still be flying in biplanes. Speed, economy and safety has never been better. Remember Sedoy, it is 2019 today. Take care, Mike.

    • Jim Z Member

      Gov’t rules regarding economy and pollution have created today’s electrical nightmare vehicles. May be the best for the environment, but sadly lacking in the character of the oldies. I had a ’51 and a ’56 Caddy. True sleds. Currently have a 74 Eldo-Camino, gets the looks every time I exercise her!

  21. Will Owen

    My great-uncle Dick was a GM engineer, who as part of his job had a new car every year, for which he would keep a log book. By the Fifties that car was always a Cadillac; I remember riding with him at 80 MPH or better, wafting serenely along as on a magic cloud. When I bragged about that while riding with a friend and his dad in their new ’53 Ford, said dad rose to the challenge by demonstrating that Fords could do the same … well, not really, as the car rattled and shook, but we did do 80, all right …

    I think we’re being too quick at dissing all the new Caddys, though I agree a lot of what was presented to us in pretty much the same ads every year, always with a jeweled necklace (“By VanCleef and Arpels”) framing the logo overhead, has simply evaporated. Turning that elaborate coat-of-arms logo into a sort of Legos mock-up was symptomatic of their shift from spot-on to Good Enough. On the other hand, one of our Alfa Romeo Owners Club competition program’s HP Driving instructors posted a video on YouTube of some Time Trials laps he recorded at Willow Springs while riding shotgun in an advanced student’s new Cadillac, and the car is most definitely up to the job. Whether it’s going to be as useful or satisfactory in the long run as a road and around-town car, at or near the same level as the Cadillacs we grew up with, is perhaps another thing that remains to be seen.

  22. Michael L Gregory

    Your write-up was spot on. My first project car was a ’63 Fleetwood eight-window sedan that had belonged to a funeral home. It was like a mini-limo with a special vinyl roof design and small back glass. Real wood veneers, crystal reading lamps, the whole works. All eight windows worked perfectly. I loved that car in spite of the shape it was in when I bought it. In 1976 I bought a used ’73 Sedan deVille, which was broken down frequently, so I would have to drive the ’63 to work. I replaced it with a ’72 Eldorado, and it was just as poorly built. My last Caddy was a ’78 Coupe, and I never wanted another one. It’s a shame how the quality just keeps going down and the prices keep going up. The marque hasn’t been the same since the 70’s.

  23. canadainmarkseh Member

    The down side to the new stuff is in 30 years when some of us are gone our descendants won’t be talking about the 2019 caddy that dad had, not because in our time that there bad cars rather because they’re so technically advanced that restoration of the few survivers will be near impossible because they’re so complex, this will be true of about everything that’s out there. I also believe that law makers will eventually impose an experation date and they will ALL be recycled. I believe it’s only a matter of time when this will be true of even our vintage cars. I see the way things are going with the green tree hugging clowns that are more and more becoming our law makers. End of rant. Now as for this car 2 door hard top FANTASTIC car if you were a young single successful businessman this classy hard top would be the car to have. Sure hope it goes to a good home.

    • dweezilaz

      I agree, but people have claimed the same thing about cars of the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. May that claim be just as wrong as it has been before.

      People are always learning new things, discovering interests and skills. Finding business opportunities.The aftermarket will find answers. There are things we can’t imagine.

      I’m an optimist about that but hold the same view as you do about our unhinged, greedy and irational overlords, Canada.

  24. dweezilaz

    Sport coupe [aka hardtop]. Not a club coupe.

    http://oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Cadillac/1950%20Cadillac/1950%20Cadillac%20Prestige%20Brochure/image4.html

    Excellent article.

    It’s odd to see Suburbans on the road trying so desperately to be Cadillacs.

  25. Gérard Planche

    Jeff
    I have to concur to your assessment of GM’s recent lack of vision and courage for Cadillac. It’s been managed as “one of the brands”, probably with similar financial return requirements; it looks like satisfied to just keep up there with Lincoln, BMW, Audi…when it should be driven OUTRAGEOUSLY!

    To be today at an equivalent awareness and visibility level of what it used to be then, a brand must be even more crazy, extreme, literally: outstanding.
    Yes to DLY’s comments about Elmiraj & Ciel, I would even add Sixteen and Cien!!!
    Why show such fabulous concepts and not produce anything close? It creates even worse feelings than not raising expectations at all.
    Those concepts need to be turned into tiny series and priced at Bugatti or Koenigsegg levels. There will always be 10-50 buyers for those (you know, same as us on BarnFinds, with that urge to get “one of each”…but with pockets dragging all the way down to the tarmac).
    The vehicles don’t need to be individually profitable: their task is to be driving the whole brand -and GM- upwards!
    Go Cad!

  26. Bobinott

    For me, all four of the brands you cited (and a couple of others too) proved they had given up on the true nature of their marques when they started building trucks, purely for the profits they generate. That whirring sound you hear is the founders of said marques spinning in their graves.

  27. Rex Kahrs Member

    All business ventures are motivated by money, everybody knows that. Sure, there are some altruistic companies out there making organic honey or whatever, but there aren’t any auto manufacturers doing it for the sis-boom-bah of the marque. Well maybe Ferrari, because their clientele can afford to pay for it.

    So you gotta give the buyer what he wants, and the stockholders what they want, and that’s good/cheap cars and profit respectively. I can’t help thinking that the Unions contributed to the problem…they were pressuring the big 4 to pay more and more, while the Japanese were eroding Detroit’s market share. So Detroit starts sub-contracting to Mexico, and building the cars out of more and more plastic, and introducing more robotics. And thus the quality of the cars suffer. I guess it’s just the evolution of a very young US auto industry, just over 100 years old.
    Currently I am looking for a mid-60s Cadillac to replace my BMW 2002.

    • Gerard Planche

      Yes Rex, for sure! But while posting reassuring financial results, GM hasn’t been able to keep its market leadership. Not only -obviously- in volumes, but also in what I’ll summarize in “splendor”. Same cascaded basically down all its brands, and killing some recently (Pontiac, Olds…) confirmed to twitchy, less loyal buyers that looking elsewhere was ok. Companies now have to prove themselves continuously and more creatively in order to keep the market interested and buyers captivated.
      I am only suggesting that some top models of GM’s top brand do not need to be individually profitable: they should be part of a giant corporate marketing plan.
      Not on splendor (!) but through technology leadership, see what Toyota did with Prius: car did not make money in decades but Toyota is now clearly seen as hybrid tech leader… and its brand value is 5 times VW’s!
      Good luck to Mary Barra in steering GM back to glory!

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